An Aide to Spiritual Growth

Some people have told me that they experienced a big improvement in their walk with God when they had a vision of the resurrected Christ.

I wanted to do better in my walk, but how does one go about getting such a vision? Details were light or non-existent. I remember one Calvary Chapel pastor encouraging the congregation to “visualize the throne room and Jesus sitting there.” Well, I could do some imagining, I guess, but that didn’t help. I was aware I was just making it up.

Since I found that Torah is for all believers, I have actually seen the Father and the Son as I read His Word and do what He says. I’m making a lot of changes for the better in my growth and walk with God, but some of the changes I need to make are coming slow. Do I need a vision of the resurrected Christ to become a different, more righteous person?

As I was pondering this a few days ago, I had what I think was in fact a vision. But it wasn’t of the resurrected Christ. I think God gave me a better vision, one which is going to help much better.

He gave me a vision of myself.

I don’t mean the same type of vision that some believers claim to see of Jesus. I mean God gave me a view of myself as He sees me, with emphasis on my character development (or lack of it). I got a glimpse of myself as I really am, which cut through the image I have of myself normally. We want to think the best of ourselves, and we craft an image that we hope is true. But most of the time it isn’t true. It’s just wishful thinking.

The downside to seeing yourself as you really are is it’s very discouraging. The upside is, when you accept the truth about yourself and take responsibility for your actions and for changing your actions, then you can make progress in moving closer to God. The reason is that as you draw closer to the light of the Father you become more aware of what you lack in perfection or holiness. You can either patch over your flaws with fig leaves as did Adam and Havah, or with improved vision you can accept and change.

It was painful looking at my history and seeing the bad decisions, the unwillingness to do what God said I should do, the times of stunted growth; simply because I didn’t want to give up my comfort.

So in a sense I did get a vision of the resurrected Christ through eating and drinking His body and blood (hearing and doing His word). But what really got me was the vision of myself as I really am.

I still need a lot of work, but the job is actually easier with an honest, albeit painful, self-evaluation.

Shalom

Bruce

Liar

Hillsong has a recent song out called New Wine. There’s a line in there that made me think, “Liar.”

What do you think would make me react that way? They sing:

“So I yield to You and to Your careful hand

When I trust You I don’t need to understand”

Sounds perfectly fine, doesn’t it? So why the negative reaction? you ask.

The part that made me think of liars was “I yield to You.”

No, they don’t yield.

How could I possibly know?

Because they are standard, modern church. There are a lot of songs like this in the church, and Hillsong is a big creator of them. They (and their fans and so-called “worship teams” that copy the music) love to close their eyes and sway back and forth and raise their hands. Standard, modern church places a huge premium on looking holy and “feeling the Spirit.” Except when you get right down to it, there is no yielding.

Oh, there’s lots of sentiment. Tons of feelings.

I’m a musician, and I love to play and sing. I really like many different songs, and enjoy group music. But a lot of what passes for “worship” in the churches is not much more than ego feeding and vanity. If there was really a yielding, which would show up all week long in many actions, then it might be more genuine.

How do I know there’s no yielding? Simply put, they don’t follow God’s living oracles.

Try this experiment sometime. In your Sunday school or weekly Bible study, make a suggestion that all of God’s Law is relevant and a valid lifestyle and discipleship method for every believer.

See what happens.

I guarantee that almost universally, especially among the young adults, there will be instant and ferocious denial. You will be hit with all sorts of counter-arguments, from the nice to the not-so-nice.

Because we don’t like to yield. We don’t want to do what God says. Rather than holy behavior, we’d rather sway and cry and raise hands when a really good band plays appealing songs. Then go home and “feel led” to ignore much of what He has laid down for us in the Word.

Like I said. Liar.

And don’t get me started on the “When I trust you I don’t need to understand” stupidity.

Shalom

Bruce

Audiobook for Whole Bible Christianity Available

It took a while, but an Audiobook version of our book Whole Bible Christianity is now available. It’s about 15 and a half hours, narrated by Bruce. You can get it free if you sign up for a trial membership at Audible.com. You get a free audiobook when you first sign up for the service. After the first month it costs $15.00 per month but you get one free book per month too.

If you click this link to view the print version, then click on the Free with your Audible Trial button and stay with Audible for two months, not only do you get two free audiobooks (for $15.00 the second month) but we get a $50.00 bonus! You can exchange any audiobook you decide is not for you, and your credit for one free book rolls over to the next month if you don’t use it. Even if you cancel membership after a while you can keep all your audiobooks.

What a great deal! Whole Bible Christianity, Blessings Pressed Down and Overflowing audiobook for free, a bonus to us, and you get more free audiobooks.

There’s also the print version of the book, and Kindle version for a pretty low cost. The Kindle and audiobook versions do not have the Scripture Index with almost 1,500 entries from every book in the Bible, and the audiobook doesn’t have the footnotes, but still you can listen on the way to work and back or read on a Kindle at your leisure. Get all three and get it all.

Shalom

Bruce

Whole Bible Christianity, The Book

Our book Whole Bible Christianity has finally been published! It is on Amazon at this link:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0997501413/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=1DQVER67Q2HMX&coliid=I1RPTLB6JQO1FI

There is a Look Inside feature, you can flip between the front and back cover, and it is only $19.50. If you would prefer, we will have the entire text on a web page when we update our website so you can read it online.

The book has about 800 direct quotes from the Word, around 1,500 entries in the Scripture Index, and is about 340 pages. One of the many uses of the book is as a handbook for whole Bible Christians everywhere who need a reference to help counter attacks against a whole Bible lifestyle. Chapter 7 deals with a bunch of the objections to following God’s living oracles, and chapter 8 has a list of blessings from doing what Jesus says.

Let us know what you think, and make sure to post a review on Amazon if you would be so kind.

Shalom
Bruce

Freedom from Sabbath Keeping

Hey All,

Just spent a few days writing a new article which is a point-by-point response to an article by Ray Comfort that he titled Freedom From Sabbath Keeping. It took a while, because the article is filled with a lot of, shall we say, less than biblical information.

Ray is a good guy as far as I know, and has a lot of good teaching. I have quoted from him, and use some of his material in my conversations with atheists. However, there are a number of areas where he falls short of biblical truth, and a bunch of them are in this article. So I went through it and inserted my comments directly into his text. I included Bible verses and commentary all with a whole Bible perspective. You’ll find a nicely organized selection of responses to what are also typical Christian arguments against observing the Sabbath. Why people would reject a day off from God is beyond me, but they do. So this article should help you with standard Christian objections to observing the whole of the Word, not just the Sabbath.

An excerpt from Point by Point through the Ray Comfort article Freedom from Sabbath Keeping. His words are in red, my comments are in square brackets and in blue (on the web page they are just in a different font).

Let’s briefly look at their arguments. First, nowhere does the Fourth Commandment say that we are to “worship” on the Sabbath Day. [True. Worship was every day. The act of resting on the Sabbath is worship. Worship has taken on an inadequate meaning in the intervening centuries, and it used to be that worship included sacrifices. But worship has always been obedience at its root.] It commands that we rest on that day: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11). [Notice that he does not answer the issue he raises: why does the church not “rest” on the Sabbath?] Sabbath-keepers worship on the Saturday. [No. Sabbath keepers might MEET on Saturday, but worship is obedience and for every day.] Do they know where the word “Saturday” comes from? It’s from the Latin word “Saturnus–Saturn + Old English dæg day.” Obviously Saturday is from the pagan day of worship of the planet Saturn (astrology). [In spite of the attempt at sarcasm, I can agree here. However, Saturday is also the seventh day, and therefore the Sabbath. The name of the day is not important. But the Sabbath is.

And another excerpt.

The Scriptures tell us that at one point, the Apostles especially gathered to discuss the attitude of the Christian to the Law of Moses. [This is biblically incorrect. The council in Acts 15 met mainly to discuss salvation by circumcision (verse 1). This was proved to be wrong. Salvation was coming to Gentiles without circumcision and by grace through faith just as Abraham and JUST AS THE JEWS (who had the Law). Verse 5 also asks a question about following the Law, which was answered in verse 21 (Moses is read in the synagogue every Sabbath.) This meant 1) Moses is read. 2) Moses is read in the synagogue where all believers met at the time. 3) They met every Sabbath.] Acts 15:10-11, 24-29 was God’s opportunity to make His will clear to His children. [Biblically incorrect. God had been making His will clear to His children for a long, long time.] All He had to do to save millions from damnation was say, “Remember to keep the Sabbath holy,” and millions of Christ-centered, God-loving, Bible-believing Christians would have gladly kept it. [Not so. He already said many times to remember the Sabbath, and just about as many times was ignored. He is still being ignored today as is evidenced by this article by Ray. Many Christians do not want to obey God’s commands. Mostly because we do not want an objective, absolute standard. We want to give ourselves permission to sin.

Enjoy the article.
Shalom,
Bruce

Passover 2014

We are getting ready for our lamb barbecue tomorrow night, looking forward to spending time showing love for God by doing as He commands His people to do. We touch God and touch each other in an intimate fellowship that goes way past the physical markers and deep into a spiritual connection. His love flows to us, and our love flows back and between. We remember what God has done for His people, is doing, and will do. Remember means to speak or act on behalf of someone, which is why we can “remember” the future promises of God.

Some are speaking of the “blood moons” that will appear on this Passover and the Tabernacles celebration this year, as well as the same two holidays next year. I’m not big into that stuff, but it probably has some significance. Coupled with the increase in earthquakes, volcanic activity, and cultural degradation, we can definitely see that labor pains for the world are increasing. Maintaining our love for God through His commands is coming under attack at a greater intensity, but He said a “falling away” would happen before the end. Therefore be encouraged and keep your faith strong, standing on the Rock of His Word and our Savior Jesus the Christ.

I feel sorry for those who do not participate in God’s holidays, either because they just don’t follow God or because they classify His living oracles as “old” or “outdated” or for another group besides believers. Paradise awaits a change from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh, sensitive and trembling at His Word. All it takes is humble obedience to find out the nature of real love and spiritual renewal and refreshment. I feel sorry for those who choose their own way, like Cain, substituting their own understanding for God’s Word and offering slovenly disobedience through physical symbols such as ham and bunnies. The symbols show the disobedience in the balance of their lives, corrupt and unclean and spurning the love that is waiting. Compromise shows its fruit in sexual immorality and unfruitfulness through acceptance of behavior God said would cause death. No wonder they are known for hypocrisy. One cannot practice hate for God in trashing His commands and expect God to accept the resulting uncleanness using the cosmic eraser of Jesus. If we harbor iniquity in our hearts, our offerings mean nothing. “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)

Rejoice, children of God. Look up for our redemption draweth nigh. Stand strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Pursue righteousness through humble submission to every word of His glorious instructions. Hold fast to the hope He has given, practicing as best we can every tiny utterance from our loving God and Savior Jesus our Messiah. Eat His body and drink His blood, taking in every breath from God through His Word and breathing it back to Him. Rejoice as our meager offerings of obedience gain His regard and we find acceptance in Him because of our love and practice of His Word.

Shalom
Bruce

Draw Near

If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. (Exodus 12:48, ESV)

If any one term is the closest to the reason I follow the whole Bible, this is it. The term I’m speaking of is “come near.” In my view this is what Torah is all about. The term can be used for simply getting together (if we are talking about a pair or group of people), but when one of the parties is God it takes on a whole different character. We can “come near” God for judgment as in Malachi 3:5, or we can come near in love and intimacy. A similar term is “draw near.”

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8, ESV)

We “draw near” to God as we do what He says. The more we do, the closer we get. In humility we use His living oracles to wash the parts of us that get dirty. Though He has cleansed us wholly, we still need to wash occasionally.

Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” (John 13:10, ESV)

We are clean, but we still need to wash some in order to continue “drawing near.” Notice that Jesus did the foot washing during the Passover meal. Jesus continues to wash our feet by the washing of the Word as we “draw near” to Him through His commands. There is a continual cleansing by His Law because we are in a dirty world and sometimes we step in something odoriferous that needs to be removed. If we judge (cleanse) ourselves and wash our hands (or feet) then Jesus doesn’t have to judge us. His eye is on us for good and not for evil.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. (Psalm 32:8–9, ESV)

Shalom

Reading Omens

Genesis 24 has the account of Abraham’s servant searching for a bride for Isaac. Abraham instructs the servant to go to the “land of my kindred” and makes him swear not to get Isaac’s wife from the Canaanites. The servant gets to the land of Abraham’s extended family and stops by a well outside the city to get some water for his camels. He prays that God would help him identify Isaac’s bride as the one who would not only give him water but also his camels.

Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.” (Genesis 24:14, ESV)

So Rebekah shows up and does what the servant was hoping. Turns out she was also from Abraham’s kindred. He gives her gifts, meets the family, and with everyone’s agreement goes back and presents Isaac with his bride. So this means we should all learn to read omens, right? No. God tells us not to read omens.

“You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it. You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes. (Leviticus 19:26, ESV)

But many people (who should know better) do just that. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone say, “If (such and so) happens, then that means God wants me to do (such and so).” This is what we call “reading omens.” We express uncertainty when things happen to impede the direction we want to go, then we wonder if “God is telling me not to do that” (or to do it). First, if God doesn’t want something to happen, it won’t happen. If He does want something to happen, it will. Second, it is the enemy who is ineffective. The deceiver can’t stop you if God is moving you, and can’t get you going if God is saying wait. Satan would be the one to throw all kinds of dumb omens at you to try and get you to stop doing what God wants or start doing what the enemy wants. I think that is one of the reasons God says not to read omens. Just stick with His Word and you can’t go wrong.

Did Abraham’s servant read omens? No. He prayed a specific prayer with a specific qualification. If a girl would not only give him water but also offer to draw water for the camels it would indicate the condition of her heart. She would be a generous person, soft of heart and concerned for others. Drawing water was probably hard, because one would have to dip a container into a hole or spring then pour it out for the camels to drink. And 10 camels drink a lot of water. In addition to the “sign” that the servant was looking for, the family (and the girl) would have to agree. So the servant wasn’t just throwing out a random request just to see if God would miraculously jump through hoops for his gratification.

The servant also had a specific, God given task. He wasn’t just trying to figure out if he should go to the local high school dance. I remember a trip a long time ago where it just seemed everything was going wrong. One thing after another happened to delay us. A strap broke on the car-top carrier (a big container for luggage). We forgot something. A belt broke on the car engine before we left. Things like that. At one point my wife asked me if I thought God was telling us not to go. I thought about it for a minute then said, “No. If God didn’t want us to go, we would not be going. These nagging attacks are from the enemy most likely.” So we went. It was an enjoyable trip.

Believers are not to read omens. God has given us a large amount of guidance through His Word. We strengthen our ability to sense when He is talking to us by reading His Word and doing everything He says. We practice hearing with the small things in His Word which teaches us how to recognize His voice when He speaks directly to us. Abraham’s servant didn’t need omens, and neither do we.

“When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD. And because of these abominations the LORD your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God, for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do this. (Deuteronomy 18:9–14, ESV)

Shalom

When Is Love Not Love?

You ever read those articles, books or blogs that get all weepy about how much has gone wrong in the writer’s life and how God has given them more than they can bear? Or on the flip side the ones that just go on and on (and on and on) about how God’s love or grace is enough and how wonderful everything is no matter how much cancer has destroyed their bodies, how many relatives died horribly, or how many limbs are missing? I have, and they bother me. Sometimes they make me wanna throw up. Other times they disgust me. Occasionally I want to reach through the computer monitor and shake the living crap out of them.

It’s not that I don’t sympathize with people who are going through tough things in life. Like is hard. God told us when we drew back from Him in the Garden that thorns, thistles, pain and sweat would mark our days. It’s not that I don’t think God can or will intervene (or should). He can and does. He doesn’t want suffering, He wants us to come to Him and live.

I think I’ve figured out two reasons the weepy stories bother me. For the ones who lose it and claim God has given them more than they can bear it torques me that while telling me that “we are not under law” they break down and blame God. This shows the depth of their faith. Right up to the ankles. So much for freedom in Christ. The other reason, for the ones who act like everything’s peachy because they “have Jesus,” is that they are really saying that sentiment is the answer (not obedience). As long as they feel all warm inside then love must be happening. As long as they can get hugs from each other everything is fine. Both of these types of writings (and lifestyles) have one thing in common: they are self-centered instead of God centered.

I’ve gotten self-centered on occasion. Perhaps that’s why I recognize it in others so easily. But living the Law helps me see it when I am tempted to blame God for what is happening and take steps to correct it. God is righteous; nothing He does is wrong or out of sync with His gracious character. His Laws are gracious and teach us love. We, on the other hand, are quite selfish on a daily basis. We shrug off the Laws as if “shadows” don’t mean anything. We do not ask Him if we should do such and such a thing; we merely do it. Do we modify our diet based on His recommendations? Usually not. So why do we complain if we get sick? Do we ask Him if we should get a shot of so-called “medicine?” No. Then why do we complain about auto-immune diseases such as cancer? Do you ever watch those shows about strange, weird or horrible diseases people get? Did you ever notice that they have two things in common – pork and shellfish? Just coincidence? Let me ask you. DID YOU ASK HIM if you should do something? Did you ask Him if you should drive that car, fly in that plane, or leave the kid alone for just a minute? Did you ignore His Word then wonder what hit you? You don’t ask Him first, and you’ve got the nerve to sit around and whine about the consequences of your “freedom in Christ?”

The Love (or grace) is Enough (and we don’t need the Law) people really get me because they don’t know love. They’re usually just plastering over the pain with some superficial smiles and a couple verses. How do I know? Because it doesn’t last. As soon as circumstances change a little, the smiles turn to snarls. Give ’em a little truth and they turn on you. If you were friends before you won’t be now.

Love rejoices with the truth, it is not offended by it. Love doesn’t need a smile to be love. We can cry and still love God. We can hurt and still do what He says. Love doesn’t need the whitewash of a grace created by man that is thinly veneered permission to sin. Real love exists along with pain, endures in spite of pain, and sustains us through the pain. Love knows that God is ruler of the universe and orders it as He sees fit. Love knows we are in His hands even when it doesn’t feel like it. Love continues to follow Him and His ways of Life though we might cry out for deliverance from our own stupidity. It is not led by feelings of sentiment, but generates them. Love does what God wants first all the time.

Trials hurt. People get sick and people die. There’s no getting around it. The reason it usually hurts so much is that we are selfish and we want a pain-free life and we want the dead to still be around (though it’s better for believers to be with Jesus). I do not mean to say that there should be no trials, nor am I saying that they should be lightly dismissed. But a heart centered on abiding in His Word, doing all of His living oracles (the Law), can weather the worst trials without losing it or glossing over it. That’s one of the many blessings of learning obedience through abiding in the whole of His Word (including the Law). Abiding is love; love is abiding.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:9–11, ESV)

Shalom

Day of the Awakening Blast

Coming up next week on Thursday the 5th is a day of blowing otherwise known as the Feast of Trumpets or Yom Teruah (day of the awakening blast). Oh boy. Wednesday night as a family tradition we will be having gyros with tzatziki (zot zee kee) sauce. It’s worth eating the gyros (year-ohs, a mixture of lamb and beef with nifty spices) just to eat my wife’s tzatziki sauce (yogurt, garlic, cucumber mostly). I like to chop it up, others like to make sandwiches out of pita bread, onions and tomatoes.

 

We will be blowing shofars a lot. If you don’t already know, shofar is Hebrew for trumpet. Traditionally it is a curved animal horn (goat or ram’s horn for smaller ones, big ones are from the African Kudu), although some Bible trumpets were made out of silver. We’ll probably also have a fire in our fire ring and make s’mores or something. Or maybe we’ll skip the s’mores to avoid going into sugar shock. My wife likes to call this the “Feast of Sugar.”

 

We like the three fold principal involved in celebrating the feasts of God centered around the word “remember.” Remember in the biblical sense often means to speak or act on behalf of something or someone. That’s why we can not only remember the past (what God has done for His people) and remember the present (practice as a testimony), we can even remember the future (rehearse what God is going to do for His people).

 

Trumpets has themes associated with it including the coronation of the King, waking up from the sleep of sin, marriage (for us it’s associated with the marriage supper of the Lamb), concealment (on the day of wrath), and warning to repent before the day of Judgment/Wrath also known as Yom Kippur or day of atonement.

 

There are some articles on www.wholebible.com including Christian Faith and Practice through Cycles http://www.wholebible.com/Biblical_Feasts.htm and Christian Faith and Practice through Yom Teruah http://www.wholebible.com/trumpets.htm for more information. The Yom Teruah article has a flash video at the bottom where you can hear us sounding the shofar.

 

Shalom
Bruce