Tag Archives: Bible

I am the Older Woman Now

psalm127

This article from Raising Homemakers appeared in my inbox this morning, and I thought I would share it, because the topic has been so much on my heart lately.

As you know, I would have loved to have more children, but after our fourth, my husband felt that it would be irresponsible to have any more, so we had a break of 7 years, and when we finally started trying again we had a run of miscarriages, so four it is.

My husband isn’t a believer, so he has no faith or reason for confidence that there is a good and faithful God whom we can trust to provide for us, and of course the prevailing culture tells us that ‘two is enough’ and any more is over-population. Please. My heart weeps for the church and our culture, because we are cutting off God’s blessings before they reach us, and we don’t know what we are missing.

I would like to encourage anybody who is considering a larger than average family, or even allowing God complete control over your family planning, to stop listening to the faithless counsel of your peers and know that the Word of God is trustworthy: children are without a doubt a blessing, and we do indeed serve a God who is faithful and good and who can be trusted completely.

the_bible_calls_debt-71559

But (and this is not meant to be a caution to put you off but rather a heads-up so you can plan your house-building, being fully informed about the cost) taking a leap of faith like this will require you to go deeper into God – to be willing to trust and obey completely in the areas of finance and time management to name but two aspects. It’s not a journey for the easy-believer or the faint of heart.

If God has laid this matter on your heart, take it back to him in prayer, seek his heart and his will, and be open to his leadings. Don’t miss out on one of the sweetest blessings he offers.

In my experience, it is a very rare couple indeed who end up inundated with children, and the hardest part about trusting God with your fertility is the possibility not that he will give you too many children, but rather that you might not end up with as many as you hoped.  ❤

The Kingdom Divided

I have been quite shocked and disappointed this week to (re-)discover two things:

Firstly that anti-semitism is alive and kicking in the churches, particularly down here in Cornwall.

Secondly, that there are many groups and individuals who believe that gentile believers are not part of Israel proper, only on the fringe as part of the ‘commonwealth’, and that Torah is only for Jews (and beyond that, that we need the “oral Torah” to properly understand and obey Torah).

To my understanding of the scriptures, such a view and practice of exclusion is falsely resurrecting the partition wall that Yeshua tore down. It is a little bit like saying that gentiles aren’t really part of the Kingdom, which is after all what “Israel” is meant to be – the Kingdom where God reigns.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free”

We are meant to be equal and “one”, united in Messiah. As I have said many times, we seem to be yet very far from that ideal. There is still racism, sexism and class and cultural differences which separate us. But certainly we should not be perpetuating such division.

I am supremely grateful that this was not my experience in the Messianic fellowship I attended, which was run by a very lovely, humble Jewish man, who seemed to be quite ‘colour-blind’ when it came to Jew and gentile, whereas I had been turned away from certain other groups that I won’t shame by naming here for not being Jewish! How heartbreaking and divisive!

My conversion, which was what you might call a ‘Ruth-ite’ conversion, a simple declaration as the Biblical Ruth made that “Your people will be my people, and your God my God” is not generally recognised by Jewish or Messianic groups. I find myself in the position of being ‘not quite Jewish enough’ for some Messianic groups, and ‘too Jewish’ for some church groups!

Since there is no official Messianic conversion process in the UK, there is a temptation – even perhaps a push by groups who exclude gentile believers in this way – to convert via Reform or Orthodox means. (In a conversation just this week I was told that if a gentile wants to keep Torah, they must convert to Judaism!)

Since such conversion involves either hiding or denying your affiliation to Yeshua Jesus, that is totally unacceptable in my view, but it is an inevitable result when gentile believers feel particularly called to Israel and the Jewish people and to Torah, and both these things are denied to them as gentiles.

The crux really of this matter rests on what the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 meant when it ruled on gentile believers coming into the Kingdom:

It was being suggested by “a certain sect of the Pharisees who believed” that gentiles could not become part of the Kingdom unless they were first circumcised and kept the whole law, but Paul and Barnabus show that God had shown his inclusion of gentiles by imparting the Holy Spirit, and by many signs and miracles among them.

“And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; *And put no difference between us and them*, purifying their hearts by faith.”
Verses 8 and 9, my emphasis.

In verse 20, the ruling is that Gentile believers must only do the following:
“that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.” verse 20

This is really a minimum standard, but even this has been generally ignored by the church because it seems to contradict their understanding that anything at all is permissable to eat. (That’s another discussion for another day!)

But then in verse 21, James goes on to say, “For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.”

Again, this verse is generally either ignored or misunderstood. What does James mean? Well, the early believers were meeting in the synagogue, reading the weekly Torah portions.

In other words, they were learning Torah gradually. There is an implicit suggestion there that the gentile believers will gradually conform their lives to Torah, and so it is not necessary to lay the whole law on them at the outset, and certainly not as a condition for salvation.

But wait, you say! Paul says the following in verse 10:

“Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”

What does he mean by that? Of course, it has been taken to mean that the “yoke” refers to Torah itself. But is that really the case? Is God’s own law a burden and a bondage from which we must flee and escape?

In Leviticus 26:13, God says:

“I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and *I have broken the bands of your yoke*, and made you go upright.”
(My emphasis)

This is in the context of the giving of the Torah. No, the “yoke” is not Torah itself – God did not rescue the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt only to lay another bondage on them – but rather, the “yoke” is all the additional rules and regulations, what is commonly referred to as the “Oral Torah” put in place as a “hedge around Torah”. The clue is in the word “Pharisee”.

What does Jesus say about those additional Pharisaical rules?

Matthew 15:3 “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” He goes on to give examples of how they are doing that, and then in verse 7: “Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.”

So Jesus regards the Torah as the commandment of God, holy and good, whereas the ‘Oral Torah’ is no such thing. Indeed, it can be quite the opposite when it contradicts Torah.

The scriptures, especially the psalms are replete with the idea that the law of God is good. Even Paul acknowledges in many places that the law is good, for example in Romans 7:7 he says:

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid!”

In conclusion, although I realise this is a massive subject and we could argue back and forth on the subject of the law and to what extent Christians should observe it, there is no suggestion whatsoever that Torah is for Jews only and not for gentiles.

In as far as gentiles are grafted into the Olive Tree through faith in Messiah, we are meant to be “one new man”, part of the same body. That is not to say that you cannot retain your identity as Jewish or gentile as a believer, but the wall between us has been broken down. Don’t build it up again.

#Luke2Acts – Some Notes on Luke 1 and 2

Just a quick share of a great post on the new Twitter Bible study we’re doing – one chapter a day from Luke to Acts. I just love the inter-connectedness and repeating themes and symbolism of scripture, and I love that I’m seeing new things in these old, familiar passages that I’ve never seen before. Join us! 🙂

Alastair's Adversaria

Yesterday the new Twitter group Bible study, #Luke2Acts, began with Luke 1 and today we have been looking at Luke 2. The following are some of the thoughts that I have had while reading the first couple of chapters. Most of them aren’t original and any that are original should be held very lightly: they are possible connections and interpretations, rather than sure ones.

I don’t plan to continue this as a series of posts. However, I thought that I would whet your appetite and encourage you to get involved. Just use the hashtag #Luke2Acts on Twitter. We would love for as many people as possible to join us!

***

The connections between Luke, Acts, and Samuel are especially noteworthy. All three books begin with prayer in the temple. The connections will multiply as we go through the passage.

***

Like Exodus and 1 Samuel, the story of…

View original post 2,376 more words

Jag har haft fullt upp!

It has all fallen apart a bit. I tend to do this. I tend to take on so much that I burn out and end up not finishing anything. (Sigh) The title is a Swedish phrase, which means roughly ‘I have had a full schedule’, or ‘I’ve been super-busy’! 🙂

I have picked up a dozen or more books and started them, but not finished them. In fact, I took a bunch of half-read books back to the library yesterday. I’m trying not to kick myself about the Read52 challenge. I don’t think I could catch up now, unless I get credit for good intentions!

I’m also so far behind in the Bible in 90 Days challenge this time that I really have no hope (or intention, sorry) of catching up. I also got to the end of Job just feeling that I was getting very little out of it this time round. Last year I read through faithfully every day, and marked all the words of God in red, and anything else important (like repetition and themes) in blue, and I really loved it. I saw new things in it and I’m really glad I did it. But this time, I had already switched to listening on audio Bible by the time I got to Joshua instead of actually reading it, as I was finding it so… boring! I really don’t want to feel that way about Bible reading.

So actually I’m juggling. I have a lot of plates to spin – being a wife and ‘mum’ with ME, homeschooling, housework, study, and trying to set up a Ministry / Business. I have never managed to find a great balance between homeschooling and housework – when the children were young, I figured that if I managed to get out of bed and the children were basically washed and fed and clothed and happy, everything else could look after itself.

I have been wondering why I decided to take on the extra spinning plates of study and business. Maybe a psychoanalyst is called for – do I have some need to set myself up to fail? Actually, I think I’m pretty driven, perhaps I need to prove myself in some way (I’m not sure to whom though or why). But being driven and fighting ME is a pretty tough battle. Actually I have heard that there’s quite a bit of evidence that a lot of people who get ME are A-type personalities (I tried to look for a good article to link to but I couldn’t find one).

I have never quite learned to pace myself either. I always seem to need to start something new, take on a little bit more, work a little bit harder. I help out at Scouts and Guides in a limited capacity, I teach (Sunday School, very basic Hebrew, adult Bible Study, although actually I haven’t done any classes since we moved down here as there doesn’t seem to be any interest), I’m now involved with two churches, I study (and now I ‘have’ to be studying my OU course, just about everything else looks more interesting which is another challenge! I’m even trying to learn Cornish in my ‘spare time’!)

I constantly feel on the edge of relapse, but resting doesn’t help anyway. I figure that, if I’m going to feel desperately tired and in pain whether I rest or get on with it anyway, I might as well just get on with it. Thankfully my ME is not severe (although I have had a few bad patches, and poor husband always seems me at my worst as I’m always pretty wrecked by the end of the day). I still don’t want to accept that it is ME to be quite honest. I would much rather have something that’s easily fixable, curable. But I don’t go to the GP anymore. My current one is nicer and more helpful than previous ones, but he’s no help really. When the blood-tests always come back negative or ‘borderline’ there’s no clear direction on how to treat me. So until and unless I can’t, I keep on keeping on. I keep picking up books and starting them. I keep trying to read my Bible. I keep studying and writing and doing my little groups. The children are washed and clothed and fed and reasonably happy. That sounds like a good life to me 🙂

Intro and Read52

I blogged for a few years with a captive audience of friends at Multiply under the name “Life for Beginners” and when  the Multiply  platform folded, I found myself in an isolated location without internet and despite valiant efforts, lost all my posts, so I have had a writing hiatus of about three years. I’m starting again, mainly because I want to document all the crazy changes that have happened and which are continuing to happen now in 2014, and specifically to record my reading.

I have had several other blogs in various places, which I may link to later, but I haven’t been faithful or consistent, so I won’t make any promises about being faithful or consistent 🙂 I have a lot going on, but I’ll do what I can.

I have decided to take part in the Read52 challenge, to read 52 books in 2014, which is conveniently one per week.

I am a reader, and I tend to read in certain distinct categories of non-fiction much more than fiction. These categories are, broadly, health, education, sociology and religious.

For reasons that I will explain in due course, religious is probably increasingly my largest category, so I will aim to read the Bible at least once this year, but don’t plan to do it in a week, so not sure whether I will include it in the 52.

This week doesn’t count as it’s only a partial week, but I thought I would start anyway with a little book that’s easy to read. I picked one that is little more than a pamphlet at 36 tiny pages, which has been on my shelf for a long time, challenging me to read it. It’s called “Finding God in Illness” by James Woodward and published by Lion Publishing in the UK with the Christian Evidence Society in 1997. It is out of print, but available on line as a pdf file here, and is quite easy to find second-hand if you prefer your books in paper.

Finding

I thought I would start with a quote from the beginning of the book, as it is so apt for the first post on a new blog:

“One of the challenges and adventures of writing lies in imagining who will read the text and what they might want from the text. So, I wonder who you are and why you have come across this particular piece?”

So who are you, and why are you here? I’d love to hear from you, and perhaps you could provide me with the accountability I need to post consistently. I haven’t been consistent in reading blogs either, so I’m starting with no links, but I hope to build them up as I rediscover my favourite internet places.

I’ll be trying to make sure I post weekly with details of my books, and will endeavour to post a fuller introduction before too long. 🙂