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Archive for March, 2009

Never Cease To Praise

File:Sunset 2007-1.jpg

May the words to this song inspire your heart…

May we run this race, may we keep the faith; May our eyes be fixed on Jesus-
That we’ll not lose heart in our struggle with sin, And through suffering know endurance.

May we arm ourselves with the mind of Christ-To rejoice in trials and be not surprised.
May our hearts be so consumed by You That we never cease to praise!

May the words we share be Your grace and peace; May our tongues speak Your proclamations-
That the many parts of the body of Christ Be affirmed in their right relation.

As we long and wait for the groom to come, May we learn to love, and spur each other on.
May our hearts be so consumed by You That we never cease to praise!

When that day arrives, and the race is won, When our griefs give way to deliverance.
We will fully know as we’re fully known, All our groans will end as new songs begin.

And a multitude from every tribe and tongue, Wearing robes of white, will stand before Your throne,
And our hearts will be so consumed by You
That we never cease to praise!

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I would like to begin this post by apologizing for taking so long to reply to a well thought out comment on The History of the Beard. Because it has been so long, here is the comment in full.

Newfarmer,

I was the single awkward kid in high school who had a full beard at 15, and have kept a closely shaved one ever since. The single exception being one summer where I created controversy similar to yours, only by loosing it!
But of particular interest to me is your question of, “could it be that the Father wanted me to keep a beard?” Now, I confess that I am actually quite attached to my beard, and it to me! But I wanted to discuss a few of the verses you used to support Biblical beardhood.
I love your view that the Law is of immense benefit, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16) The first verse I was ever taught to memorize was Psalm 1, where David meditates on the Law day and night! Jesus himself came not to abolish the Law, but rather fulfill it, and upholds it until heavens and earth pass away. (Matthew 5:17) But there is an idea which I do not see reflected in your writing, and would love to see what you think about it!
You see, in fulfilling the requirements of the Law himself, I believe Christ inverted the Church from that of the Old Testament from being inwards to outwards.
Consider:
Romans 7:1-4 states that, dead to the law which only binds the living, we now are joined to each other, and Christ himself instead. So in your quotation of Romans 7:12, we see that the law is holy because of the life it could not bring to us. In 6:14, we see that we are in fact not under law but rather grace. Galatians 3:23-25 affirms the law as our tutor until we might be justified by faith in Christ.
On this topic, there is something that might be of particular interest to you that my pastor only recently learned from a man who has studied classical Hebrew all of his life. He claimed that God never originally intended to place Israel under the law, but did so because of their stubbornness.
Look closely at Exodus 18, where God desires to make them a kingdom of priests to the nations, and then shortly thereafter brings down the law in Exodus 19 instead. This seeming inconsistency is explained in Deuteronomy 5, which explains that God’s people drew back from him and sent Moses, instead of themselves meeting God as he desired.

Now look at the New Covenant (which is the literal translation of Testament in Greek.) In 1 Cor. 9:22, we see Paul speaking of becoming all things to all men that some might be saved. Jesus himself sends out his disciples to the ends of the earth in Matthew 28:19. And while we are still set apart, 1 Peter 2:9 speaks of it being so that we might “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Therefore, Paul urges us, we aught to strive to be set apart in our behavior, rather than our appearances.
In the Torah, God asks his people to separate themselves from the nations around them that all the earth might see who they are, and come to them to seek the Lord. But in the New Testament, Christ sends his people out into the world, to become all things to all people but still true to Christ and his commandments. This is so that God’s temple might reach the furthest corners of the earth by the means of his people, the individual living stones which comprise it. (1 Peter 2:4-12)
The reason I speak any of this at all, is because I latched on to your second paragraph speaking of being holy and separate. Yes, being set apart is of immense importance! But this seems not to be in practice of outward appearance, as it was with Israel in Leviticus 19:27, when God wanted his people to abstain from shaving their beards as was the custom of the pagans around them. But rather than an outward sacrifice, as Jesus reiterates 3 times in Matthew alone, quoting Hosea 6:6 (Matthew 9:13, 12:7, 22:23) he would rather see steadfast love that manifests itself in actions towards others. This is therefore our reasonable act of worship, and the holiness he desires to see.
I fear that I often sound fanatic or accusatory in my passions, but I write only because I hope to shed more light on what God desires from us, especially as relates from the law! I reflect that, perhaps my diatribe is already known to you, and by it you affirm the father and speak “amen!” Or maybe by some chance, someone else should stumble across it even as I have, and it speak truth to them.
Keep strong on your beard growing, and I heartily affirm you on resisting our culture’s obsession with youth! I look forward to any response.

In His Grasp,
Jacob Cotten

I would like to address the idea that Yeshua’s death inverted our separation from outward separation to inward separation only. Our separation is not intended to be only outward or only inward. We should be separate in both flesh and spirit. When Yeshua said “Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets . I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (Mt 5:17) He was stating that He has come to correctly interpretthe Law. When a teacher of the law was misinterpreting scripture, it was said that he was “destroying the law”. When a teacher of the law correctly interpreted scripture, it was said that he was “fulfilling the law”. Yeshua fulfilled the law by correctly interpreting what the Father’s desire for that law was. As an example, Yeshua taught that adultery was not only a physical act but a mental or spiritual act. “You have heard it said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whosoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mt 5:27,28) He was teaching that the law is to be kept both inwardly and outwardly. The Father desires for his law to be written upon our hearts. Not hearts of stone but hearts of flesh that we may receive blessing from His law (Psalm 112).

Obedience to the laws of YHVH is in itself an act of separation. The fact that my family keeps Sabbath separates us physically from the rest of the world. Our family lives on a completely different weekly schedule than most. Fridays are spent  getting ready for Sabbath. While most of the world carries on doing all sorts of things on Saturday, we are usually at the house taking it easy. While many are going to church on Sunday morning, I am working on my ever growing honey-do list and miscellaneous farm work.  Not until we began worshipping on Sabbath, did we understand that obedience  to the commandments of YHVH would separate us – physically.

Most of the modern day church holds to the idea that we are to live with Christ in our heart but look and act like the world so that we may draw unbelievers to Yeshua. Is it any wonder that much of the modern day church looks more like the world and less like Yeshua? Things that are hidden away in our hearts are easy to leave by the wayside when they are inconvenient. While not directly pertinent, I am reminded of James 2:18 “Show me your faith without your works and I will show you my faith by my works.” What is written on our hearts will inevitably be made known on the outside.

While it is important to be physically separate through obedience to His laws, we must never mistake that our obedience has any merit in itself. Our hope comes only through the shed blood of Yeshua Hamashiach (Jesus the Messiah). A good friend of mine said “If it doesn’t begin and end with Jesus, it is useless.” Amen and Amen! May our lives begin and end with Yeshua!

~Pa

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“Now he who received the seed among the thorns is he who hears the word and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22

Yeshua’s (Jesus) parable of the sower is familiar to most believers. The sower casts his seed and some of the seed falls by the wayside, some on stony places, some among the thorns, and some on good ground. Only the seed sown on the good ground bears fruit. The seed cast among the thorns is a concept that has been on my mind all week. The key words that I keep going back to is “the deceitfulness of riches”. What did Yeshua mean by the deceitfulness of riches? The easy answer is that riches can deceive us into a life of unfaithfulness to YHWH when we allow our riches to become our god. When “Get Rich or Die Trying” is our mantra for life, we have been deceived. While that interpretation is absolutely correct, is it complete? Was Yeshua only telling us not to allow riches and the things of this world to become our god? As with most things in scripture, I think the answer lies somewhere beyond our typical pat response.

The deceitfulness of riches goes farther than simple materialism. I believe Yeshua was talking about the things we think we must have in order to live. We believe we must have two cars. We must each have a cell phone. We must have health insurance. We must have a retirement plan. We must be able to vacation each year. The list could go on of all the things we “must have”. As this list of “must haves” grows, we become more and more enslaved. Our time is required daily to pay for everything we “must have”.  Our “must haves” are not “must haves” at all. When Yeshua sent out His disciples in Mark 6, He instructed them not to take anything with them. “He commanded them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts – but to wear sandals, and not to wear two tunics.” Mark 6:8,9 Did the disciples not need food? Did they not need money or extra clothes? Anyone going on a journey would not consider leaving without the necessary items that would be needed. Yet, Yeshua instructs them not to take anything extra. The needs of the traveling disciples were provided for by the goodness of our Father. All necessities were provided for them.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and YHWH feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?” Luke 12:23,24

The cares of this world hold our hearts and minds hostage to the point that we have no room to hear the voice of the Father guiding us and directing us. Righteous living requires a quiet heart and mind. A quiet heart and mind comes with a life that is free of the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches.

Father, teach us to set aside the things of this world and live lives that store up treasures in heaven and make your name know among the nations. May we not be swayed by our “must haves” but be guided by your provision

-PA

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As I have spoken about in previous posts, the Father has planted in our hearts a great desire to cultivate the land and live a more agrarian lifestyle.  Four years ago, we planted our first garden. That first year was pretty laughable looking back now. We grew more rocks than vegetables! Had all the weeds been edible, we would not have had to buy any groceries that year either! Although it wasn’t pretty and it didn’t produce very much, I really loved that garden. I learned that I really loved working in the soil. I often replayed in my mind Genesis 2:5 “For the LORD GOD had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground;” As I tilled the ground I couldn’t help but think “This is what I am supposed to be doing”.  YHVH’s plan in the garden was for man to till the earth and produce fruit. I enjoyed every moment of being in that garden. Even the hours we logged picking up rocks were enjoyable. That first year really gave us a love for gardening. We have continued to grow a garden each year and each year it has grown in size. We have learned alot about what to do and what not to do. Although, we are by no means agricultural experts.

This year’s garden marks a new adventure for us. We have decided to start a CSA on a very small scale. CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture”. The CSA is a great way for the consumer to know exactly where his/her produce is coming from. It also spreads the inherent financial risks associated with farming across a broader base. Customers, or Shareholders, agree to purchase a share in the produce of the farm in advance. In return, the shareholders receive a basket of fresh vegetables, berries, herbs, and flowers every week of the growing season.  Our growing season this year should run up to about 25 weeks. We are starting our CSA with three shareholders and we are very excited about what may be in store for the future. I would love to open it up for more shareholders, but we just want to get our feet wet this first year.

Just two weeks ago we were wondering where we going to put in a garden for ourselves. Our new home has a much smaller yard than we have been used to. However, after speaking with the gentleman who owns the farm behind us, he has agreed to allow us to use one of his pastures for our garden. He even did all the initial plowing for us!

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If you are interested in finding out more about what a CSA is and what the benefits to both the farmer and the consumer may be, here are a few videos that you may find useful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPh1S2bN4C8&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5J1iMOvWwJo&feature=related

Please keep up in your prayers as we begin this new venture.

-Pa

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