A New Reformation

Posted: October 13, 2020 in Uncategorized

Out of love for God’s word and a desire to dispute certain teachings of the Catholic church, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg church. Unfortunately, Luther did not go far enough. Most of what Luther wrote in his 95 Theses had to do more with the pope and indulgences for sin than it had to do with God’s truth found in His word. In fact, he continued to support most of the Catholic church’s false teachings that have influenced most Christian churches to this day.

The modern, progressive church today needs true repentance and true reformation. So I am using social media to post my own theses in the hope of allowing God’s spirit to open the hearts and minds of God’s people. I envision God’s church to once again show itself strong to the world—but not by our own might or power, but by God’s own spirit. (Zechariah 4:6) In the name of our Lord and savior, Jesus, Our Messiah. Amen.

  1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Matthew 4:17), he willed that the entire life of all believers be one of true repentance.
  2. This cannot be accomplished by only confessing in private to a pastor, priest or some other administrator of a denomination.
  3. And it cannot be accomplished by parroting a childish prayer of accepting Jesus as Lord and asking him to live in your heart. Such a thing is worthless and mocks God; unless it produces various signs of outward mortification of the flesh.
  4. The penalty of sin, even among those who claim to be believers, will remain as long as there is no true repentance. (Luke 13:1-5; 2 Corinthians 7:10)
  5. Only your lifestyle will prove to others that your guilt of sins has been removed. If this is disregarded, the guilt of sin will certainly remain unforgiven. (Hebrews 10:26)
  6. One must humble themselves in all things and make themselves only submissive to God’s word.
  7. God’s word is only for the living, and, has nothing for the dead. Because the dead know nothing. (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6; Isaiah 26:14) In the case of the dead, God has reserved their bodies for the resurrection of the righteous as well as for the wicked. (1 Corinthians 15:52; Daniel 12:2) 
  8. As Christians, we are to be light and salt to the world. (Matthew 5:13-16) But what are we teaching the world about God’s love and grace by our words and actions? (Colossians 3:8; Ephesians 4:29)
  9. You cannot serve two masters. (Matt. 6:24) You cannot love both the world and God. The time has come to choose either one or the other. When you are far more concerned about offending your friends than you are about offending God, you make yourself a hypocrite.
  10. If you say that you believe God’s word, you must do what it says. God has told us that obedience is better than sacrifice. (1 Samuel 15:22) Stop choosing to blindly follow the false doctrines and traditions of man and instead study the Scriptures to know what is true so you can accurately teach God’s truth without any shame. (2 Timothy 2:15)  
  11. There is only one inspired, infallible rule and authority for all matters of life and godliness and it is the sufficient, pure, perfect, inerrant word of God. (Psalm 19:7-14; 2 Timothy 3:16)
  12. So we must do what is right in God’s eyes rather than in our own mind. God has told us to obey His voice, and He will be our God, and we will be His people so it will go well for us. (Jeremiah 7:23)
  13. We must not just say we believe God’s word, but we must walk in all the ways that God has commanded us; and in return, we will become God’s peculiar treasure above all other people. (Exodus 19:5) 
  14. In the midst of worldly philosophy and beliefs it will require wisdom, integrity and reasoning that only comes from a profound understanding of God’s word and unwavering courage to communicate God’s truth in love. (Acts 17: 16-34) 
  15. We should not, like as so many others, use the word of God or the talents that God has bestowed on us for earthly profit. ( 2 Corinthians 2:17; Philippians 1:15-18) 
  16. We have been given a sacred trust and holy privilege to be a steward of the mysteries of God in our music, in our talents, in our ministry and even in our secular jobs. We should not dare to treat it flippantly. If what we speak does not square with the truth of God’s word, it must be rejected and cannot be embraced as beneficial to the gospel. (1 Corinthians 4:1) 
  17. God has not called us to be successful, but faithful. Godly character exhibited in response to sound doctrine is paramount in serving the Lord. To live privately what we proclaim publicly is the manifestation of genuine faith and integrity. 
  18. We are the light of the world. The kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness are two opposing worlds that are incompatible with each other in regards to our faith. 
  19. God is our Father and we, as His children, must disavow any and all alliances with sin and Satan or we will forfeit the joy and blessing that comes from obedience of God’s word. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18) 
  20. Satan doesn’t want to destroy the church—he wants to join it. Satan’s number one assault is to infiltrate the church with error and replace God’s commandments with lies and the traditions of man. (1 Timothy 4:1-3) 
  21. We are to be in the world but not of the world. This may be our greatest challenge. Separation from the world does not mean to isolate ourselves from unbelievers of the world, but not conforming to them. It is our responsibility to share the true gospel of God and lead the world to conform to God’s word. (1 John 2:15-17) 
  22. It is impossible for God to fully bless and use His children who are in compromising relationships with non-believers. (2 Corinthians 6:13-15)
  23. Honesty and integrity in business dealings, relationships and all activities is indispensable to effectively carrying out the calling of God. 
  24. We must purpose to keep personal relationships more important than business deals; family more valuable than careers; and faith more precious than popularity and financial gain. 

25. Lastly, we must speak as men and women of God. If you claim to be a Bible believing, Jesus following Christian and the world cannot see any difference between the way you speak and act and the way they speak and act, what would make them desire to repent and seek God? (Ephesians 4:29; Ephesians 5:4;Colossians 3:8)

Remember: Judgment begins with the family of God. (1 Peter 4:17-18) 

I have been despised since before I could walk or talk. Despised by my parents and by family members. I was always meant to feel like an outsider—Different from everyone else in the family…Except for my youngest sister. 

She was born on my 14th birthday and I was told that she was my birthday present. (I wanted an art set) Because I was so upset about it, my mother made me be my new baby sister’s caregiver. I was forced to feed her, changed her diapers, take her on outings…Basically, I was forced to do what a parent should do. But what was meant to be my punishment created a bond between me and my sister that no one else in my family had. And we continue to remain close to this day. 

Growing up, there were several times that I should have been killed. I was tricked into running across a street and was hit by a car—twice; my brother tried to drown me at a lake; I was malnourished and ended up in the hospital with anemia. But for whatever reason, God chose to save my life. Because of my childhood trauma brought on by emotional, physical and sexual abuse, I had many unhealthy relationships, got involved with drugs and alcohol, all the while, trying hard to be accepted; to somehow fit in. 

 I was in my early twenties when I discovered God’s love for me and surrendered as much of my life as I knew how to do. My life seemed to turn around. I was joyful in my salvation and was excited to share this good news to as many as I could. I continued to study the Bible and fellowship with other Christians. I was hungry to learn more about this Jesus who saved my soul. I developed many relationships with other Christians and finally felt accepted, loved and had a sense of belonging. I was even able to sense God’s presence. 

Then tragedy struck when my only son was killed by a drunk driver on his way to work. I spent months in seeking answers from the Bible and in prayer and weeping on my face before God. Pouring out my heart and soul to Him, repenting from any sin that I could think of that may have been hidden from me. And through that process of praying, fasting and studying God’s word, I discovered that most of what I was taught in church wasn’t even in the Bible! Thus began my journey of seeking God’s truth from His word and trying my best to obey. I since have learned that is is true that: “…For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” —1 John 5:2-3 

But I also realized that that verse, and others like it, go against everything that is taught in the church. And many Christians that I thought were my friends turned against me simply because I spoke the truth from God’s word. Many times I have cried out to God on behalf of His church; to open their hearts and minds to His truth; to send revival. But for over five years I have not seen any positive results of my prayers and I felt like God had forgotten me. I cried out to God but it felt like I was speaking to the air. Even though my faith in God remained strong, I no longer felt His presence; no longer had His joy as I did before. 

But then I read Psalm 22 and I know that I’m not the only one who has felt this way. The practice of pouring out our heart and soul to God is not new. In fact, in the Psalms, we hear David’s lament, who pulls no punches right from the beginning: “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” David not only brought his pain honestly to God and poured out his frustration and hurt, but he left that hurt in God’s hands. He doesn’t try to be anything more than he is. He has been totally, authentically, human before God.  And that authenticity and honesty brought healing and a renewed faith. 

David worshipped God in the midst of His pain. And even though he was feeling abandoned enough to cry out, “Where are you God?” he wasn’t going by the way he felt, but he looked past his feelings—he relied on his faith. Faith in his relationship with God, faith in the steadfastness of God and faith in the promise of God to always be with him. 

Imagine a young boy who goes with his dad to the local department store to help pick out a gift for his mother. The boy is so happy to be with his dad and to be included in picking out the perfect gift for his mom. But as they’re walking through the store the boy gets sidetracked from all the sights and sounds around him and suddenly he realizes that he’s alone in this giant store and his dad is nowhere around. He calls out for his dad and watches as so many people walk past him. Fear grips him as he begins to whimper and continues to call out for his dad. Then he begins to panic.  “Where is he? Why did he leave me all alone? How could he forget about me?” 

If you’ve ever seen a child in that state, you know they don’t just whimper—they cry out with loud, wailing cries, in the hope that someone will hear them and help him find his dad. Several people stop and try to comfort him, but none can help. Because he isn’t crying out for just anyone, he’s are crying out for a specific person. He’s crying out for his Dad. Then suddenly, he hears a soft voice behind him say, “Buddy, where’ve you been? I’m been looking for you.” He turns around and sees—it’s Dad! And his tears of fear and panic turn into tears of joy. The child then remembers that his relationship with his dad, that he questioned earlier, holds a history of love, caring and steadfastness. And he cries out, “Daddy! I knew you would come!” In spite of his panic and confusion the little boy was confident that his daddy still loved him. That is the faith of a child that we all need.

But for many of us (myself included), it’s not always that simple. We often don’t have the ability to look past our situation when we are in so much pain and despair. Pain from the economy, from family crisis, from betrayal, from depression, from trauma and we don’t know what will happen to us next—how bad will things get?  And just like the little boy lost in the department store we begin to panic and say, “Where is God? Why did he leave me all alone? How could he forget about me?” And we can feel forsaken. It happened to Elijah. It happened to Jeremiah. It happened to Isaiah. It happened to the apostle Paul. And it happens to all of us. 

In fact, we recognize that Psalm 22 are the very words that Jesus cried out from the cross. By the time he spoke them, he had been hanging on the cross for six hours! And in his darkest hour Jesus allowed his pain to rise up amidst the scoffers and mockers, to call on the most radical part of his faith!  And there on the cross, with the sun setting, Jesus, lets out a wailing cry from deep within: “My God, My God!  Why have you forgotten me?” But by using those particular words—the words which would have been so familiar both to him and to his followers, Jesus not only cries out to his father, but he reminds everyone who can hear him, reminds himself, and reminds us, that we are in a relationship with a God that is still in control! 

Jesus’ suffering also teaches us that no matter how things may look right now, even in the middle of this wilderness of waiting—when we can’t feel God coming toward us, God is there. And it is in that agonizing place that fear and aguish can become a place of hope—a hope that remembers and affirms that God has never abandoned or forgotten us, no matter how we feel. 

We have to remember that God has come through for us in the past, and that memory is still there somewhere. So even through the tears and pain, those memories fuel our hope, until we hear that still small voice above the sounds of the scoffers and wild dogs, softly at first perhaps, but growing ever stronger as we realize that we are still in God’s tight embrace once more. In fact, we have been there all along—wrapped up in His loving arms.  And just like that scared and confused little boy, we can say, “Daddy! I knew you would come!” 

“For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.” (Psalm 22:24)

Since the beginning of time humankind has fought against God’s ways and stubbornly insisted on doing things their own way. We can read in The Bible how many times God’s people rejected His laws and later suffered for it. But God had always reserved a remnant of His people who remained faithful to Him and prayed for spiritual awakening and renewal. Then the people cried out to God, repented, and God showed them mercy and rescued them from their troubles. Many today have criticized the Israelites for their actions, but are we really any different today?  

Many of the early colonists had come to the new world to escape the persecution from the king of England and to own their own land and enjoy the fruit of their labors. But as the land became tamed and prosperous they no longer relied on God for their daily bread. Wealth brought complacency toward God. As a result, church membership dropped. 

The Industrial Revolution was also a determent to revival. The transition to new manufacturing processes in Europe and the United States in the period from about 1760 to the 1800s. Almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way. In particular, the average income began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth. Some economists say that the major effect of the Industrial Revolution was that the standard of living for the general population in the western world began to increase consistently for the first time in history. 

During that time many people in the U.S. no longer regularly attended church services. This occurred because people had become too consumed with earning a living to have time to worship God—That His rules no longer applied to their every day lives. 

Wishing to make it easier to increase church attendance, the religious leaders decided to allow membership without a public testimony of conversion. The churches were now attended largely by people who lacked a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Sadly, even many of the ministers were not saved themselves. 

But the faith and prayers of a few righteous leaders were the foundation of the First and second Great Awakenings. People like George Whitefield, William Booth and Charles Finney would spend hours—and sometimes all night—covering an event in prayer. Through the many prayers and ministry of these men of God, the hearts of the people were changed. It was the young people who responded first and experienced the regeneration of becoming new creations. They, in turn, spread the message to their elders. Thus began the first sparks of revival.    

Charles Finney,  lawyer, theologian and college president, became the most famous revivalist of the Second Great Awakening. He did not just merely lead revivals; he actively marketed and promoted them. During many of his revival meetings, saloons and factories would close for the day. There were even instances where Finney would pass by a person only to have them fall to their knees in tears and repentance without him saying a word to them! 

The Jesus Movement of the 70s and 80s

The hippies who plunged into the Pacific Ocean to be baptized during that summer of 1970 didn’t know they were in a revival. They didn’t even know what a revival was.  All they knew was that for the first time in their lives they felt forgiven and truly close to their Creator. The revivals of the 70s and 80s not only affected church growth, but it affected the music industry as well. Songwriters were changed and new Christian songs sprung up on Christian radio stations across America. They even influenced secular artists— from the Rolling Stones version of “You got To Move” to The Doobie Brothers’ “Jesus Is Just Alright” to Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit In The Sky”.

The 70s revival also birthed many Christian artist such as Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, Barry McGuire, Steve Camp and Keith Green. Many of these talented artists not only performed their songs, but incorporated preaching of the gospel into their concerts. As a result many people became saved at their concerts. Churches even began to use some of their songs in their worship services. 

Unfortunately, this revival had its own problems too. Because of man’s insatiable appetite to control others, many unbiblical teachings entered some of the churches that continue to this day: 

  • Name it and claim it teaching
  • The health and prosperity gospel
  • Exorcisms and demon possession 
  • Absolute submission of women to men

Many churches during that time scheduled “revival services” with powerful evangelists and “prophets” from out of town that promised to bring God’s “holy fire” with them. They would be scheduled from such and such date to such and such date. But a true spiritual revival from God is not something that can be scheduled in a day planner! It only comes through prayer and fasting, and more prayer and fasting. In my article, “Where are the men of God?” I mentioned Sam Shoemaker, Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson and Keith Green. These were all men of God who were concerned with people’s souls and the sins within the Church. They all preached boldly on the subject of repentance and revival in the Church. (See https://word-from-the-street.com/2020/07/13/where-are-the-men-of-god/) The one thing they all had in common is the hours they all spent weeping and praying for the Church to repent. Charles Spurgeon once said,  “The ministry is a matter which wears the brain and strains the heart, and drains out the life of a man if he attends to it as he should.” Sadly, we don’t teach that in the churches anymore. It is no wonder that so many have left the church today. 

With the advent of the internet and the technology revolution many Christians today have again relied more on their own intellect than on God’s word. Many people in the U.S. again no longer regularly attend church services—And people have become so consumed with the next new technology that they have no use for God. The world has told them that God’s rules no longer apply to their every day lives. 

And the result?

Selfishness, hatred, racism and unrestrained violence. But today there’s also a growing sense that history has run its cycle again and we’re back in ’60s mode. Like the hippies of the 70s and 80s, millennials—people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s—say they are hungry for authenticity, a sense of community, and real care for people who are needy and marginalized. And just like the hippies of their parents’ generation, young people today are a bit cynical about big business, big institutions, or organized religion. Bombarded by competing content online for most of their lives, they are beginning to shy away from advertising, causes, or techniques that they feel are superficially targeted toward a specific group of people, and instead gravitate toward content that feels real and honest. They are looking for truth. They are looking for integrity. That’s why so many of them have lost faith in politicians, government and the Christian church.

Keith Green once said, “This generation of Christians are responsible for this generation of souls.” What will we do with that responsibility? There are millions of millennials and generation X and Zs who are searching for the truth. And we as Christians have that truth already in God’s word. We just need to show them that we believe it and live it. That’s what integrity is.

I have noticed how when a young Christian gets saved and begins to study God’s word, they just don’t believe what they reads true, they know what they read is true—and they go out and do what the apostles and early Church did: Share the gospel, feed the poor and heal the sick. We older, more “mature” Christians would do well to follow their lead. Maybe then we will experience a true revival of God in the churches and in our country. 

Let us take a lesson from what God said to king Solomon: “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land…But if youturn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will pluck you up from my land that I have given you, and this house that I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And at this house, which was exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?’ Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore he has brought all this disaster on them.’ (2 Chronicles 7:13-22 ESV) 

It is time for us Christians to repent of our wickedness, seek God’s face and obey His word. Only then will God heal our land. 

“In sukkot you shall dwell for seven days: all citizens of Israel shall dwell in sukkot.”  (Leviticus 23:42) 

October 2nd— October 9th, 2020 the Biblical Holiday of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles / Booths) begins. This wonderful holiday lasts for a full seven days and completes the cycle of the Fall Feasts. This is is my favorite of all the fall festivals because it points to God’s promise that Messiah will tabernacle with his people when he returns to set up God’s kingdom here on earth. (Micah 4:1-7; Isaiah 9:7; Zechariah 8:3; Luke 1:32,33)

After the somber time of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), Sukkot is a joyous celebration of a renewed relationship with God and His atonement for sin. The Feast of Tabernacles is a special time for all believers to come together and be a blessing to the needy by presenting our financial gifts to God’s people—and God has promised a blessing for doing this! Even the Apostle Paul and the early Church who we know was in Jerusalem for these Feasts (Acts 20:16), must have presented the gifts he collected from the churches across Greece and countries in Asia to assist the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.

Just as the Israelites dwelt in temporary shelters called a sukkah, we are also to dwell in a sukkah for this entire week. “On the first day you are to gather the fruit of majestic trees, the branches of palm trees, and the boughs of leafy trees and of willows of the brook. And you are to rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.” (Leviticus 23:40,41) 

For seven days and nights, we eat in the sukkah and consider it our dwelling. Some live in the sukkah entirely for the duration of the festival—even sleeping in it through all kinds of weather. The sukkah is made with 3 sides with an opening in the front and the roof is made in such a way that the moon and the stars are visible as we remember the promise God made to Abraham that his descendants  would be more numerous than the stars. (Genesis 22:17)

During this festive season, we also recall how God’s faithfulness provided for our ancestors as they wandered the Sinai Desert wilderness for 40 years before entering the Promised Land of Israel. “You shall dwell in sukkot for seven days…that your future generations shall know that I had the children of Israel live in sukkot when I brought them out of Egypt.”  (Leviticus 23:42–43)  

Another observance carried out each day of Sukkot  is the Four Species: an etrog (citron), a lulav (palm frond), three hadassim (myrtle twigs) and two aravot (willow twigs).  They are bound together in such a way that they can be held together easily. Then the four species are taken up with the right hand and the etrog is taken with the left hand. A blessing is recited over the Four Species: “Blessed are You, Lord God, king of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to take the lulav.” Facing the direction where the Temple in Jerusalem once stood, the Four Species are then shaken in all six directions: right, left, forward, up, down and backward. This may seem strange to most Christians today, but is it any more strange than churches’ order of worship service—stand up, sit down, kneel, or the time when worship services begin? I am of the opinion that if God told us to perform all these things while sitting cross legged in a lotus position, I would gladly comply. 

Rabbinic tradition explains that the Four Species represent the various personalities that make up the community of Israel.  They are held together while a blessing is recited over them to bless the unity of all people, which is emphasized on Sukkot. But another reason for this strange commandment may be that the four species represents all the people whom God had dispersed to the four corners of the earth. (Isaiah 11:12; Mark 13:27) We move the Four Species three times in each of six directions immediately after reciting the blessing. We do this by extending the Four Species in each direction: eastward, southward, westward and northward, upwards and downwards. After each movement, the lulav and etrog are brought towards the heart. We do this to possibly remind ourselves that omnipresent God is everywhere—and in our hearts.

One of the names for Sukkot is ‘The Season of Our Joy’.  In fact, in Scripture the word “joy” appears several times in connection with Sukkot. “Be joyful at your Feast—you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns.…For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.”  (Deuteronomy 16:13–15) Did you miss that? God said it was a joyful celebration for everyone—including the aliens, or non-Jews! (See Exodus 12:49 and Numbers 15:15) Since Sukkot is also a harvest festival, we can well imagine that there is great reason for joy.

Eating and drinking during Sukkot? 

“You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. And before the LORD your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the LORD your God chooses, to set his name there, then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household. And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you.” (Deuteronomy 14:22-27) 

Did you see that? God tells us to “spend the money for whatever we desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves.” But let me repeat this because most Christians don’t understand this. God tells us to eat, drink and be merry before Him! We are commanded to have a good time at the feast! So much for the teaching that strong drink and wine are forbidden by Scripture. Many may misinterpret this Scripture to mean that God commands us to get drunk. This could not be further from the truth! Scripture is clear that getting drunk is forbidden. (Proverbs 20:1; Leviticus 10:9; Romans 13:13; Ephesians 5:18)  A person should only drink if it will lead to positive spiritual results. (e.g. under the loosening affect of alcohol, having a greater awareness of the love for God and His word and the people around you found deep in the heart.

The whole point of God’s feasts is to allow us to be joyful before the Lord and to worship Him for all the good things He has given us. So eat, drink and be merry for all of God’s many blessings!

What’s so bad about that? 

“Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths.” (Zechariah 14:16)

Many Christians today claim that we don’t need to observe any of God’s commandments in the Old Testament anymore because we are no longer under the Law but under grace; and that Jesus gave us a NEW commandment to love one another. (John 13:34)

Interestingly, when asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus simply quoted the commandments already found in Leviticus 19:18 and Deuteronomy 6:5. When Jesus spoke these words, his words were not revolutionary or new. They were merely confirmation of what was already revealed in the Torah. (The only Bible people had in the first century). 

So why did Jesus say that he was giving a new commandment? Perhaps in the first century, just like today, people had been ignoring the greatest commandment of the Scriptures?  

Jewish sages Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Hillel both taught that loving one’s neighbor was of primary importance. Hillel was famous for saying, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to another. That is the whole Law. The rest is commentary. Now go and learn.” 

Jesus was part of a faith system based on the Tanakh (OT) that encouraged study, debate and practice of one’s faith. Jesus never rejected the teachings of the Scriptures.  And neither did the apostles or the early Church. Rather, they all sought to encourage those around them to understand the truths of God’s Word and incorporate them in daily life. 

Jewish people teach that there are 613 commandments given by God. Exodus 20 lists only 10 commandments to live by. But most fail to obey most (or any) of them. Jesus gave us only two commandments: To love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And to love one another as he loves us. (Matthew 22:37-40) But sadly, most Christians today refuse to even obey those two! The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 6:15: “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law, but under grace? Certainly not!”

Today we are under a deluge of hate, racism and violence; and we are told that this is the “new normal”. This is NOT the new normal! This is not normal at all! And this is not God’s will for us. So how do we return to normal?

God answers that when He said, “If I close the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send a plague among My people, and if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wickedness, THEN I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14) God has been waiting for generations for His people to do just that, but they refuse.

Remember the words of Jesus: 

“But understand this: If the homeowner had known in which watch of the night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. For this reason, you must also be ready, because the Son of man will come at an hour you do not expect….”  (Matthew 24:36-51)

The apostle John wrote: “By this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome…” (1 John 5:2-3)

If people can’t tell the difference between how you act, speak and live and how unbelievers act, speak and live, then why would anyone have a desire to know God? 

We are now less than a year away from the most consequential election in our country, and not one of the candidates has prioritized addressing the epidemic of child sexual abuse (CSA) as an important issue. 

Many of these survivors of CSA are now adult voters and they aren’t just people looking for services. They are constituents looking for a change to the system. They are working people, taxpayers and consumers who push through their trauma every day—despite being erased by a world that tells them they aren’t as important as the economy, employment, immigration reform or climate change.

 90% of victims of CSA know their abuser well. Many of them live in the same home with them. And even when a perpetrator is arrested and convicted, most judges only sentence them to probation and require them to register as a sex offender. But 23 states, (Including Nebraska) place no restrictions on those convicted of sexually abusing a child. Many of them continue their daily lives without much consequence or repercussions.  

This kind of early childhood trauma has been documented to cause life-long mental, emotional and physical health problems for victims well into adulthood. A child who is the victim of prolonged sexual abuse usually develops low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness and an abnormal or distorted view of sex. They also become high risk for drug and alcohol addiction and involvement in other criminal activity. 

President Trump recently made animal cruelty a felony. But there is no federal law that places restrictions on convicted perpetrators of CSA. In fact, there are stricter restrictions on those who abuse animals than for those who abuse children!

And yet no one in the legislature or the current administration has the guts to publicly grapple with this bipartisan issue. It is high time that that the men and women who represent us in the in the Nebraska legislature, as well as in Washington, respond to this national epidemic. I have heard many of you say that children are our future. But what kind of future will we have if millions of our children become wounded adults who struggle with emotional and mental problems because of childhood trauma? 

I have written many of you on this subject before. But the very few of you that responded told that there was nothing you could do. Nothing? Really? IT IS YOUR JOB TO DO SOMETHING!

Our children deserve representatives who value their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—our future and prosperity may well depend on it.

Sincerely,

Jonah Reuben

As a father myself, my heart breaks when my children are bitter towards me. I remember years ago when I was living in New Mexico I paid for my daughter to come and visit me. After she arrived she spent most of her time with her cousins and  other family members while ignoring me. One day I began complaining to God. I said, “God, I paid for her to come here so we could spend time together and she’s spending time with everyone but me. I’ve done so much for her and she just ignores me as if I wasn’t even here and…” Then I stopped myself and said, “ Oh God, is this how I made you feel when I ignored you? I am so sorry. Please forgive me.”

In 2013 my wife and I discovered that our oldest granddaughter was sexually abused when she was 11 years old by her then step-father. We took steps to gain legal custody of our grandaughter in order to keep her safe. The step-father was later charged and convicted of child abuse, but was only sentenced to probation. My daughter still blames us for her ex-husband’s legal problems and for destroying her marriage. Currently my daughter still refuses to speak with me or allow my wife and I to see our grandchildren.

How much more must it break God’s heart when He sees His children ignoring Him and His word while behaving so badly toward each other with instances of everyday nastiness, foolishness, lack of empathy and shortsightedness. 

I remember when my grandfather was on his death bed and called his for his children to come to his hospital bed. After my aunts and uncles arrived they asked my grandfather what he needed. He just smiled and told them that he didn’t need anything. He just wanted to be surrounded by his children without having them fight with each other.

The Day of Atonement (September 27th – 28th, 2020) is a solemn day when God instructs us that we must set aside our usual family and commercial activities to fast and pray and mentally review our actions over the past year, identifying all those whom we have caused pain, or behaved unjustly towards. And to seek out those whom we have frustrated, angered, discarded casually or otherwise betrayed and offer them a complete and sincere apology—and recompense them, if necessary. This is God’s will for the requirement for forgiveness—so long as the apology is real. 

I challenge all of God’s people reading this to take a cue from God’s word and use the Day of Atonement (And every day) to repent, fast and pray and make amends with those you have hurt with either your words or actions. 

“With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, this should not be!” (James 3:9-10)

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like fine oil on the head, running down on the beard, running down Aaron’s beard over the collar of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon falling on the mountains of Zion. For there the LORD has bestowed the blessing of life forevermore.” (Psalm 133)

Most Christians today have been convinced that God’s Sabbaths and Feast days and Old Testament laws are for the Jews only. They have been taught that they do not apply to Christians today because we no longer live under the law, but under grace. But Leviticus 23 tells us that all of the Sabbaths and Feast Days and their instructions are not Jewish only, but they are God’s Sabbaths and Feast Days. And God said His laws apply to everyone—the Jew and non-Jew alike. (Exodus 12:48-49; Leviticus 24:22)

Interestingly, the celebrations that are for Jews only are: Purim, Hanukkah, Holocaust Remembrance Day and Israeli Independence Day.  All of them commemorate when people tried to eliminate the Jews—but failed. And not one of these traditional Jewish observances were commanded by God, but by the Jews themselves. 

This is no different than how the Christian church has exchanged God’s Sabbaths and Feast Days for Sunday worship and other traditional holidays of man—Christmas, Easter, Lent, and Good Friday.

Over the years I have been criticized, despised and become the brunt of people’s jokes because of my speaking God’s truth from His word. It wasn’t always like that. I too believed as most Christians do. I celebrated Christmas and Easter and I had many Christian friends and had happy times of fellowship with them—As long as I stayed in the same lane as they did. But once I spoke out about how God revealed His truth to me from His word, by His spirit, all of that changed. Ones whom I thought were my friends avoided me—and even family members turned against me. All because I dared to speak God’s truth from his word. 

I have asked many Christians, “If Jesus’ death and resurrection did away with our obligation to observe God’s Sabbath and Feast Days, were all the apostles and early Church wrong to do so?” I have never gotten a reasonable answer. And as far as I know, none of them have ever sought out the answer in Scripture with an open mind.  

Now I know God well enough to know that I am not the only one that He revealed His truth to and believes the same way as I do. And I know that just like Elijah, God has reserved thousands who have not bent their knee to the traditions of man and false teachings. (Even though as yet I have not met any of them personally)

We are definitely living in the last days. How do I know that?  Because in spite of my years of praying for hours at a time for God to send revival to His church and lead us to repentance, God’s people still have not repented of their wickedness. They have a form of godliness but deny its power. And in spite of the availability of God’s word to everyone in America and across most of the world, many Christians still do not tolerate sound doctrine, but with “itching ears” they gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires. (See 2 Timothy 2 & 3) 

The Law (Torah) is not merely the written Mosaic Law, but the announcement of God’s will by the mouth of his prophets. And there is a contrast between the lawlessness and ruin of a people uninfluenced by its guidance and the joyful state of those who obey the voice of God—whether conveyed in the Old Testament or by the teachings of the apostles. 

Many today are trying to understand the cause of all the anger, hate and rioting happening now. The answer is in the Bible. “When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.” (Proverbs 29:18 NLT) 

That’s exactly what happened to the Hebrews in the desert (Exodus 32:24-25), and also to the Israelites under the king of Assyria ( 2 Kings 17: 6-17), and is happening now with us. Remember brothers and sisters, the apostle Peter wrote that “it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God…” (1 Peter 4:17). And the apostle Paul wrote that if anyone preaches a gospel contrary to the one he preached, they will be accursed! (Galatians 1) So shouldn’t we find out just what the true gospel is that Paul preached? Because the gospel that Paul preached is not what is being preached in most churches today.

It is time that we Christians begin to really study God’s word and obey what God says. But be warned! When you open your eyes, heart and mind to God’s truth in His word, and determine yourself to obey God’s word and His commandments, you will become the target of those who deny God’s truth. But be of good cheer, God will help us to endure until the end; when we hear our Lord say: “Well done my good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord.”

God’s commandments were not designed to take away our freedom but to make us free.

Yom Kippur / The Day of Atonement Begins at sundown on September 27th – 28th, 2020. It is the second of the Fall Feast Days commanded by God. Although, it is not so much a Feast day as it is a fast day and a repentance day—and why it is one of the most holy days of the Hebrew calendar.

“This is to be a permanent statute for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month, you shall humble yourselves and not do any work—whether the native or the foreigner who resides among you—because on this day atonement will be made for you to cleanse you, and you will be clean from all your sins before the LORD. It is a Sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble yourselves; it is a permanent statute…This is to be a permanent statute for you, to make atonement once a year for the Israelites because of all their sins.” (Leviticus 16:29-34)

The Day of Atonement points to the day of the Second Coming of Messiah when he will return to set up God’s kingdom on earth. It will be the Day of Atonement for all nations when they will “look upon him whom they have pierced,” repent of their sins, and The Jews will receive Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah. (Zechariah 12:10; Romans 11:1-6; 25-36)

Yom Kippur is described as a Shabbat of solemn rest in the Torah, a day of fasting, prayer, and reflection. It is the culmination of a period of time during which we are required to take stock of their lives, to ask forgiveness from friends and family, and to take steps toward self-improvement for the year to come. As with other of God’s holy days, the Day of Atonement is not a “Jewish only” holy day. Notice that in Leviticus 16 God told Moses that the Day of Atonement is a “permanent” statute. And it is to be observed by both the “native or the foreigner” who resides among the Israelites.

Traditionally, Jews believe that after judging a person for their deeds over the past year, God decides who will be sealed in the Book of Life. But most simply use the day as a time to reflect on what they want to do differently and how to improve their lives in the year to come.

Yom Kippur is observed for a 25-hour period, beginning at sundown, by refraining from work that is prohibited on Shabbat, and refrain from eating or drinking. Some add five additional prohibitions: bathing; anointing the body with oil; wearing leather shoes; and having sexual relations, but I have yet to find any Scriptural proof of this. In fact, Jesus said, “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.” And in Isaiah 58 the prophet tells us that the fast that God chooses is to “loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free.”  

There are two meals associated with Yom Kippur: the pre-fast meal and the break-fast meal (obviously, for the duration of the fasting holiday, no food or drink is allowed). The pre-fast meal is known as seudah ha-mafaseket (literally, “meal of separation” or “concluding meal”). Meals usually should be prepared with minimum salt, as this could cause dehydration during the fast. It is also important to drink plenty of water before the fast. *Because of health problems or because of their age, some may be excused from a complete fast. To avoid complications, those people should try to only drink fruit and vegetable juice. 

The break-fast meal usually consists of hi-carb dairy foods, and sometimes brunch-style recipes like bagels, quiches, soufflés, eggs, cheese, etc. While others indulge in heavier traditional meals with soups, salads or brisket. 

The Importance of Atonement 

‘Atonement’ to many is an unfamiliar and foreign word. According to the dictionary, it means the action of making amends for a wrong or injury, but in the context of the teachings of the prophets, Jesus and apostles, it also involves reparation or amendment for sin:

 “…If someone sins and acts unfaithfully against the LORD by deceiving his neighbor…He must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value, and pay it to the owner on the day he acknowledges his guilt.” (Leviticus 6:1-6)

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven…For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:36-38) 

“But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, half of my possessions I give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will repay it fourfold.” (Luke 19:8)

It seems that Christians today believe that the way to amend for a wrong is to pray, ask God for forgiveness, and God will cleanse them of their sin. This is always a good thing to do, but they fail to deal with what is the far larger problem of wrongs committed: Instances of everyday nastiness, error, foolishness, lack of empathy and shortsightedness. Leaving the wrongs unaddressed is not only wrong, but sinful.

Here, as in so many areas, we can be inspired by the example of God’s word. God’s word has always given us a particular insight on how to focus on the hurt of others. God knows how easy it is for us to feel it, how hard it is to express it, but also how awkward but necessary it is for us to make amends for perpetrating it. We discover God’s response in the Day of Atonement. 

The Day of Atonement is a solemn day when God instructs us that we must set aside our usual family and commercial activities and mentally review our actions over the past year, identifying all those whom we have caused pain, or behaved unjustly towards. And also to seek out those whom we have frustrated, angered, discarded casually or otherwise betrayed and offer them a complete apology and recompense, if necessary.

This is God’s will as the requirement for forgiveness—so long as the apology is real. I have experienced people who have told me that they were sorry for doing something that hurt me, but their actions let me know that they weren’t sincere. I have even had some who claim that they wanted to apologize to me for bad feelings they had against me, but they really only wanted to let me know what I said or did that upset them.

Too many times we run away from our victims and act with strange rudeness towards them—not because we aren’t bothered by what we did, but because what we did makes us feel uncomfortable around them. Our victims therefore, have to suffer not only the original hurt, but also the subsequent coldness we display towards them on account of our own guilty conscience. 

But the Day of Atonement helps to correct this. A period in which human error is proclaimed as a general truth makes it easier to confess our sins to each other. It is more bearable to own up to the hurt we have caused others when we realize how cleansing it will be for us.

We, as God’s people, need to learn from the Day of Atonement. Functioning without a culture of atonement implies that we are okay, or that our imperfections and sinfulness are all covered by God’s grace. Of course we are deeply imperfect, but we can’t ever progress and live together in harmony if we can’t regularly offer and accept a sincere apology. We need to learn, from God’s word and the example of Jesus and the apostles how to confess our sins, not only to God, but to each other. And forgive ourselves and others. So what’s so wrong with that?

And after we complete our fast and realize how much we need to repent and change maybe, just maybe, we will begin to try to understand each other a little more. 

“We’ve turned from Your ways

Lord Your fruit we’ve ceased to bear

We lack the power we once knew in our prayers

That gentle voice from heaven

We cease to hear and know

The fact that He has risen no longer stirs our soul

Revive us oh Lord

Revive us oh Lord

And cleanse us from our impurities

And make us holy

Hear our cry

And revive us oh Lord!”

“With trumpets and the blast of the horn shout for joy before the LORD, the King.” —Psalm 98:6 

“When you enter into battle in your land against an adversary who attacks you, sound short blasts on the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the LORD your God and saved from your enemies. And on your joyous occasions, your appointed feasts, and the beginning of each month, you are to blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will serve as a reminder for you before your God. I am the LORD your God.” —Numbers 10:9-10 

“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” —1 Corinthians 15:51-52

In next the few weeks I will be writing a series of articles about God’s Fall Feast Days. No, this is not another article about how we are commanded by God to observe His Feast Days. I have written enough on that subject. Besides, there enough books to fill libraries across the world on what the Bible says what we should and should not do. No, this is about the instructions on how we observe His Feasts and ask the question, “Why do Christians think it’s so bad to observe God’s Feast Days?” 

To many, the fall is their favorite time of year—the cool, crips air, the beauty  of the turning of the leaves, harvesting apples and savoring the flavors of fall. But my favorite part of fall are the Fall Feast Days ordained by God in the Bible. These Feasts Days also point to Messiah. But unlike the Spring Feasts Days that represent Jesus’ first coming, It is generally believed that the Fall Feasts refer to his return, or the Second Coming. Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) this year begins at sunset, September 18th and ends at nightfall, September 20th. 

On the first day of the seventh month (Tishri) the Hebrews were instructed to have a special solemn Sabbath followed by a ten-day period of repentance known as the High Holy Days. (Leviticus 23:23-25) The new year of the civil calendar began on this day. (Nisan was the beginning of the religious calendar) 

I know I’m in the minority of Christians who observe these holy days, but I delight in the opportunity to proclaim what God has done for me and those around me. Unlike ancient Israel, I am not bound by the law for God’s favor and forgiveness, but it is my joy and privilege to reflect upon Gods faithfulness throughout the course of history. 

During Rosh Hashanah we celebrate the harvest and God’s faithfulness in providing for us. When we blow the shofar, we remember how He has shown up over and over again to defend us in our battles and we celebrate His victories with praise. The trumpet (or shofar) sounded a battle call (Numbers 10) so when we blow the shofar, we are both declaring war on our enemy, the devil, and remembering the source of our strength—our God. 

Rosh Hashanah has become very special to my heart. A lot of time is spent around the table tasting and savoring God’s goodness. In my home, we invite friends to gather with us in celebration and praise to God for all the good things He has given us and for His promise of a good year to come. We even take turns  sounding the shofar to proclaim God’s goodness. We spend hours planning a special meal filled with the traditional, sweet foods of Rosh Hashanah. We dip a special round Challah bread and apples in honey as a way to remember God’s goodness. It is a festive celebration of God’s goodness. It’s not something we have to do, it’s something we get to do. 

Setting aside these Feast Days, helps me put a grounding and purpose to my life. Celebrating God’s Feasts also puts structure in my life. When our time is our own, we’re often prone to wander from God’s commandments. But when we surrender our life and our time around God’s works, our thoughts are taken captive to the obedience of  Messiah. (2 Corinthians 10:5) Above all, by observing God’s Feast days we show God how much we love Him in return. (1 John 5:3) 

So this Feast of Trumpets, I’ll stop and remember the goodness of God in my life. I will thank Him for His faithfulness in the past year and pray for the upcoming year to be sweet. 

Our table will be opened to friends and family, so together, we will partake in celebrating God’s Feast and His goodness. I think of it as practice for when every tribe and every nation will gather around the Lord’s table for the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.

So I ask, “What’s so bad about that?”