Saturday, July 28, 2012

Earlier this morning, I sat down on my bed with my laptop computer, and put my mind to my final exam in the humanities.  Though this post is not necessarily about school, examinations, or humanities in general, my story does involve school for just a few moments...

..last night I laid down in my bed - covers on - and began to run my day thoroughly through my brain (as per the usual night).  I began to almost panic at the thought of my final exam. Such discouraging thoughts ran through my head such as "What if I sleep too late?"  "What if I choke?"  Both of these have happened to me, so the worry doesn't come without proper merit.  When I realized that I wasn't going to be falling asleep to these thoughts, I closed my eyes as tight as my head could squeeze them and said, "Father, please forgive me, but I have to ask of you what you have already given me."  At that moment He said two things... He said within my soul, "Calm yourself child." When I took my eyes off of Him, and  began to fret even more than before, He said with a chuckle, "Oh you of little faith!"

It was then that I fell asleep.

The following morning I completed my final within two hours (2,000 word essay in two hours, not bad?)  Then I decided to leave for synagogue.

As I entered my synagogue, I was met by beautiful music.  Beautiful singing on top of beautiful music is a gift that only G-d can Inspire.  And when I enter His presence, tears well up in my eyes, my heart swells, and I know He is not only a G-d, but a Father who will never cease His affection, love, and caring for me (and you).

Lately I have been taking days off from my studies (on Shabbat) as I have now been striving to keep this day holy, as commanded within the Torah and the Gospels (which is a reiteration of the Torah, as spoken by Y'shua).  It is said (and this is true) that the day of the Sabbath is the one day when we are to be free of the toil of this earth.  The one day where we are to focus our minds, bodies, and spirits to the one who has given us life.  In that way, we grow closer to the L-rd, as all of those who are willing, will enter His rest.

As of late, I have been more steadfast in keeping that day holy.  In the past I would often abandon synagogue to get an extra day of studying in.  This past summer was different, as I now have different priorities.  Not to say that studying isn't important to me (it's one of the most important materials in my life), however, I have realized why G-d has commanded me to go to school.  Why He has given me a goal, and a hope for my future.  It is all for His kingdom.  Without Him, I would not - to say the least - fare well in the realm of Scholasticism.

There are also practical and scientific reasons for the observance of the Jewish Sabbath.  For instance, after 5 or 6 days of working, the mind and body not only desire, but cannot survive without one day of recuperation.  In Physiology, it is often taught that after a strenuous workout, it is essential to rest the body.  Rest is no minor factor in the rebuilding of muscle tissue.  In academics, sleep organizes thoughts within the brain and consciousness. This is why, in a secular sense, Shabbat is important.  In a non-secular sense, we also observe the Sabbath to rebuild and renew our spiritual strength.

Going back to my original thesis, when the L-rd says to His child, "Calm yourself..."  we need to take into account His Sabbath.  The day that the calm has been intended.  We as the body of Messiah are often plagued with the troubles of this world, but Y'shua is always saying, "Calm yourself..."

"Calm yourself child, for your Father is with you."

"I gave them my decrees and made known to them my laws, by which the person who obeys them will live. Also I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I the Lord made them holy." Ezekiel 20:11-12, NIV.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hello readers,

Tonight I was inspired to write a short blog for the non-Jewish believers; both those who attend a Messianic congregation, as well as those who dwell within Gentile congregations.

For a short blog, I wanted to hit on the importance of Gentile believers, who are rapidly coming to the side of Israel... just to note, there are also many Gentile believers who have left Israel's side for the sake of political and social reasons.  But tonight I want to dedicate some time to the loyal few who are ushering in the Jewish Messiah within a Christian congregation:

To sum this up in a few words - all who believe that Y'shua is the Messiah and G-d have been redeemed from their iniquities.  The catcher is, the ones who will truly stand the test of time are the ones who love and support Israel as the home of our G-d.  There are many professed "believers" who live a hypocritical life in the sense that their system of faith is not based upon the teachings of the Torah/Y'shua, but single verses within the Old and New covenants that are left without proper interpretation.

With that said (and onward with the blog), there are many within various leadership positions (whether in the  home or the congregation) who abuse their position as the head of the household.  These people are most often the cause of religious rebellion, as well as permanent scars on the foreheads of those who remain within the faith.  These people are often the cause of such heinous acts of self-mutilation, and even suicide.*

For this reason (and many others), it is more important than ever that Christian and Jewish leaders be accountable for the things they have done.  Whether in the past, present, or any failing they will encounter in the future.  The leadership of the family, as well as the congregation are the example of the Messiah that He, Y'shua, has given us... when they fail that example, lives fall apart.  It is more often than not, that these leaders are part of the Gentile community.

As a restatement, the  Gentile believers are an essential part of those who wish to usher in the Messiah.**  It is prevalent that the popular media will pounce on those unsuspecting Christian ministers who make one or several mistakes; this then, is the image that is given to all believers. The image of lust, stupidity, ignorance, and anger is all too often portrayed as the truth of those who practice Y'shua-centric religions.  It has become that what the Gentile does is a reflection of all those who believe.  In this sense, it is important educate, comfort, and sympathize with our non-Jewish friends.  It is important that those who seek comfort within the congregation are fostered, loved, and understood beyond that of a Christian label.  It is important that we who are Jewish born, become vigilant to those who are new to the faith (and even those who have not made their decisions).

If we are to undo the trauma that religious abuse has done, we cannot do the same to those who surround us...

..."but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come..." Matthew 24:13-14 NIV

Thanks for reading,

*I call these acts heinous not because of judgement, but because I cannot find another word to describe the pain that many suffer on a daily basis.

**Although I refer to the Gentile as being essential to the ushering of Messiah, it is Biblical that it will not happen without the Jewish people coming to faith

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sometimes I have dreams.  Sometimes they have meaning, other times they are incredible.  Last night I had one of those dreams that I will remember for a very long time...

...For the past three nights, I have had trouble sleeping more or less.  Well I suppose I should say that I haven't been sleeping.  I had captured few hours of what scientists call "light sleep", in which I do not attain the REM state, but am still aware of my surroundings.  This is troublesome, as I had not received rest in the last three nights.

Last night was different.

I was lying in bed, neither in REM sleep nor in "light sleep".  I was wide awake.  I prayed for sleep, as I usually do, though this night, like the last few nights, the sleep wouldn't come.  I cannot honestly say when I began dreaming, but I do know that I closed my eyes and was in a very dark place.  I won't go into a discussion about hell, the abyss, or sheol (or whatever it is that you feel like calling it), however whatever your name for it is, I was there.  This is not a new phenomenon, as I have spent many nights fighting my way through the depths.

It was only a few moments though, and in all honesty, I cannot remember the circumstances which lead to His arrival.  I do remember calling out His name, and a door opened somewhere above my head.  I could hear it open, an age old door that creaked as if it had been opened constantly.  Light flooded the box - as in every instance, hell is a box, within a box, and within several more boxes, with each box progressively more terrifying.  The light was relentless, and filled every part of the torment.  A man walked through the door, and like previous occasions, when this man came into my presence, the torment ceased to function.  This man that came through the door was tall, nearly or over 300 feet tall.  He was broad and strong enough to defeat any terror, as well as to shoulder any and all burdens.

This man presented me with a kitten - a small kitten with black ears, black head, black body, and white face. This kitten was asleep, and peaceful, and slept in my left arm as my right hand gently touched his head.  When the man went back through the door (He was briefly out of my vision), the kitten stayed with me.  Terror again attempted to infiltrate my being, but in every instance that they tried to capture me, the kitten slowly let out a breath, as though he was holding it in anticipation.  In every instance that this kitten breathed, peace flooded my being.  I kissed the kittens head, and his white face.

Again, the enemy tried to infiltrate me, with microscopic bugs, they began to crawl on me, and bite my skin...  the man again came to me, fully infuriated by these.  Though His fury was not reflected in anger, but in an ever-present glow.  He came to me, and I asked him a simple question... "Can I take the kitty home?"  His reply was equally as simple, and with a smile so bright He said "No, because you already have two kitties, and you couldn't take care of another."  ...This is true.  I neither have the room nor finances to foster another precious kitten...

...The man left my sight yet again, however I was not afraid.

The kitten was still with me.

I began to wander.  I'm not sure where, though the darkness was thick.  I saw two people - two people whom I love, respect, admire.  I looked for a second, and the woman was glowing, and so was the man - though it wasn't the same man as before.  I looked at the woman and said, "You are an Angel..." She gave me single thumb-up.  She and the man took me in their arms, and we began fly (fly, float, levitate.. whichever suits you).  I still had my kitten.

They both brought me to the King, and this time He said to me, "I want to show you something."  When He said this, He passed through a gate, then He rolled away a stone wall.  Again, an enduring light shown in that place, and flooded me.  He passed through the stone wall (in which He rolled away), and then... He returned.

Music flooded my ears, and I said to Him in a loud and childish voice, "Are you REALLY coming back soon?  PLEASE come back soon!"  He smiled a teasing* smile, one that I still feel as I write this, and although I did not see them, the man and the woman were rejoicing.

I woke up that afternoon.  And as I walked downstairs, I stumble upon my own kitten... a brown and red haired tabby, of whom I call "the little lion of Judah."

I have had many dreams like this.  And I often tell my friends, whom I trust, love, and admire, that these are the moments in which the Lamb and I are closest.  Although this is slightly inaccurate, because Y'shua is always with me - right by my side - and I know He will never let me go.

Good day,

*When I was writing "teasing smile", I kept writing "teaching" instead.  And so it goes that He has a teaching smile, much like he teases us with hints of His kingdom, like a father teases their little baby.

This week marks the beginning of the end... of this semester.  I will be posting my final essay for English class, as well as working on my final studies for Humanities.  This is a semi-momentous occasion for me, as this September I am submitting applications for my Universities of choice; my top 5 Universities are as follows (in no particular order):

1) University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
2) New York University
3) Columbia University
4) University of Pennsylvania
5) Tufts University

These facilities rank among the top 30 of Universities in the world, which goes without saying that  they are pretty difficult to get into, without the tearing of many head-hairs.

Recently I have taken to studying many of the "greatest" entrance essays; these for universities such as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, etc... There are several unique characteristics about the entrance essay, however, the one that I would like to note this evening is the first sentence.  Although it is a good and practical idea to make every sentence relevant (such as within research), it strikes me that the first few words do not necessarily have to be related to the essay; for instance, the first sentence should strike the reader as wholly interesting, unique, and somewhat flirtatious with creativity.  To grab ones attention is the main goal of the the thesis statement.

Thesis statements... this term reminds of several occasions of pain, torture, and plagiarism.  And to bring me former rant to a somewhat abrupt halt, I shall now make way for my next illustrious babble:  Peer review.

The truth is, I do see a need for peer review, as well as collaborative efforts.  There is one slight problem with both of these:  The students.  Without tooting my own horn (well okay, just a little), I am somewhat apt to the writing styles of non-fiction/academic writing.  Many, many, students however (even in Advanced Composition) are not.  Generally, it is left unto myself, and any other student with talent to do all of the work.  This includes writing requested theses, outlines, and guidelines for the majority of the student body who is without the skill to complete such menial tasks.

I do, however, appreciate what peer work has to offer; an in-depth knowledge of collaborative work... and what will inevitably happen when I enter Archaeology.  I do expect, within my own future, to endure many incidents of fellow workers taking advantage of my work.

On the other hand, I do, and I have appreciated the work of my instructor.  She is worthy of faculty of the highest institutions, and no doubt will end up as a Professor of this little college.

To conclude this notation; I am sure that many students with talent and a mind for structure endure these issues many times over.  In a sense, I am only stating what every good student wishes to say:  "NOT PEER REVIEW AGAAAAAAAIIIIINNNN!!!"

Good day.