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It’s Not That My Life Is All That Different; It’s Just That I See It Differently

It's Not That My Life Is All That Different; It's Just That I See It Differently: Chaiway.orgAs I sit down to type this, 2019 is merely hours away. There is something exciting about a new year, the concept of a fresh start, a clean slate, doing things differently. Yet, there is nothing magical about the transition from December 31 to January 1 each year.  According to a January 3, 2017 Business Insider article, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February.  Reality is that your life (and mine) is not going to be all that different tomorrow or next week or next month, from what it is right now. While making resolutions and gritting one’s teeth determined to make it work, this time, can perhaps have some noble intentions, the reality is that the more we focus on ourselves and make a list of laws we must keep in order to be successful, or be happy, or whatever our bottom line goal is, the more we will fail.

I see my life differently these days. Not just on December 31, but every day. Goals are important, having a direction to move in is important, but I know full well it is not possible for me to live these goals, this direction, perfectly.  I am not here to become a better me, I am here because God placed me here. It is that simple.

In the Tanakh (Old Testament) there are so many laws. Religious Jews have added to these laws with the The Talmud consisting of the Mishnah and the Gemara. The Mishnah refers to the oral law that, according to tradition, was given alongside the written Torah. The Gemara is rabbinic commentary on the Mishnah. 613 laws to follow! That is a heavy weight to bear! 

Now I am Jewish however I am not simply going to point out the Jewish law, look at Catholicism or actually any organized religion and you will find an endless list of dos and don’ts, religious practices, traditions, rules, requirements, how tos.

But hey, God is sovereign, He created each one of us, He knew we would each go our own way.  Isaiah 53:6We all went astray like sheep, we have turned, each one on his way, and the Lord accepted his prayers for the iniquity of all of us.”

Who is the “he” in “his prayers”?  In context with the rest of the Tanakh, it is clearly the Messiah, our savior, the One God sent to save us from ourselves. You can read The Big Picture of this concept here.

I see my life differently now because I seek not to focus on myself, but to focus on God.  I have been sick with Flu type A and then a secondary infection of bronchitis since this past Wednesday and I will say it has been a rough bout of illness. I never before was a fan of the flu shot, after this experience, while the flu shot is not 100% against every flu virus, it certainly is more protective than going without. Considering how physically horrible I have felt and still feel, it is very easy for me to default onto the pity pot. But God. Through all of this there has been such a strong reminder from Him that while of course this illness is not His perfect will for me at this time, it is His permissive will. He is allowing it for His purposes, the multilayered, multifaceted purposes that they might be. Does that make me angry at Him? Not at this stage of my life because I understand the meaning of the word sovereignty. God is in complete control of every molecule of existence, out there and in here. My definition of good may not be His definition of good but He knows the full scope of a situation meanwhile I know just my own little corner of it.  And in focusing on God and that for whatever reasons He is allowing this situation, I have been able to relax and listen, despite the cough, the pain, the exhaustion, and hear what God has to say in many different areas.  Not that I am enjoying this illness at all, but it has actually been a really special time.

So on that note, I wish you a happy new year! May you grow deeper in the knowledge of God’s grace, wherever you are on this journey called life.

With love,
Diane

 

 

Gospel Tract

A gospel tract is simply a paper, booklet or other tangible piece of writing that explains the gospel message in some clear way with a call for the reader to repent (turn from current status making a complete change of direction toward God) and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Please feel free to download, print, and distribute as you wish.  It is set up to be one sheet of 8 1/2″ by 11″ paper, printed double sided.

The Gospel Tract is below.
In Real Life

Christmas

Happy Birthday Jesus.jpgYes, it is common knowledge that Jesus was most likely NOT born on December 25.  For a fantastic detailed analysis, here is an outside link that delves deep into it.

Christmas is also not a holiday observance outlined in scripture in any way, shape or form.

However, why not celebrate Jesus’ birthday on the day that is commonly utilized? We have Presidents’ Day on the third Monday in February to commemorate President Washington’s and President Lincoln’s birthdays. That assigned day is not their actual birthdays.  We celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November yet the event that we commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621.

That being said, as a Jewish follower of Jesus, one who based on the evidence knows that Jesus is the promised Messiah of the Hebrew scriptures, I celebrate Jesus every day. I do not need a set aside day to celebrate Him. I also don’t find the cultural celebration of Christmas to be something I connect with. We light the menorah for Hanukkah. I do display the nativity scene as that speaks the message of the first Christmas, the birth of Jesus. However we do not desire nor put up Christmas trees, Christmas lights, etc. And as a Jewish family, we do not have extended family interested in a family gathering as a Christmas celebration.

BUT, if you do desire to put up a Christmas tree, there is absolutely no reason for you not to! You are not renouncing your Jewish identity, or any other identity. It is simply a tree, something beautiful and seasonal. I do feel that we as Jewish followers of Jesus are in an interesting position, people being more cognizant of the traditions we follow, are we Jewish enough, Christian enough, have we forsaken our roots, changed religions, the analysis goes on and on. It is ridiculous. And sad! And yet, a privilege! Because when leveraged healthfully, it can open the door to some awesome conversations!

So do I ignore the day? No!

Whether attending a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service, or going into Manhattan with my family and friends to go to Rockefeller Center, or driving around looking at beautiful Christmas displays, or being out of town and enjoying Christmas displays and celebrations there, or whatever else we may find to do, we glorify God and recognize Jesus in all we do.

Christmas is a special, set apart day, and we embrace that, in our private and personal ways. What I do find essential is to ensure that I am doing something. I learned from our very first Christmas as a Jewish family who followed Jesus. We were home, alone, the four of us. Our children were young but old enough to feel the isolation we felt. It was lonely and isolating. Everyone else we knew was with extended family, having their family traditions, many almost sadly boastful about it or oblivious to those who did not have that. 

God taught me much in that place of isolation and loneliness! God has given us much and only for the purpose of giving out to others. Not just on the days surrounding holidays, but on the actual day! Since then, always out and about on Christmas. I and we (whoever I am with) always have a great time (and if I would happen to not have anyone to be with on a particular Christmas, I would absolutely be out and about on my own! Being out also provides wonderful opportunities to ever so slightly impact others. Saying Merry Christmas to others we see. Or a smile and a hello in passing. Having some pre paid gift cards to local food stores or fast food chains to hand out to people we pass who are clearly in need. These have become our Christmas traditions and I am grateful to God for how He developed them in me and in us!

Happy Birthday Jesus! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Menorah Lighting Prayers: Hanukkah/Chanukah

Hanukkah 2018

Rabbinic Jewish Prayers
Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments, and commanded us to light Hanukah lights.
Baruch Ata Adonai Elohaynu Melech ha-olam, ah-sher kid-shah-nu b’mitz-voh-tayv v’tzee-vah-nu l’had-leek ner shel Hanukah.

Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our fathers in those days at this season.
Baruch Ata Adonai Elohaynu Melech ha-olam, she-ah-sah ni-seem la-ah-vo-tay-nu ba-ya-meem ha-hem baz-man ha-zeh.

Messianic Jewish Prayers
Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has given us holidays, customs, and times of happiness, to increase the knowledge of God and to build us up in our most holy faith.
Baruch Ata Adonai Elohaynu Melech ha-olam, ah-sher nah-tan lah-nu cha-gim, min-ha-gim, oo-mo-ah-dim l’sim-cha, l’hag-deel et da-at Adonai, v’liv-not oh-tah-nu b’emunah ki-do-shah v’na-ah-lah.

Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our fathers in those days at this season.
Baruch Ata Adonai Elohaynu Melech ha-olam, she-ah-sah ni-seem la-ah-vo-tay-nu ba-ya-meem ha-hem baz-man ha-zeh.

Additional prayer on the first night (both Rabbinic and Messianic)
Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, who granted us life, sustained us and permitted us to reach this season.
Baruch Ata Adonai Elohaynu Melech ha-olam, she-he-che-yanu v’kee-ma-nu v’hi-gee-ah-nu laz-man ha-zeh.

The candles are lit from right to left. The first candle is placed on the right side of the Menorah, and the second one placed directly to the left. But lighting them starts from the left and moves to the right. Thus the first candle that is lit is the new candle added for that day. The Shamash candle (the tallest) is used to light the others.

The only candle that has a truly deeper significance is the Shamash. This candle is symbolic of Jesus, who came to be a servant, bringing light into the world, and then took His place, once again above the others. Philippians 2:6-10who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

However, we absolutely can find scriptural significance for each candle being lit each night! These are simply my selections. You might find other scriptures that speak to you each night.
First: Genesis 1:3-4 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw the light that it was good, and God separated between the light and between the darkness.

Second: Exodus 13:21-22 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to cause it to lead them on the way and at night in a pillar of fire to give them light, [they thus could] travel day and night. He did not move away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire at night [from] before the people.
Third: Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; from whom shall I be frightened?
Fourth: Psalm 119:105 Your words are a lamp for my foot, and light for my path.
Fifth: Isaiah 60:1-3 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has shone upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and a gross darkness the kingdoms, and the Lord shall shine upon you, and His glory shall appear over you. And nations shall go by your light and kings by the brilliance of your shine.
Sixth: Proverbs 15:24 The path of life is above the intelligent person, in order that he turn away from the grave below.
Seventh: Daniel 12:3 And the wise will shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who bring the multitudes to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.
Eighth:  Isaiah 25:8 He has concealed death forever, and the Lord God shall wipe the tears off every face, and the shame of His people He shall remove from upon the entire earth, for the Lord has spoken.

Chag Shamash – Happy Holiday!

 

 

Dreidel Game: Hanukkah/Chanukah

Dreidel Game and Meaning

dreidel-sides-letters

 
What You’ll Need:
A dreidel.

Tokens (use chocolate coins, small candies, pennies, anything like that).
A flat playing surface. 

The Dreidel:
The dreidel game commemorates a game that Jewish people played to hide their Bible study, at a time that they were not allowed to study their Bible. 

Hanukkah celebrates a victory over an oppressor, and the miracle of light that would not be extinguished when a few drops of oil miraculously burned for eight days and nights in 165 B.C.   We are reminded to boldly let our light shine, living in a way that honors God, and giving thanks to God for all He does for us. 

The letters on the dreidel stand for the Hebrew words “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham” (a great miracle happened there).  In Israel, the dreidel has a Pay instead of a Shin for “Nes Gadol Hayah Po” (a great miracle happened here).  The letters also stand for Yiddish words giving game instructions. 

How to Play:
1. Sit around the table or in a circle on the floor.
2. Everyone starts with the same number of tokens.
3. Each player puts one token in the center of the playing area (the pot).
4. Players take turns spinning the dreidel. Use the chart below to determine what to do:

 

  Nun – Player does nothing.

 

  Gimmel – Player takes all the tokens in the pot.

 

  Hay – Player takes half of the tokens in the pot.

 

  Shin – Players add one token to the pot.

 

5. When there are fewer than two tokens in the pot, each player puts one more token in the pot.
6. Play continues until someone has all the tokens.  That person is the winner.