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The Jewish Website - aish.com Judaism - one stop for everything Jewish, Jewish Holidays, Israel News, Holocaust Studies, Jewish Spirituality, Weekly Torah Portion, Western Wall Camera, Aish HaTorah, aish,Parenting, Dating, Marriage, Bar Mitzvah, Shabbat, and more.
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Daily Torah Study | Chayenu Chayenu is a weekly subscription-based publication focused on the daily study cycles of Chumash, Rambam, Tanya and more, and features fresh content from a variety of Torah sources.
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Shiur.com | Your Online Yeshiva | Featuring The Best Selection of Shiurim | A Shiur On Any Torah Topic Video lectures on weekly Torah portion, character development, dating, marriage advice, parenting, intimacy, divorce, intermarriage, Jewish holidays, talmudic discussions, mishnah, halakha, Tanakh, Shabbat & much more. Watch a video Today.
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God, Judaism, Torah...Free Weekly Publication: The JewishTimes Magazine Judaism, God, & Orthodox Jewish Torah philosophy. Searchable articles on Judaism ''s principles. Subscribe to the FREE JewishTimes.
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Temple Emanu-El | Nevada's oldest Jewish congregation This week's Parsha: Vayetse – the 7th weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading. This week's parsha is about Jacob and begins with the words, "vayetze ya yakov," meaning Jacob departed. Jacob left Bersheba and set out for Charan. This is a very rich and complex parsha which has been discussed, dissected and debated by rabbinical experts for eons. Starting with: why really, did Jacob leave – and was it true that GOD would bring him back as was promised? If so, why and when? The Rabbis debate why Jacob left. We read that Jacob had "stolen" the birthright of his older twin Esau, so was this a banishment? Some commentators say his mother sent him away and used the excuse that she didn't want him to marry a Caananite woman. But, was she sending him away to save him from some punishment? By contrast, commentator Rabbi Warhaftig says that Jacob left his home to honor the wishes of his father, and out of fear of his brother Esau, who might kill him for the "stealing" of said birthright. So, perhaps Jacob had to leave Bersheba in order to honor the wishes of both his parents. According to the first great Talmudic commentator Rashi: "When a righteous man leaves a place, it makes a mark." We can debate the virtues of Jacob at the time he left, but his departure certainly made a mark on his parents, as it does with most parents when their children leave home. So, was it simply time for him to "leave the nest" and learn fly on his own? Let me read you this portion: "Jacob left Bersheba and set out for Charan. He came upon a certain place and stopped for the night, for the sun had set. And the LORD was standing beside him and He said, 'I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the ground on which you are lying I will assign to you and to your offspring. Your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you and your descendants. Remember, I am with you: I will protect you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.'" So, Jacob left first as a fugitive, but then GOD spoke with him, gave him this blessing, and then every place was equally good for him. That is fortuitous, because I think Jacob had work to do. On himself. I believe Jacob had to leave his family in order to mature into a more virtuous person, indeed a "mensch" before he could return home and fulfill the destiny that GOD described for him. Psychologists tell us that the role of our parents is to give us both roots and wings. Jacob was rooted in his home, but when his parents pushed him out of the nest, he was then forced to grow the wings that would develop into his maturing. He had to grow, learn, suffer, and take risks on this journey. His character needed to be tested and refined, his personality molded and transformed, in order to return as a mature person. And boy was Jacob tested! Do some of us need to leave in order to return? Do these life journeys of exploration and even rebellion, lead to discovery and a "return to roots? " Are they one-way trips – or, can they include a round trip ticket, as GOD promised Jacob? So Jacob needed to mature. What is maturity and how does it happen? According to the Torah and Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb., an ordained rabbi and psychotherapist, maturity can be associated with the wisdom gained from experience over time, with the development of an approach to life which is practical, informed, and wise. Parshat Vayetze gives us the opportunity to read about the maturation of our patriarch Jacob through two big dreams. Jacob's first dream envisions a ladder firmly rooted into the earth but extending heavenwards. This dream is a majestic glimpse of infinite possibilities, a grand imaginative symbol of the relations between man and God. But then, Jacob gets busy with mundane affairs, "scorched by heat all day, and freezing at night." Jacob is busy with business, with profit, with material matters, dealing with deceit and disappointment at many turns. Later Jacob dreams again, but this dream is much more practical. He see goats mating "with the flock which were streaked, speckled, and mottled." This dream gives Jacob ideas on how to enhance the business of goat breeding and it ultimately works very well. In this second dream, the angels tells Jacob it is now time to "leave this land and return to his native land." It is time for him to become mature in one sense. It is time for him to reclaim his first dream and to do all he can to make that dream real. He learns that he must not surrender to just mundane dreams, abandoning old ideals. He learns he can return to dream of his youth. He also learns that not only can he go home again, he must go home again! A return to roots, I ask? This is the eternal lesson for the Jewish people. According to Rabbi Weinreb, the dreams of the diaspora are apt to be mundane and shortsighted but the dreams of the Land of Israel are noble dreams, exalted dreams, and dreams which ultimately connect us to heaven. The Land of Israel is the land of our dreams and it is also our home and roots. Jacob's dream comes true. God told him he would return and that that place would be Israel. In 1948 the land of Israel declares itself a state and a home, a safe haven for all Jews seeking refuge. What is particularly interesting to me is that that was 70 years ago. Seventy, which has the number seven in it, is an important number to Jews, with both noble and mystical implications. According to the Tanakh, "the days of our years are three score years and ten (70), or if reason of strength, four score years (80)… and it is speedily gone, and we fly away." At 70, Benjamin Franklin was helping to draft the U.S. Constitution. Winston Churchill was 70 years old in 1945 when he led the United Kingdom to victory in World War II. Israel's Golda Meir became prime minister of Israel at age 70. So, at 70 years for a person, there should be some maturity, plus the opportunity to stop the daily rigors of work, start to focus on other opportunities and reclaim some of the dreams of our youth. It does not mean the departure of life, if we are lucky, but of the beginning of a new chapter in life. A re-rooting. As with Israel, I was also born in 1948 and turn 70 this week. Jacob's journey has reminded me a bit of mine. I didn't physically leave home until after college, but I left earlier in other ways. In my youth, I didn't like being Jewish. For me, it was all about what we could not do, eat, look like, enjoy. My mother was reared Orthodox in NYC and told us horrible stories of how difficult it was being Jewish there. As a child, her older sister, my tante Millie was hit on the back of her head with a hammer by a kid who called her a "dirty Jew." I watched for the rest of her years how my aunt lived with blindness and a whole host of other maladies brought on by this attack. Who, I asked myself, would want to be Jewish? We here in Reno Nevada (and before that in northern California) did not have much of a Jewish community. So I, as the eldest child in the family, felt singled out in school and in the neighborhood. We didn't get to celebrate Christmas (even though one XMAS eve my sister and I put out stockings anyway, hoping for Santa. It didn't happen.) It was embarrassing to be hauled out of school the first two days of Rosh Hashana and on Yom Kippur. We had to observe and fast. I do remember my mother making us stay in the car with her one Yom Kippur afternoon, however, as she listened to the World Series to see how her beloved Yankees were doing. We were sworn to secrecy. Not sure if it was about doing this on Yom Kippur or that she was rooting for the Yankees. Vayetze – I departed. There are different ways to depart – geographically, as Jacob did, and as the Amish kids do, for example. They leave at age 18 for a year to explore the world of the Others. Some return and some do not. It's an anguishing year for their frightened parents. Yet other youth depart by rebelling from their family's beliefs, values, and customs. That's more of how I departed. At the age of about 17, when I started college, I rejected my Jewish birthright, and left my parents' world to explore the world outside Judaism. I can only imagine my parents' fear and confusion, and I vividly remember huge, loud ugly family arguments. Who would choose to be Jewish, I would repeatedly ask myself. I was learning to grow wings and fly in other directions, I guess. Life went on. Until recently, I worked very hard as a single mother, self-employed, trying to help my friends and community, taking care of my parents when that time came, and working through many mundane things. Important things. Busy things. But giving little time for self- or life-reflection or thoughts about religion or Judaism. Like with Jacob, my work was "scorched by day and freezing by night." Well, not literally, but figuratively. And then things changed. I aged to the point where I could stop working at that level and could start to reap a bit of what I had sown, a maturation of a sort. What a blessing! Many people don't get to live this long or get to this point of freedom and comfort. It is now a time for gratitude and for reflection. And maybe something else. Perhaps it is a time to return home. A time to look back at the dreams of my youth and get them fulfilled. A time to achieve both levels of maturity, according to Rabbi Weinreb. A time to reclaim my birthright and return to certain things. We learn in Torah about the cycles of life, and when we leave some thing or some place, and then return, we are not the same as when we left. This cycle is more like a spiral which winds around an axis, like ivy growing up a tree. Its radius may be constant or not. Maybe our birthright acts like this axis, around which we can grow and change, leave and return. Kind of like a twisting, ascending ladder? On this journey around our axis, do we sometimes have to move backward in order to move forward? Going backwards might give us time to expand our knowledge and experiences, like Jacob did, and allow us to return more mature, experienced, and eager to get back to our core. Jacob knew he would be returning home. I did not. So what does this parsha mean for so many Jews who have left their roots and given up their birthrights? Like for me, maybe it is never too late to get back to their core. Israel certainly is a symbol of such return – to a homeland and a way of life. But for us Jews not in Israel, right here in the U.S., it means we need to find other ways to reconnect to our Jewish cores and reclaim our birthrights. It is not easy being Jews here and with the growing anti-Semitism locally and worldwide, it might even be dangerous. But there is great beauty in reclaiming. It means there has been thought and study and certain decision-making not required of us when we were children. I think there is a place for Jews like me, maybe like you, who are trying to reclaim their birthright and forge a Jewish life which honors and respects our traditions and purpose. We were "given" the 10 Commandments but with that (and many other commandments) we were given many responsibilities. We Jews deal with a number of mitzvahs. A mitzvah is both a commandment and a good deed. I love that dual meaning. I am suggesting that we as Jews work harder to be role models of civility and citizenship in this contentious world. We should honor our mitzvahs by being more mindful of what we think, do, speak and eat. We should be more grateful for all the beauty in our world and give thanks for all our gifts. We should be as generous as we can, in whatever ways we can, whether it be with money, time, or simply listening. According to the Dalai Lama, happiness comes from compassion, and when we are compassionate we turn from takers to givers. I also believe we should speak up against that which is evil, ugly, unfair, and cruel. We need to do mitzvahs by taking great care of our children, our friends and family, our communities and our environment. What a grand mark we would be making then! And lastly, we as Jews should be more accepting of other Jews and the variety of ways they choose to be Jews. When I was in Israel many years ago, I saw that Jews of all kinds live together, because they have a purpose that overrides their differences: survival. There are orthodox and ultra-orthodox Jews and there are also holocaust-surviving Jews who are actually atheists. Yes they argue and disagree, but they still know who they are and what their core is. Like in Israel, we Jews here need to accept the differences among ourselves. Rabbi Fasman tells us that when it comes down to it, Jews around the world and across time are just one big family. One big dysfunctional family. We need to both endure and embrace those big family dinners with the crazy sister and the drunken uncle. I have become very proud of my heritage – and very grateful I don't actually have to convert! Simply because of my birthright, I was born Jewish, and aren't I lucky. Yes, I get to be Jewish. I get to struggle with God, which is the definition of the word Israel, and something which I do regularly. I get to doubt the existence of God, wonder about what, if anything is His role and meaning. I get to yell at him when bad things happen to good people, but mostly I get to thank him regularly for all that is beautiful and magical in my life. My gratitude is huge. I have many people to thank for putting up with me on my journey, some for many years, and some for a shorter time. My teachers and friends have been loving and patient and have successfully hidden their rolled eyes with some of my Hebrew struggles. Like Jacob, maybe I had to depart my roots, "fly the coop," and build some wings in order to mature enough to come home. Maybe that is the responsibility for all of us Jews. So, to mommy and daddy, I hope I have made you proud. May you rest in peace, knowing you did what you could to give me roots and wings – and please know: "Ahni babayit." "Ich bin zu hoize." I just might be home.
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"Living With Moshiach" Online Enlightenment for the Blind is the only Jewish charity that publishes a weekly Torah digest for the Jewish blind and visually impaired called, "Living with Moshiach."
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Welcome to the Fellowship of the Assembly of Called-Out Believers! Welcome to the Fellowship of the Assembly of Called-Out Believers where Eternal Truths are always taught in the Spirit of Yah's Selfless Love!
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Welcome to Aish International Aish International – CONNECTING JEWS TO THEIR HERITAGE AND TO EACH OTHER
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Weekly Thursday Night Shiur in Monsey, NY - Video and Audio Shiurim Available Class starts 9:15pm on Thursday evenings in Monsey, New York featuring world-renowned speakers, inspiring Torah and refreshments. Videos posted weekly.
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The Jewish Website - aish.com Judaism - one stop for everything Jewish, Jewish Holidays, Israel News, Holocaust Studies, Jewish Spirituality, Weekly Torah Portion, Western Wall Camera, Aish HaTorah, aish,Parenting, Dating, Marriage, Bar Mitzvah, Shabbat, and more.
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ask The rabbi, torah Portion, candlelighting time, breslev, breslov - breslev.co.il Breslev Israel, the world’s leading Jewish website – Torah lessons in text and video, Radio Breslev live broadcasts, Forum, Ask the Rabbi, Online Store, Jewish site Index
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BIBLE VERSE OF THE DAY daily bible verse for your daily walk, reading. Daily Bible Verse from the BIBLE VERSE OF THE DAY - a daily message for your daily walk. Bible quotes, Bible daily reading, Bible devotional, encouraging Bible verses and weekly Torah reading. Visit us often and subscribe to our DAILY BIBLE VERSE. New verse every day!
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JewishEyes.org | Free Video and Audio Online Bible Learning Resource Sign up for free online video and audio learning.  This weekly updated resource provides a messianic Jewish perspective on how the Torah shows us the Messiah.
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The Watchman International | Preparing the Way for Messiah from the Ends of the Earth to Jerusalem Preparing the Way for Messiah from the Ends of the Earth to Jerusalem
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Welcome to Aish International Aish International – CONNECTING JEWS TO THEIR HERITAGE AND TO EACH OTHER
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God, Judaism, Torah...Free Weekly Publication: The JewishTimes Magazine Judaism, God, & Orthodox Jewish Torah philosophy. Searchable articles on Judaism ''s principles. Subscribe to the FREE JewishTimes.
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Home - Journeys in Torah Journeys in Torah offers access to the Torah of Rav Immanuel Bernstein and includes audio shiurim on parsha and chagim as well as weekly Meshech Chochmah essays.
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A Ferret Named Phil - The Anti-Bullying Children's Book The Tale of a Small Ferret Overcoming a Big Bully If you're worried about your child being bullied, read this book to them.  Phil is the happiest of ferrets as he sits by the lake with Jane, until the mean Hugo the Hawk decides to ruin their picnic. Instead of feeling scared and afraid, Phi ...
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The weekly Torah portion in three Languages. Седмичната глава от Тора на три езика. – Torah – weekly Torah - weekly
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"Living With Moshiach" Online Enlightenment for the Blind is the only Jewish charity that publishes a weekly Torah digest for the Jewish blind and visually impaired called, "Living with Moshiach."
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Eliner Library , World Zionist Organization (In cooperation with the Jewish Agency) הוצאת ספרים, ספרי הגות ומחקר, ספרי מחשבה, הוראת מקצועות היהדות והוראת העברית, עיונים בפרשת השבוע של פרופ’ נחמה לייבוביץ’ ז”ל, ספרי הרב סולובייצ’יק ז”ל, משניות קהתי בשפה האנגלית.The library was established thirty years ago by the Department of Diaspora Education and Culture in the World Zionist Organization , Philosophy and Research books , Jewish Thought books , Teaching Judaism and Hebrew books, Studies in the Weekly Torah Portion by Prof. Nechama Leibowitz OB”M, the books of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik OB”M, “Kehati” Mishnayot in English.
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Hoshana Rabbah Located in Tigard, OR, Hoshana Rabbah offers messianic biblical teachings while advocating Yeshua the Messiah. Come visit us on Shabbat for weekly services, live music, teaching, and bible study
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Rabbi Zev Leff Expounds Upon Current Issues and Timeless Topics Torah, Talmud, Gemara, Halacha, Hashskafa, Shabbat, Chagim, Questions and Answers, Rabbi Zev Leff of Moshav Matityahu expounds upon current issues and timeless topics in streaming audio
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Lubavitch Cheder Day School Lubavitch Learning Center, Lubavitch Cheder Preschool and Day School website, Chabad, Jewish Education, Information, the latest news and photos, Jewish learning and information.
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Kol Torah Kol Torah is a weekly publication of the students of TABC under the guidance of Rabbi Chaim Jachter. Each week, students and faculty members publish a selection of divrei Torah on the Parashah or Chag. Kol Torah is distributed to hundreds of shuls across the United States and Internationally and the print and online versions are read by thousands every week.
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SEEKERS OF YAHWEH MINISTRIES - Home SEEKERS OF YAHWEH MINISTRIES, Teddy Wilson, Yahwehs Messenger, Yahweh, Yahshua, Sacred Names, Torah teaching, Assembly of Yahweh, Yahweh Assembly
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Torah Lectures | Taste Of Text Taste Of Text is taking the bible / Torah from the lecture halls, removing the traditional boundaries of time and location, and packaging the bible into thought provoking weekly video nuggets, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, to allow the flexibility not often found in other academic situations.
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Parsha Story A repository of parables of the Dubner Maggid, useful for a short story or dvar Torah on the weekly parasha (parshat hashavua) or Jewish holiday.
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Dvar Torah Home Shabbat Dvar Torah - TorahVort.com Read divrei torah on every weekly sedrah as well as festivals, hebrew months and essays on Jewish life.
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By His EVERY Word A weekly Shabbat commentary on the Torah, Haftorah Parashat and B'rit Chadashah, exploring Adonai's heart and the mystery of the church and Israel.
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Home For Zion''s Sake Ministries, We welcome you to For Zion''s Sake Ministries and Congregation Ari Yehuda. We are a Messianic ministry of the gospel to both Jew and Gentile., 1128 New Hampshire Ave, Bristol, Virginia, 24201, messianic, ministry, praise, hebrew, english, jew, gentile, dance, Torah, Bible,
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Spreading Torah Blog | Avroham Y Ross Every week I write a Torah blog! My goal is to transform the world! If you want to join me we can do it together! Check out spreadingtorah.com to see all the details!
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Jewish Path: Cyberspace learning, Jewish studies, Gematria study, Torah Lessons JewishPath Director Dr. Akiva G. Belk discusses Jewish learning, Weekly Torah Parsha plus Gematria and Jewish Holidays, Mysticism, Spirituality and Medos
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Manfred and Anne Lehmann Foundation Manfred And Anne Lehmann Foundation. An expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Dr. Lehmann contributed frequently to the Revue de Qumran, Biblical Archeological Review, and others. He published 3 volumes of his collected scholarly writings, 4 catalogues of the Manfred & Anne Lehmann Foundation Judaica collection (available for sale). Just before his death, he published On My Mind, a book of personal memoirs and essays (available for sale). Dr. Lehmann wrote weekly articles that were featured in ( among others) the London Chronicle, Algemeiner Journal, Long Island Jewish Week, Intermountain News, Jerusalem Post, and the Jewish Press. Letters on current political events were frequently published in the International Herald Tribune, Jerusalaem Post, and other foreign press.
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Jewish Path: Cyberspace learning, Jewish studies, Gematria study, Torah Lessons JewishPath Director Dr. Akiva G. Belk discusses Jewish learning, Weekly Torah Parsha plus Gematria and Jewish Holidays, Mysticism, Spirituality and Medos
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The Voice of One Crying | By Roland Stirnemann "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry." I Samuel 15:23 Perhaps it is a part of the age or stage of life at which I have finally arrived, but I find myself often reflecting upon and projecting the state of my local church. I'm sure a major part of my concern has to do with the fact that I still have two minor sons at home for which I am responsible. What we are handing off to the next generation has always been a concern to me, even before I had kids. The Scripture is clear that, "None of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself" (Romans 14:7). We have a responsibility to the generations coming behind us. We have been handed a great truth, and it is essential that we don't taint what we have been given before handing it off to our kids and grandkids. I don't get to travel much, but from what I have personally seen and heard from others, there is a similar spirit infiltrating Apostolic churches across America. I'm am not throwing a broad blanket on all churches, but it is apparent that what is going on is not just pocketed in a few areas. I have visited Apostolic churches in the Bible-belt of Pentecost and seen the same thing with my own eyes. It varies in degree from place to place, but it is very troubling. Deception is creeping in among us. It's not an all-out attack on Apostolic doctrine. The enemy knows such a tactic would not work on us. Instead, he has used a steady drumbeat of worldly culture to chip away at our Apostolic identity. Why Do We Go To Church? A couple of weeks ago, we had an incredible move of the Holy Ghost in our Sunday service. Unfortunately, those kinds of moves have become aberrations. There was a time when they were the norm. Form and time constraints have changed our approach at our gatherings. During some of my reflections, I often scratch my head, wondering what the true purpose of our gatherings are anymore. It used to be for the purpose of seeking a visitation from the Spirit of God, hearing a Word from God via a message or sermon, and intermingling with the saints of God to encourage and be encouraged. That doesn't appear to be the main focus anymore. Whenever I have expressed some of my concerns in tight circles, I have been talked down as a "negative" person. "Focus on the positive, Roland". But what good does it do to talk about how wonderful your left arm is when your right arm is dangling by a thread? Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel and some of the other Old Testament prophets faced the same criticism. I am not calling myself a prophet, but if you read their books, they simply spoke the things they "saw". Ezekiel specifically called what he saw "visions". The others "saw" things in the eyes of their minds. Only time and events bore out the accuracy of what they had to say, but they were willing to step out and declare what they "saw", even if it meant enduring ridicule by their peers and brethren. What I am writing about today are things that I "see" a short distance down the road. The Expansion Of Immorality We are living in tumultuous times. I remember teaching the 12th grade Sunday School class in our church back in the late 90's. I asked those kids at that time what they were going to do in the future when a legally married sodomite couple walked into their church with legally adopted children and wanted to become members of their church. They looked at me dumbfounded. "That will never happen, Bro. Stirnemann," was the look on their faces. Yet here we are, about 20 years later, facing that exact dilemma. Sodomite marriage is now "legal", and the people of our state, Michigan, recently voted to give people more access to "legal" marijuana for "recreational use", whatever that means. It is a sick world. My wife and I are trying our best to raise minor kids in this sick world. Every vile law that is passed by man becomes another obstacle to what we are trying to do with our sons. "Why is it wrong to smoke pot, Dad, if it's been legalized?" I have not been asked that question yet, but you get the picture. In the past, the local church has been a welcome haven from the sick things going on in our world, but much of that is eroding. Along with the absence of persistent Spirit-intense services is the lack of a clear distinction between the world and the church. It seems that there are very few activities in which the world revels which we consider to be anathema. We dress and act like the world, participating in activities with them, while declaring, "By the way, did I tell you I'm Apostolic?" Witchcraft Among Us Without going into detail, let me just state that my wife and I have been dealing with some rebellion in our home for the past 4-5 months. It has manifested itself in a few different forms which are not necessary to expound upon here. Rebellion is rebellion no matter how it manifests itself. Scripture is quite clear that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft (I Samuel 15:23). When talking to my youngest son about that verse a while ago, he asked what that meant. I told him that witchcraft was all about denying the power of God. Witchcraft states that it is unnecessary to conform to the laws and boundaries established by our Creator. In essence, witchcraft is a complete challenge to God's authority or right to tell us how we should live. His young brain did not comprehend that, of course, because his brain is still developing at the age of 12. Trying to reason with a 12-year old is difficult for that very reason. You're not sure how much of what you're saying is actually being digested. I know that a degree of rebellion can be expected out of kids going through puberty, but it doesn't mean we should overlook it, either. As I was talking to God about how to further deal with some of these things we have encountered, God slapped me in the face and said, "Look around your local church. What do you see, son?" Immediately my eyes were opened as never before. Before going on, let me say that I am not "blaming" the local church for anything either of my sons are currently going through. Life is life and it doesn't always play fair. I am also aware that some of the Old Testament prophets actually "lived" the messages they were told by God to deliver to Israel and Judah. Hosea named his kids according to the current relationship God had with Israel. Jeremiah and Ezekiel experienced similar fates. Perhaps what is going on in my house is a similar reflection of what some of these men went through. But I also understand that what we define as a "spiritual environment" will become a gauge for the next generation. Like it or not, the local church is what our children will use as a thermometer of spirituality. Here is what God showed me. Local Church Letdown When I walk into our church on a Sunday morning, I am greeted at the door by a lady in slacks with hair chopped to her shoulders, her face laden with makeup and jewelry. This lady is not a new convert. She is a 4th-generation Apostolic. Her husband stands a few feet away handing out the weekly bulletins, oblivious to any inappropriate messages his wife's appearance might be transmitting to guests or new converts who might be wondering what this church is really all about. The silence of the elders, her husband and those in authority over her in her "ministry" tells everyone who sees her, "Hey, her appearance is okay". As I continue on into the auditorium, my ears are blasted with loud music as my eyes attempt to adjust to the dim, mood-setting lighting. Looking up into the sound booth quizzically, I see one of the main men responsible for setting this atmosphere. His hair is half-way down his back. I don't know him well, but I do know he was raised in this church. He is at least a 3rd-generation Apostolic and knows better. Yet somehow, no one in a position of responsibility has the heart, nerve, or chutzpah to tell him to get a haircut. Again, this is not a first-time guest. It is someone who is visible and has been given the power and position to "set the mood" for our services by way of lighting and sound. Somewhere along the way, we have allowed talent to trump obedience to the Word of God. Then, just this last week, I was praying at the altar after service when I happened to open my eyes which were met by a flash coming off the ears of one of our "praise" singers. Indeed, tiny earrings were reflecting the lights as she bobbed her head, singing praises to Jesus. She is not a first-time guest either. She is a 4th-generation Apostolic. We have "allowed" certain degrees of makeup on the platforms of our churches for years. We have even seen the pushing of the envelope with yoga pants under skirts which creep too high at times. But jewelry has always been a no-no for those wishing to participate in platform activities. Until now. The Erosion Of Apostolic Boundaries "You see, Roland", God chided me, "you're wondering why you're dealing with rebellion in your home. Why would you consider that to be a mystery when your sons see rebellion in their local church from the greeting at the front door to the platform?" I was instantly shamed as I bowed my head and wept. Yes, I have watched these "changes" creep into our church in recent years but had never seen them in that light before. These things are not just "the way the younger generation does things". These things are outright rebellion. Witchcraft! Each of these things are specifically called out in Scripture as things God hates. Women wearing men's apparel is an abomination (Deuteronomy 22:5), men with long hair are a shame and don't even comprehend what nature is declaring to them (I Corinthians 11:14), and women who adorn themselves with gold, pearls and such like are using a substitute covering to replace the missing glory of God in their lives (I Timothy 2:9-10). Yet the pulpit remains silent. I'm not talking about guests or new converts who are in the process of "becoming". I am talking about generational "Apostolics" who know better but are "challenging" what they consider to be "the old generation's way of doing things". About a year ago, I heard about a lady from our church who was having lunch with a lady she had grown up with who left the church years ago. The woman from our church was attempting to get this backslidden lady to come back to church. In her attempt to "woo" this lady back, she made the declaration, "Hey, it's okay to wear pants to our church now". When this sad story was relayed to me, I realized how accurate this statement was. Is this what we have become, a church where people can bring in all kinds of vile spirits with them and still feel comfortable among us? "Hey, if you just stick it out a while longer, our church will probably cave in the area you're having problems with." We proclaim that we don't want to judge people, that we should leave that to them and God. But how is that approach affecting our own kids who sit next to these people full of rebellion on the pews, week after week? Besides, Scripture is crystal clear in stating, "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God" (I Peter 4:17). Generation Gap Or Spiritual Warfare? This is not a generational or cultural war. This is a spiritual war that we are losing simply because the Word is not being declared. I am not saying that the preacher needs to get up in the pulpit and start telling men to cut their hair and telling women to stop wearing slacks. But it is obvious that there is not enough "conviction" among us due to a lack of preaching and teaching which would convict people of sin. Messages must go beyond mere anointing. King Saul was "anointed" while chasing after David in an attempt to murder him and protect his own position. Where are the messages that bring "conviction"? The Old Testament prophets were given visions and direction directly from God. Where are our preachers and teachers (and the "vision committee"?) of our church getting direction? From Mark Batterson? Shame on us! In recent years, preachers have backed off from the so-called "clothesline" messages in order to give new converts an opportunity to grow at their own pace. But what has now happened is that generational Apostolics are digressing and no longer believe that the distinctions which set apart their parents and grandparents are necessary at all. When Paul began his missionary journeys and Gentiles were being converted to the faith, the board at Jerusalem made a list of "rules" to give these new converts. Seventy-five percent of their rules had to do with what these new believers put in their mouths. "Don't eat things strangled, don't eat blood, don't eat meat sacrificed to idols, oh, and by the way, don't commit fornication either" (Acts 15:28-29). Paul was respectful to the board, but in his later writings he told many of the churches and people he wrote to that the food part of the rules wasn't necessary to follow. In fact, the entire chapter of I Corinthians 8 was a slap in the face to what the board at Jerusalem had instituted. Paul basically said, there's nothing morally wrong with eating food offered to idols. He briefly mentioned this same thing in a couple of other epistles as well. Meat Offered To Idols Yet in reality, the board did have a point to what they were instructing. The whole "meat offered to idols" rule had to do with keeping people away from associating with certain activities that unbelievers considered to be okay. Paul's point was, meat is meat, and its purpose was to give a person strength, but some people in that day and time considered it to be much more involving than just a meal. Also, the board knew that, due to human nature, if people started associating with certain activities in the world, no matter how innocent those activities may be, they might then be drawn into more serious worldly activities which were actual sin. That's exactly what has happened among us today. It started with going to movie theaters and other questionable places. It escalated to social drinking and a beer now and then. We have now lost the line of separation in areas that really do matter. We have crossed the line of sin, and now we have people who are in "positions" among us who flaunt their sin, and no one says a thing. Long hair on men, women wearing that which "pertaineth" unto a man, and women "adorning" themselves in jewelry and makeup are not cultural issues. They are commands spelled out by God and nature to govern our identity as Apostolics and called-out children of God. Things designated by God as "abominations" or "defined by nature" do not change over time or from one testament to another. If it was abominable to God in Deuteronomy, it's still abominable today. If nature "said" it in Paul's day, nature's story remains consistent today. The Real Issue: Rebellion It's not even these actual "outer" signs which are the problem. These "visible" issues are only "symptoms" of the real problem which is "rebellion". I know a woman can "look" holy on the outside and still have a rotten spirit, but it is impossible for a woman who has been raised in this thing and knows better to openly flaunt a worldly appearance and not have rebellion at the root. Yet we stand by, shake these people's hands each week, allow them to continue on with their "ministry" in our church, and pretend that everything's okay and that it doesn't hinder the work of the Lord. There are some who would argue that "symptoms" should be ignored. After all, "symptoms" don't necessarily indicate serious sickness or bad health. However, certain "symptoms" are indicative of serious problems and, if not addressed, can lead to fatalities. As time has shown over the past dozen years or so, some of these sicknesses are contagious and have infected people who otherwise would never have considered adapting to the worldly appearance and lifestyles of the rebellious. It's Time For A Wake-Up Call We're in trouble. Call me negative. Call me an alarmist. But God is sick of it. Yes, He will still visit from time to time because there are still hungry people among us. But his visitations should not be considered his approval of all that is going on among us. Moses got water out of the rock in the wilderness after "striking" it the second time in direct disobedience to the Word of God, because the people were "thirsty". God took care of his people "in spite of" the disobedience of those in positions of leadership. This did not mean God changed his mind or simply overlooked what He had told Moses as if to say, "Don't worry, Mo, it doesn't really matter. After all, it's not a heaven or hell issue". Moses lost his ticket into the Promised Land as a result of his disobedience. God means what He says. We are becoming less Apostolic by the day. In fact, considering the state in which we find many of our churches, I really think it is a disservice to the community for us to continue to have the "Apostolic" name on some of our church signs. Perhaps a better name would be The Accepting Church. I read the 5th chapter of Amos the other day and wept. God finally shook his head and told Israel in verses 4 and 5 that they weren't going to find their answers at church anymore (Bethel and Gilgal), but rather they needed to seek God directly, because their entire system of worship had become so polluted. The end of the chapter talks about how they tried to incorporate ("blend") the worship of Moloch and Chiun into their worship of Jehovah. It doesn't work. They went into captivity as a result. They desired God to "show up" among them, not realizing that when God "showed up", He was bringing judgment with Him (verse 18). God actually said he "hated" their feast days and wouldn't accept their sacrifices because of their mixture with worldly idols (verses 21-22). In fact, He no longer even wanted to hear their songs of praise which He referred to as "noise" (verse 23). The Invasion Of Worldly Culture A short time ago, a brother in our church was teaching a Wednesday night class in which he talked about the origin of the Pharisees and Sadducees. He talked about the fight that went on between the Sadducees (who wanted to integrate the culture of their day with the church) and the Pharisees (who wanted to return to the structure of the Torah). He asked us to imagine what it would be like for that kind of tug-of-war to happen in our local church today. Well, we are there. There are those who are doing everything they can to eliminate the line of separation between the world and our local church. Oh, they do it with good intentions. They want people to come to our church and hear about Jesus. But what good does that do if we have nothing different to offer them when they get here? I know that there are also extremists on the other side. I am considered by some to be extremist in my views of certain things. But why is someone considered extremist for simply asking for the Word to be preached as it is written? Within ten years, should the Lord tarry and we remain on the same road we are currently on, the local church I attend will not be recognizable as an Apostolic church, no matter what the sign says. If we don't see a revival in our church soon, we will be considered just another charismatic mega-church. We are already inundated with such churches in our area. We don't need any more charismatic mega-churches. What people want and need is a demonstration of Apostolic power and Spirit! Jesus proved to us by how He ministered that this thing was never about numbers. It's time to wake up. The rebellion will be eradicated by anointed messages which convict the hearts of those who come to hear truth. Yes, we will lose some, perhaps many, by preaching such messages. But Jesus Christ is not coming back for a church which has adulterated herself with the filth of the world in order to obtain a large membership. He is returning for a chaste bride who has kept herself "unspotted" from the world (Ephesians 5:27). Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!
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