Belief

Ever hear a song and it’s like hearing it for the first time, because you’ve undergone a change and so that song takes on a whole new meaning? That happened recently with John Mayer’s song “Belief”. Beliefs are just that beliefs. They can’t be proven or disproven, and yet we’ve built entire religions on beliefs; we’ve waged war because of beliefs. My beliefs are not the same as they were seven years ago; they’re not the same as they were 14 years ago. I like to think that I am moving toward a place of simple beliefs that allow me to live and love and let go of judgment and the need to be “right”. It’s a good place to be.

Is there anyone who ever remembers
Changing their mind from the paint on a sign?
Is there anyone who really recalls
Ever breaking rank at all
For something someone yelled real loud one time?
Oh, everyone believes
In how they think it ought to be
Oh, everyone believes
And they’re not going easily
Belief is a beautiful armor
But makes for the heaviest sword
Like punching underwater
You never can hit who you’re trying for
Some need the exhibition
And some have to know they tried
It’s the chemical weapon
For the war that’s raging on inside
Oh, everyone believes
From emptiness to everything
Oh, everyone believes
And they’re not going quietly
We’re never gonna win the world
We’re never gonna stop the war
We’re never gonna beat this
If belief is what we’re fighting for
We’re never gonna win the world
We’re never gonna stop the war
We’re never gonna beat this
If belief is what we’re fighting for
Is there anyone you can remember
Ever surrender with their life on the line?
We’re never gonna win the world
We’re never gonna stop the war
We’re never gonna beat this
If belief is what we’re fighting for
We’re never gonna win the world
We’re never gonna stop the war
We’re never gonna beat this
If belief is what we’re fighting for
What puts a hundred thousand children in the sand?
Belief can, belief can
What puts a folded flag inside his mother’s hand?
Belief can, belief can.
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Renovate My Heart

You did not come to me
When I was strong and confident;
You waited,
Until I was willing to confess
That I am weak and broken.
Who seeks out a Healer
When everything is going well?
But I’m not well,
And I never have been.
I’ve been faking my condition
When all along I’ve been dying.
You know all things.
You know what I hide inside.
I can’t hide who I am from You.
I can’t fake it anymore.
Heal me with your abounding forgiveness
For You’re the only One Who can.
Renovate my heart,
And carve Your words there,
So I may not just know about You,
But may finally know You
The way I am fully known.

~Jeremiah 31:31-34, Mark 2:17

© Sarah S. Walters, 2017

Pondering: Rules, Love, and Judgement

This morning my two youngest children wanted to watch something on Roku. The house rule is, If you have the remote, you don’t get to choose what everyone will watch, someone else gets to decide. Well, after giving them permission, I heard a bunch of yelling and hollering. I called them into the kitchen, and after much deliberation, it was revealed that my youngest who did not have the remote was insisting on my daughter choosing something that he wanted to watch–something which she already intended to do. Assumptions…

As I spoke to my children I started explaining to them the reason for the rule. It isn’t so that they can beat each other over the head with the rule itself. The purpose is to teach them to be kind and considerate of others. So, by demanding someone follow the rule, my youngest was actually not being kind or considerate, not to mention, not giving his sister the chance to do it before making his demand.

How often in our faith walks do we point out how someone isn’t following the Torah (law), or we wrongly assume that they aren’t keeping the Torah? I know I have been guilty. As human beings we sometimes get caught up doing something the right way, and are less concerned with understanding why the commandments are there in the first place. (Perhaps this is a sign of our own spiritual immaturity.)

Paul tells us that “love is the fulfillment of the Law” (Romans 13:8-10) because the Torah is our tutor–the means by which we learn how to love others. (Galatians 3:24) But how often have we shoved the Torah down someone’s throat instead of loving them right where they are at? When we do not love our brothers and sisters, but instead judge them, we are not operating in the Spirit of the Torah, and as the apostle John points out,

“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” 1 John 4:20-21

Yeshua asked, “Who are my brothers?” and then answered his own question with, “whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother…” (Matthew 12:50).

The problem with judging other people is often due to the fact that we look at their outward behaviour and can’t see what is going on in their hearts–only God can see what is there. Perhaps someone is doing God’s will at a particular moment in time.

What I am learning is, it is better to judge others favorably (Leviticus 19:15). Judge them the way you want to be judged, and love them the way you want to be loved.

God cares far more about how we treat each other than the way we follow the commandments in the Torah.

1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

I pray we will all cling to His rules (commandments), not because we want to be right, but because we realize that they, along with the example set by our Messiah (Ephesians 5:2), are our only hope for ever truly learning how to love our fellow man.

Love and light,

S~

Pondering: Life Lessons

This morning my daughter is doing her math. She’s seven, and she is learning something new, and it’s not easy. It’s challenging, and she doesn’t want to do it.

I am also going through a lesson, but of a different kind, one that has lasted for a very long time. It’s not comfortable, and it’s not easy. It’s a life lesson, and I am not sure if I have been digging in my heels, refusing to do the work, or if God has just been giving me an in-depth lesson that takes time for my finite brain to grasp. At any rate, here I am–stuck–until I can figure it out, and advance to the next one.

So when my daughter told me she just didn’t want to do her math, I told her how life doesn’t let us just give up. I shared with her that when she gets to be my age, lessons aren’t in books anymore. They are part of our life. The lesson is always there, waiting until we are ready to finish it. It doesn’t go away just because we don’t feel like it, or because we ignore it. We don’t get to advance and move on to new things until we go through the lesson that is in front of us. If we were able to skip the lesson, we would be missing important information that we need for the lessons ahead.

I told her that I know she can do her math, and that I wouldn’t ask her to do something she wasn’t capable of accomplishing. So too, our Heavenly Father never gives us lessons that are too hard for us, and He doesn’t leave us alone. He is there watching over us, available when we ask for help, and His Spirit encourages and cheers us on.

Just as we love to see our children do well and figure something out like math, God desires to see us succeed, to see us smile when we have completed our lesson, and rejoices with us when we finish well.

God is about changing our hearts and helping us see who He has made us to be. So don’t give up; don’t give in. Keep running the race, dear friends.

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Messiah Yeshua.” Philippians 3:14

Love and Light,
S~

In the Beginning: Heaven and Earth

Many believe (and I agree) that the culmination of the Scriptures is a return of Heaven to Earth (a.k.a. the coming of the Kingdom of God [Luke 11:2]). It is the re-cohabitation of God among men, and the restoration of a right relationship with God and with each other. Now that is good news!

In fact, I believe it is already here, but has not been fully realized. What did Yeshua say?

“The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (Luke 17:20b-21)

Perhaps if we can connect to this idea of the Kingdom of God being here “already, but not yet”, then we can truly begin to make real change in our lives, our families, and our communities–and ultimately the world, because, if we are not abandoning this place, then it important we do all we can to assist in the restoration of all things.

N.T. Wright – Rethinking Heaven (>6 min.)

You can watch the full episode entitled, “Rethinking Life after Death”(>27 min.) here: https://youtu.be/rZC6tbgpsl4

Love and light,

S~

In the Beginning: The Temple

Did you know that the first chapters of Genesis use temple language? Yeah, me neither, until about six months ago.

I recently came across these videos from Daniel McGirr where he expounds on the theme of the temple, not just the earthly temple (tabernacle), but the cosmic temple. And of course, he teaches about this subject from the Ancient Near Eastern perspective.

You can watch his 8 part series here (click on the link):

Additional resources:

The Temple Revealed in Creation: A Portrait of a Family by Dr. Dinah Dye

The Lost World of Genesis One by John H. Walton (Next on my reading list, but I have heard good things about this book.)

In the Beginning: Covenant

Within the pages of the Bible, we can see many themes running through from the beginning to the end. One such theme is covenant. Throughout human history, God has chosen to make covenants and renew and build upon those covenants again and again. The ultimate goal? To be in relationship with all mankind–not just one person, or one group of people, but the whole world. Sadly, most of us have lost the true meaning of what covenant is, so we don’t connect with this theme as we could. The people of Yeshua’s day still had an understanding of ancient near eastern customs and were indeed still part of that cultural mindset.
So when the pinnacle of all the covenants comes with Yeshua’s death on the cross and His miraculous resurrection, the disciples and all the people of the known world who hear of what has happened in Israel are forever changed.

“For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten son…” John 3:16

Additional Resources:

The Epic of Eden by Sandra Richter. You can also get her video series of the same name HERE.

The Blood Covenant by H. Clay Trumball

The Threshold Covenant by H. Clay Trumball

The Salt Covenant by H. Clay Trumball

Rico Cortes’ Intro to Ancient Near Eastern Covenants:

Love and light,
Sarah

In the Beginning: Structure and Order

I thought it might be good to share some more on the first book of the Bible, specifically Genesis 1 and the themes of structure and order. Sandra Richter explains this text from an Ancient Near Eastern perspective. Each video is less than 8 minutes long.

You may also enjoy John H. Walton’s talk on Genesis 1 (23 min):

Love and light,
Sarah