The Wedding Dress

Tommy & I have been in Michigan since April 3rd. We reconnected with the small Torah group that meets weekly. This past Shabbat, we had something I would call supernatural happen. I’m still trying to understand the significance of it.

When we arrived at our host’s home there were two guests. A gentleman who drove 5 hours to visit for the weekend and a woman I knew from somewhere but could not quite remember where. As I asked her several questions about previous work and place of worship, I still could not connect where I knew her from.

After a short pause she asked this question, “If I say the words wedding dress, will that help”?

Instantly I knew who she was. We hugged and began to recount the story that brought us together 18 years ago!

It was the year 1999 and I was living in Marquette, Michigan. I had a really good job, was part of a small Torah group, and had family near me. Life was good and I was content, or so I thought. I had been contemplating a move to Spokane so my 13 year old daughter could be closer to her father. She traveled to Spokane every summer since she was 6 and told me it was getting harder and harder to leave me and then leave her dad to come back home. I flippantly suggested we move and then regretted ever saying it.

I had recently received a magazine from Christian Friends of Israel. In the magazine was an article discussing “The Bridal Salon”, a ministry that accepted new or used wedding dresses that were donated to Israeli brides who could not afford a dress. I happened to have a wedding dress hanging in my closet that I had purchased in 1993 but never wore. I shared the article with the ladies in the Torah group and that I had a dress to donate.

At our next Shabbat gathering, one of the women told us she had spoken to a friend who owned the local bridal shop. The owner got really excited and said she would donate 10 floor models to us! We helped my friend unload those 10 wedding dress from her car and  hung those 10 dresses plus mine all around the living room!

Now try to picture this……….11 wedding dresses of various styles ranging from ornate to simple, hanging individually on hangars all around the living room! We stared at those dresses for quite a while, contemplating the spiritual significance, if any! One of the ladies donated another so we had 12 wedding dresses hanging in my living room.

There’s more to this story.

My ex-husband (who lived in Spokane) and I had been divorced for 8 years. I really didn’t want to move back to Spokane, but I had made that comment to my daughter and it never left me. I was also fighting a battle with YHVH because it appeared that He might  be sending me to Spokane to restore my marriage. My ex was not a Believer. We had not seen each other since 1991 and only spoke on the phone to make travel arrangements for our daughter. I remember telling YHVH in my heart that if He wanted me to move I would need confirmation AND that He would have to change my heart toward my ex- husband.

A few weeks after the wedding dresses were displayed in my home, we had a visitor for our Shabbat gathering. It was my first time meeting “B”. She began to tell me a story about how YHVH had restored her marriage after being divorced for 9 years and that she and her ex-husband were to be married that year.

W H A T    D I D    S H E    J U S T    S A Y?

This woman, who I had never met before, was telling me the story about reconciling with her ex-husband.

My head was reeling because I had asked YHVH for confirmation about moving to Spokane and that He would begin to change my heart toward my ex-husband. Thoughts were racing through my head and I was overwhelmed with emotions.

“B”s story is one of the final defining pieces of the puzzle that propelled me to move to Spokane in 2000. I will share in another blog what happened after I moved.

“B” is the special guest who showed up 18 years later at Torah study this past Shabbat. She wore one of the donated wedding dresses to her remarriage ceremony. She returned the wedding dress after the wedding and we sent all 12 dress to Israel. She is still married!

This is a picture from “The Bridal Salon” in Israel

Salon_pic_CROPED_-web

But there is more to the story!

I had not seen “B” since that encounter 18 years ago! She is not a Torah keeper but loves YHVH will all her heart. She had been bed ridden and in ill health for the last year or so with Lyme disease, mold contamination (from her home) and other auto immune related diseases. She has been receiving care from a natural health practitioner and ran into an “old friend” (who also sees the practitioner) about two weeks ago. That “old friend” is “L”, who attends the Torah fellowship here. “L” invited “B” to come to study on Shabbat!

This was “B”s first time in Torah study. What are the odds that the Torah portion this past week dealt with tzara’at of the home? Leviticus 14:33-53

We had a powerful time of praise before we began to read the portion. When we got to the part about the mold, “B” shared with us all about her health issues and told us that her home is “infected” with it and that is why she is sick. She finally had to move out so she could get healthy. Her husband “is blind” to the issue that the mold in the home is causing her health problems.

We stopped reading at this point and began to minister to “B”. The presence of the Ruach was tangible and we all prayed for her as she repented for doubt & unbelief, fear, anger, etc. We ministered the love of YHVH and asked Him to open her husband’s eyes to the Truth of YHVH’s word. The gifts of the Ruach were in operation as each on had a word, Scripture or prayer.  It was an incredible time of healing.

So what does all of this mean? I don’t know…but YHVH knows and He wants to show me something.

Ministering to a woman I have not seen in 18 years, who just happened to come to the Shabbat we read about Tzara’at in the home, and her home is infected. This woman wore one of 12 wedding dresses that went to Israel.

This Scripture comes to mind:

Luke 13:10-17 HNV – 10 He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the day of Shabbat. 11 Behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and she was bent over, and could in no way straighten herself up. 12 When Yeshua saw her, he called her, and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.” 13 He laid his hands on her, and immediately she stood up straight, and glorified God. 14 The ruler of the synagogue, being indignant because Yeshua had healed on the Shabbat, said to the multitude, “There are six days in which men ought to work. Therefore come on those days and be healed, and not on the day of Shabbat!” 15 Therefore the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each one of you free his ox or his donkey from the stall on the Shabbat, and lead him away to water? 16 Ought not this woman, being a daughter of Avraham, whom Hasatan had bound eighteen long years, be freed from this bondage on the day of Shabbat?” 17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were disappointed, and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.

Since returning to Upper Michigan one month ago, I have experienced a lot of memories from my past; some good and some not so good. Is He trying to show me some things that need healing in MY heart? Quite possibly.

After Pesach (deliverance) comes the wilderness. That’s where I am right now, both physically and spiritually!

Thank you Abba for this time of reflection. May you continue to reveal the things in my heart that need healing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is how:

In my quiet time this morning I was writing and noticed the Scripture verse on the cover of my journal, “We love because He first loved us.” 1st John 4:19. I was prompted to begin reading in chapter one in my Complete Jewish Bible (CJB).

Like most of us, we’ve probably read through the Scriptures multiple times. I have been spending more time in the “New Testament” (Brit HaDashah) lately asking Abba to show me through “Torah” eyes where I might have applied a doctrine or principle to His Word that really doesn’t apply. A phrase jumped out at me in 1st John, “Here is how”.

When I first read this I immediately thought of the recent crochet tutorial video I had watched. “Here is how you make a bubble stitch”. In the video the instructor showed step by step how to create a raised pattern stitch.

Here is how, a term we use to teach us how to do something step by step, or so I thought.

As I read through 1st John I began to see this phrase, “Here is how” multiple times. The writer is not identified (it’s assumed it is John/Yochanan) nor the people he is writing to, yet there is something comforting in what is written that I can apply to my life. Here is how…

1 John 3:10 CJB  Here is how one can distinguish clearly between God’s children and those of the Adversary: everyone who does not continue doing what is right is not from God. Likewise, anyone who fails to keep loving his brother is not from God.” (emphasis mine)

Comment: “Anyone who fails to keep loving his brother is not from God”. Ouch…Abba show me where I have not loved my brother/sister through my words or deeds.

1 John 3:19-22 CJB  Here is how we will know that we are from the truth and will set our hearts at rest in his presenceif our hearts know something against us, God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts know nothing against us, we have confidence in approaching God; then whatever we ask for, we receive from him; because we are obeying his commands and doing the things that please him.” (emphasis mine)

Comment: if our hearts know nothing against us, we have confidence in approaching God; then whatever we ask for, we receive from him“. What does it mean, “if our hearts know nothing against us”?

Psalms 26:2 CJB “Examine me, YHVH, test me, search my mind and heart.”

Psalm 139:23-24 CJB “Examine me, God, and know my heart; test me, and know my thoughts. See if there is in me any hurtful way, and lead me along the eternal way.”

I looked at this in the context of prayer. If I’ve examined my heart and have confidence in approaching God, THEN whatever I ask for, I will receive from Him. NOT just by obeying his commands and doing the things that please him.

1 John 3:24b CJB  “Here is how we know that he remains united with us: by the Spirit who he gave us.” (emphasis mine)

1 John 4:2-3a CJB  “Here is how you recognize the Spirit of Godevery spirit which acknowledges that Yeshua the Messiah came as a human being is from God, and every spirit which does not acknowledge Yeshua is not from God – in fact, this is the spirit of Anti-Messiah.” (emphasis mine)

Comment: What is the context of knowing he remains with us? By the Spirit. What is the context of recognizing the Spirit of God? Every spirit which acknowledges that Yeshua the Messiah came as a human being is from God. Seems like a simple test…

1 John 4:4-6 CJB  “You, children, are from God and have overcome the false prophets, because he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world: therefore they speak from the world’s viewpoint; and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God doesn’t listen to us. This is how we distinguish the Spirit of truth from the spirit of error.” (emphasis mine)

1 John 4:9 CJB “Here is how God showed his love among usGod sent his only Son into the world, so that through him we might have life. (emphasis mine)

1 John 4:10 CJB “Here is what love isnot that we we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the kapparah (atonement) for our sins.  (emphasis mine)

Comment: I can’t wrap my brain around this one. He loved me (us) so much that He was willing to send His only son to be the atonement for my (our) sin.

1 John 4:11-12 CJB “Beloved friends, if this is how God loved us, we likewise ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God remains united with us, and our love for him has been brought to its goal in us.”

I know in my heart, that I don’t always love my brother/sister (those who we have identified as having His Spirit) the way I should. I am so quick to find fault when someone does not see things the way I do. I use my tongue to speak negative about a brother or sister when I can clearly see they are wrong, but don’t realize speaking negative about them is wrong. Father, please forgive me and help me to change my ways.

Matthew 7:1-5 CJB “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. For the way you judge others is how you will be judged – the measure with which you measure out will be used to measure to you. Whey do you see the splinter in your brother’s eye but not notice the log in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when you have the log in your own eye? You hypocrite! First, take the log out of your own eye; then you will see clearly, so that you can remove the splinter from your brother’s eye!

1 John 4:13 CJB “Here is how we know that we remain united with him and he with ushe has given to us from his own Spirit. (emphasis mine)

1 John 4:16 CJB “Also we have come to know and trust the love that God has for us. God is love; and those who remain in this love remain united with God, and God remains united with them.

Comment: Abba, help me to really know this love you have for me (us), so I can remain in this love, united with You AND display it to the world!

1 John 4:17 CJB “Here is how love has been brought to maturity with usas the Messiah is, so are we in the world. This gives us confidence for the Day of Judgment. (emphasis mine)

Comment: As the Messiah is, so are we in the world…

1 John 4:18 CJB There is no fear in love. On the contrary, love that has achieved its goal gets rid of fear, because fear has to do with punishment; the person who keeps fearing has not been brought to maturity in regard to love. (emphasis mine)

Kinda stings when I read that a person who keeps fearing has not been brought to maturity in regard to love. I admit I do not understand this kind of love, yet. Abba, teach me how to love…You…and others.

1 John 4:19-21 CJB “We ourselves love now because he loved us first. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar. For if a person does not love his brother, whom he has seen, then he cannot love God, whom he has not seen. Yes, this is the command we have from him: whoever loves God must love his brother too.”

I don’t hate, but I know I have hurt people with my words. Abba, teach me how to love…You…and others.

1 John 5:2-4 CJB “Here is how we know that we love God’s childrenwhen we love God, we also do what he commands. For loving God means obeying his commands. Moreover, his commands are not burdensome, because everything which has God as it’s Father overcomes the world. And this is what victoriously overcomes the world: our trust.”

Comment: I’ve been on this Torah journey for over 20 years now. The verse quoted above states that when we love God, we obey His commands. For a long time obeying His commands has been the center of discussion in this Torah walk. We tend to  judge people, without love, when we see them doing things contrary to what we understand obedience to be. We malign and spew hatred on the internet and in person when someone disagrees with our perception of the truth. We break fellowship with our brothers & sisters because we disagree. We equate loving God with keeping His commands and neglect the weightier matters. We can quote the Shema & V’ahavta, Deuteronomy 6:4-8, in Hebrew, yet neglect to really hear and do what it says!

Matthew 22:36-40 CJB “Rabbi, which of the mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah is the most important?” He told him, “‘You are to love YHVH your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ This is the greatest and most important mitzvah (commandment). And a second is similar to it, ‘You are to love your neighbor as yourself.’ All of the Torah and the Prophets are dependent on these two mitzvot (commandments). (emphasis mine)

Keeping/obeying the Torah without love reminds me of a saying, “Rules, without relationship, equals rebellion”. The world is not going to want what we have if we continue to be unloving toward our brother (those identified above as having the same Spirit). They (those in the world) are watching us. May we be found worthy of showing them Your love when we love one another.

Abba:

teach me how to love the way You do

teach me how accept those who are seeking you, right where they are at

teach me how to forgive when I have been wronged

teach me how to be humble when I have wronged someone

 

 

 

 

Day 1: Who is this for?

My daughter the writer

Bridget Vogel Gregory

Today marks the beginning of the final month of my twenties. As this milestone year approaches, I’ve sadly missed out on the bliss of my last year as a twenty-something because I already felt like I’d already begun my decent in life. It’s silly, and pretty stupid, actually. Too many people in their thirties and beyond told me that this is the start of the best years of my life. Dear Lord, I’m believing it to be so.

I looked back over the list of things I wanted to accomplish before I hit thirty. Of the 19 proclamations on my list, I managed accomplishing 2 of them…and the one I never thought would happen: getting married. After writing The Process, Not the End, I had to keep reminding myself that success is truly fleeting. My definition of personal achievement cannot be about how many countries I’d traveled to, how…

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Love covers…

My husband Tommy and I are scheduled to facilitate our Torah group’s study this week with Torah portion Acharei Mot (Leviticus 16:1-18:20). As I have been reading and pondering, something very profound stood out to me.

Leviticus 16:1

“YHVH spoke to Moses after the death of Aaron’s two sons, when they approached before YHVH, and they died.”

Nadab & Abihu tried to approach YHVH in a manner that YHVH had not commanded them.

Leviticus 10:1-2

The sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, each took his fire pan, they put fire in them and placed incense upon it; and they brought before YHVH an alien fire that He had not commanded them. A fire came forth from before YHVH and consumed them, and they died before YHVH.”

Aaron and his sons were consecrated or dedicated for the purpose of serving YHVH in the Tent of Meeting. They took it upon themselves to bring incense before YHVH at a time of their choosing, NOT as YHVH had prescribed.

The remainder of chapter 16 of Leviticus describes the Yom Kippur service, or how the High Priest is to atone for himself, his household, and the entire congregation.

Wait a minute…atone for himself, his household, and the entire congregation? I must have an improper understanding of what the word atone means here.

According to Jeff Benner of  Ancient-Hebrew.org, the Hebrew word for atonement is kaphar (To afford protection or security; to hide from sight or knowledge; to cover over as with a lid.)

The Hebrew word kaphar means “to cover over,” but is often translated as atonement. The word atonement is an abstract word and in order to understand the true Hebrew meaning of a word we must look to the concrete meaning. If an offense has been made, the one that has been offended can act as though the offense is covered over and unseen. We express this idea through the word of forgiveness. Atonement is an outward action that covers over the error.

As I was reading Leviticus 16, I also noticed the words “provide atonement”, “atoning”, and “bring atonement”. The word kaphar (atone) in it’s various forms is used 16 times in this chapter!

This week I’ve been discussing with several people how YHVH has led them to count the omer. One person shared that they are taking the numerical day (i.e. day 13), looking up what that number symbolizes, and then praying to have those things revealed (positive or negative) in their lives.

With that in mind, because I noticed the word “atone” was used 16 times in this chapter, I decided to find out what the number 16 symbolizes.

The number 16 is symbolic of …

love-hebrew-print

I immediately thought of love covers.

1 Peter 4:8

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

James 5:19-20

“My brethren, if any among you turns from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Proverbs 10:12

“Hatred arouses strife, but love covers all offenses.”

So what is love? 

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (There are 16 ways love is mentioned!)

Love is patient and kind, not jealous, not boastful, not proud, rude or selfish, not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not gloat over other people’s sins but takes its delight in the truth. Love always bears up, always trusts, always hopes, always endures. Love never ends…”

YHVH is love!

1 John 4:8

“Those who do not love, do not know YHVH, because YHVH is love.”

How do we show YHVH that we love Him?

John 14:15

“If you love me, you will keep my commands.”

John 14:21

“Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me, and the one who loves me will be loved by my Father, a I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

John 14:23-24

Yeshua answered him, ‘If someone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Someone who doesn’t love me doesn’t keep my words – and the words you are hearing is not my own but that of the Father who sent me.’

So, what have I learned from this?

Nadab & Abihu did not show YHVH their love for Him because they did not bring an offering the way He had commanded and they died. Following His ways and keeping His commandments leads to life, not death. YHVH gave the High Priest a way to make atonement for his sins, the sins of his household, and of the congregation. Yeshua, our High Priest, entered the Most Holy Place in the heavens and made atonement for us with His own blood. The sin that should have separated us from YHVH has been covered by the blood of the Lamb.  Love covers…

I read all of the Gospel accounts while preparing for Pesach this year and noticed something interesting. John 13 mentions it was just before the festival of Pesach and Yeshua was having supper with his talmidim (disciples). One of the first things He did was wash their feet to set an example (vs15). Do you realize He washed the feet of the one He knew was going to betray Him? Love covers…

The remainder of John 13, 14, 15, 16, & 17 is dialogue that takes place at that same meal! Right after Y’judah (Judas) left the meal, Yeshua says, “I am giving you a new command: that you keep on loving each other. In the same way that I have loved you, you are to keep on loving each other.” (John 13:34)

To quote Jeff Benner again:

“If an offense has been made, the one that has been offended can act as though the offense is covered over and unseen. We express this idea through the word of forgiveness. Atonement is an outward action that covers over the error.”

I have offended YHVH by not always keeping His commandments. As the One who has been offended, He has chosen to “act as though the offense is covered over and unseen” because I have chosen to allow the blood of Yeshua to kaphar “cover” me.

Love covers…

love-covers

 

“High” Sabbath?

Each year as we prepare for Passover, a discussion ensues regarding what day(s) must we request off from work to honor the commandment:

“In the first month on the fourteenth of the month in the afternoon is the time of the pesach-offering to YHVH.  And on the fifteenth day of this month is the Festival (chag) of Matzos to YHVH; you shall eat matzos for a seven-day period. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation (qodesh miqra) for you; you shall do no laborious work (abodah melakah).  You shall bring a fire-offering to YHVH for a seven-day period; on the seventh day shall be a holy convocation (qodesh miqra); you shall do no laborious work (abodah melakah).” Leviticus 23:5-8

Most teach that the first and last days of Unleavened Bread are called “High” Sabbaths. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t find the word “Sabbath” in the Hebrew in the above referenced passage as well as Exodus 12:14-20; Numbers 28:16-18, 25-16; and Deuteronomy 16:5-8.

What is Sabbath?

“He said to them, “This is what YHVH had spoken; tomorrow is a rest (shabbathown) day, a holy Sabbath (shabbat) to YHVH. Bake what you wish to bake and cook what you wish to cook; and whatever is leftover, put away for yourselves as a safekeeping until the morning. Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath (shabbat) for YHVH today you shall not find it in the field. Six days shall you gather it, but the seventh day is a Sabbath, (Shabbat) on it there will be none. See that YHVH has given you the Sabbath (shabbat); that is why He gives you on the sixth day a two-day portion of bread. Let every man remain in his place; let no man leave his place on the seventh day. Exodus 16:23,25-26, 29

“Remember the Sabbath (shabbat) day to sanctify it. Six days shall you work (abad) and accomplish all your work (melakah);  But the seventh day is Sabbath (shabbat) to YHVH your God; you shall not do any work (melakah) – you, your son, your daughter, your slave, your maidservant, your animal, and your convert within your gates for in six days YHVH made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day. Therefore, YHVH blessed the Sabbath (sabbath) day and sanctified it.” Exodus 20:8-11

YHVH said to Moses, saying: Now you speak to the Children of Israel, saying: ‘However, you must observe My Sabbaths (shabbat), or it is a sign between Me and you for your generations, to know that I am YHVH, Who makes you holy.You shall observe the Sabbath (shabbat), for it is holy to you; its desecrators shall be put to death, for whoever does work (melakah) on it, that soul shall be cut off from among its people. For six days work (melakah) may be done and the seventh day is a day of complete (shabbat) rest (shabbathown), it is sacred to YHVH; whoever does work (melakah) on the Sabbath (shabbat) day shall be put to death.’ The Children of Israel shall observe the Sabbath (shabbat), to make the Sabbath (shabbat) an eternal covenant for their generations. Between Me and the Children of Israel it is a sign forever that in a six-day period YHVH made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested (shabath) and was refreshed.” Exodus 31:12-17

“Six days shall you work (abad) and on the seventh day you shall desist (shabath); you shall desist (shabath) from plowing and harvesting.” Exodus 34:21

On six days, work (melakah) may be done, but the seventh day shall be holy for you, a day of complete (shabbat) rest (shabbathown) for YHVH; whoever does work (melakah) on it shall be put to death.You shall not kindle a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath (shabbat)day.” Exodus 35:2-3

There are certain permissions and restrictions on Sabbath:

  • Observe the day
  • Rest on that day
  • Sanctify the day
  • No baking or cooking
  • No kindling a fire
  • No plowing or harvesting
  • No working

According to Exodus 12:16, we are to have a Holy Convocation  on the 1st and 7th day of Unleavened Bread and the only work that may be done is to prepare food:

“On the first day shall be a holy convocation (qodesh miqra) and on the seventh day shall be a holy convocation (qodesh miqra) for you, no work (melakah) may be done on them, except for what must be eaten for any person – only that may be done for you.” Exodus 12:16

IF this day were truly a Sabbath day, we could not prepare food!

YES, we are told to have a Holy Convocation (qodesh miqra). YES, we are told not to work (melakah).  BUT it is NOT a Sabbath day by definition.

Three years ago I had a discussion with friends regarding what day we were to start counting the Omer. I have always begun counting the day after the weekly Sabbath, because I understood that to be what the Scriptures were saying. Others began their count the day after the “High Sabbath” of the first day of Unleavened Bread. That prompted an in-depth study of the Scriptures regarding Sabbath, Holy Convocation, and No Work. For those of you who would like to see my notes, I’ve attached them below:

LEVITICUS 23

Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy Comparison

Leviticus 23 Strong’s Numbers

What this comes down to me is semantics; please don’t call the day a Sabbath if it is not called it in Scripture. YHVH’s word is very clear and simple to understand! WE make it complicated.

Rant over…hope you enjoy the study!

con·verge

This weekend my husband Tommy and I had the privilege of attending the First Western Regional Bney Yosef North America (BYNA) National Shabbat in Salem, Oregon. We flew from South Carolina to Seattle to visit my good friend Amy and took her and another friend Michelle with us. I will do my best to describe what I experienced at this family reunion!

We arrived at the National Armory Building in Salem with much anticipation and excitement after a long traffic filled drive from Seattle. We knew we were going to see familiar faces as well as meet new family members. As we entered the building there was hustle and bustle as people were preparing a banquet to share with one another. We walked into an older style gymnasium type of room with hardwood floors and bleacher style wooden chairs. Tables were decorated and chairs set up to welcome the invited guests.

The evening opened with the blowing of shofars and then Tommy & I welcoming everyone to the gathering. Grape juice and delicious challah bread were presented and we all recited the traditional blessings together before we dined on a variety of food at the amazing banquet tables. Hebrews know how to throw a party!

We spent about an hour feasting on food and fellowship before Tommy & I were asked to share about BYNA and the National Shabbat Initiative. We transitioned with prayer and the worship team, “Aliyah” lead us in song while Daniel & Sylvia Calderon lead us in the dance. Here is a link to a video of one of the songs: Worship at BYNA National Shabbat in Salem. It was a glorious time in the presence of YHVH! We experienced a very special time of unity that has pervaded EVERY BYNA National Shabbat gathering we have attended.

I understand from some of those in attendance that major reconciliation and restoration took place that night! Hallelujah!

We had the privilege of meeting several of the BYNA Strategic Prayer warriors, one of them being Nana Joy! This mighty woman of the Most High is a blessing to the Kingdom!

Dorothy and Nana Joy

As in most gatherings, we did not want it to end! We returned the Armory back to the way we found it and headed to the home of our friend Eunice for some rest.

Shabbat morning was spent with more fellowship around the table enjoying breakfast together before heading to the home of Don & Cindy Wyant for the afternoon Shabbat gathering. We arrived around 2pm and were graciously welcomed by Cindy and some of the “new” family we met the night before. In keeping with tradition, we started our time together blessing YHVH for the food and then eating a delicious meal together.

The shofars called us to order, we sang the “Shema” and the entered into a time of praise, worship, and dance. We were all encouraged to share. Several prayed, spoke words of knowledge, read Scripture, and sang songs. The presence of YHVH was tangible.

I was prompted to share something YHVH had spoke to me a few days before while Tommy, Amy and I enjoyed a day at a small cabin on the Hood Canal. We went for a walk while waiting for the tide to come in so we could go for a canoe ride and came upon what appeared to be two streams; one coming from the canal and the other flowing the opposite way. At one point the two seemed to “converge” and create this swirly looking area that came together and sort of danced in a circle.

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When we returned to the cabin I asked the Father what, if anything, was He trying to show me. I looked up the definition of converge and this is what I found:

con·verge
verb
  •  (of several people or things) come together from different directions so as eventually to meet.
  • (of a number of things) gradually change so as to become similar or develop something in common.
  • come from different directions and meet at (a place)

At the National Shabbat gathering and in the Wyant’s backyard, a group of people from different parts of the country, state, and region, gathered to meet (converge) for a common purpose; to honor YHVH on Shabbat! We came together like different streams, meeting at a specific location and intersecting with each other through food, fellowship, and worship. Our hearts were knit together. Additional “threads” were being added to the beautiful tapestry YHVH is creating through the BYNA National Shabbat Initiative.

I want to encourage you to attend a BYNA National Shabbat gathering if there is one in your area. The website Bney Yosef National Shabbat has details of upcoming gatherings. It is time for us to come together and worship the Creator, YHVH, in unity with diversity. We had an amazing time at our “family reunion” in Salem. Thanks to all of you who prayed, made food, lead worship & dance, and organized this wonderful time! We look forward to seeing you again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

SC National Shabbat – My Thoughts

I’ve had a few days to process the wonderful time I had at the inaugural South Carolina National Shabbat gathering last week. I’ve been trying to think of ways to describe the experience and hope I can convey what is on my heart.

When Pete & Kelly Rambo visited our congregation to share about their experience in Israel attending the Bney Yosef National Congress in May, my husband Tommy & I felt our hearts leap with joy. We knew this was something we needed to be connected with and scheduled a visit with the Rambo’s to hear more about the gathering and begin building a relationship with them.

Pete & Kelly invited us to attend the September gathering of the Bney Yosef National Shabbat in Georgia. We read these words on the invite: “Enjoy prayer, fellowship, food, & nation building. We cannot build the nation of Yisrael  alone, we need each other.” The words struck our hearts again. The gathering was more than we anticipated. We met new friends and reconnected with some we had not seen in a while. We sang, danced, prayed, ate, and built relationships. Something wonderful happened and we wanted it to continue.

The Rambos & Wilsons began to pray about starting a similar gathering in South Carolina. The idea was to let Abba lead us every step of the way. If this was something He was doing, He would orchestrate it. That is exactly what happened! When we deviated from His path, we were gently corrected and redirected. He exceeded our expectations in so many ways!

As I reflect on the process of planning, execution, and implementation, I realize there are some areas we could improve on. I sent out a survey to those who attended for feedback and am looking forward to their responses.

One thing I would like to address now is what exactly was this gathering all about?

The originator of the National Shabbat, Tzefanyah ben Yochanon, put it into these words:

The Bney Yosef National Shabbat – What it is and what it isn’t.

In North Georgia and surrounding states, a new grass roots move of the Ruach HaKodesh has started inspired by the B’ney Yosef National Congress held at the end of May 2015 in Ariel, Israel. We are calling this the B’ney Yosef National Shabbat.  Why the name? It is a result of the reversal of a curse spoken of by the prophet Hoshea 1, “Now when she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, she conceived, and bore a son. 9 He said, “Call his name Lo-Ammi ; for you are not my people, and I will not be yours. 10 Yet the number of the children of Israel will be as the sand of the sea, which can’t be measured nor numbered; and it will come to pass that, in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ 11 The children of Judah and the children of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint themselves one head, and will go up from the land; for great will be the day of Jezreel.
Our greatness is our unity. A unity which can only be experienced through efforts to rebuild the nation of B’ney Yosef/Ephraim. These are not our own efforts but inspired by Scripture and the Ruach HaKodesh.

Once a month, there will be a Shabbat experience that will bring Northern Israelites together from fellowships, congregations, and homes to express and declare to Avinu that we are the people of Northern Israel.  There will be no teaching but occasional presentations about our national restoration and Scriptural discussions promoting a national outlook.  A band is forming to bring live worship and dance and then sharing of a meal together.  The momentum is moving in a way that only the Ruach HaKodesh could orchestrate.  The oil has been flowing and important connections are being made.  Some were close to tears during our initial Shabbat. Hearts were moved and inspired seeing the reality of a people who were not people coming forth. Will B’ney Yosef be the next nation born in a day? We have learned that taking small steps really makes a difference.

We as the people of Yosef are still walking in the sin of Jeroboam to this very day. We are erecting golden calves and altars to ourselves and we have made these doctrines as mighty ones. We’ve taken what we believe to be “important” doctrines and imposed them upon others. Imposing our our doctrinal views on others do not edify or encourage anyone. These discussions, for instance, can include how to pronounce YHWH/YHVH, the calendar, how and what form we should worship, etc.   If someone attempts a discussion in these areas with someone, then, they do not understand the National Shabbat’s purpose. There are so many areas we agree, but in the past we’ve been guilty of gravitating toward issues where there is a great diversity of opinion.  We’ve neglected to respect these diverse opinions. When we refuse to respect diverse Scriptural opinions, we re-enact over and over again the curse that we are not a people. Will we declare as we gather that we are one people again? It will only happen if we lay controversial doctrines down and embrace one another as a national people.  Let us make this clear, however, we do NOT want to encourage anyone who is walking defiantly against the Word of YHWH. There are plenty of places in Scripture that clearly spell out what wickedness is. The B’ney Yosef National Shabbat will never be a gathering that tolerates wickedness.

To make this abundantly clear. This is not a congregation. This is not a denomination. This is a time, one Shabbat a month, where we can declare and believe that Avinu Malkenu (Our Father, Our King) is making a people once again!

Praise be to the Holy One of Israel. Oh King of Israel bring us home!!

To quote a portion of this:

“Once a month there will be a Shabbat experience that will bring Northern Israelites together from fellowships, congregations, and homes to express and declare to Avinu that we are the people of Northern Israel.  There will be no teaching but occasional presentations about our national restoration and Scriptural discussions promoting a national outlook.”

“This is not a congregation. This is not a denomination. This is a time, one Shabbat a month, where we can declare and believe that Avinu Malkenu (Our Father, Our King) is making a people once again!”

Hallelujah! This concept is a paradigm shift for all of us. We need to begin thinking “outside the established box”.

I’ve been on this Torah journey for 20+ years and have seen and heard the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s time for brethren to truly walk in unity with diversity.

Unite: come or bring together for a common purpose or action

Diverse: showing a great deal of variety, very different

[1Co 12:18-20,27 HNV] 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body, just as he desired. 19 If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now they are many members, but one body.27 Now you are the body of Messiah, and members individually.

Our congregations, fellowships, & homes have a unique purpose. We are unified by a common purpose: our desire to walk out the Torah to the best of our ability and the desire to be regathered into a nation. We are diverse in the many ways we express these concepts. We need to find the common ground and start there. That is why these gatherings are happening.

As a fellow Israelite friend said to me, “After all, we will all be together one day…are we all going to stay in our own ‘rooms’ or come out and fellowship with the rest of the family!?!?!?!?!?!”

Selah…..