Hebrew Word of the Week

Hebrew Word of the Week

תוֹם – Seeing Through the Lens of Integrity

through the lens of integrity
Seeing through the lens of integrity

“Moses said to the heads of the tribes of Israel: “This is what the Lord commands: When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.” Numbers 30:1-2

Today I asked my husband for a word to explore in Hebrew. His answer was, “integrity.” If I were to choose a word to sum up his character, integrity would fit the bill. So this one is for him.

According to Wikipedia, integrity is the basing of one’s actions on an internally consistent framework of principles.

Our Hebrew word is תוֹם. It is pronounced tome. In the Jewish mindset, integrity is linked to wholeness and perfection.

Rabbi Noah Weinberg posits the following: Imagine you’re successful, rich and famous. You’re on vacation with friends when suddenly terrorists burst into your room, hold a gun to your head and say: “Tell us where your friends are and we’ll release you safely. Otherwise we’ll kill you.”

What do you do?

In Jewish thought, there are three fundamental principles upon which the world stands. They are truth (emet in Hebrew), justice (tzedek) and peace (shalom).

The Talmud tells us: “The signature of the Holy one, blessed be He, is truth.” So together, the three great principles of Judaism come together to form integrity.

But what happens when we fail our integrity? We make a vow (or promise or commitment) to something or someone, but we don’t carry through. Real life interferes, and we fall short of what we had planned. God is very serious about vows, as the book of Numbers shows us.

Remember the story of the Isra’elites right after they’ve defeated Ai and destroyed the city? Some men from a neighboring tribe deceive Joshua and the elders by feigning having come from a foreign country and asking them to enter into a covenant so that the army of Isra’el won’t kill them. Of course, it turns out that although God had told Joshua not to make a covenant with the people who lived in the land, He nevertheless considers their vow made in His name to be valid. The “foreigners” end up as slaves to the Isra’elites (which for them is assuredly better than the death of their nation).

God expects total integrity in our walk. But He also knows our human frailty and forgives. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Would You Like To Know How To Become A Christian?

UIOF Bible Study: Week 22

UIOF Bible Study: Week 22

Embracing Your Potential: Spiritual Growth—Transformation

photo by Faith Ozdemir
Photo courtesy of Faith Ozdemir on Unsplash

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” — Acts 4:13

Oh, grow up!

My daughter sucked her thumb until she was seven years old. Once we offered to buy her a favorite doll if she would quit sucking her thumb for one month. She did. We bought her the doll and she immediately went back to sucking her thumb. 

Physical growth happens and eventually we must give up childish things to move on with life. Our old clothes don’t fit, our toys don’t amuse, and even our tastes change. Spiritual growth also comes at the expense of childish things.

Giving up things we are comfortable with is hard, but to grow spiritually things have to change. And we must count the cost. Are you ready to move out of your comfort zone and start doing only those things God calls you to?

Complete self-denial is how we follow Jesus. If we are to become disciples, we have to be willing to completely surrender to Jesus. This means ALL of ourselves. Those things you cling to must be laid down so you can be transformed.

Would You Like To Know How To Become A Christian?

Hebrew WOW: שְׁאוֹל

Hebrew WOW: שְׁאוֹל

A Jewish Perspective on Sheol

Did Jews in the time of Yeshua believe in hell?

Do you? 

Ancient thought about sheol (hell) was quite different from Western (Christian) thought, yet Yeshua was a Jew. What did He think?

שְׁאוֹל

(Sheol)

sheol, underworld, grave, hell, pit

the underworld

Sheol-the OT designation for the abode of the dead

place of no return

without praise of God

wicked sent there for punishment

righteous not abandoned to it

of the place of exile (fig)

of extreme degradation in sin

The word sheol, or שְׁאוֹל, in ancient thought meant the world where bad people, or all people, or maybe only some people went after they died. There were so many different thoughts on what happened when you died that you could write a whole book on that subject alone. It has been described as a deep, dark region, as a pit, and as “the Land of Forgetfulness.” Human beings after death, they thought, went to a netherworld called Sheol, cut off from God and man, but still “alive” in some shadowy existence. However, there is no judgment, whether reward or punishment there.

Pessimism was the rule of the day when it came to life after death. Most Jews were “here-and-now” focused and all people came to the same end.

After the destruction of the First Temple, however, the prophets began to speak with more hope about the future.

When the Second Temple was destroyed in 70AD, a theological crisis occurred. It was one thing to claim as the rabbis did—when the Lord’s sanctuary was destroyed and His people were scattered—mip’nei hataeinu, “because of our sins” but it was very difficult to give reasons that good, pious, individual  Jews should suffer also.

Rabbi Ya’akov said: This world is compared to an ante-chamber that leads to Olam HaBa, (the World-to-Come).” In fact, some rabbis taught that the righteous suffered in this world so that their reward in the next world would be that much greater.

So what did Yeshua teach about sheol?

In the Sermon on the Mount where Yeshua’s message was about love, He emphasized that those who were not more righteous than the Pharisees would never enter heaven (Matthew 5:20). He warned that unrepentant sinners would face the fires of sheol. At the end of His Sermon, the kingdom of God and the horrors of sheol are contrasted. Sheol is described as a place of destruction, where the broad road leads. Even professing to know the Messiah, if one continues in sin, won’t save you from sheol. Everyone who does not find the 

“narrow way” will end up in sheol. He compares the lives of the wicked to those who build their houses upon sand.

So, in essence, we know three things about sheol from the teaching of the first century Jews and from the Messiah Himself:

1. Sheol is the place for deserved punishment, comprises real suffering, and is eternal.

2. Sheol is the place of destruction, likened to death, second death, ruin, and loss.

3. Sheol is the place of banishment, where unbelievers actually realize what they are missing—their purpose in life and in life eternal: to love and glorify God.

 

UIOF Week 20: Ride the Wind!

ridethewind

“and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”

Apostle Paul

1 Corinthians 2:4

Have you ever gone paragliding? It is touted as the purest form of flying that a human can do. But what it really is, is a partnership between you and the wind. The tiny package in your backpack means that you can take to the skies wherever you go and see the world from a different perspective.

The word for “wind” in Hebrew is Ruach. Interestingly, it is also the name for the Spirit.  John 3:8 says: “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

When you step out in faith, you are like the paraglider who harnesses the power of the wind.

Going forward to pick up the reigns of leadership, you absolutely must have power behind you. In Isaiah 55:11, God tells the prophet that His word accomplishes what He sends it to do. That is the ultimate power. He sends His Spirit and we have the power to do those good works He created for us to do beforehand. (Eph 2:10). 

When you are lifted up high above the earth in your paraglider, you see the world differently. You have an eagle’s vision to see what is truly there and to move toward it as you partner with the Ruach. Let Him be the power– the wind beneath your wings– as you step out in faith to help others find the updraft of His love that lifts you higher and higher.

Would You Like To Know How To Become A Christian?

Outlining Your Life Day by Day

Outlining Your Life Day by Day

Does life happen to you, or do you happen to life?

Does it seem as though organizing your life doesn’t get the results you’re looking for? Perhaps you (like I am) are addicted to bullet journaling, or maybe you have a planner that you’ve custom made for organizing your life.

But do your days follow your plan?

Maybe we’ve been looking at it from the wrong angle. Maybe our lives would be better organized if we had a framework from which to launch out into life.
Do you remember your days in school when you had an essay or term paper to write? You started with an outline, the framework upon which you would build your argument or theme.

Is an outline what you need for organizing your life?

I was recently reading a book called The Daniel Dilemma by Chris Hodges. He spoke at my church a few weeks ago and even before he was finished speaking I had gone to Amazon and ordered the book his message was taken from. This morning I came across this little gem in the book: “Whatever we put in first place becomes the organizing principle for the other parts of our lives. Think of it like an outline for those papers you had to write in school. When you focus on your guiding principle, it automatically takes care of many other decisions.”

So what is your guiding principle?

At the beginning of each year, I ask God for a word that can guide me throughout the year. This year the word was serve. So I want to make my guiding principle say something like “In whatever I do, I want to serve God through being His hands and feet in my everyday life.”
Now when I outline my life today, I need to think in terms of what I am doing to serve Him. My old organizational way would be to list all the tasks I had to accomplish today and put them in my bullet journal with little boxes next to them to check off when they are done. There’s a lot of good feelings attached to checking off those boxes! I always feel like I’ve accomplished a lot.

But have those things accomplished the purpose of my day’s “essay”?

This morning, I decided to look at my day’s activities and demands from my “outline perspective.” Who am I serving today? Who is most important and what—in general—do I need to do to serve them? Here’s what my outline looks like:
organizing your life

It’s just an outline

Like an essay, this doesn’t define my whole day. It simply gives it structure. It lays out what is most important and what is less so. If I were writing a book, it would be the chapter headings, not the content of the chapters. In order to bring the book to print, I’d have to fill in all the details and tell the story the chapter headings allude to.
Because my guiding principle is to serve, I have placed checking in on friends before my blog business. You, my readers (and my friends), are important to me, and that’s why the blog business is on the outline. But the business part takes second seat to the people God has placed in my life.
My closest friends and I have a “chat line” on Facebook Messenger. We keep in touch with each other daily, sharing thoughts, prayer requests, and plans. Even if I don’t pick up the phone and call each one, they know I am thinking of them and praying for their day. It takes only a few minutes every day, but it’s vitally important to check in with each other. We care about each other and the things that touch our lives, so we share.
Here’s what my daily for today looks like in my bullet journal. (See how to use a bullet journal here.)
organizing your life
The tasks on my daily page are not written in any particular order, just as I thought of them. Using my guiding principle, serve, will help me prioritize them. My outline helps me do that.
So, what do you think?

Will you use an outline to organize your life by your guiding principle?