|Posted by Donna Dawson on March 27, 2018 at 8:30 AM||comments (0)|
December 25th. It's the date that North America has deemed as Jesus' birthday. But then again, North Americans tend to think Jesus had fair skin, blond hair and blue eyes too. In the same way that we don't get to tell the Middle Eastern world what they should look like, so we shouldn't get to designate Jesus' birthday to a date that's convenient for us. So a little history lesson.
December 25th has been a pagan holiday for thousands of years. From Saturnus to Janus, a variety of gods have been petitioned on that day to bring back the sun needed to grow crops. And it has been celebrated in a variety of ways--from...um...enthusiastic frolicking before statues made in the god's image to...sigh...the sacrificing of children in the most brutal ways possible. So how did such a vile day become part of the Christian calendar? Well, it's like anything in the church. Someone starts asking the question: Is it really so bad? I mean, we don't do that stuff anymore. Maybe we could confiscate the day for our faith and that would somehow make it right. Except that it doesn't usually work out that way. Christmas is no different.
In 336 Constantine, as a Christian, celebrated Christ's birth on December 25th in an effort to stop the pagan worship that took place. Well meaning but short sighted--you can't change a society until you change their hearts. It wasn't until Pope Julius I declared the date as Jesus' official birth date shortly after Constantine's celebration that it became official. Over the course of time society waffled back and forth between recognizing it as a legitimate declaration and declaring it heresy because it sat squarely on one of the most violent holidays on the pagan calendar. So how could two men be so sure they were right--and what if they weren't?
Enter the Old Testament documents. In the book of Daniel chapter 9 we read about the prophecy of the Messiah's coming. The word goes out that from the declaration of the rebuilding of the temple there would be seven weeks and 62 weeks. Based on how the Jewish calendar marked years we can deduce that the weeks here are markings for groups of seven years each. Scripture backs the thinking. We just have to read about the Jubilee years and recognize they marked them as seven weeks or seven groups of seven years. They declared a Sabbath week at the end of every seven 'weeks' and to this day the Shemitahs are still observed. So...69 weeks were actually 69 groups of seven years. What is really important here is that Messiah would show up for the 70th 'week' and half way through would be cut off (think crucifixion). As in the 69 'weeks' this final 70th 'week' also represents years. In Luke it states that Jesus was 30 years old when he began his ministry. That 30th year marked the begin of his 'week' or seven years. According to the Mishnah Avot 5:21 the stages of a Jewish man are laid out and the age of authority is from 30 years old on. So we know that Jesus had turned 30 when he began preaching. He might have even been just approaching his 30th birthday when Mary approached him at the wedding in Cana. It would explain his statement to Mary that his time had not yet come since he knew that he needed to be 30 for his authority to be recognized before the Jewish nation. Prior to his 30th year, no one would take his authority seriously so...it is safe to assume his birthday marks the beginning of the seven years.
Jesus travels through the early ministry and does all he set out to do. And then Messiah (Y'shua--Jesus) is crucified. Both through studying the lunar calendar of the past 2000 years and through astonomical process of elimination it is determine that his death took place on April 3, A.D. 33 (see http://www.tyndalehouse.com/tynbul/library/tynbull_1992_43_2_06_humphreys_datechristscrucifixion.pdf )So...Jesus was 33 when he died on April 3, 33 but he wasn't really 33 was he? He was 33 1/2. How do I know? Daniel said that he would be cut off from his ministry 3 1/2 years into it. If he died in April and he was 33 1/2 at the time, when was his birthday? Again, assuming he had just turned or was close to turning 30 at the time of the wedding, and again, knowing he had to fulfill Daniel's 3 1/2 years, it is safe to assume that Jesus was born sometime around October 3rd. This follows Biblical timing. I've been to Israel. In October, the weather is still warm. The sheep are out in the fields. The evenings are beautiful. Even pushing it into November the weather can become fickle. Rain, cold and wind can crash down upon the nation quickly. Most certainly, December would not see sheep in the fields nor shepherds sleeping there. (Think about the big snow storm in Jerusalem in 2013). I say all this to ask the question: Why is the Christian community still celebrating the birth of our Saviour on a violent pagan holiday when it is most likely that he was born in October? Perhaps the Canadian thanksgiving holiday is more appropriate? Or the fall Jewish feasts? Interestingly, the Feast of Trumpets is one of the fall feasts--a feast to celebrate the coming of the King of Israel. Hm. Just a thought.
|Posted by Donna Dawson on March 1, 2018 at 9:35 AM||comments (0)|
Many of us have heard the Christmas story. Year after year we listen as the account of the shepherds is read or acted out. And every year we hear how the baby Jesus would be found lying in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes. All my life, I wondered what the big deal was about swaddling clothes. After all, isn't every baby wrapped in swaddling clothes? Then I went to Israel and I learned the significance of swaddling clothes.
Apparently, in the good old days of Caesar Augustus, travellers did most travelling via sandal express. They walked. And on that long walk to wherever they journeyed, there was always the possibility of a death among the travelling company. So what does one do with the body when they can't get it to the morgue post haste? Well...they wrap them in swaddling clothes and lay them in a quickly dug grave.
A swaddling cloth is a long, wide strip of linen or homespun that every person would have carried with them when they travelled. It was considered poor taste to bury a body without washing and binding it first and a dead body had to be buried before sundown so as not to draw any undesirable critters.
So...now we step into the manger scene. Joseph and Mary clearly didn't expect to deliver a baby on the road otherwise they would have packed something to wrap the child in. But God had other plans. You see, He wanted to make a statement. He wanted to verify that the shepherds had indeed found the right child but He also declared in that discovery the purpose of that special child. Jesus didn't come to be a political ruler like they were hoping. He was born to die. And so, he was wrapped in swaddling clothes in a prophetic statement in anticipation of most amazing event in history. And here we all thought it was just a baby blanket.
|Posted by Donna Dawson on March 17, 2017 at 8:50 AM||comments (0)|
I hear often the questions “why does God allow evil? Why should I serve someone who has the power to end suffering and does nothing?” They are good questions and I have pondered the answers for some time.
It comes down to a choice between two realities—between choosing the one who created evil and the One who permits evil. The one who created evil holds absolutely no regard for human life or for anything of beauty. We see that lived out day-to-day in the abuses and murders and destructions that sweep the planet. The One who permits evil does so because He desires to give the masses more time to turn to Him. The one hates humanity. The other loves humanity deeply.
Those who blame God for allowing evil in the world have completely overlooked the true villain. The devil—satan—desires that all people perish in their sins. He laughs at our groaning and suffering and he heaps evil upon us like an extra helping of gravy at a feast. But God—He feels each wound and He weeps and He calls to us and He puts things and people and events in our paths hoping that we will reach out to Him. He endures the wickedness for a time so that we can have one more day to seek Him while the enemy does his best to snuff us out before we can make that choice.
To think that ignoring God is not a choice is to make a grave and naive mistake. By rejecting God, we embrace His enemy. By turning away from the hand that can comfort us in the midst of the wickedness we cling to the author of wickedness. So the very one we should revile becomes our god. Too many make that blind choice. So God waits. He perseveres. He watches each day tick by and hopes—leans into the hope—that we will see the real villain and cast him aside. That is why God allows evil.
|Posted by Donna Dawson on August 31, 2016 at 3:05 PM||comments (1)|
"Do you know of any of the faith giants who actually moved mountains?"
The question jolted me as my husband and I discussed with a friend the passage in Matthew 17 where Jesus talked about having faith to move mountains.
I had just read a rabbinical website where the rabbi teaching talked about different Rabbis 'casting their mountains'. It had astounded me because he went on to explain that each Rabbi studies the Tenach and then determines his theology based on it. That theology is referred to as his 'mountain' and he casts it at other Rabbis so they can debate. We were excited to realize that Jesus wasn't just speaking literally but he was also speaking as a Rabbi. So we began to chew on the scriptures. At first glance, it does seem that Jesus is telling his disciples that they can actually pick up a physical mountain and throw it into the sea but as my husband quipped, do we know of anyone who has done it? Clearly, no.
When we apply the Rabbinical meaning however, it all comes together. In chapter 16, the Rabbis were asking for signs. Never mind the fact that Jesus had already performed enough signs to validate his ministry ten times over. The deeper issue was faith. They had spent so much time studying the scriptures and refining their 'mountains' so they could cast them at each other that they had become blind to the miracle of faith. Along comes Jesus and tells his disciples, who are unable to cast a demon out of a boy, to stop looking at the theological mountains and simply have faith that the power that comes through the name of Jesus, from God, manifested by the Holy Spirit, is enough to do the job. The Pharisees didn't need a sign. They, and the disciples, needed to cast their mountains into the sea of forgetfulness and pick up the tiny grain of faith. And Jesus emphasized that only by picking up that faith could they have the ability to cast off those lofty and burdensome mountains.
|Posted by Donna Dawson on June 29, 2016 at 11:10 AM||comments (4)|
With events moving as they are I have had a very firm spiritual nudge that it is time. Am I an eschatologist? No. Am I formally trained? No. But I watch and remember. God has gifted me with a unique brain that files away events. I wish it were equally effective with names and faces but alas, that is not the way He made me. And so, I begin.
We have bought the lie that we will not know when the end times will come. Because of Jesus' statement "you will not know the day or the hour" we have assumed that we won't see it coming at all. If that were the case, why would Jesus take the time to outline the end time events? Was he just spouting off? Did he have nothing better to do and so he tossed out a few cryptic sentences to shut his disciples up? Not likely. He laid out a very detailed road map for the end time believer to understand current events. Why? Well--what better way to validate his ministry and the Word of God than to have such detail come true in exact ways. And so, I begin.
With recent events--the exit of Britain from the European Union--I am compelled to share my opinions. Are they revelations from God? I guess we'll find out. I don't claim to be a prophet any more than I claim to be an eschatologist. I will trust God to lead me down this road and let you interpret as you will.
A few years ago, I made the claim that I believed Canada, United States and Mexico would one day unite and the Anti-Christ would rise out of that union. But, you say, the Anticrist is to come out of the Roman Empire. Well, track with me. When the Roman Empire crumbled, Britain was its furthest outpost. While the government of Rome didn't endure there, the people did. Many Romans had come to settle there or to fight there. It was an extention of the empire and much of its way of governing followed. As Britain rose on the horizon as a world power, it carried with it the essence of Rome and the ancestry of Rome. It grew and usurped nations, including the new world. The United States was nothing more than a branch of Britain which was a branch of the Roman Empire. And then Canada--the final colony--the youngest of the Empire--the 'little horn' of Revelation--possibly. I postulated that the three leaders of this continent would come together and in the shadowing of Daniel 7:7-8 would be devoured by the 'one with iron teeth'. Just today, I read about the coming together of 'the Three Amigos'--the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, the President of the US, Barak Obama and the President of Mexico, Pena Nieto and I couldn't help but wonder if my postulation bucket held any water. We will see. At any rate, it's something to think about.
By the way, the 'time of the Gentiles' as spoken of in Luke 21 is finished. How do I know? In Luke 21 up to verses 23 Jesus aptly describes the destruction of Jerusalem as it happened in A.D. 70. How do I know it applied to that time frame? He talks in verse 24 about captives being led to all the nations. In the end of times in many scriptural references the Bible talks about the Jews being brought back to Israel so it is obvious that this particular refernce can only be describing the dispersion in 70 A.D. But what is fascinating is his statement in the second half of that verse. "and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." When speaking with theologians it is a general concensus that the 'times of the Gentiles' is the time frame where Christianity has been spread to the world. That time frame ends based on Jerusalem's schedule. For 2000 years, Jerusalem was tread upon by Gentile shoes--until 1967 when it was recaptured by Israeli soldiers and became, once again, the centre of Jewish life. So it's desolation--its trampling--ended then and with it ended the 'times of the Gentiles'. What is more astounding is that Jesus finishes that chapter with all the signs of the end times. IVerses 31 and 32 arethe pivotal verses of this chapter because they make the bold statement that "So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place." Which generation? He is talking about the generation that sees the end of the desolation of Jerusalem and its reinstatement into Israel. And a generation is 70 years in Biblical terms so...
It explains why the world is quickly coming unglued. He told us we'd see it. He told us the time frame. The only thing we don't have exact timing for is the day or the hour of his coming. Come LORD Jesus, Come!
|Posted by Donna Dawson on March 22, 2015 at 10:40 PM||comments (0)|
If I write a letter to you and you decide to translate it and then send it to someone else who decides to translate it into yet another language and then share it with a bunch of people, who is at fault if the final product isn't exactly the same as the first letter? Is it my fault? Does it mean that the letter is not true to my intent and my purposes and my will and word? No. Of course not. So too with the Bible. The Bible is simply a collection of writings inspired by or 'dictated' to the writers of it by YHVH. In it's original form, it is true and exact and without error or contradiction. But as time has passed and translations have taken place subtle changes have occurred. Not deliberate changes per se but changes in perceptions of culture and word usage. For example: the word 'Christos' or 'Christ' isn't actually really a word and no, it isn't Jesus' last name either. As the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek words crept up that didn't exist in the Greek. There was no Greek word for 'Messiah' which means 'anointed one' so the word 'Christ' was used in place of 'Messiah' or 'Meshiac'. I say all of that to say this--how far are we willing to go to learn the truth of the Bible? Are we willing to learn another language? Are we willing to study Hebrew so we can read the text in its original language--or Greek? How much do we love God's word? Enough to spend our lives learning the language in which it was written? Perhaps we would have far less conflict and strife in the Christian community if we all took the time to learn the original text and then learn how to put it in context based on the culture and tradition of the original nation in which it was birthed. Just a thought.
|Posted by Donna Dawson on November 20, 2014 at 9:30 AM||comments (1)|
God. LORD. Jehovah. All names given to the Creator of all things and yet not quite accurate.
A few years ago, I had an acquaintance mispronounce my name. He wasn't being malicious. He just didn't know how to say it in any other language but his own. I let it slip the first few times and then it began to grate on me. After all, I knew my name and I knew how it should sound. I sat down with him and taught him how to enunciate it properly and I asked him to do likewise with his name so I could say it correctly. Why did it matter? Our identities are wrapped tightly with our names and when there is a deviation something within us rebels. I don't think our Creator is much different. After all, we are made in his image.
Zechariah 13:9 says:
And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”
According to http/www.jewfaq.org/name.htm it is not permissible to call on the name of God. The Jewish faith has such a deep respect for the Creator that they replaced his actual Biblical name with words such as LORD, God etc. Yet, God made it plain that we are to call on his name and he will answer.
I understand the idea. If someone continually referred to me as 'hey you' I would get to the point where I ignored them. Not very loving, I know, but true nonetheless. God in his infinite love and patience endures the genericizing of his name and yet he still tells us to call on his name. So what is his name?
In the Biblical Hebrew the name of God in English literally translates as 'I Am that I Am' or 'I Am the Being'. Moses was given God's actual name at the place of the burning bush. In turn, Moses--and the rest of the Biblical characters--referred to him as 'You Are that you are' or 'you are the Being'. (yod, hey, vav, hey) Not exactly a match but the same idea. At a point in history--and that point is not clear--the Jews stopped verbalizing the name of God and instead referred to him as HaShem (the name). Some say it started because of the Third Commandment so they couldn't take the LORD's name in vain. Others believed it was an act of repentance and humility when the expulsions came to Israel before the birth of Christ. Whatever the reason, at some point, the Jews no longer called on the actual name of God.
I won't presume to know how YHVH feels about this but I know how annoyed I became when my name wasn't spoken properly. The problem lies in the inconsistencies of history. At some point there was a concern that the name was being mispronounced. Yet, if the God of the universe can keep the stars aligned and the earth spinning, can he not keep the pronunciation of his name true? Can he not gently teach us how to say it properly much like I did with that acquaintance? I think he can and I think he has. More and more Hebrew scholars are identifying the letter 'yod' with a 'y' sound, the letter 'hey' with an 'h' sound and the letter 'vav' with a 'w' sound which means that phonetically his name should sound like 'yahway' only breathier.
A year ago, a group of friends began praying with me consistently. We no longer used LORD, Jehovah or God. We began to call upon the name of YHVH and prayed to him in Jesus' (Yeshua's) name. (See the LORD's prayer to understand that we are to pray to the Father and in Jesus' name.) We have been astounded at his answers. We ask for specific things for ourselves and for others--understanding, answers to questions, comfort etc.--and he literally speaks through his word and through 'coincidences' (which aren't really coincidences).
YHVH is faithful to his word. He promised that if we called on his name he would answer. He meant it literally. No, we don't deserve that privilege yet he gave it nonetheless. I challenge you to pray to YHVH in Yeshua's name and through the power of the Holy Spirit and see if you notice a closer walk with our Creator.
|Posted by Donna Dawson on June 30, 2014 at 9:55 AM||comments (0)|
Where It All Began
by Donna Fawcett (c) 2007
I suppose my fascination with farming began back in my single digit years. I remember the day clearly. My uncle had a show horse by the name of Royal. Since I had been bitten by the horse bug in vitro, it was inevitable that I would ask if I could ride said horse. The response–"if you can saddle the old coot you can ride ‘im.”
I’m one for a challenge. Never mind the fact that I was probably closer to four feet tall than five feet. Never mind that I was wearing flip flops and shorts. Never mind that the saddle outweighed me by half again my weight. And so, with much cajoling, I suckered my cousin into helping me lift the heavy contraption of leather and wood up onto the waiting back of the tall animal.
No one told me that a saddle had to fit snug–that it had to be drawn tight around the girth. No one told me that it required a great amount of balance to stay in the saddle at the best of times–never mind the one time that it sat with loose and dangling straps and buckles. And I’m not so sure I would have listened anyway. The call of the wild pulsed through my arteries giving me a high that no narcotic could ever touch.
I pulled the horse over to the fence and scrabbled up onto the top most rail. With a mighty jump, I hurled myself onto that saddle and clutched a handful of mane to keep from sailing over the other side. I’d done it. I’d mounted the great and majestic Royal and my cousin stood on and watched in impressed silence.
The silence gave way to a soft chuckle as I nudged Royal away from the rail. It appeared that from where my cousin stood, the horse moved but the saddle didn’t--as though the equine beast walked out from under it. The cinch strap hit the gelding’s nether parts and that’s when things went south.
Ever wonder why bucking broncos buck so hard? Notice a strap tied around their loin area? There’s a reason for that strap. It kind of tightens around certain parts of the equine anatomy and causes the urge to jump around as though the horse is wearing a diaper full of ants. Well a saddle cinch can have the same kind of effect. And did.
I’m sure I stayed on the full eight seconds before the saddle came unglued. Both I and the leathery contraption found ourselves airborne–but not nearly long enough. If I had my way, I’d still be hovering ever so gently over that paddock; bucking horse cavorting around harmlessly beneath me. But what goes up must come down. We–the saddle and I–landed with a cracking thud. I saw stars–and then hooves. I scrambled to free my feet of the stirrups and rolled under the fence while my uncle’s saddle received a thorough trouncing.
One would think that I would get quite a tongue lashing over such an ordeal. My uncle seemed to think it worth the price of a saddle just to hear my cousin tell the tale. And so my journey into the agri-world began.
So what is the point of this aged tale? I suppose one word could sum it up: research. Had I taken the time to ask questions--to do some digging--to go to the source for information, I would have saved myself pain and humiliation. Doesn't that sound familiar? How often do we step into life without thinking about what we are doing? We bungle. We fail. We hurt and are humiliated when all we needed to do was go to the Source--the One who created us and has the power to guide us. We blame God for our failures but do we bother to study his word to find out if we could have done something differently? The next time we step out into our personal adventures we might consider checking the manual for life first. It might just save us some heartache.
|Posted by Donna Dawson on June 19, 2013 at 9:50 AM||comments (0)|
Today we have a guest blogger, Marcela De Vivo. Duke, Bee and I offer a hearty welcome and hope you enjoy what Marcela has to say. Duke has just asked if Marcela is related to Leonardo Da Vinci. I showed him the difference between the names and told him to be on his best behaviour. He is sufficiently repentant for his faux paw. Bee says she has drafted a lovely disclaimer and would like to post it below:
Not all of the views expressed in this article necessarily reflect the views of this website and its owners and adherents.
I have suggested that Bee might want to read up on copyright infringement and own up to the fact that she copied her disclaimer from the credits of her latest doggy movie "Gone with the Hound".
Tips For Achieving A Positive Affirmation
by Marcela De Vivo
Making positive, bold changes in our lives can be a major challenge. Old ways of thinking, limiting beliefs and other rigid ways of existing can stand in between who we are and the better selves we have yet to become.
A great way to overcome your past and boldly step into the future you want to live in is to use daily, positive affirmations. Partly grounded in spiritual wisdom, partly based in psychological fact, simple and regular reinforcements are miraculously effective in overcoming obstacles.
Here are some general guidelines in the power of positive thinking:
Accentuate the positive; overcome the negative
A great way to move forward is to catalogue the various ways we’re already on the right track. Too often, we’re become caught up in what we see as limitations that we become blind to the things we already have.
On a regular basis, tell yourself aloud the things you like about you: “I am funny”; “I am a good listener”, and so on. Similarly, voice the many things you take for granted that you should be truly grateful for. Although it may seem a bit corny to some, reciting such affirmations in a mirror can lead to life-altering breakthroughs.
At the same time, be conscious of the negative self-images you want to rid yourself of. We often repeat self-defeating tape-loops in our head that only negatively reinforce our fears and anxieties: “I am fat”; “I can’t stand up for what I want.” Take note of these negative self-fulfilling prophecies, and counteract them with positive counterparts.
Put it in writing
Once you’ve taken inventory of your best qualities and greatest insecurities, write them down in addition to using them to guide your mental affirmations. Positive mantras are powerful, but for some reason, the act of setting intentions down on paper is even more so. As with inner monologues, you should write “I”-directed statements that are direct and concise.
A journal chronicling your inner growth cannot be overemphasized. On top of setting daily, positive thoughts, it can be surprisingly useful to record your dreams as soon as you wake up. While we might not see it at the time, our dreams can be a powerful conduit to our higher, unconscious path, so keeping in touch with our dream-life often awakens us in ways we don’t expect.
Furthermore, it’s psychologically potent to see a slowly-but-surely gradual record of our closing the gap between our current desires and our goals.
Writing is a great means of reinforcement; using visual cues is another. Internal guided imagery is a tested means of growing confident in whom we want to be. In particular, if you’re facing a challenging upcoming event, such as a job interview or a public presentation, spend time beforehand imagining yourself mastering that situation, driving it all home with the same verbal statements you should be writing in your journal: “I am a specialist in my field”; “I really know what I’m talking about”.
Any significant change in our lives is going to take time, so don’t give up after only a few days or weeks. Building emotional and spiritual “muscle” is no different than physical workouts-- it can be hard at first, and big goals can seem so distant that we can give up all too easily.
Therefore, in addition to setting aside regular times for affirmations (first thing in the morning; last thing at night), think of ways to reward yourself for partial victories. If you’re trying to quit smoking, for example, take yourself out to eat after you haven’t lit up for two weeks.
When it comes to making significant personal transformations, we can all be our worst enemies. With regular affirmations, however, it’s not difficult to become our own personal cheerleaders, rooting us on for victories that once seemed impossible.
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer from Southern California whose writing specializes in a range of health topics, including diet and exercise, holistic medicine and vitamins and supplements. She starts and ends each day with positive affirmations.