Tag Archives: family

The Apostolic Family

Traveling is more affordable then you think. So often when considering raising money for college for our children we neglect the importance of having a vacation fund. Between school, work, extra curricular activities and the like we often consider vacations optional. Travel where few have gone before! Don’t think of traveling as just a vacation, but be on a mission as you go. Father Abraham paved the way for us concerning how we should look at traveling.  Abraham was given an amazing promise because he was willing to obey God and move from that which was familiar to him to look for a city whose builder and maker is God. (Heb. 11:10)  I would venture to say if where we are is not that place for us, then traveling is in your future.

There are so many benefits to traveling that we often take for granted.  We have such a, work yourself to death mentality that we develop vices that take our money to escape the slavery and drudgery work has become.  I don’t believe when Yah created man he intended for work to be drudgery but rather to be rewarding.  I believe he intended for couples to enjoy each other, enjoy family, enjoy work, and enjoy rest.  However, rest has become synonymous in the minds of most to laziness and this train of thinking comes from having a slave mentality.  A belief that you have to be busy every second of the day so much so that your mind and your body is on constant overload and in constant go mode which doesn’t surprise me ends in exhaustion and many brain disorders.  We do to ourselves what we don’t even do to computers.  Leave a computer on 24/7 without allowing it to be shut off and notice how much slower it moves, and how quickly you will have to replace it.  Yet, we think we are so sophisticated that we can just go and go without ever taking a moment to rest and we can just catch up some mysterious day in the future.  Life unfortunately doesn’t work that way.  Lost sleep can’t be regained on a later date it is simply lost and with each loss we depreciate the life of the battery put in by the Father for us.   While we are fearfully and wonderfully made as we are able to go and function up to12 + hours a day 6 days a week by design without malfunctioning we too have been given a mandate by our Creator to rest one day a week, and he didn’t stop there he gave us 7 separate vacations of rest every year.  Talk about a benefits package?  Straight from heaven!

Yah intended for you to spread out and fill the earth, his name was to be heard around the world and one of the best ways to take a city is to rescue a family.  To rescue a family you need a family to do that.  The world is seeking models of peace and a loving family walking in the fear of the Lord and the keeping of His Word sets the proper model for reflecting the manifold wisdom of Yah and changing lives for his kingdom.  It’s the sort of work one can rest in.  If we keep the weekly Sabbath and the 7 Holy Feasts of the Lord then we would naturally find ourselves in a position to receive and partake of God’s wisdom and understand what true vacations are made of.  Living by his precepts, judgments, statutes, and commandments allows us to live the life the world desires but have never seen with their own eyes.  It also allows for families to enjoy the benefits of travel as these feasts were not simply vacations, but they were saved up vacations, as a portion of your tithes was used to get you to the set apart place that Yah has established for His people. (Deut. 14)  Like the day of rest was set, so was the place where 3 of these feasts were to be kept.  It is the place he said he would make his name to abide. (Deut 16:16)

How to travel otherwise to distant lands spreading the Gospel of peace!  Having those days set and that place set doesn’t mean that Yah won’t make it possible for you to see other lands and spread the gospel other places.  One should always consider their travel a two fold blessing; time to connect with the family away from the distractions of daily living, and customary work that keeps your body and mind occupied as well as an opportunity to witness of the faithfulness and goodness of the King of Kings that has made it possible for you to do what you are doing.  The natural outcome of prayer, praise, and thanksgiving is the desire to share the goodness of what the Lord has done for you with others, and to encourage them that what he did for you, he desires to do great things for them as well.  While God’s plan for everyone is not the same, God has a plan for everyone and his desires and thoughts for them are only good and never evil, to give them a hope and a future.  Families need to hear and see the witness of that.  Our prosperity should be used to provoke unbelievers to jealousy for our God.  For them to want to serve the Daddy that has been so gracious to us to provide what we have need of, give us such great and awesome instructions that are truly the keys to a fulfilling life, and the freedom that comes from being set free from the bondage of sin that binds our hearts, and minds because we walk in shame instead of the liberty that Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection made possible for us.  A world bound in its sin don’t you think they need to hear that important message?  Well, if we don’t tell it then how will they know?  How will they hear if we don’t preach it?

Cultivating a shepherd’s heart in your children.  It’s no coincidence that the man after God’s own heart was a shepherd, and more then a shepherd, a vigilant one.  He took his responsibility to take care of his Father’s sheep serious enough that he didn’t consider his own life when protecting theirs.  Think about it, not just for a young boy but for a grown man taking out a lion and a bear is no small feat.  He revealed the Source of his strength to Saul, as he was humble enough to recognize that it was Yah who gave him the victory, which tells you that he was in communion with him. (1 Sam. 17:36) He was operating the way Adam should have operated in the beginning and this was revealed even when David was King.  He didn’t presumptuously go to war but he inquired of the Lord whether or not he should go up or not.  This wasn’t something that just started when he became the man of war, but when he was the ruddy boy tending to his father’s sheep.

This story reveals that it is never too early to begin teaching your children how to have the heart of a shepherd.  While David’s lesson came in tending sheep, traveling can open up the same opportunities as well.  Families reaching families for the glory of God, on one accord can change the way children interact with other children their age.  Rather then them, your children being led by the snare of the enemy, they can be used to conquer the control the enemy has over the entire world.  Making disciples of children while the parents make disciples of the parents.  As David learned the voice of the Father tending sheep so do your children learn how to tend the Father’s sheep by the voice of their parents.  As freely as you reveal in word and deed the character of Christ, it becomes a natural expression for your children.

A prophet is not without honor save in his own country and within his own home. (Matt. 13:57)   For this reason one should not be surprised that they will have less inhibitions, and much greater success when they leave from home.  At home everyone already has made up in their mind what your potential is and they close themselves off to the blessing you were intended to be.  Whereas, when you leave you will witness more fruit because people will more easily be able to see past you to see the God in you and be blessed by Him.  We too will be less stigmatized when we leave.  The bottom line is it is easy to take people for granted that you see everyday.  You become dull to hearing them and therefore it will take someone from outside to reach them.  To me this is the greatest argument I could ever consider for why families should travel.  You enlarge your territory and your area of influence simply by being in a different space because strangers are intrigued.  We tend to love to hear the stories of other people’s lives we don’t know and likewise does this occur for the people who we talk too.  This gives you an awesome opportunity to witness to them the love of God.

The Apostolic Vacation Fund

I have spent a great deal of time sharing why you should go on vacations, but now I want to pick up on the first thing I said concerning how to do this affordably.  The first thing I would say is put aside money for a vacation fund, whether that is a savings account that money goes in but can’t come out until that time arise or if self restraint is that big of an issue consider starting an investment fund in a CD or some other program that penalizes taking money out.  Make sure the money that you set to come out for your fund comes out before your bill money and after your tithes.  This is like paying yourself first.  If you don’t have any children or if you have very young children this will be even easier without the temptation of spending as your child should be the central focus for the first few years of their life anyway.  Traveling should be minimized because its not convenient and it exposes them to issues that could be medically conflicting.  A stable environment is what is needed at the formidable years of their life and there really is no incentive to travel with babies other then they travel free, but they won’t remember any of it, which makes the experience a waste of time for them.  Having you is the most important thing they can have at first.  However, consider where they are right now and you basically have a Ten to Twelve year span that you can begin saving money for travel.  Small trips within 60 to 200 miles can be done without even touching the vacation fund and check out my website for some great ideas for traveling local. The travel fund should be for big trips beyond the borders of your country.

Are you ready for God to enlarge your territory?  Set realistic goals and start reaching out right where you are.  Even though Jesus (YeHoshua) said he couldn’t do much in his area because of unbelief he did do the little he could do when he was there.  We are to do the same.  Begin sharing what Yah puts in your heart concerning outreach beyond the borders of your home.  Explain the benefits of stretching your family beyond your comfort zone so that your children will be well rounded people and develop the character of Christ by having a heart for people who they haven’t even met, and may be completely different from.   Much of the issue we have in schools with children bullying other children come from ignorance and lack of proper exposure to different people.  First and foremost make sure you have shared the gospel and your children have received the Gospel in their hearts before reaching others.  This is the hallmark for knowing when it is time to travel and get your feet wet in areas beyond your borders.  Like Father Abraham he commanded his children and household after him, we must do the same before we can be ready to experience the nomadic life of traveling in the footsteps of Christ. (Gen. 18:19)  The world have enough of itself being replicated, they don’t need any more people doing that.  What they need is biblical examples to imitate.  We need to know what Christ did and do the same.

Finally, we need to be balanced in our approach, because our God is balanced in his.  Vacations are simply that a means of vacating the premises, surroundings, and circumstances that we are used to and exploring areas beyond our surroundings.  As much as traveling should be relaxing and rejuvenating, it too should be about more then just us site seeing and having fun.  We should observe and immerse ourselves in the culture and not see ourselves as being separate from the pain and problems we see in the places we go.  Giving money is not necessarily the answer to solving these deep seeded issues, and if it were we would see more examples of Christ doing that if it was. Instead we see that he met their physical and mental deficiencies that prevented them from meeting their own needs.  If not being able to walk was the problem, he didn’t give money he gave the ability to walk.  If there was an issue of blood he didn’t pay for the surgery to correct it, he healed it.  I believe our obedience to step out in faith towards God will bring about fruit in diverse places and recapture the family our Savior died to save.

If traveling is something of interest to you and you would like to begin this amazing adventure then feel free to subscribe to The Critique where I will be sharing tips on how to travel affordably, comfortably, and safely.  If visiting the Holy Land is of interest to you be sure to invest in my upcoming documentary where I share with you how my husband and I traveled to Israel on round trip tickets for less then $500.  Also find out how to avoid some of the tourist traps.

 

Family Restructuring

While death has been as constant as life always, the older I get it seems as though funerals unite us more than weddings.  Times of mourning more than times of rejoicing.  Often many of us asking the question that scripture has already provided an answer for.  Why? From the time we enter this world we enter the race for the grave. Some choose to accelerate the race through suicide or suicidal choices that lead to homicide.  Others full of age having had the pleasure of experiencing all seasons of life give up the ghost to enter into either a place where time and aging doesn’t collide with aches and pains.  Others, in a place a thousand times worse then what this life could give.  Both wherever they are based on the choice they made while in this life.  To receive or not to receive the gift of eternal life made possible by Jesus Christ (Yehoshua Ha Machiach). 

The bottomline whatever their fate we feel the effects of their loss and our family’s must go on with the hole of that missing life within us. Many of us never asking the specific why question that is important, not why they died, for we all must walk this path, but why now? To which scripture also answers this question.  In the book of Isaiah Yah questions what we haven’t pondered through the process, the why now at least for the righteous

“The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.” Isa. 57:1

Most of us however will agree that things are getting worse in this world.  We are experiencing the shift scripture has told us about, understanding the blood of Jesus (Yehoshua) is greater then the umbilical chord of biology that connects us.  

Scripture speaks consistently of brother turning against brother, the enemies of a man being the members of their own household. (Matt. 10:21; Matt. 10:36)  We are living in that time where the righteous are entering into rest and the offspring are undergoing the test.  Whether they will continue to walk in what they were taught by their parents or depart.  Will we stand in truth or fall in disbelief?  While there is nothing new under the sun there is an intensity of the evil in this hour then the one before.  

The enemy of our God is getting closer to earth as he is falling from the second heaven with great wrath, and we find ourselves in the tremors of this growing storm. (Rev. 12:12)  Yet the Lord has told us how we will overcome, and should we take heed we’ll fair well. (Rev. 12:11)  

Expect betrayal

We have already been forewarned that a restructuring in our family will take place close siblings will betray one another being hateful instead of loving, having been seduced by this world they will betray their own blood.  Make up in your mind right now no matter what happens to stay with the Lord.  Let NOTHING separate you from the love of God.  (Rom. 8:39) As the family members you love more than life will be brought home in this hour and God won’t be asking your permission, nor will you necessarily have time to brace yourself for the blow. Have your heart and mind on one accord that you will follow Him no matter what happens.  

Despite the prosperity message we are getting from the Western church the scripture reveals entering into the day of the Lord is marked by judgment and persecution.  In fact joy will come through persecution, and not in our blessings or our college degrees will we boast but rather in our weaknesses and infirmities. (2 Cor. 12:6) The hour where the body decreases that the head of the body (Yehoshua) should increase in His glory through his body.  

Entering into this time can separate even that which Yah has joined together.  Scripture teaches us that forsaking for Yehoshua’s sake be it houses, brothers, sisters, or even spouses shall receive a hefty reward, even everlasting life. (Matt. 19:29) 

Hopefully it doesn’t come to that but we have seen in scripture in fact the book of Job is the greatest example of a wife who attempted to turn the heart of her husband against God because of the persecution they were facing.  Yet Job made up in his mind he would NOT turn on God no matter what he lost.  This is what Messiah was telling us when he said, 

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (luke 14:26)

This is the point, if we put anything or anyone before him that thing or person will be what we will betray him for.  Consider Judas who betrayed Jesus for money, or Peter who when faced with the fear of losing his own life denied Christ three times.  We mustnt only conquer the fear of losing our loved ones, but we may have to consider losing our own life. Bringing new meaning to my life is not my own.  

So the real question considering the earlier scripture in Isaiah as a Believer should not be why was our loved one taken, but rather why were we spared?  Why am I still here? What is my assignment?  For the spirit we should have is that of Paul, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Phil. 1:21)  Submission to Yah dictates who my sister, my brother, and who my mother is, and according to scripture these designations are based on those who have the same will as our heavenly Father. (Matt. 12:47-50)  

Don’t get too attached

The moral of this article is this don’t get too attached. Be ready to move with Yah, wear this world like a cheap garment and be ready for the restructuring. Ask not why this person but rather always consider why not you? Meaning why have I been spared? What is my assignment?  Because you are still here for a reason and if you are in the family of God recognizing he gets to decide when that family should be restructured whether through physical death or a death of a relationship. 

Allowing God to structure your family means you don’t have to be afraid of being hurt because your trust isn’t in man, but in God.  

Saints, it’s time to trust God to put our lives and our families together as He sees fit. To mature in our faith so that we can rejoice in the Lord, counting it all joy no matter what befalls us, because life does consist of more than the abundance of things we possess and the horizontal relationships we have been blessed by the Most High to enjoy.  Love family while you have them and continue to love God who allowed your life to be blessed by your loved one. Recognizing we lose nothing in Him.

Unhealthy Attachments

In a society that teaches us to value things as much or in some cases more than people we find ourselves easily giving way to developing unhealthy attachments to stuff. Looking at our attachment to places, and things that we have today, when I think about Abraham’s ability to be obedient to Yah in moving from the place he called home, and not just the place he called home, but also the city he grew up in to follow God I am inspired. The challenge we face today as we grow older in the place that housed our memories of yesterday is being able to leave when the home that cherished our accomplishments and memories has outgrown or overgrown its usefulness and practical benefits. Realizing the seasons of life that we all must make, the notion of a “forever home” seems limited and counterproductive to having life and being healthy.

Unhealthy attachments are no more apparent then the hoarder in us who holds on to every single thing. The thought that we would miss it once it’s gone although we do nothing with it while in our possession. The concern of others taking that very thing that we aren’t using but in effect burying it is better than putting it in the hands of someone who can make something out of it. We’d rather that thing die with us then live for someone else. Not realizing that we are liken unto the person that Jesus condemned who had one talent and buried it rather than see it prosper in the hands of somebody else. Ultimately, what was Jesus response? He gave it to the person who had five talents and did something with it and condemned the person who had the talent and buried it into outer darkness. (Matt. 25:14-30) This person Jesus called wicked and slothful, harsh words, yet daily I myself am convicted with all the stuff I accumulate and continue to hold on to but not finish. Bottom line we at some point must ask ourselves questions about the things that are in our life and begin to assess why they are there otherwise we will continue to accumulate things and have more and more tasks undone.

Anything ignored long enough in our lives will decay

Many of us have held on to homes like trophies, as though they are a statement of a battle that was won by us. Yet, like decade long trophies that have been won we neglect them. Homes that we spent many years in and collected many cherished memories from have become worn, dusty, and neglected in some cases not even mirroring it’s former self. A sad picture of winning a battle and finding out that the fight was not worth it. Almost indicative of all the effort and resources put into fighting in the Vietnam War, and soldiers who altered the course of their lives coming back worn, beaten, and emotionally wounded faced not a heroes return, but an ambush from the very people they served.

So what is the answer? If indeed we are of the Seed of Abraham then why aren’t we doing what Abraham did? As I consider more and more the stance he took in light of the challenges we face today, his ability to leave his home, the place he grew up to go somewhere not knowing where he would end up I am amazed. Many of us even when it is economically, physically, and functionally impractical for us to live in our homes would rather die than leave. Based solely on emotional attachments that we develop over stuff. Many of us if we only had 10 minutes to pack and get out of our homes to save our lives wouldn’t know what to leave behind. We value so many things that really hold very little value that we would rather die with our stuff then access what was really important then leave the rest behind. In a digital world we have the ability to digitize pictures of all the beautiful artifacts we have gathered over time and hold all those memories for future generations on a disk that we can fit in a purse. Allowing ourselves to free our minds and our space of furniture that is no longer useful to us, as well as homes that have served their purpose. However, I implore you to think differently those who will not make it in the times that we face ahead are those who would rather die living in yesterday rather then live today with a ready to change mentality to grab hold to tomorrow.

I believe our society is structured to dismantle families. We have communities that cater to segments of society rather then expanding to accommodate all of society. This is what I mean by an integrated approach to living. Scripturally we see that our Lord and Savior is preparing a place for His bride. Notice that this place accommodates multiple generations. As He is describing a house for us that is within the huge space that will be shared with the owner of the house being His Father. (John 14:2) Of course we are talking about a community that will have none sick, but you get the picture. Why aren’t communities built to accommodate sustaining relationships through time? Why aren’t relationship building the pinnacle point of the community? I don’t know the answer for why this isn’t the norm, but I do know the solution for sustainable change. Building a community that is sustainable to allow for those who purchase to acquire space that meets their lasting needs. We know that all of our lives are in cycles. No one knows this better than those who are much older than myself as they have entered every cycle of life. Yet, this is not how our society functions. On one level it really bothers me that my parents who have had the steadiness in their life to achieve home ownership and live amongst the neighbors that built the community they reside in from its conception find themselves in a position that as they are now getting older and the needs that they have, have changed may have to find themselves leaving that community for no other reason then the community did not consider the aging factor of it’s inhabitants.

This had to be something they knew as homes even during my parents time was built on 30 year mortgages. Which implies that the resident at least plans on spending 30 years in that house if not more. Or at least the potential to do so is there, yet developers didn’t have the fortitude to consider that at some point these people would have children who would be grown and leave, parents who would get old and no longer need to have these huge monstrosities, yet would develop an attachment to not only the space, but the place of their home because of those who would be around them.  Relationships are the appropriate things to build and to establish and maintain, at least if they are healthy ones. Yet, even this can’t be an excuse not to move when the writing is on the wall. Again, we see with Abraham that his directive from God was to leave his fathers house, and his kindred.

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

Gen 12:1

Our unwillingness to move when it is so clear that God is directing us to can shorten more than our attention span, but our lifespan. We say things like “you’d have to carry me out of here in a body bag.” Should we really be that attached to a piece of property, especially when it’s not the land that was promised to us. Now please, don’t get it twisted for the right piece of land I think we ought to fight for, but the land that we reside in is far from the Promise Land that has been given to us, so the question is why are we fighting to own real estate in Egypt when the Promise Land is over the Jordan? Those who don’t properly assess the time we are living in and the place that we are, and the attitude we should have about the place we reside may find ourselves eating wholeheartedly the words that we speak and literally die in that home in which we are being told to leave.

Then again perhaps that is the plight of the Baby Boomer generation. During a time when there was such a struggle and a fight for every inch of anything that was owned. Especially in the African American community when we finally had a chance to own something, to reach a status that had been denied to the generation before them, how could they not get attached? I get it, the facade that we could ever really own something here is the brass ring that our ancestors for generations and generations have striven to achieve, and perhaps only now in my generation is there a beginning of a call back to home. An understanding that no matter how hard we fight, no matter how many pennies we save, the reality is the American dream will always be simply that a dream. The reality is while this dream has affected us psychologically for a longer period of time than many other nationalities represented the truth of the matter is the dream hasn’t been realized by those rich or poor, neither white nor black. Simply put because an injustice to any people is an injustice to all people, and while we may like to compare ourselves to other nations and measure our successes by their failures, the truth is we have a lot more dirt that has yet to fully surface to deal with. While it is true that we provide a land of opportunity for so many nations that face impoverished situation, we are still a far cry from living up to the eloquent words penned on the papers that our founding fathers wrote.

The reality is it was necessary for us to come to this complete circle to only find the tug at our hearts for more then these borders can hold, and realize there is a world outside of this country without walls that we have yet to explore. Quite simply a call home, once again as in the time of Abraham God is calling his children out of the systems of this nation, out of the comforts and conveniences of the lands that we have inhabited, and bringing us into the wilderness. Only those with a tenacity and determination like Abraham will be able to weather the emotional and physical roller coaster this journey will take us on, it is not a journey for the weak or unprepared. But for those who are diligent and determined to achieve great things for the Kingdom of God.   As Paul described Demas, we ought not to love this present world as some will do and forsake the brethren, but strive to build the world that is to come. (2 Tim. 4:10)

I believe that world will be an integrated community where the only litmus test will be do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God? Are you His bride or a guest at the party? Will you be given keys to the Kingdom or will you be one who must knock at the door with limited access? Which kingdom are you trying to build? Are you like Abraham who was looking for a city whose builder and maker is God or are you building your own kingdom in this life? Are you chasing dollars, chasing dreams, or chasing God? We cannot serve two masters either we will serve God or mammon. Either we are working for the unrighteous mammon or for the righteous Manna that came from heaven? We ultimately must decide what is really important and make that our priority.