Loving Silver

“He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver, nor he that loveth abundance with increase,” -Ecclesiastes 5:10. (RSB)

While looking at the things my parents and my in-laws left behind after their deaths, it became so clear to me that our “stuff” isn’t ours. Some of their favorite pos­sessions bring back memories of their concern that someone might break in and steal the coin collection or the antique silverware. How much more we would rather have another day with them, than the things we inherited! How much time was spent at work in trade for some material possession? We brought nothing into this world and we take nothing out. The clothes we are buried in will soon rot away and we will eventually become dust. When one of the world’s wealthiest men in history died his accountant was asked, “How much did John D. Rockefeller leave?” His an­swer was, “All of it.”

We use things for a few years but we always want new, bigger, fancier things. What we have (whether it is a car, a house, clothes, jewelry) no longer satiates us so we want something more. The new cell phone will make us happy, and it does for a while, but soon a new, better phone comes out and we look at ours and it no longer brings us the satisfaction that we thought it would. I never learned all of the applications my Samsung 4 Android phone had when I upgraded to an I Phone 6. Did I need it to make calls or take better photographs? The salesman thought I did. Being caught up in Costco’s once a year deal, and with my husband’s encouragement (he got one too), I got the phone. Now I have a learning curve again and either a contract or a payment and there was nothing wrong with my old phone. I can almost hear Solomon whispering in my ear, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”

It’s also clear that our “stuff” is not us. When Yahweh looks down on us will He identify us by our new phone or our new dress? He looks at our hearts and He looks at how we care about our brothers and sisters. He knows if we are hiding our light and if we are carrying out the Great Commission. He told us in Matthew 6:31-33 He would care for us and not to worry about what we eat and what we wear.

I’m not always good at following that advice and every year at the Feast of Tabernacles it becomes apparent. I usually pack more clothes than I will wear along with make-up and jewelry. I have discovered that within a few days I’m not wearing any make-up or jewelry and I just grab the first thing I see in the morning to wear. The spiritual food is what I hunger for and a lot of the food I bought at the local big box store doesn’t get eaten; I try to give it away or I have to throw it out.

Yahweh will take care of us. The Israelites probably wore the same clothes and shoes for 40 years. Yahweh sent them a food that had to have been the perfect mix of vitamins and nutrients. How much happier we would be if we, like our ancient ancestors, relied on Yahweh to take care of our needs. As our Brother David reminds us, “Yahweh is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

by: Linda Lowe

search

My Journey to Truth

This is my personal story about how I learned the truth.

I grew up going to church off and on: Baptist churches, Pentecostal churches, even a few Jehovah Witnesses meet­ings. My husband and I started going to a church faithfully for about a year, but it ended up being the same sermon over and over.

One day I started watching the program, “Discover the Truth” on TV. It would come on just as we were leaving to go to church on Sunday. We would watch “Discover the Truth” and then we would compare it to what was being taught at the church we attended. What we learned was not being taught at the church so we kept watching and tuning in to “Discover the Truth.” We found that things were not adding up.

We prayed to Yahweh to show us the truth and He did! We learned the Sacred Names, the true Sabbath day, the true Holy Days, and so much more. We decided to stop going to that church and we started doing our own research and watching the weekly Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry Sab­bath services online.

After a few months we made the decision to visit the ministry. Luckily we live very close, about 40 miles away. We loved it from the very beginning – being taught the truth is so wonder­ful. We believe Yahweh led us to YRM. We have been coming to the ministry for about a year now. We went to our first Feast of Tabernacles last fall and my husband and I were baptized in Yahshua’s name!

I hope reading about my special journey comes as blessing for someone.

by: Anissa Baird

out of darkness light

Out of the Darkness

Matthew 7: 13-14 says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

I was on that wide road leading to my destruction for a very long time. But I’m now on that very narrow road and have found that sharp rocks can also be on this narrow road and, if you are trying to walk along it barefooted, it is very hard. Psalms 10:1, “Why do you hide in times of trouble?” comes to mind.

But, as I am walking I see what looks like an oasis ahead and am reminded of the verse in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” You realize that your feet aren’t hurting anymore and look down to see that you have hit a smooth patch in the rocky road. I know that I will hit both rocky and smooth patches on the road; but I also know that my Oasis (Yahsh­ua) is also on this long narrow road to give comfort, to encourage us to keep going and to help us reach that much sought after destination.

My husband and I were worldly people, and we thought we were having fun. But when my husband died in 2008 everything changed. I became really depressed and pushed my family away, (thinking in my depressed mind that if I didn’t love them too much they wouldn’t die). I stopped doing family functions or going any place except work and home.

One day my daughter-in-law asked me to go to church with her. I did, and went for a while but it just didn’t feel right. So I stopped going but I felt better about life and started searching. I had heard about Sabbath keepers, and started doing Bible studies with them. I was really interested in what they had to say about the right way to keep the Sab­bath.

I started keeping the Sabbath (the best way I knew) at home. The Sabbath keepers taught me about Xmas, Easter, etc., and was OK with that also; it made sense to me. (I was starting to see the light, so to speak.) I started feeling something again and noticed that I wasn’t feeling so sorry for myself anymore. I always looked forward for the next Bible study booklet to come in the mail.

Just when I started getting my head wrapped around all this new and wonderful knowledge, they threw in keeping the Feast days, and how we are to observe them. I didn’t know what to do or to whom to turn. So I prayed.

Then one Sunday I was flipping through the channels and heard this man say that the Father’s name was Yahweh. (Say what!) I listened to the program and I watched and listened the following week. The program was Discover the Truth and the man was Elder Alan Mansager.

I wrote to YRM and asked them if they would send me any­thing and everything they could about this new information I had heard. It wasn’t very long before I received a pack­age full of “HOPE.” I was baptized in 2014 at YRM during Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. I have never regretted it, and I never want to be in that dark world again.

Picture YRM like a beacon in the night. When you reach it and look inside, you see warmth, love and kindness. Pic­ture a sign hanging over the door saying, “Wipe off your heart and come on in.” As you go through the doors from the darkness outside, you first feel shame because you aren’t used to the real kindness and love that you receive.

It’s hard to trust because you have come from a dark un­trustworthy world. Eventually you feel a warmth creeping in and, then, trust. You eventually realize that the only thing that these wonderful people want from you is nothing. They just want you to have exactly what they have – hope for a new beginning in Yahshua.

I have peace now, learning to forgive, learning to give, and learning to love my neighbor. When I go to the YRM as­sembly, and am with the brothers and sisters, my heart feels full of love when I leave to go back home. I am so grateful and blessed that Yahweh led me to YRM.

by: Lendia Ball

whoareyou

Who Are You?

Who do you think you are? Do you really know? Are you an artist, an athlete, a stay at home mom, or an entrepreneur? Maybe you would rather define yourself by how you look…fashionable or old fashioned, thin or plump, short or tall, beautiful or plain? Perhaps it seems more fitting to bring up the important causes you support, “stop abortion, save the earth, eat vegan.” All of these things are a fact of our exis­tence. We all have jobs and skills, bodies to clothe, and worthy causes in life to support, but do these really define you? Do you want them to define you? Do these things reach the core of your being? Would you be happy to have your closest friends and family say they love you because of how you look? How about because you are talented or have a good job? All of us know that there is a deeper side to our existence than these.

Personally I do not want to be identified by my looks, job, or interests; nor do I define myself by any of these things! If I define myself by what I do, when I lose the ability to do what I do…then who am I? What if I define myself by my looks? When I grow old, have I lost myself? When the values of the world deteriorate and I can no longer follow fashion or trend, have I also lost who I am because I cannot continue to follow what appears popular at the moment? And while causes can hold some worth, this also is only a minute part of the whole picture…who would you be if the need for the cause disappeared?

So what is it that truly describes the inner part that is you? I would like to share with you a quote by Gila Menoleson in her book Outside Inside, A Fresh Look at Tzniut.

“For if you have pared away the layers of ‘what I have, what I do, and what I support,’ you have reached the core of who you are. Internality means knowing that your deepest self lies in your efforts to become a better human being–and then acting on that knowledge, with the Torah’s guidance, in your relationships with others and with [Elohim]. That and that alone, is tremendously liberating, for it frees you from having to build an identity based on society’s constantly changing values. It is also empowering, for the strength of your soul to choose good is the only aspect of you which is independent of any outside force. Unlike your looks, your abilities, or your causes, it cannot be lost, be taken away, or disappear. It is yours forever.” (Pgs. 79-80)

Is what she says true? Will my efforts to become a better human being, in light of Yahweh’s Word, define me better than the exter­nal factors in my life?

What are some of the internal values which Yahweh requires of us as believers? Kindness, hospitality, loving, forgiving, content­ment, humility, and obedience, to name a few. Are you kind, are you hospitable, do you love, can you forgive, are you content, are you humble, will you obey Him? Can you let Him set you apart from this world? Each of us must look within to know the an­swers to these questions. With His strength we can be made able to be who we should be as believers. In the end we must discover that Yahweh sees us as we are; as souls, and His children.

Micah 6:8, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth Yahweh require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy Elohim?”

Second Peter 1:3-10 tells us that Messiah has given us all things that pertain unto life and holiness. We are to be overcomers and, through His power, we will succeed! Seeing ourselves as inter­nal beings does not mean we must abandon our external being, our appearance, what we do, or what we support. Rather, we can allow these things to reflect the inner values that make us who we are.

Does the way you dress reflect a soul that respects our Creator, yourself, and others? Do the things you do and support witness to others of Yahweh’s infinite goodness and your desire to live obediently and to delight in Him? It’s not likely that you can present yourself to the world as one who will go with the flow and still be set apart. Yahweh calls us to be set apart and, in time, this should touch every aspect of our being.

In 2 Peter 1:8-9, we are reminded that when He empowers us to overcome, we will not be unfruitful and that we should not be like the blind man who has forgotten that he has been purged of his sins. If we abandon our quest to overcome by asking Yah­weh’s help to empower us in this, then we have become as the blind man in verse 9! Our internal self, the core of who we are, is meant to overflow into the physical aspects of our life as a witness to the watching world. We are also being true to our­selves when, as believers, we strive to allow the uniqueness that Yahweh has called us in, to spill over into how we relate to those around us and how we present ourselves to the world.

Romans 8:13, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”

Psalms 40:8, “I delight to do thy will, O my Elohim: yea, thy law is within my heart.”

Psalms 34:14, “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.”

So these questions remain: Who are you? Who should you be? Do you know what you were created for?

As believers it is our privilege to be guided by His truth. The correction we receive in life is due to His great love for us. Do you resist His loving correction? Do you feel threatened by His laws? Are you intimidated when He speaks through a fellow brother or sister in the faith to correct you or to guide you into a more perfect understanding of His truth? Or do you see it as guidance from a loving father? When we accept His guidance and obey His word it should be out of the realization that He cre­ated all of this for us out of love.

Proverbs 3:11-12, “My son (daughter), despise not the chasten­ing of Yahweh; neither be weary of his correction: For whom Yahweh loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son (daughter) in whom he delighteth.”

So, who am I? A daughter of a king, a set apart child of Yahweh, privileged to be cared for by the creator of the universe! What was I created for? To delight in him and for him to delight in me, to overcome the plans of the evil one in my life, and to encour­age my dear sisters to do the same. Let’s “worship Yahweh in the beauty of holiness” (Psalms 29:2) by choosing daily to allow Yahweh’s Word to touch the outward shell of who we are as a representation of who He has called us to be….daughters of the King.

by: Jennifer Bonato

unleavenedbread

Clean Cuisine – Unleavened Bread

“Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses…” Exodus 12:15

The long winter sojourn inside has taken its toll.  Everywhere I look, there is work waiting: drawers, closets and shelves to be rearranged, floors to be mopped, shined or vacuumed,  windows to be washed, bathrooms to be disinfected, bedcoverings and rugs to be aired outside, furniture and knick-knacks to be dusted – DUSTED?  How I hate dusting!  I would rather clean out the chicken coop or scrape gum off the soles of shoes than dust.  Dusting seems like such a worthless endeavor because I know, despite my best efforts, the results will only last as long as it takes for someone to open a window, brush the cat, or just breathe.  My husband  offers to help with the dusting sometimes, as he cheerfully grabs a feather duster and passes it over a few things here and there.  When I gently, or not so gently (depending upon my level of desperation), remind him that he is only fluffing dust from point A to point B, the offensive observation leaves me to face the ever-growing flaky stuff alone.

Thank goodness for the Feast of Unleavened Bread!  At this time of year I have a REAL reason to clean.  It’s very hard to get rid of all the leavened crumbs without a thorough “spring cleaning.”  Then, with everything gleaming and shiny, it’s time to dig out the old favorite unleavened recipes while looking for new ones to try.  The following were submitted by women readers and affiliate members of YRM and perhaps they will become regular items on your menu.

Veggie Pizza with Unleavened Crust – submitted by Melodie Illgen

Crust:

1 cup whole wheat flour (or white, or mixture of both)

2 teaspoons salt

4 Tablespoons safflower or sunflower oil

1/3 cup milk

1 Tablespoon cornmeal (optional)

Toppings:

2  8-oz. pkgs. cream cheese

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1 packet powdered Ranch dressing mix

Dash each celery seed and dill weed

Mix dry ingredients together; add milk and oil and stir to combine.  Knead for 1-2 minutes and then roll or press onto a cookie sheet.  Press some cornmeal into crust edge, if desired.  Bake at 450 degrees for 10-14 minutes.  Cool.  Mix cream cheese, mayonnaise and Ranch dressing mix together and spread over cooled crust.  Top with choice of raw vegetables.

 Unleavened Almond Honey Shortbread – submitted by Melodie Illgen

½ cup butter

2 Tablespoons honey

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 cup flour

¼ teaspoon almond extract

1/8 cup slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Cream together butter, sugar, honey and almond extract.  Add flour, 1/3 cup at a time, mixing after the first two additions.  When adding the last 1/3 cup of flour, mix with the almonds and knead until it is a soft and workable dough.  Pat into an 8-inch round cake pan.  Press fork tines all over the dough and around the edges.  Semi-cut into 8 wedges and then bake for about 20 minutes.  Turn off the oven and let rest in the hot oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and cut through the wedges while still warm.

Orange Passover Sponge Cake with Raspberry Sauce – submitted by Rosrita Fisher

Cake:

¾ cup matzo cake meal

¼ cup potato starch

12 large eggs, separated

1 ½ cups sugar

Topping:

¼ cup fresh orange juice (or zest and juice of 1 large orange)

2 teaspoons orange zest, finely chopped

1/3 cup preserves, raspberry-variety

1 cup unsweetened frozen raspberries, or fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift matzo cake meal with the potato starch over a large bowl;  sift again and set aside.  In a large bowl with a whisk or an electric mixer on high power, whip egg whites until stiff and glossy; set aside.  In another large bowl with a whisk or an electric mixer on high power, whip egg yolks with sugar until light and satiny; add orange juice and zest and blend well.  Fold egg whites into yolk mixture until just blended.  Sift in matzo meal mixture; fold delicately to combine.  Carefully pour batter into a 10-inch, 2-piece ungreased angel food cake pan with feet or a sponge cake pan.  Bake until center of cake springs back to the touch, about 1 hour.  Remove from oven and immediately invert pan onto a wire rack; cool cake completely in pan (If you do not have a pan with feet, invert pan over a wine or beer bottle.)   Meanwhile, to make topping, heat raspberry preserves in a small saucepan over low heat and toss in raspberries; mix well.  When cake is completely cool, run a sharp knife around the outside and inside rings of the tube pan to loosen cake; transfer to a serving plate.  Slice into 16 pieces and drizzle each slice with sauce just before serving.

**This cake can be made in a variety of flavors.  You can substitute lemon or lime zest and juice for the orange zest and juice.  Or, forget the citrus juice and zest altogether and use 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon of almond extract instead. (You can use 1 cup of flour instead of the matzo cake meal and potato starch, if desired.)

By: Debbie Reed

homemadeyogurt

Clean Cuisine – Greek Yogurt

What is the meaning of the term, “clean foods”?  In Leviticus, Yahweh has given us specific instructions as to what we should and should not eat.  All of the recipes published in this column adhere to these laws.  For further information please refer to the booklet, “Clean Foods — What the Bible Teaches” at the yrm.org website.

Yogurt — An Ancient Food

“Yogurt” is a Turkish word related to yogurmak, meaning, “to knead,” and yogun, meaning, “dense” or “thick.”  For an estimated 4,000 years mankind has been eating this milk by-product.  While its origins are not certain, it is thought that it was discovered by nomadic tribes of Central Asia transporting bags of goats’ milk.  Certain types of bacteria soured or curdled the milk and, voila, a wonderful food was created.

While yogurt is a relatively new food to us here in the U.S., for centuries it has been a staple food for much of the world.  In Turkey and many other countries, yogurt is eaten almost every day, and sometimes at every meal.  It is used in sauces and desserts, as a side dish or topping to meats, vegetables, soups, rice or pasta, and as a delicious drink called Ayran (pronounced as “eye-ron”).

Yogurt has numerous health benefits.  In addition to providing valuable nutrients, such as calcium, protein, and vitamin B2, the active cultures in yogurt help fight “bad” bacteria in the body.  Research has shown that yogurt is helpful in treating digestive ailments such as yeast and urinary tract infections and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  Even those who are moderately lactose intolerant may eat yogurt since the process of changing milk into yogurt also changes the lactose into the more digestible lactic acid.

Much of the highly sweetened, fruity stuff that comes in little containers and passes for yogurt at the stores may contain gelatin of unknown origins, so check the ingredients carefully before purchasing.  I prefer the plain, thick Greek style yogurt, which contains few ingredients and tastes similar to sour cream.  I am particularly fond of eating yogurt topped with honey and nuts for lunch or a snack, and it is yummy!

An economical and easy way to get more yogurt into the diet is to make your own.  The ingredients are few, the utensils are simple, and the process is relatively easy.  This homemade yogurt tastes better than any I’ve ever bought at the store, I guarantee it.

HOMEMADE GREEK-STYLE YOGURT

1 gallon whole milk

2 cups cream

1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt

1/4 cup sugar (optional)

Large double boiler or two stainless steel or enamel kettles that fit inside each other

Cooking thermometer

Heating pad

An old bath towel

Place the milk, cream and optional sugar into the top pot of a double boiler, and stir until well blended.  The small amount of sugar takes away much of the tartness.  However, some, like my husband, prefer a tart flavor, so whether or not to use sugar is up to the cook.  A double-boiler works well, as milk has a tendency to scorch on the bottom of the pot.  Since we don’t have a double boiler that’s large enough, we instead use two stainless steel stock pots of different sizes so that one fits inside of the other.  Add several inches of water to the bottom pot.

On a high stove setting, heat the milk/cream mixture to 185˚ and remove from heat.  Next, cool the milk to 110˚.  The “cool-down” time may be shortened by setting the heated mixture on ice, either in the sink or inside the other pot, now filled with ice cubes instead of hot water.  After cooling, add the cup of yogurt and whisk or blend it well so that it is smooth.  Cover the pot containing the yogurt mixture with a lid, place it on a heating pad set for medium heat and place a towel on top.  Let is process for seven hours.

At the end of seven hours, put aside enough yogurt (1 cup) to use as a starter in your next batch, and pour the processed yogurt (watery at this stage) into a muslin-lined sieve with a deep bowl underneath.  Do not refrigerate it yet, but set it on the kitchen counter and let the unrefrigerated yogurt drain for approximately 2 hours, or until the desired consistency is reached.  Ideally, when you have drained off 6 to 8 cups of liquid (called “whey”) the yogurt will be ready.  With a wire whisk, mix the now drained yogurt again to dissolve any remaining lumps.  If the yogurt seems too thick, whisk back in some of the whey.  Transfer the now thicker yogurt to a container with a lid and refrigerate for several hours before eating.

            Yogurt-Garlic sauce — To each cup of Greek-style yogurt, add 1 to 2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced or pressed, and stir well.  Stir in herbs or spices too, if desired.  Use to top meat, vegetables, or pasta and rice dishes.  It’s especially good on baked potatoes in place of butter or sour cream.

            Yogurt cheese — Place yogurt into a cheesecloth- or muslin-lined sieve, set into a deep bowl to drain and refrigerate for 24 hours or longer, if desired.  At the end of that time, you will have a yogurt that resembles cream cheese.

by: Debbie Reed

biblical land of turkey

The Biblical Land Of Turkey

Nowhere in the Bible is the country of Turkey mentioned.  Or is it?  Incredibly, the land that is now Turkey was the location for many of the people and events in biblical history.

Turkey, as a nation by that name, only came into existence in 1920, just after WWI with the fall of the Ottoman Empire.  This land is where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers begin and was a key crossroad in the ancient world.  The land that is now Turkey was at the heart of human civilization, trade, and consequently, biblical history.  Much of modern Turkey once belonged to Greece, but this information is not always readily apparent and is a source of confusion, even to the most seasoned biblical students and scholars.  In actuality, many of the familiar stories in the Old Testament took place in what is now Turkey, and the major portion of the New Testament was either written on Turkish soil or to believers living in Turkey, not the country of Greece as we know of today.  In fact, there are arguably more Greek, Roman, and Christian ruins in Turkey than in either Greece or Italy.

Colorful and diverse, Turkey is an enthralling land.  The Hittites, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans, along with lesser known cultures, invaded, conquered, flourished and left the ruins of their once mighty empires for us to behold with curiosity and awe.  A cradle of civilization, the traces of mankind’s religious journey throughout history are evident in the pagan temples, Christian basilicas, and Muslim mosques that are scattered everywhere throughout the cities and countryside.

While Ankara is the capital of Turkey, Istanbul is the largest city with approximately fifteen million people.  Once known as Constantinople, Istanbul lies partially in Europe and partially in Asia.  A city of stark contrasts where East meets West, modern and ancient exist in a harmonious, exotic blend.  Lavish sultans’ palaces vie for attention with ancient Byzantine basilicas or underground Roman cisterns.  And while the whirling dervishes and Hittite folk dancers of antiquity still entertain tourists, the brightly-lit, modern nightlife of Taksim rivals that of any international city with its restaurants, music, and dancing.  Women sporting the latest European hairstyles and fashions stroll down the boulevards or narrow, stone passageways next to women wearing long dresses and colorful scarves or, more rarely, others attired from head to toe in black burkas with face veils.  Bazaars that have existed for hundreds of years are still doing a brisk business of selling everything from spices to jewelry to oriental rugs, yet one may buy an iPod at a store nearby with money obtained at the ATM.  And though the thick, sweet Turkish coffee is readily available, tea is hospitably offered everywhere – especially to tourists shopping for souvenirs.

Traveling down the Aegean coast from Istanbul in northwest Turkey to the Datca Peninsula where the Aegean meets the Mediterranean in the southwest, one first comes upon the cemeteries of Gallipoli, the site of the famous WWI battle  These cemeteries stand as silent monuments to clashes between cultures and ideologies down through the ages.  An additional hour’s drive south reveals the ruins of Troy, location of Homer’s epic Iliad where Trojans and Greeks fought over the beautiful Helen.  All along the way ancient olive groves, some having trees as old as 2,000 years, cover the mountains and hillsides for hundreds of miles, flanking fields of wild red poppies that delightfully litter the valleys with their breathtaking beauty.  Further down the coast, the ruins of a temple to the pagan g-ddess Athena appear on top of a cliff overlooking the small fishing village of Assos.  The ancient philosopher Aristotle lived and taught there during the 3rd century BCE and the Apostle Paul walked to Assos from Troas (Troy) on his third missionary journey (Acts 20:13, 14).  Next, one comes upon the city of Izmir, the former “Smyrna” of the Apostle John’s Revelation (Rev. 2:8-11).  Today, Izmir is a thriving, modern city of over four million inhabitants and a favorite tourist destination.  Further south, one comes to a little known, yet astonishing archeological site known as Knidos, a city that was once a bustling international seaport with a population of over 80,000 people several thousand years ago.  In fact, almost every Turkish village has nearby ruins of ancient civilizations dating back to before recorded history.

In the Old Testament, the city of Haran, where Abraham and his family lived for a time after leaving Ur, was located in the area now known as Turkey, as was Mt. Ararat, the place where Noah’s ark landed.  The Hittite civilization, mentioned often in the Old Testament, was a dominant force in this land around 2000 BCE.  Today’s Kurds, most of whom live in Turkey, are believed to be the descendants of the once powerful Assyrians, the people who conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

But what was most surprising to me was the revelation that much of the New Testament apostles, assemblies, and activities were located in the present country of Turkey. Many, if not most, of the early assemblies were located on Turkish soil.  Antioch, now called Antakya, is located in southeastern Turkey and is known as the “Cradle of Christianity.”  Once part of the Roman province of Syria, Antioch is said to have been the second most important city to the early assembly, the first being Jerusalem and was the place to which many fled in the persecution that followed the stoning of Stephen.  For a year Barnabas and Paul taught great numbers of people at Antioch, and it was there that the disciples were first called “Christians” (Acts 11:26).

The Apostle Paul was born in Tarsus, a city in southern Turkey, and Timothy was from Lystra, not far from Tarsus.  Most of Paul’s ministry took place in Turkey, as well.  Almost his entire first missionary journey was in Turkey (Perge, Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe and Attalia) as were most of his second and third journeys.  Paul wrote his epistles to the Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians, all assemblies in Turkey.  He preached at Perge, Troas, Assos, Ephesus and many other cities there.  The Apostle Peter wrote his first epistle to believers scattered throughout the Turkish provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bythinia.

After Yahshua’s death, tradition states that the Apostle John took Yahshua’s mother, Mary, with him from Jerusalem to Ephesus, where he headed the assembly established there.  Today the ruins of St. John’s Basilica can be seen at Selcuk, a town near Ephesus.  John cared for Mary, as Yahshua had commanded him from the stake, until his imprisonment on Patmos (an island off the Turkish coast), where he spent his remaining years in exile.  It was on Patmos that John had a vision and wrote the Book of Revelation which contained letters to the seven churches – Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea – all in present day Turkey.  According to local tradition, after John was banned to Patmos, the early believers at Ephesus built a house for Mary and looked after her until her death.  The original foundations are still there, the house itself having been rebuilt in the 6th or 7th centuries.

As New Testament faith began to spread through the teachings of Paul, John, Peter and the other apostles, the Roman emperor, Nero, persecuted the newly converted believers unmercifully.  To escape torture and death, many fled to the provinces in central Turkey.  Capadoccia is one such place where at least one hundred underground cities, built by the early believers for protection, may be visited today.  In addition to the cities, many ornate cathedrals, complete with elaborate biblical scenes painted on ceilings and walls, can be found in caves nearby.

The Byzantine age began in 330 CE under the leadership of Constantine.  He established his capital at Byzantium and renamed it Constantinople (modern Istanbul).  It was the newly converted Constantine who brought Christianity to his new empire.  The Hagia Sophia, the most magnificent of all the Byzantine churches and considered to be the eighth wonder of the world, is situated in Istanbul. Built in 532 CE as a Christian church, it was converted to a Muslim mosque in 1453, and declared a museum in 1934.  It stands as a testament to the power and architectural genius of the Byzantine period.

Prior to Constantine’s conquest, the people had worshiped a pantheon of Greek and then Roman pagan g-ds and g-ddesses.  In order to consolidate the empire it was necessary to convert the population to Christianity.  To do this, Constantine and the Nicene Council of 325 CE had to adopt many of their pagan concepts and customs into the Christian religion:  Christmas (the Saturnalia), Easter (a fertility g-ddess), Sunday worship (the day of the sun g-d), and the Trinity (triad-g-d worship), among others.  Most Christian sects still cling to these 4th century pagan beliefs and practices today.

Today the population of Turkey is 98% Muslim.  The Ottoman Turks conquered the decaying Byzantine Empire in 1453, replacing Christianity with Islam.  The Ottoman Empire was one of the largest and longest lasting empires in history.  Inspired and sustained by Islam and Islamic institutions, it spread from the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, North Africa, the Balkans, and into Spain.  The Ottoman sultans ruled Turkey for more than 500 years until defeated by the British in WWI.  The new constitution of 1923, created by the much-revered leader, Ataturk, brought about the secularization and modernization of Turkey.

If all of this is news to you, you are not alone.  Second only to Israel, Turkey’s prominence in scriptural history validates it as an important place to visit for serious students of the Bible. There is so much to do, see, and learn in this beautiful, intriguing land that a tour of Turkey would definitely be worth the time and expense.

by: Debbie Reed

parenting in the digital age

Parenting in the Digital Age (Part 1)

The playground is barren and the sidewalks are bare.  The melodious sounds of children laughing and playing are no longer dancing in the air.  Fingers are tapping with eyes fixed open wide, immersed in a seemingly silent conversation, a child’s new playground is inside – the Internet, to be exact. How long has your child been living in this virtual world and do you know what he’s doing?

Today’s children are growing up in a digital age; they are known as the “digital generation.”. A mere decade ago parents only had to watch their children in the physical world, and this was no easy task.  Today, at the click of a button, children can connect with complete strangers around the world.  Keeping an eye on children in the virtual world can be an impossible task if one isn’t equipped with the digital media know-how to do so.  While the Web, as an informational superhighway, has many social and educational benefits, risks – serious risks – exist as well.  (And, I can assure you, after a year of doctoral-level research into the benefits and risks of digital media effects on children and teens, that I have grave concerns about the health and well-being on our children.  Because of their digital media diets, their consumption, according to research, is saturated with unsupervised communication that crosses age appropriate barriers.)

Like a spider weaving a web to catch its prey, so the “WWW” can be compared when it comes to those vulnerable to its grasp.  There is a school of thought floating out there right now that suggests “…children are increasingly sophisticated, mature and media savvy…[and] efforts to shield youth from media are too protectionist in nature…[therefore] children should be empowered to take control on their own media experiences” (Children, Adolescents, and the Media, 2009, p.10).  I choose not to believe this mindset.  Children are vulnerable and naïve.  They do not have the cognitive or emotional capacity to process mature forms of communication in messages as do adults.  This, coupled with the fact that media use is at an all-time high, should raise a few red flags.

So, what are kids spending their time in this alternate universe doing?  According to research, the average U.S. child between the ages of 8 and 18 spends almost seven hours a day using media, in terms of exposure.  Of this media consumption, television viewing still takes the number one category for media usage among this age group, despite emerging technologies.  One out of five children, according to a national study, are reported to watch more than five hours of television a day.  A lack of parental supervision and mediation is much to blame for this gluttonous, in terms of a media diet, behavior.  To no surprise, after reading these numbers, a reported 53% of children reported to have no rules in their home about what they can watch or how often and for how long they can watch it.  And of those reporting having rules regarding television viewing, some 23% share that rules are not generally enforced.

In an age where youth are continually confronted with an evolving media environment, where new technologies are emerging daily, and existing technologies are merging and becoming more interactive, parents need to be aware of the latest trends, some of which include grave dangers.  It’s no longer about keeping your doors locked to protect your family from the evils of the world; danger can now lurk from within, even in your children’s very bedrooms.  Does your child have a television in his bedroom?  Does he have a cell phone with privileges that allows him to use the his phone in his bedroom?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, pay extra close attention to what I am about to share in this in-depth look at children, adolescents, and the media. As we explore the lure of advertising, media violence, sexuality, drugs, rock music and music videos, eating disorders, and video games, we will see how this affects the individual and the family.

This article seeks to educate and inform the body about the digital media environment that poses risks to threaten the very core of what we work so hard to protect – our children.  The conclusion of this series will offer parenting advice, in relation to parenting in the twenty-first century, and media usage advice.

We are charged with the task to raise our children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6).  We read in Matthew 6:22-23, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.  But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.  If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great [is] that darkness!”  Be forewarned that much exists today in this world, and virtual world, that your children may have access to that dwells in darkness.  Please stay tuned for part two of this discussion.  Yahweh bless!

By: Amy Pletz

parenting in the digital age 2

Parenting in the Digital Age (Part 2)

Are your children full from their media consumption, or are they craving more? When is too much, just plain ole’ too much? Do you know what your children are viewing and participating in online when you are not around (and, if you think you know the answer … are you sure)?

In part one of this piece we chatted about what it means to grow up in a digital generation and defined today’s typical teen media consumption (what is being consumed). Now, it’s time to bring these facts home and make a difference and keep you in the know. Our children are precious jewels given to us by the King and placed in our charge, as parents to raise and prepare for the coming Kingdom. Let us not minimize the “power” of the web, including its content, ability to connect people, and exposure to “unclean” things.

If you were flipping through channels on the television as a family and a show came on with highly sexualized material, would you turn it? What about a program that glorifies homosexuality? What about a show with teens acting disrespectfully, even if through sarcasm and comedy? Today on the television I am shocked to see children dressing like immoral adults and behaving with intense disrespect toward their parents and other authority figures, like teachers. I am the mother of five children, one son and four daugh­ters. My two oldest daughters admit they struggle with societal pressures to act or look a certain way, mainly pressures they experience in school, and that so often thrive online. It is my chal­lenge and responsibility to raise my children in a way that they find peace and strength in living for Yahweh, according to the Word. I continually tell them that the road to the Kingdom is not easy, but the reward is amazing.

Some would suggest cutting off the Internet to protect and ensure safety. Yes, this is an option. I choose to allow this medium of communication in my home, but the rules are not one-size-fits-all. My oldest is allowed the most freedom, but I watch her openly and I know her passwords. My two 12-year-olds are allowed to visit pre-approved websites, and this occurs in a public area, like the rec room. My two youngest enjoy the Internet and only visit sites we have pre-approved and saved as shortcuts on the desktop; this minimizes the possibility of surfing the web and seeing inap­propriate content. It’s not a perfect system, but it works for us right now.

I have long learned to be flexible and keep my eyes open, always ready to make a change for the safety and welfare of the family. And if a rule is broken there are consequences, generally start­ing with a hands-off the Internet for a substantial period of time. I just feel that while there are negative aspects of the Internet, there are also many pluses. For example, my oldest likes Facebook, a much debated social platform, a meeting place for “friends” to get together and share information and pictures. I monitor her on Facebook for safety reasons and to “see” what she is up to, which serves as the topic for many conversations, which I consider a big plus.

Honestly, even sites she has “liked,” that I ultimately make her “unlike” because they are too mature, we talk about. I exercise my role as mom and mentor and walk her through the reasons why it’s inappropriate and displeasing to Yahweh. I cherish these teaching moments. Living over a thousand miles away from much of our family isn’t easy emotionally, and Facebook is a way for us to stay in touch, so this is one of those plus factors. On the flipside, my oldest tells me stories of folks she knows, children her age even, who swear online and post crude pictures. She knows she has the ability to unfriend them on the site, block content, or comment and serve as a witness to the Word.

The Internet is here to stay. It has truly become an exten­sion of the “real” world. I want to teach my children to use the Internet for the good it offers and how to be “street smart” and stay safe at the same time. I am also very much aware that the Internet is a real danger. Here are some tips I employ in my home to guide my children in their healthy consumption of media, specifically browsing online:

  1. Limit your child’s media intake to a certain amount of time per day, and stick to it.
  2. Have Internet access in public/common areas only, unless you feel your child has the maturity and understanding to have Internet access in private spaces. And, even if you choose the latter, still monitor usage.
  3. Chat regularly with your children about their online interests and comings and goings.
  4. Don’t allow any form of media to take away from family time. For example, in our home, cell phones don’t come to mealtime.
  5. Perhaps the most important rule: clearly define your expecta­tions and rules of conduct for your children. It’s best to do this initially and then ongoing as gentle reminders. If your children have friends over, make sure they know the house rules of media consumption.
  6. If you see your child viewing something that is questionable, use it as a teaching moment and talk about it. Sometimes advertise­ments appear on web pages that viewers have no control over—you will need to decide how you will react to this. Again, it’s best to have a plan ahead of time.
  7. Be consistent. I love this rule for parenting in general. If you have rules and expectations, stick with them. Be consistent. Don’t get lax when it comes to parenting in the virtual world. Yes, it’s more work, but it’s important.

While this world is ever changing, Yahweh changes not. Media has evolved so much in the past century that it’s hard to tell fiction from reality at times, and the creators of this media are becoming so cunningly creative and persuasive … but, you can choose to be strong in the Word. Do not compromise your Father’s principles for a righteous walk. We can use the Internet as a tool for phenomenal witness, spreading the Word to the nations. We can use the Internet as a tool to reach out to friends and family in need, sharing words of encouragement and connecting with opportunities to serve.

We can use the Internet as a channel to learn as so many assem­blies have websites with good studies and videos. I leave you with this parting thought: As a parent, be aware, always on guard, always ready to protect your children … but allow them room enough to grow leaves and stretch their branches with peace in knowing you gave them roots to withstand any storms that may come their way.

I often find comfort in letting go a bit by praying for my children. I am openly overprotective of them, but I am mindful not to hold on so tightly that they feel suffocated and without a voice of their own; I have learned how blessed it that I and my children are making decisions together … for lifelong learning. This pleases Yahweh and does not take away from raising them in the way they should go.

As parents we are teachers in many ways, more than reinforcing math facts or language arts basics—we are in this for the goal of entering the very Kingdom of Yahweh! Know that the world is rag­ing around us. A great evil is stirring as the end of days approach­es. Keep watch, dress yourself and your children in the full armor of Yahweh, and embrace Messiah Yahshua each day. Teach your children that even in the virtual world Yahweh is watching, and He expects them to act in a way that is good and right. The same goes for us as parents. Be the example.

May Yahweh bless you and keep you!

by: Amy Pletz

threewomen

Three Women of Faith

As a young girl growing up, I was nurtured by three important women in my life.  Each one of these special ladies had dynamic attributes that helped shape and mold who I am today.  Most of all, I admired their deep abiding faith in Yahweh.  Through many trials and heartaches, they never blamed or wavered in the strength of their faith in our heavenly Father and they kept Yahshua near their hearts.

I wish you could have met my grandmother, Mary.  She had a sweet rosy smile and beautiful white-as-snow hair, which I helped curl.  She didn’t come to the knowledge of the Name until near the end of her life.  Grandma’s faith was amazing.  Each year she faithfully read her Bible through and through until she wasn’t able to anymore.

I remember sitting at her feet under her old, but well-kept, sewing machine, watching the treadle move swiftly back and forth.  She would remind me never to sew on the “Sabbath” day because, as she put it, “Each stitch would go into Yahshua’s heart.”.  I still remember this and abide by it today…

The next special lady is my beautiful mother, Millie, with a heart of gold.  Now talk about faith and endurance!  Momma raised seven children, helped run a business, kept a spotless house, planted and canned produce from a huge garden and, most of all, taught me how to pray.

One cold, snowy Pennsylvania evening, my father left the house to plow snow.  As he turned to say goodbye he reminded us, “Be sure to keep the water dripping so the pipes won’t freeze.”.  As you can guess, with seven children in the house, someone turned off the spigot and the pipes froze.  We were all worried what Dad would say.  Our mother, never blinking an eye, got down on her knees without hesitation, telling us to do the same.  By the time we finished praying, the water shot out of the faucet like a rocket ship.  We all jumped up with joy, thanking Yahweh from the bottom of our hearts.

The third special lady in my life was my mother-in-law, Mil.  I loved to watch her laugh (I’m so glad she passed that trait on to her daughter, Linda).  Mil never worried about anything (well, maybe about her children, a little).  We always said Yahweh had angels watching over her – especially if you saw her drive!  She always knew everything would work out in its own time and that “everything will be all right.”.  It always was.  Mil’s faith was sweet, soft and private in many ways.  She taught me to “stay the course, believe in Yahweh and keep the faith.”  She fell asleep privately but never alone.  That is how she would have wanted it…

Yahweh in his Word shows us many examples of faith, and we must ourselves grow in faith for Him.  Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  These loving sisters kept their vision toward their Father in heaven.  Their examples taught me never to give up.  Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him:  for he that comes to Elohim must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

Keep strong in your faith.  Show, by example, to your children and your children’s children the faith you have in Yahweh.  Put Yahweh first in all that you do – and I promise everything will be all right in the end.

by: Margie Mansager