Sunday, August 30, 2009

New Podcast from the James Study!

I just uploaded the latest podcast from the James study, titled "Count it all Joy?" James 1:1-16.
This is my first time teaching a book for the church - unless you count Teen Bible studies.
This is turning into a great experience, if I can safely say that after only two weeks. I haven't been nervous, and I have learned a lot.
Lord willing, the rest of the study will continue to get better - I have had a time trying to get my thoughts to flow from the inside of my head to the out... but that is not anything new to teaching.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

James Ate Kosher.

...just wanted to make a quick update to remind Mo that I am teaching the book of James each Saturday at the Carpenter's Shop, and you can listen online, or download them here.

I had no idea that James was such a controversial guy. Evidently, few commentators of the Reformation believed that it was Jesus' brother who wrote the book, and just as many didn't want to include it into the canon of scripture. For the record, James ate food that was kosher. He was a Jew, raised in a Jewish home, in a Jewish community... and his older half brother was, well, God incarnate, so it is a safe assumption.

I still need to finish my thoughts on eating kosher, don't I?

Where does my family stand on this today? Thought you would never ask.
We buy foods that have a hechscher. It has to have the symbol - even if it is canned fruit, it has to be hechschered. We don't eat out often because of the expense of it, but when we do, we know which fast food places have kosher food, and which don't - we have to do a little research to find out, but it is worth it.
In the end, there is no guarantee that the food we get has no unclean things in it... unless it has the symbol - and even that sometimes is a little sketchy. Certain organizations are more strict than others. We typically stick with the most recognizable; there are literally hundreds of symbols, the "Circle U" being the most prominent around here (on right).
But what about meat? Meat is somewhat of an anomaly when eating kosher, as it has its own set of rules, and there are specific methods that make it kosher. As for now we still eat meat bought from the store, but that is subject to change. We are starting to lean more toward eating fish as our only meat - less to worry about.
I should note that none of this is hard. In fact, once you start looking at what is in the food we all eat, it is a little shocking at first and you will feel compelled to keep looking. This leads me to my next surprise in the drive to eat kosher:
...just what are "natural flavors?" Good question.
Here's the definition of “natural flavor” under the Code of Federal Regulations: “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional” (21CFR101.22)

Most disturbing find yet:
Did you know that L-cysteine, a common dough conditioner, flavor enhancer in human and pet foods, and precursor in some dietary supplements, is most often derived from human hair or duck feathers, and to a lesser extent from pigs' bristles and hooves? (from

Yes, human hair.

I'lll leave you with that for now. I still need to revisit the meat issue in greater detail, but I want to move on to the kippa (head covering) next, as it has been on my mind a lot lately...

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Um... You Gonna Eat That?

Speaking of "fishy" information on Obama's Marxist revolution health care debacle, it is time for me to lead you through my ever-changing thoughts on eating kosher.

"What is kosher," you ask?
Good question! Grab ten random people and ask them what kosher is... you're likely to end up with fifteen answers. Heck, I might give you two or three answers myself.

Lets go back to the beginning. We'll start at "The Beginning" and then move on to my own personal Torah observance beginnings.

Genesis 2:15 states that ...the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

I am starting with this passage because I believe it is important to notice that God has been interested in and giving instructions to mankind about the food we eat since... well, since the beginning. It must be important to Him. When He instructs us not to eat something, then the instruction is, well, the Law. That's what kosher is - it is conforming to God's dietary laws, or instructions. puts it like this:

Biblical kosher refers to the dietary laws as outlined in the Scriptures, forbidding the eating of (1) animals that God calls unclean (Lev. 11:47), (2) animal fat (Lev. 3:17), or (3) animals that still have the blood in them (Lev. 17:12-14) as food. Lev. 11 talks about clean and unclean foods.

When my family began to observe the food laws in Leviticus 11, we began by simply refraining from pork and shellfish. It seemed like a huge step too - all the sudden we were aware of how much of our food fell into the 'abomination' category. What we didn't know at the time was that the battle to eat food that was 'kosher' according to God's word was bigger than we could ever have imagined.

At first, we would occasionally hear about a favorite food that had pork in it, or a candy that contained gelatin. As we continued to be more sensitive to what was in the food, we became more and more aware of teh fact that pork is in ... well, almost everything that we were eating at the time.

Our conversations went like this; We had the best time with the kids last night. We ate Smores around the camp fire -"
"You know marshmallows aren't kosher, right? - they have gelatin in them."
"What!? Marshmallows have pork in them?" As I am reeling from the disturbing news of pig fat hiding in my desert, I pop an Altoid mint...
"So do those."
To which I reply, "ha ha, that's funny - as if you didn't already ruin camping for the rest of my life, now my mints actually have pork in them too? What ever..."

And so the story goes. We had heard about the "kosher" labels (on left) but had not given them any real thought - after all, I had no reason to eat food that had been blessed by a rabbi, right?
What we soon learned though, was that the blessing was not what the kosher label was all about. The label was a sense of security for the buyer, telling him/her that the food they were purchasing has been watched over by a person with strict standards according to Leviticus 11.
Somebody who cares about God's Law was in charge of giving the food a seal of approval, called a hechscher.

...more later - I have to get something to eat.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Go 'Tallit' on the Mountain!

I mentioned earlier that I am sort of struggling with the tzitzit issue. For those of you who are not familiar with tzitzits, here is what I have been able to pick up along the way...

"What are tzizits?"

Tzitzits are tassels that are worn on the four "corners" of a believer's garments, as referred to in Deuteronomy 22:12 “You shall make tassels on the four corners of the clothing with which you cover yourself."

(Disclaimer: I have gone into great detail in the past regarding why I believe that we, as God's people, and believers in Yeshua (Jesus) are obligated today to observe the Torah commands, so I will not go over that again. From here on, I will address these issues from that standpoint.)

Back to the tassels.
When we first started to observe Torah, I wasn't sure if we were to be wearing tzitzit at all. I hadn't ever seen anybody wear them, including other Messianic believers. At any rate, after a while, I began to feel conviction for not wearing these things. A friend of mine had started wearing a set that he had made himself, attached to his belt loops, which seemed like a good place to start (I guess I hadn't given as much thought to how they should be worn).
The tassels that my friend had made were blue and white. Evidently, there was a reference to a blue string going through the tassel (Numbers 15:37-40), so he had put a blue thread through his - I did the same. The ones that I was wearing looked similar to these:

I wore these for about two years. Somewhere along the line, I asked a friend who had been observing Torah for quite a long time why he didn't wear Tzitzit, and his answer threw a wrench into my way of thinking. He explained to me that he did wear tassels, only they were tucked into his pants under his shirt. He told me that he wears a garment called a tallit katan. He went on to say that a tallit katan means "small" tallit; it looks like this:Notice the tzitzits - they are literally attached to four "corners" sewn into the garment, taking a very literal interpretation of the passage listed above in Numbers. I am writing these things in an attempt to journal the conflicts, struggles and joys of transitioning into Torah observance, and this "four corner" issue is somewhat of a struggle for me. The term shows up a few times in scripture (Isaiah 11:12, Revelation 7:1), and for the life of me I have a hard time seeing it anything less than metiphorical. With a little study, I found that the Hebrew word that translates into 'four corners' is kanaph which typically means "extremities."
...I continued to wear my belt loop tassels.

If tallit katan meant small tallit, then surely there was a big tallit right?
It turns out that a tallit is the traditional white shawl, usually having blue stripes. I had seen many Jewish people in photographs wearing it, I always knew it to be a "prayer shawl."
It looks like this: (No, that is not me in the photo.)
Again, notice the blue cord. The one above has the blue in them. These don't:
There is much debate concerning the blue cord, which only compiles my struggles with this issue. (There is a specific blue that is required according to some - more on that at a later time)
The tallit has its own set of conflicting opinions that go with it as well. Typically, it is worn during morning prayers, thus fulfilling the command to wear the tassels. A tallit katan is worn through out the day, and it is a matter of opinion as to weather the tassels should be tucked in or not.
As for belt loop tassels... they aren't really acceptable in most Messianic or Orthodox circles; just my luck.
I find myself thinking, should it be this hard? Blue or no blue, this blue or that blue, big tallit or small tallit, tucked in or on the belt loops? I have to tell you, I still don't know.
I will tell you what I do know. I do know that the God of Israel; the Everlasting Father; the Prince of Peace; Omnipotent One; Aleph and Tav... He knows exactly what I know, and He knows exactly what I am trying to do. He knows my heart! He knows that I was born and raised in small town Indiana, light years from the nearest Orthodox Jew - in fact, He knows that I am not Jewish by blood at all - He is aware of my being grafted into Israel and what that means; and I have a feeling that He knows that it will take time for me to learn how to walk out the instruction given in His Torah. It reminds me of Paul's letter to the Phillipians (ch 1:6), where he says, "being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." Talk about scripture having a whole new meaning...

So, where do I stand on the tzitzit issue today? Good question. If you can figure it out, drop me an email, and we'll both be on the same page! My feelings on tassels are in the process of being overhauled. I still wear the belt loop version, but I don't put them on until I have gotten out of the shower after work. This is partly due to the fact that I don't own any tallit katan, or a prayer shawl (tallit) at the moment.
I think that I will get both. I also think that when I get the tallit katan, I will use tassels with the blue cord (even if it isn't that specific blue... for now) and will probably wear them on the outside of my clothing. Yep, that's it. I will wear the tallit katan under my shirt with the blue corded tassels hanging out. When I get them that is.
In the meantime, I will rest in the fact that this walk is a transitional thing, and my salvation does not rest on my meathod; it rests in the finished work of Jesus Christ, Yeshua HaMashiac.

Though this topic is by no means finished, I have brought you up to speed with where I am. I'll keep you posted as I grow in this issue.
Stay with me as we explore the ever confusing relm of eating kosher next!

Messianididdles? Mishnadiddles? Beit Mang?

I have been away from Mangdiddles for a while, but suddenly, I am finding myself with a little [unwanted] extra time to blog, so I want to make it worth while... now, what do I blog about?
The news is, well, old news. Obama is destroying our country at an alarming rate, and frankly I can't keep up with it. Society as a whole seems to have lost control. I actually read a story in the news the other day about a pregnant woman who was killed, and her baby was stolen from the womb.
...fortunately, the baby lived - unlike a story earlier in the week where a pregnant woman was murdered and her killer ate her brains. Now, granted, the brains were eaten after the lady was deceased, but still... I digress.
How can one small time blogger keep up with news like that? Why would I want to?

I have made attempts in the past to stick with bible study, and things of a more Spiritual nature, but I always end up being drawn into the current events arena. For this I apologize. I also will submit an excuse of sorts.

In the realm of Messianic Torah study, I have in the past been a little intimidated by the enormity of it all. It always feels like the other people writing about Messianic things has a much better grasp on Torah observance, study and history. There is so much information and so many conflicting opinions on matters of the Torah, that it makes for a very daunting task sometimes even to do personal studies.

And that leads me to the new direction that I will be taking See, even though I have been observing Torah as a believer in Yeshua (Jesus) for over five years, I still feel like a "new guy." How can this be, you may ask? Because of the reasons I just listed above - it is an enormous wealth of history, resources and opinions - heavy on the opinions. I intend to write about my findings, as a "new guy" in the Messianic world. The subject matter will never run out, I am confident of that.

I have no intentions of renaming the blog to Messianadiddles, or completely leaving current events by the wayside - on the contrary, I intend to incorporate them into the conversation... now all I have to do is stay focused.
I am calling on all three of you - my most faithful readers, to keep me accountable to this. From here on out, I will change the tone of Mangdiddles to that of a respectable, Messiah focused forum. God willing.

Topics anyone?

I believe that the majority of the people who stop by here are usually either angry for what I have to say about the Left, or curious about things like biblical dietary laws and Sabbath observance.
With the former, there are a lot of inner struggles that take place along the way - what do we do? What do we not do? Can I eat that? Do I want to eat that? What does that have to do with Jesus?
...did you say no more bacon!?
And the list goes on.

My current struggles (and I say that in the most positive way, like "should I have apple pie or caramel cheese cake?") include, but are not limited to the following:

1. Should I be wearing a yarmulke? (that tiny circular cap that you see Jewish people wearing)
2. Tzitzit - I was once OK with the belt-loop version, but have veered away from it... only I don't have a tallit katan. Do I want to do the tallit katan, or get a regular tallit? ...I will explain what these things are when I present the question - it is confusing.
3. Set Time Prayers - We are doing them as a family, but I keep missing the second one. On top of that, I am told that there are actually three set times. More on that later.
4. Hebrew - To learn, or not to learn. That is the question!
5. Tradition! - How much is too much... how much is enough?

And this is just a start.
I will get started as soon as this storm stops knocking the power out. It is getting nasty outside.

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Joke Is On U.S.

...Descension really is the New Patriotism, isn't it?

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Original Homeland Security

I received this in my email today, and providing it is not a hoax, USA Today has a poll that asks,
"Does the Second Amendment give individuals the right to bear arms?"
(PLEASE, click above top take part in the survey - your freedoms depend on it!!)

Before I give the results so far for the poll, lets look at what the Second Amendment actually says.
"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Seems to me that the framers of the Constitution were saying that we have the right to:
  1. Have a "well regulated militia" that is necessary to the security of a free state
  2. Keep and bear arms
Notice that it is the right of the people to keep and bear arms, not just the militia as the Left portrays it. The intent of the amendment is stated clearly - it is necessary to keep the security of a free state.
Why would any government want to suppress that right to have a well regulated militia and the right to bear arms? The answer is simple: to take away our freedoms. Hence the language in the amendment.
We are so messed up in America today that we are willing to give up the very rights that allow us to be free!

Oh yeah, I still need to post the results as of today.

It is too bad that the Democratic Party Left has no regard for the Constitution or those of us who do, because it looks like the American people understand very clearly what the Second Amendment means.

Communists for Clunkers... or something

Jaw dropper of the year.

“A warning box comes up, and it says, ‘This application provides to the DoT CARS system. When logged on to the CARS system, your computer is considered a federal computer system and it is property of the United States government,’” Beck continues, “‘Any and all uses of this system and all files on this system may be intercepted, monitored, recorded, copied, audited, inspected, and disclosed to authorized CARS, DoT and law enforcement personnel, as well as authorized officials of other agencies, both domestic and foreign.’

Sort of reminds me of the old adage that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Yet the nation remains silent, and Beck is still the bad guy. No outrage, no rallies, no protests. Bush was raked over the coals for wanting to listen in to terrorist's phone conversations... just keep that in mind.