In this week’s teaching Ross shares a message of hope. He speaks from personal experience about how our steps are guided when we trust in YHVH with all of our heart and do not lean to our own understanding. Using a passage from the Bible’s book of Proverbs, Ross tells several stories that will encourage the listeners. He looks back on the past 20 years of his journey and shows what seems to be the work of an Unseen Hand. His stories lead up to his recent invitation to the Governor’s mansion where he met many distinguished leaders, politicians, ministers and rabbis who were all gathered together to honor Israel. You will not want to miss this special session. The dialogue is also attached and features Ross’ Hebrew teacher, Johnny Powell.
On April 16th, I was part of something quite incredible. I was one of an assembly of people gathered together to celebrate the sixty-fifth anniversary of the modern Jewish state. The event was hosted by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Representative Valarie Hodges, Senator A.G. Crowe, and the Louisiana Family Forum. The honorary guest was the Consul General of Israel to the southwest United States, Meir Shlomo.
The reception took place in the Drawing Room of the Governor’s Mansion and it was standing room only. I was among legislators, Christian ministers, Rabbis and other distinguished guests. One after another, speakers paid tribute to Israel and told of the deep connection between all of those assembled and the Jewish people and the land of Israel. I was moved by the sense of purpose communicated by all who spoke. It was wonderful to hear our State’s leaders declare their strong support of Israel. As one speaker pointed out, “This room is filled with people who will go to their prayer closets on behalf of the Jewish people and their land.” And to hear the crowd burst out in “Amens,” well, I was almost moved to tears.
Towards the close of the celebration two loaves of chalah were brought up, blessed in Hebrew and English. The rabbi who spoke made reference to another non-Jewish King that had a part in blessing and partaking of bread with Abraham. He spoke of Melki-Tzedek and thanked Louisiana’s Governor in context of this story. And then he offered all of us a piece of that chalah. I knew that I had to get a piece of that bread! Bread that is shared between lovers of Israel is the best kind! I made my way to the front of the room and took a piece of that blessed bread, shook the hand of Ambassador Shlomo and quietly slipped out of the room.
As I placed the bread to my mouth I thought of what it represented and the fact that though I am not a politician, or even a celebrated pastor, I too was there to represent a group of people. I realized as I was thanking my Creator, that I represented a growing congregation of people who gather each and every Shabbat. I thought of all of you. I was blessed to be part of something wonderful, but I was there for all of us and for that I am most thankful. But there is MUCH more to the story. How did I end up in this place, with all of these key leaders? I mean really! Who am I, that I should be so blessed?
As most of you know I am working on a Day to Honor Israel celebration that is scheduled to take place in Saint Francisville May 14th and 15th. In preparing for that celebration I searched the web for Louisiana Leaders that have publicly stood up on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people. My internet search yielded the name of a State Representative by the name of Valarie Hodges. She sponsored a House Concurrent Resolution that expressed support for the people of Israel and for their right to live in freedom and to defend themselves. It passed the Louisiana Senate with 36 in favor, none opposed. You can read the text of that document here. I immediately began to communicate with Representative Hodges about her work and about the possibility of her attendance at the event we are hosting in May.
One day at work I was talking with a co-worker. I felt impressed that I should ask him if he knew Valarie Hodges. Why? Not sure, but I finally asked him. He smiled and said yes. He went on to tell me how his family was very close to Representative Hodges. He spoke very highly of the entire family. The next note I wrote to Representative Hodges I mentioned this. In her next note to me she told me she loved my friend’s family and then said the following. “Ross, did you get the invitation to the reception at the Governor’s mansion Tuesday with Israeli Ambassador Meir Shlomo? I did not see your name? Please call me if you want to attend so I can put your name of the list.” And so I did call and my name was added to the list.
I arrived at the Governor’s Mansion a bit early. As the doors opened and people filed in, I joined the procession. Once inside I decided to stay back a bit. Somewhere I read that when you are invited…”do not sit in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person’.” And so I stayed out of the way. As I walked about the room I was praying for the event. I happened to notice another man that I believed was doing the same thing. I approached him and within minutes my suspicion was confirmed. He was a minister and was praying as he walked about the foyer. He introduced me to a fellow minister from his church. We talked of our mutual love of Scripture.
I also was happy to see an old friend there that I have not seen in many years. Probably 20 years ago, several friends and I invited a Chabad Rabbi from New Orleans to come to Baton Rouge and study with us. We spoke of this gathering so long ago and laughed that we now follow one another on Facebook. I met yet another young man and we had a nice conversation. Was it for the sake of one of these meetings that I was invited?
I had this sense that I was supposed to meet someone. I was not sure who, or for what reason. Was it the Rabbi, the young ministers I had spoken with? Perhaps I always expect this, but shouldn’t we all? I mean, does Scripture not contain examples of divine appointments? Can our heavenly Father not arrange such a meeting. My prayer was that it would be obvious. Men can be dense at times and I have never been one to force things into place. I needed something unmistakable. As I wondered if my new acquaintance was the one I was supposed to meet, I heard a voice behind me call my name. I turned and saw a man approaching. He told me his name and then informed me that he has listened to my teachings on Roots of Faith! He said he has been meaning to call me. We spoke briefly and exchanged contact information. Turns out he is involved in a ministry.
As people filed into the room, I slipped quietly to the back of the room. I noticed my new friend move to the front of the room. He was part of the celebration. As I listened carefully to each speaker I was also thanking our Creator for allowing me to be part of this unique gathering, and also appreciating the fact that my prayer had likely been answered. If you pray that the Creator make something obvious, be prepared to see it happen.
I saw a most wonderful assembly of people, gathered for a single purpose – to Celebrate Israel. I heard leaders speaking of promises made through Covenant. I shared in a loaf of bread that was blessed by Jews and Christians. I prayed with Christians and bowed my head next to a Chabad Rabbi. I prayed for a divine appointment that would not leave me guessing and then I heard a voice call my name.
I could not have made any of this happen on my own. I would never have known about this event if I had not made contact with Representative Hodges, but perhaps even then I would not have been invited had I not followed a gentle leading to ask my friend if he knew her. The minister who said he listened to my teachings on the internet said he felt he was supposed to call me, but hadn’t. Perhaps we are all a bit dense at times. Or perhaps our meeting was so important that we had to meet in no less a place than the Governor’s Mansion.
Do we listen close enough to hear that still small voice? Does the Almighty still make our way to prosper if we ask Him to do so? I have to believe that He does and that He did. We should all be encouraged by this. It happened to me but in a way I think it happened for all of us.
Thanks for allowing me to represent all of you at the Governor’s Mansion. Thanks to all of those who attended and who pray for the peace of Jerusalem, Israel and the Jewish State. Thanks to the leaders in Government in the fine state of Louisiana who stand for Israel and for a Governor who hosted this event in his home. Many blessings to the Jindal Family for this. Thanks to the pastors and the rabbis and all those who will most certainly go to the prayer closets on behalf of the Jewish people and the land of Israel. And a special thanks to those few that I asked to pray for me as I went to this event. Your prayers were heard. Your prayers were answered.
Have you ever heard the old adage, cleanliness is next to Godliness? While these exact words do not appear in the Biblical text, Glenn Chatterton shares a message in this class that suggests that the idea is present throughout the texts. He begins by covering some of the Torah’s principles contained within Torah readings Tazria and Metzora on the distinction between clean and unclean and builds a case that the old saying may find support in Scripture. From texts that speak of unclean and clean, Glenn demonstrates that the cleanliness described in the Bible goes beyond ritual defilement. You will not want to miss this teaching on cleanliness is next to Godliness.
In this class Ross begins to prepare his students for a close study of passages from the Hebrew Bible that are considered messianic prophecies. He points out that in order to navigate one’s way through these texts it is essential that we pay close attention to what the Scriptures actually say. He makes the point that many of the texts that are currently considered to be messianic prophecies never use the word messiah. He then shows that the subject of messiah is actually far more complex than some have believed. This complexity is explained from the texts of Scriptures and examples are given to support the claims. He focuses on the subject of the Prophet and gives examples of a mysterious prophetic style of speech employed by the prophets of old. You will not want to miss this teaching.
And he said, “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” The Rich Man
In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), Jesus told a parable that I believe has not been fully understood by those who claim to adhere to his teachings. The story contrasts two characters, a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus. The rich man lived a life of luxury and the poor man suffered greatly. Both of them die in the story.
The parable relates that the poor man was carried by angels into “Abraham’s bosom” while the rich man went to Hades and was in torment. As the story plays out, the rich man calls to “Father Abraham” seeking mercy. He wants Lazarus to bring him some water. Father Abraham informs the rich man that “those who would pass from here to you are not able to do so.” Upon hearing these words, the rich man begs Father Abraham to to send Lazarus to his father’s house to keep his family from ending up in this place of torment.
The response of Father Abraham is missed by most teachers of this subject. He says, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.” The point is clear. In order to avoid the place of torment, they must hear Moses and the Prophets. The rich man pleads further saying that if someone comes to them from the dead, they will hear him and repent, but Father Abraham tells him that if they do not hear Moses and the Prophets neither will they be convinced if someone “should rise from the dead!” Many of those who claim to follow the teachings of Jesus fail to notice this. It is time for those who claim to follow the teachings of Jesus to grasp this message.
It is time to hear Moses and the Prophets -