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Spiritual tips

Renee Ellison's spiritual thoughts for the day.

Let us ever take the high ground

Tuesday, 13. February 2018 by Renee Ellison

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Some evangelicals teach that the commands of God are so high that it is impossible to keep them; therefore we must settle only for a sentimental feeling of love toward our Master and live each day as we feel (for many, that winds up meaning….helplessly succumb to the relentless pressures of increased subtle and overt worldliness).

Upon a close examination of actual scripture we find accounts of the exact opposite. Amazingly, several individuals are, in fact, pointed out as righteous—while living amidst very pagan worlds. In each case they were marked by belief in God AND they walked in a progressive obedience. These individuals didn’t have periodic bum chapters (couldn’t help it… waywardness), in their walk with God.

“He who loves me keeps my commands” (John 14:15, 21). “He it is who loves me” (i.e. obedience, apparently, is the identifying feature of the strong believer).

Noah: “I have found you righteous in this generation” (Genesis 7:1). It was apparently evident that Noah had obeyed God in the past and, now, as soon as it was commanded, he would get right to work on the ark.

Job: “Job was blameless and upright” (Job 1:1). He feared God, and he shunned evil. He wasn’t foolin’ around with a little bit of waywardness on the Internet.

Enoch walked with God, and was not! (Genesis 5:24). He apparently had totally overcome the fear of men.

Elizabeth and Zachariah: “Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s command and decrees blamelessly” (Luke 1:6). (Elizabeth’s tank tops weren’t cut lower and lower.)

Mary: “You who are highly favored… You have found favor with God” (Luke 1:28, 30). (Mary hadn’t shacked up with three or four guys already, insisting upon “instantness” before succumbing to the “bondage” of commitment.) “May your word to me be fulfilled !”

Daniel: “Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel” (Daniel 1:9). (Daniel hadn’t dabbled in Buddhism, just a little bit, during his college years. It is as if the Lord was saying to him, “You HAVE walked in obedience and I feel quite sure that you WILL walk in obedience.)

God implores us to “Be ye holy as I am holy” as if it were possible! It IS possible not to steal today.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Anything but God

Sunday, 04. February 2018 by Renee Ellison

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The atheist’s dilemma:

The atheist, having dispensed with God, now has to take on the burden of re-writing all origins, not only the social agendas he so chooses (as in “I prefer multiple women and I much prefer raising my children only part-time”).

But why stop there? Doesn’t he have to re-write the laws of physics and chemistry, to say nothing of explaining his own existence, too? He now must somehow explain his lack of power to engineer the details of which womb his body will proceed from, and in which century.

Another problem with choosing to be your own god [note the little “g”] is that it puts you in the company of everyone else who has chosen likewise. Thus, you are into battle with not just other people, but other people who, just like you, have chosen to be god—but on different terms than yours. So, if you want to be god, have at it.


New agers’ dilemmas:

Eastern gods are gods only of philosophical thought or of mystical conjecture. The devotees of such have to pit THEIR god of metaphysics against the credentials of THE God of historical fact.

THEIR god never:

· rose from the dead (witnessed by 500 over 40 days)

· performed miracles (witnessed by thousands; not a private apparition)

· ascended into heaven (witnessed by a group of disciples; again, not a private apparition)

· was foretold by scores of scriptures that predated his birth

· showed consummate immediate recuperative power over a man’s soul, to transpose him from skid row into a drug-free church go-er in an hour.


As they sit in the lotus position, they also must answer the questions of…

· how meditation helps one cope with a burglar in one’s home, or how to stop an ex-con from raping your daughter

· how much meditation would they need to do to secure Nirvana

· have to wrestle with the impossibility of assertions like “if you can believe it, you can become it.” Really? A foot-dwarf can become a pole-vaulter?

· via reincarnation, just what would an ant have to do to be worthy enough to come back as a cow?

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Thanksgiving or despair?

Thursday, 23. November 2017 by Renee Ellison

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Because of personal tragedies, large or small, some of us might find ourselves “Thanksgiving” during this holiday with a kind of emptiness. Loneliness, broken hearts, dashed expectations, failed marriages, ill health, grinding poverty, career upsets, accidents and deaths of loved ones, obstacles and disappointments over our own goals, investment reversals—all and any of these constitute possible sources of deep personal anguish, pushing thoughts of any sort of “thanksgiving” far away (at least in our hearts, even if we attend a dinner dedicated to that purpose).

In sadness, on a day like today we might find ourselves casting around furtively for something to be thankful for, but feel like we are scraping the bottom of the barrel. We might conclude that we could muster thankfulness for two good legs and blue sky. But what if even those things, too, were taken away from us? We break a leg or we are robbed of blue sky by prolonged inclement weather. We see readily that if we are to be thankful it will have to be rooted in something other than our circumstances.

The challenge of whether to be thankful or not is really a question put to us not for a day but for a lifetime. The issue of thankfulness doesn’t stop in 24 hours. We will face it ongoingly in old age when we find ourselves living on a shrinking island of diminishing personal faculties and capabilities. Will we choose to be grateful then?

Ultimately we must realize that thanksgiving or bitterness are relational terms. We do not sit as repositories of these conditions. These are thoughts with a destination. They are aimed somewhere, initially perhaps at people, but finally at God Himself.

Whether we know it or not, at the core of this issue sits another issue. To solve how we will position our soul, not just for today but for a lifetime, whether in gratefulness or despair, we must address the issue of personal suffering.

Real thanksgiving, the kind that gives unfathomable repose to the soul, day in and day out, is only possible if we believe in a God who created us and that He created us for a purpose. But how do we get-to/arrive confidently at that thought?

Let’s stop and fathom our anatomy for a minute. The very creation of our anatomy belies a purpose not just for our internal organs but for our entire existence. There sits the organ, and then there is what the organ does. So there we, too, sit—but over time it slowly dawns on us that we were designed for a great purpose, far outside of ourselves. And it is not just a purpose of function, but of being. We were designed for a relational purpose. We discover through the Bible that we were created for the praise of His glory…“to love God and enjoy him forever,” says the old Westminster Catechism.

Why? Because He first loved us.

The problem is that we don’t now see the whole story. It is hidden from us for a season, and for some exalted reason. Can we not imagine that if God took such great pains to design us in such detail, He has also calculated how suffering in the tender matters of the heart would ultimately benefit us?

Imagine ourselves shipwrecked—that we’ve come from somewhere and are going somewhere, but for now we finger lost treasures in the sand. Perhaps we have “fallen” from something?

The very existence of some good in the world—a kind gesture from a stranger, a beautiful sunset—gives rumor to the full-orbed story that we shall yet see in another realm, at another time. Now, then, is the season of trust. We must believe that God suffers with us, loves us deeply, and is in some mysterious way inculcating our sufferings into eternal benefit for us.

His purposes for us are greater than we can now imagine. This, then, is what we can be thankful for, through all conditions. The habitation of Thanksgiving can be our home; we can confidently park at that address, not only for today but for a lifetime.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Divorced against your will?  Having trouble with the last vestiges of forgiveness?

Saturday, 21. October 2017 by Renee Ellison

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After such trauma, it is good to eventually get to the point of acknowledging that “what is, IS.” Mustering the will to move on, both spiritually and practically, however fumblingly, is the road back to composure, and a gift to your children who are bearing their own grief without bearing yours as well.

So, how do we cross that final Rubicon of trying to forgive when we don’t feel it is justified? First, we acknowledge that what someone did to us and/or to someone we love, was destructive. The damage is irreversible (right up there with the fall of man); that’s a given. Fortunately, God has said that He will carry this burden for us. The Day of the Lord is coming AND with it, also the day of His vengeance (Jeremiah 46:10). The two will come together.

The scriptures tell us that “the way of the transgressor is hard”—and that is true both HERE and eventually. It is hard here because the transgressor will now suffer increased relational complications. And the offender will now have to cope with guilt—with God walking the secret staircase of their soul, penetrating their spirit, a spirit that may well haunt them during sleepless portions of their nights for the rest of their life, unless they turn and truly repent.

The Puritan saint Matthew Henry said, after he had been robbed, “I can be grateful that it was I who was robbed rather than I who robbed!” Now, THAT’s perspective!

In overcoming forgiveness obstacles, squaring oneself with the immaturity of the offending/ irresponsible spouse is immeasurably helpful. If the renegade spouse were handicapped in a wheelchair you’d see him/her crimped PHYSICAL condition. So now, picture him/her in that same condition mentally. He (or she) has been and IS equally handicapped in his/her spiritual state. He/she HAD to be, to have made such poor choices. Someday his/her remorse will be inconsolable (outside of Yeshua), when HE exposes him/her to himself/herself.

It is important to realize that there are different levels of spirituality in different people, and this has been true (a constant) through the centuries. There are such spiritual giants as the Apostle Paul, and the brothers John and Charles Wesley, and Matthew Henry, and Andrew Murray and George Mueller, and then on the other end of the continuum there are ordinary multitudes who live life for self-advantage and expediency and haven’t a thought cast in godly directions. What is, IS. People fall all along that spiritual maturity continuum.

So, squaring oneself with those who are spiritually lesser developed helps release our own angst. We can forgive them “for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). We can observe them, call a spade a spade in our own mind, and then realize that they did what they did because that is where they were in the line-up. It was no surprise to God. He Himself constantly lives in “what is, IS”, and adjusts His personal counselings and actions accordingly.

Much of life is a “respond-a-thon”—bringing His nature into the situation, whatever that requires. In the end, personally, the story is about US—what depths of further spirituality can we achieve, given what we’re given. God Himself has done such gymnastics within Himself. He is our forerunner and our enabler through all such vicissitudes and cross-patches. Go forward with your forgiveness and you’ll find yourself freed up.

~~For more on this topic, including working through the process of forgiveness, see “How to Relate with Love to a Controlling Person.”

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

What fasting IS—and why we might want to employ it now

Monday, 07. November 2016 by Renee Ellison

Prayer is a mystery. Why it is that offering prayer from weak humanoids is necessary to move an invincible God, who can do everything withOUT it, is THE mystery. But given God’s earnest command to do it, we can infer some things about it. What if God, for some very high reason, has limited Himself for a “season” to certain LEGAL restrictions upon himself in a wager with the devil—which He plays out in front of principalities and powers? If so, that would explain much.

The wager could have gone something like this: “If My believers don’t pray, you can mess with them, but if they do pray, I get to overrule you and get total access to them to act on their behalf.” Aha. So God may be looking for “legal access” to us via our fledgling prayers, regardless of our efforts at flowery language? He pleads with us, “Just PRAY! Please, just DO IT,” almost frantic to get through to us that it is NECESSARY to possibly release Him from His own contractual restrictions, to act? Prayer just may be part of an unbinding ceremony, on a stage: the more prayer, the more the celestial ropes fly off.

Kneeling in prayer raises the bar a bit more. Look at what we say when we bow. We are saying that we believe God even exists, otherwise we would be praying to…nothing? And that we are coming HERE, not to the local nightclub to get our needs met. All this is said by our body, before words ever cross our lips.

And then let us consider the possibility that fasting affects even more in the heavenlies, because now every cell in our body prays. Yes, assuredly, it does. Fasting lassos all the groans and sighs that words cannot express—embedding them also into our prayers, PLUS it gathers from the metaphysical world the unknown spiritual capacity of even our cells and DNA. For now, we present ourselves before the Almighty in our weakest possible state, humbled by hunger, our most powerful posture. In doing so, one finds that fasting is a further school of prayer. Once engaged in it, the Spirit leads us out into “praying-regions” we didn’t know existed. Fasting is the ultimate plea of the supplicant to the Redeemer.

Righteous physical self-denial results in concrete spiritual transactions. We see it even with Christ, the Redeemer. It was not enough for Him to THINK redemptive thoughts toward us; He had to come down and lay His physical body on the line to accomplish it definitively.

When we fast, each time our body insists “that it wants to eat NOW” it raises a question. Our “digestive anguish” clarifies issues for us. In Esther’s fast, the Jewish believers had to decide: “Do I really want to allow our nation/race to be exterminated, if by foregoing a bowl of rice, I can “stay” such an atrocity?” This was Esau’s question, too. “Trade my inheritance for a bowl of lentils? Sure.” Where AM I, morally, in desperate choices? Fasting asks this question not once, but 1,000 times a day. Am I merely a hopeless “indulge-a-thon,” willing to go down, veritably sink, in order to please myself temporarily? Or are righteous appetites somewhere on my plate?

Fasting shows that we are “all in” with a desperate request. Might now be such a time in history to employ it?

Regardless of the personalities involved, look at the wide difference in the platforms before us as a nation. Am I hoping that babies will be safe in all wombs, or am I willing to stand by and allow them to be ripped apart anytime, even 9 months into the game, via the edict of liberal Supreme Court judges? How important is it that I be able to educate my own children at home vs. sacrificing them to the high church of secular humanism required for 12 long years. Might now be such a time to employ fasting, NOW, while all religious liberties are at stake on the one hand and the reign of tyranny looms over the believer, on the other?

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Do you suffer, relationally?

Wednesday, 28. September 2016 by Renee Ellison

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Relational suffering is truly vicarious suffering—suffering due to someone else’s choices or behaviors. Why are the saints of the Lord not exempt from this kind of suffering; didn’t He already bear it?

There is a mystery here:

“I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body” (Colossians 1: 24).

Huh? What? His colossal work on the Cross did not complete the suffering needed in the universe? It wasn’t enough?


Yes, it was enough—for Him. But, no, apparently it wasn’t enough for us. The thing couldn’t be fully understood until those who are called by His name taste of it, too.

The Lord did the lion’s share of it, but He left his saints still to experience some personal, specific, additional suffering around the edges. He left some wheat to be garnered, after His own cosmic plowing and harvest. The purpose? That we might understand at a more visceral depth what it is He did for us. He purposed that we should share the experience of suffering in order to be ever more one with Him for eternity. It has been said that “love is what we’ve been through together.” Rest assured that in all of His perplexing dispensations, the Lord is ever only after increased camaraderie with us—camaraderie in all its fullness. He is the consummate lover. He knows how to do this thing called love.

Vicarious suffering also extends the Savior’s suffering through His saints to the world—even after He returned to heaven. There is bleeding still. We bear in our bodies the dying of the Lord Jesus. So, homeschool mother, wife, let us be patient and let us trust. Let us yield to His sure hand. His work is ever deep and infinite, both upon us and through us.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Divorce for selfish reasons

Thursday, 28. July 2016 by Renee Ellison

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Love is most fully defined/expressed when it gives the beloved the freedom to even not reciprocate, yet continues to love afresh and lavishly in the private set of the soul. That is the kind of love Christ modeled for us. He gives us enough rope to hang ourselves—and He never jerks on the cord. The marvel of the story of the prodigal son in the Gospels is that after the father has given the son everything, the father waits. He waits for the son’s own thirst to develop. He says nothing; he sends no messages; he doesn’t shed his own flashlight upon the path. The son himself rises up—in the counsels of his own heart. And when the son loves, the father then can do no wrong (in the son’s view of things).

A spouse who drops his marriage for selfish reasons vainly imagines that he dances with high thought, when actually he is staggering through low delusion. What such a person doesn’t reckon with is that while he lives in a fantasy reality, the actual reality doesn’t go away. Real reality sits there in his world like concrete, and he will repeatedly turn and stub his toe upon it. Until and unless he bends, he banks on there being no relational fallout as a consequence of any of his actions or his thought life. He counts on still receiving the same kind of affection from his children (in the world of reality), the honor of his parents, etc. He will be the last to know that real esteem for him has gone south.

What such a person doesn’t see is that he has exchanged private personal integrity for the hollow praise of an eventually fickle public. Instead of a quest for personal identity, he will wake up to relational failure. He simply has no idea what relational “work” is all about. Rather, he wants to skim relationships—like skipping rocks. Doing so, he will discover that he will do that even with new relationships. He doesn’t know it in the early phases of this dissolution of his key relationships, but he has embarked upon a sea of ever-shifting relational expectations with everyone he interfaces with (both old and new) from there on out. He will thenceforth encounter no satisfactory relationships anywhere. Oddly, he desperately wants the other person to have enduring relational character (most especially, his children in their regard for him) while he possesses none toward them. He will restlessly dump new “better” relationships as easily as he dumped the old ones. Such a person has thus entered a cauldron of relational dissatisfaction.

A spouse who willfully spurns his marital commitment is like a young child trying desperately to cram a square block into a round hole. Outside of the Lord he is doomed to furtively dart from one fantasy to another—and they will never deliver what he hopes for.

What is the lesson? Life is all about expectations. “If you expect it to be a five-star hotel it is awful, but if you were only expecting a reformatory it isn’t half bad” (loosely paraphrased from C. S. Lewis).
Life is fixed and designed, not for temporary and fleeting assorted happinesses but for sanctification—for us to grow in love of God and in trust in His big plan through it all.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

The key to marital bliss: KNOW your spouse

Thursday, 09. June 2016 by Renee Ellison

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Marriage is an adventure in adjustment.

Loosely paraphrased, C. S. Lewis profoundly commented about life (not just marriage) with something on the order of: “the chance to live life well is all about expectations; if you are anticipating life to be a 5-star-hotel you’ll be disappointed, but if you thought, on the other hand, that life was going to be a reformatory, it isn’t half bad!”

The same is true of marriage. If you think you are going to ride off into the sunset in the arms of more of “me” then you’ll soon falter on your ride. If, on the other hand, you think you’ll need to “learn” your spouse in depth and then grow in your ability to adapt to him/her, the potential for your ride into the sunset will be sure-footed, long and surprisingly fulfilling.

Remember that the person you marry, no matter what kind of a saint, or Who’s Who he or she is, comes with 200,000 hours of pre-programming that is quantumly different from your own, and was, in fact, hardwired with a given personality, desires and habits that are just as entrenched as your own. It is a great adventure, which yields personal growth in direct proportion to what you put into it—just like with all things that are “hard won”.

1 Peter 3:7 in the KJV version says: “Husbands, dwell with your wife according to knowledge” (of her specifically; the inference here is that every wife is different, so work at gaining a knowledge of how YOURS is! ) The spiritual inference is that the wife will need to gain knowledge of how her husband “works”, “clicks”, “IS”, as well. This dynamic, is, in fact, true for every relationship, that we must learn one another—and love accordingly.

To listen to more on this topic, listen to today’s 2-part broadcast with author Dr. Gary Chapman on Focus on the Family.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

A mere man makes a poor god

Tuesday, 10. May 2016 by Renee Ellison

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[Some of what we teach—and learn—in homeschooling is a lifetime lesson. This is one of them—perhaps the most important that we can start to teach our children when they are still growing into manhood and womanhood:]

To figure out the grand mystery of life there are only two starting points. One must either defer to an external and eternal God or throw out the one true God and make a god, internally, of oneself. Descarte’s statement “I think therefore I AM,” showed that he preferred himself as a god. And many have followed him, plunging themselves into an insupportable dichotomy, as we shall see.

If one chooses to throw out the external God, replacing Him with oneself, instead of emerging emancipated from all responsibility, as he had anticipated, he now is immediately faced with the heavy burden of re-writing origins and realities. Everything is up for grabs. All boundaries slush around; all realities must be dredged up from the face of the deep. For such a man, the earth is again “without form and void.” Re-writes become his new raison d’etre—and eventually his prison.

Am I a man or a woman? Am I black or white—merely by my own assertions? Are laws, laws? or suggestions? or are they just obstacles in my way? Can I only be married to one person? Seriously? I’ll have them all, even if they fight and scratch each other. Do words mean what they have meant historically or are they malleable in the eyes of the beholder, meaning whatever I want them to mean, in this case, and something different in the next case—according to my own advantage? Such a person’s swim is a deep dive into an abyss. Assuredly, he will face rapids and whirlpools.

The descent into his overwhelming burden does not stop there. A man will be faced with rewriting reality, not only allegedly to somehow make sense of things to himself, but also to authenticate an indulgence or two (his own, ever shifting and ever more) or to assuage a guilt (a mincing deviance from the old order, which lingers with him still, and then a larger one here and there—as he gets pulled further and further from his actual roots).

Bewilderingly, he soon finds that his re-written realities—oops, grown at cross purposes—have implications that he hadn’t anticipated, can’t reconcile and won’t work in the real world that he was born into. His new world will eventually surround him with insanity; it is bound to run amuck.

Even then, his burden doesn’t stop. He will now chase around after an exploration of his own angst for the rest of his life. Without absolute answers, absolute realities, life has become an exploration of personal angst. That is the “heroic” new narrative. It is, however, only another tale of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”—claiming to be the ultimate reason for life, for winning a place on the bestsellers page, putting pen to paper in a new sophistication—it is nothing. “I’m contorted; where do I run?”

This new modern perspective, “I am because I am,” flatters the individual into thinking his struggle is uniquethink our struggle is unique, unusual, individual, highly intellectual—aristocratic—needs my own solutions to relieve my own pain—needs new discourse. But as in the case of a man torn in the dilemma of choosing between his career and raising his own children—if someone were to wake him up, he embarrassingly discovers it is every man’s dilemma and it is never an “either-or”. This “either/or” dichotomy is a trap—a mirage.

The answer is to put God back into His story and then go humbly ahead with Him as one’s escort into all human dilemmas (of which the dilemma before him now, that seems insurmountable, and is all consuming, is merely the beginning). God designed life with its apparent dilemmas, a myriad of them. And the Almighty has a passage through them. But God will be God, first. A mere man will eventually discover that he makes a poor god—by his own self-made contortions.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Are God’s ways narrow but our culture’s ways broad?

Friday, 06. May 2016 by Renee Ellison

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Strange as it is to our natural mind, when studying the holy scriptures we begin to notice that God not only provided redemption for His people, He also apparently designed a rhythm and a lifestyle for us.

Upon close examination of the scriptures, we uncover that God designed the year to hang upon an agricultural calendar. He invited His people into periodic stoppings and musings, rejoicings and feastings. He also arranged for and intended that His followers would look UP at least once every month (and not just at one phase in history but for all time) to remember the miraculous hanging of the moon (see Isaiah 66:22-23). Viewing the moon, the closest object in the firmament, is a representative glance into the heavens. Why? Because by remembering the cycle of agriculture (that the Almighty brings forth life from the earth—yes, from mere dead dirt—and hangs celestial heavens above us; we look down AND up) we find ourselves worshiping.

Such a design for our year’s celebrations! He keeps us “on the press” of cultivating an expanding awe. By continually “looking”, throughout the year, we discover that there is a depth of mystery embedded in what we are encouraged to look at. From mere agricultural glances we are led eventually to the profundity that “the earth will [also] give birth to her dead!” (Isaiah 26:19). Aha! Our experience of agriculture is an object lesson, a look at a precursor and microcosm of what happens to redeemed humans! They get resurrected, after a perplexing and long time of itching and churning in the dark, dank earth. Further, by contemplating the moon we gradually come to realize that we ourselves will live with a “limitless Him” in a large universe—will inherit the firmament AND the earth—will traverse there, and here, in another realm that is beyond time.

Without such frequent reminders to partake of earthly and heavenly gazes, we descend into a narrow materialism. Make no mistake, the pagan who kicks God out of His story does not sit in neutral. The vacuum is quickly filled with trivia. He (in partnership with Hallmark cards), immediately and hastily designs another kind of year, a materialistic counterfeit year, to absorb us. We leap from Halloween to Groundhog Day, soon followed by Valentine’s Day and President’s Day, and then to an Easter Bunny Easter, while also filling our calendars with competing and exhausting birthday rituals, concluding each “year” with a tinseled, frenetic and vain Christmas, to ...etc… We exchange looking downward and upward at the miraculous, for looking inward at an “endless shallow me-ism.”

The seven Biblical feast days (initially spoken of in Leviticus 23, but seen continually throughout scripture) perhaps come for a reason, from “the Lord Almighty, whose plan is wonderful… whose wisdom is magnificent!” (Isaiah 28:29).

[To read about the Biblical holidays, download our free e-book: Jewish [Biblical] Holidays Made Simple.]

Filed Under: Spiritual tips