“Usha, what are those naked doll babies propped up at the front of the stage?” She nonchalantly said, “Those are our gods.” Well…, I was dumbfounded and all I could say was, “Oh,” and move on to mingle with some of the other guests in the gymnasium/auditorium that was converted into a wedding hall. Most of the people there were from India. The women were dazzling in brilliant colored saris and golden jewelry. I was attending the arranged marriage of Usha’s sister from India to a gentleman from a University in Virginia who had responded to an advertisement placed by Usha and her husband.
I was quite surprised that Usha was concerned about “gods” at all. We met more than a year earlier when she knocked on my door in Pittsburgh in the mid-seventies selling Avon products. I let her in. That began our friendship. She had been in the States for a while and knew a lot about our culture, so she exposed me to some of the things in her culture like Bollywood films and making flatbread over an open flame on a gas stove. We NEVER EVER talked about God or religion.
In the early nineties, Floyd and I attended a very elaborate wedding reception in a suburb of Detroit in a pine forest at an exclusive country club banquet hall. My co-worker, a Native American was marrying a Russian Jew. His mother took care of all the arrangements. I recognized some of the traditions from “Fiddler on the Roof!” They carried my co-worker around on a chair as the men danced and sang; and they even broke crystal glasses in the fireplace. To start off the 7 or 8 course, sit-down meal, they served Jumbo Shrimp in a large cocktail glass filled with cocktail sauce.
These were examples of what Arthur discussed about how religion is so steeped into the culture of a people that it is hard to separate one from the other. Even though my friends were secular and non-religious, they still included in their wedding ceremonies some religious traditions that were tied to their culture. This is the issue that Paul is dealing with in Romans 14.
Summary of the Teaching
If all Arthur had taught was the “Message before the Message,” I would have been fed spiritually. He gave us the remedy for the challenges that many of us are facing NOW. He said he has never before experienced this intensity of challenging times: personal, congregational, national, and global. This is not the time to give up or host a pity party that Yehovah never attends. This is the time to guard our hearts and minds from negativity coming from many sources.
Listen as Arthur emphatically exhorts us, when overwhelmed by any trial, to press forward in faith and stay in the battle.
When I thought that it couldn’t get much better, I realized that we had only been given an appetizer; then the main course was served!
In Romans Chapter 13, Paul gave us instructions on dealing with authorities. In Romans 14, we have instructions on how to deal with brothers who are weak in faith and/or weak in physical strength or sickness.
When reading any scripture, the context is very important to understanding how to apply the writings to our lives. The believers in Rome had a different mindset and lifestyle. They understood Torah and were keeping Sabbath and the Feasts. They knew the difference between clean and unclean and lived in obedience to those commands. We live in a country where none of our Presidents have ever held the people accountable to the Torah.
1900 to 2000 years ago, the Roman believers lived in societies where idol worship was blatant. We live in a society where the idols are camouflaged (e.g., statues in restaurants) and our idols are things we exalt above Yehovah (e.g., pride, cars, love of money).
Paul is discussing issues between eating meat and being a vegetarian; not clean and unclean. Paul is discussing the issues arising from living in close proximity to idol temples/worshipers and having former idol worshipers in their congregations; not whether to keep the Shabbat and Holy Days.
Arthur winnows down the essentials that Paul is conveying:
- Esteem others more than ourselves.
- Do not allow our freedom to cause a problem for someone else.
- The Torah never changes. “Clean” is still clean and “Unclean” is still unclean.
- Within the body, we are all servants of Elohim; it is not acceptable to condemn our sisters and brothers. We can disagree and still love each other.
- Our bodies are a living sacrifice to Yehovah. We should all want the best and purest food to put in our bodies/temples.
There were related “Messages within the Message.” Listen as Arthur shares an experience where he was mistakenly served pork.
You also do not want to miss Arthur strongly advising us to stop committing to things that we hate; stop committing to things that we like, but are not good for us; and start denying our flesh.
Buzz on the Teaching
There were so many different conversations where people were sharing and helping each other. Here are a few snippets.
Rebuking Harmful Spirits
Several of us were talking and a Brother Saint shared that he had witnessed so much of the arguing and fighting of two close friends that he began to hear voices to harm himself and others. He struggled to tell us that, so I immediately shared that I use to hear voices that told me to drive off bridges into the water when I lived in Michigan. I struggled against them and learned to ignore them. I told the group that I got one of those thoughts two weeks ago. I immediately rebuked it with the authority given me by Yehovah. There was a sigh of relief within the group knowing that we shared a common experience and there was a spiritual solution.
After hearing Arthur’s story of being served green beans with pork, Floyd and I had a discussion of our lives when we ate pork. Before 2006, we ate and cooked with pork. I kept a container on the stove to store bacon and sausage drippings. I believed that I was making the dish better by laying on the pork! This is why I don’t eat at relatives’ homes; they are not trying to do something against me, they believe that pork is alright to eat. So, it could be in anything they cook and on the utensils they use to stir food from pot to pot. Our families so believed in pork grease, that when it got on our hands, we rubbed the excess on our knees and elbows!
Calling from Yehovah
I spoke to a Brother Saint who is brainstorming an idea that Yehovah gave him to write a Blog in the native tongue of his people so that they can come out of Christianity and into the knowledge of truth. I was enthusiastic about his mission and encouraged him as he excitedly told me what he has been thinking.
There was much more!
What are some of the things that impressed you from this teaching? Leave me a comment below.
Until next time… Blessings to You and Yours,