An Ideal World for those who are Community Minded
By: Beloved Bondservant
A Tale of Two Kingdoms
By: Beloved Bondservant
This month we are full swing into the Spring Feast patiently anticipating what would be the climax of them all. While the world is on the edge of their seats with concern over the shaking of the Middle East and riddled with paranoia as we await more news of terrorism and what is being labeled as “acts of terror” performed by those with “mental disorders” in the U.S. Democrats and Republicans polarized attitude has policy making in a complete gridlock and the world economy continues in limbo. It would appear everyone in the world is waiting on something to happen whether that something is peace or destruction. However, for those who know their Elohim they are doing what He said to do during this time. Not in the slightest moved by the events that they see but rather recognizing the importance of taking advantage of this time to pull those who are on the path to destruction out of the fire and into the ark of safety. I am reminded of the opening of a very popular book that reveals the duality precisely that we find ourselves in, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”.1 This phrase would be my inspiration for a title this month because that is what is at stake. The kingdom of darkness versus the kingdom of light. There is a war being waged against the children of the Most High and the enemy is shrewd yet those who know their God shall do exploits even in the midst of the confusion. Make no mistake we cannot afford to be distracted by side issues in this hour, but rather we must choose a side.
As relationships on all levels are being challenged by the word of God we are all being pulled to one side or the other. We are being required to put our money where our mouth is. The world is watching to see if our actions will emulate our words or if we will compromise on issues that the scripture is firm on. While scripture makes it clear that we see darkly as through a glass, now I know in part, but there is coming a time when I will see face to face and will know as I am known.2 But for now we are not judged by that which we can’t know, but rather by that which has been made known. We are told to obey God not according to our understanding why He said to, but because He said to.
Make no mistake there are two kingdoms at work in the world today, and either you are in the kingdom of darkness or the kingdom of light. Scripture makes it very clear what the distinction is between the two and each individual will make a choice as to which kingdom they will ultimately be apart of. There is no middle ground we must choose.
Paul, a bondservant of Yahoshua (Jesus) called an Apostle warns us that we ought not to put any confidence in the flesh.3 The world tells us the order in which we should prioritize our lives is mind, body, and spirit, which elevates mankind’s intellect and his flesh above his spirit. The word of God tells us that He sanctifies our whole spirit, and soul, and body, which emphasizes putting the spirit first.4 We are admonished to both walk in the spirit and live in the spirit so that we do not fulfill the lust of the flesh.5 The world system says we ought to do what feels good to us because it’s the fittest who survives. Yet, Yah instructed us through the Apostle Paul to offer ourselves as living sacrifices unto YHWH and to not be conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of our minds for the purpose of proving what is His good, acceptable, and perfect will.6 Revealing that life isn’t about me and what I can get out of it, but that I was created with purpose and my life should be about fulfilling that purpose to wit I was created.
We are called to put off the old manner of man that we were and to become new creatures in Christ.7 In every decision we make to align ourselves with Christ and the kingdom he preached we find ourselves stepping out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. However, we mustn’t get frustrated or ahead of ourselves, this transition is a process based on consistently making right choices, not an overnight transformation. Simultaneously as we enter into his light darkness is removed. We naturally see this if we understand the principle of how darkness works. Darkness doesn’t go away, its light that penetrates darkness and thus darkness is the absence of light as ignorance is the absence of knowledge. However, this knowledge mustn’t only be heard with the natural ear, but most importantly applied to the heart in order to be of any profit. Just as we in the natural have the ability to remove darkness from our mist by simply pulling a switch, we too have the ability to pull the switch on ignorance by allowing His word which is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path to take us from where we are to where we need to go.9
These words of Paul echo the instructions our Messiah gave us before he left this earthly tabernacle to once again join His Father in His immortal body. Yahoshua showed us how His kingdom operated and how different it was from that of the world. It was so clear that Paul was able to share this knowledge in his letter to the Philippians by stating that Christ made himself of no reputation and took upon himself the form of a servant.10 Begging the question in our modern Christianity do our words and deeds reflect this truth? Are we doing those things that Messiah said not to, and neglecting those things he said to do?
How many of us live and take refuge in the titles people give to us? When have you heard or said of yourself as the Apostle Paul does in his epistles that you are a bondservant of Messiah, acknowledging what others call you rather then pointing it out or placing it on your business card? How many servants of YHWH find themselves feeling disrespected when others don’t associate them with their title? The very thing Messiah said ought not to be in His kingdom. He revealed those who do such things as things that Gentiles do, but makes it clear that it ought not to be so among us, but rather we are to consider ourselves brethren.11 The greatest in his kingdom is not the one who is served, but the one who serves others.12 He showed us by washing his disciples feet and he not only showed, but stated that, if he who they call master does this for them that they should do this for each other.13
This month as we continue to count the Omer these things have come together to help me understand some things about myself. I can be the very obstacle in the way of allowing the light to expose my ignorance. Even as a believer there are dark areas within us that we don’t want others to see. There are crevices, nooks, and crannies and in some instances entire rooms that are in utter disarray that we would prefer hide from the presence of God rather then allow him to correct some flaws in our thinking. By our ignorance we become a hindrance to the work God desires to do through us for others. We become the tree that bares fruit in which others don’t eat. The leaves on a plant absent of aroma because we allow our shadow to block his light and rather then becoming a catalyst for growth we become a diversion to it.
While we are called to be light, we mustn’t forget that He is the Source of the light we are called to be. We must not be satisfied with merely being in agreement with each other, but if we are to inherit the kingdom of Heaven we are called to be in and encouraged to bring others into agreement with the Creator. For this was the mission of the Light that came into the earth to restore us unto the Father. Division shall come for the word sake and scripture makes it clear, but peace only comes when we are walking in harmony with the Creator.14 We are neither the goal nor the destination but rather the sign that with our actions either are leading people to the Kingdom of Light or to the Kingdom of Darkness. Therefore if we are to be light we must ourselves walk in the light and if we are to be effective in completing the great commission to which we are called we must be sensitive to the Spirit of God in our delivery as well as in word. Woe unto us if our own pride prohibits others from seeing the truth of the Word of God.
Indeed there are two kingdoms that we are betwixt, but there is only one that will stand in the end. It is my prayer that those who are reading this article are operating in the Kingdom of Light and therefore dispelling the Kingdom of Darkness. If you are not I encourage you to know the Lord so you can walk in the light as He is in the light.14
1 A Tale of Two Cities; Charles John Huffam Dickens
2 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (1Co 13:12)
3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. (Php 3:3)
4 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
5Gal 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Gal 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
6 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
7Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
8NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
9 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
10And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
11And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
12Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
13And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. (Mat 19:29)
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. (Mar 13:13)
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
14But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
Read Your Labels
The Chicken Conspiracy
Deciphering the myriad of terminology applied to our meats are as mysterious as determining the difference between Grade A,B, and C oils with only one more concerning issue, we are more then likely going to consume more meat in a year then oil in a year making understanding the labels that much more important. The terminology is so confusing that the average consumer doesn’t have a true reference point to determine the difference, and it doesn’t help that other then the wording on the packaging one cannot tell the difference by looking between organic and what is labeled 100% natural. Even more confusing is the fact that the exact same company can have two different labels for the chicken causing more confusion and creating questions concerning integrity. If you are a health conscious individual that’s concerned with bringing home the highest quality food available to your table then you are paying the extra in hopes that the extra is maintaining the standard that they are presenting, but how can we truly know?
This month I decided to cover this topic when I came across an article concerning changing the laws governing the treatment of chickens being processed for meat purposes. As a result there are two aspects of this topic I would like to cover, distinguishing the labeling that we see on the chicken we purchase and looking at the differences between Halal and Kosher chicken as a viable alternative.
If you have ever entered a grocery store and checked out the section labeled poultry you would notice a variety of chicken options provided with large print indicating the following: “100% natural”, “No antibiotics added”, “Organic”, “Free Range” and if you are in specialty stores even “Kosher”, but what does that mean? Deceptive wording and an increase in cost would lead you to believe that one is definitely better then the other and surely the “certified USDA Organic” label sounds official enough, but when the rubber meets the road what is the difference? Is it even a large enough difference to warrant the increase in cost? While there are many factors that go into why you as an individual may consider the value of buying this meat to be important, understanding what you as a consumer are investing in is paramount to making a wise decision.
There are many factors that should be considered in determining why you purchase your meat. For those who cost is the most important priority then this article may seem of little value to you. However, I would persuade even that person to read because when health is a viable factor expense diminishes in its level of priority.
Is health a viable factor in determining which chicken to purchase? At the end of this article you will find a glossary of terms that will help you to know what it is you are buying. This information will help you to see the difference. However, many of us have different reasons for purchasing whatever we purchase. If environmental factors concern you then “Free Range”, “Cage Free”, and humanely treated poultry is going to be the “label” that best fits you. The truth of the matter is if you are purchasing as a consumer you are purchasing a product from a plant that you have not personally inspected, so you really have no sure way of knowing whether or not these labels are accurate. In fact currently there is a case against the popular “USDA Organic” brand Harvestland that is sold at Wal-mart for failing to provide humane conditions for their flock. Citation Those who are environmentally conscious were outraged, but if you have never done any research on the company yourself you would still be purchasing this product thinking you are doing your bid for creating a better environment for chickens.
Then you have those whose main concern is health. Harvestland’s treatment of their animals are of less concern to them than their processing, and feeding practices since these two factors directly affect the quality of the meat presenting a health issue for you as a consumer, by default those primarily concerned with health are going to also be concerned about how they are treated. The fact of the matter is with budget cuts and regulations that favor the producer more than the consumer there is little being done to enforce the laws or practices required, and without proper regulation you won’t know the flaws in these practices until you see the recalls that appear on the six o’clock news.
There is yet another factor that governs the purchase of chicken that takes in consideration the others mentioned, but prioritizes a moral obligation based on a Higher law of governance. This would be those who choose their meat based on religious purposes. The word of God has much to say about what animals are considered food, what practices should be done in the processing of animals, and what our attitude should be concerning that which we eat. The two prominent religiously protected meats are Jewish and Islamic. In the practices associated the meats that are allowed to be eaten are based on writings from either the Bible or Quran. Both are based on properly disposing of the blood of the animal and do so based on a religious conviction, but that is about where the similarities end. According to an Islamic website both Muslims and Jews pray over the animal that they are to slaughter. Citation However, a website from the Texas A & M Agrilife extension acknowledges that Islam prays over their meat but states that Kosher practices does not incorporate prayers. Citation On yet another website it is stated that Jews profess the name of God on the first and last animal that is slaughtered due to the belief that the name of God should not be wasted. Citation More then likely what is being labeled as a prayer over the animal in Kosher killing would be more or less a blessing over the animal. However, of the three I believe this last explanation for Kosher, is more consistent with the current and historical teachings of Orthodox Judaism because it coincides with the reasoning behind why the name of God (YHWH) in our bibles have been replaced with LORD.
As a Christian the factor that tends to keep us from understanding the importance of the two is that both religions have a respect for God, but a denial of the Son. The curious component of Kosher is that the Messiah that we serve is from the tribe of Judah, and share the same respect and belief in the same words of the bible. Yet the bible makes it clear without the son we do not have the father which creates somewhat of a conundrum as a believer because both deny the Son, believe in a Heavenly Father, that there is one God, and embrace a respect for even if not a complete obedience to His word.1 Jn 5:12
So with the knowledge of a faulty governing system that has minimal enforcement on the handling and inspection of the processing and care of poultry there seems to be no way a concerned citizen can become a good steward over the matter other then to cut out poultry from their diet or raise their own. As a Messianic believer the concern hinges on two factors, while the environmental responsibility for and the health benefits of, and biblically obedient practices of the treatment of chicken makes Kosher or Halel chicken a much healthier option there are obvious concerns of a higher value to take in consideration.
As a Messianic believer the issue for me concerning Halel and Kosher is somewhat difficult. I understand that in essence Islam biblically represent the ancestors of Ishmael which means they share the same father Abraham as those of Israel. In fact they would be biologically the big half brother of Isaac making them an uncle of Jacob. Realizing that the Father that Ishmael was taught of would have been the same one that Abraham respected, which would greatly explain why similarities between the two exist. It would also explain why Islam does not have a problem with the Bible, nor reject the existence of Yahoshua (Jesus) and even acknowledge him as a prophet, though they deny him as a deity.
On the other side of the equation we have the Jews who also reject the Messiah, they do not believe in the Quran, but have their own book called the Talmud which also would be guilty of adding to and taking away from the word of God with its rituals and practices that are put on the same level of scripture, who acknowledge the God of Abraham yet deny the deity of the Son, Yahoshua (Jesus). Hence, both as it relates to the issue of religion present some fundamental flaws. As it stands until it can be proven conclusively that the God of Islam is not the same one that was taught to Ishmael, I am subject to having no opinion concerning the lawful or unlawful eating of Halel foods. The only basis under which I could deny eating foods from them is on the basis of idolatry in which it has not been conclusively revealed that the One they address as Father is not the same as those of Judah or us as Christians. The misrepresenting or misunderstanding of the will of the Father in this issue cannot have bearing no more then it could have during the time that Christians were guilty of the same. Many Jews were killed under the guise of a belief that this was what the Father desired as a result of their belief that Jews were responsible for the death of Christ and therefore deserving of their mistreatment. If I use the disdain they have for each other or the addition of the Quran as a basis for refusal then I am forced to also look at Judah for its acts against Christians and its addition of the Talmud. While I do not seek out Halel foods I cannot label foods prayed over by Islam as prayers to another God until it is conclusively revealed that the God they are serving is not the God of Abraham.
Furthermore, unless I am willing to give up meat, find a Hebrew Congregation that believes in the Messiah who sell their own biblically fit and properly killed chicken, or raise my own chickens and kill and eat them myself the issue is as simple as this for me. If I am going to eat chicken and I have to choose between that which has no respect for God at all, (evolutionary in its thinking) which underlies our current educational system or eat meat that at least honors even if it adds to the Biblical requirement as my option then my first choice would be Kosher over all the other labels mentioned and presented. My basis is this, a practice that rejects a respect for God and the laws of God is closer to idolatry then one that attempts to honor God, but falls short of perfection. My conviction is this Paul (Shaul) who was the Apostle to the Gentiles that was sent to the land where the Gentiles were, understood that we who are scattered would be subject to situations that are not ideal. His wisdom concerning food (which it is clear that Paul being a Benjamite would have eaten only those foods that God identified as food in the beginning) that was offered up to idols was only an issue as it related to fellowship, and the basis for that was love. Because in context if you were to eat something that was told to you was offered up to an idol it would be looked at by others who may be weak in their faith as you endorsing whatever that religion was. Hence, Shaul makes it clear in 1 Cor. 10:19 that an idol is nothing. The issue was where you ate it, and the focus was because of whom would see it. Therefore, although I recognize biologically muslims are descendents of Ishmael, the fact of the matter is Hebrew or not they reject the Messiah of Israel, and their lack of belief in the Messiah if I were to eat at their table in the presence of a brother who was weaker in his faith could present a problem, because their lack of understanding could cause them to be led away from Christ. But please understand that today many Christians are turning to Judaism and are renouncing a belief in Yahoshua over the same issue.
For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? (1Co 8:10-11)
Neither of these passages apply to me as a consumer purchasing a package of chicken from the grocery store to feed my family. However, as a steward responsible for providing a healthy meal for my family as the cook it is my responsibility to ensure that I am providing the best quality food I can. At this time the best quality food I know of is that which comes from Kosher certification, from personal experience and research and it is because of that only is it my first choice to purchase.
I present the information above and below not to influence or endorse any particular type of chicken for you to purchase, but so that you can understand why it is important as a consumer for you to know why you are doing what you do. What is the purpose behind what you buy?
I also present the information that I do so that you can have all the information available to make a sound decision with your eyes wide open. What you decide to bring home to your family should be your choice, but everyone has the right to know what the choices are. I purposely didn’t pick out or add my comments on the information provided through this article in an effort to present a less biased view of the issue at hand. There are too many people trying to sway you in one direction or another and most with their own personal motives behind them. This article is just to present the facts as I have researched them, evidence, and resources as I cannot recommend or endorse any particular company on the topic because practices and changes occur so rapidly in this industry that without unbiased third party inspectors which appear to not be available in this industry there is no conclusive way anyone can know for sure they are getting even what is being printed on the package.
Having said that you may be asking, then why pay extra? The only reason to politically purchase organic, or free range chicken is because whether or not the practices are on board or not, by our purchase as citizens we are voting. Every package of organic chicken purchased says that we do care about where our food comes from, how our chicken is treated, what our chickens eat, and how they are processed. As a believer by purchasing Kosher I say that plus I believe the Bible is the only means by which we can determine what food is and the fit and proper preparation of food. The distinction being Halel foods don’t stay true to the Biblical diet prescribed in the Old Testament, thus making it a weaker option between the two. For the sake of future generations, yes, paying a little more if I can afford it is better, especially if it means that it will make chicken producers take note that the citizens of the U.S. do care about the food that we eat.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture operates the National Organic Program to develop standards for organic agricultural production and implement them nationally. Citation
The Food Safety and Inspection Service evaluates and approves other types of poultry labeling, including the “free-range” label. Citation
Organic chicken must be fed only certified organic feed, which is grown without artificial fertilizers or pesticides, from the time they are two days old. They may not receive hormones or antibiotics at any time, though they may receive vaccinations to prevent common diseases. Though they may be kept inside temporarily for specific purposes like medical treatment or to protect the quality of soil or water, they must be given reasonable access to the outdoors.
Free Range Certification
In order to label chicken as free-range, producers must demonstrate through affidavits or testimonials that their poultry have free, continuous access to the outdoors for more than half of their lives. The free-range label is slightly controversial, since some producers insist that the label applies even if the birds do not actually go outdoors very much or at all — they merely need the option to go outside. Other producers think it should only apply if the birds make use of the outdoor area.
Research does show the meat from organic and grass-fed animals can be higher in healthy fatty acids, Havrila says. “The grain that they’re fed has other things in it, including antibiotics. The grain is manipulated and can have additives,” Citation
Cage-free: This sounds like it’s interchangeable with free range, but it only applies to egg-laying hens. They aren’t in a cage and have unlimited access to food and water. But they don’t necessarily get to go outside.
Free-range: This term only applies to poultry that will eventually end up on your dinner plate, not egg-laying hens or any other animals. It means the animal must be allowed to go outside. “There’s no regulated standard for how big that area needs to be or how long they get to be out there,” Havrila says.
Grass-fed: Only applies to ruminants such as cattle, sheep, goats and bison. The animal must have continuous access to a pasture during the growing season and can only be fed grass, forbs, legumes and cereal grains still in a pre-grain (vegetative) state.
According to USDA regulations, animals labeled “grass-fed” also cannot be confined to a pen or feed lot or given antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones.
Natural: Minimally processed and no artificial colors and flavorings. Without this label, beef may have color added so it will retain a redder, fresh appearance instead of turning brown at the store.
Naturally raised: Applies to livestock raised without added hormones and antibiotics.
No hormones added: This is the one that tripped me up. The U.S. Department of Agriculture prohibits the use of growth hormones in poultry, pigs raised for pork, veal calves and exotic meat such as bison. If a manufacturer wants to say, “No hormones added” on the packaging of these meats, it must include a disclaimer explaining this. But the disclaimer might be in easily-overlooked tiny print.
“It’s like when a vegan product says, ‘cholesterol free,’ when the only place cholesterol comes from is animals,” Havrila says. “I’ve seen people spend more money to buy poultry that says, ‘no hormones.’”
Organic: Can apply to any meat. The animals were not given antibiotics or hormones and their feed contained no synthetic herbicides or pesticides. The manufacturer must get organic certification from an independent agency.
“The meat will have natural hormones,” Havrila says. “Just like we have hormones in our body, animals do too.”
Pasture raised: Animal lived outdoors without confinement. Citation
MECHANICALLY SEPARATED POULTRY
is a paste-like and batter-like poultry product produced by forcing bones with attached edible tissue through a sieve or similar device under high pressure to separate bone from the edible tissue. Mechanically separated poultry has been used in poultry products since 1969. In 1995, a final rule on mechanically separated poultry said it would be used without restrictions. However, it must be labeled as “mechanically separated chicken or mechanically separated turkey” (depending on the kind of poultry used) in the ingredients statement. The final rule became effective November 4, 1996.