Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rosh Hashanah and Teshuvah

Rosh Hashanah 

Rosh Hashanah (in Hebrew)

Significance: New Year
Observances: Sounding the shofar (ram's horn trumpet)
Length: 2 Days (Some: 1 Day)
Customs: Dipping apples in honey; Casting off "sins" into a river

Greeting: L'shanah tovah! (For a good year!)

...In the seventh month, on the first of the month, there shall be a sabbath for you, a remembrance with shofar blasts, a holy convocation. -Leviticus 16:24
Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of Tishri. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, "head of the year" or "first of the year." Rosh Hashanah is commonly known as the Jewish New Year. 

Ingathering 2009 at Rose Creek Village
We celebrate a new beginning of our spiritual year as well. We call it Ingathering. There are significant similarities with our Ingathering celebration and Rosh Hashanah. Just like Americans start their New Year with celebration we celebrate also. Ours is not a celebration of party's, noise makers and football but we do celebrate the spiritual aspect of a new year with physical representations like the Jewish festival of Rosh Hashanah.

NOTE: Rose Creek Village is not a Jewish community or a representation of a Jewish religious following. We may see that God has given us a heart for celebration and remembrance of His wonderful life in ways that the Jewish nation celebrated but we are not holding to any and all of the traditions represented here or otherwise. We believe that the Spirit of God can use many things to bring us closer to Him in our pursuit of living this life, together, in Christ.

Tishri 1 (Rosh Hashanah) is the new year for years (when there is an increase in the year number. Sabbatical and Jubilee years begin at this time). The similarity between the Jewish New Year and the American one is that many Americans use the New Year as a time to plan a better life, making "resolutions." Likewise, the Jewish New Year is a time to begin introspection, looking back at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the new year. You can read more on this concept can be seen below or at Days of Awe.

At Ingathering we take time to reconcile ourselves to God in many different ways. On the first night of Ingathering, we assemble ourselves before a fire and cast those things that are actual or representative of sin or sinful ways, that God has revealed to us, into the fire. We desire to rid ourselves of anything that would keep us from experiencing Gods life and walking in honesty and clarity before God and one another. It is a time of releasing and turning away from sin. The fire represents the burning away and cleansing that comes from God. His fire removes the effect of that sin in those things that we repent of. God is also an all consuming fire who burns away everything that is not of Him.


Shabbat Shuvah literally means "Sabbath of Return," but it is also a play on the phrase "Shabbat Teshuvah" (Sabbath of Repentance). It is the Shabbat that occurs betweenRosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and is a time for reflection leading up to the atonement of Yom Kippur. Shabbat Shuvah has two special haftarah readings, one dealing with the importance of heartfelt repentance (Hosea 14:2-10) and one praising the Creator's mercy (Micah 7:18-20). [See verses at the bottom of this post for reference]

Among the customs of this time, it is common to seek reconciliation with people you may have wronged during the course of the year. The Talmud maintains that Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and God. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible.

The month before Ingathering seems to naturally follow the reconciliation period of Yom Kippur for us. It is a time of looking at our lives and reconciling them to God and one another. Those who have offenses with each other take steps to be reconciled and find forgiveness from God and each other. This is especially important as we celebrate the Lord's Table on Friday night and we want to be clear with each other and God before we do this. Following this we will be spending time together at our "Love Feast" which is a sweet time of fellowship and breaking bread together.

A popular observance during the Jewish holiday is eating apples dipped in honey, a symbol of a wish for a sweet new year. Bread in honey (instead of the usual practice of sprinkling salt on it) at this time of year is done for the same reason.

Tara's Baptism 2009
Each year on the day after our "Love Feast" we take time to baptize those who are wanting to enter into Christ and His Body here with us. It is a time of covenanting our lives together as the Body of Christ with those who are interested in being joined to this local body of believers. We gather together and celebrate our new lives in Christ and renew the tie that binds us together as the family of God. 

Another popular practice of the Jewish holiday is Tashlikh ("casting off"). A walk to flowing water, such as a creek or river, on the afternoon of the first day and emptying  pockets into the river, symbolically shows a casting off our sins. Small pieces of bread are commonly put in the pocket to cast off. 

The casting off of sin, baptism, forgiveness and reconciliation are all elements of our Ingathering each year. It is a very effective way of remembering why we are here together and choosing to live this life we live in Christ. 

Days of Awe
The ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur are commonly known as the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim) or the Days of Repentance. This is a time for serious introspection, a time to consider the sins of the previous year and repent before Yom Kippur.

One of the ongoing themes of the Jewish Days of Awe is the concept that God has "books" that he writes our names in, writing down who will live and who will die, who will have a good life and who will have a bad life, for the next year. These books are written in on Rosh Hashanah, but our actions during the Days of Awe can alter God's decree. The actions that change the decree are "teshuvah, tefilah and tzedakah," repentance, prayer, good deeds (usually, charity). These "books" are sealed on Yom Kippur. This concept of writing in books is the source of the common greeting during this time is "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."

Chamley Family Ingathering
We don't follow or hold to this tradition or belief but we do recognize that God does know what we do and remembers when there is no repentance or forgiveness. It's important that we understand and know that there is a day when all we have done in this life will come under review for judgement. The Book of Life is a real thing and we want to be remembered in it. We want our names to be found written in it for life everlasting with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The Sabbath that occurs in this period is known as Shabbat Shuvah (the Sabbath of Return). This is considered a rather important Sabbath. Reference the Jewish Virtual Library. This Sabbath of return reminds me that there is a day when Christ will return to earth and begin a new reign on earth. There is an expectancy of meeting the Lord at Ingathering time here. Not we come to be blessed by Him but that we come to remember and bless Him for all He has done for us this past year. Also to honor and worship Him for He is worthy of all our worship and praise.

The name "Rosh Hashanah" is not used in the Bible to discuss this particular Jewish holiday. The Bible refers to the holiday as Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar). The holiday is instituted in Leviticus 23:24-25. We use shofar's to announce the beginning of our Ingathering. We also announce events with the blowing of the shofar during the Ingathering.

Shofar: Click to hear it blow!The shofar is a ram's horn which is blown somewhat like a trumpet. One of the most important observances of this holiday is hearing the sounding of the shofar. There are four different types of shofar notes: tekiah, a 3 second sustained note; shevarim, three 1-second notes rising in tone, teruah, a series of short, staccato notes extending over a period of about 3 seconds; and tekiah gedolah (literally, "big tekiah"), the final blast in a set, which lasts (I think) 10 seconds minimum. Click the shofar above to hear an approximation of the sound of Tekiah Shevarim-Teruah Tekiah. 

The Bible gives no specific reason for this practice. One that has been suggested is that the shofar's sound is a call to repentance. We use the shofar to announce the beginning of our Ingathering and a call to repentance also. We proceed in a large processional to the gathering place where we cast our sinful elements into the fire as a repentance from those things and ways.

Several men own shofars and can actually blow them with quite beautiful resonance. The sound is awesome and a bit eerie as the resound throughout the village on Friday night. There is an excitement in the air as they announce the time of our gathering together.

Ingathering 2010
Well, I hope this gives you a little insight to what we do each year at this time. I'm not as familiar with this celebration as those who have been here longer than I, but I am as dedicated and plugged into the delightful presence of the Lord as any that are here. It is a blessing to be surrounded by those who love God and are walking in the life of Christ each day. No, we are not perfect, nor do we do everything perfectly, but we are together and we are walking with our Lord each day. 

We are a local assembly of believers that have chose to stay together as the body of Christ here at Rose Creek Village. I love that we can do this together. I love that we can celebrate the life of Christ each year like this also. I love how God meets us in all of our trials, fears, struggles, sadness's, separations, pruning, and losses in order to bring us freedom, love, joy, peace, unity, cleansing and salvation. May our God and Redeeming Lord Jesus Christ show you, as He shows us, a life filled with all the joy and love he has to give.


Leviticus 23:24-25

24 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. On the first day of the appointed month in early autumn,[a] you are to observe a day of complete rest. It will be an official day for holy assembly, a day commemorated with loud blasts of a trumpet. 25 You must do no ordinary work on that day. Instead, you are to present special gifts to the Lord.”

  1. Leviticus 23:24 Hebrew On the first day of the seventh month. This day in the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar occurred in September or October. This festival is celebrated today as Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.

Hosea 14:2-10

2 Bring your confessions, and return to the Lord.
      Say to him,
   “Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us,
      so that we may offer you our praises.
 3 Assyria cannot save us,
      nor can our warhorses.
   Never again will we say to the idols we have made,
      ‘You are our gods.’
   No, in you alone
      do the orphans find mercy.”

 4 The Lord says,
   “Then I will heal you of your faithlessness;
      my love will know no bounds,
      for my anger will be gone forever.
 5 I will be to Israel
      like a refreshing dew from heaven.
   Israel will blossom like the lily;
      it will send roots deep into the soil
      like the cedars in Lebanon.
 6 Its branches will spread out like beautiful olive trees,
      as fragrant as the cedars of Lebanon.
 7 My people will again live under my shade.
      They will flourish like grain and blossom like grapevines.
      They will be as fragrant as the wines of Lebanon.

 8 “O Israel,[a] stay away from idols!
      I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you.
   I am like a tree that is always green;
      all your fruit comes from me.”

 9 Let those who are wise understand these things.
      Let those with discernment listen carefully.
   The paths of the Lord are true and right,
      and righteous people live by walking in them.
      But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.

Micah 7:18-20
 18 Where is another God like you,
      who pardons the guilt of the remnant,
      overlooking the sins of his special people?
   You will not stay angry with your people forever,
      because you delight in showing unfailing love.
 19 Once again you will have compassion on us.
      You will trample our sins under your feet
      and throw them into the depths of the ocean!
 20 You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love
      as you promised to our ancestors Abraham and Jacob long ago.

Friday, September 23, 2011


I've been told by reliable sources that it takes two weeks for the re-entry process to be completed after being gone overseas on a mission trip. I am into this process about half way and I will concur that this is a true statement. It is a most disorienting feeling. Sort of like being spun around on a merry-go-round and then quickly getting off and trying to walk a straight line. There are a lot of falling down sessions until you get your footing and start waling a straight line.
Tara and I at the Crater Rim
The first obstacle that I had to overcome was the waking up at 3:00am in the morning and not being able to go back to sleep. This happened after traveling to Africa as well. Seems the re-entry process is also a reversal of the entry process first begun 8 weeks ago. The waking up portion of this event has progressively lessened and I now am able to get a full nights sleep from 11:00pm till 6:00am. This is a constant variable for me at any rate. I am not one who sleeps a solid 8 hours at any time. A normal nights sleep for me is between 5 and 6 hours.

The second obstacle was and still is to some extent, going to work. I literally have no motivation for going into the office and working. It is not that I don't want to eat (there is some bit of reservation there due to lingering health difficulties) but just that my habit has not been getting up and going to work. So, I find myself wandering into work about 8:30 - 9:00am with no sense of direction and disoriented with thoughts of "Where am I again?". It's getting a little better but I am working on the timing and motivational issues more each day.
George's Bathroom

Thirdly, I am facing the obstacle of lingering health issues. (I mentioned that in the previous paragraph.) I have thought about writing a blog on Hemorrhoids and facing all the life choices of living with or without the conditions which become a permanent part of your discomfort. I'm just not sure if I can tactfully write about it without offending someone and embarrassing myself in the process. See? There is what happens when I try to write something that does not have anything relative to my condition. I may have to employ the assistance of someone a bit more tactful than I to do that with me. Any volunteers?

My last big challenge for re-entry has been finding what God wants me to do here, now that I am back in the village. I'm looking to start computer lessons for the kids here and wanting to be more involved in some of the industries we have on the land. I'm looking to see where God would have me and what he will allow me to do. Meantime, I'm working part-time for the building company and listening to what God has to say about all that.

Us in the Hotel Parking lot
I've taken up a course for Bible study currently. I need to review a lot of things that I've been seeing in my life and feel God has a lot to say to me. I'm a definite piece of work that needs a lot of shaping and refining. I'm OK with that but I don't want to become complacent in my re-entry process and miss what God has for me. Ingathering is at hand also and there is so much more that God can show me about who I am in this body of believers as well. I love it here. I love Kenya, too. I'm just one happy camper trying to get my feet back on the ground and walk a straight line again.

Pray for me, if you will. Especially for physical healing. Could it be that all I need is already there and I just need to meet it face to face? Could be. Probably is. All I know at this point is that I need to get through this re-entry.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Week Seven in Nakuru

The last week in this beautiful country has been a different experience than all the rest of the time I have been here. Mostly because I have been fighting a series of unfortunate events. Those events should not shadow the rest of what we have been up to but they definitely cast a shadow on my last week here.

The pastors conference was on Thursday and it was a great turn out as well as a great time of seeing and hearing pastors from around Nakuru, soak up God's words as Noah shared his heart about what and how God wants us to minister the Word of God. Their eyes were opened to many new thoughts about who God is and how to care for those He has entrusted to them. At the end of the day, every person there had a chance to share their heart about what they had learned that day and the previous Wednesdays we had met. Every one of them was excited to begin a fresh walk with God. They have committed to working together for accountability and encouragement for one another. What an awesome experience it has been for us as well!

Last weekend before last I was able to share what God put in my heart for my our friends and family here. Noah was visiting another church of one of the pastors we had been meeting with on Wednesdays. (Pastor Ben) It was  the day before that I fell victim to the dreaded cold which lasted most of this past week. With a medicated body and heart full of love for our Nakuru family, I shared my heart. I heard it was good but I just know that I felt hindered by the cold and cough I was trying to deal with at the time. Noah had several standing ovations and I think they would have kept him there had they the opportunity to do so.

This week was a week spent mostly in bed and recuperation for me. I did manage to make it through the important days with medication. The most painful part of all that was the stomach bug I caught. Very painful cramping and then driving for several days. The driving has stopped but it left me with very painful hemroids, which I am in serious contemplation over seeing we will be sitting for HOURS during our trip back. Pray for me that this trip will be memorable and eventful in a good way. Thank you Shammah for being an example of faith through times of difficulties similar in region. No pictures are available for this paragraph.

I feel like I have not been able to complete some of the things I would have liked to finish this past week. Mostly in reference to assisting George and Nellie with financial scheduling and starting his website. I know that we can do that on-line though so I am not overwrought with concern. Also the computer students only got minimal time and I so wanted to finish our coursework with them. They are very special to me in more than just a "nerdy" way. They are so excited to learn something new. There is a freshness there that you don't often see.

So once again, "Our bags are packed. We're ready to go."

We leave in a couple hours for Nairobi and will spend the day doing some shopping for gifts and saying our goodbyes to George. Our plane leaves at 2:50AM in the morning and we get to hopefully sleep for 6 hours before arriving in Istanbul, Turkey. Then we have a 12 hour flight to the US (Chicago) after a 2 hour layover in Istanbul. We have our seats close together coming on both those flights so hopefully we can talk and reminisce about our time here and all the great things that are to happen at Ingathering.

This has been a great trip for me. One that I am hoping to do again soon.

We will be seeing you all real soon now. Can't wait to see my boys and friends back home.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Week Six in Nakuru

Time is coming to a close now. We have two weeks left here and there just seems to be more we want to do than there is time to do it. I’m hoping that is a good sign. A sign that God is blessing what is going on and we are going to have fruit from the labor all of us are putting into this work of God.

This work we do here is not just those who have traveled to Nakuru but all those who are in support of the work that goes on here. Like prayer sent up from all those who are prayer workers and those who are given a burden for Nakuru here and there. Money that has been and continues to be given to cause the supplies needed for the church and other needs that are a part of the church. The grain distribution, Kingdom Hikers, and many other important things that are needed here are more of those needs. The friends, brothers and sisters, who take up the tasks that we have left behind for work, planning, and caring for those we love. There are numerous others who are unseen and unheard that contribute to the caring and well-being of the saints here in Nakuru. Thank you for loving this people and this work.

Tired travelers at George's Parents
The old house that George built.
We were able to visit George’s parents on Monday and after a long and grueling ride through the everlasting diversion we made it there safely. The land is beautiful and the people are more beautiful. For a full version with details and comments, please see Tara’s Blog.

We are continuing to move forward on the computer training and getting websites and blogs set up for the church and the Kingdom Hikers here. Our goal is to hand over the responsibility and care of these two sites, with blogs and email, to a group of young men and ladies for updating and writing about the things that are going on here. Be watching as they fill out their sites and blogs. Click Here for the “Amazing Life Fellowship” church blog and Click Here for the “Kingdom Hikers” blog. You can email the church or Kingdom Hikers at and respectively.

The church here is growing spiritually and learning how to be one with one another. They are learning how to discern between the traditions of men and the commandments of God. They are learning how to become the disciples of Christ and lay down their lives for Him. They are learning what it means to really see each other and care for one another. All these things are taking root in their hearts and beginning to grow, changing them into the character of Christ Jesus.

As well the local pastors of Nakuru churches are growing in the character of Christ also. Abba has been teaching about the principles of being a disciple and the pitfalls of human, cultural traditions, filled with emotionalism and unscriptural ways being used to draw and hold people instead of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God. They love everything they are hearing. Our last meeting with them will be a small (the term small may not be accurate) conference for the pastors, held in one of the local hotels. We will be there all day and Abba will be teaching on “Ministering the Word of the Lord”. They are ecstatic!

Our days continue to be filled with meetings, occasional outings, and training. The ladies are constantly on the go for food, household needs, supplies for people and events, cleaning, blogging and taking care of the men. Be sure to ask for a double blessing for them and an abundance of grace for their daily tasks. They are great and the men couldn’t do this without them.

Next Monday we are taking a little time off and going on Safari. George has promised a great day of chasing rhinos, baboons and lions. Well, maybe not chasing but running from is more accurate. We are looking forward to the break and being able to relax and see some of his Africa while we are here. Tara got a Safari hat so she is ready to go. The rest of next week will be visiting homes, training and the other daily things we are doing here. This coming Sunday Abba will be sharing at another church and I will be sharing at Amazing Life Fellowship. Pray for us that we will deliver just what God wants said and in His power and not our own.

We can’t wait to see you all soon. Less than two weeks now. We are excited about Ingathering. This is such an awesome life we have been giving to live. Thank you Lord!