Coming into the presence of YHVH Elohim…

Numbers 3:38, The the outsider who comes near.This verse teaches the principle of the fear and reverence of YHVH when approaching his divine Presence. Other scriptures that teach our need to be careful when approaching him include Psalms 15:1–5; 24:3–5 and Ecclesiastes 5:1–2 (see also Gen 28:16–17; Exod 3:5; Lev 10:3; Josh 5:15; Ps 89:7; Heb 12:28–29). 

As YHVH didn’t permit the Israelites to come near to him except through the intermediary of the Aaronic priests, similarly we can only come to our Father in heaven through the intermediary of Yeshua the Son of Elohim, and our Great High Priest (Heb 4:14), who is the spiritual door and way to the Father (John 14:6). 

Although, YHVH permits his set-apart ones (the saints) to come boldly before him through the agency of Yeshua’s high priesthood and his blood (Rev 5:6–8) to obtain mercy and grace in time of need (Heb 4:16), let’s not forget two things. First, we come to YHVH Elohim in human weakness needing help and grace from him who is greater than us; therefore, we need to maintain a humble disposition. 

Second, our Elohim is a consuming fire (Heb 12:29); therefore, we need to serve him with reverence and godly fear (Heb 12:28), since in his hands he holds the power of life and death (Matt 10:28). Fire is a biblical metaphor for judgment, and YHVH will judge all people including his own people (Heb 10:30–31) for all that they have done while in the flesh whether good or bad to determine levels of rewards and punishment (Matt 5:19; 16:27; 2 Cor 5:10; Rev 20:12; 22:12). In fact, Peter admonishes us to conduct our lives in the fear of Elohim and to be holy as he is holy who will judge each man according to his works (1 Pet 1:17).


Are you a giver or a getter?

 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Acts 20:35)

Leviticus 19:23–25, You shall count their fruit. We are to honor YHVH and give him his due in all areas of life including our fruit trees. This principle of reaping and sowing and giving YHVH a portion of that which is his anyway is a universally applicable principle in the Scriptures. This principle applies NOT only to agricultural increase, but to every area of our lives in which we prosper, for the earth is YHVH’s and the fullness thereof (Ps 24:1), and everything belongs to him anyway. YHVH is simply lending everything to us (including our very lives) that which belongs to him, and we honor this fact by giving back to him a tenth of our increase.

There are some believers who say that giving YHVH the first fruits of our increase applies only to those involved in agricultural enterprises. If this were the case, then how do we account for Abraham’s tithing to Melchizedek from the spoils of war (Gen 14:20)? Furthermore, Solomon taught that we are to honor YHVH with the first fruits of all our labors (Prov 3:9). Moreover, Malachi taught that to not tithe is to rob YHVH and to invite the destroyer to ravage our finances (Mal 3:8–11). Yeshua taught the blessedness of giving (Luke 6:38), and Paul taught that we reap what we sow, and that if we sow nothing we will reap nothing (Gal 6:7–10). This universal principle doesn’t apply just to finances, but to all areas of life. 

Do you have an attitude of honoring YHVH whenever possible by your giving of not only your treasure, but your time and talent as well? Giving is a lifestyle practice motivated by a heart attitude of love and gratitude, and a desire to please and honor your heavenly Father.

There are two kinds of people: givers and getters. Which one are you? Yeshua said that it’s more blessed to give than to get (Acts 20:35).


The Hymn of a Ponderosa Pine

I’m not sure if anyone can relate to this poem, but I had fun writing it. Please enjoy. — Natan

By Natan Lawrence 

The inspiration of this poem and its birth occurred while sitting next to the Deschutes River in La Pine, Oregon, during Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles) in 2018, while gazing admiringly at the mighty, towering ponderosa pine trees (Pinus ponderosa) that stand as sentinels gracing its banks. At the same time, the words of the First Psalm were floating around in the author’s mind.

La Pinus1 ponderosa2 at De Falls3 River waters4;

A weighty5 giant pondering6 heavenly matters. 

Rejecting your former blackjack7 past,

Basking now in heaven’s light at last.

Arms and trunks are tanned a bright orange hue8,

With muscular limbs upraised in praise to You9

To the Messiah, the radiant Sun of Righteousness10!


O piney tree by the rivers of water,

With crown aimed high—you’re a leafy psalter11.

The still small breath12 of heaven’s heart,

Strums happily your needley harp,

To all who’re attuned in full amaze—

And hear the Spirit’s psalm of praise.


La Pinus ponderosa by De Falls River’s edge—

Precariously planted on the sloping ledge?

Gravity inexorably can’t make you slip,

As you mock the current’s undercutting grip13.

Against the storms you’re resolute, 

Exempt from its slavish tribute.

The desert’s torrid breath can’t make you wilt14.

It underestimates how well you’re built.

For deeply rooted are your hairy feet,

As they sate their thirst from the summer’s heat14.

Anchored firmly against the gale.

From brutal breezes that do assail.

Resting on the solid Rock15,

Heat and wind they can’t you shock16.

To the bank of Truth17 you tenaciously cling,

Imbibing the Spiritual life14 the waters bring.

As Heaven’s wind18 fills your leafy sail,

You clap your hands19 as me you regale.


O Pinus preacher at the River Deschutes,

You cry aloud from roots to shoots.

A riveting sermon loud and clear

To open ears both far and near.

Quietly praising the King above,

Silent shouting of heaven’s love!

Puzzle letters from your massive girth20,

A visible testament fall to the earth.

Of heaven’s radiance they joyously glow,

Trampled by naive hikers there below.

But when combined these letters spell,

The truth of heavens evangel21.

This tree’s a wellspring of worshipful praise,

In every tongue with limbs upraised!


La Pine’s1 ponderosas who grace your river blue,

There is much for me to learn from you.

Your arms point upwards in heaven’s praise,

Past you to Him, my eyes I’ll raise22!

This is my heartfelt prayer to You:

With Your Spirit and Truth23 my heart imbue.

From Your tree of life24 I’ll always feed

Producing an abundance of living seed.

May I be too a tree of life,

That my heart-would25 with your words be rife.


Letters of the alphabet from the bark of the ponderosa pine as found lying on the ground and unmodified.

Footnotes—The Poem Explained

1 A reference to La Pine, Oregon where the mighty ponderosa pines there inspired the author to write this poem. In fact, the ponderosa pine with the largest trunk diameter in the world of nine feet two inches is located in La Pine State Park—the location where the author commenced writing this poem. 

2 The Latin name for the ponderosa pine.

3 The name Deschutes is a French word meaning “of the or some waterfalls or rapids.” The Deschutes River of Central Oregon that flows through La Pine State Park in La Pine, Oregon has plenty of both.

4 The phrases “river waters,” “rivers of waters” and the like throughout this poem are hints to the first Psalm, verse three, which was in the author’s mind when writing this hymn.

5 “Weighty” is a wordplay on the word ponderosa, which derives from the Latin word ponderosus meaning, among other things, “ponderous, massive or weighty.”

6 A wordplay on ponderosa.

7 Juvenile ponderosa pines have black bark and are colloquially known as blackjack pines. This suggests, in poetic terms, a dark, dirty and sinful youthful past.

8 The older a ponderosa pine becomes, and the more exposed to the sunlight is, over time, its bark turns from a dark black to a bright golden red-orange color.

9 Capitalized personal pronouns in this poem are references to Elohim or Yeshua the Messiah (the God of the Bible).

10 This is a biblical reference to Malachi 4:2 where the prophesied Messiah is likened to the sun, for, indeed, as the Bible later reveals, the face of Yeshua the Messiah does, indeed, shine like the sun in its full strength (Rev 1:16). Moreover, the Bible reveals that Messiah is the Light of the world, who shows man the way out of spiritual darkness and into the spiritual light. The implication here is that the more and longer the ponderosa is exposed to the sun, the brighter and sunlight-like its bark becomes. Similarly, the longer a human is exposed to the spiritual light of Messiah, the more like him they will become, and the more they will reflect him in their personality and character.

11 A psalter is a book full of psalms employed for church liturgical purposes.

12 A reference to 1 Kings 19:12.

13 The Deschutes River, like many mountain rivers, is full of trees that have fallen into the river due to the eroding action of the quickly moving river of the bank on which the trees were precariously perched.

14 Again, the first Psalm verse three is in the author’s mind.

15 A reference to Yeshua the Messiah, the Rock of our salvation.

16 Plants can go into damaging or fatal shock mode when exposed too quickly to extreme heat and cold.

17 In several places, the Bible talks about the river of life. A river as two important components without which it couldn’t exist: a bank (or a channel) and water. To the author’s mind, the bank is like Truth, while the water is like the Holy or Set-Apart Spirit of Elohim. To be a true follower of Yeshua, one must have both the Truth of the Word of Elohim along with the Spirit of Elohim to understand it and then to live it. Our Father in heaven is seeking those to worship him in both Spirit and Truth (John 4:23–24).

18 That is, the Set-Apart Spirit of Elohim. There are a number of references in Scripture to the Spirit of Elohim being like wind (e.g. John 3:8; Acts 2:2).

19 The author had Isaiah 55:12 in mind here.

20 The older a ponderosa pine becomes, the more scaly its bark becomes, such that puzzle like scales or pieces of bark are constantly falling off of the trunk. The pieces are in all sizes and shapes. They literally look like pieces of a puzzle, and many of those pieces are in the shape of the letters of the alphabet. In fact, one can pick up letters and spell words. Some people even find the letters of their name and mount them on a board as a decorative plaque.

21 Or gospel.

22 The author here is reminded of Romans 1:20 where Paul tells us that there is much to be learned about the invisible attributes of Elohim from his visible creation that surrounds us and of which most humans are unaware.

23 This is another reference to the Spirit and Truth passage of John 4:23–24.

24 This is an obvious reference to the tree of life in the Garden of Eden. There are a number of other references in Scripture to the tree of life. All of these are metaphors for the Torah–word and wisdom of Elohim that comes through faith in and a relationship with Yeshua the Messiah who redeemed us from our sins by dying on a tree, and from which springs eternal life.

25 This is a play on words. The heartwood of a tree is its central part or most interior core, even as the human heart is at the center of the one’s being both literally and spiritually.


Will you be one who is “worshipped” in Elohim’s kingdom?

Revelation 3:9, Worship/bow down before your feet. This scripture has puzzled many. Who are these saints before which those who are of the synagogue of Satan will at some time in the future bow down in worship? Who are those who are of the synagogue of Satan?

First, the saints are wearing crowns (verse 11) and they have the name of Elohim written upon them (verse 12). We know that a group of saints will be ruling with Yeshua in his millennial kingdom (Rev 1:6; 5:10). These same will be part of the first resurrection (Rev 20:6), which occurs at Yeshua’s second coming.

Secondly, not all the saints will be kings and priests. There are levels of rewards (and responsibilities) in YHVH’s kingdom depending on how obedient one has been to his Torah-commandments. This Yeshua teaches in Matthew 5:19. Some saints will be the least in his eternal kingdom, while some will be the greatest depending on their level of Torah-obedience.

Similarly, Yeshua identifies two groups in his Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matt 25:1–13). The wise virgins will go into the wedding supper of Yeshua, and presumably will become his bride.

In Revelation chapter three, Yeshua further identifies two groups of believers: those who are spiritually lukewarm and those who are spiritually hot (Rev 3:14–22). It is not a stretch to connect those who are spiritually on fire in Laodicea with those in Philadelphia who have Continue reading


Tithing—An Act of Grateful and Prayerful Worship

Deuteronomy 26:4–11, You shall answer. This was the prayer that one was to make when one brought their tithe to YHVH. Bringing one’s tithe to YHVH was an act of gratefulness and worship and was brought with a joyful heart for the blessing the Almighty had bestowed upon the tithe-giver.

Deuteronomy 26:11, You shall rejoice. Bringing one’s tithes and offerings to YHVH is to be a joyful event since it is a reflection of our gratitude to him for abundantly blessing us. (Compare this verse with 2 Corinthians 9:6–11.) Giving to YHVH is a form of worship since it allows us to put our treasure where our heart is (Luke 12:34). Please join me in praying this prayer: 

Father, help us to give to you out of the abundance of our hearts joyfully and with gratitude for your blessings and bounty in our lives. Help me not to be a fair-weather giver only, but to give out of obedience, even sacrificially, that we may learn to have faith in your promises of provision and to obey you no matter the circumstances. Amein.

(For a brief study on tithing and giving, please see my teaching entitled, “Is Tithing for Us Today?” which is available on our ministry website at


The Manifest Presence of Elohim Transforms a Person

Exodus 25:22, There I will meet with you. Between the two cherubim was the glowing, anointed, manifest Presence of YHVH called the Shekinah. This pictures the glories of the New Jerusalem and life happily ever after for Yeshua and his spiritual bride.

The manifest Presence of Elohim is the last of seven “items” in the tabernacle and it is also the one ingredient that is missing in all the other religions of the world. Yes, many of the world’s false religions have their signs, wonders and supernatural experiences, but these are cheap demonic counterfeits that only imitate the real thing. In the end, despite all that they promise, they bring shame, confusion, guilt and eventual death and eternal separation from Elohim.

In the Tabernacle of Moses, the first six items were made with human hands. Six is the number of man. YHVH’s Presence cannot be constructed by the hand or mind of man. It just is, and it doesn’t come as a result of anyone conjuring it up. It comes as a result of repentance, holiness, obedience and humans seeking Elohim with all their hearts, while following the protocols he has laid out, which, when followed, lead to him. There is no other way.

The Presence of Elohim is what is missing in every other of the world’s religious systems. It was even missing in the Second Temple!

In YHVH Elohim’s Presence, a human is miraculously changed and transformed spiritually from the inside out.

There I will [Heb. ya’ad] meet with you…I will commune [Heb. d’bar]…I will give you. This entire verse is pregnant with spiritual meaning relating to the holy of holies, which was YHVH’s point of contact between heaven and earth. From this Continue reading


Sabbath Walk in the Forest With My Bride—Reflections

My wife, Sandi, and I took a walk down by the river this Shabbat afternoon. It was a beautiful day—mild for this time of the year, and after spending most of the day indoors  reading the Bible, writing, studying and praying, I needed to get out for some fresh air and to connect with the Creator through his creation. This is part Elohim’s the river of life I need to get into regularly. It’s part of my personal “God bubble” in which I live. Please enjoy.  Natan

I like photography and I love my iPhone because I can snap quality pictures wherever I go. Every day in our haste, we simply walk by beautiful pictures. One has to have an eye and a love for  beauty as one is walking down the path of life. All around us are beautiful scenes waiting to be seen and appreciated. They are opportunities to stop and pray, to reflect and to worship Elohim. Let’s work hard not to miss these opportunities.  We must learn to extract the precious from the mundane, and sometimes even from the vile. May YHVH, give us the eyes and heart to find the beauty and blessing in everything and everyone around us, and use it as a trigger to move into praise and worship of him for it.

Even a rotton log has its own beauty with the peeling bark, moss and vines growing on it and the  dead leaves. This log has value. In its death, it provides life-giving nutrition for the next generation of plants and animals. It will eventually become precious topsoil out of which everything grows. Life comes out of death. Death of loved ones, death of dreams, death of innocence,  death of hopes, death of finances, death of health or death of relationships. When one door closes, another door opens taking us into new vistas, experiences, opportunities and possibilities. May Yah, help us to wrap our brain around this reality and to embrace life-giving death with these things in mind.

There is a river of life out there. We have to find it. When we do, the light of YHVH’s Presence will shine on it encouraging us and guiding us into his perfect will for our lives.

Follow the path of life that leads to the light of truth. Yeshua is the Light of the world and the Sun of righteousness. Yah, help us to follow the Lamb of Elohim wherever he goes.

YHVH has not called the great and mighty people of this world, but the ordinary, foolish ones that he will use  to confound the wise for his glory. May we be such a people that he can use.

Like these trees that are wading out into the river, we too must get into YHVH’s river of life. The psalmist says that a wise man plants himself next to the river like a tree from which it gains nourishment. But sometimes, like Ezekiel, we have to actually get into that river—even get in over our heads. That’s called passion and zeal.

It’s good to feel small. It keeps life in perspective—that we’re not as great or as big as we think we are. Maybe then YHVH can actually use us for big things—for his divine plans and purposes.