Grieving Through Answered Prayers

As many of you that have been a part of OAM for very long, or maybe follow us on Facebook, YouTube, etc. know that one of the things we try to be is transparent, at least as much as possible. For better, for worse that is one of the goals we established from the very beginning of starting this ministry. For the most part, majority of people seem to appreciate how much Joe and I try to truly and openly DO LIFE with our OAM community. We are after all, family and this is what family should be about.
Most of you know that our little family has recently been faced with a heart wrenching loss. On January 17th, Joe and I were faced with the news that I had miscarried what would have been our 5th beautiful baby. I was 17 1/2 weeks along and had gone in for what was to be a simple, routine check up: weigh in, check blood pressure, listen to the baby’s heart beat. Something we have done many times before and several times with this little one. However, in just a few seconds, our world came to a screeching halt and we would be gripped with news that would all but paralyze us. From one minute we were joking around with the nurses, picking back and forth on who was team boy vs team girl, to seeing the color drain from my doctor’s face as she began doing her BEST to find a heart beat. In hopes she was having a computer malfunction, we all walked up two flights of stairs, transferring me to a more advanced machine, HOPING that what she had feared would be incorrect. She was doing her best to stay positive, to stay hopeful, trying to maintain a normal conversation with us. I had a hunch something was wrong. Joe had a look on his face that he was feeling the same. She even pulled in a specialist come in to check. HaShem bless her, she was doing all she could to be wrong. Then…the finality of it came to a head as she quickly turned off the sonogram machine (before I saw too much) and turned to me saying with tears in her eyes, “I am SO sorry but there is no heartbeat”.
I remember that I had been able to take one last look at the screen on the wall before it went black, just to see the outline of my little one. A tiny little figure that should have been rolling around, being active and stubborn like it had been showing signs of just the last check up. Yet this time….it was perfectly still and quiet. No little leg kick, no little tooshie sticking out…just like the baby was taking a nap. Joe and I were in complete shock and at a loss for words. How could this be? I had never had any other issues, had carried every other baby just fine. Asher, whom I delivered just a little over 2 years ago was no problem and just the check up before this baby was healthy with a heart rate of 179. We were good to go. Now, instead of us heading to the store to run a few errands and talking about what we thought the baby would be, we now were having to figure out how we would be telling our girls and Jojo as well as the rest of our OAM family that I had lost our little one. Our doctor DID confirm that there was nothing we had done on our part, nothing that we COULD have done to prevent this, it just happened to be one of those 1 in 10,000 situations. She also confirmed that the baby would not have lived longer than a couple of days had it gone full term. However…her words all sounded mumbled and mixed together as we were faced with a decision we NEVER dreamed of. We had to decide when I wanted to deliver….
That drive to pick up our girls from gymnastics and then home to grab an overnight bag was the longest 1 1/2 hours of our lives. It was one thing for Joe and I to be crying, but to hear my girls in the back seat, weeping because all of THEIR excitement and the plans that THEY had for their new baby sibling had been ripped from their hands. Having to hold back the screams in my head, the “they must have gotten it wrong” thoughts, and the trembling that wanted to consume my body, so we could get my babies to their grandparents and Joe and I could head back to the hospital.
The drive back to the hospital was somewhat quiet, Joe just held and squeezed my hand, letting go only to wipe away a stray tear that had rolled down his cheek. Then, a still small voice sounded in my mind and reminded me of a prayer that I had BEEN praying from the beginning of this pregnancy. I had asked HaShem from the beginning, that if something were going to be wrong with this baby, that if it was going to be sick or if there would end up being complications with me during pregnancy or delivery, that HE would step in and take care of it. Now to some, that may sound like a horrible and selfish prayer, however I did not want this baby to have a miserable life due to illness nor did I want my babies now to have to grow up without their mommy. It was in that moment I reminded Joe of that prayer and told him, “how can I be upset over an answered prayer? That for some reason, I felt deep down that I, that we were walking through this for someone else”.
Now, was I still hurting? Of COURSE I was. I still had lost my baby. Now whether you are one that believe it is or isn’t a “baby” until after a certain amount of time, THAT is not up for debate in this post. Frankly, I don’t believe it is any of someone’s right to add their input unless it is THEIR situation, and I truly pray that you never have to walk this path. When you begin to feel that little one move, hear the heart beat, see that little jelly bean wiggling and kicking….your world and your perspective changes. Our hearts were breaking, the reality of our future plans being silenced were overwhelming, and then we drive up to the hospital to go through the process of delivering our little one, knowing it would not be coming home with us.
Yet again, HaShem stepped in and went ahead of us. Every nurse that I came in contact with had walked in my shoes. The caring and gentle staff that I was surrounded with almost seemed hand picked just for me. They knew what to say, how to interact, and exactly what I needed almost before I needed it. My main nurse came in one time, looked at me and said, “There is such a feeling of peace in this room. Outside, the rest of this floor is nothing but chaos and drama, but this room, where there should be sorrow and pain…….is nothing but calm and peace”. So, this momma took a deep breath, focused on what I needed to do, and let HaShem take care of the rest.
The delivery was quick and painless. Again, HaShem stepped in, my doctor had JUST come in to check on me, and just like that, it was over and done. Previous arrangements that we had made were followed through and they kept me a few hours to make sure I was okay. Those last few hours still seem like a blur, the ride home was quick, and then the reality of everything that had happened began to hit. Now, though HaShem had answered my prayers and Joe as well as I believe this was TRULY for the best, we now had to go through the grieving process. The loss, the loneliness, the heartache, the waves of sorrow that seem to consume you are relentless. You are faced with so many thoughts that take over and overwhelm you within your own head, then you add in “littles” that have their own questions. However, now, not only are they hurting, but they also seem nervous around their mommy. Not sure how to act, don’t want to upset her, not sure if SHE will be the same….and as a mommy….that HURTS. It is OUR job as the mommy to protect our babies, make them feel safe, and heal the boo-boos, yet knowing that you are not in control of your emotions and that you can’t fix it, make it all “okay” is a layer of insecurity that no momma wants or needs, especially at this time. This only adds to the silence you feel swallowing you, which brings me to the point of this post.
After the first week where I mainly cried and slept, again I was reminded to take a breath, open my eyes, and listen. HaShem still wanted to give me space to grieve, but He also knew that it was time to get my focus back and that would be when the TRUE healing would begin. I realized that in this, there are two types, those that haven’t walked this path and those that have. Simple right? No deep revelation there and a pretty easy observation to make. Yet it is so much deeper than that, because where the two groups are extremely diverse, they BOTH play such an intricate part in the healing and moving forward of those that are in the middle of this storm.The reality is that anyone walking through this is going to be surrounded by people in both categories. However, HOW those people react make a world of difference and this is where my observations and maybe a few insights will hopefully encourage, relieve, provide insight and maybe better prepare those on both sides.
Now I am going to preface my last couple of paragraphs by stating that these observations, understandings, and insights are from MY experience. It may be as if I am putting your exact thoughts and feelings into words or you may not be able to relate to them at all. Either way, I feel that these things NEED to be shared, because SOMEONE needs to hear them.
The first group that I am going to address, is the group that have never had to walk through this loss, personally. Because I was you just a mere few weeks ago, I can still honestly relate and understand. You see, last year, I had a dear friend miscarry and lose her baby girl. Embarrassingly enough, because as a pastor’s wife you should ALWAYS be prepared, I had NO clue what to say or even do. I had no idea what she was going through, how to help her pain, how to relieve some of the weight she was carrying. In a sense, felt like I was failing her not just as her “pastor’s wife”, but more so as her friend. Then, months down the road, I find out that I am again pregnant and a huge wave a guilt came over me. How would I share with her that I am now expecting what she recently lost. Would it cause her pain? Would she be angry? You can imagine the thoughts running through my mind…however…it was mainly because I STILL didn’t know how or what to say. Then….it was my turn to walk this walk and my best friend did the most appropriate and perfectly timed thing she could have done. She simply said, “I don’t know what to say. All I can say is that I am here if you need me. If you need anything, I am here. But until then, will give you time.” For you see, there really ARE no words anyone can say at that moment. Whether they were 6 weeks or 6 months along, it is still gut wrenching. There is nothing that can be said or done to take away or even lessen the hurt, the loss, the confusion, etc. You have to realize that is okay. One of the best things you can do is BE HONEST and say “ I DON’T know what to say and can’t imagine your pain. However, I love you and am here for you when and if you need me. Just let me know what you need when you are ready.” One of the worse things you can do is not say ANYTHING. We know you don’t have a magic recipe to make it go away, but what we don’t want is to have complete silence and hear NOTHING from you.
As women, in times likes this, our first instinct is we want to DO something. We want to FIX if we can. We want to do whatever we can think of to make them feel better, to take away the pain, etc.. My suggestion, which is what I had someone who had walked this before do for me, simply text or message saying, “I am so sorry and understand your pain. Take your time to heal, text me back when you are ready. Just let me know what YOU need”. Those who know me, know that I am not really a “social” person. I don’t care for attention, I prefer to work in the background, and do not like “big deals” made about me. So for me, I wanted to hermit up, have my family close, and just be left alone. What best for me was having little surprises delivered to the house. Beautiful flower arrangements, spa sets, small figurines, hand written cards, etc. Each knock on my door reminded me that someone was thinking about me and every time I looked at each gift, it gave me strength and reminded me that I wasn’t in this alone. Now this next sentence isn’t a “cry for attention” but purely and observation and was confirmed through a friend who has walked this as well. The first week is always the hardest and usually when you get the most attention and showering of thoughts and prayers. However, the second week comes and goes and you may get a few texts or a card. Then the third week comes and it is just one or two texts. Please understand, I GET it, life goes on, people have their own drama and schedules to deal with. However, and like my friend commented, there are times we feel like people assume we are to just get over it, heal, and be moved on after a week. That there are times we want to scream, “Have you forgotten me and what I have lost?! Do you realize I still NEED you and to know that you are there?!” So my encouragement would be to remember this is a deep and serious loss that one doesn’t get over in a week. From what I understand, it does get easier, the crying does lessen, and the hurt does ease, but you will never “get over it”. So maybe, try to make a conscious effort, at least for the first several weeks, to be there. Send a text, mail a card, if you feel so, send a some flowers or a thoughtful gift, but mainly all we want to know is that you care and that you are still thinking of us. If there DOES come a time where we are ready to talk….just LISTEN….don’t try to fix, don’t try to relate…..just listen because THAT communication is VITAL to the healing process.
Finally to my girls who have or who are currently walking through this. I am truly sorry for your loss. For those new to this, please allow yourself to grieve. However is best for you, DO THAT. If it is crying then baby girl make Walmart restock them tissues. If it is sleep, then turn them lights off and snuggle under the covers. If it is being around people, then hug them tight and soak in their love. However YOU need to work and walk this out, you DO IT. This is an unimaginable pain and indescribable heartbreak. But I CAN promise you, that in time, the tears won’t fall as much and you will begin to live again. There WILL be things that will trigger you. I still have certain shows, see certain things that will cause it all to rush back to the surface. But you take you a few deep breaths, get to a safe place, and let it out. It is okay and no one is expecting you to be superwoman, a lesson I had to learn myself. I remember being asked at my check up how I was doing and how I felt I was handling this all. I know I must have had the goofiest look on my face because….how do you GAUGE that especially when you have never gone through this before. I felt like screaming “my world is falling down around me, I can’t stop crying, I don’t want my husband farther than 10 inches from me, and I don’t want my kids out of my sight. I sleep a lot, don’t really have an appetite, my normal personality is gone, I don’t know who I am anymore, and am still wondering how, why it happened, and what do I do now? So….I have no CLUE how I am doing because no-one gave me a chart that says, ‘if you fall between this and this then you are okay’”. Now, I have to add that I have an INCREDIBLE doctor who would have not been surprised if I had done that and would have totally understood. She is one of few that truly GET me, lol. So, I simply looked at Joe, then over at her and said, “You need to ask him, because how I THINK I am doing maybe not be honestly how I am doing. He knows me better than anyone and can tell you where I am”. Joe’s main thing was, “Doc, she is talking to me. We are communicating.” and that is exactly what she needed to hear.
Her number one thing was wanting to make sure I was just grieving and not headed into depression, which I totally understand. That is what makes this next statement SO vital. If you are going through this, FIND people to talk to. Keep the lines of communication open with your husband, share with him what is going on inside of you and what you need. They aren’t mind readers ladies, but I promise you they want to help in any way they can. But PLEASE remember…THEY are hurting too. THEY are carrying the weight of a loss as well as trying to protect you and keep your daily lives afloat. Also, find someone that has gone through this before and TALK to them. Tell them what you are feeling, what you are thinking, etc. That was one of the BIGGEST things for me, was having a couple of beautiful friends that could and still do, confirm what I am feeling and thinking, that I’m not losing it and that this IS part of the process. They also are helping prepare me for the “down the road” because this IS a forever walk. I was/am so very lucky because I have a an amazing sister in law that is a licensed counselor and has been able to walk Joe through steps and signs. I also have a brother in law and his beautiful wife (another amazing SIL) that work with a nonprofit organization called Maddie’s Footprints that specialize in providing support for families with this type of loss. So please, if you don’t have anyone to reach out and talk to, and would like to connect with one of these ladies, please let me know. The main thing I want you to realize is that you are NOT alone. There are so many of us out here that have and are walking through this, we are here if and when you need.
I will end on this…because I have read so many articles and my heart aches at some of the responses that people have made and the audacity they have. Whether the momma is 25 or 55, whether she is overweight or underweight, whether she has several children or none at all, unless you are her doctor or she asks you specifically for your insight and wisdom, keep your thoughts to yourself on the prospect of her may or maybe not “trying again”. It doesn’t matter if you are her family member or closest friend. She doesn’t need your “Word from God”, and her “lack of faith” had nothing to do with this or whether she should or shouldn’t try again. YOUR job is to be her support, be her encouragement, and pray HaShem’s wisdom over her.
As for Joe and I, we are doing better day by day. I am beginning to have more good days than bad, but do have occasional break downs….which is okay. As far as my health, according to my doctor (aside from some weight I could lose, but can’t we all) I am stronger and healthier than some of the teenage moms she has come through. Mentally and emotionally I still have some work to do and some healing to happen, but it is coming. I am realizing my limits right now and focusing on the present. We still have other weights and loads that life seems to keep throwing at us, that are needing the majority of our attention. As for the future, we are putting ourselves in HaShem’s hands and listening to His voice. Whatever HIS plans are, is what we will follow and will trust that He knows what is best and will be there walking beside us no matter what.
Thank you everyone who has reached out with your love, your support, and your prayers. Our family has gained so much strength and encouragement from them.
To my amazing husband, there are no words to thank you for everything you have been for me these past three weeks. Life has seriously used us as a punching bag these past few months, things have been thrown at us that should have crippled us. Your love, your strength, and your support are what has kept me focused and refusing to give up. Like you said, we are a team and as long as we are together, we can take on anything. Thank you my love, you deserve more than I could ever give, but will spend the rest of my life trying.
Though we are still hurting, though this isn’t the outcome we had hoped for, sometimes….we will have to grieve through answered prayers and trust that HE is taking care of it all.



by: Casey Carnicle

Grief – a deep sorrow usually caused by someone’s death.

Let’s talk about grief. Scripture has a lot to say about grief and eventually each and every one of us will experience it.

It is generally accepted that there are 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. There are some variations to the model, but this is the most widely accepted.

Grieving the loss of a loved one can be earth shattering, compounded by the physical effects that can manifest in the body.

“Grief increases inflammation, which can worsen health problems you already have and create new ones. It batters the immune system, leaving you depleted and vulnerable to infection. The heartbreak of grief can increase blood pressure and the risk of blood clots. Intense grief can weaken the heart muscle so much that it causes “broken heart syndrome”, a form of heart disease with the same symptoms as a heart attack.” – WebMD

One way I find solace in my grief is through reading God’s word. I know, I know…that might sound cliche, but I find great comfort in the continuity of the human experience from the beginning of time between the covers of my Bible.

Take for instance, David. This man was who you might call a “manly” man. He worked hard tending his father’s flocks as a boy. He fought off bears, lions, and eventually Goliath. He was made a general over King Saul’s armies and married the King’s daughter; only to then have the King turn around and put a hit out on his life. Eventually David becomes King, but how did a man like David deal with grief?

“Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.” 2 Samuel 1:11-12

David’s grief was so overwhelming that he tore his clothes and wept. It says he fasted until evening also. Have you ever felt pain that intense? Have you ever been so overridden by emotion that you have no desire for food? I have.

Another example of a people dealing with grief is in the Book of Lamentations. A little background here: whoever authored this book (probably the prophet Jeremiah) wrote it sometime after the third deportation of the people of Judah to Babylon. These people have been forced out of their homeland, their beloved city and Temple has been destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar.

The author describes his emotional state as:

“My eyes are spent with weeping;
my stomach churns;
my bile is poured out to the ground
because of the destruction of the daughter of my people,
because infants and babies faint
in the streets of the city.” Lamentations 2:11

He was all cried out, every last tear spent. I can imagine them red, swollen, irritated. I can identify with those types of tears. He goes out to say his “bile is poured out to the ground”. The destruction, terror, and death he was witnessing made him physically nauseous to the point of vomiting.

We’ve been blessed so far as to have not suffered any foreign invasions here in the US over the centuries. However, maybe you or someone you know has been displaced due to a fire or a natural disaster. You’ve lost all of your possessions. Your friends and loved ones are now scattered or lost. This is what the people of Judah were experiencing at the time Lamentations was written and matters only made worse by the cruelty of a foreign regime.

There are numerous qualified examples within Scripture to shed light on the most grueling of human experiences that we know of as grief; but this last one…Ah, this last one just gets me. When I read it, it’s like a thump to my heart.

I’m going to give a little background as to what is taking place here before I share those two little words that resonate so deeply in my soul when I read them.

Our Messiah loved people. He loved being among the common folk, partaking in the life experience. He ate, drank, celebrated all of the beautiful moments and gifts that life gives us such as weddings, and children. He laughed. He made friends. He partook of the human experience as we all do.

Jesus…Jesus was close friends with a trio of siblings; Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. While he was off on his travels sharing and ministering to people, Lazarus became critically ill.

We know Lazarus was on his death bed because we’re told the Jewish community in their village was there consoling his sisters. The women caught wind that Jesus was on his way to the village, and Mary, Lazarus’ sister, rushed out to find him. She knew he had the power to heal, yet when she found Jesus; well, you will see…

“Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:32

Anger. Blame. Denial. She knew Jesus was a holy man. She knew to show reverence as he was anointed by God, that’s why she fell and knelt at his feet, but she was angry at the situation. Angry that not even her brother who was close friends with the anointed one of God could escape death. Angry that the one person who could have saved him was not there when her brother needed him most. She blamed Jesus, but really in all actuality, she blamed God; because after all Jesus was God’s image bearer.

Whewwww…Just pause. Just pause and reflect on that. If you have never felt that type of anger and emotion towards the Almighty, kudos to you. Really, much applause; but I have, and I can identify with the rawness of this encounter.

And how did Jesus take it?

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.” John 11:33

Now this is important, so very important, for those of you who may not be grieving but know someone who is, or maybe you’re grieving to a lesser extent than the other person. It says our Messiah was deeply moved in his spirit. I imagine at this moment Jesus is empathizing with Mary’s sorrow and grief. We are told he is greatly troubled, as he begins to internalize the news and his own grief begins to rise. Maybe he was greatly troubled even because Mary just projected her anger onto him.

What is important is to watch how he responded to it all, and this is the part that sends a thump to my heart. Those two words that get me every time.

“Jesus wept.” John 11:35

Just let that sink in for a moment…

Our Messiah knew he had been given the power to raise Lazarus from the dead. He knew he was going to do it. But in that moment, seeing the brokenness of his people, his friends, he joined them in their mourning and “Jesus wept.”

That’s my kind of King right there. That is someone I’m not ashamed to give ownership and rulership of my life over to. Not some mystical deity that plays Cards Against Humanity up in the sky. No. Someone who lived the human experience. Someone who walked, talked, breathed, lived, laughed, loved, sweat, bled, and yes, wept.

It is these dark, grievous moments in life when sometimes all we have is our faith to carry us through. I think God knew that about us. He knew that we needed someone tangible whom we could relate to, so He sent Jesus.

And there’s hope in him. Hope is a very valuable force in the human experience.

Desmond Tutu once said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”

…and Scripture gives us that hope, in Jesus.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4

If you are mourning or grieving, please know that you are not alone. It is part of the human experience. Consider finding solace in God’s Word. Talk with loved ones about your process. Pray. Get out into nature. Exercise. And if depression sets in, don’t be afraid or ashamed to talk to a medical professional to help you climb out of the valley. Many a great men and women before you have experienced the different stages of grief. You’re in good company and it’s just another part of the human experience.



Are you a Lover of Gossip and Drama?

Why do we seek gossip and drama???

It never ceases to amaze me the great lengths people will go to destroy others…and the most disappointing is the percentage that call themselves “a child of God”. Be it in retaliation, pride, or fear of the unknown, we as human beings would rather tear each other apart, spread division, and invent lies, than do what the Father has instructed and seek out the matter for ourselves. We would rather kill our own, than work together to build and strengthen the Kingdom…HIS Kingdom.

We get so upset when people jump to conclusions about us, spread untruth and darken our reputation….yet we are so quick to do that very thing to someone or something else.

Why are we so hungry to listen to negative gossip and BELIEVE the rumors? Why are we so excited to spread what we have been told, never taking the time or chance to search the truth out for ourselves….but when the roles are reversed, we wish people would have the decency and maturity to take the time to seek out the matter for themselves?

Why are we so quick to form opinions about people based solely on what other people say, rather than seeing for OURSELVES if what is being perceived, is truth or merely hearsay?

When are we as Christians going to GROW UP, realize that: we don’t know it all, we aren’t the whole piece of the puzzle, we ALL make mistakes, and that not everyone in the body of Yeshua has to function as we do? And you know what…..that is O.K.!!! We are all walking, learning, and growing at different levels. Our paths are NOT supposed to all look the same. We are NOT supposed to be “cookie-cutters”. We have GOT to be open to the fact that what we might THINK we know….might not be the entire picture and there MIGHT yet still be something we have yet to learn. 

So, the next time you hear someone gossiping, tearing down, or just trashing someone or something else, pause. The next time you find yourself in the middle of a conversation where your tongue is overloading your mouth, stop and take a breath. If there are people you have formed opinions about just because you “heard” this about them or you “think” this is who they are…. be VERY careful.  For that person just MAY be the very person God has put in your path for this season. That person MIGHT just be THE ONE you needed to lift you up when you were broken and down, meant to pray for and support you in your time of need (yet to come). Those people may be the help and strength you need when your world begins to crumble. They may be the person God was sending you to take you to the next level that He had in His plans for you, but you let your pride, rumors, hear say, and preformed, misguided assumptions stop you from taking the chance. 

Be very careful…because rumors and false accusations will not only hurt the people they are about and the people spreading them….but also the people that BELIEVE them without seeking the Truth for themselves.


God’s Love Language

We all know the 5 love languages:
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service 
Receiving of Gifts
Quality Time
Personal Touch
Books upon books have been written on them, giving us precise details on how to better understand ourselves and our loved ones. We are given directions on how to show them just how much we cherish them in the way that Abba created them to receive love.
In the book “The Five Love Languages”, author Gary Chapman spends much of his time explaining how each of us receive love. Understanding this is really important. Let’s think about this in a marital context. A husband may feel as if he is doing all he can to show his wife how much he loves and appreciates her. Over time, though, he may come to realize that she has not felt loved for quite some time and it may severely affect their marriage. How can this be when he was doing his sincere best? What’s wrong with him…or with her? Is this what happens when two people “fall out of love”?
Chapman’s point is that we all have a way that we receive love. Chapman’s five categories are those mentioned above: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving of gifts, quality time, and personal touch. The issue is that we generally give love in the same way we receive love. So, if a husband receives love by his wife giving him encouraging words, then he will naturally love her that same way in return. It’s the way we’re wired as human beings. We tend to love through our eyes. We love, not based on what others need, but in the only “language” we know…our love language. Only when we begin to learn what’simportant to them can we love them in a way they understand and receive…their love language.
This begs the question, what is our Messiah’s love language? How do we show the Father that our heart’s desire is to please Him and worship Him for all that He is? How do we love Him? Are our affections based on what we desire or on what He desires? John 14:15 Reads:
 “If you love Me, you shall guard my commands.”
The bible is full of verses just like this talking about showing God our love by guarding or keeping His commands. What are His commands…His Torah (His commandments or instructions). This doesn’t at all mean that we are trying to earn God’s love or approval. It’s not about us. The point is that we want to prove our love for Him, to Him.
Let’s jump back to our marriage illustration for a second. If a spouse only does things that are pleasing to their mate so they can receive something in return, what would we say about them? Selfish? Manipulative? Both adjectives are probably appropriate. Instead, we love our spouses, friends, relatives because of them…not because of us. Our expressions are based on what is important to them. We want to express our appreciation for them.
In this line of thought, is that how we want to be seen by Elohim? Selfish? Manipulative? I would guess your answer would be a resounding “NO!”. If that’s the case, then think about how you love God today. Do we love Him in ways that are easy or convenient for us? Do we expect God to take whatever we present to Him because we’re so great that God is privileged that we would throw Him a bone once or twice a week? Or are we like a spouse, working hard to love our mate, to no end. Are we working hard to love God but the things we are doing, although well intended, are not the things He desires?
Today, think about the “how”. Is it that important? Test the Scriptures and see just how important it really is.


This Ain’t That #5

Last week we established that good works are pretty important to God. But that leaves a huge, gaping question to consider. What exactly is good? I mean, we have a societal norm of how good is defined, we have family definitions of good, and we have our own personal peace with what we consider good. As I said before, some of what we talk about in this series is going to seem like a mental gymnastic as we renew our minds and change long-held mindsets to mold to Messiah’s way of thinking. So it helps me to think of it like this…have you ever noticed that Scripture never refers to us as the “Adults of God”?   We are consistently called the “Children of God”. Have you ever wondered why that is? Maybe it’s because no matter how old or mature in the faith we are, He is so much bigger than anything we can fathom that it takes a loooooong time and ALOT of work with Him for us to begin to think, and therefore act, like He does.

You can see this play out with children you’re around everyday. Have your children ever done something for you that they were so proud of but in reality, it wasn’t done quite like you would’ve liked it? Maybe they’ve “cleaned” their room, when really all they’ve done is cleared a path from the door to the bed? But to them they’ve accomplished a huge milestone. Or maybe they’ve cooked you something that isn’t really edible, but they’re SO proud that you eat it with a smile because they’re you’re children. If you were paying for that same meal in a restaurant, you’d likely send it back. Why? Because one meal is cooked by your children, who don’t yet fully comprehend how to put ingredients together, manage temperature, cooking times, etc. and the other is prepared by an adult, someone who purportedly is trained and has experience in providing quality meals that people enjoy. Now understand this…There is a difference in the one doing the work, but there’s also a different expectation from the one receiving the work. As adults, we expect more from adults than we do from children. How do children grow up to be adults? Well it’s our responsibility to train them. Its what we do as parents to teach them what cleanliness is and how to mix ingredients and prepare a meal that’s fitting. See, It is our role as parents and adults to define terms for our children. We set the standard in our children’ s lives for what “good” is. And this is really not at all about perfection, but teaching them to live and act in ways that not only benefit them, but that uphold our values and our reputations. When we think about our relationship with God in this way, I think it’s easy to see why we’re referred to as children…because, whether we’re 20  or  60, that’s exactly what we are.

Now the cool thing about how God has set this whole thing up is that there are physical/spiritual parallels for everything in life. So it stands to reason that if we truly are children of God, then we have to look to Him to define what is good because…we’re children. And even to a greater degree, we not only don’t know what God expects, but because we have been under the influence of sin for so long, we actually have the opposite understandings of much of how and what God thinks about things. So again, there’s much work to be done…hence this series.

So let’s start to look at how Abba defines good. Psalm 37:27 says, Turn away from evil, and do good; And dwell forever. Well that seems pretty easy. We can easily define “evil”, right? We all know evil…mass murder, child molestation, terrorism, Hitler…just to name a few. So if we aren’t lumped into one of those classes of evil, we’re good, right? Well not so fast.  Psalm 51:3-4 For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. Against You, You alone, have I sinned, And done evil in Your eyes; That You might be proven right in Your words; Be clear when You judge. You see, when we think of evil, our leaning is to think of those kinds of atrocities we’ve witnessed all too often. But evil, from a Scriptural perspective, is anything that is against or contradicts God’s holy nature and His commands. Evil is essentially a lack of goodness. Here, Psalm 51 links evil with transgression, or sin. 1 John 3 tells us that sin is lawlessness. What law? The speed limit? The Norwegian Constitution? Leviticus 24:22- You are to have one right-ruling, or law, for the stranger and for the native, for I am ???? your Elohim.’ ” For the sake of time, we won’t read all of Psalm 119, but take a minute to read through it sometime. David is pouring out his heart in love for God’s commandments. So what is good? God’s law is good. Now I know that may be different than what you were taught. But God’s law, or, the Torah, is His instructions for living in His house…the kingdom. Remember the illustration we gave of adopting a child? Well here’s where it really comes together. See, we are adopted into His family but we don’t know how to act like He wants us to…we weren’t raised that way. We are legally adopted, but many are not finding the fulfillment that comes with being a child of the King because we haven’t learned how to do things His way. You know, you’ve heard your parents say, “if you’re going to live in my house, you’re going to have to live by my rules”. Even scarier is when you say the same thing, in the same voice, to your own kids, right? But that’s really how simple this is.

I know we’ve been taught that the law is some evil bondage, but the truth is that God’s Torah is His instructions for His creation. God loved us so much that He gave us step by step guidance for how to live this life. That doesn’t sound like bondage to me…it sounds like an incredible gift! from our Creator In His Torah, we find everything from how to eat, how to have fulfilling relationships, to how to worship Him in the ways He desires to be worshipped. The Torah is so much deeper and more beautiful than we’ve ever imagined. Even more beautiful is that we have a Messiah that showed us how to live out the Father’s instructions perfectly as He fulfilled them…or brought fulness to them. Now we, as humans, have a tendency to twist the things of God…it’s almost inherent in our nature. And we can become so militant and belligerent about the physical commandments that we forget altogether about the heart and intent of what Abba is trying to communicate to us through them. That is called religion. And THIS AIN’T THAT. Should we do our best to keep the physical commandments? Absolutely! Is it just enough for your kids to understand WHY they need to clean their room? Or do you expect them to actually keep it clean? So yes, we should keep the physical commandments and do our very best to do so as we follow Yeshua. But in keeping the sabbath, the feasts, and eating kosher, we can not forget that all of these things are teaching us about how God wants to be loved. The commandments are not a checklist that, if we do them correctly, we can present them to God and get a gold star. And that’s not what it’s about. If that’s the way we treat them, we’ve changed one set of religious rules for another…and THIS AIN’T THAT. As we’re “cleaning our rooms” we should be learning more about the heart and holiness of God.

There’s a big misconception out there that the Old Testament was all about works but the New Testament is all about the heart. The Old Testament was all about circumcision of the flesh, but the New Testament is all about the circumcision of the heart. That’s actually a huge lie. All over the Old Testament, we see that there were always two circumcisions…a circumcision of the flesh and a corresponding circumcision of the heart. See, this is God’s way. Like any good parent, He gives us physical directions in order to teach a spiritual concept. The commandments are also reminders of who we are and Who’s we are. Sounds a lot like the parables Yeshua taught, doesn’t it? Where did He get that from? The Father…it’s always been His way of transmitting spiritual understanding into the physical world.

So I hope that if you’re against the idea that Christians have any obligation to follow Torah that this will provoke some thought and study of God’s Word. If you’re new to learning Torah, I hope this helps you approach the commandments without becoming so overwhelmed. And if you’ve been studying and following Torah for some time, I pray this brings some balance to your walk and breathes new life into your relationship with the Creator. Wherever you find yourself, welcome to the journey…I pray your life will never be the same.


This Ain’t That #4

Last week we began thinking about the traditionally held view that faith & works contradict or oppose each other. We looked at several passages that seem, on the surface, to support this understanding, and it’s where we get those doctrines from, but as we read those passages in context, we see that the works that were really being rebuked were not righteous acts at all, but some perversion of God’s commands. We hopefully have seen that works are not at all in opposition to faith. They’re only in opposition to our “faith” if what we do contradicts what we say we believe.

In this week’s video, big question is: Just how important are works to God? And try not to think of this as to whether it’s a salvation issue or not. Is it? Well, I can only say that from what I understand of Scripture, Yeshua, and the patriarchs is that they weren’t really concerned about an eternal salvation like we are today, in other words, they weren’t concerned about just “making it in.” but HOW they made it in. They believed in and even hoped in a Messianic Kingdom and because of that they put their full energy into being obedient and honoring God in their present lives, in the ways they lived. With us today, we want to make everything a salvation issue. And if it’s not a salvation issue, we toss it to the side as being ancillary to our lives. I mean, just how shallow are we trying to be here? We are given salvation through Yeshua. I assume that if you’re watching this video, you have already dedicated your allegiance to God and believed on Yeshua as Messiah. That’s a given. I assume you’re already in the family. So let’s move on from this being about salvation and let’s see what the Word bears out and see truth for what it really is.

Think about it like this. If I, who already have my own biological children, were to adopt a child who was not raised the way I’ve raised my children. And some of you watching this have experienced this. He/She would bring a different set of standards, behaviors, ways of thinking into our home. They could be LEGALLY adopted as mine. He’s mine. He’s in. But if they don’t begin to learn how to live in my house, under my rules, learn how to do life the way we do, have relationship with me like my own kids do, if they don’t integrate, or, assimilate into our family, WILL they ever enjoy all of the benefits of being adopted? They can be mine, yet never fully enjoy what it means to be mine.

As you know, Hebrews 11 is all about the “Heroes of Faith”. We hold such admiration for those mentioned in Hebrews 11 and we are all in awe of their stories. And while we tend to focus on the belief part of their faith, we rarely focus, I mean really focus, as in with a desire to imitate, on the works part of their faith. In the opening of Hebrews 11, verses 1-2, the writer of Hebrews says, “And belief (faith) is the substance of what is expected (hoped for), the proof (evidence) of what is not seen. For by this the elders obtained witness.” This entire chapter is about how the elders, the heroes of our faith, materialized by their lifestyles what they understood as the promised kingdom of God. By belief, Abel offered. By belief, Noah built. By belief, Abraham obeyed and left his home land…throughout the whole chapter. Their hopes, their belief was manifested in works. Because they believed, they ACTED. As verse 1 says, faith is substance & evidence. Those are two very physical, tangible describers. Substance and evidence. They are physical proof of something unknown or unseen. I bring out this point again because we have made living for God and the things of God so ethereal and mystical and magical that it has actually damaged the people of God and the body. I mean, of course there’s a spiritual side to faith. But when we make everything so mentally and emotionally or, “spiritually” subjective, then everything loses its meaning and we begin to actually pervert the things of God instead of honoring Him by His ways, because each person is molding God after their own desires, not willing to be molded to the truth of God’s word instead.

This is exactly what James tells us. I love James because he’s so matter of fact. If you ever want to be slapped around, just read the book of James. In chapter 2 he says, “So also belief, if it does not have works, is in itself dead. But someone might say, “You have belief, and I have works.” Show me your belief without your works, and I shall show you my belief by my works. In other words, what I believe will be shown in my physical actions. Interestingly enough, James goes on to talk about Abraham who we just referred to in Hebrews 11… v 21…Was not Ab?raham our father declared right by works when he offered Yitsh?aq his son on the altar? Do you see that the belief was working with his works, and by the works the belief was perfected? And the Scripture was filled which says, “Ab?raham believed Elohim, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness.” And he was called, “Elohim’s friend.” You see, then, that a man is declared right by works, and not by belief alone.” Hmmm…so Abraham was not called Elohim’s friend, nor was he declared righteous because of what he understood in his head or even the words that he proclaimed out of his mouth. He was called the friend of God and counted righteous because of works. Let that sink in a little. In a religious culture where “faith” is all about mental ascent, these often read scriptures should be read again because frankly, guys, we’ve missed it.

See the biblical understanding of faith is all about action. It works like this: I believe so much, I’m so confident, so convinced, so trusting in what I believe, that I act in accordance with that belief. I have no choice. To not act at all, or act in a way contrary to what I say I believe is NOT faith at all. It’s schizophrenic at best. Do you see how this contradicts what is often taught using passages like Isaiah that we talked about last week? Israel’s “acts of righteousness” were not for a lack actions, but actions that were contrary to what they supposedly believed and spoke. Righteousness comes down to what we do and that lining up with the Truth of Scripture. Not what we believe and not what we say. And believe me, I understand that we can genuinely believe certain doctrines and dogmas. And when we speak about those beliefs, we sincerely want to believe what we say. Please understand that I’m in no way questioning anyone’s sincerity. I don’t know your heart but I chose to believe the best about everyone’s intentions. You know, a phrase I hear all the time is “Well, God knows my heart”. As a matter of fact, I used to say this all the time. Ever notice when we say that? Isn’t it usually when we’ve messed up? Or when we know we should do one thing thats what God expects, but we decide to do another? Really it’s often a justification to simply do what we want or excuse an intentional sin. “Well, I may have messed up but God knows my heart”. 

The truth is that God indeed does know our hearts. Yeremiyahu (Jeremiah) tells us in chapter 17 that ““The heart is crooked above all, and desperately sick – who shall know it? “I, ????, search the heart, I try the kidneys, or innermost parts, and give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”  And what does a wicked heart produce? “And the works of the flesh are well-known, which are these: adultery, whoring, uncleanness, indecency, idolatry, drug sorcery, hatred, quarrels, jealousies, fits of rage, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, murders, drunkenness, wild parties, and the like – of which I forewarn you, even as I also said before, that those who practice such as these shall not inherit the reign of Elohim.” Galatiyim (Galatians) 5:19-21. What are our works showing evidence of? The amazing thing about how God designed us is that we don’t need for someone else to tell us how we’re doing, we have a mirror in our own lives that we face everyday called our actions, our behavior, our works.

Think about this: if Abraham would’ve received God’s promise and the challenge to leave his home and follow God, but just said, nah, that’s cool, I have the promise, you can bless me here, what would’ve been the outcome? If Abraham hadn’t proved his belief by his actions, would he be considered the “father of the faith”? So how important are works to God? Well if it’s how Abraham was reckoned righteous and attained friendship status with God, if its how the elders, the heroes of faith, attained their witness, if it’s how we are rewarded, according to our works, then it seems to be pretty significant, much more significant than we’ve been led to believe.  Now I know this video may have been a little harder than what you expected. But sorry not sorry. Because here’s the deal…is loving each other just encouraging us to stay in our own little comfort zones…comfort zones that will inevitably lead to our own destruction? That’s not Biblical love at all…heck, that’s not even human love. We love one another by spurring each other on to good works…works that are pleasing to the Father and draw us closer to Him…works that perfect our beliefs. So now that we’ve seen how important works are to God, next week, we are going to start looking at “What exactly are these works?” How do we defined which works are good? What is “good”? So thanks for joining us on the journey…I pray your life will never be the same.


This Ain’t That #3

In this post in our “This Ain’t That” series, I want to talk about how faith is not what most of us think and it’s not what most of us have been told to believe it was. There has been a long-standing debate over faith vs works. The sad thing is that we see it as FAITH…versus…WORKS. Do the two really work in opposition to each other? I want to propose that if they do, if faith and works are really in direct opposition to one another, it would’ve been news to the disciples of Yeshua, Paul, and even Yeshua Himself.

As I said in our last video, I grew up in traditional evangelical Christianity, so that’s my reference point and in that traditional understanding, I can’t tell you how many sermons, Sunday school lessons, devotionals I sat through that pounded into my head the idea that “all of our righteousness is as filthy rags”. I had become so convinced that I could do absolutely nothing to ever please God that I eventually quit trying. Oh, I still went to church faithfully. Heck, I even started teaching and preaching. I even went so far as to make my entire life about teaching other people about God. But I always struggled with this idea that not even my most earnest, humble, heart-felt desire to please God and do things that He says are pleasing, would please Him. For instance, Yeshua Himself commanded us to care for the widows and orphans, those downtrodden and less fortunate than us. So if we do those things, does that not please the Father? We are commanded also to love God above all and to love our neighbors as ourselves…does that not please God? The 10 commandments…when we do our best to live out the “Big 10”, does God not look upon that with pleasure?

There seems to be a disconnect here somewhere. Christendom is filled with writings telling us that all we have to do is put our “faith” in the finished work of Christ on the cross. That when God sees us in our despicable, rotten, sinful state, He looks at us through Yeshua’s righteousness and we are able to commune with Him because of Christ’s sacrifice. So the big question is, what does that mean? I mean, tangibly, what does that mean. Because I don’t know about you, but for me, there is a real life out here that I have to live. One with challenges, opportunities, relationships, careers and families. Is all that we need to please God “faith”? Well, yes, that’s certainly the basis and the foundation. But what is faith? Thousands, maybe millions, of people have defined faith. Just do a Google search for “what is faith” and you could literally spend the next 2 weeks reading opinions and attempts at defining it. I’ve done this and have read for days and days, people’s outlook on what faith is and honestly, very little of what I’ve read seems to reconnect this disconnect.

In Deuteronomy 32. Verse 20 says, “And He said, ‘I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very forward generation, children in whom there is no faith”. Wow, sounds pretty harsh on the Israelites, doesn’t it? Well, let’s look at it like this. Israel had been delivered from Egypt, which is a type and shadow of the greater Exodus that Messiah would provide as He delivered us from slavery to sin. So the Israelites were “saved”, delivered…they had become the nation and people of God that He chose to be His nation of priests to the entire world. So why was He so peeved at the nation? Let’s read up just a few verses. Verse 16 They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. 17 They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not. 18 Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee. 19 And when the Lord saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters. 20 And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith. So apparently Israel had committed some offenses that got God really ticked. But they were already delivered, remember? The point is that their actions AFTER having the FAITH to follow God out of Egypt and leave their slavery was very important to God, both their obedience and their disobedience.

Let’s fast forward to Isaiah 64. Starting in verse 5You shall meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, who remembers You in Your ways. See, You were wroth when we sinned in them a long time. And should we be saved? 6And all of us have become as one unclean, and all our righteousnesses are as soiled rags. And all of us fade like a leaf, and our crookednesses, like the wind, have taken us away. 7And there is no one who calls on Your Name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us, and have consumed us because of our crookednesses. 8And now, O ????, You are our Father. We are the clay, and You our potter. And we are all the work of Your hand. 9Do not be wroth, O ????, nor remember crookedness forever. See, please look, all of us are Your people!

Here we have the famous, or infamous, verse about our righteousness being as filthy rags. The term “filthy rags” is really interesting. Most English translations clean it up to make it less offensive. The word filthy is a translation of the Hebrew word iddah, which literally means “the bodily fluids from a woman’s menstrual cycle.” The word rags is a translation of begged, meaning “a rag or garment.” So, these “righteous acts” are considered by God as repugnant as a soiled feminine hygiene product. Sorry if that disgusts you, but it’s Scripture—so blame Isaiah. Isaiah is drawing a pretty vivid picture of our “righteousness acts” here. But, there’s more to the story.

What righteous acts was Isaiah referring to? Well, in chapter 42, we see that they were indeed worshipping, but they had turned their backs on Him by worshipping false gods, in chapter 65, they were making sacrifices and burning incense…seems like they were doing as God instructed…but they were sacrificing on strange altars. Isaiah had even called Jerusalem a harlot and compared it to Sodom in chapter 3. See they were doing all the things that God had commanded, but they had twisted them and were being haphazard with them. Sounds a lot like the Golden Calf doesn’t it? So God did not esteem their “righteous acts” as anything but “polluted garments” or “bloody tampons” to use today’s vernacular. Their falling away from walking out the Torah of God as He commanded it, had rendered their righteous works totally unclean.

Now we can see that the “righteousness” that is called filthy rags is not actual righteousness. Isaiah may have been imploring the use of a little sarcasm here. Or, he meant that what Israel really was convinced was righteousness was actually way off from what God intended. It was a perversion and twisting of His perfect Torah. But they were still the people of God and in covenant with Him. So does God care what we do after we’re “saved”? Again, if He doesn’t, it would’ve been news to Isaiah and those who heard his words.

Ephesians 2 tells us that by favour you have been saved, through belief, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of Elohim, it is not by works, so that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah ????? unto good works, which Elohim prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. See, we were delivered from the law of sin and death to be doers of good works. Just as Israel was delivered from Egypt not by their own power, we are not delivered by our own power. But does that mean we’re off the hook to perform righteous acts after our deliverance? Peter encourages us to ADD TO YOUR FAITH. That constitutes actions on our part.

So if you’re understanding of faith is simply an agreeing with the facts of the gospel of Messiah, then guys, this ain’t that. It’s not the fulness of faith. Faith is believing, but it’s believing to the point that it causes us to act in accordance with what we believe (good works). Faith only in the head is not faith at all. James tells us that he shows his faith BY what he DOES. So it’s very important that we rid ourselves of the mindset that we can never do anything to please God and thereby we don’t even try to attain righteousness. Simply understanding gets us nowhere. We are called, even commanded to ACT. That’s true faith. And what do our actions tell us? They tell us unequivocally what we believe and whether what we say we believe and what we actually believe are 2 different things or not. Faith and works are only opposed if they contradict each other. And for too many believers, this is the case. Faith and works are a beautiful choreography of our new lives in Messiah.

If you’ve heard over and over that you can never please God by what you do and that even your best tries at holiness are offensive to Christ’s’ sacrifice, and maybe you’ve given up on working on your faith and you find yourself frustrated and empty thinking there must be more to this life, let these words resound in your mind…THIS AIN’T THAT. It’s time for us to correct this mindset and start being God’s people who God is pleased with.

So welcome to the journey, I pray your life will never be the same.


This Ain’t That #2

Before we jump in this week, I want to say a couple of things that I did not mention last week. So, first off, who is this series for? These videos are intended to speak mostly to those who grew up in a religious system and are now seeking the truths of God not bound by religious culture, especially those who have found that Torah or, “the law” is still valid, applicable, and yes even profitable for believers today. If you are new to imitating Yeshua’s way of living the Torah as your lifestyle of worship of the King, many mindsets that you brought over from Christianity will make this walk incredibly difficult if we don’t get them sorted out. Most of you watching this have some sort of religious background, whether catholic or protestant, conservative or liberal, christian or Jewish. In this series, we are going to be contrasting some mindsets that we all may have, or still do see as normal and right, with some opposing ideas from Scripture. One point I want to make is that, listen, I grew up in conservative evangelical Christianity so that will be my reference point. I am going to be saying things like “In the church we believed, but” or “in the church we taught, but” or “Christianity teaches this, but” and I want to be very clear that my intent is not to divide us from nor offend any of our Christian brothers or sisters who are actively seeking and doing their best to serve the Father. But there are some mindsets that those of us who grew up in church hold to that are simply not in line with God’s heart and are actually directly contradictory to His Words. There are ideas being propagated by preachers, teachers, evangelists, and “prophets” that are creating a false sense of hope and when that falsity is realized and people’s lives begin to fall apart, many, many sadly turn away from Yeshua and the Father. This series is not about encouraging you to simply be comfortable and stay in the frustration, confusion, and indecisiveness where you currently live. Listen, we ALL think and act in ways that Messiah never thought nor acted and if He is the mark we aim to imitate, we have to deal with some of these hard issues. The reputation of our King is at stake. Let’s jump in.

So the first “This Ain’t That” that we are going to tackle is “the Sabbath” vs Sunday, but we’re not going to spend any time proving why Saturday is the Sabbath and why it is still a blessing and our responsibility to keep and guard the sabbath, there is plenty of info online and it’s incredibly clear in Scripture, but I want to address some other things surrounding the sabbath that I think are important and if you’re coming from a traditional Christian background I want to tackle some mindsets that may make the Sabbath a difficult thing to grasp. Let’s look at some ways “This” (the Sabbath) “Ain’t That” (sunday worship).

Alright, let’s set a baseline. In Deuteronomy 30 God says, “For this command which I am commanding you today, it is not too hard for you, nor is it far off. “It is not in the heavens, to say, ‘Who shall ascend into the heavens for us, and bring it to us, and cause us to hear it, so that we do it? “Nor is it beyond the sea, to say, ‘Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, and cause us to hear it, so that we do it? “For the Word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart – to do it. So straight off the jump I want to remind you that if keeping the sabbath seems like a burden, seems like it’s difficult when God clearly said it is not, it’s not the sabbath that’s the problem…it’s us. There is something in us that God is wanting to change so that we can think like He does. This is part of the “dying to flesh”. Fun, right?

So how is the Sabbath not like traditional sunday worship? In this video, I want to address one glaring difference that many struggle with in hopes that we can gain a better understanding and practice of keeping the sabbath. Gen. 1 tells us that the day actually begins at sunset. In God’s calendar, a “day” is from sunset to sunset. Exodus 31 and Leviticus 23, (among other places) are where we find the instructions of the Sabbath Day. Sunday worship isn’t really a “day”. Let’s be honest. If you’ve gone to church on a sunday, had a worship experience, heard a message, maybe even participated in a sunday school or discipleship class, you’ve basically honored the day of worship. This Ain’t That! God’s instruction to us is that we would dedicate a “DAY” to Him, not a part of a day. When we begin to celebrate the Sabbath, our tendency is to treat it like what we’ve done our whole lives in church. If you have a Sabbath fellowship to attend, simply going to the Sabbath meeting and doing your religious duty is not keeping the Shabbat. Congregational meeting is a part of the Sabbath, but not the whole of the Sabbath.

See, the Sabbath doesn’t start when service starts and it doesn’t end when service ends. If your congregation or fellowship meets on Friday evenings, you don’t have all of saturday to do what you want just because you’ve already met on Friday evening, you still have a whole day to “shabbat”, to rest. Likewise, if your fellowship meets on saturday, it’s not just enough to carve out of your saturday enough time to go to fellowship then take the rest of the day to do what you want. If that’s how we’re keeping the sabbath, all we’ve really done is moved sunday church to saturday.

You know how it goes…”if I can just make it to church” or “it’s sunday so we have to go to church”. Or we get all dressed up and geared up emotionally and mentally for sunday worship so we can put our best face on and then when it’s over, we go back to whoever we were. We tend to think that just because we enter a building on sunday that we are honoring God and will get His blessing. The keeping of the sabbath is not about simply entering a building, but it is a segment of space in time where we get to rest in Him and turn our hearts away from what we want to Him and what He desires. It’s SO important that we understand this. What did you go to church for? For some, it was rest. For some it was encouragement, hope, joy, relationship and belonging. I’m not downplaying these things as they’re all very important. But in keeping the sabbath, we shouldn’t have to put on a pretty face in order to walk into the building. We shouldn’t have to strive to get to the building in hopes of finding a breath of life and hope. The sabbath doesn’t begin when the first notes of worship are struck or the first song is sung. When you walk into your sabbath meeting, you should have already been “shabbatting” since sunset. You shouldn’t have to be encouraged to worship or to pray or to participate in the service. You should have been worshipping and praying since Friday evening. There is such a huge weight on ministers in churches because of the pressure to coax people into worship. Pastors are leaving the ministry in droves because of the weight of having to cause people to be excited about God. The Sabbath should be teaching us that it is our responsibility to meet with the King, not the pastor’s responsibility to bring the King to us. It’s not the teacher’s responsibility to tell you how to think or what to believe and grow your relationship with the Father. Then, when we come together for our sabbath convocation, it is full of joy, peace, and hope, because we are all of the same mind…we are in God’s rhythm because we have taken it upon ourselves to honor His timing and prepare for the King. So ask yourself, is this a mindset that I need to look at in my life? Would an adjustment here help me understand the blessing of the Father’s sabbath better?

Here’s another way “This Ain’t That”. Exodus 31:13 tells us ‘My Sabbaths you are to guard, by all means, for it is a SIGN between Me and you throughout your generations, to know that I, ????, am setting you apart. Was (or is) sunday church simply an addition to your life, something you didn’t really bother with except when it was sunday? Or was it maybe something that really didn’t affect the rest of your week? Were you simply committed to an institution? In Exodus 31, Abba tells us that the Sabbath, in contrast to the way many approach sunday worship, is a SIGN, not simply something we do because of religious guilt or cultural expectations, but that it tells everyone who we are and whose we are because we are acknowledging the day that HE set apart. I like to think of the sabbaths and feasts of the LORD as His heartbeat in time. Every seven days the heart of God is beating and calling for us to meet with Him. If we believe God’s words, that the Sabbath is a SIGN, then our entire lives should revolve around the shabbat. If He were to look over the earth to find His children, would the sign we’re carrying identify us as His? It shouldn’t be something that sneaks up on us guys. Again, if your fellowship meeting on shabbat, while important, is the main way you keep the sabbath, then you’re honestly not understanding the heart of the sabbath instruction and you aren’t getting the true blessing of rest that He has for you. Is the sabbath just a meeting you attend? Or do you carry it as a sign that you’re His? If you find yourself struggling with the sabbath in this way, it may be that you need to address this mindset.

The sabbath is not sunday church guys. And if we don’t correct this mindset we will continue to be frustrated and empty just like many of us were in traditional Christianity. I pray you find the heart of the Father’s sabbath rest and begin to rely on Him for the blessing that only comes from honoring His ways.

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This Ain’t That #1

You know, we have all come to places in our walk with God where we’ve been challenged to leave things behind in order to go to where God is calling us and you know as well as I do that the bigger that deliverance, the more incredible the breakthrough, the bigger the promises, the more we have to leave behind. It’s tough, but that’s just the way Abba works.

Let me ask you this…What is one thing that you can vividly remember God asking you to leave behind as He called you to a new level of commitment? Without a doubt I believe that hardest thing to leave behind is actually not a person, relationship, job, or possession…but a MINDSET. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. I firmly believe that we can leave all the toxic people, idols, and unholy lifestyles behind but if our mental paradigm doesn’t change, we’ve suffered losing those people and things for nothing. We will go right back to where we were if we don’t have a change of mind.

In Phillipians 2:5, we are challenged to “let this mind be in you which was also in Messiah, Yeshua” (Jesus’ Hebrew name). This statement begs the question, “What kind of mind did Yeshua have in Him?” Romans 12 tells us not to be conformed to this world, but that we are going to be transformed into something different, separate, set-apart, peculiar, as we renew our minds. Renew our minds to what model? Messiah’s, of course.

I want to read really quickly from Ephesians 4. “And He Himself gave some as emissaries, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some and shepherds and teachers, GET THIS, for the perfecting of the set-apart ones, to the work of service to a building up of the body of Messiah, until we all come to the unity of the belief and of the knowledge of the Son of Elohim, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the completeness of Messiah, so that we should no longer be children, tossed and borne about by every wind of teaching, by the trickery of men, in cleverness, unto the craftiness of leading astray, but, maintaining the truth in love, we grow up in all respects into Him who is the Head, Messiah.

There’s really much more in these words than we have time to cover today, but I want to key in on a couple of phrases. Do you realize that what we know as the “5 fold ministry” is given to us for our perfecting? And not just to anyone’s perfecting, but specifically the perfecting of those who have already been set-apart. But didn’t Jesus accomplish ALL of that at the cross? If He did, then why are we being challenged that after being set-apart, there’s still more work to do? And what is the purpose? So we can grow up into Messiah’s stature. Pretty tall order don’t you think? So, what does that look like with skin on? Well, if Messiah was our example, what did that look like for Him? It should remind us that He wasn’t tossed by every wind of teaching. He wasn’t tricked by smooth talking or ear-tickling. Even the most crafty and clever couldn’t lead Him astray from who He knew He was. Now ask yourself honestly, does that sound like us?

Stop and listen to conversations around you (not like creepy stalking) but just take a moment to take stock of the what is being bantered about around you. The reality is that humans love fads. We love new stuff. Clothes, music, TV shows, food. Did you ever stop to think that maybe we treat the things of God the same way? Always looking for a new spiritual fad?

This isn’t a 21st century American issue. This propensity has been in humans for all of recorded history. Don’t believe me? Read about Adam and Eve again and see if there isn’t a pattern here. So how did Yeshua stay so rock solid? Well, obviously, He was Yeshua. Yeah, I know, and here’s the thing, we’re supposed to imitate Him.

In this series of videos, we’re going to go through what may seem like some mental gymnastics but stick with me. We want to take stock of where we are and see if it’s really worth it to us to grow into Messiah’s shoes. Welcome to the journey. I pray your life will never be the same.