Emuna

by: Alyssa Goodeaux
 
Most of my life has been a string of events that shaped the foundation of who I am. These events were all-encompassing, trying to a great extent, and completely out of my control. Life was something of an event that I figured out how to survive in. It wasn’t until many years later, apart from those circumstances, that I could look back on my journey and see clearly what had been happening and how truly important all of the good, bad, and ugly were for where I am going.
There’s a neat idea that if you go back to the Torah portion told on the weekly Sabbath of your birthday, you can gain profound insight into your life. While this isn’t an end-all be-all to existence, the story that I resonate with most in Scripture does directly relate with the portion related to my birthday: Beshalach (Exodus 13:17–17:16).
This is the telling of His people, rescued from Egypt, going through the dessert and how they carried that out. While constantly being cared for, despite all they had been through, they were in a state of raw survival and from less than kind circumstances – and anything but gracious to Abba for being cared for. As we His children do, there were requests, defiance, and complaints. It’s what I think of as the period of transformation and transition for them and what I now can identify with in my own story.
Waiting in my own Egypt was more than a period of passivity that can be mistakenly associated with the word “waiting.” Waiting in my own Egypt was absolutely necessary preparation for where He leads me today. If you’ve been in Torah observant circles long enough, you’ve heard the coined phrase that there are only two periods of the year: the festivals and waiting for the festivals. “Waiting” for the festivals means lots of background planning. You don’t wait for the festival to come to start putting money aside or deciding where to go and who with and all the details that have to be addressed to properly carry out His will. In the same way, waiting became an intense period of preparation and especially one of building emuna.
Emuna means faith, faithfulness, and is closely related to “being sturdy or firm,” but not of oneself – being faithful and firm in Abba.
Even at a time when I barely understood who He really is, I would find myself desperately seeking Him for salvation from a situation that seemed hopeless. The reality is, I was being tempered into unshakable faith because what was inescapable before changed as my relationship with Him changed. After He drew me out and separated me, over time, I was able to recognize how His hand had been on my life all along, gently but consistently pushing me forward.
 
G‑d said to Moses: “Why do you cry out to Me?
Speak to the children of Israel, that they should go forward” (Ex. 14:15)
 
As they stood at the shore of the sea, the people of Israel split into four factions. One faction said: “Let us cast ourselves into the sea.” A second faction said, “Let us return to Egypt.” A third said, “Let us wage war against the Egyptians.” A fourth said, “Let us cry out to G‑d.” Thus Moses said to the people: “Fear not; stand by and see the salvation of G‑d, which He will show you today. For as you have seen Egypt this day, you shall not see them again anymore, forever. G‑d shall fight for you, and you shall be silent” (14:13–14).
To those who said, “Let us cast ourselves into the sea,” he said: “Fear not; stand by and see the salvation of G‑d.” To those who said, “Let us return to Egypt,” he said: “As you have seen Egypt this day, you shall not see them again anymore, forever.” To those who said, “Let us wage war against them,” he said: “G‑d shall fight for you.” And to those who said, “Let us cry out to G‑d,” he said: “And you shall be silent.”
(Mechilta)
 
These “four factions” represent four possible reactions to a situation in which one’s divinely ordained mission in life is challenged by the prevalent reality.One possible reaction is: “Let us cast ourselves into the sea.” Let us submerge ourselves within the living waters of Torah; let us plunge into the “sea of the Talmud,” the sea of piety, the sea of religious life. Let us create our own insular communities, protecting us and ours from the G‑dless world out there.
 
At the other extreme is the reaction, “Let us return to Egypt.” Let us accept “reality,” recognizing that it is the Pharaohs who wield the power in the real world. We’ll do whatever we can under the circumstances to do what G‑d expects from us, but it is futile to imagine that we can resist, much less change, the way things are.
 
A third reaction is to “wage war against them”—to assume a confrontational stance against the hostile reality, battling the “unG‑dly” world despite all odds.
 
A fourth reaction is to say: It’s wrong to abandon the world, it’s wrong to succumb to it and it’s wrong to fight it. The answer lies in dealing with it on a wholly spiritual level. A single prayer can achieve more than the most secure fortress, the most flattering diplomat or the most powerful army.
 
G‑d rejected all four approaches. While each of them has their time and place (it’s important to create inviolable sancta of holiness in a mundane world; it’s also necessary to appreciate the nature of the prevalent reality and deal with it on its own terms; it’s also necessary to wage an all-out war against evil; and it’s always important to recognize that one cannot do it on one’s own and to appeal to G‑d for help)—none of them is the vision to guide our lives and define our relationship with the world we inhabit.
Rather, when the Jew is headed toward Sinai and is confronted with a hostile or indifferent world, his most basic response must be to go forward.
 
Not to escape reality, not to submit to it, not to wage war on it, not to deal with it only on a spiritual level, but to go forward. Do another mitzvah, ignite another soul, take one more step toward your goal.
And when you move forward, you will see that insurmountable barrier yield and that ominous threat fade away. You will see that the prevalent “reality” is not so real after all, and that you have it within your power to reach your goal. Even if you have to split some seas to get there.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)
I know I’m not alone in my journey. We all have beautiful, raw, and heartbreaking testimonies of trials we have had to go through to get to where we are.
If you’re going through one now, I pray you take heart and make yourself firm in His constant assurance and presence. Your life is a beautiful work of art with careful, decisive purpose for His will. As we wrestle with being the best parent we can be and sanity, balancing the necessity of work and spending time with our families, and navigating the waters of being Torah observant with family that challenges that, I pray that you move forward one step at a time, trusting that He has never left you in any of it. While the first steps can feel and look scary, you’re walking right into Abba’s arms by letting go and allowing the state of preparation to happen. The moment you allow His Spirit to work in you freely is the moment that He wins anything standing in the way.
 
To find out your birthday Torah portion:
 
 

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Identity: Who We Were

There is a strange and exciting phenomenon taking place all across the world. People from all walks of religious life and various denominational backgrounds are being drawn to a different way of living out our faith than they’ve ever considered. It is exciting yet uncomfortable, fascinating yet confusing, seemingly simple yet overwhelmingly difficult. For many, this change comes all of a sudden…often overnight. This change is summed up in one word…Torah. The main challenge can also be summed up in one word…Identity.
 
One of the questions that comes up when we come to terms with this understanding is, “Why me?”. Personally, I know of wonderful men and women who spent more time in prayer than I did. They gave more than I did. They were much better Christians than I was, so why would God open my eyes to the beauty of His Torah’s validity and not them? From experience I can say that there truly seems to be no rhyme or reason in who God calls to His Torah. God is moving in cities, small towns, through nearly all denominations, in the United States, and all across the world. So why did I begin to hear something different than those wonderful people I worshipped beside all those year? Simply put…“His good pleasure”. It’s not for us to know or question why He called us. It was His prerogative and we are to be thankful and diligent.
 
Another question that soon arises is “Why not you?”. As we begin to share what we’re feeling as we pray and what we see as we study the scriptures, we soon realize that not everyone is hearing what we are hearing. We can read the Sabbath scriptures with people and, to our amazement, they don’t see what we see, that the Sabbath is forever and is the sign that we are His people! When we turn down bacon or shellfish and get dirty looks and questions, it can be so difficult for us to understand how those we love can’t see things the way we do. It is so easy for us to say, “How can you not see what the scriptures plainly teach?” In this part of our walk it is important to remember two main things. The first is that it wasn’t very long ago that you and I didn’t see things the way we do now either. The second is that we would’ve likely carried on in our ways had God Himself not disturbed our shalom and opened our eyes to His instructions.
 
As we begin to parse out what Avinu (our Father) is showing us, there often comes a time of isolation. I, personally, believe this is a God-ordained time where we are to be alone with Avinu where we can study and pray intently without outside voices and opinions. It is a time for us to learn to stand on our own two feet, to begin to learn, possibly for the first time in our lives, what we believe. I have heard this time called “sponge mode”. I like that because I think it really speaks to what this season is all about. It is usually here when we really begin to get a grasp of the sabbath, feasts, and dietary instructions laid out in the Torah. It is a wonderfully exciting time as we focus whole-heartedly on getting our feet under us and fall in love with God in a way many of us have never experienced.
 
For the vast majority, this time of isolation begins to come to a close and we become hungry once again for fellowship. Here in lies a huge challenge. Many of us find that we are truly the only ones in our communities who have begun to follow Messiah Yeshua in living out Torah. Finding a fellowship of like-minded believers can be very difficult. This is a complex and unique challenge. You see, most of us are Gentiles and because of anti-semitism and dispensational theology from the church at large, who believe that “the law has been done away with”, we feel we have no common fellowship there.  This can be, but may not always be the case. Many may feel now more closely tied to a Jewish or Messianic lifestyle but sadly, many are not welcomed in these circles (where the Torah has been lived for centuries) because “the Torah is only for the Jewish people”. Many turn to the internet where there are a host of “cyber fellowships” and teachers that are easily accessible. While I am thankful for the aid that technology has given the Torah movement, we still need a physical connection to each other. Hugs, handshakes, smiles, and laughter are necessary. Relationship and community is vital to our well-being and maturity as the children of God. As I said (and as many of you know personally), this is a very complex challenge and the effects of trying to find who we are and where we fit can be devastating.
 
So how do we navigate these troubles waters? How do we stay healthy and balanced as we find our place in this new understanding? In the next several blog posts, we are going to look into the scriptures and see what both the Tanahk (Old Testament) and the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) have to say about who we are and where we fit in the grand scheme of the Kingdom.
 
If you would like to follow either the audio or video teaching series “Identity”, follow here.
 
 

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#Instablessing#InstaGod – What have we become…?

   I have been spending a good bit of time lately watching my little ones during their daily activities. Watching them complete their chores, the girls during their gymnastics practice, or just simply day to day interaction with us and each other. One single word keeps playing over and over in my mind as I watch each of them, and that word is “impatience”.  

   Now before I go any further, I want to make sure to put myself on the chopping block and admit that many of the things I am about to mention, I myself have been guilty of. That being said, I KNOW that I am not alone and that there are many out there just as guilty as I am…and I hope that this blog will help you all take a step back as it has caused me to do.

   My eldest daughter and I were discussing the whole concept of the internet, what it entails, how it came to be, etc. It was when she made a comment about how horrible it must have been having to wait for your computer to connect to the internet, which many youth today have a hard time even understanding the concept of “dial up”, that it really hit me. Technology has always been an amazing and exciting thing, intending to enhance, educate, and advance. Always “moving forward” the “quicker the better” and yet…never realizing exactly WHAT it is leaving behind or causing the “host” to become. You see, in the past 20 years or so, we have gone from waiting for everyone to get off of the landline so that we could log on the internet, to our laptops, cellphone, and tablets are constantly linked. All we have to do is tap the screen and start searching. It still amazes me that many today do not even know what a “landline” phone is or even the mechanics. 

   We have gone from small neighborhood grocery stores where you feel warmed and welcomed every time you go in, to mainstream SuperCenters where multi checkout lanes are not fast enough, so we have self checkouts as well as self scanners so we can bypass the checkout lines all together.
 
   Now let me stop right here because I know there is someone reading this right now ready to throw their “buts” and “howevers” in. I understand there are times when the self checkouts are useful and needed. I myself use them when I am truly in a hurry or if I just have a few items. We have even used the “self scanners” a few times when they were in our local Walmart….until it came to the point that every time we would use the scanner we would get half way through our list before it would start malfunctioning. Yay, technology right? We also have where you can order your groceries online, pull up to a parking spot, and someone will bring them out to your car.
 
    Banking is done online as well as apps where you can scan your deposit check from your phone and it go straight to your account instead of you using the drive thru. We pay our bills online or through apps because it takes too much time to drive to town. 
 
    Our fast food drive thru’s are now not fast enough to the point that you can order using your phone, and pull up to received your order instead of waiting in the drive thru line.
 
    I get it…many of our lives are busy, always on the go that without some of these quick and instant options we wouldn’t be able to get through our days. BELIEVE ME…I GET IT. However…what are these instant results, instant gratifications not just teaching our children, but how are they being carried over into our personal lives?
 
    How many times, and be honest, have you called someone on their cellphone or you sent them a text message, and you became frustrated because either you left a voice mail and they didn’t immediately call you back or you had no instant response back to your text? When just a few years back, we would have called someone, left a message on the answering machine, and gone about our business, unfazed knowing that person would get back to us as soon as they could.
 
    We started emailing instead of sending what we call “snail” mail because it was quicker. However, even email responses began taking too long, so we started going to text and messaging. To those who know what it is like to receive a letter in the mail, how great of a feeling is it to see a brightly colored, hand written envelope addressed to you, that ISN’T a bill? lol. There is nothing like receiving a hand written letter, because that person took the time our of their day to physically write their thoughts on paper to send to you. Miss these so much.
 

    How often do we get annoyed or short with our little ones because they do not response as quickly as we think they should? They may take a little longer to put on their shoes and socks, while we stand at the door tapping our foot, ready to leave. The long drawn out stories they tell us or when it feels like 45 minutes for them to ask one question…..and we are sitting there trying to hurry them along by answering the question before they can even finish… we all have done it or do it still…but I ask you as I have been asking myself lately, what have I become? Also, not only what have I become, but what is my impatience teaching my babies?

    I can answer that last question real quick with, it is teaching them to be impatient with each other AND themselves. I watch as my baby boy becomes frustrated when he can’t seem to form the words to get his thoughts across, so he just gives up. I watch as my girls may struggle to learn a new skill in gymnastics and get so frustrated with themselves because it doesn’t come quickly, that they have tears streaming down their faces. I watch as my eldest struggles with a algebra problem and because she can’t “GET IT” as quickly as she thinks she should, she wants to quit and give up. They talk over each other instead of waiting for the other to finish, have a tendency to not “wait their turn”, and are quick to turn in the towel when a task takes longer than they would like for it to take.  Parents…..we have truly got to do better.

   Not just on a personal level, but what is all of this instant/quick fix doing to our relationship with the Father? Bibles are now on our phones. We don’t memorize the books, we don’t memorize scripture….because why? It is all there for us in an instant? We don’t study anymore, we don’t search out anymore…we sit and wait for someone to tell us what a scripture means and how we are supposed to apply it to our lives….instead of us figuring out for ourselves what the Father wants from us and how to apply OUR lives TO His Word.

   We want instant blessings, instant relief, instant “way outs”… We spent too much on vacation or on a shopping spree and are now in debt up to our eyeballs, and pray to the Father for financial blessing to get us out of a bind. We have a few doctors bills that we know will be coming up, but instead of us cutting back a little here and there to prepare for them, we just live our lives carefree and figure that “God will provide”.  How many of us are frustrated with out weight or our health…but refuse to do what we need to do on our end to eat healthier and get our bodies back to where they need to be? Instead we pray to Abba for quick and instant healing, curbing our appetites, help us to “push the plates away”. 

   Now again, let me stop and clarify, do I believe in miraculous healing? ABSOLUTELY! Do I believe that the Father will bless you in an instant? WITHOUT A DOUBT! I also know there are some financial situations and health factors that are out of our control. However…no matter what, I DO believe that the Father ALSO expects us to do OUR part, do what WE CAN, live as righteous as we can, and then He will do His part.

   But, going back to the “InstaBlessings”, I also have a “part B” to that in, how do we know that the actual BLESSING is not in the outcome but in the knowledge we gain DURING the trial? We throw our hands up, say YOUR WILL BE DONE, IT IS ALL IN YOUR HANDS, I PUT MY TRUST IN YOU, and IN YOUR TIMING FATHER…however when His timing doesn’t line up with OUR timing we get anxious, frustrated, and start wondering “Where He is?” What if His answer, is the process? You want to get your finances back under control and you aren’t given a huge financial blessing to kick start, so you begin to cut back here and there, budgeting, and making smart purchases. All of a sudden, your finances are back where they need to be and maybe even better…but now, the thrifty and smart way of spending is now a lifestyle because of the process.

    What if you aren’t given quick healing with your illness or overweight situation, so you begin to take matters into your own hands and look at your eating habits, listen to your body, and find out what changes you need to make. Maybe you become more active, maybe you take a little extra time making sure to disinfect when around someone with the sniffles and then all of a sudden, you begin to feel energy again, clothes fit better, you feel healthier….and (again) the process has now become a lifestyle that will keep you on this track for the rest of your lives.

    Now I ask, would the instant healing, the quick financial blessings have taught you anything? Or would they have just been a quick means to an end and the reality is you probably would have found yourself in the same situation or one like it again down the road…
AGAIN…because I know someone is ready and waiting to pipe in…I am focusing on decisions that WE have made that we KNEW might not have been the right ones, but needed the “instant” gratification, and figured we would deal with the consequences later. Day to day situations that WE have caused due to our lack of self control. Self Control……we will save that one for another day. 
 

   My brothers and sisters…we have GOT to get out of this InstaGod/InstaBlessing mindset. He is not a genie whose lamp we rub, He is not a Santa Claus that we send our lists in to and expect every item to be filled, He is not a slot machine that we put our tokens in, pull the handle and expect a payout. There is SO much to learn and to gain from THE PROCESS, from TAKING OUR TIME and BEING PATIENT.

   So I encourage you as I am looking at myself in the mirror, take a step back. If not for yourself, for the little ones that are looking up to you and mirroring their lives after you. Take the long way from time to time, walk out the “test”, dance in the rain, teach and implement patience and understanding, learn how to grow through the process…and breathe. Experience life, give of yourself in your relationships, give more time and honor to the Father…because He DESERVES it. As children of the Most High, it is time we get off this “fast track” that the world is trying to preoccupy us with, slow down, and make the most out of what time He is giving us….because He is giving it to us for a reason…
 
Shalom
 

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Tolerance vs. Compassion

     These are turbulent times we live in, folks. The social and political climate of the world is changing rapidly. As society becomes more progressive, we are encouraged to be more tolerant. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with that ideal, and I genuinely believe people have the best of intentions with this message. The problem is that I’m afraid those of us in the Body of Messiah have taken the positive aspects of tolerance and spun it to our destruction. So, I have a couple of questions. If you truly love someone, do you allow them to behave in a way or put themselves in a situation that would ultimately harm them? Or, would you correct them out of love and concern for their well-being and prosperity? What I’m trying to say is that there is a HUGE difference between tolerance and compassion. Now, I do want to be crystal clear, so let me tell you what this is not. The word “tolerance” is pretty loaded, but I’m not implying that we should weaponize Scripture to be hateful in any way toward people who do not believe in God or the Bible, or maybe even more importantly, toward people who don’t walk exactly as we walk. See, that’s the irony, tolerance can easily become a vehicle for hatefulness. I’m speaking specifically to and for people who believe in the God of Israel, and for community, for people living life together. For people who know each other well and want what’s best for each other.

     Now that that’s out of the way, let’s examine these terms more closely. I like the idea of the “law of first mention,” therefore, I’ll be looking at the Hebrew here. Tolerance refers to the ability or willingness to accept something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with. The Hebrew word is “sovlanut” (סוֹבלָנוּת/sohv-lah-noot), and is not found in Scripture, not even once. That in and of itself should tell us something. On the other hand, to be compassionate means to have concern, sympathy, mercy, or even pity for the suffering and misfortune of others. There are two Hebrew words most commonly used for compassion: “chamal” (חָמַל/khaw-mal/H2550) and “racham” (רָחַם/raw-kham/H7355). See Exodus 2:6 for the former, Deuteronomy 13:17 for the latter. Although these two words, tolerance and compassion, are often used interchangeably, can you see the difference?

     Because of Western society’s “leap forward,” an inaccurate profile of Yeshua has taken shape. Today, the Messiah is portrayed as a mild and meek martyr who would never do anything to upset anyone under any circumstances, no matter what, even if He disagreed with them. His words, actions, and teachings have been misconstrued in order to be more palatable. The truth is that Yeshua was and is not tolerant. “Huh? Did he really just say that?” Yes, I did, He was not tolerant. He was, however, compassionate. Please, bear with me, and let me explain. Opposed to the traits I already mentioned, Yeshua was not afraid to “step on toes” and make others uncomfortable to teach a lesson. He himself said, “I and the Father are one,” so is it so hard to believe that Yeshua showed His love like that of a father, or more specifically, the Father? When I mess up, my dad is often the first to correct me and put me back on track, even if it requires a bit of a “kick to the rear end,” so to speak. My father does this because he wants what is best for me, he wants me to succeed. It’s done out of compassion and love. Yeshua taught in the same way. There are plenty of examples throughout the scriptures that we could look to, but I want to use one in particular that you may even know by heart. However, there’s an important verse in this passage that is often completely ignored. Please read John 8:1-11. We love to use this passage for verse 7’s sake. We love to use it to justify ourselves and perhaps the behavior of others. Context is key here, though. As incredible as that verse is, it’s just a part of an amazing lesson the Master is teaching, not the whole lesson. This one passage, amazingly, shows Yeshua being compassionate for the woman (verse 7, verses 10-11), and intolerant of her sinfulness. He doesn’t command her to “Just believe in me and love me so that you can continue to live life your way.” No! He commands her to “…go and sin no more…” That might sound kind of harsh, impossible even, depending on how you understand sin. But, do you want to talk about the wisdom, grace, and mercy of Messiah? Here’s what he effectively said: “Hey, so now that you’re ok, take this experience and learn from it to avoid another mess like this.” If that is not compassion, I don’t know what is. He wants better for her, He loves her, and He wants her to align herself with the Word and with the Father. Period. So then, to truly love someone is to not be tolerant of their destructive behavior. We need to start to understand that correcting one another and holding one another accountable with love and tact is not “judgement” or “casting stones.” I know that I’m not always so great at this thing called “life,” and not if, but when I mess up please, help me out, help me get right. I would be more offended if you didn’t, because I’ll be held accountable at some point, and I’ll be worse off by then. In fact, I would argue that tolerance and compassion cannot coexist when it comes to building relationships for the Kingdom. We can’t grow if we’re not corrected. I’ve brought up the Kingdom a couple of times now and this passage is the perfect example of our walk and our responsibility when we come to Messiah and enter the Kingdom. We were all once “adulterous,” deserving of the consequences of our actions, but Yeshua stood in the gap and taught us how to live life correctly, and gave Himself up to save us from said consequences. Once we come into the Kingdom through Him, it becomes our duty to do our best to live as He lived, to do our best to “go and sin no more,” not to be saved, but because He saved us. We need each other for that. The secular ideal of tolerance isn’t completely off. It’s just not complete. If you make a minor change in the Hebrew word for tolerance you get “savlanut,” (סַבְלָנוּת/sahv-lah-noot) a word closely related, meaning “patience.” Its root is “saval” (סָבַל/saw-vahl), meaning to bear (a burden). We have to be patient with one another, help each other with the burdens we each bear, and encourage change in each other’s lives. Patience combined with compassion trumps tolerance any day. You know, there’s a certain commandment in the Torah that Yeshua thought was pretty important, that is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” With this in mind, ask yourself: When it comes to tolerance and compassion, which requires more understanding and maturity? Which would you want for yourself and in turn for your neighbor?

     I continue to hope and pray for unity in the Kingdom, so that we can benefit one another and grow in Messiah. I hope that you understand my heart here, and that this gives you a new point of view that will benefit you, your walk, and your relationships. Feel free to reach out to me so that we can grow together! Shalom


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What are our actions doing to His reputation?

What are our actions doing to His reputation?

I have been noticing a common thread lately floating through my Facebook feed and it really has both concerned and frustrated me. I see some criticized for their generations upon generations of traditions, some are attacked for following Torah, celebrating the Feasts, worshipping on the 7th day sabbath, and  some are screamed at because of their “pagan ways”. I watch how people are mocked or told that because they aren’t a part of a certain group or belief, that they are not allowed to study and understand certain things. Now I know that this is not a new occurrence and will be something that continues on because, as human beings, we are drawn to drama, anger, and aggression. However, I hope that if anything, my post will at least cause one to pause and consider the outcome of such actions.

For the past several weeks, I have read articles, watched videos, read comments threads, etc. on Facebook of different groups of believers that seem to do nothing more than attack each other. I have seen Messianic, Hebrew Roots, Christian, and Jew all attacking one another’s beliefs, understandings, view points and I find myself asking why? What good will come of this?

I heard a wise man once say that it doesn’t do any good trying to discuss or debate with someone that is not in your own family, which is SO TRUE!!! In our home, we have certain rules that our children follow. It is our “Torah” if you will. However, we have several neighbors around us who also have rules that function in their own homes. Now, do we go to their homes and start tearing them down and reprimanding them because they are not obeying OUR rules within THEIR homes? OF course not!!! That would do nothing but cause anger, bitterness, and possibly a broken relationship. So why are we doing that very thing to the different “families” of believers?

Now, we are all passionate about our beliefs, about our faith….and that is awesome. However, when we begin tearing down others because they may not believe or see the Scriptures the same way we do, what is that saying about the Father that we serve? If we are supposed to be walking AS the Messiah walked, if we are supposed to be mirroring HaShem in our lives, then what are our actions, how we handle people and other situations saying about His reputation?

For my Torah observant family, it is NOT our job to open their eyes, to reprimand them of their ways, or annihilate them in public and on Facebook. Our job is to be studied and ready for WHEN Abba opens eyes and draws them to this walk. It is our job to answer questions patiently and gracefully when asked, not debate or attack those who do not study as we do. We are meant to be the Psalm 1 tree, planted and immovable no matter who or what steps in our way. Yes, we will get frustrated when we see Scripture used incorrectly, misquoted, or used partially to justify a certain idea or lifestyle. However, remember we must never group everything into one pot, not all are the same, and not everyone has the same intentions. There are genuine people not following Torah who are loving the Father and serving Him the best they know how….and that IS O.K. Respect them for that and when/if they come asking questions or interested in learning this walk…do not belittle their understanding or mock their beliefs. Do not talk down to them or degrade them for not knowing what you know. Walk beside them, live with them, and be the light that HaShem needs you to be.

To my Christian brothers and sisters, stop labeling and criticizing those who are studying Torah, who are following the Father’s instructions, and who are wanting to live and walk as Yeshua did. The fact of the matter is, Yeshua was/is a Jew (he didn’t convert on the cross) and the Father’s Torah/instructions are still as valid today as they were when He spoke everything into existence….period. Any Scripture that is used to “nullify” this statement is being cherry picked and/or taken out of context. That being said, if you feel that this way of following the Father is not for you, that is o.k. Your relationship with Abba is between you and Him. However, be very careful of what you say and how you treat others in that walk, because the Father COULD draw you into following Torah and you will need someone to help support and walk with you. Stop being judgmental when you hear them speaking the Hebrew language. Stop accusing them or assuming certain things about them or their beliefs before you take the time to personally ask. I have heard many comments about groups in the Torah walk, even OAM, about how we do not believe in Yeshua, that we believe one has to follow Torah for salvation, they we are speaking blasphemy, or mocking/making fun of the Holy Spirit. All of which are furthest from the truth. I understand the way we read, study, and walk out the Scripture looks different, may seem a little weird and uncomfortable. I would have thought the same over 10 years ago before I started studying. I DO also know there are what we call “Torah Terrorists”, who thrive on intentionally attacking those not living/believing as they do. However, as I challenged my Torah observant family, I also will challenge you, do not lump everyone in the same pot.  So please, before you starting making false assumptions, consider the possibility that you might have misunderstood or misheard what they were saying or teaching. Instead of coming to quick conclusions, contact them and ask them to clarify so that way you can fully understand their heart and intent. We get frustrated when people make false assumptions about us….let us know be quick to do the same about others.

So my challenge and plea to you, stop arguing with those who are not walking in “your lane”. Stop attacking, baiting, and intentionally “poking the bear” to try to prove your point. Trying to make the other person stumble in their understanding does NOTHING for you as a representative of the Father, but instead makes you look like a jerk. We hear the argument all of the time “well Yeshua corrected and scolded the Pharisees so we are just following what He did”. My answer….YES HE did….HOWEVER…HUGE difference. Yeshua debated with leadership who were “IN HIS LANE”. He didn’t argue, bait, or poke those who were not living and following the Jewish lifestyle/beliefs. He CALMLY DISCUSSED when asked, TAUGHT and ALLOWED them to draw near, LIVED it before engaging. If we are going to be HaShem’s example until the Messiah’s return, then we have GOT to stop with the drama, anger, and attacking. Stop being “triggered” by those who are not in your “family” and BE the representation that you were put here to be. Remember that if you say you are part of THE Kingdom and are a follower of the Most High, then your actions, your words, how you live are going to affect how other’s perceive who you serve.

Make sure your life is all about the sake of His reputation…..


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And the Word became flesh…

“In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. We looked upon His glory, the glory of the One and only from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Like me, these are probably some of the first verses you ever learned. However, as I reflected on my life this week and asked myself the tough questions, this verse came to mind. I’ve spent countless Sunday school and “life group” meetings pondering the mysticism within this passage. Aside from being some of the most powerful (and poetic) verses in the Gospels, there is some pragmatic application here as well. Now, I’m not offering a new interpretation of this passage here, just a little perspective. What exactly is this passage about? The first chapter of John perfectly sums up the Messiah’s lifestyle; He was the Word made flesh. He was so obedient in his actions that His life was the personification of the Word. Think about that for moment, that alone doesn’t often get its due credit. It really isn’t all that mysterious, the Messiah was just that obedient. So, what exactly does that mean for us? I used to hear all the time that to be a “Christian” means to be “Christ-like.” Ok, perfect, I appreciate the sentiment, but can anyone quantify that concept in and of itself? Lord knows I used to have trouble. Consider the following: 1 John 2:5-6, “But whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God is truly made perfect. We know that we are in Him by this— whoever claims to abide in Him must walk just as He walked.” You see, the whole reason that Yeshua lived and taught was for our instruction, and as previously stated He is the Word made flesh. Interestingly, we are instructed to walk as He walked, to live as He lived. The question I’ve been asking myself this week is this, “Are you living your life in a way in which the Word is seen to be alive?” At work, at school, at home, am I in some degree personifying the Word? Does my life show the one and only of the Father, full of grace and truth? I can postulate, theorize, and study for countless hours, but if my life is no evidence of my study, it is all in vain. That may seem really basic and foundational, but it is also something we should be constantly examining within ourselves. Every day the Father allows us to wake up, we have the opportunity to be personifications of His Word. One of the biggest lies propagated by believers is that obedience is unattainable. That, my friends, is just simply not biblical. We need to stop lying to one another, and start empowering one another; the goal is not perfection, the goal is obedience. The Messiah says in John 14, “He who possesses My commands and guards them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I shall love him and manifest Myself to him.” We show our love for our Savior by keeping the commandments, and in turn Yeshua manifests in us and His love is shown to our neighbors. In this way, the image of God is perfectly transmitted. Be a living example of Scripture by guarding the commandments, this is how we can be like Messiah. I hope everyone has had an amazing Passover, and I hope this week has drawn you closer to the Father. Shalom, everyone!


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Consistency of Community

Have had something on my heart for the past several weeks and was given release today to finally post this in hopes to bring peace and encouragement.

So often we have received texts, private messages, or phone calls from both sides of the spectrum…either people just now coming into this walk, this Way of Truth or those who have BEEN walking in it and have their own fellowships. The common thread is the consistency of community. 

You see, before we began living a Torah observant life, many of us were involved in the mainstream church. It was always bigger is better, doing whatever it took to make people happy, even to the extreme of exhausting the ministry to the point of dry, emptiness just to keep everyone at peace and everything “looking” first class.  However, we HAVE to remember…..THIS AIN’T THAT!!!

Sadly, we are bringing a lot of the drama that we left into this Truth and are becoming the very thing we swore we never would. People are tearing each other apart, bad mouthing, and breaking community because not everyone follows the same calendar, we may not say the Father’s name the same way, the distance is too far to travel, I’m not going back to “church”,  or its just too hard to change “my” schedule to go. The list continues to grow……and it truly breaks my heart.

Here is the deal, Abba wants us to be in UNITY….not uniformity. Are we all going to agree all of the time? Of course not, that is impossible. We are human beings. We  each have thoughts, ideas, imaginations all unique, which the Father instilled in us for a purpose. And that is AWESOME! The main thing is….what is our final goal? That is where the “walking in unity” part comes in. The desire to please our Messiah, to walk AS He walked, live AS He lived, celebrate WHAT and HOW He celebrated, living out the ENTIRE Word….THAT is our common goal. If we can agree on that, then we should be able  to come together, to respect each other’s differences, and join in community to focus on the bigger picture…His Kingdom. And how important that coming together as a community truly is!

All of us remember when the Father began speaking to us, disturbing our shalom, unveiling our eyes. Our first thoughts were “What’s wrong with me? Why isn’t everyone hearing or seeing this? Am I crazy? “ Then as we began to listen to His voice and dig deeper…we began to wonder if anyone else out there was hearing the same. Were we alone?  All we wanted was to talk to SOME ONE who understood and were walking the same path as we were.  You see, THAT is where the community part comes in and WHY it is so vital.

I understand many of us are in rural areas where there might not be a Torah community within 10-20 minutes, many in our own OAM community drive 30 minutes to 2 hours just to be with their OAM mishpacha every Shabbat. You may think that is nuts and there is no way you would travel that far just to be with others….but wait. You HAVE to remember what it was like to be a new person in this Way…the excitement when you realized you were not alone, and that you were able to come together with a community of like minded people to talk, study, worship, to LIVE life. To be able to walk into a room and see so many that are hearing the same voice as you have been, gave you so much peace.

For those that have been walking Torah for a while, your community NEEDS you. They need your smiles, your hugs, your wisdom. But as much as your community needs you, YOU need your community. You NEED to be surrounded by others, digging out and discussing the Scripture together. You need a community of people who MIGHT NOT see the Scripture just as you do, challenging you, causing you to search out what you believe and why….Iron sharpens iron. Life is not easy, this walk is NOT easy no matter how long you have been walking, and we need to be with like minded people living, supporting, and searching out Word together while having the same end goal.

You need to be surrounded by believers who are new in this way, to help guide and walk beside them as they learn, picking them up when they fall and help guide them back when they get distracted.  AT THE SAME TIME, you need to be surrounded by those who have walked longer than you, have more wisdom and experience than you, so that YOU can continue to grow and learn yourself. Someone to help guide YOU back to the path whenever you become side tracked or distracted. A healthy Torah community is where all of that takes place, as a body, as echad (as one)…growing, living, breathing, as one body.

Consistency of the community is SO vital and SO important for the Remnant that is being called out. Whether you can make it every week or once/twice a month, those new people NEED to see you there, they NEED to see your face, HEAR your story, and FEEL your understanding and encouragement. Many of them either have or will find that this walk is not easy and can be very lonely. Family, friends, church members and leadership will cast them aside and break all ties and they need to see they have a community to run to for support, wisdom, understanding, and to share similar stories and experiences with. Your participation in your Torah community is so much bigger than you and is so important for the Kingdom.

So I encourage each of you across the country, the world or maybe just in our area. If you are hearing His voice calling you out to live a Torah life, a set-apart lifestyle, find a like minded community to celebrate with. Be active, be consistent, be supportive, but most importantly….BE THERE.  Whether it is every Shabbat, every Feast, or (due to distance) just once or twice a month….be there. This is a preparation season and it is all hands on deck. We have to prepare ourselves for what the Father is doing, to be ready for what He has coming, and there is no way we will be able to do that alone!!!

Shalom my Torah family and Shavua Tov


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Have you been looking for a sign???

How many times have you cried out to the Father for direction or an answer. In the midst of a storm or chaos, we cry out to Abba, many times for Him to simply give us a sign that He is still there, that He is listening. It seems many are those dry seasons where our valleys are deep, the air is silent, we have no direction, we seek and speak to the Father however, all we hear are crickets…and all we want is for Him to make His presence known and to remind us that we are still His, that His hand is still upon us. Those times can be some of the loneliest, most frustrating, empty and anxious times that we walk through. Many of us become desperate, taking matters into our own hands…HOPING that at some point…Abba will step in and move.

All we are asking for…..is a sign….

Through studying the weekly Torah portions, recently digging into the episode of the golden calf, the Father began walking me through some of my own scenarios that are not too much unlike those of the Hebrew children. You see….for so long we have taken this golden calf incident and began throwing stones at the Hebrews. What in the world would cause them to do such a thing? How evil were they to turn their backs on God. How could they forget all that they had been delivered from and go to that extreme level of forming an idol? They must not have loved Him as much as they “proclaimed”….the list goes on.

HOWEVER, we must (as we should do will ALL scripture) put what is going on into context, into perspective. Put yourself in THEIR shoes, understand WHO is a part of the equation, understand their culture and remember their experiences. Sooo, let’s go back.

The Hebrew children along with the mixed multitude had experienced plague after plague. What we have to remember is that they had been living in Egypt for hundreds of years. Picture the generations upon generations that lived and died, the whole time becoming more and more assimilated into Egypt and the people living there. It had become a part of their every day lives. They probably formed relationships with the Egyptians. For some, their children might have played together, some may even had married the Egyptians. So with each plague that went through, they watched places they used to go, people they had befriended, their neighbors animals and lively hoods be destroyed. Yes, they knew the reason for the plagues and that they were chosen for the Father’s master plan, however, they were human, they had emotions. So I have to believe, they still felt guilt, pain, and  sorrow for their loved ones. As Noah before them, I am sure many of them pleaded for their friends and family to follow them. Traditions tell us that there were only around 20% of the Hebrews that actually left. Many studies I read said that one reason they left in such a hurry was so that the ones who DID leave were not given time to begin second guessing and end up staying behind. So you can imagine…yes they were excited and ready for freedom and a new life…yet the pain and sorrow they felt of leaving family, friends, and their comfort behind was very real.

Fast forward through the many miracles they experienced as Pharaoh chased after them, the miracle of the manna that was supplied for them to eat, the many times they ran to Mosheh (Moses) for wisdom and direction on what the next step was to be. Now they are at Mt. Sinai and after hearing the commandments, the Torah given straight from the Father, asked Mosheh to go up and speak to God for them. THEY created a mediator between them and the Father, something which God had never wanted in the first place.

So Mosheh is up on Mt. Sinai, speaking with the Father, and the people begin to grow concerned by his delayed return. One study I read was that they actually had miscalculated the days of his return and that is what caused them to act. So, they go to Aaron for help, he tells them what to do, and the golden calf incident takes place. There is SO MUCH more happening here, and MUCH more study as to WHY Aaron would follow through with this…but that is another blog.

This is where many of us have gotten all high and mighty. We would NEVER do that, we would NEVER disobey God to the point of creating an idol to worship. But wait….let’s back up a moment. Let’s back up to the very beginning and put ourselves in their shoes.

Like them…many of us have had to leave our comfort zones. We have many family and friends that may not be living for God, and no matter how much we try to warn them…they refuse to follow the Messiah. Many of us have stepped into a new season the Father has called us to, having to change lifestyles, jobs, family, friends…..causing us to shed everything that defined us as US, all stepping out in faith that the Father has something bigger for us to do and be a part of.

Then….life begins to hit. You see…we were told when you begin to follow the Father…he will answer your prayers, give you the desires of your heart, and be your everything. Which is true….HOWEVER….#1 those come with requirements of following His commands…and #2 a life walking with the Father is NOT without hardships and sacrifices. So when life begins to rain down, when the storm begins to rage, the winds begin to blow, and our feet get knocked out from under us…we begin to doubt.  The Hebrew children had experienced miracle after miracle and yet, they still struggled with faith and doubt. How many times have we gone to the Father about a problem…needed help in finances, a loved one that was sick and needed healing, farmers needed rain for their crops to grow? The Father comes our rescue, providing the much needed rain, we are blessed with extra finances by an unknown source, our sick family or friend begins to make a full recovery from their illness and we praise Him for all that he is…for a while. Then life hits again…and even though (like the Hebrews) we saw and experienced those miracles…we too begin to doubt.

That seems to be the times where our dry seasons begin, where we hear no answers and feel like our prayers are hitting a brick wall. So like the Hebrew children with the golden calf….we get desperate…needing to KNOW that someone is hearing our pleas. You see, they weren’t forming an idol to worship instead of God. They had JUST come out of Egypt and therefore, in fear and desperation, were falling back on all that they knew. They thought that Mosheh was dead and were trying to create (as only they knew how) another “mediator” to go before the Father on their behalf. Were they in the wrong? Most definitely and they were severely punished for it. However, how much have we done the same? We search and seek out the Father…we pray and get restless. So instead of having faith and believing that the Father has this….we seek out a friend, we seek out a pastor, an evangelist, a “prophet” to give us the answers we need. We spend time and money flocking to conferences in hopes of being told the direction we need to take. Now…I am not saying that seeking your pastor or a wise friend for guidance is taboo, however, when you begin to go to them first before seeking out the Father time after time, when you begin to put the “pastor’s words” above anything and everything else, not checking them with the Word, and setting him up on a pedestal…THAT is where we get off track and are acting no better than the Hebrew children.

You see….the Father knew what was happening with the Hebrew children. He KNEW they were going to get anxious, that they were going to need a “sign” to not only remind them of who they were and whose they were, but also something to remind them that He was close. So he gives Mosheh instructions to give to them tangible reassurance of His presence and our relationship with Him. The last instruction He  gave Mosheh, before He descended with the tablets was to tell Israel that they “must keep My Sabbaths, for this is a sign between Me and you throughout the ages, that you may know that I the Lord have consecrated you.”  God called the Shabbat (the seventh day Sabbath) a sign of the relationship between Himself and Israel. Because of Yeshua, we have been grafted into Israel, so this promise, this “sign” is for us as well. However….WE have to observe it. We have to set it apart and make it as special and significant as HE does.

From personal experience, there is just SOMETHING about setting apart the Shabbat. Now I am not going to get into a debate on “when the Sabbath really is”.  The Father rested on the SEVENTH day. Yeshua observed the SEVENTH DAY Sabbath. Yeshua DID NOT come and die to change the sabbath day…period. That out of the way, when you begin to spend time with the Father, studying His instructions, seeking Him out on the day that HE scheduled to meet with us……WOW. That will be all “the sign” that you need. When you begin to follow His instructions and observe the Sabbath day as HE intended, life may not get easier, difficulties will not stop from coming, storms will still rage from time to time…BUT you will begin to deal with them differently. There will be a peace that comes over you like never before, your head will become more clear and wisdom will begin to spill forth. You will begin to feel more fulfilled and more prepared for WHEN the storms come rather than trying to play catch up when they hit.

So my encouragement…take the step…if you are looking for “the sign” to get you through this next “plague”, this next “dessert”, don’t make the mistake that our ancestors did. Don’t be hasty. Don’t take matters into your own hands. Don’t seek out a person to be your mediator. You have already been given a sign. Observe the Sabbath, seek the Father and spend time with Him on THE DAY that HE has ALREADY set apart and made Kadosh (holy). Come together with fellow believers, as we are commanded, and dig out/wrestle with the Scriptures together.  Celebrate the Sabbath when and how the FATHER said, this in turn will set YOU apart…as His child.

Shalom


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TORAH…Fad or Lifestyle?

As I sit here during my quiet time with Abba this morning, a certain topic keeps circling in my head that truly grieves my heart. As these last days begin to wind down, more and more people are grasping for truth, some sort of peace and stability in KNOWING they are going to be ok. Conferences, sermons, bible studies, “self-help” books are focusing on end times, the last days, the book of Revelation.

However, people are still wanting more and are beginning to dig into the Hebrew Scriptures….longing to know WHO their Messiah is, how He walked, and what He EXPECTS of His children. So, as with before, we are seeing more and more teachings, books, studies, sermons on Hebrew Scriptures, Torah, Feasts, etc.

And that is AWESOME!

I am so ecstatic about the hunger, the desire, the focus that is beginning to rise in my fellow brothers and sisters in Yeshua, wanting to know MORE of our Messiah.

However, here is where my heart begins to grieve….

The danger is that we have pastors, teachers, leaders “teaching” about Torah, the Feasts, the Sabbath, yet they are not LIVING what they are teaching.

I hear people say, we are doing a series on Torah…or we are having a special sermon or mini conference on the Feasts…and my heart begins to cry. For you see…Torah is not “a series” that you can sum up in a month or two. Torah is a life style, it is complete instructions on how we are to LIVE in His Kingdom. It is the very fingerprint of our Messiah on our hearts.

The Feasts are not some “show stopping topic” for one to use in a sermon to gain excitement and interest. They are not this “new thing” for us to use as way to increase our congregation and pocket books. The Feasts are holy, they are rich, they are prophetic. They deserve respect and deep study to TRULY understand the fullness of these “appointed times”.  This is not a “fad or hot topic” you can’t throw a lesson together about it or “wing it”….you can not TRULY teach what you yourself are not walking. By doing that, you are not only cheating the ones you are teaching, but you yourself are missing out on the most amazing, intimate, deep, enriching, and peaceful relationship/walk with Yeshua that you could ever imagine.

So my first question is to teachers, bible study leaders, preachers, etc. who have begun teaching Torah, Feasts, Hebrew Scripture….are you LIVING what you are teaching?  Are you walking as He walked, celebrating HOW and WHEN he celebrated, teaching as He taught, and being a TRUE and WHOLE living witness of His Word? Is your heart beating in unison with our Messiah?

My second question is to those seeking Truth. Those who the Father is beginning to disturb your Shalom (peace), opening your eyes, and putting a hunger inside of you to know Him in a more deeper and intimate way. Are the teachers you are listening to, are the leaders you are following, is the congregation you are a part of….are they LIVING what they are teaching? Does their lives mirror what they say they believe and what they proclaim to be Scriptural Truth? Is the community that you are surrounding yourself with (though at different speeds) all headed the same direction and striving for the same goal?

For you see…Torah is not education…it is transformation. If you “say” you are studying Torah, yet your lifestyle, your beliefs, your thought process is not transforming  and growing you into alignment WITH His instructions….then you are NOT studying Torah.

So my challenge and encouragement…LIVE what you are teaching, MAKE your lives align with your words, SEEK OUT communities that are working as echad (as one) toward the same goal, the same mark….Torah. Because you see this is not some “fad” that will ebb and flow, making way for the next “big thing”. Torah is His instructions, His Tabnith (blueprint) for living in His Kingdom….and He takes that VERY seriously.

Shalom


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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.

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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.
 
 

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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.


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Emuna

by: Alyssa Goodeaux
 
Most of my life has been a string of events that shaped the foundation of who I am. These events were all-encompassing, trying to a great extent, and completely out of my control. Life was something of an event that I figured out how to survive in. It wasn’t until many years later, apart from those circumstances, that I could look back on my journey and see clearly what had been happening and how truly important all of the good, bad, and ugly were for where I am going.
There’s a neat idea that if you go back to the Torah portion told on the weekly Sabbath of your birthday, you can gain profound insight into your life. While this isn’t an end-all be-all to existence, the story that I resonate with most in Scripture does directly relate with the portion related to my birthday: Beshalach (Exodus 13:17–17:16).
This is the telling of His people, rescued from Egypt, going through the dessert and how they carried that out. While constantly being cared for, despite all they had been through, they were in a state of raw survival and from less than kind circumstances – and anything but gracious to Abba for being cared for. As we His children do, there were requests, defiance, and complaints. It’s what I think of as the period of transformation and transition for them and what I now can identify with in my own story.
Waiting in my own Egypt was more than a period of passivity that can be mistakenly associated with the word “waiting.” Waiting in my own Egypt was absolutely necessary preparation for where He leads me today. If you’ve been in Torah observant circles long enough, you’ve heard the coined phrase that there are only two periods of the year: the festivals and waiting for the festivals. “Waiting” for the festivals means lots of background planning. You don’t wait for the festival to come to start putting money aside or deciding where to go and who with and all the details that have to be addressed to properly carry out His will. In the same way, waiting became an intense period of preparation and especially one of building emuna.
Emuna means faith, faithfulness, and is closely related to “being sturdy or firm,” but not of oneself – being faithful and firm in Abba.
Even at a time when I barely understood who He really is, I would find myself desperately seeking Him for salvation from a situation that seemed hopeless. The reality is, I was being tempered into unshakable faith because what was inescapable before changed as my relationship with Him changed. After He drew me out and separated me, over time, I was able to recognize how His hand had been on my life all along, gently but consistently pushing me forward.
 
G‑d said to Moses: “Why do you cry out to Me?
Speak to the children of Israel, that they should go forward” (Ex. 14:15)
 
As they stood at the shore of the sea, the people of Israel split into four factions. One faction said: “Let us cast ourselves into the sea.” A second faction said, “Let us return to Egypt.” A third said, “Let us wage war against the Egyptians.” A fourth said, “Let us cry out to G‑d.” Thus Moses said to the people: “Fear not; stand by and see the salvation of G‑d, which He will show you today. For as you have seen Egypt this day, you shall not see them again anymore, forever. G‑d shall fight for you, and you shall be silent” (14:13–14).
To those who said, “Let us cast ourselves into the sea,” he said: “Fear not; stand by and see the salvation of G‑d.” To those who said, “Let us return to Egypt,” he said: “As you have seen Egypt this day, you shall not see them again anymore, forever.” To those who said, “Let us wage war against them,” he said: “G‑d shall fight for you.” And to those who said, “Let us cry out to G‑d,” he said: “And you shall be silent.”
(Mechilta)
 
These “four factions” represent four possible reactions to a situation in which one’s divinely ordained mission in life is challenged by the prevalent reality.One possible reaction is: “Let us cast ourselves into the sea.” Let us submerge ourselves within the living waters of Torah; let us plunge into the “sea of the Talmud,” the sea of piety, the sea of religious life. Let us create our own insular communities, protecting us and ours from the G‑dless world out there.
 
At the other extreme is the reaction, “Let us return to Egypt.” Let us accept “reality,” recognizing that it is the Pharaohs who wield the power in the real world. We’ll do whatever we can under the circumstances to do what G‑d expects from us, but it is futile to imagine that we can resist, much less change, the way things are.
 
A third reaction is to “wage war against them”—to assume a confrontational stance against the hostile reality, battling the “unG‑dly” world despite all odds.
 
A fourth reaction is to say: It’s wrong to abandon the world, it’s wrong to succumb to it and it’s wrong to fight it. The answer lies in dealing with it on a wholly spiritual level. A single prayer can achieve more than the most secure fortress, the most flattering diplomat or the most powerful army.
 
G‑d rejected all four approaches. While each of them has their time and place (it’s important to create inviolable sancta of holiness in a mundane world; it’s also necessary to appreciate the nature of the prevalent reality and deal with it on its own terms; it’s also necessary to wage an all-out war against evil; and it’s always important to recognize that one cannot do it on one’s own and to appeal to G‑d for help)—none of them is the vision to guide our lives and define our relationship with the world we inhabit.
Rather, when the Jew is headed toward Sinai and is confronted with a hostile or indifferent world, his most basic response must be to go forward.
 
Not to escape reality, not to submit to it, not to wage war on it, not to deal with it only on a spiritual level, but to go forward. Do another mitzvah, ignite another soul, take one more step toward your goal.
And when you move forward, you will see that insurmountable barrier yield and that ominous threat fade away. You will see that the prevalent “reality” is not so real after all, and that you have it within your power to reach your goal. Even if you have to split some seas to get there.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)
I know I’m not alone in my journey. We all have beautiful, raw, and heartbreaking testimonies of trials we have had to go through to get to where we are.
If you’re going through one now, I pray you take heart and make yourself firm in His constant assurance and presence. Your life is a beautiful work of art with careful, decisive purpose for His will. As we wrestle with being the best parent we can be and sanity, balancing the necessity of work and spending time with our families, and navigating the waters of being Torah observant with family that challenges that, I pray that you move forward one step at a time, trusting that He has never left you in any of it. While the first steps can feel and look scary, you’re walking right into Abba’s arms by letting go and allowing the state of preparation to happen. The moment you allow His Spirit to work in you freely is the moment that He wins anything standing in the way.
 
To find out your birthday Torah portion:
 
 

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Identity: Who We Were

There is a strange and exciting phenomenon taking place all across the world. People from all walks of religious life and various denominational backgrounds are being drawn to a different way of living out our faith than they’ve ever considered. It is exciting yet uncomfortable, fascinating yet confusing, seemingly simple yet overwhelmingly difficult. For many, this change comes all of a sudden…often overnight. This change is summed up in one word…Torah. The main challenge can also be summed up in one word…Identity.
 
One of the questions that comes up when we come to terms with this understanding is, “Why me?”. Personally, I know of wonderful men and women who spent more time in prayer than I did. They gave more than I did. They were much better Christians than I was, so why would God open my eyes to the beauty of His Torah’s validity and not them? From experience I can say that there truly seems to be no rhyme or reason in who God calls to His Torah. God is moving in cities, small towns, through nearly all denominations, in the United States, and all across the world. So why did I begin to hear something different than those wonderful people I worshipped beside all those year? Simply put…“His good pleasure”. It’s not for us to know or question why He called us. It was His prerogative and we are to be thankful and diligent.
 
Another question that soon arises is “Why not you?”. As we begin to share what we’re feeling as we pray and what we see as we study the scriptures, we soon realize that not everyone is hearing what we are hearing. We can read the Sabbath scriptures with people and, to our amazement, they don’t see what we see, that the Sabbath is forever and is the sign that we are His people! When we turn down bacon or shellfish and get dirty looks and questions, it can be so difficult for us to understand how those we love can’t see things the way we do. It is so easy for us to say, “How can you not see what the scriptures plainly teach?” In this part of our walk it is important to remember two main things. The first is that it wasn’t very long ago that you and I didn’t see things the way we do now either. The second is that we would’ve likely carried on in our ways had God Himself not disturbed our shalom and opened our eyes to His instructions.
 
As we begin to parse out what Avinu (our Father) is showing us, there often comes a time of isolation. I, personally, believe this is a God-ordained time where we are to be alone with Avinu where we can study and pray intently without outside voices and opinions. It is a time for us to learn to stand on our own two feet, to begin to learn, possibly for the first time in our lives, what we believe. I have heard this time called “sponge mode”. I like that because I think it really speaks to what this season is all about. It is usually here when we really begin to get a grasp of the sabbath, feasts, and dietary instructions laid out in the Torah. It is a wonderfully exciting time as we focus whole-heartedly on getting our feet under us and fall in love with God in a way many of us have never experienced.
 
For the vast majority, this time of isolation begins to come to a close and we become hungry once again for fellowship. Here in lies a huge challenge. Many of us find that we are truly the only ones in our communities who have begun to follow Messiah Yeshua in living out Torah. Finding a fellowship of like-minded believers can be very difficult. This is a complex and unique challenge. You see, most of us are Gentiles and because of anti-semitism and dispensational theology from the church at large, who believe that “the law has been done away with”, we feel we have no common fellowship there.  This can be, but may not always be the case. Many may feel now more closely tied to a Jewish or Messianic lifestyle but sadly, many are not welcomed in these circles (where the Torah has been lived for centuries) because “the Torah is only for the Jewish people”. Many turn to the internet where there are a host of “cyber fellowships” and teachers that are easily accessible. While I am thankful for the aid that technology has given the Torah movement, we still need a physical connection to each other. Hugs, handshakes, smiles, and laughter are necessary. Relationship and community is vital to our well-being and maturity as the children of God. As I said (and as many of you know personally), this is a very complex challenge and the effects of trying to find who we are and where we fit can be devastating.
 
So how do we navigate these troubles waters? How do we stay healthy and balanced as we find our place in this new understanding? In the next several blog posts, we are going to look into the scriptures and see what both the Tanahk (Old Testament) and the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) have to say about who we are and where we fit in the grand scheme of the Kingdom.
 
If you would like to follow either the audio or video teaching series “Identity”, follow here.
 
 

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#Instablessing#InstaGod – What have we become…?

   I have been spending a good bit of time lately watching my little ones during their daily activities. Watching them complete their chores, the girls during their gymnastics practice, or just simply day to day interaction with us and each other. One single word keeps playing over and over in my mind as I watch each of them, and that word is “impatience”.  

   Now before I go any further, I want to make sure to put myself on the chopping block and admit that many of the things I am about to mention, I myself have been guilty of. That being said, I KNOW that I am not alone and that there are many out there just as guilty as I am…and I hope that this blog will help you all take a step back as it has caused me to do.

   My eldest daughter and I were discussing the whole concept of the internet, what it entails, how it came to be, etc. It was when she made a comment about how horrible it must have been having to wait for your computer to connect to the internet, which many youth today have a hard time even understanding the concept of “dial up”, that it really hit me. Technology has always been an amazing and exciting thing, intending to enhance, educate, and advance. Always “moving forward” the “quicker the better” and yet…never realizing exactly WHAT it is leaving behind or causing the “host” to become. You see, in the past 20 years or so, we have gone from waiting for everyone to get off of the landline so that we could log on the internet, to our laptops, cellphone, and tablets are constantly linked. All we have to do is tap the screen and start searching. It still amazes me that many today do not even know what a “landline” phone is or even the mechanics. 

   We have gone from small neighborhood grocery stores where you feel warmed and welcomed every time you go in, to mainstream SuperCenters where multi checkout lanes are not fast enough, so we have self checkouts as well as self scanners so we can bypass the checkout lines all together.
 
   Now let me stop right here because I know there is someone reading this right now ready to throw their “buts” and “howevers” in. I understand there are times when the self checkouts are useful and needed. I myself use them when I am truly in a hurry or if I just have a few items. We have even used the “self scanners” a few times when they were in our local Walmart….until it came to the point that every time we would use the scanner we would get half way through our list before it would start malfunctioning. Yay, technology right? We also have where you can order your groceries online, pull up to a parking spot, and someone will bring them out to your car.
 
    Banking is done online as well as apps where you can scan your deposit check from your phone and it go straight to your account instead of you using the drive thru. We pay our bills online or through apps because it takes too much time to drive to town. 
 
    Our fast food drive thru’s are now not fast enough to the point that you can order using your phone, and pull up to received your order instead of waiting in the drive thru line.
 
    I get it…many of our lives are busy, always on the go that without some of these quick and instant options we wouldn’t be able to get through our days. BELIEVE ME…I GET IT. However…what are these instant results, instant gratifications not just teaching our children, but how are they being carried over into our personal lives?
 
    How many times, and be honest, have you called someone on their cellphone or you sent them a text message, and you became frustrated because either you left a voice mail and they didn’t immediately call you back or you had no instant response back to your text? When just a few years back, we would have called someone, left a message on the answering machine, and gone about our business, unfazed knowing that person would get back to us as soon as they could.
 
    We started emailing instead of sending what we call “snail” mail because it was quicker. However, even email responses began taking too long, so we started going to text and messaging. To those who know what it is like to receive a letter in the mail, how great of a feeling is it to see a brightly colored, hand written envelope addressed to you, that ISN’T a bill? lol. There is nothing like receiving a hand written letter, because that person took the time our of their day to physically write their thoughts on paper to send to you. Miss these so much.
 

    How often do we get annoyed or short with our little ones because they do not response as quickly as we think they should? They may take a little longer to put on their shoes and socks, while we stand at the door tapping our foot, ready to leave. The long drawn out stories they tell us or when it feels like 45 minutes for them to ask one question…..and we are sitting there trying to hurry them along by answering the question before they can even finish… we all have done it or do it still…but I ask you as I have been asking myself lately, what have I become? Also, not only what have I become, but what is my impatience teaching my babies?

    I can answer that last question real quick with, it is teaching them to be impatient with each other AND themselves. I watch as my baby boy becomes frustrated when he can’t seem to form the words to get his thoughts across, so he just gives up. I watch as my girls may struggle to learn a new skill in gymnastics and get so frustrated with themselves because it doesn’t come quickly, that they have tears streaming down their faces. I watch as my eldest struggles with a algebra problem and because she can’t “GET IT” as quickly as she thinks she should, she wants to quit and give up. They talk over each other instead of waiting for the other to finish, have a tendency to not “wait their turn”, and are quick to turn in the towel when a task takes longer than they would like for it to take.  Parents…..we have truly got to do better.

   Not just on a personal level, but what is all of this instant/quick fix doing to our relationship with the Father? Bibles are now on our phones. We don’t memorize the books, we don’t memorize scripture….because why? It is all there for us in an instant? We don’t study anymore, we don’t search out anymore…we sit and wait for someone to tell us what a scripture means and how we are supposed to apply it to our lives….instead of us figuring out for ourselves what the Father wants from us and how to apply OUR lives TO His Word.

   We want instant blessings, instant relief, instant “way outs”… We spent too much on vacation or on a shopping spree and are now in debt up to our eyeballs, and pray to the Father for financial blessing to get us out of a bind. We have a few doctors bills that we know will be coming up, but instead of us cutting back a little here and there to prepare for them, we just live our lives carefree and figure that “God will provide”.  How many of us are frustrated with out weight or our health…but refuse to do what we need to do on our end to eat healthier and get our bodies back to where they need to be? Instead we pray to Abba for quick and instant healing, curbing our appetites, help us to “push the plates away”. 

   Now again, let me stop and clarify, do I believe in miraculous healing? ABSOLUTELY! Do I believe that the Father will bless you in an instant? WITHOUT A DOUBT! I also know there are some financial situations and health factors that are out of our control. However…no matter what, I DO believe that the Father ALSO expects us to do OUR part, do what WE CAN, live as righteous as we can, and then He will do His part.

   But, going back to the “InstaBlessings”, I also have a “part B” to that in, how do we know that the actual BLESSING is not in the outcome but in the knowledge we gain DURING the trial? We throw our hands up, say YOUR WILL BE DONE, IT IS ALL IN YOUR HANDS, I PUT MY TRUST IN YOU, and IN YOUR TIMING FATHER…however when His timing doesn’t line up with OUR timing we get anxious, frustrated, and start wondering “Where He is?” What if His answer, is the process? You want to get your finances back under control and you aren’t given a huge financial blessing to kick start, so you begin to cut back here and there, budgeting, and making smart purchases. All of a sudden, your finances are back where they need to be and maybe even better…but now, the thrifty and smart way of spending is now a lifestyle because of the process.

    What if you aren’t given quick healing with your illness or overweight situation, so you begin to take matters into your own hands and look at your eating habits, listen to your body, and find out what changes you need to make. Maybe you become more active, maybe you take a little extra time making sure to disinfect when around someone with the sniffles and then all of a sudden, you begin to feel energy again, clothes fit better, you feel healthier….and (again) the process has now become a lifestyle that will keep you on this track for the rest of your lives.

    Now I ask, would the instant healing, the quick financial blessings have taught you anything? Or would they have just been a quick means to an end and the reality is you probably would have found yourself in the same situation or one like it again down the road…
AGAIN…because I know someone is ready and waiting to pipe in…I am focusing on decisions that WE have made that we KNEW might not have been the right ones, but needed the “instant” gratification, and figured we would deal with the consequences later. Day to day situations that WE have caused due to our lack of self control. Self Control……we will save that one for another day. 
 

   My brothers and sisters…we have GOT to get out of this InstaGod/InstaBlessing mindset. He is not a genie whose lamp we rub, He is not a Santa Claus that we send our lists in to and expect every item to be filled, He is not a slot machine that we put our tokens in, pull the handle and expect a payout. There is SO much to learn and to gain from THE PROCESS, from TAKING OUR TIME and BEING PATIENT.

   So I encourage you as I am looking at myself in the mirror, take a step back. If not for yourself, for the little ones that are looking up to you and mirroring their lives after you. Take the long way from time to time, walk out the “test”, dance in the rain, teach and implement patience and understanding, learn how to grow through the process…and breathe. Experience life, give of yourself in your relationships, give more time and honor to the Father…because He DESERVES it. As children of the Most High, it is time we get off this “fast track” that the world is trying to preoccupy us with, slow down, and make the most out of what time He is giving us….because He is giving it to us for a reason…
 
Shalom
 

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Tolerance vs. Compassion

     These are turbulent times we live in, folks. The social and political climate of the world is changing rapidly. As society becomes more progressive, we are encouraged to be more tolerant. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with that ideal, and I genuinely believe people have the best of intentions with this message. The problem is that I’m afraid those of us in the Body of Messiah have taken the positive aspects of tolerance and spun it to our destruction. So, I have a couple of questions. If you truly love someone, do you allow them to behave in a way or put themselves in a situation that would ultimately harm them? Or, would you correct them out of love and concern for their well-being and prosperity? What I’m trying to say is that there is a HUGE difference between tolerance and compassion. Now, I do want to be crystal clear, so let me tell you what this is not. The word “tolerance” is pretty loaded, but I’m not implying that we should weaponize Scripture to be hateful in any way toward people who do not believe in God or the Bible, or maybe even more importantly, toward people who don’t walk exactly as we walk. See, that’s the irony, tolerance can easily become a vehicle for hatefulness. I’m speaking specifically to and for people who believe in the God of Israel, and for community, for people living life together. For people who know each other well and want what’s best for each other.

     Now that that’s out of the way, let’s examine these terms more closely. I like the idea of the “law of first mention,” therefore, I’ll be looking at the Hebrew here. Tolerance refers to the ability or willingness to accept something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with. The Hebrew word is “sovlanut” (סוֹבלָנוּת/sohv-lah-noot), and is not found in Scripture, not even once. That in and of itself should tell us something. On the other hand, to be compassionate means to have concern, sympathy, mercy, or even pity for the suffering and misfortune of others. There are two Hebrew words most commonly used for compassion: “chamal” (חָמַל/khaw-mal/H2550) and “racham” (רָחַם/raw-kham/H7355). See Exodus 2:6 for the former, Deuteronomy 13:17 for the latter. Although these two words, tolerance and compassion, are often used interchangeably, can you see the difference?

     Because of Western society’s “leap forward,” an inaccurate profile of Yeshua has taken shape. Today, the Messiah is portrayed as a mild and meek martyr who would never do anything to upset anyone under any circumstances, no matter what, even if He disagreed with them. His words, actions, and teachings have been misconstrued in order to be more palatable. The truth is that Yeshua was and is not tolerant. “Huh? Did he really just say that?” Yes, I did, He was not tolerant. He was, however, compassionate. Please, bear with me, and let me explain. Opposed to the traits I already mentioned, Yeshua was not afraid to “step on toes” and make others uncomfortable to teach a lesson. He himself said, “I and the Father are one,” so is it so hard to believe that Yeshua showed His love like that of a father, or more specifically, the Father? When I mess up, my dad is often the first to correct me and put me back on track, even if it requires a bit of a “kick to the rear end,” so to speak. My father does this because he wants what is best for me, he wants me to succeed. It’s done out of compassion and love. Yeshua taught in the same way. There are plenty of examples throughout the scriptures that we could look to, but I want to use one in particular that you may even know by heart. However, there’s an important verse in this passage that is often completely ignored. Please read John 8:1-11. We love to use this passage for verse 7’s sake. We love to use it to justify ourselves and perhaps the behavior of others. Context is key here, though. As incredible as that verse is, it’s just a part of an amazing lesson the Master is teaching, not the whole lesson. This one passage, amazingly, shows Yeshua being compassionate for the woman (verse 7, verses 10-11), and intolerant of her sinfulness. He doesn’t command her to “Just believe in me and love me so that you can continue to live life your way.” No! He commands her to “…go and sin no more…” That might sound kind of harsh, impossible even, depending on how you understand sin. But, do you want to talk about the wisdom, grace, and mercy of Messiah? Here’s what he effectively said: “Hey, so now that you’re ok, take this experience and learn from it to avoid another mess like this.” If that is not compassion, I don’t know what is. He wants better for her, He loves her, and He wants her to align herself with the Word and with the Father. Period. So then, to truly love someone is to not be tolerant of their destructive behavior. We need to start to understand that correcting one another and holding one another accountable with love and tact is not “judgement” or “casting stones.” I know that I’m not always so great at this thing called “life,” and not if, but when I mess up please, help me out, help me get right. I would be more offended if you didn’t, because I’ll be held accountable at some point, and I’ll be worse off by then. In fact, I would argue that tolerance and compassion cannot coexist when it comes to building relationships for the Kingdom. We can’t grow if we’re not corrected. I’ve brought up the Kingdom a couple of times now and this passage is the perfect example of our walk and our responsibility when we come to Messiah and enter the Kingdom. We were all once “adulterous,” deserving of the consequences of our actions, but Yeshua stood in the gap and taught us how to live life correctly, and gave Himself up to save us from said consequences. Once we come into the Kingdom through Him, it becomes our duty to do our best to live as He lived, to do our best to “go and sin no more,” not to be saved, but because He saved us. We need each other for that. The secular ideal of tolerance isn’t completely off. It’s just not complete. If you make a minor change in the Hebrew word for tolerance you get “savlanut,” (סַבְלָנוּת/sahv-lah-noot) a word closely related, meaning “patience.” Its root is “saval” (סָבַל/saw-vahl), meaning to bear (a burden). We have to be patient with one another, help each other with the burdens we each bear, and encourage change in each other’s lives. Patience combined with compassion trumps tolerance any day. You know, there’s a certain commandment in the Torah that Yeshua thought was pretty important, that is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” With this in mind, ask yourself: When it comes to tolerance and compassion, which requires more understanding and maturity? Which would you want for yourself and in turn for your neighbor?

     I continue to hope and pray for unity in the Kingdom, so that we can benefit one another and grow in Messiah. I hope that you understand my heart here, and that this gives you a new point of view that will benefit you, your walk, and your relationships. Feel free to reach out to me so that we can grow together! Shalom


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What are our actions doing to His reputation?

What are our actions doing to His reputation?

I have been noticing a common thread lately floating through my Facebook feed and it really has both concerned and frustrated me. I see some criticized for their generations upon generations of traditions, some are attacked for following Torah, celebrating the Feasts, worshipping on the 7th day sabbath, and  some are screamed at because of their “pagan ways”. I watch how people are mocked or told that because they aren’t a part of a certain group or belief, that they are not allowed to study and understand certain things. Now I know that this is not a new occurrence and will be something that continues on because, as human beings, we are drawn to drama, anger, and aggression. However, I hope that if anything, my post will at least cause one to pause and consider the outcome of such actions.

For the past several weeks, I have read articles, watched videos, read comments threads, etc. on Facebook of different groups of believers that seem to do nothing more than attack each other. I have seen Messianic, Hebrew Roots, Christian, and Jew all attacking one another’s beliefs, understandings, view points and I find myself asking why? What good will come of this?

I heard a wise man once say that it doesn’t do any good trying to discuss or debate with someone that is not in your own family, which is SO TRUE!!! In our home, we have certain rules that our children follow. It is our “Torah” if you will. However, we have several neighbors around us who also have rules that function in their own homes. Now, do we go to their homes and start tearing them down and reprimanding them because they are not obeying OUR rules within THEIR homes? OF course not!!! That would do nothing but cause anger, bitterness, and possibly a broken relationship. So why are we doing that very thing to the different “families” of believers?

Now, we are all passionate about our beliefs, about our faith….and that is awesome. However, when we begin tearing down others because they may not believe or see the Scriptures the same way we do, what is that saying about the Father that we serve? If we are supposed to be walking AS the Messiah walked, if we are supposed to be mirroring HaShem in our lives, then what are our actions, how we handle people and other situations saying about His reputation?

For my Torah observant family, it is NOT our job to open their eyes, to reprimand them of their ways, or annihilate them in public and on Facebook. Our job is to be studied and ready for WHEN Abba opens eyes and draws them to this walk. It is our job to answer questions patiently and gracefully when asked, not debate or attack those who do not study as we do. We are meant to be the Psalm 1 tree, planted and immovable no matter who or what steps in our way. Yes, we will get frustrated when we see Scripture used incorrectly, misquoted, or used partially to justify a certain idea or lifestyle. However, remember we must never group everything into one pot, not all are the same, and not everyone has the same intentions. There are genuine people not following Torah who are loving the Father and serving Him the best they know how….and that IS O.K. Respect them for that and when/if they come asking questions or interested in learning this walk…do not belittle their understanding or mock their beliefs. Do not talk down to them or degrade them for not knowing what you know. Walk beside them, live with them, and be the light that HaShem needs you to be.

To my Christian brothers and sisters, stop labeling and criticizing those who are studying Torah, who are following the Father’s instructions, and who are wanting to live and walk as Yeshua did. The fact of the matter is, Yeshua was/is a Jew (he didn’t convert on the cross) and the Father’s Torah/instructions are still as valid today as they were when He spoke everything into existence….period. Any Scripture that is used to “nullify” this statement is being cherry picked and/or taken out of context. That being said, if you feel that this way of following the Father is not for you, that is o.k. Your relationship with Abba is between you and Him. However, be very careful of what you say and how you treat others in that walk, because the Father COULD draw you into following Torah and you will need someone to help support and walk with you. Stop being judgmental when you hear them speaking the Hebrew language. Stop accusing them or assuming certain things about them or their beliefs before you take the time to personally ask. I have heard many comments about groups in the Torah walk, even OAM, about how we do not believe in Yeshua, that we believe one has to follow Torah for salvation, they we are speaking blasphemy, or mocking/making fun of the Holy Spirit. All of which are furthest from the truth. I understand the way we read, study, and walk out the Scripture looks different, may seem a little weird and uncomfortable. I would have thought the same over 10 years ago before I started studying. I DO also know there are what we call “Torah Terrorists”, who thrive on intentionally attacking those not living/believing as they do. However, as I challenged my Torah observant family, I also will challenge you, do not lump everyone in the same pot.  So please, before you starting making false assumptions, consider the possibility that you might have misunderstood or misheard what they were saying or teaching. Instead of coming to quick conclusions, contact them and ask them to clarify so that way you can fully understand their heart and intent. We get frustrated when people make false assumptions about us….let us know be quick to do the same about others.

So my challenge and plea to you, stop arguing with those who are not walking in “your lane”. Stop attacking, baiting, and intentionally “poking the bear” to try to prove your point. Trying to make the other person stumble in their understanding does NOTHING for you as a representative of the Father, but instead makes you look like a jerk. We hear the argument all of the time “well Yeshua corrected and scolded the Pharisees so we are just following what He did”. My answer….YES HE did….HOWEVER…HUGE difference. Yeshua debated with leadership who were “IN HIS LANE”. He didn’t argue, bait, or poke those who were not living and following the Jewish lifestyle/beliefs. He CALMLY DISCUSSED when asked, TAUGHT and ALLOWED them to draw near, LIVED it before engaging. If we are going to be HaShem’s example until the Messiah’s return, then we have GOT to stop with the drama, anger, and attacking. Stop being “triggered” by those who are not in your “family” and BE the representation that you were put here to be. Remember that if you say you are part of THE Kingdom and are a follower of the Most High, then your actions, your words, how you live are going to affect how other’s perceive who you serve.

Make sure your life is all about the sake of His reputation…..


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And the Word became flesh…

“In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. We looked upon His glory, the glory of the One and only from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Like me, these are probably some of the first verses you ever learned. However, as I reflected on my life this week and asked myself the tough questions, this verse came to mind. I’ve spent countless Sunday school and “life group” meetings pondering the mysticism within this passage. Aside from being some of the most powerful (and poetic) verses in the Gospels, there is some pragmatic application here as well. Now, I’m not offering a new interpretation of this passage here, just a little perspective. What exactly is this passage about? The first chapter of John perfectly sums up the Messiah’s lifestyle; He was the Word made flesh. He was so obedient in his actions that His life was the personification of the Word. Think about that for moment, that alone doesn’t often get its due credit. It really isn’t all that mysterious, the Messiah was just that obedient. So, what exactly does that mean for us? I used to hear all the time that to be a “Christian” means to be “Christ-like.” Ok, perfect, I appreciate the sentiment, but can anyone quantify that concept in and of itself? Lord knows I used to have trouble. Consider the following: 1 John 2:5-6, “But whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God is truly made perfect. We know that we are in Him by this— whoever claims to abide in Him must walk just as He walked.” You see, the whole reason that Yeshua lived and taught was for our instruction, and as previously stated He is the Word made flesh. Interestingly, we are instructed to walk as He walked, to live as He lived. The question I’ve been asking myself this week is this, “Are you living your life in a way in which the Word is seen to be alive?” At work, at school, at home, am I in some degree personifying the Word? Does my life show the one and only of the Father, full of grace and truth? I can postulate, theorize, and study for countless hours, but if my life is no evidence of my study, it is all in vain. That may seem really basic and foundational, but it is also something we should be constantly examining within ourselves. Every day the Father allows us to wake up, we have the opportunity to be personifications of His Word. One of the biggest lies propagated by believers is that obedience is unattainable. That, my friends, is just simply not biblical. We need to stop lying to one another, and start empowering one another; the goal is not perfection, the goal is obedience. The Messiah says in John 14, “He who possesses My commands and guards them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I shall love him and manifest Myself to him.” We show our love for our Savior by keeping the commandments, and in turn Yeshua manifests in us and His love is shown to our neighbors. In this way, the image of God is perfectly transmitted. Be a living example of Scripture by guarding the commandments, this is how we can be like Messiah. I hope everyone has had an amazing Passover, and I hope this week has drawn you closer to the Father. Shalom, everyone!


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Consistency of Community

Have had something on my heart for the past several weeks and was given release today to finally post this in hopes to bring peace and encouragement.

So often we have received texts, private messages, or phone calls from both sides of the spectrum…either people just now coming into this walk, this Way of Truth or those who have BEEN walking in it and have their own fellowships. The common thread is the consistency of community. 

You see, before we began living a Torah observant life, many of us were involved in the mainstream church. It was always bigger is better, doing whatever it took to make people happy, even to the extreme of exhausting the ministry to the point of dry, emptiness just to keep everyone at peace and everything “looking” first class.  However, we HAVE to remember…..THIS AIN’T THAT!!!

Sadly, we are bringing a lot of the drama that we left into this Truth and are becoming the very thing we swore we never would. People are tearing each other apart, bad mouthing, and breaking community because not everyone follows the same calendar, we may not say the Father’s name the same way, the distance is too far to travel, I’m not going back to “church”,  or its just too hard to change “my” schedule to go. The list continues to grow……and it truly breaks my heart.

Here is the deal, Abba wants us to be in UNITY….not uniformity. Are we all going to agree all of the time? Of course not, that is impossible. We are human beings. We  each have thoughts, ideas, imaginations all unique, which the Father instilled in us for a purpose. And that is AWESOME! The main thing is….what is our final goal? That is where the “walking in unity” part comes in. The desire to please our Messiah, to walk AS He walked, live AS He lived, celebrate WHAT and HOW He celebrated, living out the ENTIRE Word….THAT is our common goal. If we can agree on that, then we should be able  to come together, to respect each other’s differences, and join in community to focus on the bigger picture…His Kingdom. And how important that coming together as a community truly is!

All of us remember when the Father began speaking to us, disturbing our shalom, unveiling our eyes. Our first thoughts were “What’s wrong with me? Why isn’t everyone hearing or seeing this? Am I crazy? “ Then as we began to listen to His voice and dig deeper…we began to wonder if anyone else out there was hearing the same. Were we alone?  All we wanted was to talk to SOME ONE who understood and were walking the same path as we were.  You see, THAT is where the community part comes in and WHY it is so vital.

I understand many of us are in rural areas where there might not be a Torah community within 10-20 minutes, many in our own OAM community drive 30 minutes to 2 hours just to be with their OAM mishpacha every Shabbat. You may think that is nuts and there is no way you would travel that far just to be with others….but wait. You HAVE to remember what it was like to be a new person in this Way…the excitement when you realized you were not alone, and that you were able to come together with a community of like minded people to talk, study, worship, to LIVE life. To be able to walk into a room and see so many that are hearing the same voice as you have been, gave you so much peace.

For those that have been walking Torah for a while, your community NEEDS you. They need your smiles, your hugs, your wisdom. But as much as your community needs you, YOU need your community. You NEED to be surrounded by others, digging out and discussing the Scripture together. You need a community of people who MIGHT NOT see the Scripture just as you do, challenging you, causing you to search out what you believe and why….Iron sharpens iron. Life is not easy, this walk is NOT easy no matter how long you have been walking, and we need to be with like minded people living, supporting, and searching out Word together while having the same end goal.

You need to be surrounded by believers who are new in this way, to help guide and walk beside them as they learn, picking them up when they fall and help guide them back when they get distracted.  AT THE SAME TIME, you need to be surrounded by those who have walked longer than you, have more wisdom and experience than you, so that YOU can continue to grow and learn yourself. Someone to help guide YOU back to the path whenever you become side tracked or distracted. A healthy Torah community is where all of that takes place, as a body, as echad (as one)…growing, living, breathing, as one body.

Consistency of the community is SO vital and SO important for the Remnant that is being called out. Whether you can make it every week or once/twice a month, those new people NEED to see you there, they NEED to see your face, HEAR your story, and FEEL your understanding and encouragement. Many of them either have or will find that this walk is not easy and can be very lonely. Family, friends, church members and leadership will cast them aside and break all ties and they need to see they have a community to run to for support, wisdom, understanding, and to share similar stories and experiences with. Your participation in your Torah community is so much bigger than you and is so important for the Kingdom.

So I encourage each of you across the country, the world or maybe just in our area. If you are hearing His voice calling you out to live a Torah life, a set-apart lifestyle, find a like minded community to celebrate with. Be active, be consistent, be supportive, but most importantly….BE THERE.  Whether it is every Shabbat, every Feast, or (due to distance) just once or twice a month….be there. This is a preparation season and it is all hands on deck. We have to prepare ourselves for what the Father is doing, to be ready for what He has coming, and there is no way we will be able to do that alone!!!

Shalom my Torah family and Shavua Tov


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Have you been looking for a sign???

How many times have you cried out to the Father for direction or an answer. In the midst of a storm or chaos, we cry out to Abba, many times for Him to simply give us a sign that He is still there, that He is listening. It seems many are those dry seasons where our valleys are deep, the air is silent, we have no direction, we seek and speak to the Father however, all we hear are crickets…and all we want is for Him to make His presence known and to remind us that we are still His, that His hand is still upon us. Those times can be some of the loneliest, most frustrating, empty and anxious times that we walk through. Many of us become desperate, taking matters into our own hands…HOPING that at some point…Abba will step in and move.

All we are asking for…..is a sign….

Through studying the weekly Torah portions, recently digging into the episode of the golden calf, the Father began walking me through some of my own scenarios that are not too much unlike those of the Hebrew children. You see….for so long we have taken this golden calf incident and began throwing stones at the Hebrews. What in the world would cause them to do such a thing? How evil were they to turn their backs on God. How could they forget all that they had been delivered from and go to that extreme level of forming an idol? They must not have loved Him as much as they “proclaimed”….the list goes on.

HOWEVER, we must (as we should do will ALL scripture) put what is going on into context, into perspective. Put yourself in THEIR shoes, understand WHO is a part of the equation, understand their culture and remember their experiences. Sooo, let’s go back.

The Hebrew children along with the mixed multitude had experienced plague after plague. What we have to remember is that they had been living in Egypt for hundreds of years. Picture the generations upon generations that lived and died, the whole time becoming more and more assimilated into Egypt and the people living there. It had become a part of their every day lives. They probably formed relationships with the Egyptians. For some, their children might have played together, some may even had married the Egyptians. So with each plague that went through, they watched places they used to go, people they had befriended, their neighbors animals and lively hoods be destroyed. Yes, they knew the reason for the plagues and that they were chosen for the Father’s master plan, however, they were human, they had emotions. So I have to believe, they still felt guilt, pain, and  sorrow for their loved ones. As Noah before them, I am sure many of them pleaded for their friends and family to follow them. Traditions tell us that there were only around 20% of the Hebrews that actually left. Many studies I read said that one reason they left in such a hurry was so that the ones who DID leave were not given time to begin second guessing and end up staying behind. So you can imagine…yes they were excited and ready for freedom and a new life…yet the pain and sorrow they felt of leaving family, friends, and their comfort behind was very real.

Fast forward through the many miracles they experienced as Pharaoh chased after them, the miracle of the manna that was supplied for them to eat, the many times they ran to Mosheh (Moses) for wisdom and direction on what the next step was to be. Now they are at Mt. Sinai and after hearing the commandments, the Torah given straight from the Father, asked Mosheh to go up and speak to God for them. THEY created a mediator between them and the Father, something which God had never wanted in the first place.

So Mosheh is up on Mt. Sinai, speaking with the Father, and the people begin to grow concerned by his delayed return. One study I read was that they actually had miscalculated the days of his return and that is what caused them to act. So, they go to Aaron for help, he tells them what to do, and the golden calf incident takes place. There is SO MUCH more happening here, and MUCH more study as to WHY Aaron would follow through with this…but that is another blog.

This is where many of us have gotten all high and mighty. We would NEVER do that, we would NEVER disobey God to the point of creating an idol to worship. But wait….let’s back up a moment. Let’s back up to the very beginning and put ourselves in their shoes.

Like them…many of us have had to leave our comfort zones. We have many family and friends that may not be living for God, and no matter how much we try to warn them…they refuse to follow the Messiah. Many of us have stepped into a new season the Father has called us to, having to change lifestyles, jobs, family, friends…..causing us to shed everything that defined us as US, all stepping out in faith that the Father has something bigger for us to do and be a part of.

Then….life begins to hit. You see…we were told when you begin to follow the Father…he will answer your prayers, give you the desires of your heart, and be your everything. Which is true….HOWEVER….#1 those come with requirements of following His commands…and #2 a life walking with the Father is NOT without hardships and sacrifices. So when life begins to rain down, when the storm begins to rage, the winds begin to blow, and our feet get knocked out from under us…we begin to doubt.  The Hebrew children had experienced miracle after miracle and yet, they still struggled with faith and doubt. How many times have we gone to the Father about a problem…needed help in finances, a loved one that was sick and needed healing, farmers needed rain for their crops to grow? The Father comes our rescue, providing the much needed rain, we are blessed with extra finances by an unknown source, our sick family or friend begins to make a full recovery from their illness and we praise Him for all that he is…for a while. Then life hits again…and even though (like the Hebrews) we saw and experienced those miracles…we too begin to doubt.

That seems to be the times where our dry seasons begin, where we hear no answers and feel like our prayers are hitting a brick wall. So like the Hebrew children with the golden calf….we get desperate…needing to KNOW that someone is hearing our pleas. You see, they weren’t forming an idol to worship instead of God. They had JUST come out of Egypt and therefore, in fear and desperation, were falling back on all that they knew. They thought that Mosheh was dead and were trying to create (as only they knew how) another “mediator” to go before the Father on their behalf. Were they in the wrong? Most definitely and they were severely punished for it. However, how much have we done the same? We search and seek out the Father…we pray and get restless. So instead of having faith and believing that the Father has this….we seek out a friend, we seek out a pastor, an evangelist, a “prophet” to give us the answers we need. We spend time and money flocking to conferences in hopes of being told the direction we need to take. Now…I am not saying that seeking your pastor or a wise friend for guidance is taboo, however, when you begin to go to them first before seeking out the Father time after time, when you begin to put the “pastor’s words” above anything and everything else, not checking them with the Word, and setting him up on a pedestal…THAT is where we get off track and are acting no better than the Hebrew children.

You see….the Father knew what was happening with the Hebrew children. He KNEW they were going to get anxious, that they were going to need a “sign” to not only remind them of who they were and whose they were, but also something to remind them that He was close. So he gives Mosheh instructions to give to them tangible reassurance of His presence and our relationship with Him. The last instruction He  gave Mosheh, before He descended with the tablets was to tell Israel that they “must keep My Sabbaths, for this is a sign between Me and you throughout the ages, that you may know that I the Lord have consecrated you.”  God called the Shabbat (the seventh day Sabbath) a sign of the relationship between Himself and Israel. Because of Yeshua, we have been grafted into Israel, so this promise, this “sign” is for us as well. However….WE have to observe it. We have to set it apart and make it as special and significant as HE does.

From personal experience, there is just SOMETHING about setting apart the Shabbat. Now I am not going to get into a debate on “when the Sabbath really is”.  The Father rested on the SEVENTH day. Yeshua observed the SEVENTH DAY Sabbath. Yeshua DID NOT come and die to change the sabbath day…period. That out of the way, when you begin to spend time with the Father, studying His instructions, seeking Him out on the day that HE scheduled to meet with us……WOW. That will be all “the sign” that you need. When you begin to follow His instructions and observe the Sabbath day as HE intended, life may not get easier, difficulties will not stop from coming, storms will still rage from time to time…BUT you will begin to deal with them differently. There will be a peace that comes over you like never before, your head will become more clear and wisdom will begin to spill forth. You will begin to feel more fulfilled and more prepared for WHEN the storms come rather than trying to play catch up when they hit.

So my encouragement…take the step…if you are looking for “the sign” to get you through this next “plague”, this next “dessert”, don’t make the mistake that our ancestors did. Don’t be hasty. Don’t take matters into your own hands. Don’t seek out a person to be your mediator. You have already been given a sign. Observe the Sabbath, seek the Father and spend time with Him on THE DAY that HE has ALREADY set apart and made Kadosh (holy). Come together with fellow believers, as we are commanded, and dig out/wrestle with the Scriptures together.  Celebrate the Sabbath when and how the FATHER said, this in turn will set YOU apart…as His child.

Shalom


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TORAH…Fad or Lifestyle?

As I sit here during my quiet time with Abba this morning, a certain topic keeps circling in my head that truly grieves my heart. As these last days begin to wind down, more and more people are grasping for truth, some sort of peace and stability in KNOWING they are going to be ok. Conferences, sermons, bible studies, “self-help” books are focusing on end times, the last days, the book of Revelation.

However, people are still wanting more and are beginning to dig into the Hebrew Scriptures….longing to know WHO their Messiah is, how He walked, and what He EXPECTS of His children. So, as with before, we are seeing more and more teachings, books, studies, sermons on Hebrew Scriptures, Torah, Feasts, etc.

And that is AWESOME!

I am so ecstatic about the hunger, the desire, the focus that is beginning to rise in my fellow brothers and sisters in Yeshua, wanting to know MORE of our Messiah.

However, here is where my heart begins to grieve….

The danger is that we have pastors, teachers, leaders “teaching” about Torah, the Feasts, the Sabbath, yet they are not LIVING what they are teaching.

I hear people say, we are doing a series on Torah…or we are having a special sermon or mini conference on the Feasts…and my heart begins to cry. For you see…Torah is not “a series” that you can sum up in a month or two. Torah is a life style, it is complete instructions on how we are to LIVE in His Kingdom. It is the very fingerprint of our Messiah on our hearts.

The Feasts are not some “show stopping topic” for one to use in a sermon to gain excitement and interest. They are not this “new thing” for us to use as way to increase our congregation and pocket books. The Feasts are holy, they are rich, they are prophetic. They deserve respect and deep study to TRULY understand the fullness of these “appointed times”.  This is not a “fad or hot topic” you can’t throw a lesson together about it or “wing it”….you can not TRULY teach what you yourself are not walking. By doing that, you are not only cheating the ones you are teaching, but you yourself are missing out on the most amazing, intimate, deep, enriching, and peaceful relationship/walk with Yeshua that you could ever imagine.

So my first question is to teachers, bible study leaders, preachers, etc. who have begun teaching Torah, Feasts, Hebrew Scripture….are you LIVING what you are teaching?  Are you walking as He walked, celebrating HOW and WHEN he celebrated, teaching as He taught, and being a TRUE and WHOLE living witness of His Word? Is your heart beating in unison with our Messiah?

My second question is to those seeking Truth. Those who the Father is beginning to disturb your Shalom (peace), opening your eyes, and putting a hunger inside of you to know Him in a more deeper and intimate way. Are the teachers you are listening to, are the leaders you are following, is the congregation you are a part of….are they LIVING what they are teaching? Does their lives mirror what they say they believe and what they proclaim to be Scriptural Truth? Is the community that you are surrounding yourself with (though at different speeds) all headed the same direction and striving for the same goal?

For you see…Torah is not education…it is transformation. If you “say” you are studying Torah, yet your lifestyle, your beliefs, your thought process is not transforming  and growing you into alignment WITH His instructions….then you are NOT studying Torah.

So my challenge and encouragement…LIVE what you are teaching, MAKE your lives align with your words, SEEK OUT communities that are working as echad (as one) toward the same goal, the same mark….Torah. Because you see this is not some “fad” that will ebb and flow, making way for the next “big thing”. Torah is His instructions, His Tabnith (blueprint) for living in His Kingdom….and He takes that VERY seriously.

Shalom


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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.

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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.
 
 

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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.


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