Finding Home in His Kingdom

Some people know how talented they are growing up. They know exactly what they’re good at, know they can be great at anything, and know exactly what they want to do in life.
I was not that person even a little bit. It’s actually a running joke between my siblings and me that we have no life skills because we weren’t really taught anything. (So thanks for the people that are willing to teach us and not make us feel less than for not knowing!)
We did have some other interests though. I used to write every free moment of my day – poems, stories, with other people, about my life. Every year I can remember in school, I won a writing award and was published in the Beauregard Students Write book.
In about sixth grade, I fell in love with french braids and made it a personal mission to learn how to do them. Since there was no one to practice on but myself, I got really strong arms before I finally mastered the skill. By the time I was graduating, everyone knew me as the person that loved to style hair in all sorts of ways but with a specialty in different braiding techniques.
I was always the baker in my family. When someone wanted dessert, they put me up to the task, and I gladly took over and fell in love.
I was the classic nerd. I always had a book with me. If it wasn’t a book, I was ready to take notes or ask questions. Boy, can I ask a lot of questions! Consequently, this meant I knew lots of little bits of information that I never realized were “odd” to know. People would ask me questions all the time about different things. Sometimes it was advice on tough situations. Other times, they asked me random trivia. Then at other points, they would ask me to teach them. They expected me to know.
Later in life as I started discovering my faith in Torah, I was almost overwhelmed with how much there was to learn. I did the kid Bible classes at church for about 5 years, and that isn’t a lot of stuff to know because it was mostly memorizing verses in the workbooks they gave us. My own family didn’t push religious beliefs on us, so not only was I the one kid in those classes thinking, “What are they talking about?” when they started asking questions about specific people and events, I was also the one that might as well have been an atheist in a church. (Yeah, fun years.)
But like I said before, I was the classic nerd. Learning wasn’t new territory or hard for me to get my head around. Not growing up in the church actually left me a blank canvas in a lot of ways that prevented me from needing to unlearn mistruths like many are having to now. It was actually the doing part that was overwhelming for me to learn.
Needing to learn about tzitzit, when to observe the Feasts and the nightmare confusion that caused with calendar debates (and why in the world DO we ignore the moon if Scripture says to go by the moon?), how to observe them and what the terms “High Sabbath” had to do with working or not working, what in the world is a siddur and why do I need to do it, is it okay to cook with this fat or is that the fat we aren’t allowed to have, if you want to plant trees and eat from them what years can we do that in or does that even count since we’re not in the Land, what’s the difference between dresses for ladies and what men were wearing were practically dresses so how do we dress differently…
The doing was incredibly overwhelming for me. Particularly because we weren’t raised in a family that honored doing to begin with but also because I was trying to grapple with these concepts in a belief system that, as far as I knew, was nonexistent here. It didn’t help that I felt massively incapable of doing any of them. Having to schedule, cook, prepare ahead of time, make all these beautiful things, actually stop to rest for a whole day every single week, and somehow live a life that is accurately teaching others about Him? The perfectionist in me was nearly crippled with anxiety. The girl that was sure she had no capabilities to bring to the Kingdom was ready to make a run for it.
Fortunately for me, I had a close friend that had been walking in the Torah for 10 years to carry the burden of my incessant questioning and took the lead in a lot of ways for the big stuff. I trudged on the first year in an ungracious way that also came with the innocent, child-like excitement of constantly talking about it when I definitely had no business talking about it yet.
When she told me to prepare for a feast, I did. When she told me to bring something, I did. I read and learned but it wasn’t clear yet, so I stuck to what I knew: following directions. I didn’t have to understand the calendar arguments because at least I had someone that had already fought through that and was giving me the heads up to be ready for it. I didn’t naturally think, “Get rid of all the yeast!” but she reminded me. It took me up until the day before to realize the second part is also, “Eat unleavened bread.”
Eventually I took on the challenge of making my own tzitzit. I saw a popular how to video on it and finally something felt familiar: braiding! It was actually kind of sad how excited I was about it, too. I was confident this would be a no brainer for me, and I was right. I made all sorts of styles of braids and had sets of them for days. My favorite part is that it was something I naturally felt inclined to, so I got to actually enjoy it without wrestling too much with myself on getting it perfect.
Those small fringes dangling from our clothes is what made me feel like I was actually part of the Kingdom without having to ride the curtail of someone more experienced than me. The story of the lady desperately clinging for Yeshua’s tzitzit resonates with me on a different level than it does for some. One, because I felt like her: desperate to just get to that point of wholeness. Two, because when she finally got to that point, she was whole again. I finally felt whole even though the rest of the doing was still foreign.
The more time went on, the more things started to click for me. I love to bake and braid: tzitzit, challah, nearly every Feast we have being related to milk and honey and baking in general. I love to write: I get to share my journey with Abba with others as they learn. I love to learn: I get to study nonstop, all the time, and questions are a good thing to know how to ask. I love to teach: I get to live my learnings daily and when others ask questions, I’m almost always able to help because I’ve had the same questions before. I love to be organized and prepared: hello Shabbat!
There are countless ways I’ve had to grow and nurture new skills that I wasn’t capable of before. Often, I don’t even realize it’s a skill until I start falling into place with what to do and someone else hasn’t gotten to that point yet.
I knew I found my home in Him when I found my own heart’s longings and desires matching readily with His. The doing was a testament to those heart longings. For someone that has never felt part of something before, finding Him and the people of His Kingdom gave me a renewed idea of who I am in the best way.
It’s an amazing thing to grow in that identity, and for everyone that has ever lifted me up throughout the learning process, thank you. He helped me find that purpose I felt was missing and also a home to pour those purposes into in His people. The doing with others really made it all come to life because I’m not just thinking, talking, or reading about it. I’m getting to actively bring Scripture to life with others. And He used me in all my capability and blessed me with even more.


The Kingdom in Solitude

Right now, more of us are spending time away from the outside world in the safety of our homes. For those of you that aren’t and are helping bring order to the chaos, thank you. You’re noticed and deeply appreciated.
For the rest of us in our homes, it can be boring and even lonely. It’s not easy to be able to go out anytime you want without second thought to feeling as if you’re cut off – and suddenly needing to meet new demands (shout out to the new home school parents! You’ll get through this!)
If we’re being honest, most of us have no idea how to be alone. In fact, we struggle so much with the concept that we have created technology that keeps us connected to others and information at all times. If it’s not social media, it’s TV. It’s video games. It’s anything that distracts us from the feeling that we’re afraid to face.
Learning how to be alone is one of the most valuable, crucial things we can learn.
Messiah spent a great deal of his time withdrawn from others and creating an intimate relationship with Abba. There’s a great quote I love to overuse, “Intimacy. In to me, see.”
We can’t fully see the amazing Creator of the universe if we’re allowing distractions in. We can’t fully experience what it means to let Him see us if we’re not in a place to embrace the situation we’re in. Sometimes we don’t even know that we’re in pain or what we’re in pain from because we’ve gotten so good at focusing on distraction.
Scripture shows us that we should seek prayer in all circumstances. When we’re heartbroken, full of shame, fearful, angry at Him, doubtful and especially when we’re joyful, thankful, filled with the Spirit.
The way we can truly encompass these aspects of joy and praise in His spirit is by seeking Him in our brokenness.
Trials in relationships strengthen them when the parties are able to come together in them, be honest, and seek to improve. It makes the bonds richer. It makes the goodness in them sweeter. It makes us appreciate what we’ve built and worked so hard for.
We can’t get there without being fully present with Him, though.
He wants us to seek Him and build a personal relationship. When we are able to meet Him in those moments of solitude, we become centered in His healing presence and wise guidance. We’re able to be restored. These things aren’t just for the Sabbath, though that is the number one time we should be building this intimacy. We need Him every day, every hour.
Then when we’re able to center ourselves in that love, peace, wisdom – we can bring that renewal into the world through our actions. This is how we can continually bring order within ourselves to then extend to the world. This pattern is shown over and over through Messiah’s story, and it was important enough that it was documented a LOT.
So while we’re able to practice the art of being alone, let’s learn how to pray.
Let’s learn how to turn away from the noise.
Let’s learn how to be still.
Let’s learn how to quiet our minds.
Let’s learn how to be honest with ourselves.
Let’s learn how to bring that honest before Him.
Let’s learn how to embrace His presence.
Let’s learn how to hear what He’s telling us.
Let’s learn how to walk out the wisdom that love and healing brings us.
Let’s learn how to spread these things to others.
Let’s learn how to be the Kingdom.
Jesus’ Solitude and Silence – Soul Shepherding
Here is a chronological survey of Bible verses from Mark that highlight Jesus’ solitude and silence. (I’ve added a few verses from the other Gospels. All verses are NIV84 unless indicated otherwise.)
“At once the Spirit sent [Jesus] out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.” (Mark 1:12)
“Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee… ‘Come, follow me,’ he said.” (Mark 1:16)
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35) [Everyone was looking for Jesus, but after his time in prayer he told his disciples that it was time for them to move on to another village.]
“[Despite Jesus’ plea that his miracles be kept secret] the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:15-16; see also Mark 1:45)
“Once again Jesus went out beside the lake.” (Mark 2:13)
“One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain-fields, and his disciples walked along.” (Mark 2:23)
“Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed.” (Mark 3:7)
“Jesus went out to a mountain side to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him.” (Luke 6:12-13. See also Mark 3:13)
“Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables.” (Matthew 13:1-3. See also Mark 4;1.)
“When Jesus heard [that John the Baptist had been beheaded], he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.” (Matthew 14:13)
“Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, [Jesus] said to [his disciples], ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” (Mark 6:31-32)
“After [Jesus] had dismissed [the crowds], he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was [still] there alone.” (Matthew 14:23; see also Mark 6:46)
“[Jesus] entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret.” (Mark 7:24)
“Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?’” (Luke 9:18. See also Mark 8:27)
“Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there.” (Matthew 15:29, ESV)
“Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them.” (Mark 9:2)
“After his brothers had gone up to the feast, then [Jesus] also went up, not publicly but in private.” (John 7:10, ESV). [Jesus walked 90 miles from Galilee to Jerusalem, which gave him about five days in solitude.]
“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’” (Luke 11:1)
“Again [the religious leaders in Jerusalem] sought to arrest [Jesus], but he escaped from their hands. He went away again [walking about five miles] across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. And many came to him.” (John 10:39-41, ESV)
“They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid.” (Mark 10:32.) [Apparently Jesus kept silent for most of the 22-mile hike. Luke says Jesus was “resolute” (9:51). He told them that he’d be tortured and killed in Jerusalem.]
“When [Jesus and his disciples] had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Mark 14:26). This was Jesus’ “usual place” to pray when he was in Jerusalem. (Luke 22:39)
“They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’” (Mark 14:32)
“They crucified [Jesus]… Darkness came over the whole land… Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’” (Mark 15:25, 33; Luke 23:46)


Healing in Scripture

Scripture has the best wisdom to share on allowing the healthiest version of ourselves to exist. We don’t read it for this purpose but the more we look for His guidance on how to take care of ourselves, the more we begin to see it.
While we like to think that science is opposed to Scripture, there’s lots of gems hidden of wisdom that can be proven and backed by science. Science and medicine has proved that when we live in fear, anxiety, anger, oppression – in a bad energy – our bodies chemically respond in a way that makes our immune systems weaken and more susceptible to illness. Similarly on the reverse, science and medicine have also proved that if we live in love, kindness, awareness – in a good energy – our bodies chemically respond in a way that boosts our immune system and tells the cells in our body to get into its natural state of resistance.
The most important lesson we will ever learn on how to be more healthy is in our inherent ability to create.
“Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak…” -2 Corinthians 4:13
“Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – mediate on these things.” -Philippians 4:8
“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” -Matthew 21:22
If you’re living in fear, you’re creating more of it for yourself. The more you respond to it, the more you hang onto it and allow it to continue to “poison” you. (This is also similar to the algorithms that social media works off of – if you’re responding to negative and fearful posts, you’ll start to be shown more of it because you’re reacting.) This is the very real version of, “If you are looking for opportunities to be thankful, you will see more of them.”
We must shift from a space of fear to awareness because they are completely separate things. The facts that medicine can show: the factors of the host outweigh the facts of the illness. For example, it doesn’t necessarily matter how strong the illness is. It matters more that we have good immune systems, practice good nutrition and sanitary habits, take care to get deep and restful sleep, and live in a place of peace.
The fear response is this: “I’m not okay. I have to fight disease. I have to fight the virus. I have to control it and the things around me to avoid it. I can’t surrender.” Similar to not focusing on the sin, we can’t focus on the illness and the fear. We must turn our attention to God, love, our body and health, and how to improve it. While this can often be mistaken as doing nothing, as inaction, by stepping into a place of peace and serenity and focusing on our health, we are telling our cells to do their job and join us in the battle in which they’re able to show up in their best state to give their best work.
When we wish someone to be in shalom, we really don’t grasp the depth of how powerful this state of being is for our well being.
“Peace of mind makes the body healthy, but jealousy is like a cancer.” -Proverbs 14:30
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:7
There’s a space around the heart that’s similar to its own brain that has a higher frequency – a better energy – than the beliefs and thoughts of our brain. No matter how hard you think about it, if you’re in the mind, you’re never going to get the answer because it’s a different frequency. You must get aligned with the heart.
There are many verses about the light revealing the darkness, darkness being overcome, and we – Believers – stepping into the light of His goodness. For the darkness to become light, we have to be vulnerable and honest in where we’re at in the darkness. We have to bravely step into His light, in all of our darkness, to be healed.
To do so, we need to actively relax our body by taking deep breaths and becoming very present. Take deep chest breaths, slowly, with your eyes closed. Relax every part of your body from your face to your shoulders to your abdomen to your hips to your legs to your feet. Don’t worry about doing it wrong. There’s no wrong way. Just keep doing it.
As you feel the emotions, don’t try to suppress them. Remember: the fear, the anger, the anxiety – these things are not toxic. Holding onto them is. When we suppress them, we hold onto them. These emotions are part of our energy and are meant to move through us, not stay with us. What we resist, persists. You feed it by resisting it. Embrace your experience as it is, exactly in the now. Don’t try to change it, fix it, or chase it away. Feel it and breathe through it. When we do this, our hormones and immune system can function at its peak, simply by harmonizing with ourselves. Simply let the fear and anger go.
Find the peace and serenity within you through your breathing and relaxation and focus on it. Even if you’re barely relaxed or only have the concept of relaxation, focus on it. By doing this, you’re inviting the cells in your body to participate and expand the peace you have. This allows the wisdom of God to be heard because you’re getting out of the way.
As you begin to think or act through this process or your daily life and are faced with the various beliefs, thoughts, actions, and habits: “I need to learn more. I’m so scared. I’m going to cancel my trips/events,” get curious. Ask yourself, “Is this driven by fear or awareness/love? Is this belief true?”
There’s a very subtle difference between making your family eat healthier out of panic or serving your family healthy dishes out of love. The key to identifying and changing the approach is awareness. Once we find our centers of peace and love, we can more readily serve others more fully.
Further, Scripture is riddled with herbs and oils that are healthy for us. For example, burning frankincense and myrrh was tested to reduce bacteria by 91% and fungi by 80%. This was a common purification practice in Scripture. Often when tribe members became sick, they were to be cut off (quarantined) until fully healed. There were frequent washings in order to be kept pure (hygienic).
Follow His wisdom, dig into how to keep yourself clean through these practices, and trust in a peaceful, loving center that He has taught us how to take care of ourselves if we are willing to listen and receive. Focus on Him.



I love and know God as Abba, Father. This is my way of being most connected to Him and His love and reminds me of how specifically I am a child to the Kingdom.
Like many ladies, I didn’t always have a great role model of a father or even what it means to be a man and what kind of role they play in the lives of their wives and children. While my mom was my very best friend and the hardest working lady I’ve ever known, she couldn’t be the father every child needs.
This played an active role in my life growing up because without an example of the father that provides, disciplines, teaches boundaries, protects, leads – you are left with little girls that have a skewed understanding of what relationships should look like.
Beyond romantic relationships, this is true for family, friends, and coworker relationships. You lack boundaries that a father teaches and ultimately lack an understanding of how valuable you are.
I read recently a shared Facebook post about a church that started reaching out with kindness to local strip clubs. After giving their own personal testimony of building a relationship with the dancers and the dancers being able to truly confide in them and ask for prayers on the truly hard things they were experiencing, the writer shared this:
“A few years ago, I met with another pastor’s wife across the country who shared with me a similar ministry, although after months of developing relationships with the dancers, they asked the owners a crazy question.
They asked to hold a Bible study.
Just for the dancers.
Surprisingly, they were given a yes.
(Something about it building morale in the employees, but whatever. It was a yes!)
So, they started leading a Bible study in the club.
But, something was missing.
And those ministering knew it.
The women they were ministering to needed to be led by a man – not because these women were incapable, but because of the damaged, skewed image they had of men. They needed to see a man who was safe – they needed a man who knew Jesus.
This woman’s husband (who was a pastor) stepped up and took on the challenge. And, for months the dancers wouldn’t even look him in the eye.
But he kept showing up….
Soon, one by one, the women met Jesus through this pastor’s humble, gentle leadership.
There were prayer sessions.
Women were set free.
And many went on to lead, healthy restored lives.
All because this group of women and this pastor were unafraid to go where God was leading them.”
In today’s world, we are learning how important women really are as the necessary other. I’m so unbelievably grateful to the strong, empowered mother that gave us every bit of herself to take care of us, no matter what that meant for her.
I want to urge how important it is we don’t lose sight – or take offense – to walking alongside men and even feeling comfortable enough to follow the ones that exhibit Godly leadership.
When I was able to learn how precious of a daughter I am to Abba, Father, I was able to recognize how closely He had kept watch over me all my life. He was always leading the way, guiding me, and never allowing me to stray too far. When I was able to accept the Fatherly love I needed but had resisted out of distrust, I was able to experience a self-love in a more whole way and truly understand His calling on my life.
We don’t have to dim the light that men have to embrace our own, ladies. Wisdom is discerning when to lead and when to follow and knowing that both are equally important.
The full article from the excerpt:


Hear and Know

I find myself frequently praying for Abba to constantly show His presence to me recently. Slowly, I am beginning to recognize how He has been for a long time that only increases as time goes by.

There have been numerous people, including me at one point, who have looked up to religious leaders and teachers as if they were somehow uniquely connected with God on His personal line and that the only way to reach Him was through the people who had the number to it.

In the same token, people accredit certain actions and beliefs to Abba and even Yeshua and question how people can know the difference between when something is of Him or not.

Here’s the thing:

The reason teachers are usually a wealth of information on wise counsel of Abba is because they have built a life that revolves around intimacy with Him.

They dedicate time to Him by seeking counsel alone in prayer, presently meditate on the awareness of His constant presence, talk about Him and reference Him often, seek understanding by challenging ideas with others in a loving way, and the most important part of all of the relationship building that can be done is to actively interact with Scripture.

While not all teachers are great by any means or even so perfect that they are 24/7 absorbed in Him, they have chosen to be dedicated to a relationship just like we (hopefully) do in our marriages.

When we are married to someone and establish a household and a family, that is the center of our focus. We are constantly nourishing what we build, working for their ultimate good, running ourselves ragged to provide every need and be a good example, and take care to set aside time for them in a way that allows true connection.

The best part about connecting with those you love is being able to really see them for everything they are. Even if you can’t describe in words who they are, you understand them because being in their presence becomes something familiar. Recognizing that and honoring that is the purest form of relating with others because it’s unmarred by our own images and ideas.

While we can’t understand Abba for everything He is, we absolutely can learn to understand and build a connection with Him through Scripture by learning His character. Starting with the Torah is such an important foundation for doing that because it lists in detail the exact kind of “person” – being – He is.

He gives us a detailed map of exactly the kind of life He wants us to lead based on what is good. When our parents raised us, they did exactly this over the period of our life and even still teach us wisdom when we are outside of their covering.

Everything about what our parents teach us compiled into one, uniformed image is a look at their identity and character. When they call and you answer, even without looking to see who’s calling, you know their voice. When someone tells you something they’ve said or done, we sometimes say, “That sounds like them!” Because we intimately know their character after years of walking in their presence and teaching.

The more we establish that kind of intimate relationship with Abba, the more readily we can identify what is or isn’t of His character and guidance to us simply because we learned to recognize His voice.

The greatest part about Scripture being an instruction for our daily lives is how we can relate with it on a regular basis. If you’ve ever had to learn a hard lesson from someone by making a mistake and got punished for it, I bet you recall that person or event frequently when you are approached with the same scenario. The same principle applies but on a much grander scale. When I choose to eat something clean over unclean, I think of Him. When I wear my tassels and consider my actions, I have a physical reminder that brings up a passage of instruction saying, “This is His wisdom versus your wisdom.” In our house, music was really important. The more I listen to praise music and fellowship with others, especially when Hebrew is in it, I recall those songs in my daily life without any prompting, while I’m waking up from dreams and falling asleep at night, because it’s a natural reaction for me to sing. How beautiful to know that my mind is meditating on Him without any intention of doing so – because my life has become an intentional one for Him.

If you want to hear His voice, take initiative to welcome Him into your life and seek to be part of His Word. Sit with Him at the family table without any outside influence to interrupt and build that relationship. Ask Him to show His presence and speak to you throughout the day the way you may meet up with friends at lunch or send a text message to someone throughout the day, prompt Him for feedback as a welcoming into your life the way you ask your significant other for feedback on things.

Make the effort.



The gifts of the Spirit used to be some mystical superpower in my mind. I struggled with what my “superpower” could be, if I even had one, and how I could possibly grow in them as if to force them. I even thought some of them would be better than others. “Who cares about the power of tongues?!” and later when I was able to better define myself as a servant, “But that’s not special at all.” I learned later that teaching was something more natural for me to fall into, and that’s when the greatest spiritual growth began to happen.
Studying on the topic of teaching was an eye opener that we are all teachers, all the time.
People sometimes misunderstand the calling to teach as a glamorous position that makes you highly regarded somehow. Particularly in this walk, and especially those new to their faith, it’s easy to find Truth and build your suit of armor, shield, and sword for battle. One of the biggest mistakes we make is using that armor to tear down the very covenant we have been called to serve, protect, and build up.
Teaching is more than standing in the crowd and giving a speech. There’s years of study under other qualified authorities, entire themes and ideas that have to be made into concrete steps of a path that leads to deeper relationship with Abba, different learning (or receiving) styles have to be considered to best get the message to those listening, hours of heartfelt prayer on where He is calling you to go next, and being the center example as a leader for what others are meant to be.
While you don’t necessarily have to have a following to be a teacher, the people around you every day are learning from you. They are learning how you speak to others, the way you dress, the energy you give off, what your actions reflect of your character. As Believers, what are we teaching to the people around us? The ones in our congregation, on our timelines, at work, strangers?
When we mistake teaching – or correction – for aggressive assertion, we are completely devaluing what we are called to do.
2 Timothy 2:22-26 “So, flee the passions of youth; and, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart, pursue righteousness, faithfulness, love and peace. But stay away from stupid and ignorant controversies — you know that they lead to fights, and a slave of the Lord shouldn’t fight. On the contrary, he should be kind to everyone, a good teacher, and not resentful when mistreated. Also he should be gentle as he corrects his opponents. For God may perhaps grant them the opportunity to turn from their sins, acquire full knowledge of the truth, come to their senses and escape the trap of the Adversary, after having been captured alive by him to do his will.”
While we can be so excited to share Truth with others, and equally frustrated when others can’t see it, it’s crucial to understand it’s not our job to turn hearts. It’s our job to be a light to people so that when they are ready because Abba calls them, they have others to look to and learn from – and most importantly – with. It’s also important to consider who your audience is when you’re speaking to them. Not everyone receives information in the same manner. When we speak with aggression and accusation, we can find ourselves calling the wrong people and teaching others the wrong things. Not necessarily because what we believe from Scripture is wrong but, instead, that Abba calls us to be anything but wise, gentle, and firmly grounded in Him.
Be careful not to be grounded in things not of Him.
Matthew 7:24-27 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”



by: Casey Carnicle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The author describes his emotional state as:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And how did Jesus take it?

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

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

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

“Jesus wept.” John 11:35

Just let that sink in for a moment…

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

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

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

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

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

…and Scripture gives us that hope, in Jesus.

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

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



Come in whatever state you’re in. Just don’t stay there.

The best way we can seek Abba’s presence is through prayer. For me, this was something abstract and at the most in depth taught with an ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) method. While this was a very basic approach and helped, it didn’t build the connection that I needed to truly experience the Holy Spirit.
Even though I was seeking to build my relationship with Abba by studying Scripture and doing my best to live out His will through the Torah, I found myself shrinking away from actually speaking with Him. The truth was, my own shame was preventing me from being transformed because the judgment I was putting on myself was all I could see, and ultimately, I was making it too great for His forgiveness and presence, because I hadn’t really forgiven myself.
This is one of the most dangerous things we can do in the relationship is to be so ashamed – or even prideful and distrusting that He knows best – of where we come from that we run from Him rather than to Him with a genuine wholeheartedness.
“Come near to God, and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded!” James 4:8
There is genuine consequence of willfully being outside of the holiness of Abba’s presence, but more so, He invites us to seek Him because He wants to love us wholly. In the most unclean parts of ourselves, in the parts we want to hide and run from, is where the relationship deepens the most. Even though we have no deserving of our own doing to be welcomed, if we ask to be transformed, He comes near.
If you’ve ever had a valuable relationship (parent-child, significant other, friendships) that has gone through a trial, when true remorse took place and then true forgiveness, that relationship became much more solid than it was before. Something that had to be in place before remorse and forgiveness was a state of true vulnerability in being seen for everything that you are. When He accepts us in our raw state, we can begin to build a relationship of trust that when something bad happens, we can immediately run to him in earnest and say, “Abba, I messed up. I need Your help.”
Much more than only judgment and reflection, prayer is service of the heart. This is when we can connect with the spirit within us that is filled with His light and begin to cultivate growth. This is a fundamental tool that is graciously given and commanded as a practice to allow holiness to take place in our lives – this is for our sake. When we allow growth to happen through Him, we begin to shape the raw form we have come in into something beautiful and valuable for the work we are called to do. We can begin to cultivate the natural goodness we are created with into something powerful and holy – and reconcile the natural bad we struggle with so we can repair the relationship we have with ourselves and those around us.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
When we use that goodness inside of us to want nothing more than genuine connection with Abba, we seek to be bound to Him. In my journey to learning how to pray, a teacher pointed out that we aren’t always great at seeking Abba the way we think we are. When we get sick, we go to the doctor before we pray. When we need information, we can seek other people or Google before we pray. In this man’s daily life, he says that he allows countless opportunities for Abba to play a role in his life by simply asking for His guidance in even the most mundane things. While there’s not always an instruction to be given, by opening himself up to being directed this way, his life has been much more aligned with Abba’s will and has allowed great blessing to be carried out for the good of others. Even this small window of opportunity is a way that prayer takes place as an avenue for us to be bound to Him.
If you’re coming from a place that keeps some part of you reserved from Him, whether it be shame or distrust or pride, I pray that you be brave enough to want to seek Him with every fiber of your being and truly experience the relationship that can take place because of it. While your relationship may be formal at best in the moment, laying everything about who you are at His feet and asking to go on the journey with Him is the only way you can come to a place of genuine peace, understanding, trust, and love.



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.”
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:


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.


#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…


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