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Posts Tagged ‘Easter’

This week the world lost an incredible young woman.  She is the oldest daughter of one of my closest friends, a family that shared some of our crazy history, and that has stood by us in some really hard times.  We’ve both been through some trauma in the last three or four years.  We met in a home school group years ago and eventually formed a bond that survived all the religious transitions, moves, and family crises.  I guess we understood each other’s versions of crazy.  It’s hard to find friends like that.

Our kids grew, life changed, but our relationship often revolved around talking about our kids as they entered young adulthood.  As moms we share the joys, fears, struggles and frustrations.  We agonize over wanting to see our children come into their own, but it’s so difficult to make that transition sometimes.  We remember our own pasts.  We see them try to navigate the unknown territories and we hurt with them, pray for them, and then rejoice when the level places come in time.  Jessica had found her level place of a truly happy, thriving life.  Her last facebook post, “I. Love. My. Life.”  She had recently married the love of her life.

Jessica was always different, in a good way.  To say she was gifted would be an understatement.  When people would ask me to explain to them the benefits of homeschooling, I would say, “There is this one girl…”  And I would tell them about Jessica.  She learned Hindi, became a gourmet cook, was a horse whisperer, took up Krav Maga and became an instructor, worked on her own truck and motorcycle, and was one of the most gifted artists I’ve ever seen.  I knew her mostly through her mother after she left home, but I had (and have) the greatest admiration for her.  She was beautiful inside and out.

In reality, she would have been shown brightly no matter how she was educated.  I do believe being at home gave her the freedom to explore and develop in more ways than if she had been bottled up in a classroom.  But being at home also means the mother, teacher, mentor is deeply invested in her children on many levels.  Not saying it’s harder for one than another.  Just that it’s hard beyond words.  I have only come close to that edge and that was close enough.  My imagination carried me into that place I thought I might have to go, but we were spared.  Now my friend has been called to walk this road.

This past Monday Jessica was headed to work on her Harley, (yes, HER Harley) the bike she loved, living the life she loved.  A car pulled out in front of her and she walked into eternity at that moment.  I had been away from my phone for an hour (teaching my younger children) and when I came back to it my heart leaped into my throat as I read messages from so many people, and saw all the missed phone calls.  I called her mom, my friend.  Grief beyond words.  No words.  I went to be with her – although she had many friends and close family around her.  I just had to be there.  It’s all I can do.  Just be, and pray, and wipe away tears.

Tomorrow we gather to remember and celebrate her incredible short earth life of almost 25 years.  Her husband, parents, sister, extended family, friends, and Krav Maga community will mourn the loss together.  And then the next day, is Resurrection Day.  The New Day – and hope of Life and happy reunions.  As my own faith has been through the fire of testing and been dragged through the valley of doubt, this one thing – resurrection – this is the one truth that has kept me from dropping into the abyss of unbelief without hope.  And I cannot imagine facing a day like tomorrow without that rock of truth, that we are not just this body.  We are Life, His Life.

I may run out of things to expound on here on this blog because I’m not the same person that started writing here years ago.  I’ve moved on to other places and new vistas that have come after some deep valleys.  But one thing will not change.  The 8th Day is for Life.  Forever.  Rejoicing in the light of this, through the tears.

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Rejoicing In the Presence of Christ. Not goodbye, but see you soon Jessica

(For any who feel led to make a donation to help the family, a GoFund has been set up.  http://www.gofundme.com/FarewellJessica)

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Just wanted to say hello to all the Canadian readers and congratulate you for the fact that in the last seven days, you have exceeded the number of readers from the United States!  I have no idea what’s going on up there that might precipitate this honor, but so glad to have you.  

Holidays do spark more information seeking into the topics here.  Christmas and Easter can be stressful times for those in the Torah observant lifestyle, and more so for all those around them who are not.  I can remember not knowing how to deal with family who didn’t understand our convictions about obedience to God.  And now I can only imagine what we put them through.  I get a little taste of it from listening to other people’s stories.

Our last Passover Seder was 2007, if I remember correctly.  Shortly after this, we broke the news to our fellowship that we were leaving.  Those were agonizing weeks.  I wish that we could have somehow remained in community with our dear friends – but we were drastically delivered and could no longer walk down that road at all.  Our fellowship was based on a lifestyle and specific days on a calendar.  I hate that this wall of separation came between us and Jesus was not enough to hold us all together.  I take equal fault and blame no one.  

Looking back I do wish we had been able to maintain better connections – but we were in such a drastic state of change and renewal ourselves our heads were spinning.  The best counsel I can give to anyone dealing with Observant friends or family is to love them with as much love as you can.  We wanted to please God, and we started down that road with a sincere heart.  We later became polluted with blinding pride, but so many in this movement are at the core – hungry for God’s love.  Our group was named “Know Him” (in Hebrew) and we often spoke of “drawing near”.  We wanted so badly to be pleasing to God and be special to Him.  So many who do not receive a nurturing father love in their lives, believe this is how they must approach their heavenly Father as well.  We have found this pattern to be extremely consistent.  Our deliverance came shortly after a huge emotional breakthrough and working through some forgiveness issues.  Of course every story is different, but we have seen this very common pattern both while in the Movement, and in talking to others since leaving.  Love hunger drives people to many addictions and obsessions.  Religion (as opposed to Life in Faith) suffices well in this case, and attempts to fill those core bankruptcies. But there never seem to be enough books, videos, or finding that level of obedience that gives you the feeling of acceptance or having “arrived”.  We see 101 ways we fall short every day.  I struggle not to live there, bound to my unique brand of legalism in my own expectations.

We so easily become bogged down in theological arguments (and yes – that was the motivating factor in even starting this blog) that we miss the Life in the Promise.  Our hearts are so easily distracted from this and drawn away into pursuits that excite the senses yet dull the spiritual connection with our Creator.  We love a secret, hidden meanings, thinking we have re-discovered suppressed truth, and having a unique message.  People get so obsessive, even about orthodox theological positions, let alone “heretical” ones.  What is it about human opinions and knowledge that we find so much more satisfying than being with Jesus?  I still struggle with these things that want to draw me away.  

This Resurrection Season – and 8th Day – I pray to be less distracted and stressed, and to become more aware of the Life that is in me, and around me.  We have before us two choices every day to walk in – that which pertains to Life, and those things which are already dead and passing away.  Choosing Life is so much more than the right vote at the ballot box.  I find more and more it means my death.  So He can live.  

He is Risen!  May it be so in my life too.

 

 

 

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I cannot let this Easter slip by without a discussion on what this day means to me now.  The name of my blog comes from this, so of course I have to talk about it!  Every Sunday is a mini Easter, a time to remember the LIFE we have in Christ.  I do prefer to call it Resurrection Sunday (just because it explains the meaning), but I don’t get up tight about names of things anymore!:0)  It’s the reality of a thing or person that matters, not what it’s called.  I want to begin with the truth as the Word of God proclaims it.  Paul testified from one Roman official to another that this was the key point for which he was being hunted down by his Jewish brothers.

1Co 15:14  And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

1Co 15:17  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.

Eph 1:19  and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might
Eph 1:20  that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,

Rom 6:4  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Col 2:12  having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Rom 10:9  because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

I don’t think I ever saw this element until just now.  This last verse says believing in the resurrection is part of saving faith, just as we are instructed to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  This is not something I often hear, but shows how vital the resurrection is in the gospel message.

To understand where I am now, here is some background.  Growing up as an Adventist, the actual day of Easter was never recognized.  The Sabbath before Easter would sometimes have a sermon with some reference to the resurrection (depending on the church or pastor – some ignored it completely).  Most often the emphasis was on the fact that since Christ rested in the tomb on Sabbath, we were encouraged in our own observance of this day.  We never quite got past the quiet tomb to the empty tomb.

On Easter we went about our business as if nothing significant had ever occurred on this day in the history of the world.  To corporately gather and honor the resurrection of Christ would have been to participate in “Sunday worship” – an evil and pagan practice.

I recently was given a sermon by an SDA pastor entitled “Who is Jesus”.  He began his presentation with a video of people on the street being asked who Jesus is, and getting every answer but the Biblical one.  He went on to explain who Jesus is, (as if he was answering these people with no knowledge of Him.)  I kept waiting for him to cover the resurrection and what that means for all who believe in Him.  He left this part of the gospel out completely, an oversight difficult to understand in light of the above verses.

The entire subject has many problems in Adventist belief.  Here is how Ellen White describes the resurrection of Christ, via an ANGEL!

“…The face they look upon is not the face of mortal warrior; it is the face of the mightiest of the Lord’s host. This messenger is he who fills the position from which Satan fell. It is he who on the hills of Bethlehem proclaimed Christ’s birth. The earth trembles at his approach, the hosts of darkness flee, and as he rolls away the stone, heaven seems to come down to the earth. The soldiers see him removing the stone as he would a pebble, and hear him cry, Son of God, come forth; Thy Father calls Thee. They see Jesus come forth from the grave, and hear Him proclaim over the rent sepulcher, “I am the resurrection, and the life.” As He comes forth in majesty and glory, the angel host bow low in adoration before the Redeemer, and welcome Him with songs of praise. {DA 779, 780}

Jesus proclaimed, “I AM the resurrection and the life.”  If He is the embodiment of these things, why was an angel involved?   In John 2:19 Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” – speaking there of His own body.  The scripture speaks in many places of God the Father who raised the Son, but in the understanding of the Eternal Godhead, we know Jesus to be in the Father and the Father in Him.  In another verse it speaks of the Spirit – so all three aspects of the Godhead were present and working together as They are in all things.  (Thank you to some of my friends who helped expand my perspective on this recently!)

But there is yet another even more damaging doctrine of the SDA religion in connection with Easter, that of  “soul sleep”.  The death which Christ died, they call the “second death”, is the final annihilation they believe the wicked will experience at the final judgment.  Not believing in hell or any spirit that lives on after the death of the body, this death means a person completely ceases to exist.  They distinguish this from the state of unconscious  “sleep” they see as the current state death of all men until the final resurrection.  While it is not clear what this distinction is, the resulting problem is in the death of Christ,  you are left with only a dead physical body of God in the tomb.  Part of the Trinity ceases to be.  This destroys the Christian understanding of the Triune God and the absolute Deity of Christ.

But in order to maintain an Investigative Judgment, you must have the doctrine of ” soul sleep”.  How can we have our reward in Christ if the judgment of our souls did not begin until 1844?  In having the absence of a “spirit”, we are left with a God that passes in and out of existence.  The dominoes topple a very long way from the original falsehood.  But when you understand the first Adventists believed that Jesus was a created being, just as Satan was, then all of this nonsense becomes easier to fit together.  They have left the initial Arian belief behind, but are laden with many remnants of this horrible heresy, including the teaching that Jesus is represented in scripture also as Michael the Archangel.  (Without believing in a human spirit, it is also impossible to understand what it means to be “born again.” – which is more the essence of what I will cover toward the end.)

As a Hebrew Roots follower, we also dismissed the resurrection, even though it had a place within the Israelite holy days!!  Three days after Passover we had the Feast of Firstfruits, with the obvious symbolism.  But did we acknowledge it?  Not as a group, and not in any of the various groups we attended.  I knew some individuals who had a quiet recognition of it at home (reading some rabbinic blessings) but the huge production of the season centered around Passover.   Not until we were delivered and saw the New Covenant did we realize this Firstfruits nearly always falls on the “Christian” Easter, unless it was a leap year on the Jewish calendar.  We could have honored it all along, but we didn’t.  Just as SDA’s hated Sunday and saw it as a symbol of false worship, likewise the HRM saw every Christian holiday as a thing to be avoided, even if it meant denying an Israelite festival we were claiming to observe!  (Our entire story is here on this blog starting with the page “There and Back Again.”)

Seeing the HUGE significance of the resurrection it becomes obvious why the enemy’s deceptions target this day for the  maximum minimization possible, not just through false beliefs, but more widely through secular, commercial distraction.  All these lessen the Person and work of Jesus Christ,  the aim of nearly every deception.  His resurrection is the proof for everything He claimed and performed in the past, and the hope for everything we have in Him for the future.

Very early in our new perspective of the covenants, I realized the significance of Sunday.  I saw that it was not the 1st day of the week, but the 8th day!  Woven throughout many of the Torah festivals and requirements you can see an 8th day motif.  It symbolized new birth, renewal, new life.  For Christ to rise from the dead on this day was the mark of the new order of things and the guarantee to every promise we have in our relationship to Him.

2 Corinthians 5:14-17  For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;  and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.  From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

The old order proved you cannot change the heart from external mandates.  The old life must die and the new life must be put on, the very Life of Christ.  “Let this mind be IN you, which was in Christ Jesus…  ”  Unless we understand that from the moment of our new birth we are fundamentally different and made alive in Christ, we have no idea who we are or what is available to us.   Many who have experienced this as a spiritual reality are still trying to come to God under the old system of the outward methods to achieve holiness in their present walk.  In Christ, true transformation comes with laying down the dead self and putting on the risen Christ.   It’s a cycle of submission and renewal, not striving and failure.  In the areas where we are compelled to strive, we will be guaranteed to fail.  We all fall into this trap without even realizing it.  It’s our old man thinking it can help and do something in its own strength.  Even if our willpower musters up enough strength in some cases, the victory is still not in Christ, and we will take the credit.

Rom 7:6  But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

So often I hear people quote Paul’s discussion immediately following the above verse.  He goes on to describe the struggle between the flesh and the Spirit; how we don’t do what we want to and do what we don’t want to.  But so many people stop there!  Paul answers his struggle with a solution!  Chapter 8 is a continuation of this thought.  Read this whole discussion together and see the awesome truth we have through our resurrection with Christ.

Romans 7:24-8:11   Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.  For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.  But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.   If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Not only do we have a future hope, but a present deliverance!  Of course we fall, and of course we will not manifest this perfectly here in this life, but we are no longer slaves!!  We have a path to victory and a way out of addiction, shame, and the injury we often inflict on others through the service of our “self”.  We cannot use the old man as our excuse as so many do.  The flesh is a reason, but not an excuse.

We have our future hope, our present total justification and forgiveness, and thank God we now have the privilege of showing Jesus to others through our own lives, to the extent that we behold Him and become changed.

2 Corinthians 3:18  And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

This Easter let the reality of the resurrection move beyond an apologetic for the Christian faith and sink deep into our hearts and minds as a Living Faith for the here and now, as well as for the glorified life we will have with Him in the future.  Let us remember He is Risen Indeed, and He dwells with us and in us.  We do not have just the truth, we have the Person, and we are all in Him.

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