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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Christ’

If the leading teachers in the Hebrew Roots Movement received the same heart-breaking emails I get from some readers here, I wonder what they would say?  Another came through a few days ago, nearly word for word what many before have shared with me, and pleaded for help to know what to do.  Nearly all of them describe a drastic change in personality of the person who has become Torah observant.

My spouse’s beliefs have caused a major problem with our family, children,…. our marriage. The holidays are torture. The Sabbath Day usually leads to a battlefield. And our children are stuck in the middle. My spouse’s personality has changed from a loving, happy, and fun person to one of self-righteousness, strictness, and generally being very serious/dark.

I really wish I could make it all better, heal the hurts, and save the children from broken relationships and skewed ideas of their Father in heaven.  Can you imagine the husband or wife of a new convert writing a letter like this to the Apostle Paul?  Was this the wake he left behind him on his missionary journeys?  Even Paul, who could write very direct confrontational words, still maintained that love was the highest and best expression of God in this world.  Romans 12, I Corinthians 13, Galatians 5, to name just a few chapters, highlight his exhortations to walk in love.  The religion that gradually developed around the early Christian teachings also became enamored with law-based thinking, and the corresponding fruit came with it.  I do not believe the church has worked this out of its system overall.  Protestants brought the same dictatorial mindset to the New World and through many heinous methods, imposed their “salvation” upon the First Nations already living here.  To this day the gospel is often shared with the Law of God as the basis, rather than the Love of God.  We fight for the 10 Commandments to be kept on government buildings because we are a “Christian” nation.  Yet where do we see the teaching of Jesus etched in stone anywhere?  Why is Moses still getting top billing in a Christian nation?

So I’m not going to pick on just those pesky “law-keepers” out there.  The shortfall in our concept of what Jesus did, and is for us – affects far more people in mainstream Christianity than the Hebrew Roots Movement will ever touch.

Jesus came to set us free in love, acceptance, restoration, and life in the Spirit, at peace with our Creator and each other.  And in our human need to control and protect, we built more walls to train more Pharisees like the ones who schemed until they had Him hanging on a cross.  Any time you have a group of people who believe they are the only ones who are right, you will have a religious zealot problem on your hands.

Hebrew Roots followers exemplify this unfortunate divergence from the love of Christ quite frequently, but this situation can create unexpected traps for those suffering from their attempts at coercion.  The biggest mistake we can make in confronting them is to become like them.  I will say this presents the biggest challenge for anyone who lands in a spiritual conflict of any kind.  I cannot give you any sure fire scripture or argument to prove someone wrong.  It’s really not hard to be right.  We all think we are right.  Jesus wants us to pick up our cross and be love instead.

Have a difficult person in your life, of any religious persuasion?  Here are some ideas.

1.  Respect their convictions.  Just as you want yours to be respected.  Even if you don’t get the same in return, treat them as you would want then to treat you.  Don’t ridicule or belittle their ideas or practices.  Make room for them to follow their conscience by deferring to their wishes for holidays or dietary habits.  This does not mean YOU have to comply or go along with them if it is against your own convictions.  But if you support and respect even while you disagree, this will send a message in itself.  Don’t use your tolerance as a weapon in an argument (as in “you owe me”).  Simply do it because it’s the loving thing to do.

2.  Find ways to show love and support to the person in question that have nothing to do with religion.  Outside the context of your differences, let them know they are loved.

3.  Do not retaliate when you are condemned or attacked.  Let them know you hear and understand, and respectfully express that their opinion does not define your worth or identity.

4.  Seek the Spirit for your own strength daily to not fall into doubt about your own walk with God and His love and approval for you.  You are in a war zone of spiritual influences that will seek to play on your doubt, magnify your short-comings, and leave you feeling like you are never enough.  Getting pulled into verbal combat will only leaving you more vulnerable and feeling less worthy.

5.  If you do break down and become angry and hostile (some days…the humanity bleeds through), apologize quickly and take responsibility for your own emotions.  Do not blame the difficult person for “making you angry”.

6.  Do NOT tolerate any form of abuse to you or your children.  You can remain firm and loving, but do not stay in an unsafe situation no matter how persuasive, or how much authority someone claims to have over your life.

7.  Talk about Jesus, His words, His actions, whenever appropriate in conversations about spiritual things.  He is your Foundation, your Rock, your Reason for everything.  Focus on the heart issues, more than the legal ones.

8.  PRAY for the person you love.  (This should actually be at #1).  In praying for them, everything else on this list will become easier.  Give them to God.  You can’t fix them.  You can only love them.

My heart breaks especially for the children caught in the middle.  Your endeavor to show love in the face of all that is dark and harsh, will be a testimony to them far greater than any theological teaching you can give.   Right now they may not understand why mom and dad don’t agree, but they will not forget the testimony of love and patient endurance

All of this is so easy for me to type.  I have not often had the opportunity to walk this hard road.  But Jesus did, and it is His example, and that of many persecuted believers worldwide, that inspire me to take a higher path, in His strength.  I am aware enough of my weakness and limitations to know none of this would be my own first response.  But there is such a great power in peaceful, loving resistance.  I say resistance because we will not give up our faith for any Law.  But let us not give up our love in the name of our faith, as many have done.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 
Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 
To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:14 – 21

 

 

 

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I may have only minutes before the many people who live in my house wake up.  This is an experiment to see if I can write a post that makes any sense in this small window of opportunity.  The other day I ran across a picture which perfectly describes the fantasy of an introvert writer who lives in a small space with many other people.

jumping bowlI can dream can’t I?  I do love all the people in my house so very much.  But I also love silence and solitude.  Even Jesus had to get away by Himself with His Father.  I have yet to pray all night however!

Yesterday I spent  several hours working in our backyard (a.k.a. neglected jungle) and barely made a dent in what needs to be done.  The previous occupants of the house let things overgrow for years. They also left their own piles of debris which we are still gradually eliminating, and finding interesting uses for.  In addition to rocks, metal, leaves and sticks, the other big challenge to clean out is the Mondo grass that has been allowed to take over large portions of the lawn, as well as the vines and shrubs attacking the fence line.  So while all this wild plant life grows so vigorously, the edible vegetation I am actually trying to grow barely makes any progress.  They sprouted, but haven’t grown.  Squirrels keep digging holes in the bed.  If a Scripture has come to your mind by now, I’m sure it’s the same one that I began to hear in mine.  The Apostle Paul lamented about how easy it was for him to do what he didn’t want to do, and the thing that he wanted to do – he didn’t do.  It never ceases to amaze me the reflections of spiritual truth contained in the Creation.  Jesus also loved to draw lessons from what He made, and I am thankful HE is the gardener of my soul.  His green thumb is so much better than mine.  Paul concludes his dilemma with thanks to Jesus for deliverance from this “body of death.”  (Romans 7)

535454_560529423967130_2035587773_nBut here is a paradox.  In nature we see a life force that is overwhelmingly strong and finds a way to survive when it seems there should be no way.  In extreme conditions and against all obstacles, life finds away.  But left unchecked, this life can cause the death of other things.  It takes over.

As I worked yesterday, the beauty of the blue sky behind a few low-hanging clouds quickly drifting by refreshed my weary soul.  Two Cedar Waxwings courted each other in a tree overhead, and another tiny, adorable bird was cracking a pecan that never let go of the tree.  I looked up the hill behind our house, where the most noteworthy and wealthy families in the city live.  I can see some of the buildings on the property of a well-known man who just passed away this week.  In the same year, he and my son both became ill with cancer.  This disease doesn’t care if you live at the top or the bottom of the hill.  At cancer centers you find people of all races and religions in a somber fight to live against that which refuses to die.

As I learned how cancer develops and grows, I also saw amazing spiritual parallels.  Cancer represents an attempt at immortality, gathering resources for its own growth and survival, even at the expense of the host.  Self-destruction eventually comes either through a barbaric onslaught of chemicals and radiation, or in the end – its own “victory”.  The mechanisms by which it achieves its goals are incredibly diverse and complex, and the more I studied it, the more I began to see a sinister war, not a disease.  Cancer takes what the body uses to defend itself and appropriates it for its own use.  It establishes a control center, then outposts , supply lines, and lines of protection.

For most of human history, this has been the way of expanding earthly kingdoms as well.  The way of fallen nature seeks to establish its own security at the expense of everything and everyone around it.  Not all kingdoms are content within their own borders, just as some human cells decide they don’t want to ever die.  Some people live their lives this way on a personal level.  Jesus came to show another Way.  Dying brings life, not killing and taking.  It’s so foreign to our “natural” way we often believe we can follow Jesus and still cling to what feels so obviously natural to us.  Jesus said, he who loses is life will save it, and he who seeks to save his life will lose it.  In this very simple statement we see the cause and cure of our own spiritual cancer.

I eagerly wait for a real, humane cure to the physical examples of cancer.  Nearly every day I hear of someone else entering this war, and we have lost far too many friends and family to it.  And I am in NO way suggesting that those who carry the physical disease do so because they have succumbed spiritually.  But the spiritual form grieves me maybe even more so.  When I hear attitudes and convictions of people who take up a side against other human beings for their own elevation, either nationally or personally, I believe we are promoting spiritual cancer.  It now smells like death to me, even though I have been guilty of it many times.  Compassion means to suffer with, not blame, judge, condemn, or feel no grief over the deaths of perceived enemies, as if they were dogs.  No, we care more for dogs come to think of it.  And may I continue to see where I may apply the Cure.  I agree with Paul, “Thanks be to God in Jesus Christ!” for this deliverance which continues.   But we must see ourselves as we truly are, and Him as He is, not as we wish Him to be.

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My husband recently shared an overview of the Hebrew Roots Movement for our friends at after7.tv and I am happy to be able to share the link for those who were not able to join us live!

CLICK HERE to watch the replay.

Lots of other great topics to explore there as well.  Enjoy!

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…these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.  And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.  The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

1 Corinthians 2:11-14

Several years ago Magic Eye pictures became popular.  Books and posters came out with these images that appear as nothing more than colorful “static” on the surface, but when you focus your eyes deeply into – and past – the picture, a 3D image emerges.  Here is an example from a free gallery of Magic Eye pictures.  If you spend a few moments trying to look past the 2D picture, the words “Happy New Year” will come into focus.  (Sorry, this is not seasonally appropriate.)  If you cannot figure out how to see it, the website link above has some detailed instructions.  The first time I finally succeeded at seeing the 3D picture, it amazed me that something so vivid could be hidden in a picture of  “nothing”.   And the longer you look at it, the clearer it gets.

These pictures remind me of my experience reading Scripture, and how vital the role of the Holy Spirit is in seeing the images of Christ behind the words.  As Paul said, the “natural mind” thinks spiritual truth is completely foolish, but those with the Spirit of God see something beautiful and magnificent, and believe it!

When reading through the Word, getting the big picture is of utmost importance.  If you only took one tiny corner of the above picture, you would not ever see the 3D image it contains.  The Word also needs to be seen as a whole.  So many people struggle with understanding when they only have very small pieces of the picture.  

If the Bible is too big and intimidating, I have found (through some wonderful friends) one great way that encourages many to succeed at reading it all the way through for the first time.  Free PDF instructions are here: Divide and Conquer…The Bible by Judy Reamer.  She has instructional CDs and DVDs about actually cutting a Bible into four parts, and binding it as four smaller books.  This has helped many people get through the entire book in a short amount of time.  Judy also has an amazing testimony about how reading the WHOLE Word of God really changed her life (also available on CD).  I can attest to this life-changing experience as well!  The truth does set people free!

True reality is only seen with spiritual vision from God… HIS focus.  When we become spiritually born from God, we receive this Spirit.  I have heard many people say that after they came to believe and trust Christ, the Bible then became so much easier to understand, and desirable!  But we still often rely on our own intellect in learning about God, rather than letting Him speak for Himself.  Worse yet, we may trust someone else to just tell us what it all means.  Do you really know someone if you only know about them, or what someone has told you?  Or do you KNOW them if you communicate with them yourself?  This is the fellowship the Word of God opens up for us, when the Holy Spirit is invited to participate.

I am currently reading the Word through again after several years of digging into different books.  But I still get those “Ahaa!”  moments of something popping out that I had never seen before.  Things connect, points emerge, pictures painted – of our awesome Father and Creator God.  Sometimes I feel prompted to read over a passage a few times because I hear the whisper of something there that wants my attention.  I am rarely disappointed.  I know some others who “read” (see & hear) this way and their insights amaze me.  I recognize the same Voice of the Spirit coming through these people too – from many ages past to the present.

Sometimes I am in situations where people are teaching from an immense storehouse of scholarly knowledge about the original languages, the context, the history, etc…  .  These elements do add so much insight into the Word and I really love learning all I can from every angle.  Yet this approach alone still falls short of what the Spirit wants to teach us.  If we will listen and ask for HIS 3D vision into the spiritual truths of Jesus Christ, He is there.  When we dissect something.. it dies, right?  You cannot dissect a living thing while it is still alive, and the Living Word can also have the life extracted right out of it for the sake of theological science.  Do we want Him, or do we just want to be right?

The Scripture was given for Life.. to point us to the Life.  It is a connection point to the Life, but not the Life itself.  If we miss the Life, then we miss the function of the Word, and if we come to think that the book IS that Life, then we have created an idol out of the means, missing the end.  When John said Jesus was the Word he most certainly did not mean to say, “Jesus and the Book are equal.”  The Book is only a limited reflection of the ultimate reality.  Look through the pages of the Book, and see Him.

Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”

Jeremiah 9:23,24

Ideas for better spiritual eyesight

These are just suggestions… not a method! 🙂

  • Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to teach when you go to the Word.
  • Seek to know Him, not prove something.
  • Pray for a child-like faith to believe all that He has said.
  • DO take into account as much background information as possible.  Ask Who, What, When, Where, and Why of each passage… but don’t get bogged down in the facts.  Think of these facts as the props for the bigger story.  If your props are wrong, the story can get misunderstood.  If the props become the point, the story doesn’t get told.
  • Find others who also have a deep love and longing for God and share with each other what He is teaching You about Himself.

What 3D images have you seen in the Word lately?

(For clarification:  I am NOT in any way supporting the HRM idea of the mystical four levels of interpretation derived from the teachings of Kabballah.  This has nothing to do with what Paul spoke of here in Corinthians, or a believer who is seeking Jesus as the truth through the written Word.)

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I am sure many are rejoicing with great glee at this news, but for those of us who have been down this path, it’s heartbreaking to hear.  The CEO of World Net Daily has come out as a stated follower of the Hebrew Roots Movement, calling one of its most prominent teachers his “pastor”, and selling the movement’s books in the online store.

As I listened to Joseph Farah begin the description of his journey in a recent interview, I heard him explain the very same quandary my husband and I were in nearly two decades ago.  We could not reconcile the the Sabbath of the Ten Commandments given to Israel with traditional Christianity.  We asked God some questions, and we proceeded forward on His answers.  Yes, Saturday is the Sabbath!  Then we discovered the other 603 commands.  What we didn’t do was ask the right questions.  He didn’t give us answers to questions we didn’t yet know how to ask, but allowed us to learn as we walked.  For many years we believed we were in the truth and those who had “just Jesus”, but not the right Law, were lesser Christians.  Many speculated that if you had the correct Jesus (who never went by that name incidentally) you would observe the Torah.  It gradually became a definition of a real Christian for us (but we didn’t claim to be Christians anymore either)… demanding different fruit than the Holy Spirit gives.  And the genuine fruit of the love of Christ in our lives, sadly lacking as well.

God finally and dramatically revealed to us what the Sabbath and the Law meant, and our relationship to it.  He had let us experience the alternative with full force, but when we were finally able to listen, we found humility, grief, and shock that we had missed what was so simply in front of our eyes.  But only He was able to show us.

The real root of the HRM is not about being like Jesus, but is rather a misunderstanding of the role of Law for those in Christ (we are dead to it, and alive to the Law of the Spirit in Jesus – a higher law… see Romans 6-8) and the misunderstanding of Gentile believers becoming part of Israel instead of “in Christ” as the One New Man, together with our Israelite brothers and sisters.  See this article about who we are really grafted into. The paradigm and premise drawn by the HRM is at complete odds with the true witness of Christ (when He is allowed to speak for Himself) and the entire New Testament.  This explains why so many take the logical step and just convert to Judaism.  As one Jewish believer in Jesus stated…

It is my observation that among those adapting Jewish customs Christians who leave Jesus far outnumber Jews who turn to Him.

He blessed us with an interview for the post End Time Judaizers and his story is also shared here (Jewish Believer’s Testimony) with a free download!

Farah sounds so sincerely convinced. I know he is because I’ve been there.  But I also know without a shadow of a doubt that he is knocking on a door with death on the other side.  It breaks my heart to see anyone falling into this, let alone someone who has influence over so many other sincere, God-loving people.

Friends, we must be like those on the mountain with Jesus when He revealed His glory. . Moses and Elijah disappear, and we see JESUS ONLY.  “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him!”  This is the voice of the Father.  He does not point us to Moses, but to Christ.

I plead with the readers of World Net Daily to see our testimony, and the in-depth research of the others on my Resource Page above.  But most of all, I pray you see Jesus only, not the counterfeit that seeks to bring all people under an obsolete covenant that had a distinct beginning, and found its end in Jesus.  (Galatians means exactly what it sounds like it means!)  I am one voice, rescued from a ship destined to sink, begging you not to board.  If you do, I pray that it will only serve to later enable you to see Jesus like you have never seen Him before.  I am so thankful this was true for us.

Coming soon!
I will post the testimony of my 18 year old son who “grew up” in the Sabbatarian/Hebrew Roots atmosphere.  He has only recently begun to share with me the reality he lived in, and it grieved me greatly to learn what I put my kids through without realizing it.  I am so thankful for his love for Christ in spite of what we put him through.  God is merciful!!!  Stay tuned!

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Yesterday in a book store I skimmed through the introduction to a book by a scholar who had studied himself out of the faith that I claim to believe in.  I did not get so far as to look at his evidence or reasoning, only the description of his journey through many decades of seeking the truth.  I have to admit that it rattled me – just to hear the words of a man with a giant intellect who claims to have walked in my shoes, yet come to decide that it’s not what he once thought it was.

I do not for a minute doubt his sincerity or his desire to know what the truth is.  I have been on a similar journey of my own for years as well.  I know that for Seventh-day Adventists, writings by former members can create many reactions;  fear, “what if”, mental scrambling for that piece of fact that no one can take from them, anger and blind defensiveness.  I found this mental confrontation giving me the same kind of experience, fueled by the fact that I have friends who have succumbed to doubt and fallen away as well.  Do I open that box and see what is inside?  Would I come through the other side victorious or defeated?  What IS my faith based on?  What does it depend on?  What do I ultimately trust IN?  One thing I know for sure is that I cannot base belief or doubt either one on the conclusions of someone else.

This morning I was wrestling with these questions and talking to God.  He’s my dad and I take everything to Him.  I apologized, after all He has revealed and shown to me, and done for me, that I could wonder if there was any validity to the doubts of another human.  I won’t claim this post is what He Himself told me in response (for those who should rightly question that claim), but here is what came to mind, and it reminded me a little of the Parable of the Sower.

I saw three traps that prevent people from really knowing Jesus.  They may overlap, or one may lead to another, but these three became so clear to me.  There are examples of these both in the unbelieving world and in “the church”.

The carnal person never gets beyond his own desires in this world.  Even if he hears the truth, it does not affect his direction, which is to seek his desire for lust, things, or power.  He may even try to use the truth to that end, but in the end, all he wants is what HE wants.

The mystic may not care much for material things, pleasures, or position, but he loves the supernatural.  However, he doesn’t consider that not everything that is spiritual is from a good source.  Lying spirits easily lead him off on a trail to do what the first man does, in a different way; seek happiness in self through discovery, actualization, or improvement through accessing the “higher self”.  Evil is not necessarily something that is ugly, scary, cruel, or sinister.  It’s simply wanting my own way.  It’s rebellion.  Spirits in the church are also teaching people to seek this path in the name of Christ.

The intellectual on the other hand has no time for shallow, worldly pursuits, nor is he silly enough to believe in the reality of the spiritual realm.  Some “believers” may live on knowledge alone and never consider that God is a Living Person who can speak and act in their own sphere beyond the pages of a book.  Neither do they acknowledge the reality of evil spiritual entities.   Eventually, the miracles may seem as legends, the stories allegories, and God Himself becomes a metaphor.  The man is left to worship his own mind.

A Christian can be assaulted from all three sides – his own lower desires, refusing to “discern the spirits”, or trusting his own intellect until someone raises an objection he can’t answer.  What person can keep himself from falling away with these dangerous pitfalls at every step?

Some believe it’s important to constantly warn Christians they can lose their salvation.  While scripture does contain passages that warn us, the Gospel (Good News) focuses on what God has done, not my potential for weakness.  The underlying message of the fear-based approach to faith (fear &  faith don’t mix by the way) is, “You better hang on for your dear life.”  I know the motives of these pleadings are genuine, but I also know that in myself, I can’t trust myself to be strong enough to hang on.  And even if I did – in the end I could say, “Thank you Jesus for saving me, and good thing I held on tight enough to not be pulled away by that tricky satan guy.”  The end of that equation is Jesus saves, but my ability kept me saved.  One thing my faith does NOT rest in, is my own strength or reason.  I am so thankful for His promises to us in that regard.  I get tired of the argument about whether or not I can choose to reject Jesus after He saved me.  I love Him and I trust Him with my life. (Jude 24,25)  I can’t speak for anyone else.  I don’t know of any other Love or ideal I could even begin to follow.  Who have I in Heaven or Earth but Him?

The beauty of Jesus is that He satisfies all three of the areas I have just described.  He gives us our desires, so that in seeking Him, we are fulfilled.  There is a feast in the here and now, amid the pain and trials.  We do not have to wait for heaven to taste of His goodness.  There is a joy, satisfaction, and a peace in walking in His Spirit that  the world never gives.  There is in this world, “no greater joy” than to be in communion with Christ and to be in His service.

His Spirit is real and alive, and active and personal.  He does not leave us orphans!  His Spirit testifies with our own spirit, that we are His children.  Does my little boy doubt who his parents are?  My heavenly Father is just as real.  He has so many ways to communicate to us His love and His direction, if we will listen.  He desires we come to Him as our little children come to us; love, need, trusting dependence for even the smallest of things.

He gives us knowledge of Himself, even if through the veil of human agents (the scribes and the prophets).  People could not believe Jesus was God because he was cloaked in human flesh. Some people cannot believe the Bible is the Word of God because it came through human agents.  Yet on the road to Emmaus, as Jesus opened up the Scriptures for two of His followers, their “hearts burned within them.”  When he opened their eyes, they truly knew Him.  My heart also burns as I read His Word and He opens my eyes to see Him in new ways every day, even as it challenges me.

My faith is IN a living Jesus, and even this is not from myself.  It is a gift.

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Ever since leaving the Hebrew Roots Movement, I have become very sensitive to the existence of idolatry in my own life, and believe this thorn is the single most destructive element in American Christianity today.  It’s a theme I keep coming back to over and over.. and God does not relent to impress this on my mind.

As one reads through the Old Testament, this recurring sin gets so redundant as to seem ridiculous.  You would think after several hundred years, and all the history Israel remembered as part of their identity, seeking other gods would have finally died out.  Instead, in spite of periodic revivals, idol worship strengthened.   As men turn their hearts away from their Creator to gods that gratify their selfishness and greed, cruelty and injustice prevail.  If God hates the root, He hates the fruit even more.  Finally, both the northern and southern kingdoms were destroyed from their Land.  I keep asking myself, “What is so irresistible to us about idols?”  I am not sure I know the answer, but there is no doubt that humans have trouble with their attention span when it comes to following God.

When Israel was divided into two kingdoms, the King of the northern tribes, in fear of his own reign being weakened by his subjects traveling to Jerusalem to worship, instituted his own version of how to worship Yahweh.  He set up two golden calves, and changed the festival dates from those God had commanded for His people.   One day a prophet from Judah came to him as he was worshiping at the altar of his own creation and prophesied to the altar itself saying, “A son will be born to the house of David, named Josiah, and he will sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who are burning incense on you.  Human bones will be burned on you.”  This prophecy came with a sign from heaven that ripped the false altar apart, and the King’s hand shriveled up when he pointed for the prophet to be arrested.  Even though he begged the prophet to pray for his healing, and it came, he still made no attempt to change his direction.  The sin remained.

A few generations later, God called a man named Jehu to become king.  He was told to destroy the house of Ahab and the queen Jezebel who had brought innocent bloodshed and witchcraft to the land through Baal worship.  Jehu fulfilled the prophecies of Elijah concerning this family down to the letter.  Not only that, he called all the prophets of Baal in the whole land to come for a festival and worship at their temple, pretending that he was going to worship Baal with more fervor than even Ahab had done.  He did this to gather them for a destruction he did not fail to carry out.  Yet even in all his zeal for Yahweh, the only true God, at the end of the story it says he did not do away with the sins of Jeroboam.  And God waited for what He had already ordained.  He had promised it would fail, but for now, he commended Jehu for what he had obeyed in.

About 300 years after the prophecy made to Jeroboam, first King of northern Israel, a king from Judah by the name of Josiah did come and fulfill the Word of the prophet to Jeroboam… a prophet whom they had built a monument for at his tomb!   His message had not been forgotten and the people told Josiah, “…he proclaimed these things you have done to the altar at Bethel”.  Yet they had not turned away.  Their illegitimate altar was destroyed.  God’s time to judge the sin had come.  But no one could argue they had not received fair warning or plenty of time to repent.

What does all this mean for us?

What sacred cows do we have that are man-made and actually contradict that which Jesus has commanded us?  What do we hold on to, claiming we are worshiping the Lord, when in fact we are walking in disobedience?  Can we even detect these contradictions because we have held them for so long, they have become our own definition of “Christian”?  What traditions have been instituted over the centuries that were designed to keep people in submission to insecure leaders in the name of Jesus rather than to inspire love and devotion to Him and His ways?  If someone were to speak out against these things today, how would they be received?  Wasn’t this problem still in place when Jesus came?  Israel finally had no golden images, but they had plenty of stumbling blocks which prevented their belief in Jesus as their long-awaited Messiah.

Many sincere people in the Hebrew Roots Movement have sensed this problem in the church, and desire a pure worship.  At the time of our involvement, we defined this restoration based on Moses, not Christ, and then our pride took over anyway.  We traded one set of idols for different ones.  However I still maintain there is a need for restoration and repentance.  Often God will raise up champions within the system, but it does not mean He approves of the system.  God still desires we seek and follow His Son above all things, and in spite of anything that we have justified and condoned as being “religious.”

The tragedy of all this… is that while we worship the golden calf in the name of Jesus, we miss Him.  We have not really known HIM.  We have known what someone told us He is.. and followed what they said we must do.  Friends, not just cults have this problem.  We must see Jesus.

There are many fascinating things to study in the Word, many rabbit trails to chase, and theological points to argue or discuss.  The church is embroiled in many distractions and self-promotion, but we do not see Jesus.  Mostly, we do not follow Him but an empty form with His name attached.  A huge percentage of us don’t even know what He said, or what He meant by what He said.  How can we follow someone we don’t know?

I pray Jesus, that You strip away our idols, as painful as that is.  Help us see You only – that You may be glorified in this world in the eyes of those who need to trust You.  May Your Church become a beautiful bride in Your love that is eager for your purifying Presence.

"Thorns for the crown" by Indagate

Help us see that to follow You is to immerse ourselves in Your love for us to the end that we will follow you at all costs.  Let us realize that a genuine love for You will create a sacrificial love for each other, our brothers and sisters adopted and redeemed.  May we spend our lives yearning to follow you in these two things even if we never understand the scholar’s systems or their definitions of who You are… not that we don’t love to try to describe You.  We just can’t fully do this.  Help us to not get lost in the words and fall broken on the Word made Flesh.

(These and many other amazing stories are found in I & II Kings.)

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I have been out of the writing loop for awhile.  Sickness, fatigue, and being overly busy first robbed my ability to share my thoughts, and eventually progressed to where I wasn’t having many thoughts about much of anything.  I went through a period of blank numbness which I believed was linked to my physical condition.  But because aspects of our being are not isolated from one another, the physical affected the mental and the emotional life as well.  I used to believe that a sick body would also be a detriment to my spiritual health, so I had been taught in the past.  But in spite of pain, lack of mental acuity, fatigue, anxiety, and borderline depression, I found myself reaching for God more, and sensing His presence and assurance in the middle of my valley.

I told a friend that it sounds strange to have peace in the moments of anxiety – but I did.  Fear would come.. jolted awake at night at times.  Heart races, thoughts race, stomach in knots.  Then my mind rests in Christ and I know in spite of the way I “feel” He is there.  He is in control.  I just have to ride out the storm until He calms the waves.   My spirit is interlocked and quickened in His.  Nothing can separate that.  It rises above what is happening and finds a purpose in everything.

Over a year ago we discontinued our satellite dish.  I loved watching the kids transform back into imaginative, creative, energetic beings.  But recently we were gifted with a Wii console.  Suddenly every toy in the house became boring and I realized that “letting them play it out and get bored with it” approach was not going to work.  The whining and begging to play the Wii often began even before breakfast, so to avoid the all-day battle, this wise mother (wink.. I should know better by now) decided to just lay down some guidelines.  No Wii till 3.  Thirty minute turns till dinner, then no more Wii.

But my plan to end the whining only created new opportunities for it.  “When is it 3:00?  Is it 3:00 yet?  I wish it was 3:00.  Is it lunchtime yet?” (30 minutes after breakfast).  The four-year old’s concept of time does not lend to patience.  His days had suddenly become long and agonizing.  I finally did the unthinkable.  “If you whine about when to play the Wii, you will lose your turn for the day!”  He didn’t believe me.  Not only that, his sister decided to help with some extra chores to earn some money so he didn’t even get to watch anyone play the Wii.   But something better happened.  As we were having a washcloth folding party, I enjoyed the one-on-one time with him and teaching him new things.

I suddenly related this to my life.  Losses, disappointments, times which seemed like cruel and unusual punishment; each of these times were opportunities for more fellowship with my Father and new things learned from Him. Two friends just shared about their trouble sleeping at night, but they were rejoicing in their unscheduled prayer time.

Much good has been produced out of my down time, learning many helpful things as God answers my prayers for wisdom and direction.  His Peace is becoming my peace more every day and I feel He has grown my understanding in many ways, as I am more in awe of Him, and less willing to boast of what I think I know.

Life is a constant adjustment game to gains and losses in all areas of our lives.  Some desired, others resented.  But in times of need and pruning, watch and listen carefully.  Your Father may be wanting to give you better than you had.

 

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Just have to share  a blog post from a great friend and former SDA.  I could write a book contrasting the worldview of Adventism vs. The Gospel but it would not come close to the clarity these pictures demonstrate from the books that she and I both grew up with.

Please visit her most excellent blog:  Images of Judgment

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Read a great post this morning by David Wilkerson.  He was quoting a Puritan preacher from the 1600s warning London of perilous times ahead.  He called for repentance, for people to lead their families to a place of safety –  not a compound, a bunker, or a cave in the wilderness, but eternal shelter in Jesus.  No matter what befalls us here in this world, He has promised in Him we are more than overcomers.   At times He is the protector in the fire, and in other times He gives us visions of heaven as the rocks fly and our spirits return to Him.  In both cases, we have Him and He is glorified.

Our greatest tragedy should be the prospect that we could deny Him, not to suffer at the hands of men or from circumstances.  I do not fear that He would not forgive this failure, but the terrible grief of having done so.  I can’t imagine the broken heart of Peter with one look from Jesus after he had cursed and denied he knew Him – to keep his own skin safe.  But he had to be broken from trusting his own strength, his own promise of “I will never fall away.”  We cannot promise things to God.  We can only trust His.

Yet Peter’s position in the Ark was not affected by this failure.  When the door of the ark is sealed.. you are in or out.  Your safety depends on the strength of the ark, not your ability to keep it afloat.  Theoretically, Noah could have exerted a great effort to somehow climb out and jump, but is this a discussion we need to have?  People seem to spend more time arguing about how to stay in the Ark than calling drowning people into it, but that’s because we’ve invited so many in with one foot only and told them it was fine.

Growing up as an Adventist, our lives were overshadowed constantly with the belief of the coming “Time of Trouble”, as we called it, when God would test the whole world and divide those who served Him from those who served the enemy.   The dividing line would be the Seventh-day Sabbath – and all who did not remain loyal to this holy day would receive the Mark of the Beast – causing all to worship on the false Sabbath – on Sunday.  We were taught that we would be hunted and many killed for not complying with “Sunday Laws”.  Every disaster or political crisis created a buzz of conversation about how soon the Sunday Laws were coming.  My ark of safety in God was a day, and I wasn’t sure I would be strong enough to make it through.  The right Jesus was the Sabbath Jesus.  The only way to know if we had Him or not, was the day.  To abandon the day was to reject Him.  And to fail was to be lost forever.

For much of the world, this tribulation is already here, and growing drastically each day.  The line in the sand is already drawn and many are being hunted and killed for being on the side of Christ.  He is the Sabbath test Himself.  Will we trust His love and finished work or not?  Will we trust someone or something else?  Will we trust ourselves?  I’m sure the temptation is large for those already suffering in the cauldron of man’s hatred.

My expectation of persecution coming to America someday (maybe soon) has not changed all that much – only that now I have total assurance in Jesus alone and not in my allegiance to a shadow observance, or my own ability to be strong.  The world system does want your adoration and trust.  It’s screaming for it, sometimes forcefully, sometimes seductively.  But if your ark is a day or a law, or anything other than Christ, you may have already been taken in while looking to a false sign of reassurance.   We have to go much deeper than external appearances – past the shadows – to the heart of who we love and trust the most.

Wilkerson’s article can be read HERE

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