From Facebook to Blogging

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This past week and through the weekend has been very spiritually and emotionally taxing on me.

I have been stretched spiritually to examine what I believe about the Word and why and then defend it publicly.

I have become aware of the emotional challenge I am up against when coming face to face with the fact that almost everyone I know and love disagree with me. Not just a little bit. Vehemently.

There is no other time in my life I can compare it to because even when I became a believer in Messiah, I didn’t have any backlash. Being a “Christian” is still socially acceptable in most non-liberal circles (and I do use the tag Christian very broadly there.)

I guess being a follower of the entire Word is a different story to people. I get it. We are programmed to think if you are a Christian, you MUST believe this and reject that. It is drilled into us. The problem is, the more I read the Bible, the more I see the stark contrasts between what we are taught and what is actually written.

Up until now, I have posted things on Facebook regarding these discrepancies because Facebook is where I get most of my social interaction and where I keep in touch with basically everyone I know. I have gotten a few different reactions.

  • There have been some people that are offended that I would talk about things other than what I ate for lunch, what zoo animal is giving birth or my outrage at the weather patterns in northeast Ohio. (Note to these people: I am sorry for bringing real life to the time wasting realm of social media.)
  • There have been people who want to prove to me why the literal words and context of Bible are wrong and begin to twist it to fit their preconceived notions. (Note to these people: I understand. It is easier and a lost less scary to keep doing what you’ve always done. Remember though… the path is wide that leads to destruction. I encourage you to look for the narrow way.)
  • There have been people who seem genuinely concerned that I am going off the deep end. (Note to these people: I am certain that many Jewish followers of Messiah had well meaning family and friends who thought they had lost their minds also because they (their loved ones) couldn’t see what the believers saw. I am not succumbing to a movement or a teaching of men. I am searching the Scriptures and letting the Spirit lead me into obedience to them.)
  • There have been many people who have said nothing at all and just read through (and hopefully thought and prayed on what they read). (Note to these people: Two things I have learned on this journey so far: Read your Bible and test everything. You don’t have to engage in conversation to be changed by God. I pray for the “phantoms” on my page quite frequently)

 

Now, I want to make sure (in case you haven’t read my other posts) I am clear in this: I don’t know everything. I don’t think I know everything. I don’t think I am smarter or more enlightened than other people. I am a work in progress. The grace and mercy of God are the only reasons I see what I see and respond in obedience. My prayer is that through documenting this process, I will be able to get others thinking and digging into His Word as well.

I have decided to stop sharing my journey on Facebook and focusing solely on sharing through posts here at the blog for three reasons #1. I can share more here (instead of a tiny screen shot of a verse), #2. These posts will be here and easily accessible (FB posts disappear and are hard to find after awhile) and #3. People seem to think if something is posted on Facebook it is put there as way to start a commotion (that is not, nor has it ever been, my intention.) My posts are not about foolish things like what song to sing or how fancy our church clothes should be or what color the carpet should be. They are about the very Words and commands of God. This is not a vain controversy. This is important stuff that should concern us all.

The discussion is open here as it was on Facebook. As long as no one is hateful or derogatory, they are free to share what they believe and why.

Be sure to follow the blog to be alerted when something new is posted.

 

#FaithGoals

Today is the first in my five post series about being RENEWED in the new year. I will be writing about each in order of importance in my life. (Faith, Marriage, Children, Outreach/Others, Self.) While praying over these areas and the ways I need to change in accordance to each, I realized 3 distinct sections in each area and came up with 2 or 3 attainable goals. Here is what I have settled on for my Faith Goals:

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1. PRAYER

In order for my prayer life to be transformed into the vibrant, passionate, interactive thing that it should be, I first realize that I need to be COMMITTED to prayer (not merely petition for others and myself, but also thanksgiving and adoration). If I am committed then I will be CONSISTENT in praying for the needs of others (not once or twice, but until we see an answer). To really follow this call, I know that playfulness must be CONSTANT in my life (the Spirit is living and active inside me and I will strive to be conscious of His presence every moment)

My first baby step in accomplishing the above goal is to keep a regular, detailed list of my prayers in a small notebook that I will have with me everywhere so I can have specific prayers at my fingertips any time. Another immediate change is to start my daily quiet time with prayer. Typically I wait until after I am done studying because I am itching to get into the Word, but many times the timer goes off and I haven’t prayed.

2. THE WORD

My favorite part of the day is the 30 minutes we all spend individually with YHVH. It never seems long enough. This season finds me constantly yearning for more time to just sit and soak up His teaching. My three sections of focus in this area are: TORAH STUDY (I use many resources in my personal study through each week’s portion, but my main one is Hoshana Rabbah. When our group meets to study on the Sabbath, we use the studies on Restoration of Torah.) SCRIPTURE MEMORIZATION (too often I know what the Word says but I can’t site it for others. I hope to remedy this by focusing a lot more on memorization, starting with my 2 theme verses for the year: Romans 12:2 and Isaiah 43:18-19). BIBLICAL HEBREW (I have been interested in Biblical Hebrew for a couple years now and have dabbled in learning it. Now is the time for me to get serious about learning it so I can have a deeper understanding of the original words used in the Scriptures I am studying. I plan to use free resources from Hebrew4ChristiansAncient Hebrew Research CenterAnimated Hebrew and Biblical Hebrew. obviously not all at the same time 😉 )

3. WORSHIP

When I think about worship, two things come to mind: PRAISE and FELLOWSHIP. Praise because singing and lifting our hands in adoration is a typical picture of worship. Fellowship, because what a beautiful picture of our unity with Yeshua is our communion with other believers! My goal to incorporate worship into my daily life will start with the baby step of playing praise music throughout the day whenever possible (Messianic Radio and Joshua Aaaron are two of my favorites).

As of right now, our family has three regular weekly times of worship through praise and fellowship. Friday evenings, we observe the beginning of the Sabbath as a family (you can read more about that Here and Here). Saturday afternoon we have a group that we study, eat and fellowship; and Sunday mornings we attend a mainstream church. These are three very distinctly different ways to worship the Lord with other believers, but all three are rooted in Yeshua HaMashiach as the reason for our meeting. My goal in this area right now is just to be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading on where, why and how we worship in each of these venues, and to be submissive to His prompting of any changes that may need to be made.

Sabbath (part 2)

Sorry for the long wait for my follow up post on Shabbat. Between weddings, homeschooling and sicknesses, I have been otherwise tied up. I wanted to be sure to get this out there before another Sabbath passed though. So here it is!

 

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How?

How do you observe the Sabbath?

The Rabbi’s have added many, many stipulations to God’s word over the years. Although I understand what they are trying to do by interpreting their own rules into the Law, I am not looking to conform to man. Sola Scriptura.

From what I have found in my study of Scripture, everyone who wants to observe the Sabbath should:

1. Not cook or gather (purchase) food (Exodus 16:23-29)

2.Keep the day holy (Exodus 20:8)

3.Do no work (and don’t cause others to either) (Exodus 20:9-10)

4.Don’t make a fire (Exodus 35:3)

5.Remember (Deut. 5:15)

6.Do good (Matt. 12:12)

Beyond that, and including that, I believe that the Lord will convict you about how and what your and your family should do. And as I have said before, It’s a process.

As for our family, here is what we do accordingly:

1.I do not cook and make sure all of our food is purchased and prepared ahead of time. This is where a couple loaves of challah and a slow cooker come in handy.

2. We study the Word. Either personally, as a family, or with a small group of other like-minded believers.

3. We don’t preform the work that we do as our normal occupation. As a homemaker, that means I do not cook, clean, plan or homeschool.

4. No fire? This isn’t a usual thing in our house, so no big deal.

5. We remember by observing a Christian Erev Shabbat ceremony on Friday nights (I will explain more below.)

6. We are still working on this part and would like to start doing some sort of service or outreach as a family on this day.

It is important to keep in mind that Jesus said “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27). This is a gift to us. It is a way for us to grow closer to Adonai and walk more like Jesus (who clearly observed the Sabbath all throughout His time here). It is not a legalistic burden. It is a joy!

Our family has really grown and we so look forward to Sabbath Eve (Erev Shabbat) every week. We have taken some traditional rituals and made them our own. Each week is a little different, but these things always stay the same:

1. We light 2 white candles. One symbolizes creation (when Shabbat was instituted) and one symbolizes redemptin (when Christ bought us back).

2. We read the Scriptures that tell us to remember and observe the Sabbath.

3. We have communion. The challah (one three braided one for the trinity and one seven braided one for the creation week) is blessed and used as Christ’s body which was broken for us. The grape juice (and wine) which symbolizes Yeshua’s blood poured out for our sins.

4. We pray. Each of us takes a turn praying for friends, family, neighbors. We give thanks and adoration.

5. We sing a hymn. Each week one of the children picks a song from the hymn book we have and we sing it as a family.

6. We sing and dance to Shalom Aleichem.

7. Saturday is often different but as often as possible we meet up for fellowship with other believers.

8. On Sunday morning when the kids wake up I have cleared away the burnt candles, vase of flowers, challah plate, etc. and placed a bowl of something sweet for them. Jesus’ resurrection is a sweet gift!

There you have it! Nothing fancy. Very personal. Poignant when you think about everything it means. When you realize people all over the world are doing the same thing. Resting in Adonai. Finding peace and strength for the week ahead. Why would we not?

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Sabbath (part 1)

I took a series of polls on facebook today asking people three questions about the Sabbath:

When?

Why?

How?

It’s my intention to share my answers to all three of those questions in two blog posts. This one will cover the when and why. The next post will cover the how.

First the WHY:

As a Christian, I have always observed (and thought any real Christian observed) the Sabbath (or at least MY version of the Sabbath) on Sunday–the first day of the week. “The Lord’s Day.”

Imagine my shock as I began to read the actual text of the Bible and find that this is not true.

I have been lied to.

Deceived.

Led astray.

I have been taught (and very happily practicing) traditions of man. I have been forsaking the teachings of YHWH from His own Word.

Some people (professing Christ followers) may say (and have actually said to my face) “What does it matter? If we go to heaven through faith in Jesus alone, why does it matter?”

Well, I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I get to heaven (on the blood of Yeshua alone), I want my Abba to look at me and proclaim “Well done good and faithful servant.”

I believe that when we really and truly see our Messiah’s sacrificial love and redemption, we will do anything in response to that gift. Even if it means questioning the ways of man.

So here I am.

Questioning the ways of mainstream, western Christianity.

My first area of scrutiny has been the Sabbath because it was one of the very first things that YHVH blessed.

 “So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” Genesis 2:3

Contrary to popular belief, the Sabbath was not first commanded in “THE LAW” (I write it that way because people use that term very, very loosely without even clarifying what it means). Between the above passage and the passage about not collecting manna on the seventh day (Exodus 16:23-30–also PRE-LAW), I believe it is clear that even if nothing in THE LAW is binding today, the Sabbath is exempt from that because it came about before any of the Mosaic covenant. (Not to mention the many biblical references to the fact that we will be celebrating the Sabbath when we live in the New Jerusalem)

 

So it is my conclusion that the Sabbath is still a valid and current commandment from the Lord God.

Now the WHEN?

And the Sabbath (literally meaning the seventh) is (even on our modern calendars) Saturday. Being that YHWH always counted days as evening to morning, I would carry with the idea that evening Friday through evening Saturday is Sabbath.

Our family has been studying and learning together how to walk in obedience to the Word in this area for about a month now. It has brought us closer to one another and to the Lord. I’m excited to share some ways we have been doing that in my next post!

In closing I want to be sure to re-emphasize what I said in my previous posts (It’s a processThe beginning of the journeyUnwavering beliefs). I am not trying to sway anyone, judge anyone or cause division. I am simply sharing truths that YHVH is opening our eyes to at this time. Partly as a journal to look back at and see where He has brought us and partly for reference for those who may already be searching out these things.

Here are a couple of links I found useful in my study:

The Lord’s Day?

Word search for Sabbath on blueletterbible.org

Sabbath study

Video refuting some common objections

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Unwavering beliefs

As I start this journey, I have an open mind.

I don’t want to build my faith on man made beliefs.

I want to be firmly planted on the pure and unchanging Word.

So I am trying to UNlearn things I have read, been taught or picked up in some other way over the years.

Making room for the Spirit to teach me straight from the Scriptures.

However there are some things that I want to make clear from the very onset.

Unwavering beliefs that I know will not change because they are clearly stated in Scripture.

Truths that are true regardless of what else comes to light.

Hopefully these are the things that I can use as common ground with friends, family and acquaintances who don’t agree with changes I may make down the road because of my studies.

I BELIEVE

Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah.

He is the second person in the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

He came to earth (born of a virgin) and lived a perfect, sinless life.

We are all sinful and separated from God because of that.

Christ willingly gave His life on the cross to reconcile mankind to their Creator.

Our salvation and eternal life is found only through the blood of Jesus. We can not earn our way to heaven by good works, obedience or keeping the law. 

God’s grace and redemption are not something to be squandered by living our lives for ourselves (or our family, friends, church, etc) We are called to make changes in response to our belief in the sacrifice of Christ.

As new creations, we are called to continually grow in our relationship with God– through prayer, worship, study of His word, etc. And this would manifest itself in outward changes  (behavior, lifestyle, interactions, serving…) as well as inward changes (renewing of our minds, deeper understanding, being more sensitive to the Spirit….) and is an ongoing process until the day we die (continual sanctification).

God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is unchanging. Since Jesus is God, the same holds true for Him and thus anything God has said, He agrees and vice versa.

The Holy Spirit is alive in believers, moving and guiding as God wills. Therefore, we can learn and understand His Word without interpretation from other people (although learning from others is not BAD, it should be supplemental.)

I think that is a pretty good outline. Basically I am saying that I still hold fast to the basics tenants of faith that most Christ-followers do. I am just digging deeper to see exactly how God wants us to live by studying what He has said in His Word and the way that Jesus lived while He was on earth.

I have a strong suspicion that things just aren’t as they should be and I’m on a mission to fix that in my own heart, mind and life.