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Currently Browsing: Truth Seeking
Apr
14

Purging the Leaven

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Search me, O God, and know my heart!

Try me and know my thoughts!

And see if there be any wicked way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting!

~ Psalm 139:23-24

Passover is a mere four days away and it’s got me thinking.

Certainly, it ought to.  

While I move through the house searching – the freezer, the refrigerator, the pantry – attempting to rid it of leaven, I come to a daunting conclusion, as I always do: the real cleaning needing to be done is within myself. The physical commandment always gives way to the spiritual work waiting, and as I clean, the ugly truth about my sin is ever present before me. And as I type, I realize there is not enough space to write them all down, all those sins that are piling up around me like dust hidden under the bed. 

Definitely and most assuredly, the struggle is real.

I can scrub and clean and have the house spotless. I can follow the command to rid it of all leaven and I most definitely should; the commandments are not negotiable.  But if my heart isn’t right, if I haven’t made an honest assessment of the things about me that need to change, that require repentance, then what does it matter? 

Consider how YHWH responds when Israel adhered to the commandments to offer sacrifices and keep His appointed feasts without a servant’s repentant heart:

What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says YHWH;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats.

When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts?

Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.

Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.

When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

Come now, let us reason together, says YHWH, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. 

~ Isaiah 1:11-18

There must be in our lives the perpetual turning from sin and a walking toward Yeshua. There is nothing that takes the place of getting on our knees, humbly seeking, honestly repenting, being washed clean.

This is the cleaning that is the most important: seeking Yeshua, asking Him to search out the wickedness within our hearts, seeking His forgiveness. And when we come before Yeshua, with a repentant heart and humble spirit, He will intercede for us before Abba. He will cleanse us and purge the sin from us continuing the work of sanctification, of conforming us to His image.

The prophet Jeremiah warned, the heart is deceitful, desperately wicked, incurable. There is only One who can cure it.  He alone is salvation.

His name is Yeshua.

Because that is the real reason Yeshua hung on a cross. Not because of that jar of yeast in the fridge or the forgotten bagels I bought on sale and put in the freezer. It was for one reason and one reason only – that I would have forgiveness of my sin paving a way for me to come back into covenant with the Father. Yeshua is the only way.

Keeping the commandments won’t do it. I keep those out of love and obedience for the purposes of sanctification, for the purposes of learning to be holy and set apart, of learning how to walk a narrow path in a world of wide open roads that lead to sin. Everything Yeshua taught and everything He lived is founded in the Torah; He did not come to replace the Torah with new instructions, He came to turn us back to it. Just as all the prophets preached a returning to Adonai’s ways, Yeshua came to teach us how and to pave a way. Through Yeshua we have forgiveness and through the following of Torah we gain sanctification. First forgiveness, then obedience. We are becoming holy, because YHWH is holy. Yeshua forgives our sin, cleanses us, and brings us back into the presence of our Father.

Sin separates me from YHWH and legalism separates me from Yeshua’s grace. Grace can not be bought by following commandments nor can it be earned by being perfect. The commandments teach me what sin is so I can avoid it and repent of it when I make mistakes that lead to it. The commandments teach what love is so I can freely give it to others, even my enemies. The commandments teach me how to be merciful and just, how to love YHWH and my neighbor. I do not get to decide what sin is or what love is, how to be merciful or how to be just; YHWH does. And when I refuse to follow the Torah and its instructions, I am making myself my very own god. And the first commandment is this:  

And God spoke all these words:

“I am YHWH your Elohim,

who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

~Exodus 20:1-3

This has been one of the greatest sins in my life, going with my emotions of what felt right, claiming to be Holy Spirit led, instead of learning the Torah and doing what YHWH says is right. Because let’s be clear, YHWH’s spirit does not contradict His word, and Yeshua’s grace and forgiveness do not negate my responsibility to obey the commandments.

So as Passover approaches, as we enter into this last week of preparation to meet with our King, our Redeemer, our Messiah, let us allow the commandment to work as it should in our lives. As we do the physical work of cleaning our homes and preparing our table, let us ask Yeshua to come in and clean the wickedness from our hearts so that YHWH’s spirit can dwell within us. Then let us sit down in peace and gratitude and love with others and fellowship remembering where our unity lies, in Yeshua and His forgiveness.

as always…. mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you

Oct
4

The Origin of Our Convictions: 4. On Living with Original Intent

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Vindicate the weak and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.

~ Psalm 82:3

If someone had told me I would have become a vegan within my lifetime, I would have laughed at them. The only knowledge I had of vegans was PETA, who appeared to be terroristic lunatics, and my husband’s boss, who was an elitist snob. Neither of whom I desired to associate myself with. It was at a time when PETA was in the news for targeting children with bloody Ronald McDonald butcher knife wielding dolls, and KFC buckets of fake blood and chicken bones; it was appalling and repulsive to me that children would be targeted in such a way. And the boss was a send back every bottle of wine and nazi interrogate the server kind of guy. My husband and I used to arrive at dinner early to warn the manager and slip our server some money for his soon to be nightmare table. It was embarrassing and a night I wished to avoid every year for 18 years.

But truth is a powerful force. Once it is possessed, it presents choices and those choices define my character. Ultimately, my actions are what people see, and remember, so at all costs they must match what I say I believe.

Ignorance is not bliss; it is spiritual laziness.

No matter the situation, I always desire the truth; what I do with that truth is my own responsibility. Truth leads to knowledge.  Knowledge is power and knowledge is freedom  Using that knowledge to make choices that fall within the bounds of Yahweh’s character is wisdom.

When Yahweh created me instilling all His attributes within, He gave me the free will to use them in ways I choose. And the ultimate choice I make: choose to conform to either my Creator or the standards of the world. Both have rules for living and the rules I choose to follow reflect who I love and to whom I am loyal.

So in the end, Yahweh allows me to choose. What I choose must be grounded in truth and in love.

Choosing Love

Yeshua tells me the greatest commandment is to love Yahweh with all my heart and all my soul and all my mind. He tells me to love my neighbor as myself. These verses are quoted often, but most are unaware Yeshua is quoting the Torah when He speaks them.

Hear O Israel: Yahweh our Elohim, Yahweh is one. You shall love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your heart and they shall be as fontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. ~ Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Don’t be angry or try to take revenge. I am Yahweh, and I command you to love others as much as you love yourself.  ~ Leviticus 19:18

The spiritual side of the command to be fruitful and multiply is to bear the fruit of Yahweh’s spirit into the world. The first fruit I am to bear is love: love for Yahweh and love for others. To fully comply with this commandment requires first a relationship with Yeshua and second it requires an understanding of Torah. Yeshua is the only way to a restored relationship with Yahweh and the Torah contains all the instructions needed for bearing fruits of love and mercy and justice as well as all the other attributes of Yahweh. Once I humbled myself and entered into a covenant relationship with Yeshua, the Torah was written on my heart. Only then did I have the ability to free myself from my own ideas of what it means to love Yahweh and to love how He instructs me to love. The Torah teaches me love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And these are the fruits I am to bear. By bearing these fruits, I am acting within the bounds of Yahweh’s character and fulfilling His commandments just as Yeshua instructed me. It is important to remember that Yeshua did not come to preach a new doctrine; He came to preach Yahweh’s doctrine and Yahweh’s doctrine is Torah. (John 7:16, Proverbs 4:2)

Choosing Loyalty

Being made in the image of my Creator does not mean I resemble Yahweh in the same way I might resemble the physical attributes of my parents or a close relative. It means that knit into my being are His same attributes and my ability to act in a manner that is consistent with who Yahweh is. It means I am His representative during my time here on earth. And this is where the third commandment becomes relevant.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of Yahweh your Elohim, for Yahweh will not acquit anyone who misuses His name. ~ Exodus 20:7

The above verse is not concerning blasphemy or foul language as is often perceived, although it goes without saying we should not do these things. A literal rendering is, “ You shall not lift the name of Yahweh your God to falsehood.” “Lift the name” is an idiom that refers to oath taking. In the ancient world, your name was intimately woven into the essence of who you were believed to be. There were two types of oaths: promissory, where one agreed to a future action, and judicial, whereby one would swear by his or her god to the truthfulness of the events that took place. And in a judicial situation, if one were willing to swear upon the name of one’s god, they won the favor of the judge.

Once I entered into a covenant relationship with Yeshua, everything I do is now a reflection of Him to the world around me. My words and my actions matter because they are inexplicably tied to Yeshua; He is now my  identity and as part of the covenant I have entered into, I am required to be true to Yahweh’s instructions for living my  life. It requires a perpetual shifting of attitudes and seeking of wisdom to be a disciple of Yeshua. If I act in a manner inconsistent with who Yeshua is, I have marred His name.

Now I must consider the person who has no relationship with Yeshua. They observe how I speak and act. They attempt to discern the motives for my actions. They judge my intentions.

Choosing to live with original intent

And this is why I believe it is important to live with the original intention Yahweh had for us all at the time of creation. Even Yeshua addresses this issue.

Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”  They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?”  He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.  And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” ~ Matthew 19:3-9

Yahweh allows certain actions because of the hardness of my  heart, because of my stubbornness, because of my sinful nature. In His infinite wisdom, He made exceptions too.

Yahweh clothed Adam and Eve with animal skins. He gave Noah permission to eat animals after the flood. He instructed ravens to bring Elijah bread and meat in the wilderness.  Yeshua fed the hungry with bread and fish.

There may be instances where it would be necessary to eat animals in order to survive. But in my average daily existence, it is not necessary. And I must consider if my consumption of meat and dairy or using animal products for clothing is creating harm in this world. I believe it is.

One of the things I have to consider is this: do I want to stand before Yeshua at my judgement and say, “well I ate animals that were governed by inhumane practices on factory farms and purchased products that were produced by child and slave labor, products that created harm to your created and creation even though it was not necessary, because I was lazy or selfish or cheap?” How adequate is a defense of, “Well, I know all that grain being fed to livestock would have fed starving people, but a cheeseburger just tastes so stinking good”? I don’t want to have to explain that. I have enough to answer for already and I don’t want to add to the list. So if I have the knowledge to make a decision and the power and freedom to choose, I am going to choose the original intention Yahweh had for me that reflects his love and mercy and justice instead of the allowance He made because of my stiffnecked, sinful human nature.

Although I believe I am to care for all Yahweh entrusted to me which includes the earth and the animals, I am given the ultimate duty to love and care for the people He placed on this earth. Because of my covenant relationship with Yeshua, I am called to a higher standard of living; I am to walk a narrower path, one of sacrifice founded in love, modeled after Yeshua’s own life that emulates the Father’s love to this world. I live in a world of excess, a world filled with rabid consumers in lieu of the creators that were intended to exist. I have fully participated in this excessive living, but I regret it. What I now understand is proper stewardship of land and water resources could actually eliminate world hunger. Raising animals for the sole purpose of slaughter is not proper stewardship and it is not in line with Yahweh’s character; my participation in such is not a proper reflection of being a disciple of Yeshua.

This is just one way to help the poor and the afflicted – to choose not to support or facilitate factory farming that literally takes food and clean water away from those who need it most. All over the world, the land parceled for growing grains for livestock feed could easily be transitioned to growing food for people. And as a by product of that action, the waste runoff would be eliminated and cease to pollute waterways..

For me, being  vegan has become a priority in my life and is one way I feel I can make an impact in the world for the good and benefit to all creation. I believe it was Yahweh’s original intention before the fall of man, not just for us but for the animals as well. I believe, at its core, veganism aligns with Yahweh’s attributes of love and justice and mercy for all His creation. I believe Daniel is the perfect example of what being loyal and living with Yahweh’s original intention of a vegan diet can do to strengthen faith, mind, and body and the resulting blessings that flow from it are undeniable. I have seen the health benefits first hand. I believe that raising animals for slaughter is governed by inhumane practices which are in contrast to the character of Yahweh. I believe the food industry is filled with deception which is a reflection of satan, not Yahweh. And I believe this same industry perpetuates world hunger and destruction to the home Yahweh created for us. I believe cruelty to anyone or anything Yahweh has created is a reprehensible act and should be rectified and accounted for. I believe knowledge of the truth gives me the power to create change in the world and help bring it in line with Yahweh’s intentions for all of His creation.

And if I love Him, my choices will reflect that love with every thought, word, and deed. I understand I live in a fallen and sinful world, but I also understand I am His image in this world so let me always endeavor to live within the bounds of His character.

You shall be holy, for I, Yahweh your Elohim, am holy. ~ Leviticus 19:2

 

If you wish to learn more and view my sources for the this series, you can download this pdf.

Origin of our convictions

Oct
2

The Origin of Our Convictions: 3. Conviction

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And Elohim said, “See, I have given you every plant that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed, to you it is for food.  “And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the heavens, and to every creeping creature on the earth, in which there is a living being, every green plant is for food.” And it came to be so. And Elohim saw all that He had made, and see, it was very good. And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, the sixth day.

Sometimes knowledge hangs on the fringes of my understanding, holding on for dear life, patiently waiting to be grasp hold of,  put to good use. It often lingers in the back of my mind hiding behind the doubts and questions of whether my thoughts could be right or scripturally sound. At times it peeks out as if to remind me of its presence, urging me to excavate the nuggets and polish them into wisdom. And once wisdom if gifted, it is time to put it to daily practice.

After many years of seemingly random conversations that called my beliefs into question, in 2015 Yahweh convicted me to adhere to the dietary instructions in Leviticus 11.  Shortly after, my son moved back home and I found myself in a convergence of circumstances: my son had developed a dairy allergy and I needed to avoid dairy products due to my arthritis and since we were avoiding pork products such as gelatin, I attempted to find new replacements for ingredients in old recipes. This led me on a search that landed me in the world of vegans and some amazingly beautiful and simple recipes and substitutions previously unknown to me.

I really loved cheese though. And coffee without cream just did not seem anyway to live. Without warning, I found myself in a second set of converging circumstances. The arthritis grew worse and the pain became unbearable. By late January, simple things such as buying groceries alone was not an option anymore. I felt as if I had aged to 108. Between the erosion of the bone in my hips and back and the inflammation, the pain kept me awake most nights. By April, I was using crutches to move around the house and could no longer navigate the stairs in our cabin. I prayed for answers and healing.

I am a documentary junkie. I love them. I will watch most anything.  I also love to cook and there were several food documentaries on Netflix. So every night, I laid on the heating pad and we watched documentaries. First they were on health and I could not get enough of them. All the new information was exciting to me and I began to make connections between why Yahweh forbade the eating of certain foods and our health; aside from the spiritual, there was a practical application that made perfect and complete sense to the whys I had been asking Him. And between me and you, there were a whole heaping lot of them. Within the documentaries was also a consistent claim made that eating a whole foods plant based diet could reverse and even cure some diseases. I thought it all too good to be true, but what did I really have to lose at this point? If I gave up meat and diary for a few weeks and my condition did not improve, what was the worst that could happen other than I would have eaten more vegetables and fruits than normal. So I gave up all animal products in my diet with the exception of honey.

After a week, the crutches were put away. After two, my energy levels increased. After three, the pain reduced significantly and I went grocery shopping. All. By. Myself. I was able to navigate the stairs in our cabin and I was cooking and doing chores. I could actually bend over to grab the clothes from the dryer.  My life was regaining normalcy.

But the fourth week? I was craving a burger. And here, a third set of circumstances converged that I was wholly unprepared for. It was in the afternoon. My mouth is watering just thinking about a grilled burger with lots of cheddar cheese and all the fixings. Determined to not break my commitment to myself and my healthy new lifestyle, I went hunting a plant based recipe that would hopefully satisfy me. I do not remember the exact combination of words I googled, but one link led to a recipe video on Youtube. And over on the right, queued up and ready to go, were all the videos I did not want to spend my day watching. One in particular caught my eye. It was by a vegan explaining why she was vegan. I cannot explain what made me click over from the video I was watching. I admit I was mildly curious why someone would make that choice. I knew why I was making mine; I was having a health crisis. But I watched because once I begin digging into a topic, excavation of other truths often emerge that demand my attention and analyzation.

And as I watched, the wrestling began.

But did not Yahweh Himself give us the authority to eat animals? What did Adam and Eve eat? Weren’t there always carnivorous animals? Weren’t there instances in Scripture of people eating animals, eating cheese? Is there not even a Torah commandment concerning taking eggs from underneath a mother bird?

3 hours later and 5 videos more and I landed upon a documentary. And to be honest, I was not sure it was something I wanted to watch.  I mean, how far did I want to take this? Did I even want to be a vegan? Did it even align with my faith and my beliefs or was this really some new age radical idea? When Randy came home, I begged him to watch it with me. He said absolutely no way was he watching a documentary about animal slaughter. So I lay in the bed all night and I thought about the things I had seen. Was there something here I should consider or should I just let it all go? It was one of those moments of shifting opinions that seemed a radical departure from what I had always believed. Radical departures require prayerful deliberation and requisitions for wisdom.

The next day, I worked up the courage to watch, not one, but two documentaries.

It was the most heartbreaking, gut wrenching thing I have ever seen. The cruelty and abuse to Yahweh’s created was astounding. I could not fathom the reasoning behind the actions. Some may be extreme cases, but after much researching most of the information was what would be considered normal processing in the meat and dairy industry. I know we were given dominion over the earth, but what has been done was not what was intended.

There are many Christians and even those in the Hebrew Roots movement who will say that not eating meat represents someone who is weak in their faith. They would point me to Romans 14 and begin taking verses out of context. They might even say it is an unbiblical, worldly fad for people who care more about animals than they do about children. And just as with any particular held belief, there will be people who are extreme and live on the fringe of that belief.

But I knew my next steps: it first required an understanding of exactly what veganism constituted; then to discern whether it actually aligned with Yahweh’s word. Is it in line with His character? Is it a proper stance to take as a disciple of Yeshua?

I believe it is.

Psalm 145:9 states:

Yahweh is good to all and His mercy is over all that He has made.

Yeshua says to go and learn what it means that He requires mercy and not sacrifice. And when I began to study what this really meant at its core, it all comes back to loving Yahweh and loving each other.

Living a vegan lifestyle is about more than not eating animals. The whole of it concerns exploitation of humans and animals: it condemns slave and child labor, animal testing, inhumane practices in the slaughtering of animals and the raising of animals for that purpose. Are there things some vegans believe that I disagree with? Yes. Most have a stance on abortion that I wholeheartedly disagree with and I struggle with their pro-choice argument. But over all, the concept aligns with what I believe Yahweh would consider being merciful and just and living compassionately and lovingly unto all He has made.

And is that not the way we should all strive to live in lovingkindness towards one another?

I believe it is. After all, it was His intention in the beginning. Not just for Adam and Eve, but also for the animals.   

And Elohim said, “See, I have given you every plant that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed, to you it is for food.  “And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the heavens, and to every creeping creature on the earth, in which there is a living being, every green plant is for food.” And it came to be so. And Elohim saw all that He had made, and see, it was very good. And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, the sixth day.

Not just good. But very good. When the ground came forth and the waters were gathered, when the ground was given the ability to bring forth vegetation, when everything was given the ability to function, it was good. But on the sixth day, when He created man and placed him in the garden it was very good because now all creation was functioning with the original intention for which it had been created.

Why should I desire to live any other way? I have yet to find a reason why I ought to and because I desire to follow Yeshua’s command to “Love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”, I believe one of the many and best ways to do this is to go back to the original intention Yahweh had for all of His created – to eat plants and not each other.

The righteous one is aware of the soul of his animal, and the evil withhold their compassions. ~ Proverbs 12:10

Sep
27

The Origin of Our Convictions: 2. Convergence

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And Elohim said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the livestock, and over all the earth and over all the creeping creatures that creep on the ground.” And Elohim created the man in His image, in the image of Elohim He created him – male and female He created them. And Elohim blessed them, and Elohim said to them, “Be fruitful and increase, and fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over all creeping creatures on the earth.”

~ Genesis 1:26-28

I live on a foothill in the southern Appalachians, an untamed hard slope of rock shaded dark by towering trees. Even in winter as branches lay bare, the sun’s light is slow to creep in. I work the land. I tame the wildness that exists. I attempt to bring order to the chaos, cultivate gardens that yield beauty and herbs and foods to nourish. I imagine Yahweh hovering over darkness and water, bringing order to chaos, life to a formless void, giving purpose and function to all His creation. Even me. I meditate much about the sixth day when He created man in His image and I pray His image is reflected in the choices I make.

And then I pull more weeds.

I desire to bask in His presence, soak up wisdom, put it to good use.

There are things I know: It is easy to live life categorically, to label and compartmentalize ourselves and everything around us. It is easier to follow than it is to lead because being an example leads to criticism and who really needs that.  Our circumstances often denote our behavior as do the people with whom we surround ourselves; it is rare people act in the same manner in a variety of situations – that dirty joke you told at work will never be told to your pastor. Obsequiousness skews our judgement because as A. W. Tozer said it best, “To be right with God has often meant to be in trouble with men.” And most people love the adoration of others.

It is a conundrum: I must care and I must not care. I must desire to please Yahweh. I must not desire to conform and please people.

So I have lived in this space of disconnect between the physical and spiritual world; I have often acted as a chameleon fading into the world instead of being a set-apart creation reflecting the divine. But there is another space, a sacred space where these two worlds collide, the secular and the divine working in tandem flowing seamlessly and either can be an  influencer to the other; this is the place where choices are created, a crossroads in which I am moved to action. But it is the decision I make that defines me and to whom I belong. I claim discipleship of Yeshua and this is the only space I am designed to fit; my choice must always be to reflect the divine into the secular.

And this is how I walk with Yahweh, in the world and not of it, a perpetual road of choices that either reflect His attributes or they do not, a path of refinement, of sanctification. I must be humble enough to be moldable and conforming to His image, yet bold enough to live His truth.

And the introvert in me wants to hide away so no one sees how often I fail at this very thing.

I was created in the likeness and image of Yahweh. And my actions must reflect the very essence of who He is. If my actions are not rooted in love and mercy and compassion and justice, then my actions are wrong. When Yahweh created Adam, gave him dominion over the earth and the creation thereof, when He instructed him to to subdue it and rule over it, he was to rule on Yahweh’s behalf in the likeness of His character. Adam was charged with keeping order within the bounds of Yahweh’s character and never outside of it. And I am able to continue this work because I was imbued with His attributes at my creation.

I cannot act in ways that conflict with Yahweh’s character otherwise the image I am bearing is not His, it is satan’s. I cannot act outside of what I say I believe otherwise I am a hypocrite. As a follower of Yeshua, my witness is who He is to the world. The example I live for others to see needs to always reflect Him. And there are many who claim no relationship with Yeshua that do a far better job of reflecting His attributes at times than I have myself.

So I exist in this convergence of choices: the world or Yahweh? Fade in or shine a light?

But what happens in those times, the world presents me with an idea or a choice? What do I do when what is presented grabs hold of me and refuses to release me? What do I do when I realize the view of the majority will be that I am wrong? Radical? Crazy even?

I go back to scripture and see what Yahweh says. And when I find the passage that proves He just spoke to me through an atheist and gave me a truth I had long missed, I relax into that sacred space of convergence between the secular and the divine, that space I was meant to exist within.  I realize it is time for a line to be moved to be more in line with the image I am to bear and that wisdom sometimes comes from odd and seemingly random places. I rest in the knowledge that Yahweh is always there nudging me forward to be more like Him.

And then I pull some more weeds and watch finches eat coneflower seeds and hummingbirds drink nectar from the rose of sharon. I listen to owls hooting in the fading afternoon sunlight as honey bees collect the last bits of pollen and return home. I understand the choices I make must reflect the value Yahweh places on every created thing because that value is of the highest order. Life is to be preserved, protected, treated with kindness and compassion, love and mercy and justice. And often times, the smallest action on my part can lead to the biggest change for another.

Be careful how you live; you will be the only Bible some people ever read. -William J. Toms

Sep
25

The Origin of Our Convictions: 1. On Standing Firm

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You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live.

~ Ephesians 2:2 the message

 

Memories drift like afternoon dreams stealing a bit of the present with a beauty and gentle force all their own. October days and the sun is warm and flannel shirts shield cool breezes. Sawdust swirls and lands in piles upon the old building’s floor and the smell of oak boards just cut and stacked high lend a sweetness to the day. My Labrador, Buck, lies at my feet watching leaves fall and my twelve year old self lingers in the doorway, leaning against the post, drinking a coke, soaking up warmth and wisdom. Daddy and I, we are having this conversation about making decisions and suffering consequences – not because I have done anything wrong, but because he is working and I am hanging around watching and we are just talking. It is one of those conversations that imparts a lingering thought, a lasting wisdom that molds and shapes and matures. And on that autumn afternoon with the sunlight streaming warm and bright he says this: “Know where you stand on an issue, draw a line, don’t cross it. Never move it for anyone because if you don’t create a solid foundation of what you believe, you will be swayed by every idea that comes along.” The point is not to teach me intolerance or close mindedness. And it certainly is not with maturity and wisdom and life experience my opinions would remain unaltered. His point is to be wise, discerning, to think for myself; it is to never allow a change in my circumstances to create fear that will control me or allow friends the power to pressure and cause conform. It is very simply to be bold enough to live what I believe and wise enough to know when I need to reevaluate my views. There is a fine line that divides the two and he feels it is important for me to understand these things so I recognize it.

And as it often happens when wisdom is passed along, the opportunity to put it to use presents itself.

Three years later I learn about abortion. I am horrified at the blatant disregard of human life. I am determined, no matter what, to never have an abortion. It is a line I am never prepared to cross, even when faced with a surprise  pregnancy and a deserter boyfriend many years later.

When I am seventeen, I stop buying Nike and Reebok. In the midst of a project in my economics class, I stumble upon an article about sweatshops and child labor and the callous responses from the executives of these companies are repulsive to me. They attempt to excuse their reprehensible behavior by babbling about the collapse of third world country economies and starving children if it were not for their presence supplying jobs. They say these things to sway the world’s outcry all while they live a life of luxury. Children are losing limbs, dying even; they travel the world in private jets making more money than they can possibly ever spend. Their audaciousness fuels a passion that burns deep within me, molding my decisions with a rippling effect unimagined. My passion earns my project an A; my lack of purchases do nothing to rising profits.

A few years ago, when I learn about the atrocities Planned Parenthood participates in, I stop buying from companies who support them. There was a time I went to Starbucks every morning before work, but no more. Years have passed since I purchased anything from them. And when I see people railing against abortion while they sip their $5 coffee from their Starbucks cup, I have to wonder how passionate they really are about what they believe.

Because in the fading daylight that afternoon, Daddy made one final point and it grabbed hold of me and never let go:  “You are only as good as your word. Someone who lies or fails to keep a promise or fails to follow through on their own personal convictions, is a person who cannot be trusted.”

I am not naïve; not buying products might not make a difference to such large corporations, but ultimately, it is not about their profits. It is about my character and how Yahweh can use it to influence others. It is about my accountability to Yahweh. For me personally, I cannot spend money on products that contribute to circumstances I view as ethically corrupt. It shapes the reasoning from whom I choose to purchase products. And always, the decision holds firm: I do not knowingly contribute, monetarily or otherwise, to things which harm others. Taking a stand for something that so profoundly affects me, causes a refinement of my character. Refinement always begins with truth.

Because once you have knowledge of the truth, to deny it or fail to act upon it is a character defect. One that must be corrected.

What births in us this visceral response to plant our feet unmovable in our certainty?

For some it is the arrogant certainty their opinion is right and everyone else’s is wrong. For others, it is birthed from a place of passion aimed at injustice or of spiritual conviction.

At the time of our creation, Yahweh plants in us the seeds of His character. For believer and unbeliever alike, those seeds lie dormant. They desire to sprout, to produce fruit, and to influence the world by reflecting His love, mercy, and justice. Often times the secular world invades our walk with Yeshua. It presents us with an idea, a problem, a desire to take action. It is then we must stop and ask ourselves an important question: Do our choices align with Yahweh’s character?

It is imperative they do.

Every thought, every feeling, every conviction does not come from Yahweh.

The world is filled with people who commit horrific acts and who all feel they are right and justified.  Look at the hate spewed by Westboro Baptist Church – at their core they believe they are right. History is littered with others. Do you think Hitler ever really believed he was at fault? Yet, none of their actions align with Yahweh’s character. And that makes their actions wrong.

So as I linger in sweet memories remembering conversations, if there is one thing I might add to the wisdom Daddy imparted that day…

Stand solely on Yahweh’s word. He is unchanging and His word does not lie and therefore He is eternally trustworthy in all things. Because regardless of the myriad interpretations of scripture, we can all agree on Yahweh’s character and above all His attributes, He is love. And if my decisions and resulting actions are rooted in love, if my convictions align with His word, I know my stance is planted on a solid foundation and it is there I can faithfully and firmly stand.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ~ Romans 12:2

Feb
9

Truth or Consequences: What do you do with Truth?

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Yahweh looked down from the heavens on the sons of mankind, to see if there is a wise one, seeking Yahweh. ~ Psalm 14:2

IMG_3443_2It all started with the dream. Scripture waving around like a flag.

And it was lost on me. A friend gave good counsel…“Right there in your Bible. Write it down. Date it. So you don’t forget. Otherwise you will.”

So I did.

And often as I flipped through pages wearing, worn with study, there it would be. The note peeking. It’s meaning as elusive as ever like some endangered wild beast.

Years pass by fluttering into eternity and I wait for clarity, but never ask for wisdom. All the while a lifetime of questions about Yahweh wait for answers, but no one I ask seems to have them.

There is this element to truth though; its very nature is tenacious and haunting, nagging at the fringe of your consciousness until, its presence undeniable, it is unable to be tucked away into the recesses of your mind to be forgotten.

And when the discernment of truth comes hurdling toward you like a freight train bearing down…..part of you wants to avoid it, side step it because truth has this way of making you uncomfortable, making you squirm. You can try to filter it or color it to make it look presentable or even soften it with sweet sounding words. But in the end, the truth is what it is and it is never what it is not.

IMG_3459What is crucial for us to understand, is there is always ever only one truth: Yahweh’s truth. Perceptions and feelings don’t matter much because when we look at truth we filter it with emotion and fear; emotion and fear taint it unrecognizable until the truth becomes a lie lived in ignorance. For too many years, I drifted in and out of church because what was taught from the pulpit did not always align with what I read during the week in my Bible.  For too many years I dwelled in ignorance believing the problem was me and an inability to understand.

I needed deliverance from my ignorance because that is where satan wanted me to remain, nourished by emotion fed strife and the soul destroying turmoil of doubt, with my skewed perceptions sucking me down like quick sand. And it is from this sinking pit, my questions were birthed amidst panic and doubt instead of a seeking of wisdom. Then one day Yahweh illuminated this verse for me:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask Elohim, who gives generously and without reproach, and it shall be given to him. But he should ask in belief, not doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. ~ James 1:6

I was astounded at the depth of my doubt. Where had it come from or had it always been? And why was it there at all?  I knew what I believed, but not why I believed it. I couldn’t defend one belief I had; I simply believed because someone else told me what they preached was true.  Wasn’t I supposed to be ready to give an answer to anyone who asked why I believed what I believed? Everything I believed and everything I acted on was based on a feeling and should it not be based on a scripture? It all seemed too ambiguous.IMG_3553

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. ~ Acts 17:11

It was then I asked myself…

Am I defending my beliefs or am I am seeking wisdom and truth? Is there a possibility my beliefs are wrong even though the majority of the Christian faith believes them too? Could I back up everything I believed with scripture? I had to look at mainstream Christianity and evaluate whether it reflected a narrow path or a broad road. What I saw reflected was division in every denomination over issues scripture is clear on. One would hope through these fissures the foundations of truth would rise up, but congregates are too busy shouting and making noise and satan sits laughing because he knows the scripture better than most of us; he knows what Hosea says, that Elohim’s children are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

IMG_3543There were things I knew to be truth: Yahweh does not change. His word stands forever. Yeshua was my savior and the only way to the Father. Everything else had to be tested, questioned, proven, but not necessarily thrown away. I needed to know why what I believed, if it was wrong, why it was wrong because only then could I properly create an argument for the truth. And isn’t that what apologetics really is at its core – understanding all sides and defending what emerges as truth. Otherwise, aren’t we just defending our opinions?  I knew with certainty the Bible held no contradictions and therefore if there appeared to be a contradiction, it must be a misinterpretation. I knew I had to entertain the possibility that my beliefs were wrong otherwise I would not be seeking truth; I would be defending opinions and defending those opinions would blind me to the truth. I read a lot about what scripture said concerning the seeking of knowledge and wisdom and how Yeshua spoke in parables saying, “He who has ears, let him hear.” I wanted ears; ears that could hear and recognize truth. And I prayed Yahweh would give them to me. I became a Proverbs 2 girl and prayed it over and over and over again. I thought about Jeremiah 33:3 that says, “Call to me and I will answer you, and tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”  I wanted to know those great and hidden things. I read again and again John 8:31-32, “So Yeshua said to those Yehudim (Jews) who believed Him, If you stay in My Word, you are truly My taught ones, and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” And I wanted to be a disciple, taught by Yeshua and I wanted to be free. But how could I truly know Him if He is the Word and I lacked wisdom to understand what it said?

So I asked. I asked for Truth. I asked for wisdom to recognize it. I asked for it to fall from above like rain on parched soil. And Yahweh answered.

And like a dog leaning into a good ear rub with a deep moan, I leaned in to Abba’s truth with shouts of joy.

I was utterly unprepared for what happened next. I foolishly made assumptions others would share my eagerness and excitement in this new knowledge. Instead I was shunned. I was gossiped about. I was called a heretic and a Judaizer.

IMG_3563What do you do when satan double dog dares you to keep seeking as you sit confused and wondering how things could have taken such a drastic turn?

Knowing it will cost you friends.

Knowing it might even cost you family.

Knowing it will cost you everything you once held in esteem.

Knowing people are gossiping.

Knowing satan will use people to undermine everything Yahweh is calling you to be.

You take the dare. You follow wherever He leads, whatever the cost. You put it all in perspective: these are people and their opinions whom satan uses for the noise they create for the purpose of your distraction. Yahweh has called you to be set apart; to be holy because He is holy. So you turn down the noise, put your nose in your Bible, and you meditate on His Word day and night because that is how you learn who Yeshua is and how to walk as He walked. You pray. You pray often and with great zeal. You pray to be a light fueled by Truth to a broken and dying world. You focus on Yeshua. You make changes in your life by applying Truth, one truth at the time as you learn each one. And slowly, surely, you find the narrow path. You stay the course because we are called to set an example and we can not exemplify a life we do not live and we can not reflect a Savior we do not know.

In the end, it comes down to the words you want to hear when we all stand before Him: Depart from me I never knew you or well done good and faithful servant.

Choose wisely, my friends.

The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion. ~ Paulo Coelho

Feb
6

The Slippage of Time

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…being persuaded of this, that He who has begun a good work in you shall perfect it until the day of Yeshua Messiah. ~ Philiipians 1:6

IMG_1653The Father has been working on me for a while now, spurring new thoughts and understandings, molding me and shaping me to closer resemble His vision of me. To some of you it may seem possibly I fell off the edge of the world or gave up writing or decided being a hermit was a better option than living among society. The truth is Yahweh has turned my entire world upside down and shown me truths about Him, about His Word, about myself, I could never have imagined. And as each new day dawns, when I think I could not be any more amazed, He reveals more truth, more depth of understanding, more wisdom.

There was a time when I believed that salvation was the end goal and afterwards I ought to just do my best to be a good person. And then if I did something wrong or Yahweh wanted me to do something for Him, I would get a feeling – a nudge, an idea, an intuition – and it would just seem like the right thing to do; that obedience was turning those feelings into actions. But feelings flow from the heart and Jeremiah tells me my heart, above all things is wicked and deceitful and none can know it and Solomon tells me to guard my  heart because all I do flows from it. These warnings are imperative because I am a carnal being, my flesh self-serving.

And The Father put me here to serve Him and not myself.  Because it is never about me; it is always about Him. There is only one truth: His truth. The only way to learn that truth is to come before Him in stillness and humility with an ear trained to listen, an eye trained to see, and a mind trained to meditate on His word. He has revealed truth to me no man can teach and His word tells me that if His word abides in me, I have no need for a teacher because He will teach me.

When I walked away from the altar and was baptized, it was the beginning, not the end. The goal is not salvation; the goal is sanctification. And sanctification is a process that never ends. Salvation is the pivot point, the opening door, the beginning of an intimate relationship with Yeshua, our Messiah, who because of His gift of grace allows me to be in fellowship with The Father. It is then Yahweh is able to mold me into a vessel for use by cultivating my fruits reflecting the gospel message to the world. Because truly the best sermons are lived, not preached.

I will not sit here and write to you that sanctification comes easily. I have fought Him as much as I have delighted in fellowship with Him. I have questioned and doubted and prayed pleading prayers. I have told Him, in great detail, how much differently I would be handling things. And yet, I can look back and reflect on how perfectly He is teaching me and changing me.

IMG_1652A friend told me, just the other day while we sat drinking coffee, that we always look at things from our own perspective and we must understand we are not the only people Yahweh is working on – everyone we interact with is learning a lesson from Him too. And that has stuck with me. I have rolled it around and considered it and I realized something so profound that before had eluded me: this is why it is so important to be grounded in the Word. It teaches me how to behave and how to respond in every circumstance and if I follow its instructions for living, I can accurately reflect the gospel in everything I do, in everything I say, everywhere I am, and with whomever I interact.

I walked away from my Southern Baptist church just shy of two years ago and began a journey discovering the Hebraic roots of my faith. I entered this journey as simply desiring to live a Biblical life: learn the truth of the scriptures in the context of their writing by using the Bible as the sole authority. For a time I was a part of a group who I thought had the same intentions, but who have since gravitated to the Hebrew Roots movement. I have found them to be just as intolerant as my previous church to whomever strays from their own ideas or questions behaviors, doctrines, and teachings not aligning with scripture.

So I found myself in a time of isolation which turned into a time of daily sweet fellowship with Yahweh. This solitude has become a sanctuary of peace and stillness before Him. In 1 John 2:27 it says, “And you, the anointing that you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But just as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things and is true and is no lie, and just as it has taught you, you shall abide in Him.”  So now is the time for me to rest in Him and allow His Word to flood the places laid bare by questions and doubt and hurts inflicted by those claiming to belong to Him. It is a time to have gratitude for having man instituted doctrines and cultish ungodliness pruned from my life, for focus being redirected to where it belongs – on Yeshua. For in all things I serve either the world or Yeshua, it is one or it is the other, but I can not serve both. I will be known by my fruits. He has brought me to a place where I can choose on what I stand and who I follow. Always I will choose the Father’s doctrine and always I will choose to follow Yeshua.

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And what do I believe?

I believe every word of scripture is inspired and breathed by Yahweh (God) Himself.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 Hebrews 4:12

I believe Yahweh does not change.

Malachi 3:6 Hebrews 13:8

I believe Yeshua (Jesus) is a gift of grace and the source of my salvation – a salvation that can not be earned no matter what I do. He is The Word made flesh – the walking, breathing, living Torah. He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life and the only way to The Father. He is coming again to reign as King.

John 3:16 John 14:6 Psalm 119:1,142 Proverbs 13:14 John 1:1-18 Revelation 19:13, 22:12

I believe that Yeshua is the Son of Yahweh and was born of the virgin Mary as prophesied.

Isaiah 7:14 Luke 1  1 John 4:9

I believe Yeshua died for my sins, laid in the grave for 3 nights and 3 days, rose again, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

Matthew 12:40 Mark 16:19 Psalm 110:1 Luke  24:51

I believe Yeshua is my intercessor.

Hebrews 7:25 Romans 8:34

I believe I am to be obedient to all Yahweh’s commandments; I may not pick and choose my way through them. I am not to add to nor take away from them. They are statutes to be followed perpetually, forever, and throughout all generations.

John 3:17 Leviticus 24:22 Exodus 12:49 Numbers 15:16 Deuteronomy 4:2

I believe the seventh day Sabbath instituted at creation is to be kept holy.

Genesis 2:1-3 Exodus 16, 20:10 Mark 2:27

I believe all persons entrusted to teach, preach, or prophesy must pass the Deuteronomy 13 test.

Deuteronomy 13

I believe the Ruach Ha’qodesh (Holy Spirit) is my helper sent at Shavuot (Pentecost) so that the Torah could be written on my heart. The Set-apart Spirit guides me in walking as Yeshua did when He walked the earth setting the example I am to follow.

Jeremiah 31:33  1 John 2:6

I believe the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) is still to be followed and instructs me in being one of a set apart people as Yahweh instructs me to be. I am to be holy for He is holy.

Leviticus 20:26  1 Peter 1:15-17

I believe that Yeshua did not come to abolish the law, but magnify it and be my example of what it looked like to live it perfectly. I believe that Yeshua did not come to teach a new doctrine, but taught the doctrine of The Father.

Matthew 5:17-20 John 7:16 Proverbs 4:2

I believe that sin is transgression of the law.

1 John 3:4 Matthew 5:19, 7:21-23

I believe the law is not burdensome as is currently taught in church.

1 John 5:2-4 Deuteronomy 30:11

I believe Yahweh does nothing without first revealing it to His servants the prophets; His plan for this world and His created are perfectly and in-errantly contained within The Holy Scriptures.

Amos 3:7

I believe that Yahweh loves our unity as long as if is founded in His Truth.

1 Corinthians 1:10 1 Corinthians 12:27 Ephesians 2:17-19 John 17:17 Psalm 119

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A final thought…

In August, while still attending the Hebrew Roots fellowship, I was warned by the leader’s wife that I should not be writing because it was a form of teaching and women were not to teach. It came on the heels of my writing the previous three blogs. No one, not one pastor, not one person, had ever told me this before. I had to re-evaluate the purpose of this blog. It set me back and caused me to question whether I should be writing because above all I want to be aligned with the authority of Scripture. It forced me to go back and reread my posts, and while I found places where my understanding was incorrect and skewed by the doctrines of men, I found this blog to be what it was always intended to be: a record of my journey with Yahweh. It is a place where I hope you see His mercy and grace and infinite love, a place where I hope it causes you to reflect on your own journey. I am in no way attempting to hold any authority over you. I author this blog under the full authority of my husband and he reads everything I post prior to it being posted.  I am a disciple and a student of Yeshua. I am learning how to walk as He walked. I am doing my best to follow His example. He tells me to make disciples and to teach them His commandments; the only way I know to do this is to mimic His example and share what I am learning day by day as I spend time in His presence. I will not ever claim to have it all figured out and should you find error in my understanding I would hope you would contact me or comment and share your knowledge. It is important we help each other learn. This blog has only ever been about my journey walking with Yahweh and that is all it will ever be. It is my hope that what is displayed here in these pages is love and humility and through these words that I write you see light shined in darkness to illuminate His Truth.

Aug
12

Grace: the intersection between The Creator and the created

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Grace is the intersection where Creator and created meet to form an intimate and holy relationship allowing the created to walk in the image of the Creator, and that in doing so the Creator’s love shines through the created bringing light to a darkened world. Faith is the hope of the created in the Creator that secures this belief: along the path, regardless of what remains unseen and whatever may lie ahead, the creator is infinitely good and is to be trusted. Obedience is the created’s divinely inspired behavior; it is the willful adherence to the Creator’s Truth which bares fruitful evidence and honest witness of the grace that love has borne.

Elizabeth Marchman flower #15Most believe grace is simply Jesus’ gift resulting from His death on the cross, but grace has existed since the beginning.

The first place I see evidence of this grace is in the garden. God’s created have been disobedient to His commandment. He boots them from the garden as punishment, but He also makes clothes for them. He covers them so they will not be ashamed; He covers them because He loves them and because of this love, His mercy is great. And yes, it is grace -the unmerited favor, the lovingkindness, the giving of something unearned and undeserved.

So in the beginning, there was grace: a gift that can never, no matter what, ever be earned, and borne solely from God’s love for His created. Jesus is the manifestation of that grace. In Jesus, we have everything we need to live a set apart, holy life devoted to God.

We have a sin sacrifice.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. ~  1 John 4:10

We have forgiveness.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.~ Ephesians 1:7

We have salvation.

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.. ~ 2 Timothy 1:9

We have the Word.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. ~ John 1:1-3

We have a perfect example of obedience that produces holiness.

whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. ~ 1 John 2:6

Elizabeth Marchman flower #16After salvation begins the sanctification – the learning to be holy because God is holy.  Sanctification is the perpetual purging by God of our fleshly desires and worldly pursuits until when we are looked upon, it is not us that is seen, but Jesus.  There must be effort on our behalf to live set apart so we no longer mirror the world. It occurs through obedience; obedience begins by reading, studying, and meditating upon the Word. Jesus prayed for our sanctification long ago – Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. ~ John 17:17. And for us, it is a life long pursuit.

Jesus was the final sacrifice for our sins. And because of his death on the cross, we no longer must sacrifice animals in order to atone for those sins. There is a misconception that animal sacrifice was what saved those in the old testament from their sins and it is wholly inaccurate. It was their faith and love for God that was strong enough to create obedience to follow his instruction; their faith in and love for God were evident through their obedience to His law. God could see their righteousness and it was evident to those in their presence. For Christians today, it is the same: our faith in and love for God is seen through our obedience to His law. And his law is nothing more than our instruction of how to live, how to love and how to be holy.  Our obedience to God’s law is the only thing that sets us apart.  After all, even the demons believe and shutter; they believe, but they do not follow. Along the way, we will stumble and make mistakes, but this is where grace steps in and covers us because of Jesus’ sacrifice.

Grace must exist for faith to grow and faith is enabled when love is the center focus. We focus on love when we make God the center of who we are and all we do. Our faith undergirds our hope and our assurance that God is trustworthy in all He says He will do and who He says He is. And if obedience is the evidence of love, then faith is the rope we use to tie ourselves to God. It is faith that allows trust to exist between God and ourselves.  It is faith that allows us to hope and be assured that God is unchanging and loves us so much He would put Jesus on a cross for us, a provision created from the beginning. Faith is why Noah was obedient to build the ark before he saw the first cloud or felt the first drop of rain. Faith is why, when Isaac inquired about the sacrifice, Abraham told him God would provide one.

For without faith, we are incapable of obedience and without obedience, there is no evidence of our love. Grace is the covering which allows the pieces to fit together in such an intimate way whereby sanctification occurs naturally, instinctively as our relationship with our Father grows. In the end, faith, love, and obedience are all possible because of the lavish, unmerited gift of God’s grace. And that is the intersection where we all stand at every moment of our existence. It is a place of divine wonder and extravagant love in a town called Truth. These crossroads are first, the outstretched arms of a Savior, and beyond them lies the narrow path of sanctification and holiness we travel to become one with Him just as He is one with the Father.

Elizabeth Marchman Flower #17So now we take these first steps past those outstretched arms and onto the narrow path to follow Jesus. We take these steps in faith, in hope, and in obedience because we know He is the Word and the Word is Truth, and by it we are sanctified. And because of grace, God’s love is evident to us and in this, we can trust.

Aug
4

Questions for the Truth Seeker

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For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ~ Hebrews 4:12

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I would like to pose some questions and allow scripture to answer them without any further commentary from myself at this time; in the weeks to come, I will be expounding on these scriptures. Understand, the scriptures I have given are not answers as a whole, but merely a starting point for pondering and further discussion in upcoming posts.

As disciples of Jesus, we are called to not only walk in Spirit, but also in Truth; to be a disciple is to be a truth seeker. Without knowing and understanding truth, we are incapable of following Jesus’ instructions to “go and make disciples” for how will we teach truth, if we first have not sought the truth in its entirety.

So let us seek truth as hidden treasure….

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What is the purpose of scripture?

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. ~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Is God’s word eternal?

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. ~ Isaiah 40: 8

Does God do anything without first revealing it to His prophets?

“For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. ~ Amos 3:7

Does God change?

For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. ~ Malachi 3:6

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. ~ Hebrews 13:8

Who is Jesus?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made …And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ~ John 1:1-3,14

He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is the Word of God. ~Revelation 19:13

Jesus said to him, “I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” ~ John 14:6-7

Did Jesus preach a new doctrine?

Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. ~ John 7:16

How do we show God that we love Him?

If you love me, you will keep My commandments. ~ John 14:15

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. ~ 1 John 5:3

Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him.” ~ John 14:21

Jesus replied, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our home with him. ~ John 14:23

By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments. ~ 1 John 2:3

And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the very commandment you have heard from the beginning, that you must walk in love. ~ 2 John 1:6

How long are we to keep His commandments?

You shall therefore love the Lord your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always ~ Deuteronomy 11:1

Who are God’s commandments for?

There shall be one law for the native and the stranger who sojourns among you.”

~ Exodus 12:49

As for the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and the alien who sojourns with you, a perpetual statute throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the alien be before the LORD. ~ Numbers 15:15

IMG_2078What is sin?

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. ~ 1 John 3:4

What happens to those who practice lawlessness?

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’~ Matthew 7:21-23

Did Jesus dying on the cross remove the law?

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matthew 5:17-19

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth has passed away... Also there was no more sea. Then I, John,saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” ~ Revelations 21:1-4

Why did Jesus give us only two commandments?

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets..” ~ Matthew 22:36-40

Can we worship God in any way we choose?

You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you. ~ Deuteronomy 4:2

Do not worship the LORD your God in the way these pagan peoples worship their gods. Deuteronomy 12:4

Does God allow us to create tradition that contradicts His Word?

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught. ~ Isaiah 29:13

“‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” Matthew 15:8-9

You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! Mark 7:8-9

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My son,  if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures,  then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. ~ Proverbs 2:1-5

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” ~ Matthew 13:44

Apr
14

Purging the Leaven

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! ~ Psalm 139:23-24 Passover is a mere four days away and it’s got me thinking. Certainly, it ought to.   While I move through the house searching – the freezer, the refrigerator, the pantry – attempting to rid it of leaven, I come to a daunting...
Oct
4

The Origin of Our Convictions: 4. On Living with Original Intent

Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and destitute. ~ Psalm 82:3 If someone had told me I would have become a vegan within my lifetime, I would have laughed at them. The only knowledge I had of vegans was PETA, who appeared to be terroristic lunatics, and my husband’s boss, who was an elitist snob. Neither of whom I desired to associate myself with. It was at a time when PETA was...
Oct
2

The Origin of Our Convictions: 3. Conviction

And Elohim said, “See, I have given you every plant that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed, to you it is for food.  “And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the heavens, and to every creeping creature on the earth, in which there is a living being, every green plant is for food.” And it came to be so. And Elohim saw all that He had...
Sep
27

The Origin of Our Convictions: 2. Convergence

And Elohim said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the livestock, and over all the earth and over all the creeping creatures that creep on the ground.” And Elohim created the man in His image, in the image of Elohim He created him – male and female He created them. And Elohim blessed them, and...
Sep
25

The Origin of Our Convictions: 1. On Standing Firm

You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. ~ Ephesians 2:2 the message   Memories drift like afternoon dreams stealing a bit of the present with a beauty and gentle force all their own. October days and the sun is warm and flannel shirts shield cool breezes. Sawdust swirls and lands in piles upon the old building’s floor and the smell of oak boards...
Feb
9

Truth or Consequences: What do you do with Truth?

Yahweh looked down from the heavens on the sons of mankind, to see if there is a wise one, seeking Yahweh. ~ Psalm 14:2 It all started with the dream. Scripture waving around like a flag. And it was lost on me. A friend gave good counsel…“Right there in your Bible. Write it down. Date it. So you don’t forget. Otherwise you will.” So I did. And often as I flipped through pages wearing, worn with study,...
Feb
6

The Slippage of Time

…being persuaded of this, that He who has begun a good work in you shall perfect it until the day of Yeshua Messiah. ~ Philiipians 1:6 The Father has been working on me for a while now, spurring new thoughts and understandings, molding me and shaping me to closer resemble His vision of me. To some of you it may seem possibly I fell off the edge of the world or gave up writing or decided being a...
Aug
12

Grace: the intersection between The Creator and the created

Grace is the intersection where Creator and created meet to form an intimate and holy relationship allowing the created to walk in the image of the Creator, and that in doing so the Creator’s love shines through the created bringing light to a darkened world. Faith is the hope of the created in the Creator that secures this belief: along the path, regardless of what remains unseen and whatever may lie...
Aug
4

Questions for the Truth Seeker

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ~ Hebrews 4:12 I would like to pose some questions and allow scripture to answer them without any further commentary from myself at this time; in the weeks to come, I will be expounding on these...

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