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Double Agent

A Hebrew in Modern Babylon.

That’s the name of this blog, right? Well, how did Daniel do it? He was PRIME MINISTER, but his religion was completely different than almost everyone else in government. How did he get there? By YHWH’s favour. But what about the details of his life? What about how he did business and had conversations?

We only get a small number of instances in Daniel’s life. There’s his arrival and his choice of diet, interpreting Nebuchanedzar’s dream, the firey furnace, another dream, the writing on the wall, the lion’s den, and his end-times revelations. Every story recounts Daniel completely obeying Yahweh and trusting in Yahweh! Daniel doesn’t have methods or plans. YHWH gave him a direction, and he moved. YHWH was faithful in guiding Daniel along the way.

As I start my year at university after a year abroad and summer break, I am thrown back into the liberal sphere. My Modernism professor introduced us to the class talking about how key thinkers like Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, and Freud eliminated our need for a “God”, and that there is no plan, and that humans are not special. A brief conversation yesterday was about the fluidity of gender. I had a conversation with a different friend about modesty standards, she on the liberal side.

These are topics I face everyday, and topics I have to write papers on. I’m not even sure where I stand on some of these issues, and on some I’m not sure where the Scriptures stand. To clarify, by “these issues” I mean those issues that are hot and relevant to academia and young twenty-somethings. In most of these issues, the “Christian” stance is seen as outdated, racist, sexist, elitist, or just plain wrong.

As I shed the traditional Christian layers of my skin, I have to be careful with just how much I shed off. When I first started on my Torah journey, I threw off just about everything. But then I was alone. I had no opinions to lean on, no scriptures to defend my case. All I could say was, I don’t know.

Okay, actually I wish I had the humility to say I don’t know all the time. Often I try to make up something that sounds right if I don’t have the answer. But what did Daniel say?

“The secret which the sovereign is asking — the wise ones, the astrologers, the magicians, and the diviners are unable to show it to the sovereign. But there is an Elah in the heavens who reveals secrets, and He has made known to Sovereign Nebukadnetstsar what is to be in the latter days…” Daniel 2:26-27 ISR

So, in a world of Post-Modern Humanistic Babylon, how do I walk in righteousness? Just as Daniel did, by leaning on YHWH, because the Father is faithful.

Trust in YHWH with all your heard, and lean not on your own understanding;
Know Him in all your ways, And He makes all your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5 ISR

It’s not about me, or how much I know. Actually, it’s probably better in the academic sphere to have a different opinion than everybody else. They don’t want someone who follows the crowd. Good, because I follow YHWH!

I know this and still, I want to make plans and figure out how to have those conversations But as I’ve said before, it is a day by day journey with the Father. Everything outside of His plan is as vapor. My plans, my schedules, my theology will fade away with the wind. But He is more real than the earth I stand on. He has all the answers, and He knows the truth.

It’s time to let go of opinions, let go of my pride, let go of my ambitions. For YHWH will direct my path. He is always faithful, and He will never let me go.

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Praise Reports!!

I’ve got a lot of things on my mind that I’d like to share, but it’s been a long day of classes and homework. So, to be brief, I have some praise reports.

Yahweh has just completely blessed me in my first day of school. He just amazed me over and over again.

1. I had to apply for a loan for textbooks this morning, something I’ve had trouble with in the past, and it went well without a hitch. HalleluYah!

2. I went to Jamba Juice to get a wheat grass shot. They took forever in getting my shot, so I got a double! HalleluYah! As a bonus, it took away my abdominal pain. HalleluYah!

3. I bought the textbook for Russian right before the class, not knowing if I’d need it, and I did! Well, a special workbook anyway. The other textbook was almost $200 new, but I don’t need it for a week so I was able to return in and used the money to buy a cheaper book, as well as bus tickets to go home this weekend. HalleluYah!

4. Leaving my Russian class, I stumble upon Yahweh directed my path to a friend who also just got back from a year abroad. (She went to France, I went to Japan.) We were able to reconnect and enjoy each other’s presence. A totally unexpected blessing. HalleluYah!

5. At the dining hall, I had no idea who to sit with, so the Father showed me a girl to sit with. Turns out, she is a Christian and went to the worship service for my campus ministry last night! I had no idea of any of that when I sat down, but Yah gave us the chance to connect. How cool. HalleluYah!

6. At my next class, again I asked YHWH to show me where to sit. I introduce myself to the girl, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Just before class started, I saw a friend from a previous, related course. After class I go to talk to him, and he’s a friend of the girl I sat next too! Now I’ll be able to continue to sit with this girl and my friend. Totally unexpected. HalleluYah!

7. At my next class, I turn to talk to the girl behind me. What is she studying? RUSSIAN! We were able to connect and chat about Russian literature. I see a friendship forming here. HalleluYah!

8. My dance class was a blessing in disguise. It turns out I don’t remember the basics as well as I should, and if I stayed in this class I would struggle. I decided to drop a course I had been eagerly looking forward to. This decision could not have been from anyone but Papa. He had blessed me all throughout the day, so why would that moment be any different? Actually, my ambition told me to keep going and try, but it was a small voice compared to the overwhelming peace of Yah encouraging me to drop the course. Only He knows what pleasures I will reap from this blessing. HalleluYah!

Other students may not have felt as positively about their first day, but I proudly proclaim that my day was great and the glory all goes to YAHWEH!!!! He is good, and He is a moving force in our lives. He loves us so much and blesses us in more ways than we know. He deserves all of the praise and all of the esteem. He is so worthy, so so worthy.

Praise Yah! Praise Ěl in His set-apart place; Praise Him in His mighty expanse!
Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!
Praise Him with the blowing of the ram’s horn; Praise Him with the harp and lyre!
Praise Him with tambourine and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Praise Him with sounding cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals!
Let all that have breath praise Yah. Praise Yah!

Shalom,

Genevieve

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The Pillar of Fire

This is just too cool. Check it out!

GRACE in TORAH

This short story is based on real events at one of our Sukkot gatherings. The Pillar of Fire was witnessed by 8 people. 🙂

One warm fall afternoon, in a small town in central Florida, two brothers eagerly awaited the setting of the sun. All their bags were packed, their tent was in order, and their mother had bought loads of groceries that she had neatly packed into coolers. She had even found kosher marshmallows for S’mores! Yes, they were going camping, but this wasn’t just any camping trip, they were going to celebrate the biblical festival of Sukkot. Some people call this the Feast of Tabernacles, Booths, or Ingathering.

Tonight, we will sleep under the stars!” the boy’s father exclaimed.

Yes, tonight we will remember our forefather’s forty year journey in the wilderness!” chimed in their mother.

They arrived at the campsite and were warmly greeted…

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Ki Tavo

As a Gentile, when you go to a Jewish Shabbat service for the first time, you learn a lot.

1. Don’t use Christianese. I generally try to avoid Cristianese, but there are ways of speaking that I didn’t even realize I do. For example, I may have said (can’t remember, I was too nervous), “I have a heart for Israel.” After I said it, I realized how condescending that sounds. Who am I that I have something to bring to Israel? Christians tend to talk as if we have something to give to the world, and although we do, saying that just turns off your audience. We are sent to serve, and being servants demands humility, not pride. Thankfully, I only said it that way once and quickly reformed what I said. But there were other little speech mistakes that I made that were in the same vein.

2. Don’t act as if you know their religion well, because you don’t. The only Jew I’ve ever had intense theological discussions with was my (just recently) ex-boyfriend, and he isn’t super religious. The Jews I met today are Orthodox, so their idea of their religion is much different than mine, even if I’ve learned a *little* bit recently. Thankfully, I didn’t start telling them that I disagree with some of their traditions, but the way I talked about my view of Torah may have clashed some with theirs.

For example, I mentioned how I would like to hold Shabbat dinners with my Christian friends, and the woman I was talking to told me about how Orthodox Jews believe that Gentiles aren’t obligated to the Law, but only to the Noachide laws. This was different than I’d learned recently, so it really made me think. Am I obligated to Torah at the same level of the Jews? It is a responsibility, she reminded me. In fact, Orthodox Jews discourage forcing Torah upon Gentiles.

3. Although they are American, it is a different culture. A panel separates boys from girls? There are special procedures for taking the Torah out of the Ark and reading the Torah? There has to be ten men? What’s up with the uniforms? (It felt like uniforms to me.) It was so completely unfamiliar. And, my mistakes with Christianese came in again, because I assumed that I could talk about my relationship to Torah like I would to someone raised Christian or someone who grew up around Christians. I mentioned to someone that my sister is coming home from her missions trip today (Yay!), and he didn’t know what a missions trip was until someone used a Hebrew term. I referred to the Moedim as feasts, and he asked, “You mean the festivals?” (I then said “Yeah, the Moedim” and they were amazed I knew the word in Hebrew. :3) They may live in America, but they are a separate people.

4. Although as a Gentile grafted in I try to understand the ancient Israelites, the Jews are very aware that they are physical Israel. This week’s parsha covers the curses of Devarim 28, and for the Jews it is real and scary. When I first read it, I thought it was intense and I couldn’t wrap my mind around it, but it wasn’t directly relevant to me. But for Jews it is all too real, and it is not something they like to dwell on. They read the portion swiftly and in a low tone to get it over with!

It was a humbling experience, and it prompted a lot of questions. How much of the Torah does YHWH really want me to follow? How much of the Rabbinical traditions are YHWH-blessed and how much aren’t? What is my place in relationship to the modern Jews? Are the Jews really “damned” without Yahushua? Can anyone really understand Torah in the intended way?

Up until now I’ve gathered a lot of head knowledge, but I think today I finally gained some heart knowledge. I got a taste of what it’s like to be a Jew. It must be strange from their point of view, that Christianity has stolen their book, slapped on another book plus a messiah, and thinks it knows better. How many Christians don’t think that Jews are backwards and stubborn? From their angle, we must be perverted and egotistical.

YHWH is so much bigger than I can even begin to comprehend. And He’s got a handle on the situation. He knows exactly how it’s going to end. He knows who’s got it right, and who’s got it wrong. And He knows the hearts of those who love Him and are honestly seeking Him, and He knows the hearts of those how argue about His word for their own conquests. And in the end, He is a merciful El. I don’t need to be worried about how to make it work, because He’s got a plan. He knows tomorrow although I may not.

Arise, shine, for you light has come! And the esteem of YHWH has risen upon you. For look, darkness covers the earth, and this darkness the peoples. But YHWH arises over you, and His esteem is seen upon you. And the nations shall come to your light, and sovereigns to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your  eyes all around and see: all of them have gathered, they have come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are supported on the side.

Shalom,

Genevieve

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Blessed

I am so so blessed. And I can only turn around and praise Yahweh. I did not do anything to deserve everything He gives me.

 

I am so blessed that my Christian campus ministry, InterVarsity, only has eight returning students in my dorm. To put that in context, we normally have fifteen to twenty students. So what’s so great about eight? We have eight passionate and dedicated students. I would rather have eight zealous students than twenty lukewarm students any day. Can you imagine how much YHWH can do with eight passionate students? It’s incredible. I am so excited.

 

I am so blessed that the health foods store is only a half-hour walk or fifteen-minute bus ride away. That is closer than the nearest Walmart or Target! (Which is a half-hour to forty minute bus ride). And it’s a big store! They have everything I like to buy in stores and online, as well as fresh produce. So fancy stuff I was planning on buying on Amazon? Hello to no shipping. I am so blessed to have all of my health needs so close at hand.

 

I am so blessed by the WordPress Messianic/Hebrew Roots blogging community. Not only is there so much to learn, but each writer has a slightly different perspective and interpretation. It helps to keep me grounded and (hopefully) unbiased to one particular view. Further, I happen to read entries on a topic just when I need it. For example, two entries by James about the relationship between Jews and non-Jews, and the importance of being Gentile! Tomorrow I’ll go to my first Shabbat with the Jewish organization on campus, and it was nice to have a reminder of my place in relation to the Jews I’ll be interacting with.

 

And that’s why Yeshua reminds us not to worry. I was so worried about my time at school, as much as I tried not to be. And now I see that there really was no reason to be worried. He’s got me covered. He will never let me go.

I am so blessed. The Father is so wonderful. He blesses us all so abundantly.

 

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Crossing Over

One meaning of the word “Hebrew” means to traverse, or as I have so fondly put it, to wander. Thus, the title of this blog. Another meaning for the word “Hebrew” is to cross over. Indeed, I feel like I have crossed over.

I am starting my fourth year at university, and this week I moved into my dorm room. I’m living in the same hall that I have lived in since first year, with the exception of being in Japan this past academic year. As I set up my room and unpacked my bags, I couldn’t help but think about my first time moving in. I was disappointed in my roommate because she wasn’t Japanese, I brought way too many clothes and everything else, and I was covering the walls with pictures of Japanese boys. But this week? My roommate is such a blessing (although still not Japanese), I brought very little clothes or anything and thus have ample room in my drawers, closet, and bookshelves, and my only wall decoration is a map of where I lived in Japan.

But it’s more than just where I am at move-in. I think about how much I have grown in three years. Coming in I knew I wanted to study Japanese, but had little direction beyond that. Now, after spending time in Japan, I have more direction and goals to pursue. Coming in I had insecurity issues and was trying to establish myself with my knowledge of Japan. Now I know that my value is in how much my Father loves me, which is quite a lot. And I have crossed over a few times.

My first cross-over was from Christian-in-name to full-time Christian, through the campus ministry InterVarsity. My second cross-over was from Evangelical Christian to Pentecostal Charismatic Christian. And now I’ve crossed over from that to Hebrew Roots.

I mentioned in a recent post about being lost and confused, not sure what to do on campus. I have crossed over a line and I am not going back. The cares of this world, this culture, are not my cares. As much as I take joy in being a Hebrew in Babylon, I was feeling alone and hopeless. I have had little *success* with other friends and family, so how can I convince my Christian friends on campus? How could I participate in their worships and Bible studies, when the lessons they teach are based on biases and mistranslations? But I read Cindi Gilland’s post on Faith Grace Torah, and it was very encouraging. Cindi realized that she was at her church to share what she had been learning, and it reminded me of what YHWH can do in our lives, and that it’s not all about us.

I won’t claim to know what YHWH is thinking or exactly what He has in mind, but I do know He’s got great plans for me. I will let Him do the planning, and I’ll do the following. Yeshua did not come to start a new religion, so neither should I go off by myself because I’m the only one that agrees with me. This calls for humility, patience, self-control, and gentleness. As well as a dose of love, joy, and loving-commitment. And of course, some faithfulness to YHWH.

And about that *success* that I mentioned earlier, when was success ever listed as a quality we strive for? In YHWH there is no success or failure, there is only obedience or disobedience. The Father judges us by His standards alone, and He is merciful and forgiving! Christians will tell me that you cannot live the “Law” perfectly, and yes it is hard, but I am not trying to win or fail at the “Law”. I am walking in obedience, and walking in faith, and when you follow YHWH, He will not lead you to break His law. But the standards of this world? There is a pass and a fail, you are judged harshly, and there is no forgiveness. There is bitterness, and prejudice, and cruelty.

Yes I have crossed over, and that is something to rejoice in. I am no longer under control of the ways of this world. I will not compromise Torah, because there is no value in worldly success. I will go where He goes, and say what He says. I don’t know what purpose YHWH has me here for, beyond being an ambassador of Love. I can try to take the wheel, but I think He’s a better driver.

Shalom,

Genevieve

Do not be conformed to the ways of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you prove what is that good and well-pleasing and perfect desire of Elohim. Rom. 12:2

Related Content: http://mymorningmeditations.com/2013/08/08/what-good-is-there-in-the-hebrew-roots-movement/

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Do We Really Need the Old Testament?

Grace is the way to God. Obedience is the walk with God.

W.onderful W.orld of W.adholms

As someone who serves as an Instructor in Old Testament at one college (Providence University College and Theological Seminary) and an Assistant Professor whose primary focus is in Old Testament at another college (Trinity Bible College), this question has significant concern for me.

Yet, more significantly this question is of paramount concern for me as one who professes faith in Christ…that is, it is a thoroughly Christian question that must be answered in the affirmative. What do you think about John Oswalt’s “Seven Minute Seminary” answer to this question?

Recommended Reading

Seitz, Christopher R., The Character of Christian Scripture: The Significance of a Two-Testament Bible (Studies in Theological Interpretation; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011).

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