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Update: First Small Group

Hey! Sorry I didn’t update sooner. Yesterday was busy.

My first small group went well. I was really blessed. I had planned for four students to come (in addition to myself and my roommate.) One did. Granted, one had valid plans to see a friend in the city. The other two  have decided that their schedules are too full. I am not offended or discourage. Papa is good, and He is faithful.  He promised me five to seven people, I will have five to seven people.

The girl who did come is such a blessing, and I am so happy to have her. She is a beautiful, bubbly girl, and she is so thirsty for more! When I told her we would be spending most of our time in Torah, she was so excited! She said that she has been wanting more OT education. Halleluyah!

As I rambled, I ended up having more time than I had planned. My little speech only lasted five to ten minutes! But Father blessed my tongue, and gave me the words to say. It was absolutely wonderful, and we ended the time in worship.

It may not have been the impressive small group I had been anticipating, but I had so much shalom. YHWH is tov. So so good!

I am really excited for this small group, and especially to see what YHWH is going to do in our hearts. His plans are so wonderful. I know this will go well.

Shalom!

Genevieve

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Trust in the Lord

There are moments in my life when I realize just how young I am, and I learn the importance of weighing things against the test of time. This moment in my life is one of them.

I could list many things that I have held onto as definite, that turned out to be not so defined or long-lasting. Just to name a few, early high school I thought I was going to be a film score composer, freshman year of college I thought I’d for sure teach English in Japan, this time last year I thought I would be with my (now ex) boyfriend forever, and this past May I thought I would be following the Paleo diet for the rest of my life. Each time I make these resolutions, I mock my previous self as knowing nothing, and that I know so much better now.

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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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Calendar

So I was on Michael Rood’s website, and stumbled upon his calendar. I noticed that the dates listed for the feasts are different than what I was finding on chabad.org, a Rabbinical Jewish website. Huh, why is that? So I googled it, and found

http://www.thegod720.com/Biblical-Hebrew-Calendar.pdf

I am still new to all of this, so this PDF is very helpful in explaining the history of the currently used Rabbinical calendar and the new re-instated Scriptural calendar.

It’s very easy to simply follow what Rabbinical Jews do, because in my mind I assume they are more Scripturally accurate. Now, I don’t accept everything they do. There are certain ways I think they place more importance on the words of the Torah, rather than the meaning. And then of course they place more importance in Oral Torah than the written YHWH-given Mosaic Torah. But I had not yet looked into the calendar, and just assumed the Rabbinical one was correct.

I feel that every day YHWH brings me into a deeper level of truth. And when He reveals these matters to me, the truth underneath it all feels obvious. I don’t know how else to say it, but I don’t have to fight whatever the new truth is. Often times writers encourage the reader to go to the scriptures and check for themselves, which we absolutely should do. But when I read something that is very clearly p’shat, I can’t even make myself disagree. I feel its depth and its truth.

So, when I read this PDF about the calendar, it all made sense to me and I had no reason to even try to defend the Rabbinical calendar. You can read it yourself to find out all about the barley and the month of Aviv, but there are a few other points in the article that stuck out to me.

First is about the controversy among those in the Hebrew Roots movement concerning Rabbinical calendar versus Torah calendar. To me, quite frankly, following the Torah calendar is the obvious answer. But the issue goes deeper than the calendar, because it goes back to who has the authority.

It is the Talmud that has established the Rabbinic calendar as the calendar for all Israel, including those in the Diaspora. On the other hand, the authority behind the Biblical calendar is the written Torah. The tension that is tearing at the unity of the Hebraic Roots/Messianic Movement is simply the tension that exists when the written Torah and the oral Torah do not agree.

Why does there even need to be tension between following the Rabbis, and following Torah? The article eventually goes on to describe the main “branches” of the Hebraic movement. 1) Jews believing in Jesus without abandoning Rabbinical Judaism. 2) Jews converting to mainstream Christianity. 3) The Two House teaching, reconciling the divided houses of Israel. and 4) Simply encouraging followers of Yahshua to lead a Torah observant lifestyle. Of course these ideas are not mutually exclusive, as the writer says, but they do contribute to the motivations of following the Rabbinical or the Torah calendar.

Personally, the first two branches of the movement may have been good starting places, but they are not where truth lies. I am excited about reconciling the Two Houses, the true scriptural meaning of “Ministry of Reconciliation.” And of course, believers of the Two Houses teaching would also encourage believers of Yahshua to lead a Torah observant lifestyle. They are not mutually exclusive.

But it seems ridiculous to be adherent to the commands of Torah and not teach or believe in the Two Houses teaching. If you are truly a seeker of righteousness and student of the Torah, the importance of the redemption of the Two Houses becomes clear. However, I don’t yet have a deep enough knowledge on the subject to expound upon it further. Scripture is so deep there is only so much you can learn in six months!

As I mentioned recently, I have many questions about my upcoming school year, particularly in applying Torah among Christian campus ministries. I was planning on participating in the festivals with the Jewish organization on campus, but now I realize that may not be an option. How do you celebrate a festival…alone? I’ve used the believer maps on a few different websites, and there are no Hebrew Roots believers any nearer than an hour. Should I follow the Spirit of the Torah and celebrate with the Rabbinical Jews? Or do I stick to the Torah and celebrate on the correct days?

It’s a question that can only be answered in prayer, but I’m wondering what your thoughts are. Thanks for reading!

Shalom,

Genevieve

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Worry

I am amazed at how much I change every year. The dreams I held a year ago are different than the dreams I hold now. I can plan and scheme all I want, but I have no idea who I will be next year or the year after. I simply have to trust that Abba knows what is in store for me, and follow Him day by day.

Speaking of following Him day by day, do you ever try to follow Him tomorrow, today? I mean, try to figure out what He wants for you tomorrow, today? But in Yeshua’s Sermon on the Mount, He has a whole section about worrying, mainly, DON’T WORRY! One of the most famous lines is, “Do not, then, worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow shall have its own worries. Each day has enough evil of itself.” But the “Therefore” is not there alone, it follows, “But seek first the reign of Elohim, and His righteousness, and all these matters shall be added to you.”

Seek first His righteousness, and everything else will follow. Am I really seeking the tsedek of YHWH? How much of my time do I spend thinking about His righteousness, and how much time do I spend worrying about what I need to do?

I go back to school in a few days, and my mind keeps wandering to worries. Before my study abroad trip, I was heavily active in two campus ministries. Now that I have learned so much about Torah, my theology and practice is so different from all of my peers. So I worry, which meetings do I go to? What do I say to my friends? Should I still attend a non-Hebrew Roots congregation?

The newness is a bit scary, I have to admit. A place that was once my comfort zone is now unfamiliar. There will be two classes of freshman, last year’s and this year’s, to meet, and my comfortable Christian ministry may not be so comfortable anymore.

But YHWH says not to worry, and to seek His righteousness. He already knows what conversations I will have, where He wants me to go, and who I will meet, so I do not need to be anxious about it. I want to plan it all out, but He’s already got a plan and it’s a way better plan than I could ever make.

As I told my atheist brother, YHWH doesn’t ask us to have faith because it’s easy. If faith were easy, we’d all believe in YHWH and follow Him. But to depend and lean on YHWH, to trust that He knows exactly what we’re going through, when we have no control over the situation, that is hard. And it doesn’t always feel good either.

When Moshe first came back to Mistrayim to free the Israelites, and Pharaoh initially increased their workload, and the Israelites blamed Moshe, obedience must not have felt good. But if Moshe hadn’t obeyed, where would the Israelites be today?

Even if they don’t feel good, YHWH’s commands are always good. 

Matthew 6

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Tradition

So check out Michael Rood’s video on Christmas and Easter: http://www.yah-tube.com/videos/rood/1_rood_tradition/index.html

I had heard a lot about these pagan holidays reading Come Out of Her My People by C.J. Koster, but I learned even more from this video. Some interesting highlights include that Easter eggs were originally dyed with infants’ blood, and the treasure brought by the Magi was from Daniel. I recommend checking it out.

Abandoning these traditions and honoring Yahweh’s appointed times is a little challenging. It’s not hard to make the mental switch, I was decided as soon as I heard a sermon on it from Pastor Mark McLellan of the Harvest congregation in Colorado. But actually implementing them?

Not doing Easter this year was easy. I was in Japan, so there was no Easter dinner or service I was obligated to. The spring festivals? I was still (and am still) new to it all, so I wasn’t sure how to observe them. For example, the festival of unleavened bread is a challenge because I can’t eat bread anyway. So was I supposed to tell my host mom I wouldn’t be eating bread, even though I wasn’t eating it already? I did count the days of Omer…That wasn’t too hard.

But now I’m looking forward to the fall festivals. I bought a (kindle edition) book on how to observe the festivals, and I’m going to organize events to include my friends and introduce them to the true appointed, set-apart days. I’ve already booked space for Yom Kippur, and I’m thinking I should book the same space for Rosh Hashanah too. Sukkot? I’m thinking I’ll rent some tents to live on the quad for a week. I’m pretty serious about that, and seriously excited.

The challenge comes with Christmas. Of course my family is deeply rooted in Christmas. So what do I do? Keep my family from decorating? Forbid them from giving me presents? Will I not even go to Grandma’s on the day? I am praying about it, and I know Yahweh will give me wisdom when the time comes. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. It will be a trial, and continue to be for at least the first few years.

But I take joy and strength in all of it. I have begun to feel the joy of obedience, and it is wonderful. I read Kedoshim Ministries’ post from yesterday, and although I am not at the stage in my journey that Bithiah is, I feel more of that “true joy” everyday. I will obey Yahweh because I love Him, and He loves me. It’s so exciting!

(Side ramble: The Hebrew romanization system is different from the Japanese system, so I get confused on both spelling and pronunciation. Oy vey.)

Yahweh bless you and keep you
Yahweh make His face to shine upon you
Yahweh lift His face upon you and gives you Shalom

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Piece

On my college ministry group page on Facebook, someone asked,

What makes being a Christian so great, and why should a non-believer believe in God?
(You can’t say it’s cause you get to go to heaven)

And so I answered

Being a Christian is so great because it’s about having a personal relationship with Yahweh. He loves you so super duper much, and He’ll do anything to prove His love for you. As you lean on Him, and trust in Him, you learn more and more about who He is, and thus ultimately who He has created you to be.
To answer the last question, as part of the process you cannot help but love the people around us. We are all made in Yahweh’s each image, each a different facet of who He is. If you are to love Him, you are to love each individual around you because they are a reflection of our Creator. You receive Yahweh’s love, love Him back, and then pour it out on everybody around you.
Of course this explanation sounds very idealistic, it is the (an) ideal after all. There are challenges and obstacles along the way. We wrestle with Yahweh and our lives. We rebel and turn the other way. But He is always there, He will never let you go. Even when it seems that all is lost, He is there. He will always be there.
And that is (part) of why it is so awesome to be a Christian because the love of Yahweh, the love of the Messiah Yeshua, is so much more wonderful and joyful than anything you can physically see. (And He reveals Himself physically in many ways every day, but that’s a different topic for another day.)

If you read all of that, cool.

But I have more to say than just that. Actually, it times perfectly with an essay I am starting. There’s a writing contest for my school, and the prompt is a quote from John Muir.

“Most people are on the world, not in it — have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them — undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate.”

How is this related to my Facebook discussion? Well, after looking up more about John Muir, Yahweh gave me a really awesome idea. John Muir was a nineteenth century environmentalist, known as the Father of National Parks. He was also an avid evangelist, and he believed that nature was proof of God in many ways. He was also part of the evangelical movement to throw away tradition and go back to the scriptures. (Sound familiar?)

My thesis? Yahweh (God) created the world and man in it to function in a specific way in relation to Yahweh, the natural world, and our fellow man, and when we function in that way there are abundant blessings upon blessings, but instead of heeding Yahweh’s loving commands, we have turned away and decided to do things as we see best, resulting in a selfish people, dedicated to our own needs, and neglecting to foster a good relationship with Yahweh, with nature, or with each other, leaving us touching, commingling, but ultimately separate identities, not part of a whole.

Okay, that is a really long sentence, and a wordy thesis. The thesis I turn in will probably look different, and be much more refined.

I will divulge parts of my ideas and probably parts of a final draft on here as I go along. Tomorrow I will give a fuller outline of what I have in mind, although it is still very rough at this point. But to connect back to my opening section, ideally, (keyword:ideally) if, as a Christian, you follow Yahweh as He intends for us to follow him, then bit by bit you become less like a piece of stone, touching but separate, and more a part of a whole. You will slowly feel unity with Yahweh, with nature, with other people. I am far from reaching full unity, and I won’t until Yeshua comes again. But I definitely feel that this topic is something that Yahweh has put on my heart to write, even if I don’t win the contest.

Look for more tomorrow. Shalom!

Oh, and PS about the second part of the question? A non-believer should believe in Yahweh because He smote the Egyptians and rescued the Hebrews in a mighty way. Enough said.