Blogs

Stuck between Christmas and Chanukah

In my search for God’s heart, I’ve come to a bit of a crossroads for lack of a better word.  First let me say I speak of the one true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who sent His son Yeshua or “Jesus” to reconcile man back to Him and “re-gather” the “lost” sheep of the house of Israel.  Yeshua was the Jewish Messiah foretold of in countless prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Christian Old Testament.  I’ve been “saved” by grace through the faith I have in God through the blood of the lamb (Yeshua).  If I stopped there I’d count myself to be abundantly blessed!

 

As we believers all know, that’s not how the story goes.  So I was saved, raised in church and taught the core principles of the faith yet something was missing.  This is when I came into a better understanding of the Hebraic roots of the Christian faith.  I learned that the Torah really is the foundation of the New Testament and that when Yeshua mentions scriptures, He’s talking about the Old Testament!  He Himself said that He didn’t come to do away with the law but to fulfill or magnify.  He came and showed them what the heart of the scriptures was all about, to love the Lord your God with all of your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.

 

Early on in my coming to a better understanding of God’s word with a Hebraic mindset I discovered some real treasures through digging a bit deeper.  I almost felt as though I had been robbed of so much wisdom and truth, so I continued to learn more about God’s law, better translated as God’s teaching and instruction.  I even began observing the Sabbath!  What a blessing that turned out to be.  Imagine a day set apart without all of the hustle and bustle of typical daily stuff, a day to rest and remember the God of the entire universe, a day where we bless our children, husbands and wives and just enjoy our families.

 

No I don’t forget Him throughout the week but let’s face it, we’re all humans who all need a bit of reminding and refreshing, just to be able to stop and be still.  Mainstream Christianity often teaches that after Jesus rose from the dead we are no longer under the law.  I realize we’re no longer under the penalty of the law.  That makes perfect sense but could someone tell me why we emphasize 9 commandments and the tithe but when a gal wants to rest on the Sabbath and not eat pig she might be confused of putting us back under the law?  I get it, no one obtains salvation through keeping a bunch of laws.  That notion is absurd and I’d be willing to bet that’s the way many Jews believe as well.  It’s a heart issue.  When I lay out the boundaries for my children, it’s for their protection not out of legalism.  So if Yeshua, Jesus Himself said “If you love me you’ll keep my commandments there must be more to the story, right?  Please don’t think that I’m trying to sway your opinion in any way or even convince you that I have it all figured out.  Heavens no!  I’m merely at a point in my life where I have some questions.  I’m just throwing some thoughts out there that I have encountered.

 

As I began studying the Torah along with the whole Bible I began to realize my walk was still a bit dry.  What else could be missing but the power of the Holy Spirit?  So I began to delve into the subject of the infilling of the Holy Spirit.  Obviously this was the Holy Spirit pointing me in that direction, drawing me in.  It’s not that I didn’t believe in tongues, prophecy etc.. it’s that I had just never really been taught anything about these gifts.  Again I was in the dark with regards to this aspect of God.  I figured out there’s definitely more to it even than praying, maybe not even hearing much, attending church whether Saturday or Sunday, being moral and reading God’s word (though these are all essential things).  I’ve always heard it said that it’s really about relationship, not religion and believed it but in spending a bit more time with Spirit filled teachers and friends I felt like my walk really had more life!  Just as when I began my deeper study of Torah the New Testament made sooo much more sense, so when I sat at the feet of Spirit filled teachers I felt like my actual walk with the Lord now had much more life in it!  So, some may ask, what’s the problem?  Well it may not be a problem as much as tit is a journey.  Though now I feel caught a bit between 2 worlds.

 

It sounds like maybe I’m confused but I believe God is leading me through all of this.  Aren’t we always supposed to be learning and listening to Him, seeking to understand His heart more?  This is really all I want, to know my King, Healer, Father, Protector, Provider and Friend, even more.  What is it that He’s speaking now?  Certainly things are changing so with the lead of the Holy Spirit I want to know Him more!  My trouble is that when I am at a Messianic congregation I sometimes feel a bit heavy and Yeshua says His yoke is light, but when listening to other preacher experts I feel like so much depth is missing yet when I’m at the feet of a handful of Spirit filled teachers or worshippers, there is definitely freedom.  These thoughts of mine tend to be more prevalent this time of year because of the holiday season.

 

A few years ago we decided against putting up a Christmas tree because of the pagan history that Christmas has.  I know I’ll get a few eye rolls for that one but in my mind wasn’t I mixing the holy with the profane, a theme throughout the Bible?  Of course in my home growing up we never worshipped the tree and truthfully I never really believed this was the time of His birth but there is that group who believes it’s not even worth taking part of any of the pagan traditions of the holiday.  I was simply trying to be obedient yet something has been nagging at me.  I think most to believers, obedience is important as well, but here I am, years later, and I’m still singing along with Bing Crosby and still enjoying “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.  This has always been a special time for my family and I.  For one thing everyone’s off of work so it’s a great time to get together and enjoy one another.  It’s my heart that every family on the planet could share the same joy that my family and I share during this season (obviously that carries throughout the year).  Don’t get me wrong, studying God’s feasts is essential to understanding Him better, knowing His heart.  I highly recommend these as well as the Torah, as they give so much more depth to everything in the Bible.

 

The thought that I struggle with is I really don’t feel guilty for celebrating the Christmas holiday.  I go back and forth but I can’t for the life of me figure out the difference in decorating a tree and decorating anything else in our homes for whatever time or season it is.  Maybe my Hebraic friends could help me here.  Maybe I haven’t reached their depth yet.  All I know is that this season always seems to bring out the best in my family and we like to do nice things for each other.  Though these internal struggles of how to truly obey God will probably continue until Kingdom come, I have to say that at this point in my life I can say without a doubt is that both of these “movements” in my life, studying the Torah as the foundation to the Bible and seeing through Hebraic eyes as well as learning more of the gifts of the Spirit and how to truly be Spirit filled and led have truly changed my life.  I have a long way to go but I now have more of a heart for the lost, have more mercy and love toward others, enjoy my relationship with God like never before, am quicker to forgive when I’ve been offended, seem to have more power behind my prayers, can easily (with the help of the Helper) pray on the spot for someone when they need and just have an overall desire for peace/shalom with all people.  This is nothing short of a miracle for me.

In conclusion, my questions are, Does it really matter to God if I decide to stick Bing Crosby in or hang ornaments on tree, buying gifts for loved ones and spending much needed time with them?  If it’s wrong then, how is that different than decorating our homes for anything at all whether special occasion or not?  Is it ever a wrong time to celebrate the Light of the world?  On the flip side, where is that deeper teaching that we believers all need so badly?  It drives me a bit crazy when people misuse the phrase “under the law”.  Do those people really know what they’re saying?  My biggest frustration is we have thousands of wonderful pastors/teachers who clearly have a heart for God but they all seem very convinced that what they believe is absolutely true whether speaking of under the law, end times, rapture, the Holy Spirit or a number of other topics.  Can they all be right?  Where is the unity?  I mean you have one person saying that Jesus died and rose on Sunday so that changed the Sabbath to Sunday and we can do what we want now and another saying that the miracles and gifts of the Spirit ceased when the last apostle died.  When you really think about these notions they seem a bit ridiculous.

 

Without the foundation of the entire word of God and the power of Holy Spirit this form of Christianity seems a bit dry.  No wonder people are leaving the churches after college.  Please don’t misunderstand.  I’m not frustrated with people.  We’re all in this together trying the best we can to understand God and know Him better.  I’m frustrated with the spirit of division that needs to go.  It seems to me that many are pursuing God more than ever truly wanting undefiled truth.  Just look around.  We see Jews re-gathering as foretold by the prophets, many even having their eyes opened to their Jewish Messiah.  We also see more and more believers (at least in some circles) with a deeper love for the people and land of Israel. This can only be a movement by God.  We live in the most exciting time in history!  My heart and prayer is that of Jesus’ prayer in John that our Father would keep us all in His name that we may be like He and the Son and that He would make us holy in truth, all one that we may be perfected in unity that the world may know that He sent Yeshua/Jesus and loved us!  I pray we see the glory of Yeshua given by the Father.  Maybe we all have a piece to the puzzle and need to just share what God may be showing us as individuals.  Without a doubt I believe the time of the One New Man is upon us.  Without knowing what that looks like we can keep pressing in towards God more that ever asking Him what our role in these last days really is.  Whether Christmas or Chanukah is on your list this year I think both groups of people have something unique to offer God’s forever growing Kingdom.  May He give us wisdom and guidance to know just what that may be.