Welcome to Home Shalom!

Welcome to Home Shalom and Shalom Farm. We pray your visit here be blessed. We are learning to walk in the Ways (Torah) of our Father YHWH and follow Y'shua, His Messiah until He returns to "set things straight". We call it a "Messi-Life". Our walk is neither tidy nor perfect, but it is filled with passion, devotion and desire to serve our King. We are learning to be humble servants, and to be good stewards of the things that He has entrusted to us: His Word, our marriage, our children, our family, our community, our health, and our farm. Hitch your horse and stay a while--our door is always open!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Messi Life

This blog has been sitting here for a couple of months, with hardly a single original thought. I have tried several times to come up with interesting and insightful posts, but have deleted most of them before they were posted. What was missing from this blog was the answer to the question: “Who cares what Ben thinks?” Likely you will still ask that question after reading this, but at least you will know more about who I am and where I am coming from.
I was born into an authentic hippie family, and even lived for a short time in an “experimental community” (think commune). My parents and their generation saw hypocrisy in American society, and truly believed some sort of revolution needed to occur to end all wars, save the environment, stop racism, feed the hungry, house the homeless, equal rights for women and gays, spread international social justice, and of course… legalize marijuana. I was literally steeped in this world view, and regularly and eagerly attended protests and rallies of every sort.

The neighborhood I was raised in was not a safe environment for a red-haired hippie kid. My mother relates a story about me begging to get permission to play with the neighborhood kids, despite the fact that I would constantly come home crying from being punched or teased. I developed this ability to accept rejection as common, and to not really care what other people think. My sense of humor was also sharpened during these days, as a way to deal with my feelings, and as a tool to control my circumstances. These bully confrontations-- often instigated by my lack of ability to shut my mouth and extended due to how entertaining I must have been to antagonize—lasted up until High School, after moving to a new area and starting with a clean slate. Even in High School my goal was to be known as the class clown, and was also voted non-conformist. My favorite T-shirt said “Question Authority”.

Although my father considers himself somewhat of a radical, he simultaneously has worked for the Archdioceses (Catholic Church) for nearly 40 years as the Director of Music of a large Church in New York City. My father considers himself to be an agnostic (which is kind of like shrugging your shoulders on questions of God.) My two sisters and I were not raised with any real spiritual foundation or traditions outside of vague notions of love (defined by 1960’s and 70’s hippie generalities) and Golden Rule (doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.) I did often attend Catholic Mass, from a behind the scenes perspective, while visiting my father at work. I developed a really bitter taste for organized religion, and sympathized with the hippie movement’s viewpoint of Christians mostly devoting themselves to empty ancient rituals, worshiping myths, and lacking true spirituality. I vividly remember hundreds of fake electric candles at the feet of the Virgin Mary’s statue, to be “lit” by the inserting of a quarter. Looking back, 25-cents really is a good deal to get a prayer answered--I bet they have a credit card reader there today.

I vividly remember two conversations with my Mother (who herself was very young at the time), one speculating about the possibility that Jesus walked on water due to an anti-gravity belt due to his alien upbringing. The other one, questing the belief that you can simply call on Jesus to be saved-just before you die- regardless of how you lived your life and go to Heaven. We both agreed that that sounded pretty preposterous.

Since organized religion obviously held no answers for me, in my teenage years I began to really dig for the truth. I voraciously read through most of the books in the New Age section of the local bookstore, and was surprised to find that although most of these authors claimed to channel various spirits, or have some sort of deep supernatural insight, they all had different viewpoints and painted heaven in different ways. Some said reincarnation was true, others credited aliens from other planets for creation, and some gave the Earth itself supernatural power. The one thing that was common amongst all these books was recognizing some sort of divinity of Jesus Christ. This fit perfectly into my world view. Obviously, man-made religion had distorted the message of Christ (as defined solely as the Golden Rule) and turned it into a way of controlling the minds of the people, and picking their pockets at the same time.

At this same time, I became deeply interested in psychic phenomena, the origins of man, and end-time prophecy. I requested information from Duke University (the only College at the time to offer a major in Parapsychology). I visited the Edgar Cayce society’s headquarters in Virginia Beach. I drove 2500 miles to an international convention in Sedona, Arizona to learn more about UFO’s and their links to crystal-power, one-world government, and the JFK assassination. I subscribed to several newsletters promoting end-of-the-world prophesies and government conspiracies—several of which had disturbing anti-Semitic undertones. Yes, my friends, I had begun to step far over the edge. In my search for the truth, I had discovered that there were so many contradictory versions of the Truth, how do you pick which one is True! This whole episode was well before the X-Files was on TV. I was my own Agent Scully.

Even if i didn't know how it worked, I constantly was noticing "meaningful coincidences" that would help me make decisions. Not the best plan, for the record, but I knew there was this other deeper and more true world out there, or in there, or somewhere. I started buying and collecting Tarot cards, even began to design and draw my own deck. I became very knowlegeable about the symbolizm and numerology in Tarot and the occult. Eventually, people would come to me for "readings" and spiritual advice. The funny thing is that even though my advice seemed to sound good to them, and I sure sounded convincing to myself, I never really believed it was real. It turned into more of a way to pick up or hit on women, then it was a way of life or a meaningful part of my faith. I was too sceptical ("question authority") to even believe my own beliefs.

Right after I graduated from High School, I simultaneously had a radio show at my local community college, and became the Manager of the very same bookstore that was the supplier of my spiritual “light”. I actually purchased my first Bible in order to find some scripture to MOCK, as I tried to create a humorous radio persona—Ben the Baptist. I remember pouring though this book, trying to find inspiration for good shtick, but eventually coming up empty. I never actually became Ben the Baptist. However, one night during my midnight to 3AM shift, I decided to read supposedly declassified UFO documents on my show rather than play music. I drifted into some really radical government conspiracy theory, and defied the station manager’s frantic calls to “PLAY MUSIC NOW, OR YOU ARE FIRED!”. That was indeed my last show. The next morning when I went in to face his wrath, I met a fellow DJ who heard my entire show. She was in her early twenties and up until that day had jet black hair. My diatribe had been so convincing, and she became so convinced and terrified from my preaching, that her hair actually turned MOSTLY WHITE! Apparently she was not the only person infected with this fear, which is what caused the panic in the normally easy-going station manager. OOPS.

My bookstore management career was a little less controversial. I was forced to learn the differences between all of the various bible translations, simply to keep the shelves properly organized. Most of my employees were Jewish, which forced me to learn about the Jewish Holiday’s and traditions, simply for scheduling reasons. I became the expert on New Age thought and religion, not just for my staff but for several customers searching for the truth. I was even invited by Barnes and Noble to interview for a job in Manhattan to be the buyer for religious books for the entire national chain.

I also continued to learn what I had discovered at the radio station… I had this ability to convince anyone of anything! Our store became one of the most profitable stores on the East Coast, despite having a Manger that was only 19 and had never managed anyone or anything before. I didn’t just set up pretty displays, I SOLD books, and trained my staff to SELL, SELL ,SELL. And they did. My friend and assistant manager wrote a song with a line about how leadership was built into me, and how he predicted I would someday start a cult because I was so convincing. My patented line was "this is one of the best books I HAVE EVER READ!", even though I really had only read the dust jacket, or heard from someone else that the book was readable. People kept coming back though, looking for me to refer the next one.

There was a customer, an Insurance Salesman, who would always be ordering books on positive thinking, like “What to Say When You Talk to Yourself”. He came really close to selling me a policy one time. His attitude was truly contagious, and we really had some great conversations about selling. One day, he shared his Christian faith with me. I nodded knowingly, told him I already believed in Christ, and ended the conversation. I later saw him on public access TV, singing praise songs and preaching to the camera—being really surprised as to how much this guy really did love Jesus.

That same year, a good friend of mine (who had some serious mental problems) called me up out-of-the blue and invited me to a diner for breakfast. He had a woman with him--which was also weird since I had always assumed he would someday declare his homosexuality. He told me how he had accepted Christ and that his life had supernaturally changed. He seemed truly joyful, at peace, and deeply in love with this woman- who it turns out was his fiancé. I told him how happy I was for him, and he gave me a Bible and encouraged me to read it.

Another good friend’s father was a pastor of a local church. Despite the fact that his son had pornography videos hidden amongst the family’s other videos, I was really amazed at the closeness of this family and the genuine love they all had for one another. He always seemed to genuinely care about me, and what was going on in my life. He never mentioned Jesus to me, but he really was a good witness to the peace and love of Christ.

When I was twenty, I abruptly decided to move to San Francisco. This was shortly after the big earthquake—but I just had this feeling that this is where I was supposed to be. The bookstore happened to have a management position open in the city, so within a few weeks after having this idea, there is was—3000 miles from home and on my own for the first time. Even though I did not really understand who God was, I really felt that I was following “flashing arrows”, and that God was directing my steps.

I quickly started to date (if you want to use that euphemism) as often as possible. I would hit on, and typically convince many of my more attractive customers to go out with me. I also dated my employees, and fellow store managers from surrounding cities; I even managed to get a date with the receptionist at a dating service! I eventually was fired due to intense politics and rivalry between several angry women who all worked together. OOPS. I was really not a good guy and for the first time really began to be convicted of my self-centered world.

One customer I hit on regularly kept inviting me to a Bible study instead. This wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. She finally invited me to a picnic on Ocean Beach. Now we were talking! I brought a red-rose with me, but when I arrived it turned out to more of a party than a picnic. I looked all over for her (like an idiot with a rose in my hand) asking everybody if they had seen her anywhere. After giving up the search I reluctantly grabbed a hot-dog and started talking with some of the other guys at the party. Everyone was genuinely nice, and not dripping with this cynicism and sarcasm that defined my bookstore world. Suddenly, someone yelled “prayer time at the volleyball court!”. Everybody ran to one place and gave loud and enthusiastic praise to Jesus, as I slowly backed away to my car.

A few months after swearing off women, and going cold-turkey with dating, I met Pamela at my other job, as the door-guy at a comedy night club. I truly felt the “flashing arrow” feeling again. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her all night. I finally broke my vow and asked my friend the bartender if he could use some of his skills to give me some inside information about who she was. It turns out she was his neighbor, and single to boot! I remember a conversation we had on our first date--I told her that I felt that would somehow be involved with the second return of Christ, and she told me she someday thought she wanted to have black babies (definitely a first-date ending conversation for most people. Just a few months later we were living together, and a few months after that engaged to be married. I hung out so often at her job that she ended up getting fired, too! For about a year, we both had odd dead-end jobs, were mostly broke, and spent all of our time doing things that were both spiritually and physically unhealthy. She was so lucky…I was a real catch!

Eventually I started to work full time selling water filters full-time for a direct marketing company called Equinox. The notable thing about this time-period was the evangelical style of the president of this company. He openly stated that he based his company structure, philosophy, and training on the bible. As he said over and over, he did not interpret the bible in the way other people did. I remember telling Pamela about this one dramatic and inspiring teaching about how if you just made earning lots of MONEY the foundation of your life, you could later then spend that money helping the poor, opening Churches, and really spending time searching for God. She tried to tell me something about searching first for the Kingdom of God, and money and stuff coming later…blah blah blah.

Initially over her objections, but eventually dragging her in with me, we together traveled around the country learning more about scripture, sales, and the power of money to usher in spiritual and political change. I cut my off my long hippie hair, charged my first nice suit and over the next two years, recruited more and more people to follow us, maxing out more and more credit cards in the process. We literally worked seven days a week, believing we were on the path to spiritual and financial riches, all the while avoiding collection agencies and creditors, and looking for that one big sale that would make all of our circumstances change.

At our most desperate moment, a sweet little middle-aged lady agreed to be part of our sales force. Better still, she was going to spend the maximum amount allowed! At this point in my life, I had been fully trained to see everyone as a dollar sign. Before fully committing, she wanted us to meet the pastor of her church, a few hours north of our office. Pamela readily agreed, and I reluctantly followed. I remember the sermon was about being under the protection of God. He described it as an umbrella that you could choose to stand under or choose to stand in the rain and get drenched. All you needed to do was decide. Well, the next thing I knew there was Pamela, up at the altar—deciding. Nancy, our potential financial savior was kneeling there next to her, and I was alone in the pew! I watched as Pamela was genuinely having a supernatural experience, while all I could do was get up and stand behind her to fake solidarity.

The next year was a whirlwind. Pamela gave me an ultimatum about living out of wedlock. She started to throw out (not sell?!) the most obviously secular and evil entertainment (books, music, movies). We tried several churches, and she began putting the True Kingdom of God before our failing business! We hired a Minister, went to the top of a mountain, and finally made our marriage legitimate. Pamela still sensed my reluctance to really follow her on this spiritual path, so after the ceremony, with just the two of us on the mountain top, I again verbally pretended to commit myself to God. Yes, I was a terrible human being.

Within that same month, newly married and newly honeymooned, I found myself living on Pamela’s mother’s couch in Michigan, while Pamela had a homeless friend living with her in San Francisco. I was trying one last stab at getting this business to fly. I remember pawning almost everything I had, all the while portraying myself to everybody as successful. In this web of deceit I was spinning, I got my mother-in-law upset, I got my brother-in-law upset, and found myself with ONE DOLLAR, roaming the streets of Lansing in a snow storm, with no place to stay. OOPS. I went to buy a snickers bar, and the convenience store owner gave me back way too much change, giving me just enough to bluff my way into getting a ride to New York to crash at my parent’s house. I have come to believe that even though the right thing to do was to give the money back…somehow God had managed to provide for me.

After the snow thawed, I was able to fly back to San Francisco, where Pamela insisted that I attend Church with her. We attended the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, and while my faith was still vague, we suddenly found ourselves running the Church bookstore. I ran into someone at that church that was a former EQUINOX sales person. He told me he left because you “can’t serve both God and money.” That really bothered me. I ran into another person at a large EQUINOX event in Long Beach, who had ANGEL written on his name tag. This person specifically came to me, and said “you can’t serve both God and money”. After that was said, I turned to look for him and he was gone. I spent the rest of that day scanning faces and name tags, no Angel.

The Vineyard was the perfect church for me to fall into. The pastor was a former hippie, whose father was a beatnik. He came to Christ supernaturally on an Indian reservation during a vision quest of some sort. He was very genuine and humble, and very much practiced what he preached. For the first several Sundays, I would thoroughly enjoy the teachings, but the worship was very disturbing. After several weeks, I finally told Pamela that I just could not stand the worship part of the service, simply because there was just too much "condemnation", "guilt", and "fire and brimstone" language in the songs. Shocked, she asked me to point out these lyrics the next week. For those of you reading this who are familiar with the folksy, 1960's flavor of Vineyard Fellowship's music (think Partridge Family unplugged), you will know I found no such lyrics after careful examination. It was like I was spiritually deceived into seeing and hearing things that simply were not there.

Later that Summer, we began to take baptism classes. One of the Equinox founder’s teachings was “there is magic in commitment”. Publicly committing myself to God made me terribly uncomfortable, since it had been almost a full year since Pamela’s conversion, and I was still mostly just along for the ride. Our relationship was tumultuous, since we were still broke and she had really become disenchanted (perfect word) with Equinox. I remember arguing vehemently that I was a GOOD person, and how happy I was with who I was, and I did not need to change! I was fine with God and God was fine with me! (Obviously, I had not read the prior several paragraphs). Nevertheless, I was going to have to go through this meaningless ritual anyway if I was going to get everyone off of my back.

The night before the baptism happened to be a hip-hop concert held at the famous Fillmore West concert hall. We were good friends with the group, and my sister’s fiancĂ© at the time was the D.J. I remember the crowd, and the noise, and hundreds of marijuana joints being tossed from the stage as part of the show. I remember standing too close to the bass speakers and how the vibrations were starting to make me sick. I remember how nervous I was about the next morning’s baptism, and how reluctant I was to make another less-than-half hearted commitment to God and my wife. All of a sudden, everything seemed to stop. There was an impossible silence. I felt God’s Spirit come upon me like a flood, with the quiet simple words, “I am your Father”. Although it seemed very “Darth Vadar-ish” at the time-- this is what was missing all along. It never clicked with me, that God was not just a powerful force, he was not Karma, he was not “energy”, he was not Santa Claus or a magic lamp, he wanted me to relate to him like a Son would to a Father. God had a personality, he could be known, he could be trusted, he could make promises and keep them, he wanted to be loved and needed to be feared.

The baptism happened at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge, in the San Francisco bay, and was more emotional for me than even my wedding. I sobbed like a baby reading my wedding vows to Pamela, and sobbed like a baby describing my commitment to God from the beach. I remember truly seeing the entire world differently. I can’t put into words what having the “eyes of my heart” opened feels like. If you reading this and have accepted God’s offer to forgive you of your past mistakes and have chosen to follow Him with a thankful heart you know what I mean. If you haven’t found yourself at that place, search your heart. Have you missed a dozen prior opportunities like I did? Do you see fruits of God’s spirit in your life: Love, Joy, Peace, Goodness, Kindness, Faithfulness, Thankfulness, and Self-control? YHVH (usually pronounced Yehweh-God’s personal name) is right there waiting for you to say yes to him. Don’t be distracted by hypocrites, whether they be family or clergy, who call themselves Christians. Don’t be confused by politicians that paint themselves as Christian to cater to this group or that constituency. This is a decision between you and HIM—He knows where you are, and who you are. He knows where He wants you to be and how to take you there. Questioning authority is OK, but you need to stop when you find the ONE TRUE AUTHORITY.

The last twelve years have been twice the journey of the first twenty five. Rather than trying to make a place for God in our lives, We have gradually reordered every aspect of our lives around Him. Pamela and I do very little that is not thought out logically and planned. I have chosen a career that gives me control of my schedule in order to have maximum time with my family, and that allows Pamela the ability to be with them full-time. We homeschool since YHVH gave us the responsibility of raising and training our children, not the State. We eat organic food, since YHVH knows the best way to make his creation flourish, not pesticide companies and huge corporations. We recently have begun to Home-Church (home fellowship), since the scriptures and study materials are readily available for all to read and understand. Whenever possible we continue to search for the Truth and adjust our lives to be in line with it.

For almost a year, since we have chosen to take responsibility for our own Spiritual education, rather than the far easier approach of sitting in a pew once a week, our lives have changed dramatically. When we first began to invite friends and family to worship and study with us, many questions arose: What day do you meet? What do you believe about women leading in the church? Do we need to tithe? Who is the pastor? We were forced to study scripture as never before to find out what did the Bible really teach on these subjects. How much of our modern religious structure and doctrine is based on scripture and how much is simply passed down tradition? What are the origins of our traditions, and do they give glory to God?

If you have not yet chosen to follow YHVH through the teachings of Yeshua, I can relate to your reluctance or refusal. Far too often we Christians have either put up barriers via man-made traditions, or we have so watered down the truth in order to broaden the message to relate to a mass market. Both methods sap YHVH’s supernatural power. Can He overcome our human shortcomings? Of course. But just as in my personal story, the choice to follow him is not His, it’s ours. He can pull out all of the supernatural stops, but if we “boots on the ground” Christians are horrible examples of YHVH’s character, who can blame you for saying, “no thanks”.

Here is the basic story of “Christianity”, so oversimplified as to make me look like an idiot to those who know the full story, but not so much that the Truth is lost.
The overarching nutshell story of the Bible is about YHVH creating mankind, asking for obedience and love, and instead getting disobedience and selfishness. He made a promise that some day he would elect a human being to restore his ways to mankind. He personally hand-picked a man (Abraham) and by YHWH’s grace alone, promised to turn this one man into a special and select Nation. This Nation grew and grew but rarely chose to properly obey and love YHVH, even after promising to do so over and over again. He then sent Moses, to give his people specific teachings to both guide their daily lives, and to point toward the “promised one” so he would be easily recognized upon his arrival.

The most common method of disobedience mentioned in scripture was for the spiritual leaders to constantly change God’s instructions to ways that seem better, or are simply more convenient. Worse was when the people who called themselves God’s would take pagan traditions and mix them with God’s commandments, thus diluting God’s truth and misleading otherwise faithful people. This happened time and time again throughout the “old testament”.
When Jesus Christ (in Hebrew Yeshua HaMoshiach) came, his ministry was three-fold. First he came to show people (primarily the Jews, since he was Jewish) what it looked like to live based on God’s Commandments (Torah)-- not just the 10 Commandments, but all of them. Secondly, he came to teach the Torah which after 2000 years had become corrupted with traditions of men that actually worked against the true meaning of the Torah of Moses. During the Sermon on the Mount, he said “I have not come to abolish the teachings of Moses, but to fulfill them.” and "not one jot or tittle would disappear from the Torah, till Heaven and Earth pass away." (Even the animal sacrificial part of the Torah doesn't disappear--it is just that Christ's blood is perpetually satisfying that requirement for those that choose to accept his payment.) As I heard someone say recently, "Jesus Saves....the goats and the chickens".
Lastly, he came to willingly give his life as payment for the disobedience of God’s people (past, present, and future), and thereby allowing access to YHWH even for those that did not formally think of themselves as “blood-relatives” of Abraham (Jews).

Since Yeshua was so shockingly critical of the religious leaders of his time, he made few friends amongst them. Since the teachings of Moses had gotten so diluted, many of these leaders missed hundreds of prophecies that were fulfilled in Yeshua’s life and death. You’d think the resurrection would have straightened them out, but YHVH himself said that they were spiritually blinded. Later, Yeshua personally chose Paul (known in Hebrew as Saul), one of the very religious leaders who were angry at Yeshua’s followers continued criticism and apparent blasphemy, to be his most vocal supporter. Paul was chosen because of his true love of YHVH, his passion for serving him (although misdirected at the time), and for his deep understanding of the “Law” or the “Commandments” or simply the “Teachings” of YHVH via Moses and other Prophets. Very few others could be so effective at showing the Jewish people that Yeshua was the Messiah. Most of the early church was started by Paul, first preaching the message of Yeshua to the Jews, then to the non-jews (gentiles).
Due to the lack of religious baggage (my personal viewpoint), the gentiles were far more receptive to the idea that Yeshua was the messiah, and more than happy to be “grafted in” to the Nation that YHVH had started with Abraham. Basic instructions to these early believers were to follow Yeshua’s teachings, (who himself simply reminded the people of Moses’ teachings), but to make sure that unrestrained love and trust of YHVH was their motivation for this obedience. Trying to simply obey the rituals mentioned in the Torah without that love and trust would get you nowhere (this became known as legalism). This warning against legalism was made again and again, as was the warning to not mix pagan traditions with YHVH’s teachings. In the book of Acts, chapter 15, Yeshua’s disciples decided that if the simplest most basic teachings could be taught to the gentile believers, the rest of Moses’ teachings could be learned over time in synagogue or from fellowshipping with more mature believers.
Fast forward to AD 70 (while noting that our modern calendar system is based on the arrival of Yeshua). The temple of the Jews is completely destroyed by the Romans, and practicing the Jewish faith, is shall we say…discouraged. Jews were scattered throughout the world (not for the first time) and Christianity as it had begun to be called started to be looked at as a faith unto itself. The early church Fathers, while beginning to add to and subtract from God’s teachings (not again!) also began to notice that the power of YHWH that had been so obvious and powerful just a few years before seemed to be less abundant. When Constantine officially endorsed Christianity as the official faith of Rome, he also added, subtracted, and fiddled with YHWH’s teachings, possibly more than any other person.
Among just a few of Constantine’s adjustments…(for a long and detailed list of others made through Church history see Frank Viola and George Barna’s book, Pagan Christianity.
Outlawing worship or rest on the Sabbath, officially replacing the Sabbath with “The Lords Day”. This new day of worship just happened to coincide with the “Venerable Day of the Sun” (Sunday…hello?) the main day of worshiping the Sun God.
Outlawing the festivals and feasts set in scripture for believers in YHVH, and replacing them with holidays already in place to the Goddess of Fertlity (Easter), and Mithras the Sun God (whose annual celebration fell on or around December 25th). There are so many Catholic and Christian holidays I literally cannot keep track. There are only seven biblically ordained feasts (holidays). Not only were the feasts thrown out, but the entire biblical calendar was eventually thrown out and replaced with our current Gregorian calendar (named after Pope Gregory).
Creating a church hierarchy that kept the actual words of YHVH himself from the vast majority of the people. For centuries before this, Hebrew families would have the scriptures MEMORIZED; now they were printed in a language only understood by the leadership.
Creating ornate and monumental cathedrals almost exclusively on sites formally dedicated to various pagan Gods. This same idea passed to prayers, to the degree of redirecting prayers from this Pagan God of such and such to this Christian Saint of so and so. I won’t even go into the veneration of Mary to be considered almost as a Goddess herself.
Continuing the improper tradition of calling YHVH “Lord” or “God” thus making him virtually indistinguishable from every other god, which were commonly called lord. At the same time replacing Yeshua’s name with the name “Jesus”, which was a name Yeshua was never ever called during his time on Earth.
For those unfamiliar with God’s hatred (yes hatred) of pagan ways, you might say that Constantine was simply reclaiming pagan territory and rebranding it for YHWH. He was simply protecting the Holy Scriptures from the misinterpretation of the uneducated. He was simply persecuting the “Christ Killers” when he outlawed “Judizers” (Jews and Christians choosing to obey God’s Sabbath and Festivals). He was simply clarifying the path to heaven, when he institutionalized confession of sin only to his authorized agents and declaring only his communion Holy. He was simply streamlining the process by combining the imperial power of the state with the Holy power of God.
In this “post reformation” era, especially in America, it’s easy to pile-on to Constantine and the Catholic Church. What is harder to swallow is the Martin Luther himself, who so bravely confronted the Political and Spritual powers of his day himself, was also anti-Semitic. And although he did God’s people a huge favor by freeing the scriptures from the prison of the Pope, he did precious little to restore the teachings of Yeshua himself.
The “replacement theology” that the Jews were now cursed and the new chosen people were Christian was now deeply ingrained. The cursed teachings of Moses were for them, and the blessed teachings of Jesus, Paul, and the “Church Fathers” was for us. Besides just your basic ordinary everyday hatred of the Jew’s, this theology was easy to understand. After all, there were dozens of unfulfilled prophecies specifically mentioning the Nation of Israel—that nation was now destroyed and the Jews scattered and powerless. Who else could the scriptures be referring to?
Fast forward to today. Surprise, surprise, surprise. The Nation of Israel Is back on the world stage and one prophesy after another is being fulfilled literally before everyone’s eyes. More and more Jews are recognizing that Yeshua is the Messiah, despite the fact that Christians historically have twisted his teachings to be literally unrecognizable. At the same time, more and more Christians are recognizing how diluted and powerless their religion has become. There are dozens of powerful “new“ministries pointing back to exactly what Yeshua came to do: restore YHVH’s name, teachings, and power. God’s people, defined as those who love him and thereby obey his commandments, are joining together as never before.
One important fact about this overview… YHVH predicted all of this would happen. Adam and Eve chose to turn away from God, the Hebrew leaders of Moses’ day made the same choice. The Jewish leaders of Yeshua’s day became more and more mislead over time, the same exact mistake was made by the Church (both Catholic and Protestant). It’s much harder to point fingers at who did what wrong, when YHVH himself knew it would happen all along. Throughout all of this time, YHVH kept a small silent remnant safe. A group of people faithful to his teachings, while the rest of the world was mislead and lost. The tone of this overview was not meant to condemn true believers throughout Church history. The point is to glorify YHVH’s ability to know the end from the beginning, to point to the fact that we are indeed in the end times, and most importantly to call those of us who believe to repentance (to turn away from sin, and turn back to YHVH.)
As Daniel predicted, knowledge has increased at an exponential degree. The scriptures have been fairly accurately translated into almost every language on Earth. The internet is full of deep and detailed teachings on the Torah, the Feasts and Festivals of YHVH, and the origins of modern traditions. Is YHVH calling you to come back to the truth? Are you brave enough to obey that call, even though your family, neighbors, coworkers and church buddies are likely to call you crazy (or worse- a law following Judiazer). Perhaps more importantly, are you braced for the responsibility of serving YHVH once you recognize the power of true obedience? It took me years to be convicted, and convinced enough to actually make changes to my behavior. Do you own research, come to your own conclusions, make your own decisions. If you decide the history of Christianity has been misguided, and yet choose to continue down that same path, are you any less guilty of that same sin in the eyes of YHVH? YHVH and Yeshua are both referred to as stumbling stones. Every single person on earth needs to make a decision about how to handle these stones in their path, they cannot simply be ignored.

1 comment:

Jilliefl1 said...

The sequel to “Pagan Christianity?” is out now. It’s called “Reimagining Church”. It picks up where “Pagan Christianity” left off and continues the conversation. (“Pagan Christianity” was never meant to be a stand alone book; it’s part one of the conversation.) “Reimagining Church” is endorsed by Leonard Sweet, Shane Claiborne, Alan Hirsch, and many others. You can read a sample chapter at
http://www.ReimaginingChurch.org .
It’s also available on Amazon.com. Frank is also blogging now at http://www.frankviola.wordpress.com .