I’ve decided to forego any silly titles for this post and jump right to the legitimacy of what I want to convey with it. This will be a pretty controversial post to most of the people I’d hope would read it, but I promise it comes from the sincerest of hearts in the direction of caring and loving all people.

Over the course of my life I’ve developed certain opinions about life and government and religion and how they all interplay with each other. At one time I was very willfully turning my life against G-d. I thought I knew better and that I had an idea of a better way for people to live. As time went on I counted myself back in the G-d camp and became a rather proud nationalistic patriot. I had even toyed with the idea of a tattoo of an American flag crossed with an Irish flag and something along the lines of a Templar shield in the foreground. A few years later I started getting sucked back into the ideas of pacifism. I started to not understand how people (especially people who claimed to be followers of Christ) could willingly (almost excitedly) go to war against another nation. All people are people. G-d loves all people. He wants to save all people! The great commission doesn’t just include the people we want to see saved, we are called to spread love to all the world. With that being said, why would we willingly engage in violent combat against the people we are commissioned to spread G-d’s love to?

Along this last tangent, and in conjunction to it, I’ve come to learn that my beliefs and understanding of what I read in the Bible are not something new, or that I’m the first person to feel this way. In fact quite the opposite is true…

In the year 1525 there were a group of people who disagreed with the state of the “Christian” church at the time, Catholic and Protestant alike. These people were not so affectionately named “Anabaptists” which means to be baptized again. The term comes from the fact that early Anabaptists actually rejected the concept of infant baptism and believed strictly in a believer’s baptism (which is to say you get baptized when you accept Christ’s saving work on the cross) and so were baptized as adults.

I have come to associate my beliefs with the Anabaptists. I believe baptism should be reserved for repentant adults. Yeshua, after all, wasn’t baptized until He was in His adult years. As explained in greater detail above, I’m a hardened pacifist, which is another primary point to the Anabaptist structure.

I’m sure you’re wondering what all this has to do with marriage, particularly the related subject of the American Supreme Court looking to make their decision on same-sex marriage rights. I promise you I will be getting to that shortly!

Another important part of what has come to define my beliefs as a follower of Christ is the fact that no person, community, people group, state, country or empire has any more right to dictate to another person what they can or can not do. The “state” (to use the standard term to identify governmental powers) has tried for century upon century to dictate to people on all sides of the religious fence how they should live their lives. The intermingling of the church and the state have made this so much more grotesque. Under the mask of “religious fervor” people have waged crusades and inquisitions in the attempt to “save souls” by torturing and even murdering people. The state with the church’s aid have made a business out of telling people about the things they need to not do to satisfy G-d’s wrath.

I’d like to posit that G-d never told people they were flat-out restricted from anything.

Now before you get all hot in your pre-destinationalist, Calvinist pants, let me present the story of the garden of Eden. If you recall, the tree of which Adam and Eve were told not to eat from was not locked away in some far-off corner of the garden, but right in the middle of the garden, unprotected by any Heavenly host. G-d didn’t restrict the first father and mother from access to what G-d knew was bad for them, he gave them access to it with the warning that it would not be good for them. Ultimately Eve and then Adam partake of the fruit. Again, G-d didn’t come in and tear them apart. He expressed disappointment and continued love. To further exemplify the concept of free will, G-d allowed His creation to exist with all restrictions off. The Bible tells stories and heavenly beings having children with humans (no, really) and it isn’t until after this takes place for an unknown amount of time that God was displeased with His creation. He decided to forewarn one family and destroy the rest of creation with a great flood. If there was no room for free will, then why would G-d have let humanity exist in the capacity it had, for as long as it had only to come near to complete eradication of it? I know many people will argue that He does those things for His honor, so his grace can be seen in these things. But we don’t know how bad it all actually was. The Bible doesn’t describe the complete situation so we can’t take a snapshot of before and after to compare. The simple fact is the G-d of heaven created something and gave it the free will to do as it pleased until it went too far.

Now this is not to limit the scope of G-d’s knowledge and power. I’m going to borrow Greg Boyd’s illustration of G-d as a cosmic chess player. In chess, many people map out the game in their heads. They can see many moves ahead of their current move and keep track of all the options their opponent has in the game. Some people can even picture the options their opponent has and devise strategies for becoming victorious in the long run. I like to imagine G-d as this cosmic chess player that can see all the possible moves Satan has available to him at every step of the game, and that He knows exactly what move he has to make, based on whatever path Satan takes to become victorious at the ultimate end of the game. See, while G-d has to wait for Satan to make a move, He always knows what the next move is and therefore will be victorious, but only after Satan (or even the people He’s given free will to) make a decision as to where to go or what to do.

To reel this all back in, G-d has given people the ultimate right to do as they wish. Because of that, no government or ruling class has any right to dictate what ANYONE can or can not do. I understand that concept infuriates a lot of people, and probably more so than the idea of not wanting to bomb a Muslim nation, but it feels like simple logic to me.

However, not all things lawful are beneficial. I believe in ultimate freedoms to do whatever you wish, but those freedoms include the freedom to make poor decisions. I believe in the Bible. I believe what the Bible teaches about same-sex relationships. I DON’T believe it is man’s job to right the wrongs of decisions against G-d’s will with hate speech or violence. G-d doesn’t gay-bash G-d loves all people. Yeshua didn’t die on a cross for straight people, Yeshua died on a cross for all people.

Man has been given the opportunity to trust in the creator of the universe or to find their own way in it. People aren’t punished for not doing what G-d wants, they suffer consequences for doing things G-d warned them would be detrimental.

I truly love all people. I do my best to live like Yeshua did and care for everyone equally without hesitation for any reason. G-d simply wants what’s best for His people. If you’re reading this you’re one of those people. That person you work with or go to school with that you may not like for wanting to marry someone of the same-sex as them; they’re one of G-d’s people too. Show love. Show compassion and humility. Afterall, there are battles that everyone of every sexual orientation should be fighting against, but I’ll save my rant about the worldwide epidemic of human trafficking for another rant. ūüėČ

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passovermatzah

In my own recent personal study of the Passover (aka Seder which means “order”)¬†as a Christian, I have been learning about the unleavened bread and how all leavened bread has to be completely removed from a home before the beginning of Passover. This is called “bedikat chametz” which means “search for leaven”. Children are usually sent to use a ¬†candle, feather, and wooden spoons to gather it all up (crumbs and the like). It has to be burned or disposed of from the home.

The Jewish people say that the presence of leaven is likened to the presence of sin in one’s life or household. In Galatians 5:9, Paul mentioned that just a little yeast can leaven a whole batch of dough. This can be thought with our whole, “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch” mentality. When we have allowed sin to partake in our lives. Our sinful nature will just grow and grow. When Yeshua/Jesus comes into our lives, He removes all the leaven from us with His sacrifice. This leads to exactly what Jesus says in His “Last Supper” which was during the Passover time! We are to observe this forever that He gave His blood & body for us!

“Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” -1 Corinthians 5:7-8

How cool this is that God set this up so perfectly to observe how God freed His people from slavery, while also observing how Christ Jesus freed us from slavery to our own sin!

Another interesting part of the Seder is that a veggie called karpas (like parsley) is dipped in salt water early during the meal to symbolize the new life that came out of the Israelites’ tears. ¬†Charoset is a paste of chopped fruit, nutes, wine, and spices to symbolize the mortar used by Israelites when they were in slavery to make bricks. Beitzah is roasted egg which is the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart. ¬†Hands are washed before the meal to eliminate impurities. ¬†Of course the matzah/unleavened bread would be in a seder plate lifted up which hid under all of these things.

The wine symbolized the blood of the lamb put on the doorposts, and we know that Christ’s “blood” is the wine during the last supper, since Jesus’ blood cleanses us. ¬†4 cups of wine are to be consumed (their wine wasn’t nearly as strong as ours today at all, and drunkenness is wrong). ¬†These cups represented God’s deliverence in 4 ways: removal of burden, deliverance from bondage, redemption, and restoration! This goes completely in line with the following passage:
“Say therefore to the people of Israel,¬†‚ÄėI am the¬†Lord, and¬†I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and¬†I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.¬†¬†I¬†will take you to be my people, and¬†I will be your God, and you shall know that¬†I am the¬†Lord¬†your God, who has brought you out¬†from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” -Exodus 6:6-7

Many also compare this to Pharaoh’s cup in Joseph’s time in the book of Genesis with the story of the butler who brought him to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh. ¬†Others believe it is representing Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome who oppressed Israel. ¬†Some believe it to represent 4 worlds: the world, the days of the Messiah, the revival of the dead, and the world to come. ¬†Drips of wine on one’s plate represents the 10 plagues to help deliver them.

3 pieces of Matzah are placed on the Seder table during the meal. ¬†These can represent different things such as 3 divisions of Israel (priest, Levite, Israelite), 3 “Patriarchs” (Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob), 3 measures of flour Sarah used to make cakes for visitors (Gen. 18:6). ¬†And the 3 matzot from Messianic views to represent God’s Divine manifestations of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. ¬†Some add a 4th pieces of matzah is added for those who are living under oppressive parts of the world (specifically Jewish people).

The leader of Passover takes the midde matzah and breaks it in two. ¬†One half ¬†is hidden & known as the 4th piece of matzah or known as “afikoman”. ¬†The 3 unhidden are Yeshua’s death, burial, and resurrection. The Messianics believe the afikoman was the piece Yeshua held up to say “This is My body”.

“And he took bread, and¬†when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying,¬†‚ÄúThis is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.‚Ä̬†And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying,¬†‚ÄúThis cup that is poured out for you is¬†the new¬†covenant in my blood.” -Luke 22:19-20

We are to celebrate by believing we were with the people who were free from Egypt.  We need to thank, praise, glorify, honor, exalt, extol, and bless God for what He did for those who were there in that time, as they saw His miracles being done before their own eyes.  He brought us from slavery to freedom, anguish to joy, mourning to festival, darkness to great light, subjugation to redemption.  As believers in Christ, we need to have this same mindset for seeing what He has done for us and how He has delivered us!
—————-
[Background info: This year, Rob and I decided together to celebrate many of the Jewish celebrations but in a Messianic way (those who believe in Yeshua/Jesus fulfilling the prophesies of the Old Testament). We aren’t celebrating the “Christianized” holidays. We know this sounds absurd to many people we know. We are not Jewish, but our Lord and Savior was in fact Jewish and He celebrated Purim, Passover, and Hanukkah. Scriptures prove this for when he goes to the temple for many of these observances. We aren’t telling anyone else that they should celebrate these too, but when we read certain verses in the Bible that stated to keep certain ones in observance forever (such as Passover and Purim in the scriptures), even though we are not of Jewish blood, we have been adopted by God and think it is really awesome to learn the grand connections between Old Testament observances and Jesus! We started to see that pagan & “Christian” holidays just don’t make as much sense to us anymore (even though we used to love those, and even obsessed over a couple of the holidays). We have been really excited about this new understanding of God and our own lives and what He has prepared for us.]

[Recommended reading from where I learned and reference much of this post: Messianic Spring Holiday Helper
photo from here]

gangespujaI don’t think we understand the intensity of idols and gods in our world.
Perhaps you don’t even realize that they are there.

With preparing for however long it will take for us to go to India, I have been learning about the gods and goddesses in the area we plan to be involved in.

For instance, the Hindus pretty much worship the Ganges river by believing they’ll be cleansed by sins each time they bathe in it, as it symbolizes purity (granted it is in the top 5 ranked “most polluted rivers of the world”). ¬†They cup their hands with “her” (goddess Ganga’s) water and let it fall back into it and give “her” flowers and light (cups with oil lit). ¬†People from around the country “pilgrimage” there to take “her” water to use for rituals. ¬†They put the ashes of loved ones into “her” waters which grants them salvation.

How much would it change these people’s lives to know that God, creator of the world sent His son and covered our sins so we can have cleansing? ¬†How much more effective could baptism be to these people to know that Christ can cleanse them and they’ll find true salvation in Him after death?

I showed my sons pictures of the idols and the drawings depicting the gods/goddesses in the area we are learning about and told them that people worship them.  I showed them dozens of photos and my six year old was shocked.  The Hindu people are extremely devoted to their gods there.

Let’s look at the USA. ¬†Our gods take on a different form. We do not literally bow to our gods, but there are some who are so taken in by success, that it is their idol. There are some who long for fame, and that is their idol. ¬†There are others who spend all day long in front of their Televisions, or at least not being able to miss a day of seeing their favorite show that it is all they can think about doing. ¬†There are others who deify an interest they have or a famous person or a sports team. ¬†I honestly feel that with the many things within the Smithsonian museum that have been kept that people long to see and adore, those to me are idols, as are statues of famous people who once lived and monuments that people travel from across the country or world to see (seriously, think about it, it is just like the “pilgrims” who travel from afar to see and bathe into the Ganges River in India). ¬†Are these not idols that take hold of our lives that we need to give up to Christ? ¬†It will be extremely difficult for the Hindu man or woman to give up their daily rituals of worship towards their idols, but Christ can transform us.

ganges2There are idols everywhere we go. It is not a joke.
I honestly told my children when showing them the pictures mentioned, “They might look lovely, but they are truly demonic.” While some might think nothing of these images or idols in our own country, they possess the people who do worship them. ¬†It is just as how we are possessed by the things that take a hold of our lives.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.¬†You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the¬†Lord your God am¬†a jealous God,¬†visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,¬†¬†but showing steadfast love to thousands¬†of those who love me and keep my commandments.” -Exodus 20:4-6

What are you holding on to?
A year ago I was heavily convicted by the re-reading of the Ten Commandments. I had a whole cabinet case filled with pretty faeries and unicorns I collected since I was a teenager and other carvings of people and angels. I got rid of them. I didn’t literally worship these things, but for me, I felt there was no reason to have them any longer because I felt it went against this commandment. ¬†I don’t think Christians or our culture take it seriously enough and I wanted to. ¬†You’ll find no statues of people or animals in our home or crosses even. They are all gone. We don’t normally talk about it to others, but Rob totally understood my heart about it and we have changed a lot in how we lived in the past year or two. ¬†People might believe we are “legalistic” but we never tell people they NEED to do this too. ¬†We’ll share what God let us know through His word, but it is up to Him to convict one’s heart, not us to change a person’s lifestyle against their will. ¬†We are changing so many things that we believe our culture raised us in that we now can’t believe we fell victim to for so long. ¬†We’ve found freedom. ¬†We are allowing God to raise us all over again while trying to teach our children what we were failed to be taught.

[photo credit: 1 & 2]

These days when people think of the Sabbath they think of a day where they don’t work and they go to church; a day of rest to commemorate the Lord. Or do they really see it that way? I know a lot of people that have kids in sports on Sundays and plenty more that usually can’t wait to get out of church so they can go home and get ready to watch the day’s game. I don’t have anything against sports, and I don’t really have some kind of a vendetta against football or whatever other sports take place on Sunday. I simply want to express the difference in views about the Sabbath.

Consider that when Yahweh explained the Sabbath to Moses the Israelites were in the desert by themselves, or at least it was them and whoever was living with them. The idea of this is they were living as a faith community.¬† They were not some kind of minority amongst a group of people trying to set themselves apart. They were a group, a rather large group, who shared common views about God and His will for their lives. They all toiled and played together. Watched over each other and worked hard to make sure they were all provided for. They were people that were probably forced to work just about every day of their lives while they were in captivity in Egypt. When you consider the fact that every moment of their lives was spent together working, the section found at Exodus 35, verses 1-3 starts to take on an interesting, new meaning…


“Then Moses called together the whole community of Israel and told them, ‚ÄúThese are the instructions the LORD has commanded you to follow. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day must be a Sabbath day of complete rest, a holy day dedicated to the LORD. Anyone who works on that day must be put to death. You must not even light a fire in any of your homes on the Sabbath.‚ÄĚ


See, when we think of the Sabbath we think of a day set apart from the usual business to focus on God. We work all week long at our (usually) secular jobs and with (predominantly) secular people and then once Sunday comes along we take the time to get away from that and go to church where some of us actually still do a certain amount of work and then we run around getting lunch, doing the grocery shopping, bringing the kids to some practice or another, preparing a meal for the friends coming over or cleaning the parts of the house that haven’t been touched since last Sunday or some long-past Sunday whose date you don’t recall anymore. Point being, we view the Sabbath now as a day to not be as secular, but the fact is that still doesn’t necessarily mean a day of rest. When God gave the Sabbath, he gave it as a day of COMPLETE rest. Not a day to go to the temple, the people were always together in the presence of God. Not a day to prepare a giant meal and have a bunch of church acquaintances over, but a day to rest completely and relax from any form of toil. God wanted the people to take time off to rest so seriously that He said, “Anyone who works on that day must be put to death. You must not even light a fire in any of your homes…” That’s pretty crazy if you think about it.

I don’t mean all this from a legalist perspective, I just want to shed light on the fact that the Sabbath is taken out of context quite often, and I think we do ourselves a disservice because of it. God wants us to take a day to completely “unwind” and relax. I’m not saying you shouldn’t attend church, but more that your community with fellow believers should be such that you don’t rely on seeing each other’s faces on Sunday in order to feel you have a relationship with other people who profess similar things that you do. We are to be a community who interacts day in and day out so that we can truly take a day to just relax with our families while still being connected to the family of God.

Many times over the past few years I have told people that I have a heart for International missions.

Christians often respond to me saying:
“You can’t do that. You have a family.”
“That’s great for you. I haven’t felt that call at all, myself.”
“I could never do that.”
“Why can’t you do mission work in the US instead?”tumblr_magecuLQMS1r5urpdo1_500
“You have to go to college for that.”

I am often so frustrated.  There are so many times when I just want to cry for hours because of how deeply I feel lead to go on the mission field and how stranded or useless I feel, though I see doors starting to open, finally.

As a child I was drawn to missionary stories. ¬†The first missionaries I met when I was about 5 or 6 told about China and how people would hide Bibles to bring across China’s borders and explained the dangers they faced in doing so. ¬†They gave me the smallest Bible I ever owned which had the 4 gospels inside of it and was only about 2″ tall. ¬†I will say that the idea sounded so amazing. The sense of daring adventure and having to trust in God excited me even then.

Once¬†my missionary uncle was kidnapped, my whole view of missionaries changed. ¬†I started to think how terrible of an idea it was to be one. ¬†It was too scary. ¬†However, I still was intrigued by all the stories of those missionaries I heard or read about (or met), and it didn’t help that during that time my family started attending a Christian & Missionary Alliance church. ¬†When¬†my uncle was killed, I was so angry that I just yelled at God all the time for killing him when he was a servant of God doing His will while my cousins and aunt were left to pick up the emotional pieces.

Once I was nearly 15 years old, only 3 years later, my ideals of anger towards the mission field changed again to feeling at peace over the situation.  I am glad for the sacrifices made by the many missionaries who bring or brought the gospel of Christ throughout the world.  I realized that all Christians are called to a life of missions, and that we are promised to suffer as Christ had (Romans 8, 2 Corinthians 1, Philippians 1&3, Colossians 1). Our comfort should be in and by Him, not in living in comfortable conditions & have God meet our needs when there are people in anguish in need of food for their Spirits.  There is no excuse, though too many times people make one.  Too many times I myself have made some.  But I am done.

WomaninIndiaWe are told in Mark 16 that Jesus rebuked the disciples and others for their hardness in heart for not believing that He was risen. ¬†He then tells us to go to the whole world and preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. ¬†He doesn’t tell us to go and meet at buildings and keep the gospel to ourselves or hope that people will come into these buildings and find God on their own. ¬†He tells us to go out for we carry the Holy Spirit within us. ¬†If going out means to your workplace, your neighborhood, your families, your friends, or to strangers, then go to such places. ¬†If going out means to go to another country in an unfamiliar land, then go. ¬†He said to “go”! Teach! Baptize! Train! Send!

“Go therefore and¬†make disciples of¬†all nations,¬†baptizing them¬†in¬†the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,¬†teaching them¬†to observe all that¬†I have commanded you. And behold,¬†I am with you always, to the end of the age.‚ÄĚ – Matthew 28:19-20

I am called.  You are called.
This is part of being obedient of our Abba!
It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with Him and His glory.
I want to go. I need to go. Send me, Lord! Send my whole family!
Let’s not worry about what we want or think we need for our own gain.
Don’t let anyone die without getting an opportunity to know Jesus!

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where¬†moth and rust¬†destroy and where thieves break in and steal,¬†¬†but lay ¬†up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.¬†For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”¬†-Matthew 6:19-21

Photo #1 #2

psalm119Throughout the past year, Rob & I have fell in love with the¬†Pentateuch¬†and the commandments throughout it. ¬†I used to believe God’s Word was filled with rules and burdens for my life, because I didn’t want to give up myself at all (while proclaiming praise to Him). ¬†I didn’t like the idea of sacrificing myself or allowing Christ to sacrifice Himself as an offering so that I might live in His light and know His peace.

I have found peace! In His law, I have found a great love and ease in life.  I feel like the weight has been carried off.  His blood has only increased on my life over the years, but now, I have a reason to give back to Him and serve Him through how I live by abiding in Him and obeying Him.

Psalm 119: 172-176 expresses:
“My tongue will sing of your word,¬†for¬†all your commandments are right.¬†Let your hand be ready to help me,¬†for I have¬†chosen your precepts.¬†I¬†long for your salvation, O¬†Lord,¬†and your law is my¬†delight.¬†¬†Let my soul live and praise you,¬†and let your rules help me. ¬†I have¬†gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant,¬†for I do not¬†forget your commandments.”

I am weary of hearing many Christians shrug off the Law and long to live for themselves (and finding these things to be natural, while living just as the unbelievers do). ¬†As I tell my own sons to change their underwear daily, to be kind to others, to brush their teeth, to not steal one another’s toys; I see how much more natural the law is for our lives to become accustomed to. ¬†I pray that we will all be willing to reflect and know the laws and live them while being willing to be shown by Christ which ones He has covered with His sacrificial blood that we no longer have to worry about, and which ones we need to continue to practice! ¬†I no longer feel a burden, but a great joy! ¬†I am excited about what God has revealed to us through His Word! It is so exciting!

“Do not think that I have come to abolish¬†the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but¬†to fulfill them.¬†¬†For truly, I say to you,¬†until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.¬†Therefore whoever relaxes¬†one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least¬†in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great¬†in the kingdom of heaven.” -Matthew 5:17-19

So we’ve lately been watching some videos and reading some posts about the Old Testament feasts and traditions (if you’ll allow me to use such a dirty word) and it’s just amazing what kind of parallels you find in those practices that point to Jesus. Not just Jesus but shadows and hints at other things prophesied about in Revelation as well.

One really good example of that is this video:

It’s crazy to me to think that the idea of the feast of trumpets, that has been in place for thousands of years may be something instituted as a symbol for something that hasn’t even happened yet!

This is only one small part of some of the things we have been learning, and I hope that once we get more familiar with some of what we’re “discovering” that we can arrange these things into a comprehensible pattern and share. Maybe I’ll just need to start sharing things as we find them, to make it as fun for everyone else as is it is for us?

I may start sharing some of these things via Twitter as well so if you’d like, feel free follow me: @Robsteady

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