Unfortunately, I can’t blame my lack of a blog post in several months on a planet-sized case of writer’s block. I’ve just been slightly … well ok… extremely lazy. What good is confessing my laziness without backing it up with excuses, huh? None whatsoever. I started a new job (again) at the beginning of October; the holidays came (we added one this year and fulfilled celebrating all eight days of Hanukkah); I rejoined my church’s worship team; lastly, we recently began furniture shopping. In all reality, each of those endeavors provides plenty of raw material to build a good blog post or two. So shame on me and my laziness.
The Worship Team
Two years ago I felt a “release”, if you will, by the Holy Spirit to step down from my position in the worship team at our church. It was much needed. I had served faithfully for about ten years up to that point, almost every single Sunday. Needless to say, it took a toll. Also, in all candidness, my heart was not in it anymore. I was frustrated and felt I was nowhere near where I believe God intended me to be. Ministry left a stench in my nose and soul, and I wanted no part of it.
Not long after, in February of 2016, my wife and I attended a Bethel worship night in Conway, Arkansas. At the time it was a big step for me. I wasn’t far removed from my worship ministry departure, and it did not appease me as much as I may have let on; nonetheless, I kept an open mind and heart in hopes that The Lord would speak to me. I remember sitting in the auditorium before the music started feeling reminiscent of my adolescent days of depression. I hated to hear the jabbering young hipsters around me talk about what kind of guitars the band is probably going to be playing. Heaven, help the person who needs me to stand up so they can get to their seat. Much to my dismay, I couldn’t but feel like whale of raw emotion was billowing towards the surface about to breach. Thankfully the band finally started and was loud enough to deafen my inner confliction. A song or two in, I finally felt the familiar caress of the Holy Spirit. He sure proved the nature of the name “Comforter” to me that night; just as He had countless times past. I worshipped. I cried. He spoke to me.
Upon previous “concerts” of the likeness of this one, I usually would focus on the guitarists. I enjoyed the tones they were able to emit, and the effects selections within certain songs fascinated me. I noticed it was different with this worship night. I was entranced with the worship leaders and vocalists to the point where I knew it was The Lord drawing my attention to them. He spoke to me gently, inside my spirit and asked, “When did I ask you to focus on guitar playing?”. This question was clearly rhetorical and by no means could be answered. Looking back, I can’t find the point in time where He specified such a command. (Please know I felt zero ounces of condemnation when this correction happened. The rebuke of The Lord harbors infinitely more love than the loftiest of accolades from friends and family.) So I examined my heart with the help of the Holy Spirit and it became clear again that my gift is in leading worship. Not long after that night I set out to sell ALL of my electric guitar equipment and remarry the acoustic guitar.
So the past two years, being on a hiatus from a “formal” worship team setting, really allowed me to get reacquainted with my gift as a worship leader. Back in September of this year (2017), I was singing and worshipping in my car on the way home from work and suddenly I felt the unction to rejoin the worship team at my church. It felt identical to two years earlier when I was “released” from the team, except reversed.
“Oh, you’re Jewish?”, I was asked several times this year. I get it though. Our westernized “Christian” culture is very non-Jewish, so being asked that question was never surprising.
I would like to elaborate our position on holidays though…
The past few years have been very enlightening in regards to the depths of my professed faith. I always had an understanding that Christianity “derived”, so to speak, from Judaism, but never really had the revelation on the matter until maybe the last three years. We’re systematically taught growing up that Christianity and Judaism somewhat are two separate yet intermingled faiths. Even if that may not be what is directly taught from the American pulpit, it is most definitely, massively assumed by the majority of American Christians, and potentially Christians from the majority of other countries.
This is no longer my current, nor future orthodox. It has been abolished in my mind and spirit to believe that way. Yeshua/Jesus the Messiah was not sent to create a new religion or way of belief. He was Jewish; lived a Jewish life, and fulfilled Jewish prophecy and law.
So to bring this back around to the subject of holidays…
Hanukkah actually has a true story to back up the festivities. If you have never heard the story of Hanukkah and the Maccabean revolt it is a must. It’s miraculous. Christmas, on the other hand, is quite… well… pagan. Please investigate the details for yourself. I will not elaborate them here. Yes, it is the designated day/timeframe in which we celebrate the birth of The Savior, which I am on board with. However, it has lost all other appeal to me other than that. I obviously also enjoy the family time it produces. Christmas for a lot of people is very mystical, and comes with it a sense of wonderment that somewhat removes a little reality for them. I’m all for wonderment and creativity and celebrations, but to me, it is a ship that has been sailing the wrong direction for centuries.
Don’t get me started on the intentional lying parents do to their kids regarding a fat guy wearing a blood red suit who can break into people’s homes. And even worse, a possessed elf character that likes to sit on shelves. “But it’s just a bit of fun! It’s tradition.” Eh.. keep telling yourself that. Take it down to brass tax, you’re just setting your kids up for disappointment when they find out it’s all claptrap. Not to mention the potential doubt they’ll have about all the other stories you’ve told them throughout their childhood. Including the gospel.
We did put up our Christmas tree, but before you call me a hypocrite because of my aforementioned words, I want to say that I’m indifferent on it. It holds no meaning to me other than it’s really pretty.
Hanukkah was a blessing for me to share with my family this year, because more than likely, Yeshua Himself celebrated the Festival of Lights with His family and disciples.
Does this make us converts to Judaism. No. It’s just hard not to give it the attention it deserves once we’ve learned about it. “Converting” is misunderstood anyways, in light of “The One New Man” elaborated on by Paul in Ephesians 2.
If you’ve gotten this far with reading my post, know that I am no Scrooge. I’m just sharing my heart.
I am aware this is more of a personal blog entry. I don’t intend to do a lot of these. This is the route this one went because it’s the first one I’ve done in several months and I really just wanted to spill my heart about a few things. I hope all of you had a wonderful 2017 and pray you’re 2018 is at least twice as wonderful.