Dear Church: I Left And I’m Not Going Back

I left because I started to ask, “why do we do what we do?” “What does Scripture say?” Finding the answer to those questions is what led me here.​

Christians don’t know what to do with those who leave the church.

I’ve seen a few typical responses. These are either reactions to or explanations for people leaving. These responses indicate something about the foundation and dynamics operating in the Christian Church.

These will be in no particular order.

  • Indignant. Some are incredibly angry that a person would not agree and align with their idea of the importance of church or traditional Christian ideals.

This indicates there is a foundation of control upon which Christianity is built or the conduit through which it is practiced.

  • Control. Some are frustrated that this person is no longer able to be controlled.

This points to how powerless people in religion feel and their need to cover or compensate for this powerlessness. This is evidenced in various doctrines and traditions.

  • Fear. Some are afraid that you’ll be lost or “the devil’s going to get you.”

This shows how many have been shamed and scared into life with YAH.

  • That’s none of my business. Some don’t feel they are mature enough to relate and converse with someone who may be grappling with their faith and religion. So, they avoid it altogether.

This points to the social system embedded in the Christian church and how people see their roles therein.

  • Longing. In a phrase, “I wish I could do that. I wish I was strong enough to do that.”

This points to the exhaustion of people in religion. Many are tired as they run on the hamster wheel of religion, but it keeps you codependent upon its system. So, you can’t really leave (you can, but you feel like you can’t).

  • Devalue. This is the belief that you are of no value or importance if you are not a part of this belief system anymore.

This points to the incomplete system of validation the Church has set up. People look to pastors, church community, no other Christians to validate themselves. Anyone who does not adhere to this value system immediately and innately loses their value.

Your response to this shouldn’t be to cover up or justify how you or your church normally responds. My encouragement to you if you’ve read this through, is ask. Figure out why people are leaving the Church and Christianity as a whole. Don’t make assumptions.

I left because I started to ask, “why do we do what we do?” “What does Scripture say?” Finding the answer to those questions is what led me here.

People are leaving a system they once felt so strongly about. I felt I had to defend this faith. I felt a responsibility and a weight that many feel today.

I’ve been hesitant at times to share more about my beliefs before I left because people use that to explain away why I left. They’ll say, “You just weren’t doing it right. You just weren’t serious. I’ve always been certain about _. I’ve always known that! You were just at the wrong church. Not all churches are the same.”

I’ve reached a place now where I’m okay with the conclusions people will draw. I think one of two could happen if people started being curious when people leave.

One. They will start to look at what the Church has been doing for so long and make radical changes.

Two. Others will start to leave — much like an exodus.

This is what I think some pastors or Christians are fearful of. They’re afraid to look within. They’re afraid to question and challenge. What if I find out something I don’t like? What if everything I’ve built my doctrine on falls apart? Where would I go? What would I do?

It’s okay to not have the answers to those questions. So, if you do find yourself in that place, feel free to reach out to me!

He is good.
Everything will be okay!

Who Is God?

Most of the time, figuring God out looks like describing Him. “He’s the God who heals.” Good is an understatement about who He is. Evil is a falsehood about who He is. So, who or what is He by definition?

There is perhaps no other verse quite as significant as the one that records the conversation between Mosheh (Moses) and YAH (God).

“And Elohim said to Mosheh, “I am that which I am.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Yisra’ĕl, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ (Exodus 3:14 TS2009)

At first glance, I’ve always found this declaration significant. But, my perception paled in comparison to the depth of significance of such a statement — of such a reality! It would be difficult to understand the magnitude of this declaration if I simply read it within the context of this one story. As I read and live Torah, the significance of this statement takes shape.

Any being that would introduce themselves this way would spark great curiosity. I’ve always believed we should always be curious about YAH. If we can completely figure God out, or think we can, it’s probably that we never had Him figured out in the first place. Most of the time, figuring God out looks like describing Him. “He’s the God who heals.” “He’s the God that sees.” But, we rarely ever truly define Him. There is a difference between description and definition. (But that’s a blog for another day). Who or what is He by definition?

  1. God is not A being. He IS being.

We often say, “God is the most powerful being.” This is faulty. To put Him in a realm with other beings is to say he can be matched. It is to say there are others like Him or there are others other than Him. “I am יהוה, and there is none else – there is no Elohim besides Me.” (Isaiah 45:5). This sounds good; but, what does it really mean? It does not mean there is a being that is beneath Him or He is greater. It means, He is all there is. If He were a being, then He would derive His identity and being from another. He would exist through emulation or comparison. But, because He is being (existence itself), He is complete within Himself and does not need to inquire to gain insight as to who He is.

2. God is omnipotent.

He does not go to another to tell Him who He is or what He can or cannot do. For there is no other to go to. This speaks to the power He has. A lot of us would love to not have to answer to anyone. But, “with great power, comes great responsibility (shout out to Stan Lee).” He does not have to request permission to be or to create. Wow! He can create? Cool! This makes God sound like He has superpowers. Let’s take a closer look. It is not to say that He has ‘more powers’ than another. It is to say, He literally has all of it. He is the only one with it. Whatever is ever given power or life must be sustained through Him. Nothing can exist on its own. He is never caught in the act of existing, He is existence. In this way, He is omnipotent.

3. We have existence. God does not.

God is not given existence. Who would give it to Him? What can He interact with outside of Himself to authorize Him to exist? He is existence. “I AM THAT I AM”: I was being. I am being. I will always be. He gives us existence for as long as He desires — even what/who may dare to oppose Him must be given existence from and through Him.

4. God is omnipresent.

All things don’t merely exist because he gives existence externally. An image comes to mind of humans being handed rations of existence. It is to say humans can go away from Him and handle their existence as they will. This is inaccurate. Nothing exists outside of Him and never leaves His presence. The psalmist David speaks to this truth. 7 Where would I go from Your Spirit? Or where would I flee from Your face? 8 If I go up into the heavens, You are there; If I make my bed in She’ol, see, You are there. 9 I take the wings of the morning, I dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 There, too, Your hand would lead me, And Your right hand hold me. 11 If I say, “Darkness shall cover me,” Then night would be light to me; 12 Even darkness is not dark for You, But night shines as the day – As is darkness, so is light (Psalm 139:7-12).

I used to think this set of verses was pointing to the compassion of God. Sure. That may be true; but, it is incomplete. David, having been raised knowing the Torah, understood this complex truth.

All things exist within Him. The universe is in Him. We are in Him (John 1). In this way, He is omnipresent. There is no space in the universe where the presence of God does not exist. For all things have their existence through (INSIDE) Him. “In Him, we live move and have our being.” If we can grasp this truth, it will be revolutionary.

5. God is truth.

He is not truth because there is right or wrong. There is simply Him. He is the basis for reality — therefore, what is truth. He is the context within which all things exist. His essence provides the principles by which this life/reality is governed.

6. He is knowledge Himself.

God does not learn. What is there that He does not know? He is complete within Himself and can do what He wills. What can He teach Himself? In this way, He is omniscient. He knows all, because He is all. We acquire knowledge by going through the process of challenging what is about us and come to the conclusion of truth — Him. When we acquire knowledge, we acquire Him. When we acquire knowledge, we learn to exist as He does — complete, lacking nothing. Ponder these verses:

The fear of יהוה is the beginning of knowledge;”

(Proverbs 1:7 TS2009)


“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”

Colossians 1:9

“In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Colossians 2:3

7. He is one.

“Hear, O Yisra’ĕl: יהוה our Elohim, יהוה is one” (Deut. 6:4 TS2009)!

Much of the perspectives that pervade society align with the idea of a dualistic world. One dualistic perspective indicates there are two (potentially equal) forces in the world that exists in every being — good and evil. Sometimes, unknowingly, we subscribe to this belief that God is dualistic. It is problematic to apply this filter to Him.

God does not consist of parts or contradicting forces. He is not confused, wrestling with whether or not He’ll be evil or good today. He is who He is. “I AM that I AM.” He is existence itself. Good is an understatement about who He is. Evil is a falsehood about who He is. He does not need to subscribe to our small ideas about what it means to be good. Truthfully, the reason he is good is because we know exactly what we can expect of Him — to be one. He is one. He is whole and complete. I can always examine the work of His hand and it will produce and reveal oneness.

“And Elohim said to Mosheh, “I am that which I am.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Yisra’ĕl, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ (Exodus 3:14 TS2009)

YAH sent Mosheh to tell His people that I AM is with you. In other words, “Existence itself has come to rescue you.” Taking into account everything written in this blog, this is to say that YAH has decided to give existence to the people of Israel and therefore, absolutely nothing can oppose them! YAH would have to give existence to the opposition in order for it to prosper.

“No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall prove wrong. This is the inheritance of the servants of יהוה, and their righteousness from Me,” declares יהוה.

Yeshayah (Isaiah) 54:17 TS 2009

“Who can stand against?” “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.” These commonly known verses speak to this truth and how Hebrews understand the power of YAH.

YAH is power. He is not merely powerful. He is power. So, you can trust that the force at work in your life is Him and you can trust Him.

“For thus said יהוה, ‘When seventy years are completed, at Baḇel I shall visit you and establish My good word toward you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I am planning for you,’ declares יהוה, ‘plans of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and an expectancy” (Jeremiah 29:10-11).

The Church: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

This dependence upon the church system is very subtle and marketed as commitment and duty. The Church will not see true change until it untethers itself from its erroneous ideas of “the church house” and return to the actual house — the family.

The society in which we live, in the United States, can trace its roots to Greco-Roman culture–our government, religion, education, hierarchical ideals, architecture, economy, philosophy, sports, etc. Today: This is the source of much of the Church’s ideals, Church doctrine, structure, participation in government, and various practices.

  • It can explain why congregations have typically met in buildings of a particular architectural structure and leadership organization.
  • It can explain the leadership structure and power dynamic between minister and church-goer.
  • It can explain the relationship between churches and the government.
  • It is seen in the growth of mega-churches.

The evidence of Greco-Roman influence is still readily seen in the Christian Church today. But, where did it come from?

Yesterday

In the 4th century, Constantine, Rome’s first Christian emperor, legitimized and legalized the practices of early disciples of Messiah, which came to be known as Christianity and condemned to death those that wouldn’t follow it. He and other Roman emperors of that time harnessed control of the people through religion. He influenced the way in which believers walked out their faith. Interestingly enough, the religion he legitimized (as we knew it then and today) is not the way of life believers were walking during Jesus’ time or a couple hundred years after.

Essentially, Constantine made it legal to be Christian. Many theologians and Christians praise him for this. However, this praise may be given too swiftly. Emperor Constantine and other leaders helped propel the Church in a direction she is still reeling toward. He and others before and after him are responsible for:

  • Sunday being the preferred day of worship. There is significant evidence that for the first couple hundred years following the death, burial, and resurrection of Messiah followers of Yeshua still kept the Sabbath and met on the Sabbath.
  • Christianity became a Roman-rooted religion and divorced itself from anything remotely Jewish or Hebrew (Even the Messiah took a hit with that one).
  • The legitimization of the Trinity doctrine.
  • Celebration of holidays that were originally in no way connected to the faith of the followers of Yeshua (Christmas, Easter, Lent, etc.) The first-century apostles were still keeping feasts and festivals of YAH (Leviticus 23). Check out Zachery Bauer’s video about this subject.
  • Belief that the Torah (first five books of the Bible) and law were done away with in Jesus.
  • Jewish observances (such as the Feast Days) and religious practices were banned and replaced.

Today

Christians and Christian churches have long been protected and “legitimized” in this country–similar to Rome. It is only a matter of time before the government attempts and succeeds at dictating what the Church and Christians can and cannot do to a far greater extent. From whom you are given freedom, with them lies the power to determine the extent to which you experience that freedom.

This is why the current model of the Church is ineffective. They operate tethered to society but desire to effect change in society. It has been neutralized.

Interestingly, the power and authority of their walk lies in the protection from their government. This means, Christians are legally allowed to exercise their faith in the United States and find a security in this.

The Church system has created a “law” of “going to church” for Christians. Christians find Scripture they believe support this practice in the way it’s been taught. This “law” is fostering a dependence upon a system. This dependence is very subtle and marketed as commitment and duty.

Take a look at the Catholic Church. The Pope told parishioners not to worry about coming to confessional amid pandemic — go directly to God. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, if there is no priest available (during moments of grave), a Catholic is to confess their sins to God directly and ask for a pardon from Him.

This emphasis on church has crippled the actual Body of Messiah.

What happens when you can’t assemble in a building as a government-protected assembly?

What happens to your faith when you don’t have a pastor elevated in a pulpit (Greco-Roman practice) bringing the Word?

What happens if the government removes the 501c-3 status of churches and requires they pay a tax? Are you going to call it persecution?

What happens when the government dictates how you will apply your faith?

What happens when the government enacts legislation that is in conflict with your doctrinal belief? What happens when they enforce it?

Tomorrow

The COVID-19 pandemic challenged Christians to consider their connection to church, government, and society. Many, in beautiful vulnerability, described a feeling of being displaced, confused, strange, and the like without having the regular practice of church-going.

Many have spoken up and expressed how the pandemic gave us the opportunity to reconnect with God and family in a fresh way. This is key!

Prior to the church becoming the center of discipline and life, it was the family. This is still God’s elected system. The Church will not see true change until it untethers itself from its erroneous ideas of “the church house” and return to the actual house — the family.

Some resources to review after reading this post:

How the Church Divorced Itself From Its Hebrew Roots: http://hoshanarabbah.org/blog/2014/05/21/how-the-church-divorced-itself/

The Church: We Got It All Wrong

Much of the traditions a church practices are someone’s idea of what metric is appropriate to measure progression or right and wrong. People often ask, “Why is the Church so divided?” We don’t know the real metrics. We don’t know the standard.

“This will be quick,” is what I tell myself every time I begin writing a blog. I’m wrong a lot of the time. But, we’ll see.

So! I just had the most enlightening and encouraging conversation with my sister and so many things were brought out that I’m sure I’ll be meditating on for some time. I’d like to share one of them to challenge our perspective and encourage us on our journey.

The two major questions posed by my sister and I were:

  1. What is sin?
  2. What if it’s (life) not about maturity, but about humility?

Today, I’ll focus on the second one.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably noticed a change or shift in perspective– especially in the last two years. Almost two years ago, I left the church and Christianity behind with no idea as to where I was going. What I’ve experienced in my time since leaving has been monumental and incredibly life changing.

As a Christian, unknowingly, I would create big and tiny metrics by which to measure my success or failure at living right or pleasing God. This process is something I see Christians do all the time. It is the general foundation for religion in general. Honestly, I’m still in the process of unlearning and challenging these metrics because there are moments they still have authority or influence in my life.

Much of the traditions a church practices are someone’s idea of what metric is appropriate to measure progression or right and wrong. Some churches emphasize baptism, how you dress, operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, consistency in disciplines like praying, fasting, reading the Bible, outreach, or going to church. Most, if not all, emphasize the appearance of a thing and make inferences about what that indicates about your spiritual maturity (i.e. purity culture, your excitement for the “things of God” vs. the “things of man,” your profession, etc.).

It gets even more convoluted when you observe what metrics each individual has set up. “Did I curse today?” “Ooh. I’ve been tithing regularly!” “I’ve been serving diligently at church.” “I haven’t listened to any secular music in a while!”

People often ask, “Why is the Church so divided?” The picture I’ve just painted is precisely why. We don’t know the real metrics. We don’t know the standard.

Another way to say this is: we have no root. Because we have no root, we have to make up (manufacture) fruit and a process (religion) by which to attain it. Christianity is a rootless tree. Its participants spend time validating themselves one to another with their various metrics and live with an uncertainty/anxiety about how God feels toward them. “My metric is better or more important than your metric” — hence all of the infighting.

In all my time in religion, I never found rest. There was always someone to whom I could compare myself and make myself feel more mature or someone I’d feel inferior to. This is the continuous cycle that religion aids in. It arms you with the tools to make fig leaves, to seek and reject validation, and to go against the grain.

We are uncertain of who God really is. We know the God we’ve made up for ourselves. And because we’ve made Him up (or others have done so for us), we have all of these made up ideas about what it takes to please Him.

We are afraid to find out what does please Him because we’re afraid we’re not enough. This idea of us being born sinners and being undeserving of Christ is keeping people bound to a vicious cycle that will refuse to release us. It keeps people believing, “I don’t deserve it. He’s so much greater than I am.”

Aside: It makes me wonder about the relationship between a parent and child. No parent living from light desires to always be greater than their child. They desire for their child to elevate and surpass their level. God is no different. “Greater works shall you do…”

We are afraid to face Him.

We are afraid to truly know Him and be known by Him. So, we create processes and milestones that make us feel worthy to be associated with Him. We seek maturity, spiritual mastery, knowledge, accolades and such to validate ourselves to Him.

This is where the second question comes in.

What if it’s (life) not about maturity, but about humility?

There are many quotes that seek to define humility. I’m sure there is a precise way to define the word, but I’d like to look at the picture of humility. It involves ‘light.’

“God is light and in Him is no darkness” (1 John 1:5). Scripture also refers to Jesus as light. “Therefore יהושע spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall by no means walk in darkness, but possess the light of life.” (John 8:12). The Torah is light as well. “For the command is a lamp, And the Torah a light, And reproofs of discipline a way of life” (Proverbs 6:23).

There are a few important precepts to understand about light.

Light gives life. This is to say it is the only Source/Provider.

Light challenges. This is to say, light will expose what something is or isn’t. It will call it to its highest self or truth.

Light reflects. This is to say that light provides identity.

Light is authority. This is to say that light is foundation, seed, root, and dictates the identity of someone or something. It IS the standard.

As a child of Light, we can expect: for God to be our provider, to show us who we are, to challenge and remove what isn’t Him, to be the authority by which we function in this world, and to reveal His standard. Doesn’t this kind of sound like Jesus? “I only do what I see my Father do.” Jesus was called a Son of God because he learned from (submitted to) Light. He’d gone through the necessary process/cycle by which light becomes the only standard.

We often see life as a process by which we are growing to maturity. This is true. But, maturity and humility do not cancel each other out.

Humility is a state of being in which I am submitted to light. Humility is vulnerability. It doesn’t matter if I think or others think I’ve matured if I am untrained in vulnerability. Humility is a picture of trust. If I have not trusted God to provide for me, to show me who I am, to challenge and remove what isn’t Him, to be the authority by which I function in this world, I have simply reached a level of “mastery” in the eyes of society/world.

To describe this humility: I’m not worried about tomorrow and the alleged milestone that may be waiting there for me. I’m not worried about what metric I’ve set up to feel like I’m progressing. I’m not worried about my wants and needs. I’m not worried about giants. I’m not trying to pave my own way. I am present today resting, trusting, open before Him so that He may show me Him.

My sister said this and it drove it home for me. “A child isn’t worried about being able to walk. A child isn’t worried about what they sound like. A child isn’t worried about how to eat or where their next meal will come from.” A child trusts. A child is surrendered. A child rests. A child explores. A child has no care of danger.

In the Church, they talk about having child-like faith. This is a description of it. I am vulnerable and open before my Father. I trust my Father. I see He is good. I see I am good. I am not concerned with getting to a place where I no longer need help of a particular kind. That time will come naturally. It is not my concern the appointed seasons in which I’ll develop this or that. My only responsibility is to stay connected to Him through vulnerability and trust. The connection is what signifies real maturity.

Considering these ideas, my perspective shifts when I think of popularly quoted verses. “I know the plans I have for you.” “Trust in the LORD with all your heart.” “Come boldly to the throne of grace.” “Do not worry about tomorrow.” “Does he not feed the birds?”

Every day, I’ve begun to wake up with the expectation that God will provide for me. God will show me who I am. God is the authority by which I navigate and learn. God is my Father. God knows me. God loves me. God thinks I’m worthy. God knows.

The system and surrounding systems of religion ask us to bear responsibility that isn’t ours. Again, my only responsibility is to stay connected to Him through vulnerability and trust. The steadfast connection is what determines and signifies real maturity.

Religion is Unnatural

We live in a society that values toiling. Toil is a sign that the conditions are not ideal for what is natural to be brought about. Religion is unnatural.

It was always YAH’s intention that mankind WORK — cultivate and steward. It was never His intent that mankind TOIL (go outside of Him to produce what was naturally to be ours).

Let’s observe a tree! (The tree is an example used in Scripture and Hebraic perspective to describe YAH, us, and how life works). To some extent a seed and the root system must work in order to establish what they are naturally to be and become. The roots push through the soil in order to be established. That is work. It is not toil. When they toil, it is a sign that the conditions are not ideal for what is natural to be brought about. Then the gardener must heal the unhealthy conditions and the effects thereof.

We live in a society that values toiling. Our society values going outside of YAH to get what is naturally ours. We are taught to invest resources (intellect, finances, time, energy, etc.) into the institutions and ideas that are valued by society as a whole in order to validate ourselves to society.

Daily life seems like a balancing act between toiling and working. To work is godly — as in, it is natural. (I’m not talking about a job or career). Our entire lives are work. Our lives are the acts of creating, cultivating, and stewardship. This is work.

Everything created works and must rely on something outside of itself to produce the best. This is the picture of trust. The world was created on the system of trust. Toil is not trust. Toil is a picture of the response of one who has not been experienced in trust. Trust requires me to be provided FOR. Toil requires that I provide for myself. Toil says, “I do not trust for someone else to provide this for me.”

Storytime:

I had a mishap recently in which money was withdrawn from my account without my authorization and it left me with nothing. The process of getting it back is going to take longer than when I needed it. I’m traveling tomorrow and had very little gas in my car. The struggle was real. So, I had to ask my Dad for the money to “hold me over.” As I told him what was going on, his response was, “Dang! Sounds like you’re in between a rock and a hard place!” My response was, “I am! I really am! (Laughing).” During this whole interaction, I realized that I do so much to make sure I’m not in the position to need someone else’s help financially. One could rationalize this with, “I have to make sure I don’t need anyone because I couldn’t ask anyone around me for help if I needed to. So, I gotta grind!” That sounds like it makes sense and it does — according to the system of toil! Living in the space of not needing someone else’s help produced a false confidence in me and has only assisted in isolating myself from the richness of vulnerability and trust.

The foundation of our relationship with YAH and all life is trust. Trust is natural. Independence is in direct conflict with trust.

The conditions that promote toil tell us we must sustain ourselves. It tells us we must be independent. Work gives us the opportunity to be vulnerable and value others. Work allows us to be strengthened — to live in community with others.

The Voice of Religion

The foundation of our relationship with YAH and all life is trust. Trust is natural. It is natural that YAH provides for us. Religion is unnatural.

If you’ve read any of my blogs, you’ll see me reference ‘religion.’ When I say religion, I’m not merely talking about organized religions recognized by civilization. I’m speaking to a system (that can be found at the foundation of various institutions), by which people attempt to access what YAH freely gives through their many traditions. Religion requires and justifies toil through shame and fear.

“If I were serious about God, I would be doing _____.” “If I don’t do this, God might do that.” “This is what you do when you love God.” “When you’re a leader, this is what you do.” I’ve heard these things from pulpits from the most well-meaning of people. I’ve used these thoughts to motivate me to “do the right thing.” It does not work. It only keeps you in a cycle of fear and shame. A lot of us are not interacting in relationship with YAH through true connection, but from fear.

In YAH’s system, anything I am to do, would naturally be produced in me if He’s the root, the mirror, the foundation. If I have to manufacture conditions in my relationship, something unnatural is being applied. This means, trust is not the connecting point. This means vulnerability is not the connecting point. This means I am trying to cover myself. We look at the story of Adam and Eve and don’t see the fig leaves we live with every day. We just enjoy being clothed. The worst part is religion compliments you on your fashion. Fig leaves keep out vulnerability and the fruit thereof.

Religion promotes deficiency and arms us with the tools to cover them. Here are some, to name a few: knowledge, church leadership, promotion, recognition, financial progression, pedestal living, etc. The voice says, “As long as I have _______, I’m alright!” Religion promotes a self-image of lack. Religion says, “I should be further along than this. So, here’s what I’ll do to cover where I truly am.” Toil indicates I am in lack and therefore I must strive to be complete. Work sees oneself for who I am and sees value in self and others. Religion is toil. Religion is exhausting. Religion is accusatory. Religion is weak. Religion is unnatural.

Vulnerability is the foundation for work.

Back to the Basics

Let’s glance at Scripture.

WORK

“And יהוה Elohim took the man and put him in the garden of Ěḏen to work it and to guard it.”
Berĕshith (Genesis) 2:15 TS2009

STEWARDSHIP

“And Elohim blessed them, and Elohim said to them, “Be fruitful and increase, and fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over all creeping creatures on the earth.”
Berĕshith (Genesis) 1:28 TS2009

COMMUNITY — INTERDEPENDENCE

“And יהוה Elohim said, “It is not good for the man to be alone, I am going to make a helper for him, as his counterpart.”
Berĕshith (Genesis) 2:18

VULNERABILITY

“And they heard the voice of יהוה Elohim walking about in the garden in the cool of the day, and Aḏam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of יהוה Elohim among the trees of the garden.”
Berĕshith (Genesis) 3:8 TS2009

The story of creation portrays a picture of vulnerability and trust.

I’m Tired of Religion

Religion is the manmade system to access what YAH freely gives. For humans to create an entire system for access to something, it is saying, “I don’t trust the method You (YAH) will choose to give it to me. I don’t trust that You will. I don’t believe that you value me enough to do this for me. You will only do this for me if I make you happy by doing _____.” You do not toil for love. You do not toil for holiness. Love and holiness require work (cultivating and stewarding) — not toil. Vulnerability is the foundation for work.

Think On: If you are unsure as to whether or not you’re toiling, take this opportunity to reflect on the following statements. Write down your thoughts and feelings as you read them.

Shalom.

You Don’t Owe God Anything

“Because He saved me, I owe Him my life.” “He’s been good to me. So, I owe Him ______.” Does this sound familiar? Then, keep reading.

Many of us have been taught, “Because He saved me, I owe Him my life.” “He’s been good to me. So, I owe Him ______.” “Jesus died for me; so, I owe Him..” “It’s the least you can do.”

You may have never said this overtly, but this is the foundation of the faith of many people. Before reading further, you might say, “I do what I do for God, because I get to or because I want to.” Maybe. Don’t let that stop you from reading further.

There are many problems with living from this idea of “I owe God.”

  1. It’s built on conditional love.

The love we experience from YAH is not conditional. We think it is, because we’ve misinterpreted Scripture. Infamously, the passages that speak to the people of Israel saying, “If you do _____, you will be blessed. If you do _____, you will be cursed,” have been understood to list conditions by which YAH exists in relationship with us or what we have to do to make God move or what we shouldn’t do to keep God happy. Then, there are those that completely dismiss it under the impression it has no relevance today. (It is of utmost importance that we understand the true meaning of blessing and cursing; but, that’s for another blog.)

Instead of seeing them as computation sequences for a relationship with YAH, we should study those passages to discover what YAH values (it’s not what a lot of us think).

Additionally, we can study those passages and see them as principles or laws governing everything (and YAH himself). See, YAH is One. He is whole. He is complete. He is holy. Being One is what it means to be holy. YAH is bound to His nature — meaning He cannot and will not act outside of His nature. So, when certain things happen, He will naturally respond a particular way. We never have to guess. He is governed by laws or “ways” that reveal something about who He is intrinsically. He desires for us to walk in those ways — His Way.

Trust in יהוה with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; Know Him in all your ways, And He makes all your paths straight. (Prov. 3:5-6)

  1. Everything you do is to be a NATURAL response — not a weight placed upon you.

See, this is the issue with Christianity as the system it is. Unknowingly, many, if not most, are living life bearing weight. Many Christians are carrying weights and responsibilities that are not theirs.

You are not the “last Jesus” they’ll see. That’s a weight.

You don’t live a certain way for the appearance of things. That’s a weight.

You should be “here” by now. That’s a weight.

“But, I’m the pastor, so I got to..” That’s a weight.

“I can’t stop working. Leaders don’t stop.” That’s a weight.

The lack of vulnerability in the lives of Christians (the leaders as well).. This is due to a weight.

Most Christians and those brought up under the system of Christianity are still bearing weight. The foundation of their relationship with YAH is, “I’m a sinner and while I know Jesus paid my debt, I’m going to live a life of paying it off by going to church, being nice to my atheist neighbors, by serving in the church, reading my Bible, etc. It’s the least that I can do.”

This was me — a checklist Christian. I had a checklist in my heart of what I needed to do to be considered a good Christian in the eyes of God and man. Many are choosing their church, ministers, friends, music, and ministry based on who and what aligns with the checklist they have in their minds. The checklist we feel we need to create that would yield a “holy” life is due to weight. We’ll think we’re coming further along because we know more Scripture, have been more consistent, etc. We’ll find some sort of validation from man and begin to feel “a little less like a sinner.” In reality, you’re only slipping further and further into slavery. Debt is a weight. To live from a place of “I owe God,” is to live from a place of slavery.

Aside: It has been fascinating to me that many Christians have criticized Jews and Hebrews for following the teachings found toward the front of the Bible due to it being seen as a list of rules and regulations (I was one of them). Meanwhile, Christians have simply created their own lists of rules and regulations and are under the impression YAH is more pleased.

Living from the checklist or passed down doctrine, though common, is unnatural. The book of Romans talks about the invisible evidence that YAH is real. Nature mirrors who YAH is and what He does. No tree’s function is based on this idea, “I owe it to the birds to grow” or “It’s my responsibility to have leaves on my branches.” Instead, they live and function freely and there is a natural result produced. The birds can perch. Certain animals can eat. Humans find shade. Trees function the way they do, because that’s how they were designed. The reason the tree is able to function as it should is because it has first received what it needs.

Much like this, our relationship with YAH functions the same way. My life is a natural response to how I’ve been conditioned to think and see (negative or positive). When I explore the relationship with YAH as my Provider (Father), I receive and am conditioned to think and see as He does. My life begins to transform and I function as I should — freely and wholly — without weight.

3. It positions you to give to God without having truly received. (Whether something has been given matters not if the recipient will not receive it. Let’s see if we’ve really received.)

Think about this for a second: “My life is a natural response to how I’ve been conditioned to think and see.” Another way of thinking about this is: My behavior is a result of how I’ve been conditioned to think and see. My behavior is a result of what I value. See, we all learned a value system as we grew up. We act from this place. Equally, Christians learn a value system in Christianity and act from this place. A step further: My life (my behavior) is my worship. We only get there by exploring relationship with YAH as our Provider.

This is a wide shot of the process and its components: YAH is holy. YAH is Light. Light reveals. Light nurtures. Light causes things to grow. If God is Light and is my Provider, He reveals what is broken and fixes it. If God is my Light and my Provider, He will cause me to grow. If God is Light and my Provider, I will see as He does. I will value what He values. I will function as I am meant to.

The value system of Christianity is backwards and takes its cues from the world around it. Therefore, it cannot produce the process I just laid out above. Many have questioned for years why the Church looks strikingly similar to society. It is built on the same values. Until the foundation is completely rebuilt, the Church will be ineffective.

The emphasis and foundation has long been “doing” and not “being.” That’s one description of the system of Christianity. For example, Christians keep seeing worship as the first 30-minutes of a service (something we do), rather than our lives (who we are). What’s worse is Christians say, “worship is more than a song,” but continue to relegate the “worship experience” to music — saying one thing and doing another. This is the major issue with Christianity. It is a breeding ground for hypocrisy. I’m saying this as one who was very deep in this system of Christianity and am still having to unlearn the slavery and religion I didn’t think I was learning all that time.

Taking up the stance of “I owe God,” is to say many different things at the same time. It is to say: God requires something of me. I am in debt. I have something of value to give God. God needs me. God is lacking. The list goes on.

It is most interesting to study the Torah and see how YAH instructed Israel to handle debt. YAH understands that a person cannot ever truly be free if they are in debt. This is why our relationship with Him is not based off of debt. Our relationship with Him is based on trust. Society is built on debt/credit and is predicated on a lack of trust and value of people, hence the interest rates and fees.

If you have not learned YAH as your Provider (Father), you have not yet received. If you have not experienced YAH as your Provider, you will accept the weight of providing for yourself (hence the checklist; an attempt to provide validation for yourself). Many of us think we know Him as Provider because we can recount a time or two we were blessed financially or with an opportunity. Unfortunately, we’ll claim He provided for us in those moments, but won’t let Him provide true validation (we’ll keep seeking it from man). We’ll keep seeking validation through traditions and habitual practices. We’ll refuse to be vulnerable because our standing with Him depends upon us being our “very best.” If you have not learned YAH as your Provider, you have nothing to give.

This means all your religion has been given from an empty place. Religion is always empty. So, you’ll likely return to the altar still feeling like you’re not good enough. You’ll likely return to the altar to “rededicate” your life to Him. You’ll likely return to the altar to have an emotional experience through worship. You’ll likely return to that church service faithfully to never jeopardize the validation that comes from man.

The foundation upon which you’ve built your faith could be what’s keeping you from experiencing true freedom. If you are willing to examine your heart over the next year for any ideology that says, “I owe God” or “I owe God because __,” do it. There’s so much freedom on the other side!

You don’t owe God anything.

Repent: More Than A Word

We don’t repent because we’ve failed miserably. We repent because we are destined to hit the bullseye.

REPENT.

It doesn’t mean what we think it does.

By now, many of us understand that there is quite a bit of nuance in the practices of confession, forgiveness, and repentance. They’re not the same.

Many of us have heard that the true meaning of repentance is the “turning away from.” To an extent, this is true. However, it moreso lends itself to our Western way of thinking. The Hebraic perspective offers a different angle and foundation altogether. To understand this, we have to visit the meaning of sin.

Many would define sin as any of the following:
unrighteousness
– the opposite of perfection
– doing bad stuff
– falling short

The basic definition of sin in the Hebrew is “failure.” This moreso aligns with the definition that has circulated many churches today — “missing the mark.” Picture a bullseye. Sin is to reach every point but the bullseye. (Even within the bullseye, there are places of greater accuracy).

The problem with our Western thinking is, we see everything in life very polarized — either you’re sinning or you’re not. Either you’re perfect or you’re not.” When you consider an entire target, you see there are many “gray” areas.

The Hebraic perspective offers a more nuanced perspective. There are levels — levels of accuracy, wholeness, maturity.

To “miss the mark” is to fail to be whole or complete. YAH is complete. YAH is whole. YAH is confident. YAH is sure of who He is. His power rests in His ability, nature, and inclination to be accurate.

What does this have to do with repentance? Short answer, everything. We see repentance as a means by which we stop going in the direction we were going and to start going the OPPOSITE way.

Repentance, simply, is “adjusting.” Turn away from the way you were doing, seeing, or thinking about it and re-aim. Recalibrate. We don’t repent because we’ve failed miserably. We repent because we are destined to hit the bullseye.

The importance of seeing the difference lies in the goal. It lies in understanding how YAH sees us. If I am practicing hitting my target, the goal is to hit the bullseye.

YAH has a perspective of His children that says, “You are made to hit the target. So, hit it.” That’s who you are. You are perfect; so, be perfect. I AM whole, so be whole. I am accurate; so, be accurate.

He does not see it as either you hit it or you didn’t. He’s not expecting you to not hit it. YAH doesn’t set us up for failure. YAH is not assuming you will fail. YAH is a good Father that is present in teaching us how to be exactly who He made us to be. A father can only reflect what He already is. Our Father is perfect and reflects perfection onto His children. He sees us as capable. So, when YAH prunes you, He is helping you shed what is hindering you from hitting the target.

Many teachings in Christianity teach from the standpoint (unknowingly) that you are doomed and inclined to fail. “We are all born sinners. We have a sin nature. We are inclined to sin.” (This is not biblical). It is believed that YAH commanded us things because we’d failed. This is untrue and counterintuitive.

YAH’s commands are declarations of who we are. “You will not have any other gods before me. You will not covet your neighbor’s possessions. You will not steal.”

What if you realized YAH saw you as a success rather than a failure? What if being whole wasn’t wishful thinking? What if all you needed to do was believe?

Stop striving and rest.