Saturday, March 21, 2015

Connecting the Dots

I consider myself to be a pretty transparent person in that I freely share the struggles and the victories that I have experienced in life.  My overall struggle in life has been with depression, which, praise God, I have been delivered from resulting in victory! (search my blog for posts specifically related to this)

However, my transparency isn't limited only to my experience with depression.  I now want to open myself up to others as the Lord is leading me through a time of spiritual understanding like I have never experienced before!  He is giving me a fresh look at His Word.  I have been having more "Aha!" moments in the past two months or so than I have had during my 30+ years as a follower of Christ.

Over the years as I have read and studied my Bible, there have been nagging thoughts in the back of my mind.  Some things that I was being taught just didn't seem to line up with God's Word, but because they were being taught by people with more education than I have, I just took their word for it.  I would skim over the troubling passages and assume that once I got to heaven, I could ask Jesus about them all.

Some of the things that bothered me were:

  • Why did Jesus say to keep His commandments if He was going to "do away" with them?
  • Why does Paul seem to contradict what Jesus said, AND even himself at times? 
  • Why do some people say we need the Law to show us our sin, but then after we're saved, we no longer need to follow the Law?  For instance, why is the commandment concerning the Sabbath overlooked?
  • Why did Jesus say He would be buried for three days and nights, but we're taught that He died on Friday and rose on Sunday?  
  • Why did Jesus talk so much about persecution if we're going to be "raptured" before the Tribulation?
  • Why are we to "die to self" and "take up our cross daily"? What does this even mean? I don't feel like I have had to deny anything so far! 
These are just a few of the things that nagged at me.  Until...

...this is where it becomes more challenging for me to share my thought process, because there has been no one thing that led me to where I am today.  God has placed dots in my life - people and things - and now He is helping me to connect them.

One dot came in the form of home schooling my children.  When my daughter was in the first grade, my husband and I enrolled her in public school.  I strongly believed that we needed to home school her, but my husband was not in agreement with me at the time.  However, after only six weeks of her being in the public school system and seeing the amount of work she brought home with her to do after being in school for six hours already, and after hearing some of the things that her innocent eyes were seeing and ears were hearing, and after I continually prayed for God to help my husband be in agreement with me about home schooling, we pulled her out.

So now that I was responsible for her education, I began doing a ton of research.  I  determined that unit studies were the way to go.  A unit study is simply taking a certain topic and tailoring all the subjects around that topic.  Since I was the teacher, I got to choose the topics.  History is my favorite subject, so I decided to research the historical roots of things. I also wanted to make the learning process for my kids applicable to life, so I used topics that would (hopefully) interest them as well.

I said all of that to lead into why I began researching the holidays that we celebrate.  I'm not going to lie (that would not be transparent of me, would it?) - what I discovered made my heart sink!  The origins of Halloween was a huge eye opener.  Although when you think about it, it really should not have been surprising to find out the evil roots of that holiday.  It is really extremely obvious if you are willing to admit it.  What really shocked me and rocked me to the core was what I discovered about Christmas and Easter.  I'm not going to go into detail here, but let me just say that most of the resources I used at the time were secular, so it's not like I was taking some radically misguided, legalistic Christian's view point of things at face value. The things I discovered were definitely a big dot!

Year after year of home schooling requires continued research.  It seems like I have always been looking ahead to the next school year, so I am pretty much always trying to find what curriculum I should buy next.  I can't remember exactly when I discovered a curriculum that was based on the Hebrew roots of Christianity, but that is another dot the Lord placed in my life.  This was a dot that intrigued me, and I really wanted to use this curriculum, but for whatever reason (probably fear and doubt), I did not.  This is one of those things that if I could do all over again, I would!  But one of the things I did pull from that was teaching the Biblical Feasts.  That was a very exciting topic for me!  I was amazed at the details that pointed directly to the Messiah, Jesus Christ!  I began to see just how deliberate God is in everything that He does!  Sadly, the significance of this did not really take root in my heart just yet.

If a person reads the Bible, it is not difficult to see that God has a special love relationship with Israel.  I have always attributed my love and affection for Israel as simply an extension of my love for God.  In a way that is true - but that is not all there is to it.  Another dot.

I have always been drawn to the Old Testament.  The prophets fascinate me with their ability to hear from God and to speak with such confidence, "Thus sayeth the LORD".  I used to think this fascination stemmed from having the spiritual gift of prophecy and my desire to understand that gift, but now I see that it was just another dot.

For as long as I can remember I have been a rule follower.  I was almost always the teacher's pet in school because of it!  But that was also a dot placed there by my Father.

Another dot in my life is the fact that I tend to see things as black or white - no grey, much less fifty shades of them!  (sorry, I couldn't resist)

And then there is my favorite chapter of the Bible - Psalm 119.  This chapter talks solely about God's laws, precepts, commandments, precepts, ways, etc. (all of which mean the same thing) and how they are life, light, truth, freedom and so on. It also happens to be the longest chapter in the entire Bible!  Coincidence? I think not! I now see it - you guessed it - as another dot! (hey, that rhymed!)

And finally, for the past two years or so whenever I wanted to study something in particular, I would pray about it and ask God where I should start.  Every time He told me, "In the beginning", so I would start reading in Genesis in search of the topic I was interested in at the time.  I actually began a Youtube channel and have shared some things on Genesis 1-7. 

So what picture am I describing as a result of connecting these dots?  I wish I could attach a visual (I did look for a picture, but didn't find one that I liked), but unless you haven't figured it out, I'm talking about how as a Child of God, saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, I am to obey His commandments out of love for Him.

I can't really point to one specific person, date or event that occurred to help me connect the dots in my life, but I will share with you some of the things that God has used to help me.  
I'll share them in the order in which I found them (at least the best my memory allows):

The history channel is where I learned a lot about the pagan roots of the holidays.  I started looking into this a long time ago, so I don't remember all of the resources I used.  However, some resources I found for other things also talk about this.  They are listed below.

The Fuel Project on Youtube, in particular the Revelation series was an eyeopener.

119 Ministries at www.testeverything.net (also found on Youtube) explains about the perceived contradictions of Paul and many other misconceptions.  This ministry has played a very large role in helping me (and my husband) to connect the dots!

And then there are people whom God has brought into my life - friends who are a bit ahead of my husband and myself on this path, but who are so patient and understanding and eager to help us, and people who I "just happened" to meet without even looking for them, also trying to live according to Torah (God's instructions). 

So, now what?  Well, like it says in Psalm 119, God's Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105).  With His help, my family and I will take one step at a time to walk according to His precepts (1 Kings 2:3).  I can't say that it is going to be easy, because I don't think it will be - at first.  After all, we have a lifetime of false teaching to undo! So far I feel like I'm going through the stages of grief:

1. Denial - this is why it has taken me years to get to this point.  I didn't want to admit that I was misunderstanding God's Word.

2. Anger - I go back and forth at being angry at myself for not following up on my doubts sooner and being upset with the teachers who have continued to hand down the misunderstandings of God's Word.  Overall, I feel cheated.

3. Bargaining - I guess this is an overflow of the feeling cheated.  I think, "If only" this and that, then I wouldn't be here.

4. Depression - Again, the feeling cheated aspect has been huge.  But I have to remember that God will restore what the locusts have eaten, and now that my husband and I know, God will help us from here on out.

5. Acceptance - I think I am finally at this stage.  I, along with my family, am looking in the Scriptures very intentionally to see what changes need to be made in our lives to be more in line with God's will. 

I know this is a lot to take in!  Trust me, I know! I'm sure that once we start making these changes, there will be people in our lives who will not understand (and this has already started).  I get that.  But, I agree with the psalmist:

In God, whose word I praise, In the LORD, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? (Psalm 56:11) 

Some of the changes we have already implemented are: not eating pork or anything that God calls unclean (my daughter and I have been vegetarians for over two years now, so this one wasn't hard for us!), doing our best to observe the seventh day as commanded by God to be our sabbath rest, and we are also going to keep the LORD's appointed feasts the best way we know how.  

All of this is foreign to us simply because we were not raised this way ,but we truly desire to please our Father.  I remember how when my children were little and their dad and I taught them how to do things for themselves, like make their bed, fold their clothes, etc., we didn't expect them to do everything perfectly the first time.  Some things take time, practice and patience.  We trust that our Heavenly Father, who is long-suffering, compassionate and kind, will understand our learning process.

I strongly encourage you to search these things for yourself.  We are told to "test everything and hold onto the things that are good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21). If you don't want to look into the ministries that I mentioned above, then do a word study on "sabbath", "commandments", and "laws".  Be sure to find out the Hebrew or Greek meanings for these words and others.  Unfortunately, the translation process of the Scriptures has twisted many things.  Thank God for the internet and having resources literally at our fingertips now!  I highly recommend biblehub.com for this.  Also, remember to keep things in context as you read.  Reading an entire book through at one sitting really helps. 

Perhaps you have all sorts of questions for me and maybe even some Bible verses to share.  I would actually like that.  One of my passions is examining the Scriptures to see if what I'm being told is true, just as the Bereans did (Acts 17:11).  I only regret that I didn't do this sooner as thoroughly as I should have.  Just remember that the Scriptures the Bereans examined were the Torah (in case you aren't familiar with that term, the Torah is referring to the first five books in the Bible).  


Psalm 119:1-8 

Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the Lord.

Blessed are those who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart—

they do no wrong
but follow his ways.You have laid down precepts
that are to be fully obeyed.

Oh, that my ways were steadfast
in obeying your decrees!

Then I would not be put to shame
when I consider all your commands.

I will praise you with an upright heart
as I learn your righteous laws.

I will obey your decrees;
do not utterly forsake me.



Be blessed!

6 comments:

Jeanie Olinger said...

Greatly enjoyed this post. I have shared some of the same questions in the past and found that God is faithful to answer them all. Thanks for your openness in sharing your journey of faith.

Christy said...

Thank you, Jeanie! God is good - all the time!

David Kyle said...

Excellent! Thanks for opening up your heart and sharing.

Steffan de Graffenried said...

Thanks Christy! I really enjoyed this!

Christy said...

Thank you, gentleman. I appreciate the encouragement!

Misty Thigpen said...

I'm still at the first stage you talked about! Anger also! I feel cheated! I totally understand what you are talking about!! Nearly word for word! I thought I was "being ugly" for having such thoughts! Thank you for expressing yourself so well! Totally relate!