• What JGIG Is:

    Joyfully Growing In Grace engages in an examination of beliefs found in the Hebrew Roots Movement, Messianic Judaism, and Netzarim streams of thought and related sects.

    The term “Messianic” is generally understood to describe Jews who have come to believe in Yeshua/Jesus as their Messiah. Jews who are believers in Jesus/Yeshua typically call themselves Jewish/Hebrew Christians or simply, Christians.

    Many Christians meet folks who say they are ‘Messianic’ and assume that those folks are Jewish Christians. Most aren’t Jewish at all, but are Gentile Christians who have chosen to pursue Torah observance and have adopted the Messianic term, calling themselves Messianic Christians, adherents to Messianic Judaism, or simply, Messianics. Some will even try to avoid that label and say that they are followers of "The Way".

    These Gentiles (and to be fair, some Messianic Jews) preach Torah observance/pursuance for Christians, persuading many believers that the Christianity of the Bible is a false religion and that we must return to the faith of the first century sect of Judaism that they say Yeshua (Jesus Christ) embraced. According to them, once you become aware that you should be 'keeping' the edicts and regulations of Mosaic Covenant Law, if you do not, you are then in willful disobedience to God.

    It has been my observation that Christians who adopt the label of Messianic identify more with the tenets of Judaism than they do with the tenets of Christianity. Many reject the label of Christian altogether and some eventually even convert to Judaism.

    1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 says, "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil."

    Joyfully Growing in Grace examines the methods, claims, and fruits of the Hebrew Roots Movement, Messianic Judaism, and Netzarim streams of thought and related, law-keeping sects.

    To borrow from a Forrest Gump quote, “Law ‘keepers’ are like a box of chocolates - ya never know what you’re gonna get!” The goal of JGIG is to be a resource to help those affected by the Torah pursuant movements to try and sort out what they’re dealing with. Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.

    Be sure to click on the many embedded links within the posts here - there's lots of additional and related information for you to access that way, as well.

    Welcome, and may God grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider all of these things.

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  • Broken Links – UGH

    Do you find it frustrating when you’re directed to a link that does not exist? Me too! My apologies for any broken links you may find here.

    JGIG occasionally links to to sites that sometimes change hosting sites or remove content, forums that periodically cull threads, sites/posters that appear to ‘scrub’ content from their sites (or YouTube posts, pdf files, etc.) when that content receives negative attention, and others that over time simply cease to exist.

    Please let me know via the ‘Contact JGIG’ drop-down menu item under the ‘About’ tab at the top of this page if you come across a link that is broken so that I can try to repair or remove it. Please include the name of the post/article where you found the broken link as well as the link itself. You may be able to find content specified by doing a search and viewing a relocated or cached page/post/video.

    Thanks,
    – JGIG

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A Hebrew Roots Wife Speaks

Over the years, I’ve received many emails and private messages from the spouses of Hebrew Roots followers and their stories are amazingly similar.  One wife shares her story below.  My prayer is that her story will be an encouragement for those who are walking the same path.
-JGIG

A Hebrew Roots Wife Speaks

A few years ago, my husband and I started to feel a stirring in our spirits and a growing discontent with the “status quo” we had experienced for many years in various churches. At that time, we had been very active in our church for 4 years, but as we began seeking the Lord, we felt an silhouette-coupleemotional disconnect happening and believed God was calling us out of our church.  Through a series of events, we were drawn to a church about 35 minutes drive from our home.  Just as I was settling in comfortably there, my husband decided out of curiosity to visit a “Messianic” congregation close to our home.

After his first visit, he came home all excited about how warm and accepting everyone had been, and said he wanted me to come with him the next week.  So the following Friday evening, our whole family went to a meeting, followed by a potluck meal.  The people were quite friendly, but it was all so foreign to me and not comfortable.  The children did not enjoy it at all.  I tried a couple of more times, but something was just feeling like red flags in my spirit.  Some of the things I started hearing were very concerning to me.

In the beginning, my husband agreed.  Things being taught did not sit right with him either.  But he felt a sense of community, and continued to attend.  It wasn’t long before he started becoming consumed with reading their materials, attending meetings Friday nights as well as most of the day on Saturdays, and watching  DVDs by various Hebrew Roots teachers.

It was about this time that my husband lost his job.  By then, he was calling himself a “Messianic Jew” (we are Gentiles), and had filed a request with his company to be excused from working Saturdays due to religious practice.  Although there was no solid proof, I have my suspicions that this may have played a part in him being let go.  He also began to grow his beard long and full, and started wearing tzi tzis, although for work he would tuck them inside his pants.

Pork and shellfish were out, and he began to scrutinize what I did around the house on Saturdays, as to what was “work” and what was “ok”.  He asked me to start preparing our meals on Friday, so that they could just be warmed on Saturdays, and I would not need to cook.  Our usual Saturday family time was now spent at home, and if we did go anywhere he wouldn’t spend any money.  Stopping for an ice cream cone was now “wrong”.

My husband started becoming very negative towards churches, and I noticed a very judgmental attitude toward members of our previous churches.  He no longer wanted to attend church with the children and me.  Since he had no job, he would spend day after day watching videos about the Law and end-times prophecies.  When I would question what he was doing to find another job, he would say the Lord would open a door at the right time, and that he was feeling blessed with a season of time to study.  We were living off his retirement account and savings, and when those gave out, credit cards.

During the first year of his involvement with HRM, I must admit I was totally freaking out! We had numerous arguments as we discussed scripture.  I felt like a yoke of slavery was being put around my neck; one that I had not asked for.  But for keeping the peace I tried to work within his new “convictions”.  I felt like my husband was becoming more of a stranger with every passing day.

He tried to ban Christmas that first year, but when he saw how upset the kids were, he backed down.  He said we were free to do whatever, but he would have no part of it. Easter was the same.  Many, many “discussions” of scripture would invariably turn to arguing again, to the point that my 11 yr old son asked me if we were going to divorce over the Bible!  My teenage daughter had slipped into a deep depression, and started pulling away from God.  She said she just didn’t know what to believe anymore, that things she had been raised to believe her whole life, now her father was saying were all wrong.

We eventually stopped going to church, because of so much conflict and me knowing how he felt about “Christian churches”.  But after several months, I felt like I was spiritually parched and longed for fellowship again with like-minded believers.  One particular Sunday, my husband asked me to go to Home Depot to pick up something he needed.  On my way in the car alone, I just began to weep and cried out to the Lord.  Another Sunday when I longed to be in church, and here we were, working on a toilet!!

I prayed, asking for direction about church for the kids and me.  Ten minutes later, the associate in the plumbing department who was helping me mentioned something about his church.  I asked him what church he belonged to and he said the name of the church that I had felt God lead us to at the beginning of all this mess.  His experience of the presence of God there was identical to my own. (And incidentally when we first started attending there my husband said he strongly sensed the Holy Spirit.)  I knew meeting this man was no fluke, and God had answered my prayer.

I went home and told my husband what happened, and that I intended to start going to church again, and that he was welcome to join us, but if not, the rest of the family would go.  He said, “You can go anywhere you want, I know eventually the truth will come.” To that I said “Hallelujah, yes it will!”

After getting established again in this wonderful, spirit-led church, the kids began to stabilize emotionally and I started seeing spiritual fruit developing in their lives.  My daughter had a powerful, life-changing experience at summer camp where she was delivered from the depression and her heart was stirred for worship ministry.  A week later my son prayed with a youth leader on a mission project, and also had a healing experience.

As I began to FULLY put my hope and trust in God, a major shift occurred. 

I no longer felt any need or desire to discuss scripture with my husband.  I realized it was not my job to show him the truth. The Holy Spirit is the one who leads into all Truth.

I was also able to let go of trying to control the situation.  When my husband would buy another DVD, instead of freaking out, I would just remind myself that God is bigger than any lie, and no matter what he watches or listens to, every lie will be made known.  Every conversation my husband would take into another room when an HRM friend would call, I would give it to God and make a decision to let it go.  I stopped peeking at his emails, or text messages on his phone.

Once I truly took my hands off and gave my husband’s salvation back to God, my peace skyrocketed, and I began to live above my circumstances.

Sure, there are days every so often,when I still get discouraged, but those days are fewer and farther between.  God has also given me a wonderful friend that I can whine to, because she always turns me back around to God’s sufficiency.

Over the next year, my husband worked odd jobs, got hired with a company, and then lost his job again last summer.  He eventually went to driving school to become a commercial truck driver.  He now travels and is only home about 4-5 days a month.  I found it curious, as divided as we are still in our marriage over our differing doctrines, that God would open a door for a job that physically separates us as well.  I realize though, that the peace in our home has greatly increased.  I really believe God took my husband out of the home to preserve our marriage.  I don’t know if we would still be together if we had continued living in constant conflict. He still wants desperately to change me to believe as he believes. But now when he comes home, we don’t waste our precious little time on our differences!  We spend it as a family, enjoying being together.

This has been the hardest thing I have ever gone through, but looking back over the last nearly 3 years, I am grateful for having gone through it.  I have experience God moving in my life and meeting me in the depths of the pain in ways I would have never known in smooth sailing.

I have learned to let go of every need and expectation of what I thought a husband should be, and have begun to find these things in God alone. God is my constant companion.  He is my provision, protector, one true lover of my soul.

It has also challenged me to seek out for myself what the scriptures really say about grace and the law.

I began to question things that I had learned in churches my whole life.  And I have come away with a greater understanding that my salvation is in no way purchased or maintained by any doing of my own good works.

Much of what I believed before, was grace+works.  That I was saved by the blood of Christ, but then my standing with the Father had everything to do with how good I was….how well I performed all the “dos” and kept from the “don’ts”.  When I was disciplined with my Bible study time and prayer, surely God was in heaven smiling down on me.  But when I lost my patience with one of the kids, I was on the Holy time-out chair.

My worth in my own eyes was directly tied to believing  “do good, get good….do bad, get bad.”

Focusing on our own behavior will always puff us up when we think we’re doing pretty good, or condemn us when we know we’re not.

When I was challenged into digging deeper in the Word, and realized exactly what the finished work of Christ has done for me, I found a deeper level of freedom and joy in the Lord than I have ever known.

God is pleased with me because of Jesus!

And the blessings of Abraham are mine by faith!

I don’t have to earn my right relationship with the Father.  It is a done deal, sealed with the Holy Spirit.  What freedom – to seek the Father when the fear of punishment or disapproval is gone!  Thank you HRM!!  Haha

I don’t know why God has allowed this journey for us, but I do know that it has worked for my good.  And I have faith that my husband is going to find this same freedom, in the timing and work of the Holy Spirit.

I know my husband was truly seeking for “more” when he stumbled into HRM, and still has a deep hunger for the Lord.  I believe many in the HRM are sincerely seeking to go deeper in God, which is a target on their backs for the enemy of their souls, to come and try his best to render them useless to the Kingdom of God.

Those still seeking will eventually come to the truth.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd; He will not lose any of his sheep.  If your spouse is seeking Truth, s(he) will not find what they are looking for in testimony 5HRM, and they WILL eventually come away empty from it.  I take great comfort in this.

In the waiting, I am learning that He truly is all that I need, and He will never leave or forsake His own.  Blessings to everyone reading this who is on this same journey.  

Hold fast to Jesus!  In a little while …

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This account will also appear on the Testimonies Page.  Many thanks to the above author for sharing with us her experiences, heart, and God’s faithfulness in her circumstances.  I pray for her family as well as the others who are out there affected by the HRM belief system.  You are not alone!

If you have a testimony you’d like to share about coming out of the Hebrew Roots Movement (or a variation of the HRM), or a testimony about walking in relationship with someone who is in the HRM, please email me at joyfullygrowingingrace at gmail dot com.  From talking to those who have come out of Law-keeping sects, I understand that it can be a difficult thing to write about the experience.  Many thanks to those who have taken the time and effort to contribute here.

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Other articles of interest:

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If you or someone you know is in the HRM or a related Law-keeping sect and are questioning what you believe, a clear presentation of the Gospel can be found HERE.  For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.  Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE.  Be sure to check out the other testimonies on the Testimonies Page, as well.   Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.  May God guide and bless you as you seek His Truth.

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Believers in the Hebrew Roots Movement: Are They Lost?

I’ve seen the issue titled above come up time after time, from anxious family members and friends of precious believers who have been sucked into the Hebrew Roots Movement, and from heresy hunters who use fear every bit as much as those they strive to refute as they try to retrieve the deceived back into Biblical Christianity.

Here’s how I see it:
The HRM draws both believers and unbelievers into its web.  The Enemy accomplishes keeping the unbeliever away from the Gospel, and he keeps the believer from a fruitful relationship with God in Christ as he keeps them from bringing the Lost to Christ – they are far too busy ‘setting themselves apart’ via Law-keeping and trying to get other believers to be Torah observant for a variety of reasons.

Those in the Conditional Security camp may cringe when I say this, but one of the big ‘hooks’ that those in Law-keeping sects use to get folks into Law-keeping and keep them there is that if you don’t keep the Law, you’re in willful rebellion against God by not keeping His commandments and you are either Lost

  1. not really saved, or
  2. will lose your salvation.

Conditional Security types who believe that one in Christ can somehow lose their salvation open the door to that very subtle deception and unwittingly feed into it.

I firmly believe that believers who get hoodwinked into Law-keeping sects do not lose their salvation, but are neutralized in the Body – sterilized if you will – and will not ‘reproduce’, bringing the Lost into the Body.  Their fruit is mixed, which makes evaluating what they believe on the core issues of the faith important.

I say their fruit is mixed because I’ve interacted with Torah folk who are, up front anyway, loving and joyful.  When you begin to consistently disagree with them regarding believers’ relationship to the Law, however, they become impatient, critical, and controlling.  Their intentions may initially be noble, but the flesh takes over and bears its fruit, produced by the Law under which they’ve placed themselves.  We then begin to see things like idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, and envy.  A few of you Torah folk balking at the idolatry and sorcery charges?  Check out where some of your doctrines come from.

There are some from the HRM who convert to Judaism outright.  And there arises a real sticky wicket:  Are we in a position to judge the heart regarding the salvation/eternal security of one who goes so far as to do something as drastic as that?

Here’s a question worth considering: Are they, by their actions carried out under deception, rejecting the True Christ Jesus in/from/through Whom, in the past, they may have been saved and received eternal life, or are they rejecting the Enemy’s portrayal of a false Messiah cleverly crafted and spun in Law-keeping sects’ doctrines? 

If they were truly saved in their past, what will happen to them

no effectSee – I’m thinking we preach the Gospel regardless – to bring the deceived back to have Christ – the REAL Christ – be of full effect again in their lives, and if they were never saved to begin with, to bring them to Christ for the first time!

That’s the beauty of the Gospel: The Gospel corrects error and brings LIFE, so no matter the ailment, the Gospel is the Cure!

Are we seeing Torah folks’ lives from the perspective of God, Who sees not only where they are, but where they’ve been and where they’re going?  A deeply deceived person will believe and do really dumb stuff.  I’m of the mind and heart to preach the Gospel full preach and let God work out who is saved and who is not – with the understanding that I have but a snapshot of most people’s lives – especially on the internet!

So let this be an exhortation/encouragement for those of you who interact with friends and loved ones who are in the Hebrew Roots Movement and other false belief systems.  Don’t take the responsibility of sorting out ‘who’s saved and who isn’t.  It’s not your deal.  Examine fruit?  Absolutely.  Call out error?  You bet.  Tell someone who may very well be saved but walking in error that they’re going to hell?  No.

gospel-changes-everythingInstead, build them up in who they are in Christ; speak the simple Truths of the Gospel to them – lovingly and clearly to counter the falsehoods with which the Enemy seeks to muddy the waters as he drops the dirt of false doctrines into our streams of faith.  If they’re already saved, the Gospel will correct the error they’re in if they’re willing.  If they’re not already saved, communicating the Gospel to them will give them the opportunity to be reconciled to God in Christ.

Regardless, results are God’s business, not ours.  We are called to speak Truth in Love, not to manipulate in order to get results.

Again, the Gospel corrects error and brings Life – think of how the Apostles dealt with error in the Apostolic writings.  Sometimes they came at error head-on (absolutely appropriate on core issues), but mostly they just preached the Gospel of Grace and told believers who they are in Christ because of that Gospel (Who Jesus is, What He came to do, What that actually accomplished, and who believers are in Him).  Some plant, some water, but God makes those seeds grow!  If you’re not sure how to communicate the Gospel in an effective way, this is a good place to start, especially to those who are in Law-keeping sects:  The Gospel

There are lots of good resources out there, many of which can be found here.  I also encourage you to check out this site, as the author there has a really good way of relating the Gospel in real terms to real people living real lives.  Be sure to check out the Testimonies Page here at JGIG, for accounts of how God has brought those folks out of the Hebrew Roots Movement.

All that to say:  Our focus needs to be on the Gospel.  Understand the Gospel and the errors in false teachings will become very obvious.  Understand the Gospel and speak Grace and Truth into the lives of your friends and family members.  If/when the Torah folk in your lives reject the Jesus/Yeshua we love, try not to take it personally; they’ve been deceived by teachers bringing them a different jesus/yeshua and a false gospel.  Just love them well, pray, pray, pray, lift the emotion of it all Heavenward, giving it to God at His Throne of Grace, and leave the rest to Him.

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Other articles of interest:

A clear presentation of the Gospel can be found HERE.  For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.  Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE.  Be sure to check out the Testimonies Page, as well.   Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.

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Escape From The Iron-Fisted Worldwide Church of God Cult into The Power and Freedom of Jesus Christ!

It is with a grateful heart that I’ve received yet another testimony.  This one like so many others, came via an email, and is a great blessing to me and to others who contend for the Gospel in the arena with those who pursue Torah.  Many thanks to Mark Smith for the following.  Mark’s story is about coming out of the Worldwide Church of God, from which the Hebrew Roots Movement draws much of its doctrine. 

This testimony will also appear on the Testimonies Page here at JGIG.

If you have a testimony you’d like to share about coming out of the Hebrew Roots Movement (or a variation of the HRM), please email me at joyfullygrowingingrace at gmail dot com.  From talking to those who have come out of Law-keeping sects, I understand that it can be a difficult thing to write about the experience.  Many thanks to those who have been willing to take the time and effort to contribute here.

Keep ‘em coming!  Testimonies are a powerful witness to the Gospel of Christ!  Thank you!

Every blessing, -JGIG

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Escape From The Iron-Fisted Worldwide Church of God Cult into The Power and Freedom of Jesus Christ!

by Mark Smith

The following is my testimonial of 18 long years in the Worldwide Church of God (HRM) Cult founded by Herbert W. Armstrong.  For more information on the founder and this cult, simply do some research on Google for more details and the history of the WCG cult.  [Exit and Support Network is a great resource. – jgig]

My father heard the founder’s convincing message in 1964 when I was 3 years old and converted wholeheartedly – my mother went along out of love for my father.  From the age of 3 years old to 21, I was indoctrinated in following and observing all of the old covenant teachings of the Torah/Mosaic law, the holy days and feast days, the Sabbath, plus extra biblical doctrine the founder imposed on us as further bondages and heavy burdens.  As children, we were not allowed to participate in the regular holiday celebrations at school, enjoy birthdays or participate in sports that typically scheduled games on the Sabbath.

While growing up, my father worked hard to support my brothers, sister and I with very little left over after paying income taxes and multiple tithes to the CULT.  For years, my mother would cook simple meals and shop at thrift stores, grow gardens and sew clothes for us to make it – and my father made good money – but gave much of it to support the cult’s “iron-fisted” control to OBEY and PAY!

There was 99 percent law mixed with their exclusive (we have the truth) spin within their doctrine claiming to being the ONLY one with the TRUTH while the rest of the world is lost.  The other 1 percent was teaching on the work of Jesus Christ and His suffering on the cross for our sins which was quickly diminished and perverted by the other 99 percent false doctrine.

Several magazines, books and correspondence courses were the means of being brainwashed and indoctrinated into their (“The”) way of spiritual growth, including fear based manipulation woven into the writings to compel followers into adhering to all the teachings of the founder.  There was the Plain Truth and Good News magazines to pitch to the followers and also to reach out to potential converts on a worldwide scale consisting of modern events, news, prophecy and God’s kingdom to come.

Problem was, there was NO emphasis about salvation in Jesus Christ.

Scripture they used to support the doctrines found in their publications were (TYPICAL OF A CULT) used out of context – and can be clearly discerned and recognized once you DO know the truth that reveals the errant false teachings!  Sin and scandals were common among members including leadership as well as the founder which demonstrated to me that their moral benchmark for godly living was skewed by legalism – NOT having the Holy Spirit moving through TRULY converted people demonstrating the power of the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ.

Their basis for conversion was the required reading of two NON biblical books written by the founder and then water baptism.  Keeping the Torah’s dietary laws and paying first, second and third tithes filled the cult’s vaults and fueled the propagation of their doctrine worldwide as well as funding a luxurious lifestyle for the founder.  The pastors, deacons and so-called evangelists, did NOT reach people with the “true love of God” but infused control and manipulation that came from the very top – the founder.

The works-based righteousness that I and others tried to walk-in produced the fruit of SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS and a pious, pride-filled life.  Looking back at the fruit of people’s lives, it was clear that the Spirit-filled life of love, joy, peace, patience – etc… was null or void of the fruit that IS evident in a converted person demonstrating the love for God and others.

Falling away or leaving the cult equaled a one-way ticket to the eternal lake of fire.  Powerful, manipulative preaching kept (me) the followers/members in fear and awe that their teaching was OF GOD and somehow anointed.  Once you were a member, you were ensured of salvation within the chosen group of God’s elect, or FACE THE LAKE OF FIRE!!

The real kicker is… their version of the Gospel was what they call the “Good News” – the kingdom of God during the 1000 year millennium to come and that we would all be small gods occupying our own planets – kind of like what the Mormons believe.  Yes, the kingdom of God will be an awesome time, but the cult’s primary focus and doctrine of the kingdom is front and center OVER and above the gospel of Jesus Christ our Savior first… AND His kingdom to come!

Truth is, I don’t remember hearing TRUE solid and sound evangelism about the Gospel of Jesus Christ that would be centered on His redemptive work and the gift of salvation and eternal life through Him!

I left the cult in 1983 after suffering serious emotional and mental anguish about whether I should continue to live under that cults heavy hand or leave since my heart was no longer in remaining as a member.  Fact is I WAS FED UP, and even though I felt that I was condemned at the same time for leaving, I left out of feeling a need to save and salvage my sanity!

Before leaving though, I asked for counseling with my (cult) pastor, who then proceeded to bash me loudly and harshly about being emotional and showed zero compassion and love.  That was all I needed to make my final beeline for the exit door out of that cult once and for all in 1983.

However, my mother went along with it all those years from 1964 until she was fed up and then divorced my father in 1988.  Six years later, in 1994, my father committed suicide due to a complete breakdown from guilt and failure of losing a marriage, and felt like he failed his children, including feeling he was a failure in that cult as a deacon.  His death was extremely heart-breaking to us all… however we felt compassion on our dear dad who was caught in the destructive teachings of a cult.

I don’t remember any of us (my siblings and myself) condemning our father for our childhood… that’s because we know our dad did the best that he thought he could.

My brothers and sister came out of it shortly after I did.  I guess you could say I paved the way to coming out of the cult after many lost years under mind control and manipulation.  My mother drank herself to death in 2009.  My younger sister is not a believer, my younger brother moves all around the country as a vagabond, and my other brother who was a year and half younger is now gone; he died in 2006 from cancer.

I pray for my two remaining siblings that the Lord would reveal to them His Gospel having mercy and grace on them as He did with me.

Several years later, the Lord brought the gospel to me through coworkers and others in the public (thank God for people not afraid to share Christ), yet I vowed never to listen to any man again, but wanted to hear from GOD and GOD only what the truth was.  In August of 1996, I was searching for something to listen to on the radio and heard a man preaching and can’t remember who it was since it was a Christian station with many different teachers and ministers.  I broke my vow to not listen to any man and knew that I just had to keep listening to a new message (the gospel) that spoke to my heart.

Little did I know it was the Holy Spirit drawing me to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, the Gospel, our salvation and the forgiveness of sins that weighed so heavy on me!

After strong conviction from the Holy Spirit regarding my past and present sins, I received Jesus Christ as my Savior and experienced the NEW BIRTH, and started reading the New Testament learning about OUR SAVIOR, about faith, mercy, grace, redemption, sanctification, justification, fruit of the Spirit, love fulfilling the law, Christian living, eternal life to come, Revelation and the Kingdom of God, the message of the Old Testament and the Messianic line along with prophecies of Jesus and so much more!

Now fast forward to the present at 51 years old…

I praise God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ for His glorious love, mercy and grace upon those of us who receive Him and his Word by faith, revealing the wonderful promises to come – from everlasting to everlasting!

Unfortunately, there are several men online that have persevered [known as ‘splinter groups’ – info available at link provided above] and are pitching the teachings of the cult I grew up in.  THEY ARE MISSING the mark big time leading people into bondage.

As the days are growing more troublesome globally, the Lord has laid it on my heart to reach the lost with the (TRUE) message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I thank God for the TRUE warriors in the faith that are battling against and exposing the lies of false prophets and teachers that are everywhere.

Even though I would love to battle solely against cults and false teaching, I can do MORE damage against the evil one and false teaching by SOLELY focusing on preaching the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ which the evil one hates more than anything!

If you are reading this testimony about my life in a Hebrew Roots/Messianic-type cult and don’t know Jesus Christ as your Savior… repent and turn to Him, calling out to Him in His name “LORD and Savior Jesus Christ” and believe that He died for our (your) sins, was buried and rose from the dead three days later.

If you’d like someone to pray with you about receiving Jesus Christ, contact the author of this site, or feel free to comment on this testimony.

After receiving Jesus Christ by faith, you will receive the gift and promise of the Holy Spirit and He will reveal to you the truth in His Holy Scriptures about the Godhead – who our Father in heaven is, who His Son Jesus Christ is, who the Holy Spirit is and MORE.  Read the New Testament books to learn about Jesus Christ… the gospel of John is a great place to start and read the other gospel books about Jesus.  Read the rest of the New Testament to understand the wonderful truths of Him and His Word.

I believe the Old Testament is best understood after you receive Christ as your Savior where you will become a new creation in Christ through the regeneration power of the Holy Spirit that will open up your spiritual eyes of understanding for His Word and the entire biblical message of God’s salvation plan for humanity.

Thank you Lord GOD of heaven and earth for this website and your glorious Truth and promises.

Love in Christ our Lord,

Mark Smith
markbsmith7@yahoo.com

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Other Testimonies at JGIG:

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Other articles of interest:

For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.  Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE.  Be sure to check out the Testimonies Page, as well.   Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.

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Hebrew Roots Movement and Children – Testimony

If you are a child whose parents have come out of  ‘churchianity’ and embraced the Hebrew Roots Movement or another similar Law-keeping view of the Scriptures, what is your view of the Gospel?  Following is the testimony of one young man whose family spent several years pursuing Torah observance.  Many thanks to Sondra (8thDay4Life) and her now 18-year-old son Jesse for allowing this post to be shared here at JGIG.  When you go to Sondra’s site, be sure to scroll down through the Recent Posts section in the sidebar . . . there’s lots of good stuff there written with a tender spirit and a humble heart.

As with other testimonies at JGIG, this post will also appear on the Testimonies Page here at JGIG.

If you have a testimony you’d like to share about coming out of the Hebrew Roots Movement (or a variation of the HRM), please email me at joyfullygrowingingrace@gmail dot com.  From talking to those who have come out of Law-keeping sects, I understand that it can be a difficult thing to write about the experience.  Many thanks to those who have taken the time and effort to contribute here.

Every blessing,
-JGIG

HRM and Children

Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving!   I have so many things to be thankful for this year, more than ever.  And no material blessing can come close to watching my children learn to know and trust God, to see His Spirit working in them.

Below my 18 year old son graciously agreed to share his perspective of what the HRM environment was like for a young heart and mind.  He saw this world through a completely different lens, one without the filters of denial that protected us as adults.

As a parent, I was heartbroken to learn this is what I put my older children through, and that I could not see I was continuing the cycle of how I was raised in  a legalistic environment.  Only recently have they both begun to share with me the effect the atmosphere and teaching had on them.   This post is the fruit of a heart-to-heart talk my son and I had that went till 2:00 a.m.  The Law did its job.. exactly as it was intended to do.  But the Remedy was seldom mentioned, and if it ever was, heavily qualified with conditions, both in words and our attitudes we projected.  I grieve not only for my own kids, but the several others that we had direct influence on.  I pray God can also bring good out of this in their lives, as He has for Jesse.

I saw a marked change in Jesse when God brought him to Grace.  He was already an amazing son, with a naturally compliant, loving temperament, but he went from “good” to ALIVE.. and that was visibly evident.

Jesse’s Story

Christians today are taught to be more tolerant of different beliefs, sometimes they don’t see the harm in what appears to be a slight doctrinal difference. Yet people are living in bondage not only to sin, but to their own beliefs as well. Another thing that is often overlooked is how alternate beliefs or perspectives can affect children; how they view God, themselves, and the rest of the world. I’m sharing my testimony in hopes that someone will see the danger of the Hebrew Roots Movement.

It started when I was about nine years old. My parents were under the impression that if they did more to please God, that God would bless the family more. The basic idea was that if we kept the law of Moses, and observed all the feasts (old covenant holidays), God would be pleased with us. When we made this change, my mother told me it was just an observation, more like adopting a new culture. We were gaining a new insight into what life and religion was like back in Bible times.

Soon after, we started attending a study group (or as they say in the Hebrew Roots, ‘Congregation’) based at a facility where children with disabilities could ride horses. My friends and I would play out there for hours while our parents would sit together and study the Torah (the first five books of the Bible).

A few years went by, we had been to a few different groups by that time, and eventually had started our own with friends we had made the whole time. I was a little older by this time, and I was listening to what the adults were saying. My mother still believed in Jesus, and the sacrifice he had made for our sins, and she thought I believed the same way, but it wasn’t exactly the case.

I believed Jesus died and rose again for my sins, but the obsession with the Law that everyone had gave me the impression I had to keep all 613 commandments to be saved. None of it made sense to me. How could Jesus die for me and still expect me to live a perfect life? I knew I wasn’t able to do it, and as hard as I tried to be perfect, I believed I was headed straight for Hell. I remember crying out to God on several occasions, pleading for mercy, and thinking to myself , “You don’t deserve it, He won’t listen to you”.

Not long after I turned 14, God led my parents out of the Hebrew Roots Movement, and we started going to a Baptist church. I was relieved to know at this point that I didn’t have to follow the Law of Moses to be saved, and that I just had to let Christ into my heart. But it wasn’t until I went with that Baptist church on a week long mission trip to Kansas that I actually got saved. The mission trip I went on to reach others, was really meant for me, so I could be saved. I remember sitting in the church building, my pastor giving us a sermon after dinner, and seeing the pulpit had a cross on the front. While I was listening, I started focusing on the cross. Being the 14 year old boy that I was, I started to think about how the cross looked like a sword, and how Jesus defeated sin on the cross. The image was simple, but it was powerful to me, and God changed my heart right there. I was free!

I know people go through much worse than I have, in a sense, I’m very blessed to have suffered very little, though when I look back now, I don’t so much see myself as I do another 10 year old boy, in torment, feeling unworthy of God’s presence, of His mercy. I hope that in writing this, someone will spare themselves, and their children of the bondage that is in the Hebrew Roots movement.

But until today, when Moses is being read, a veil lies on their heart. But whenever it turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. And the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. But we all with our face having been unveiled, having beheld the glory of the Lord in a mirror, are being changed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord Spirit.         2 Corinthians 3:15-18

(Jesse said when he wrote this out, he opened his Bible for a reference, and his bookmark was on this Scripture!  God’s exclamation point!)

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Again, many thanks to Sondra and Jesse for sharing their story.  The following diagram came to mind as I read Jesse’s story . . . one much like the one I saw when I was eight years old and which made it so clear to me that the Way to God is found only in Christ:

One thing that I’d like you to take notice of in the above illustration is that Jesus paid the penalty for SIN, not just for the penalty of the LAW.  In discourse with those who pursue Torah I have found this to be a distinction – how do they view (and communicate) the work of Christ?

Was the work of the Cross meant to

  • pay for the penalty parts of Mosaic Covenant Law, making just those parts and the sacrificial portion of the Law obsolete, keeping every other part of the Law in place (if you think this is the case, then please provide contextual Scripture to support that view), or
  • pay the penalty for sin in a primary sense, restoring the spiritual life lost at the Fall when Adam sinned?

Romans 5:12-20
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— 13 for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.

15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

20 The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Ephesians 2:4-10
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

It’s all about Jesus!

Having faith in

Who He is.

What He did.

Walking in Him.

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Edited to add 8/14/13 – I wasn’t quite sure where to add this link, so I’ll just pop it in here.  I hope it does not go unnoticed.  This is part 3 of a testimony from a man who was brought up under the legalistic teachings of Bill Gothard during his childhood.  I include this here because many of the families I got to know through the Momys Digest were faithful followers of Gothard’s IBLP and ATI courses/camps/conferences.  Many of those families ‘progressed’ into Torah observance; it really was a natural progression, and for them brought an ‘authenticity’ to stuff they were already doing, as Gothard incorporates many OT laws in his teachings.  The following is available from a site called, Recovering Grace – A Gothard generation sheds light on the teachings of IBLP and ATI.  I found that Part 3 of the following testimony fit in really well with Jesse’s story above, going into more of the transformation that the author experienced and continues to experience in Grace as an adult.  

Two more pages that you may find interesting, as they cover a lot of ground regarding legalism:

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If you’re someone in the HRM or a related Law-keeping sect questioning what you believe, a clear presentation of the Gospel can be found HERE.  For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.  Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE.  Be sure to check out the other testimonies on the Testimonies Page, as well.   Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.  May God guide and bless you as you seek His Truth.

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Other related articles available at JGIG:

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Love Goes Where the Law Cannot

As sometimes happens when discussing Law and Grace on a forum, a particular issue will become clear in a really simple way.  I’ve written before about how the Gospel can go where the Law cannot culturally, but tonight God showed me that Love goes where the Law cannot, as well.

A mom who is Torah pursuant asked me this:

Originally Posted by ‘ME
I know you’re a Mother too, so maybe this will make sense:

Q:  Do you become a mother when you first get pregnant or do you become a mother when your child is terminally ill and you never leave its side at a hospital?

A: You become a mother both times.

However, just because you are a mother in the first instance doesn’t mean you ‘do right’ and are even a ‘good’ mother. Read the Ohio story of a woman who killed her child in a way.

The mother who sits by her child’s bedside is also a mother, but reborn in her experiences all those years as a Mom. We would call her a good, faithful mother.

Both, however are and will be to their dying days a “Mother”.

The same can be said of salvation. Once you accept the Savior, He has brought you salvation.

How are you going to show you are worthy of such a calling?

It is a personal thing (just like being a mom) and there is indeed ‘right things’ and ‘wrong things’ you can do until your last breath.

You’re still a Mom, just like You’re still saved – but we aim for faithfulness and truth when we want to do ‘right’. A part of that is obedience to Him [she is speaking of Torah observance here].

We look to the spirit, and we look to His written word.

I thought maybe you being a Mom might help understand this concept. I hope you didn’t think I was rude or overly parochial at all. I help teach children, so I am constantly trying to find real life connections with gospel connections.

My response:
Let me ask you a question, mother to mother:

Do you do the things to care for and nurture your children because state or federal laws tell you to or because you instinctively know and desire to do the best you can for your children because you love them?

If one of your children is teething, is there a law that tells you to comfort them and tend to their pain, even if it means you losing sleep because of it?  Or do you comfort that child and tend to their pain because it is the loving thing to do?

When one is in Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we don’t need to rely on the Law to tell us what’s right or wrong – we instinctively know – the Holy Spirit becomes our conscience and our Guide – He writes the Law on our hearts. Even more than that – the Holy Spirit not only tells us what is right and wrong – He tells us how to love sacrificially.

John 15:12-13
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

Titus 2:11-14
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

The Law will not tell you to stay up with a teething baby.  Love, however, will.

In our own family, we have a child with Type 1 Diabetes, so this hits very close to home for me.  The law does not tell me to check my child’s blood glucose through the night, but I do – sometimes 3 or 4 times a night for the past two years and for the rest of the time that she will be in our care. If she runs too high, there is potential damage happening to her nerves and organs. If she runs too low, there is the risk of death.  The law would say that it’s okay to let her run a little high so that I can sleep more without the risk of her going low and dying.  Love tells me to keep her Blood Glucose #’s in a good range ’round the clock and to check through the night to make sure she’s not too high or too low to minimize damage to her body systems so that she can live a long and healthy life.

The law can only go so far.  

Love takes doing the right thing to the next level.

That’s what Jesus taught about in Matthew 5 and exemplified throughout His ministry – right to the Cross where He became the once-and-for-all sacrifice for us because He loved us.

The Law didn’t tell Jesus to go to the Cross – Love did.

I hope this simple example helped you to see the significant truth that Love goes where the Law cannot.  It did me!

Blessings,
-JGIG

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Resurrection Day!

He is Risen!  Risen Indeed!

Some of you who read here believe that “Easter” really has pagan origins.  Depending on who/what you deem to be reliable sources will largely shape your view on the subject.

Resurrection Day, however, does not! 

A Chocolate Bunny’s Dilemma

I don’t have a problem that most of the Body of Christ celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter because as far as the WORLD is concerned, they have no idea of any paganism that may or not be a part of Easter celebrations.   By and large, the world thinks we’re celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, in spite of egg hunts and chocolate bunnies.  And if we can draw attention to Jesus and Who He is and show the World the glory of God, then, YAY!

Some who read here believe that it is rebellion to celebrate Easter and that we should instead celebrate the appointed time of Passover given to Israel.

Jesus did celebrate Passover.  And as He did so for the last time, He established a NEW observance, that of remembering that His Body was broken and His Blood was shed for the remission of our sins.  He lived by the Law in His observance of the Feast(s), the shadow of things to come, and then instructed us to remember Him and what He did (Luke 22:14-20).  We are to honor the fulfillment of Who the Law with it’s feasts foreshadowed, not the shadows themselves.

And He Lives!  And we celebrate that He lives!  Every day that we reside among the living, not just on “Easter”.  We, as a family, do not choose to do the egg thing or the basket thing or the bunny thing.  It’s just not how we feel we can best honor what Jesus did.  We celebrate an empty tomb and the living Christ.  Do we praise and worship and lift the name of Jesus up on “Easter”, the day that most of the World recognizes as the celebration of His resurrection?  You Bet!  And we are worshipping and honoring JESUS, not a pagan sun god!  My big girls, when they update the wet-erase calendar on our fridge, draw a picture of an empty tomb with the stone rolled away, so I think it’s safe to say they get what we’re really celebrating =o).

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart . . . “

As I’ve posted material here on JGIG, my oldest child has been reading along.  She asked me how I was able to see the mistakes, as she put it, in Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism doctrine.  The answer is that it wasn’t me, it was the Word.

As a school child, part of my schooling was Scripture memorization.  Portions from both the Old and New Testaments, in the King James Version.  As an adult, I use the NIV, though not exclusively, but still love the language of the KJV passages I learned.  In the busy-ness of adulthood and now parenthood, I must confess, there is not much time for Scripture memorization!  Now I have more of a map in my head of where to find Scriptures relevant to a discussion or study.

But back to the Word . . .

As I was exposed to the teachings of the HR/MJ movements, the teachings that I was hearing were not matching up with what my heart had hidden deep within me – the Word.  It is not the ‘teachings from pastors or church fathers’ or the ‘brainwashing of the modern church’ which cause me to disagree with the teachings I have discerned as false, it is the Word in my heart!  I’d see a teaching and the thought process behind it (which more often than not seemed reasonable on the surface), but it wouldn’t sit right in my heart.  The words of Scripture would come to mind, I’d go look them up, and sure enough, error was revealed in whatever particular teaching by a plain reading of the Word.

So if you have children, encourage the memorization of passages of the Word.  Passages, not just verses.  Context is sooooo important as our children will be exposed to all manner of teachings/teachers/perspectives as they grow into and become adults.  I have a renewed goal in our home toward that end after that little conversation with our oldest . . .

Every Blessing,
-JGIG

A New Relationship With Christmas

I saw this post over at 8thday4life’s Weblog and Sondra graciously granted me permission to share her post with you here.  Her perspective as one formerly in the Hebrew Roots Movement is valuable and provides insight that I, as one who merely observes, questions, and comments, cannot give.  I encourage you to spend some time at her blog, a place where she humbly and scripturally communicates about her and her husband’s journey from Law to Grace. 

I know Christmas has come and gone this year, but maybe some of you are discussing such things after being with family and examining why we do what we do – on whichever side of the issue you stand.  

May God grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider all of these things,

– JGIG

 

A New Relationship With Christmas

I recently sat in a living room of Christian women who had met together to learn more about healthy food preparation.  As an icebreaker for the meeting, we were asked to share how we kept things in perspective during the busy holiday season, as well as special traditions our families had.  I realized how this question would have stressed me terribly a few years ago.  I shared that I did not have a great deal of experience yet, (long story) but our main focus was to give Jesus the gifts, to the “least of these” rather than go crazy on junk no one needs, wants, or remembers this time next year.   As the sharing moved around the room, one woman began to explain why they were not going to celebrate Christmas this year.  Her explanation wavered between sheepish embarrassment to dogmatic conviction about “what the Bible says.”  I know that conviction well.  No one knew what to say.  I knew what I wanted to tell her, but I also knew she would have to walk down that road to see what I see now.The Christmas Metaphor

You cannot ignore Christmas, no matter how hard you might try.  And oh did we try, for nearly ten years.  We came under conviction early on in our Christian lives that we were wrong to mix the worship of the one true God with traditions inherited from Paganism.  The desire for our worship to be pure before God sparked our search for the purest form of our faith, seeking to go back all the way to what we believed were our authentic roots.

I don’t blame anyone for coming to this conclusion about Christmas, especially if you do as I did and study out the history of the Church and various holy days.  During the Middle Ages, every month had some type of celebration adopted from various pagan cultures, renaming the days for saints, yet retaining the rituals of superstition and divination.  I did not view this as an honorable history, but rather a church compromising in order to gain allegiance and control of the masses.  In many countries around the world today you see a strange mix of traditional cultures with Catholic mass and rituals, mixing Jesus and Mary with whatever custom they can impress them upon.  Watching documentaries of other cultures, I personally saw no difference in what they were doing and the western worship of Christmas.  (I felt the day was worshiped, not God, and still see this is the largest pitfall of our materialistic culture.)

I became a Christian after spending time in the New Age, so I was especially sensitive to avoid all references or participation in paganism, which at this time in my life, was perfectly right.  This was all I could see in Christmas at the time which is why I don’t judge anyone for choosing to not celebrate this day.  However for me, my pure devotion quickly transformed into a source of superiority and pride.

Each year as the day rolled around we sometimes had a dinner with friends who had the same conviction.  There was literally nothing else to do.  We would eat, play games, and lament how our families just did not  understand.  We personally didn’t mind being with our own families, but some did not respect our unwillingness to exchange gifts, which created awkward situations, so we tended to avoid them.  The irony of our non-Christmas dinner fellowships wasn’t lost on me.  I realized, we were still acknowledging the day, just in a different way.

When confronted with Christmas invitations and questions, I soon tried to not reveal that we didn’t celebrate it because the questions were uncomfortable.  Do you believe in Jesus?  Are you a Jehovah’s Witness?  It took too long to explain.  Even with the challenge it posed, this became an important feature of our unique spiritual identity.  To ignore Christmas is like standing against a tidal wave.

When our eyes opened to the reality of what we have in Christ, and we began to rebuild our spiritual worldview, we had to face once again the question; What do we do with  Christmas?

We did not have a new set of facts.  History cannot be changed.  And this was in fact our conclusion.  Try as we might to pretend it didn’t happen, Christmas has become the shining star of the entire year of holidays for the entire western world, and even in many countries which do not generally embrace Christianity.  As we looked at the issue again, we had to go back to the testing method which originally prompted our discontent with the Hebrew Roots Movement.  Fruit.  The fruit of ignoring Christmas had only caused people to shy away and assume we did not even believe in Jesus at all.  Only atheists and cults deny Christmas.  (here’s your sign…once again.)  Bad fruit there if you are in fact wanting people to know about Him.  Add that to the ways in which we gave the wrong impression about Jesus, which were many.  The only thing we had to show for our pious obedience was sheer boredom and miffed family members.

When we looked at  Christmas again, instead of seeing only paganism repackaged, we saw paganism redeemed, for the spread of the gospel.  Just as Jesus took us who were broken, sinful, idolatrous, rebellious, and prideful – and redeemed us for His glory, we realized He can also do this with a day if it pleases Him to do so.  The evergreen, the pagan symbol for eternal life – was simply the cry of their hearts – the realization of their problem with death, that Jesus came to resolve.  The lights symbolize the true Light of the World, that comes in our darkest, coldest nights.  The day they dedicated to call back the Sun is now celebrated to the Eternal Son.  It seems maybe God intended for things to transpire the way they have.  Another miracle of Christmas is the success of its worldwide popularity, being presented as the day of Jesus Christ’s birth!  If I were a pagan, I would not see this as a victory for my perspective, especially since most people don’t give a second thought to where the traditions came from in the first place.

As I sat in church during what was arguably my first real Christmas – fully embracing Christ, I was so moved by the focus on the amazing miracle and sacrifice of a God who was willing to come and give everything of Himself to His Creation.  How could the Creator submit to a human birth,  just as we are born?  I related to Him in the birth of my own children and wondered what Mary must have thought as she held God in her arms.  Thankfully she could not fully see the days ahead.  I was filled with emotion as I saw illustrations of these tender moments – with full knowledge from our perspective of the enormity of His mission and future suffering.

Did He command me to remember His birth?  No.  But part of the beauty of the New Covenant is found in the love offering our life becomes.  In the Old Covenant people brought freewill and thank offerings when they desired to.  I believe Christmas, for a genuine believer, becomes a time to present a thank offering to Jesus for the amazing gift He gave, which only started with His birth.  We cannot stop at the manger.  Our minds are drawn to the cross, and finally a risen Lord, and His ever-present Spirit, the true Spirit of Christmas.

I found it was not possible to ever completely separate myself from this holiday, but I am thankful that I am now in a new relationship with it that blesses me and gives me a chance to bless others in many ways.  I don’t believe there is any other day of the year that provides a better stage to share the truth about Jesus, to find people with their ears and hearts a little more open.  I am sorry for the years I missed that, and for all the frustration we put our families through.  I have also seen how special this day is to those who don’t have the freedom to worship Him openly, and how they have risked their lives to honor their Savior on the day dedicated to His birth.  I would much rather stand with them in their sacrificial love of Christ, than were I stood before, in pride against those who have given all for Him.  What will you do with the day of the Son this year?

Thank you Jesus for being willing to come to our dark world and share in our human suffering and carry our humiliation.  Your love is beyond understanding, beyond anything mortal man in all his vain wisdom ever dared to hope for – a God that would come down and unite Himself with us, in order to save us.  Thank you that You are in us, and we are in You, forever! Maranatha!

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Other Holiday-related Posts:

There are also links to articles from other sources regarding holidays on the Articles Page here at JGIG.

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Other articles of interest:

For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.   Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.

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New Baby!

We have welcomed a new little baby into our family, a sweet little girl =o).  She is much loved and loved-on by her parents and siblings.  Being the mom of a newborn, of course my time is long on snuggling and caring for this new wee one and short for most everything else.newborn

I’ll continue to moderate comments here at JGIG, so feel free to leave your input on the posts you read.  I’ll get back to posting when life gets a bit less hectic.  For now, I’m just going to take joy in this new little life that’s sweetly sleeping on my shoulder . . .

Grace and peace,
-JGIG

A New Reality

The last couple of weeks have been eventful indeed for our family.  This post will be a departure from the norm here at JGIG to share some personal occurrences in our family, as well as fill you in as to why posts here have been a bit sparse lately.

Some of you know already that I am very pregnant with baby #7, due to arrive late July to early August.  So I just haven’t had the energy to put into much of anything right now!  I have some posts rolling around in my head and in drafts that I’d like to get posted, but am just pooped most of the time at this point in the pregnancy, so the posts go undone.

Add to the above our recent family crisis . . .

Our 7-year-old daughter was diagnosed with sudden onset juvenile diabetes about a week and a half ago.  It was both a scary and an incredibly busy week, with her in the hospital for 4 days (2 of them in intensive care), juggling our 6 other children and hubby and I alternating times at the hospital and arranging times that we could be there together for education about our daughter’s new condition.

The balance of this post will relay our experience, in the form of daily updates that we sent out to our church and family.  Though not terribly common, juvenile diabetes is not rare, and my hope is that our experience will possibly aid other parents to identify or rule out diabetes in their own children should there seem to be a “bug” their child is just having a tough time kicking.  Hopefully none of you ever has to go through this, but our experience may help you to identify a potential illness in your child.

I’ve edited the following slightly to maintain our relative anonymity.  More to follow below.

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“Sally” is in the hospital diagnosed with diabetes.  She’s at a nearby hospital right now and will be transferred to the Children’s Hospital when they have her stabilized.  They expect to have her there for several days. Please pray for “Sally” and her family.  I’m sure her parents will send out more information when they have it.  – J.J.

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Sally’s Dad here.  What a day and a half.  Thank you all for praying.  I really realize more and more how much each little word can make an impact before our Heavenly Father’s throne.

Here is the deal . . . Sally was ill two weeks ago Sunday morning with vomiting.  She was ill for a day and then had a low grade fever for three days.  The next day she was riding her bike in her jammies and got in trouble for it.  Back to her normal bubbly self.

We had noticed that she has been sprouting lately and had grown an inch and a quarter since Feb and a half inch in the last three weeks alone.  She had thinned up and we simply thought that it was due to the growth.  She looked pale this past week and we sensed that she wasn’t well but thought she’d pop out of it with rest or simply getting past her spurt.

Saturday we got up really early and went  for a 10 am graduation for my niece, about an hour and a half away.  She looked sallow and had difficulty catching her breath as we crossed a large lawn quickly. She was in good spirits but many relatives asked her if she felt OK during the day.  She said, cheerfully, yes.  We went two hours further to another graduation and headed  for home about 9 o’clock.  We were about five miles from home and she woke up and barfed in the van.  Interestingly, I had a dream a night or two before about “Sally” being ill and barfing.  Hmmmm.

Sunday was a rest day and she looked awful.  We measured her and found the half inch of additional growth.  Then she weighed herself.  She was down fifteen pounds.  We were aghast.  How do you miss that?  She had literally disappeared these last few days.  I looked at her more carefully and she was really skinny.  Were did Sally go to?

We called the doctor and told the symptoms.  They recommended an appointment today at 11.  After a pee cup was processed we were immediately whisked across the street to the ER with a nurse to go along.  Sally got put on fluids and insulin with a diagnosis of diabetes at age 7.  Wow.  My dad was diabetic all my life.  This will take some time to soak in.  But praises in the midst…I am soooo thankful for diabetes and not other things I thought about.

In the mean time, Sally is in the Pediatric ICU at the Children’s Hospital now for extra close supervision.  She was transferred at 80 miles an hour with lights and siren from the local ER.  Wendy asked the EMT if they were “told” to go fast or if the lights and siren and speed were for Sally.  He told Wendy “It’s for her.”  Sweet.  She is not critical now but is in serious condition.  They feel her blood chemistry has bottomed and her blood sugar will get resolved in time.  She was in complete metabolic acidosis (we now know the proper term for her condition at the time is diabetic ketoacidosis).  She is a trooper and in capable hands.  By the way, her blood sugar was at 315 at the ER to give you an idea.  It was down to 197 when I returned home to tend to our other kids.

AJ_diabetic_ketoacidosis

I hope this isn’t too long but I thought you might like to know more detail.  This has been an emotional day.  No one has overtly said so, but I have the strong impression that she didn’t have much longer to go until she would have been in real trouble.  I feel really bad as does Wendy, but really thankful all the same.  Our Children’s Hospital nurse told us that these cases manifest in so many different ways that they are hard to see.  I understand that.

Thank you for your continued prayers.

By the way, I told Sally last night in a rich drawl that “wees gonna find out warts aylin ya” at the doctor.  She replied “Maybe a space ‘alien’ .”  She will be fine I’m sure.

All for now.  Blessings,

Sally’s Dad

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Hi All,

Wendy here.  I’m home (around midnight) and having some food and winding down from a big day.

Sally is in the PCCU at Children’s Hospital (Pediatric Intensive Care – she was there for 2 days in serious condition) . . . they hope to have her blood sugars and chemistry in relative normal ranges by sometime tomorrow, after which she can be moved to a regular room.  It’s a slow go and her blood is drawn and sugars and gasses are measured hourly, and they adjust meds accordingly.  They have to bring her down slowly or there is risk for swelling in the brain (she also had a brief neurological exam hourly to check for brain swelling).  I saw that hubby had written that her sugar level was down to 197 . . .  they actually brought it back up (to over 300) so it can come down more slowly in pace with her other blood gasses and chemistry.  The docs and nurses describe it as a fine balancing act, and one that is very closely monitored.

Sally has been a trooper . . . her greatest discomfort is two IV sites, one for meds and the IV, the other for hourly blood draws.  She’s very tired, but her color is better.  She’s looking forward to having the IV lines out and being able eat food.  She was also having a really hard time staying warm, but as her blood chemistry has improved, she’s warmed up (extra blanket helped, too).  Her top two coolest things about the experience so far is the ambulance transport ride from the local ER to the Children’s Hospital with the lights and sirens (the EMT guys were really great), and surprisingly watching the IV lines go in.  She said it hurt (they had a hard time getting good veins), but that how it all works is really cool =o).

Hubby and I are knowing that there’s a very important learning curve coming our way in the next couple of days and for the foreseeable future.  I’ve had a few good cries . . . one or two when we sensed that something was really wrong, and a few more after the diagnosis.  We are sobered on one hand, thankful on the other . . . things could have been so much worse, the diagnosis could have been so much more serious.  In the PCCU, we have had cases around us obviously more grave than what we face.  So we are thankful and resolved to settle into a new reality.

Thank you all for your prayers and email notes . . . they are an encouragement.

And a big thank you to those who are helping/supporting in concrete ways with childcare, etc.  We appreciate you =o).

I’m off to bed.  Hubby is at Children’s Hospital tonight with Sally.  I’ll be going back early in the day tomorrow.  We’ll update when we can.  

Thanks again, all.

Wendy

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Hi All,

Sally had a good day, overall, though it started off with a bit of vomiting.  Her body is getting back in balance, and unfortunately that’s just part of it.

Her siblings all got to see her in the PCCU today . . . something Sally had been asking for – she misses them a lot.  I think it did her a lot of good to see them . . . especially to spend a few minutes chatting with her sisters.  They all did a great job at the hospital – they made us very proud with their good behavior.  We also learned today that our 2-year-old is afraid of elevators – who’d a thunk?

Sally started eating at about 4pm and didn’t stop till 10pm.  No kidding.  She ate a total of 9 packets of saltines, a garden salad with Italian dressing, a bowl of chicken soup, 6 and a half LARGE fish sticks (with mayo), and a piece of pizza.  They said she could eat whatever she wanted . . . they took blood sugars and gave insulin accordingly.  They were just happy to see her eating (ME TOO!).  I felt much like a mother bird for most of the day, as she can’t feed herself because of her IV placement, and all was given in very small bites.  I enjoyed every moment =o).  She’s cleared to go to a regular room, just waiting for space.  So for now she’s still in PCCU, though the crisis has passed =o).  Sally was looking MUCH better by early evening . . . that wonderful sparkle and that sweet way she has about her was definitely coming back.  VERY good to see!

Tomorrow starts our education on life with diabetes.  Please pray that we understand and retain all the info.  Sally is starting to grasp that what she has is a condition and not just a sickness that we can get rid of.  We understand that the learning curve will be a process . . . we need to get up to speed fairly quickly, but to really have a handle on how life will be will be a process over the next several weeks and months.

Thanks again for all your prayers and email notes, and also to those who have been able to help with the practical needs we’ve had this week.  What a blessing you all have been and continue to be!

Bye for now,
Wendy

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Hi All,

A good day for Sally.  Hubby and I are exhausted, so this will be short.

Short version – Sally tested her own blood sugar twice today (she did GREAT), and Hubby and I have both given her an insulin shot.  Lots of education today from a great teacher.  We’ll be going over it again tomorrow and meeting with her Doctor.  Tons of info, and just the basics for now with lots more continuing ed. to come over time.

Sally was finally brought to a regular room this evening.  She could have gone into one last night, there was just not one available.  She and Hubby are glad for it . . . It’s more comfortable with a real bathroom and a much more comfortable sleeping situation for Hubby (relatively speaking) and a real door providing a much quieter environment.

Hopefully we’ll be bringing Sally home tomorrow evening.  Not a definite thing, but looking good for that possibility.  She ate well again today and continued to improve.  Her sugar numbers are still high, but will be coming down slowly over time (a matter of weeks) as docs learn how her body responds to sugar/insulin.  Her blood chemistry is good now, so she is feeling much better.

Off to bed in prep for another day.  I will return calls tomorrow AM.  Hubby didn’t notice the machine this evening when he brought the children home and did the bedtime routine.  I saw it blinking at me when I got home really late.  Sorry about that.  We’ve been going pretty much non-stop, juggling, learning, and walking through the emotions of this all from morning till late night for 3 days straight.

Thanks for your prayers.  Must sleep =o).

Wendy

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Sally’s Dad here.

Sally is home!!!  Praises to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!  We are soooooooo glad to be home!

Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support.  To those that called, stopped by, brought meals, prayed, kept the other children….thank you!  You have served us so lovingly.  We’re exhausted, but richly blessed all the same.

Please pray also for Tori and her family.  She is in ICU still and critical. She was in the room next to us.  She is 17 and aspirated her own vomit. Tori is physically and mentally challenged, but very loved and loving and her family is dealing with this ongoing challenge.  They really don’t know where it will end.

Please pray for the family of the infant with a heart attacked by Strep B.  Five cases nationally.  The first four have died.  I met her grandmother and great aunt. They are not hopeful and can’t go home either.  They are four hours from home.

For the family I met today on the elevator that had been at Children’s Hospital for four months.  I don’t know why or anything.  Just that time humbles me.

You see a picture here.  I am staring at a pile of diabetic supplies tonight that will keep my daughter alive.  I am realizing that this is for the rest of her life barring a cure or a healing.  I realize that in all of this, we don’t have the issues facing these other families and many more like them still there tonight.  Wow!

Sally was thrilled to watch two helicopters land on the building out of our window today.  I was fascinated too, but I also know that it meant that two families’ lives might never be the same again.  I’m going to try to remember those anonymous folks up there in prayer.

Thanks again so much.  It was a huge blessing just to know you were there. We look forward to seeing you soon.  At the church picnic for a few of us actually.

Wendy might send her own summary.  That is all for me.

Much love,

Sally’s Dad
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Hi again All,

Just a quick note to let you know how Sally is doing.  She’s gained over 7 lbs. back since Thursday (I sent this update on Sunday), so that should give you some indication of how she’s eating =o).

She’s been doing all her own blood testing, and logging her numbers and insulin injections/amounts (I’ve been giving her the shots and have a “grown-up” log that I keep).  The diabetes team at Children’s Hospital has upped her insulin a little bit each of the past two days, but that’s to be expected to get her to her target blood sugar range.  Insulin
requirements will probably go up, then drop, then go up a bit again and level off over time from what I understand at this point.

It will be another busy week this week.  A follow-up pediatrician’s appt. tomorrow, an OB appt. for me on Wed., Hubby’s mom is coming for the day on Tues. with his sister and possibly her 4 girls.  And daily calls to Children’s Hospital to report the 5 blood sugar readings and 4 shots that Sally is getting.  Then more appointments over the coming weeks and months.  Yup, we’re settling into a new reality.  But it’s going well, and the emotions of it all are beginning to level out a bit.

Thanks again for all your prayers, emails, and your practical help.  We appreciate all of you!

Off I go . . . our Bottomless Pit aka Sally is having another snack, then a check of her blood sugar and off to bed =o).

Love you all,
Wendy

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So there you have it in a nutshell.  Sally came home Friday evening and we’ve been going non-stop since then with normal life, a few extras thrown in (Hubby took the rest of the children to the church picnic on Sat., church on Sun., follow-up with Sally’s pediatrician on Monday, Hubby’s mom for a day-visit on Tues. (along with aunt and
cousins).  I have an OB appt. on Wed. and then I think we are commitment-free for a few days =o).  Throw in 5 blood sugar tests and 4 injections a day with a daily call to the Children’s Hospital Diabetes Team to report all the numbers for Sally’s blood tests for tweaking of insulin doses and you can see where life is kind of non-stop!

All told, Sally is doing really well, gaining a good chunk of her lost weight back and handling “thinking like a pancreas” a novologreally well.  As parents, Hubby and I are settling into a new reality of having an insulin-dependant child and all that that entails.  After we picked up supplies from the pharmacy (2 types of insulin, syringes, test strips and a lot of other stuff), we sat on the couch and looked at the two bags full of things that would keep our daughter alive for the next 1-2 months.  Yup.  A new reality.

God has been so good . . . our church family has been a wonderful support in prayer and in the practical with childcare for our other children and supplying meals for our family when needed.  We are very blessed.  We are also grateful for a diagnosis that is a manageable condition . . . when we realized at the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend that Sally was more than just fighting a “tummy bug” and made her appt. with the pediatrician, we had a day or two (holiday weekend and the triage nurse I talked to seemed to think that she would be okay till Tues.) to look up some stuff with her symptoms online . . . many of which were much scarier than diabetes.  So though this is a life-changer for her and us, we know it could have been so much worse.

I’m learning to log blood sugars and administer (give shots) and log 2 different types of insulin, count carbs (not so much now, more after a couple of weeks as we learn how her Diabetes Team wants us to do it – continuing ed. is ongoing).  Sally is learning to log the info as well, in her own little log book.  She does all her own blood tests (she’s a pro now!) and I’ve been giving her her 4 shots per day.  This should be interesting when we have a newborn – between nursing and testing and injecting and counting . . .

A wise friend of mine told be a phrase that Elisabeth Elliot clung to after her husband Jim was killed and she was alone with their small child(ren) –  “Just do the next thing.”  It’s been a good phrase to have echo in the back of my mind.  Next week this will all be easier than this week, the week after better still.  We will have continuing education at Children’s Hospital for the foreseeable future, and should be pretty much up to speed by the time the baby comes.  Then I suppose for a while it will be back to “Just do the next thing” for a while as we get to know this new baby and adjust to what the baby’s and Sally’s schedules require.

Looking back (as is often the case), we can see where Sally’s symptoms lined up with a diagnosis of diabetes.  EVERY doctor and nurse that spoke with us reassured us that diabetes can be ambiguous in its presentation, and to not beat ourselves up over it.  A good list of symptoms to tuck away in your brain can be found at
http://www.healthscout.com/ency/68/544/main.html#SymptomsofJuvenileDiabetes.

Though Sally did not exhibit all of the symptoms, she did exhibit most of them – the ones consistent with a persistent tummy bug.  Her peeing in a cup was all it took at the pediatrician’s office to quickly determine (at her stage of illness) what the trouble was.

Mostly we’re just thankful to be on this side of the crisis and to be on a navigable path.  And we are thankful that we live within 30 minutes of one of the top children’s hospitals in the country, with a top-notch juvenile diabetes team.  God has been gracious in so many ways over this eventful chunk of time in our family.  We would appreciate any prayers you feel led to pray for us.

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