• 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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    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.

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The American Concept of Harvesting

With all the news stories about farmers not growing this in order to grow that in order to make the other . . . well it got me to thinking about the farm “industry” in this country vs. the small local farmers.  And that made me think of this . . .

The American concept of successful harvesting is for a farmer to climb up into the big air-conditioned cab of their combine, fire it up, crank up some tunes, and proceed to mow down the fields before them.  There is little contact with the ground, and the harvest is swift.  The crop is shuffled off to the next stage in production (cleaning, sorting, inspecting) and then arranged neatly in attractive packaging for sale at market.

Hmmm . . .  do you see any elements of the above paralleling some [mega] churches and formula-based movements out there?

Politics and Religion – What the Left is Afraid Of (I guess I’m a little slow)

It has always puzzled me –  the fear and vehement disdain with which Liberals/Democrats/the Left have reacted to religious political conservatism.  Having paid pretty close attention to politics since the 1980 presidential race, I thought I had a good grasp on the Right vs. Left, the Conservative vs. Liberal, the Republican vs. Democrat stuff.   And in reality, I think I do have a good understanding of what those different dots on the line to the left or right of center believe.  But this irrational fear, the lashing out, the disdain and in some cases hatred from the Left for the Right . . . I just didn’t get it.  Until . . .

Until I became aware of “Christian Reconstructionism”.  Until I became aware of “Dominion Theology”.  And then there’s “Christian [ultra]Patriarchy”, and the far right “Christian Fundamentalism”.  Before you “righties” start tuning me out, check out my Statement of Faith so you know I’m not off the deep end here.  And for you “lefties” out there who may have stumbled upon JGIG somehow, don’t bug out quite yet.

Lately I’ve wanted to put everything I see under a microscope.  Since I became aware of Christians putting themselves under the Law (Torah observance, Hebrew Roots Movement), more factions, for lack of a better word, have come to my attention that more or less do the same thing, to varying degrees and with different flavors.  So out came my spiritual microscope, and I don’t particularly like what I see.

I feel like I’ve lost a degree of my spiritual innocence.  You know, the “Jesus Loves Me, This I know” and the simple heart living the simple faith thing under my blog title.  To allay any fears of those who know me, I have NOT been shaken from my faith in any way.  If anything, I’ve been STRENGTHENED by God’s Grace and His faithful protection of my heart from so many of the things I now see.

I’m one who could have been so easily sucked in by any one of the above “belief systems”, because, well, I like to be right.  I like to have everything neatly sewn up, just as many of us do.  And the above belief systems seem to have every detail of our messy existence all worked out.  Life will be happy and ordered and just so if you follow formula steps A, B, and C.  And if you don’t, or worse yet, walk in rebellion, off with your head!  You think I’m kidding?  Read those links I put in this post.  No wonder the Left fears/hates “Right wing” conservatism.  Well, those folks scare me a little, too.

Let me get one thing straight right here and now.  I do believe that God is the final authority on all matters.  I believe that He has a plan for the ages, and that HE’S IN CHARGE, NOT US.  God’s instructions to us were to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, not to dominate and rule over all nations.

One of the primary stones in the foundation of Reconstructionism/Dominionism/ultra-Patriarchy is that the Church is to establish God’s kingdom here on earth, preparing the way for the return of Christ.  Their view is a post-millennial view (a time I’m pretty sure we haven’t arrived at yet), and in their world, they set up the Kingdom for Jesus to come rule instead of Jesus coming to set it up.  I’m pretty sure that’s not how it reads in the New Testament.  If anything, there will be a great falling away, increased lawlessness (to coin a favorite term of theirs), a decaying of society, if you will, before Jesus comes back.  Jesus is the One who will set it up the way He intends.  We are not able to do so nor have we been commanded to do so.  Okay, so I’m leaving some timeline stuff out, but here’s the main point:  We, as Christians, were told to Love the Lord our God, Love our neighbors as ourselves, and to make disciples of all nations (first by loving them, not by dominating them!).  The rest is God’s deal.

Let’s take some things that the Reconstructionist and Dominionist types would have a particular problem with, and by that I mean they would impose a penalty of death, according to “God’s Law”:  Fornication, Adultery, Homosexuality, abortion, murder . . .  First, how did Jesus deal with the sinner?  Pick a sinner, any sinner.  I can’t for the life of me think of one time He condemned any sinner to death for their sins.  What did He do?  He loved them first, showed them His Grace and Mercy, called them to turn away from their sin, and exhorted them to sin no more.  He preached (as did the apostles) that those who sinned would not inherit the Kingdom of God . . . but He didn’t squish them like a bug right then and there.  And then He DIED for them.

Jesus is God.  There is no doubt that He, as He walked the earth, had a MUCH bigger problem with the sin He saw here than we ever could.  He also sees the damage and wreckage that occur as a result of sin more than we ever could (and the woundedness that often leads to certain kinds of sin).  His first response to sin?  Love.  Perfect Love.  Love that sees us as He intended us to be the first moment He began to knit us together in the womb.  Then we have a choice to make: to accept or reject the perfect gift of salvation by Grace, through Faith, in Christ.

I have to ask those in the Reconstructionist/Dominionist/Ultra-Patriarchy/Ultra-Fundamentalist camps, and I’ll admit, not in the most respectful of tones, Who died and made you God?!  Not Jesus!  He did not die and rise again so that anyone could hold the Law over the heads of mankind.  If you hold the Law over anyone’s head, you are putting yourself  in the place of God.  God’s Law.  God’s standard.  God’s way to show us that without Grace and Mercy and the Cross of Christ we will always always always fall short.  God’s way to show us our desperate need for Him.

What was the title of this post again?  Oh yeah, what the Left is afraid of.  Well, Lefties, those scary guys mentioned above?  It’s okay to be afraid of them.  Us run-of-the-mill conservative Christians?  We’re not so scary.  We may disagree with you about lots of stuff, some of it really important stuff, but we aren’t out for world domination, either.  We’re just loving God and loving our neighbor, and telling those who don’t know the Good News about Jesus.

Tim Russert 1950-2008

[10/25/19 – I’ve recently culled some political posts from JGIG, and in doing so, I had marked this post private, but then changed my mind as it is not primarily a political post.  If you are a subscriber to JGIG and received this old post in your email, when I marked it public again, it re-published it and sent it out as a new post.  Sorry for any confusion!  Hiccup, lol.]

For those of you who pay attention to the political aspects of life, you know who Tim Russert is.  He passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on this past Friday, at the young age of 58.

He’s one of those people who took great joy in and had great passion for what he did professionally as well for life in general.  By all accounts he was a nice guy, religious, highly intelligent, a committed family man, loyal, enthusiastic, and a hard worker.  To say he will be missed by those he worked with and by his family is an understatement.

I’d be reminded every now and then throughout the weekend that he was gone, and I’d be like, “Oh yeah, Tim Russert died.”  And the reality of our mortality – a reality for all of us – was brought a little closer to the front of my mind.  A song kept coming to my mind, as well . . .

Who Am I

Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart

Not because of who I am
But because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who You are

I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I’m calling
Lord, You catch me when I’m falling
And You’ve told me who I am
I am Yours, I am Yours

Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love and watch me rise again
Who am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me

Not because of who I am
But because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who You are

I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I’m calling
Lord, You catch me when I’m falling
And You’ve told me who I am
I am Yours, I am yours

I am yours
Whom shall I fear
Whom shall I fear
‘Cause I am yours
I am yours

(Psalm 139 / Psalm 52 / Ephesians 2 – Lyrics: Mark Hall / Music: Casting Crowns Copyright 2003)

We are here today and gone tomorrow.  We have a brief time in life to know He who created us and the depths of the love, grace, and mercy He has on and for us.

My prayer is that Tim Russert knew the saving grace of Jesus Christ and that he rests in the presence of his God and Saviour.  My prayers and condolences go out to his family and all who knew and worked with Mr. Russert personally, as he will be greatly missed.

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