Installment 23

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As February 2012 unfolded, I continued writing about entries criticizing the orthodoxy of my specific religious heritage, but also wrote defending the orthodoxy. I wrote an entry discussing how the argument of instrumental music relates directly to the interpretation problems that come about because of Replacement Theology. I continued including others’ specific requests in my prayers, and recorded the progress of things regarding my film project.

My journal entry from February 08, 2012 records:

[In a previous journal entry] I mention that I prayed that “God would put in me a spirit of unrest when I needed to find new work.” I bring this up because while I have become more confident in my driving skills… as a spare driver, I find myself wanting more.

I think the work has helped me recuperate physically from the exhaustion I was experiencing in December 2010, January 2011, and has helped me regain some confidence in myself that I can do [things] and that I can achieve something, [which is something] that I did not know that I had lost. The spare driver gig requires a different temperament, a willingness to be stressed more than a regular route driver. …

I really want new work, but am uncertain where to go. My heart really is not into secular work, but I feel uncertain about the demands for working with the sacred, not the demands by God but the unnecessary and [ridiculous] demands of the people.

As you can see, there was a tug-of-war going on in my spirit. I expressed that I could do more, but did not know exactly what to do. That seems to be evident, but it is my journal entry from February 15, 2012 entitled “Sitting on the Fence” that is as revealing as it is challenging.

This entry comes after having several conversations with several people over the last few days, but it came to mind Monday evening as I was talking with [someone], that I have been sitting on the fence not making any decision about serving God fully or serving God part-time (as in taking full-time [secular] work and part-time in some ministerial capacity).

I think this decision may have been given to me, as earlier in my “goofy gold” dream. I wanted God to choose to leave me in the cofc or to take me away, based upon [the result of my litmus test], I truly believe that God allowed me to leave the cofc. Since then, I have been wondering what to do. I am certain [my website] Faith and Conviction is to have a place in this new ministry, but to what extent I am uncertain.

At some point, I was talking with Mary, and I was telling her that I have been sitting on the fence. … I have been sitting on the fence about accepting ‘ambassadorial’ status.

… I have found multiple ways of brushing this aside.

So, I came to recognize that I have been sitting on the fence about accepting the ambassador’s role. And funny thing is today, [my bus assistant] asked me if I had been thinking about my situation. [My assistant] offered up some words to encourage me. I am beginning to think that God is really wanting me to choose, either way, but make a choice. From [my assistant’s] comments, it seems that if I choose ‘no’ then I have chosen to work against what God wants because [my assistant] said that he felt I have been selected and that genuineness is something that will help people. I guess in one way, who am I to argue with the Almighty?

…[My assistant] and I had not worked together for several weeks, and [my assistant] and I happened to be working together this week… the week before going to [the invitational event] to enter into a covenant with God, and I recognized all these different things, but especially sitting on the fence about accepting ambassadorial status…. I definitely think God is getting me to face myself and my choice. Odd thing is he knows what I will choose, yet does not seem to mind either way.

But here is what I have discovered, everything material has become empty for me. Work has no lasting value. Entertainment has no lasting value. … Truly the writings of the kohelet (Qoheleth) ring true (Ecclesiastes). The pleasures of life whether wine, women and song, or power, fame and fortune have lost their allure, the vanity of it all is so striking it is no wonder that someone… is found dead of what appears to be a drug overdose. What is one to do when they realize the emptiness of material and temporal existence, but turn and give one’s entire being (heart, soul, mind, and strength) for that which does not turn vain, which does not rust, which does not spoil, which lasts beyond one’s lifetime?

So, I am considering the choice before me, and attempting to count the cost as best I can. How does one count the costs for the unknown? …

At this point, I am pretty confident that I will choose the ambassadorial role, and… this coming Havdalah represents the last one before I give myself to [a unique] covenant on the first day of the week….

Later in this installment, the reader will see that I was praying about this ambassador subject on the day, and at the moment, I gave my own unique covenant to God. But the reality stood, I had to choose. I chose. It has not been easy to move forward. But when one makes commitments to the Almighty, one should not back out. So I made myself ready for the day of this covenant.

Before I gave myself over to this covenant, I spent time asking questions and reflecting on it, as I noted in my journal on February 19, 2012 “I place tremendous value on commitment and covenant”. I place such a high value on those things that I hesitate to obligate myself to such things because I don’t want, either on accident or on purpose, to fail my commitments. So this event was a huge moment for me.

Through my queries I had learned that I was making a personal and particular commitment with God, to basically encompass three things. One, I would love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. Two, I would love my neighbors as I am to love myself. Three, I would stand with brothers and sisters who cherish and defend the Kingdom.

It might sound similar to the New Covenant, but it is not quite the same. The New Covenant is a personal choice, but it is from God to you, mediated through Jesus. This particular covenant was from me toward God, which means it functions more like a vow.

The most familiar vows should be wedding vows, but it is true that people make vows all the time, just as people break vows all the time. But it does not feel commonplace to make a personal vow, a personal covenant, with God. That is what Mary and I were doing that day. So I wanted to make sure I understood.

During my youth and collegiate days I had attended many Christian retreats. They were always filled with prayer, singing, hiking and invitations for making personal devotion to God. This event was styled similar, but was completed in one day instead of over several days.

This event itself was one for my personal record books. I had never experienced anything like it. We traveled and met up with a group of Messianic Jews at a well known Texas park. After arrival, we prayed. Then we made our hike to the top of that well known park.

At the top, each of us went to a respective location and prayed. After individual prayers, we gathered back together and shared in the fruit of the vine, challah, and matzah. A blessing was said for the fruit of the vine then we drank. A blessing was given for the raisin challah bread then we ate. A blessing was given for the matzah then we ate.

After that, we gathered for the purpose of giving ourselves to God through an individual and personal vow (covenant) as I discussed previously. Weeks previously, several people had already made this covenant. Those who wanted to make this covenant were there that day doing what the others had done previously.

That day Mary and I would make that covenant. Our children simply had prayers said over them, for them, and on their behalf. As for the covenant, specific prayers were said for each individual and each person confirmed their covenant by spreading salt to the wind.

While the leader was working with each adult, and before it became my turn, I prayed focusing on God and Messiah and my task of accepting the ambassadorial role. When it became my turn, the one who was leading the event and praying for each individual declared that this was not for me alone but that it included Mary. As such, he had Mary and I join hands.

Unknown to the leader, Mary had been telling me that she had a sense that this ambassador quality was for her and me. So when the leader had Mary and I join hands, I interpreted that moment as symbolizing her thoughts.

I lament not recording the entirety of what was said to Mary and me, but the leader prayed at length and mentioned a couple of very specific items. One of which included compassion, just moments earlier he mentioned that compassion was a quality that he had witnessed from me during my interactions at Havdalah. Another was that Mary and I would come to receive the blessings of Psalm 91.

As we were finishing, Mary was given salt, as was I. If one thinks this odd, recall that Jesus said that all sacrifices will be salted with salt (Mark 9.49). So for me, even though I had never done such, the event does not go against Scripture, especially when one understands that the Christian is a living sacrifice.

After Mary and I received salt, she and I walked off a few steps. She rubbed her salt between her hands. I rubbed my salt between my hands. We joined our salt together and scattered our salt to the wind.

After the event, my journal includes praying for people. I wrote some thoughts about Psalm 91. Made a few notes about some things I was studying, and postulated about spiritual leading as it applies to ministry. On February 29, 2012 my journal has an entry entitled “Spiritual Review”. In part, I wrote:

So, today is a leap day, but I really want to [write] down some of my thoughts from the last couple of days. The primary thing that has been on my mind is the things to which I have committed myself to/with God. …

I wrote several things, all of which appear to be things I have discussed, but I included:

The second thing that has been on my mind is the events that have been occurring. I have been praying for answers, but I feel that I was informed that I am asking, but not seeking. So right around that answer Mary had a dream where we were told to fast – so we will begin our fast tonight, interesting it will be March 1 at sundown – using Hebraic evening/day format reckoning. …

Blessings and Shalom