With Fear & Trembling
My family, headed by Gregg and with me lovingly and respectfully his second-in-command, is a bit weird religiously by most American standards. Well, okay, we’re a bit weird in lots of ways, but it stands out in our religious beliefs and practices. Basically, we straddle two Christian worldviews while rejecting the secular worldview as entirely as possible. So we take from each what we feel led to take, give to each what we feel convicted to give, and leave the rest alone. Because of that, no common worldview seems to think we’re “living right” or “doing religion” right, or good enough, or well enough, or whatever. And everyone seems to feel it is their right to judge our choices. It is astonishingly interesting.
This past holiday season, there were people who claimed I am “abusing” my children (and I’m not exaggerating for blogging effect — I field so much hate mail, you wouldn’t believe it) “abusing” them by not letting them experience the “joy” and “thrill” of dressing up and trick-or-treating for Halloween. Because, after all, pretending to be an axe murderer, monster, demon, or witch/wizard is just joyful thrilling fun, right? One (unpublished) commenter suggested “Surely there is a way of celebrating the thrill of dressing up for Halloween without injecting a bunch of hyper-moralistic nonsense into it. ”
Orwell informed us many years ago that the further a society strays from truth, the more that society despises those who tell it. Apparently, I am also “abusing” my children by denying them the “wonder” and “excitement” of Santa Claus, justifying and encouraging something that is nothing less than a lie. “Santa Claus sees when you’re sleeping, knows when you’re awake, knows if you’ve been bad or good…” The truth is that an omniscient GOD watches, knows, and loves us and will forgive us despite our mistakes. But, what do I know? I’m simply a hyper moralistic fanatic.
We field criticism for our Christian beliefs as well. We are Christians. But we are very Hebraic in nature. We don’t feel like the “Old Testament” is, well, “old.” Certainly, it isn’t “obsolete” and it most definitely still “applies” to our lives on this earth. We like to think of it as the “Less Recent” Testament. We believe that Jesus lived His entire pure and sinless life while observing the tenets outlined in the Less Recent Testament and that we, likewise, should live — to the best of our ability and to the utmost of our daily desires — like He did and follow the words that He actually spoke. So, we believe that the commandments ought to be followed, that the feasts ought to be observed, and that dietary restrictions were handed down by Jehovah Shiraz for very sensible spiritual and health related reasons.
That said, we aren’t members of any Hebraic body. We don’t want to get personally caught up in steadfastly checking rules and laws and lose sight of the wonderful gift of GRACE given to us by Jehovah God in the form of His Son’s precious blood. This isn’t intended to be a criticism of my Hebraic readers. We simply know ourselves and we know that we would get down into those details. So, we celebrate with those who are more strict in their Hebraic expressions. We fellowship with like-minded believers, participate in feasts with like-minded believers, prayerfully and financially support the ministry efforts of like-minded believers
So where do “Jesus freaks” like us find ourselves three or more times a week? Usually, in an Americanized Christian church.
Our church is not a denomination — it is a movement — a movement created with the intent of removing the barriers thrown up by denominational dogmas and doctrines. Our church founders never even considered themselves as part of the “Protestant” sect — simply as members of “The Church of God.” Nothing added to it. We like that.
The secular world sees us as Jesus-freak fanatics who are oppressing our children and abusing them, denying them the basic joys of many shared childhood experiences in holidays, make-believe creatures (Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, Santa, Mother Nature, etc.), and spending every moment we can grasp in fellowship with other believers instead of filling our time with activity after television watching after activity after electronic game console playing after activity.
Traditional Americanized Christian worldview perceives us as far too law-minded, far too rules-oriented, and therefore “doing it wrong” by observing a Levitical diet, or participating in the amazing experience of a Christian Passover instead of Easter egg hunting, etc. Someone in my Sunday School class even called me a “Pharisee.”
On the other side of the aisle, the Hebraic Christian worldview mainly sees us as missing the mark by referring to the son of God, Yeshua, using the Greek-ified moniker “Jesus,” by worshipping on the first day, Sunday, instead of the seventh day, Saturday, and by enjoying a (low-key and Santa free) Christmas season of giving our children three gifts each and traveling to visit family during the traditional holiday season.
I appreciate the fact that there are people in this world who disagree with how we live our lives. That’s fine. I even — and try to get this — I even RESPECT their choices. ALL of our friends and family do life differently than we do. WE are good with that, but for some reason, people look at us and aren’t good with our differences. I think the holiday season from Halloween through Christmas always brings the criticisms out into the open. And, I think that because I blog with such openness, it gives people both privately (email) and personally (in my face) the feeling that they have the “right” to criticize how we live and the lifestyle choices we make. It is what finally pushed me into taking a long blogging/partial social media break the last couple of weeks — just the fatigue from the constant judgement.
So here it is. Here is my proclamation for the entire world to see forever and ever and always. HERE is what I have to say to every group in this world who feels it necessary to judge how well we are living our lives, running our home, raising our children, and “doing religion” all within the context of our beliefs:
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13
The bottom line is that every single thing Gregg and I do, we do prayerfully with the intent of serving, obeying, or worshiping God our Creator and Father in heaven. Every decision we make, every step we take, every dollar we spend, every word we type is done with prayer and supplication.
When Gregg and I get out of bed in the morning, our purpose is to live FOR God — not for ourselves, not for each other, and not for our children — certainly not to the pleasure or satisfaction of any hypocrite who feels free to judge us so harshly.
The fact is that I’m not living for them, and I’m not aiming to please them. I am working out my own salvation with fear and trembling.
I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
You would bless me if you added me to your feed reader or subscribed via email.
You can also become a fan on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. I would love to see more of you!
I am here to tell you (as a product of parents who never celebrated Christmas and we observed Passover, and did not do Halloween) that we never felt left out or abused. In fact – it was the opposite. We felt bad for kids that were lied to about Santa Clause and kept old pagan rituals. What we were excited about was the 7 (+1) days that we kept for the Feast of Tabernacles and the 8th day (or Last Great Day depending on which text you read) and that we got gifts for those seven days and got to go away and travel. We felt bad that other kids did not get to enjoy that like we did. I always appreciated it, and trusted our parents more because I knew they didn’t lie to us and we knew they were not into keeping traditions but really trying to do what is right. What better gift can you give your children by actually teaching them straight out of the Bible? What better gift can you give them than being an example of not going along with the crowd and to really study for themselves and question what people tell them? What better gift can you give to your children than the example of building character through criticism. Jesus is Perfect and he was still hated and put to death – we will have more anger towards us because we aren’t perfect. So… as a child of parents who did these things – I felt blessed and thankful that I had parents who raised me that way. Keep going :)
:-) I don’t think you’re a hyper moralistic fanatic. I think you’re wonderful. And I’m a Jesus freak right there with ya. Go God!
Love my Jesus freak sisters. :)
Thank you. This is immensely encouraging — especially in the light of being the parent of a 15-year-old who struggles with the world versus her faith. At this point, faith still wins, but it’s a battle and we just keep lifting her up.
Our family is right there with you on the holidays issue. It is so very hard to not fit into a mold, but we fell it is a conviction to honor our Lord and worship him the way He wants us to worship him and no other. We also respect our children and demand truth from them, how can WE, in turn, not be truthful to them? I dare say the fruit will speak for itself.
Where is the “love this post” button? Call me a Jesus freak too!!!
The following scriptures come to mind…not just these key verses but also consider that which precedes and succeeds those specific verses too (especially all of 2 Tim 3!).
2 Timothy 3:12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Our circumstances are somewhat different (we research and respect Jewish tradition, but not to the same extent)…but in almost everything there is, we are “outside” any comfortable group. For example, I believe that we should be kind and loving toward homosexual people (I choose that because it’s such a hot topic), but I still believe the lifestyle to be sinful. So…according to most Christians, we are “compromising the truth” by not being forceful enough against the sin. According to most homosexuals, we are nothing but hate mongerers because we think it’s a sin at all. And don’t even get me started on politics…very few political “friends” here because we’re all over the place. It’s a tough place to be, but we have to stand true to what the Bible is telling us. We too get a lot of flack about the halloween and santa stuff. It’s so frustrating.
Bless you for standing firm in your convictions in spite of criticism. I understand, because when I, as a Christian, began to walk in the ways of Messianic Judaism, I experienced much of what you describe.
About 20 years ago, I cried out for wisdom – not my own, not a church’s, not a religion or denomination’s, not a preachers….but His wisdom. I was led to Torah study, and like you, began to celebrate His Feasts and Festivals. There are so many beautiful blessings missed by those who have not discovered and accepted His ways.
Like you, we are misunderstood by the Christians, and misunderstood by Jews who don’t accept Yeshua s the Messiah. Sometimes, I feel like a black sheep. It’s easier now than it was at first.
My favorite response, when criticized or called a legalist is to smile and say sweetly, “Take it up with the Author”.
Be encouraged, dear sister.
Rebbbetzin Gail Golden
Personally, as long as salvation is “by grace, through faith”; worshiping and loving and serving GOD (Father, Son AND Holy Spirit) more and not less should be commented. That said, His Word still warns over and over that the world will despise the Truth and persecute those that proclaim it.
But, also remember that one day at the name of JESUS, every knee will bow……………
better to be bowing now and reap your rewards when they really count, in eternity. Blessing to you Hallee.
Absolutely agree with this and the other comments. The Bible tells us that Jesus has already won and I along with you and others here stand on the winning side !!! Amen!!
Hello Halle, I try to follow God’s ways but can’t find a church that teaches the whole Bible. I am a Christian who studies at home.The world has gone so far from our moral roots, it scares me.
I admire you for putting up with the rudeness. Blessings to you and your family!
Stand strong, Hallee.
(I was going to reply one word – Bravo! – but then I see someone has already done that. ;))
I love your heart. Thanknyou for sharing it so humbly.
I just want you to know… Not everyone thinks your crazy! My husband is pagan and I am in the “dont have a religion, But I do have morals and values” category. Shockingly, even though we are “celtic”, I dont think our kids will trick or treat either. My kids do not need GMO sugar laden treats for months to eat and my husband agrees. We celebrate Yule and then do Christmas with my parents. We will probably not do Santa. So much of the holiday is spent running people over shopping, spending exuberant amounts of money on things we want not need! My husband and I actually didnt trade gifts at all on Solstice. We just wanted to be together as a family with our six month old.
I am saddened people judge you for the choices you and your husband make. I have been reading your blog for two or three years now, and while we may differ on religion, I love everything you stand for and do for your family. The values you are teaching your children, many children today lack. The morals you instill are missing from so much of society today. People think you are “holding your children back” when in reality, their children are the ones who are truly missing out.
I respect you and everything you stand for. It hurts my heart to hear about all the hate email. I hope these positive comments help bring a smile to your face- because you and your children are turning out just fine. And they will be the change we need to see in the world. :-)
Thank you so much. You are a blessing to me.
Stay strong and sitck to your beliefs no matter what other people say about them. As a child, from a Christian home, no less, we did celebrate the various holidays traditionally, but the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, dressing up for Halloween, and the Tooth Fairy were always apart of them, sadly. I always wondered why my parents chose to include the Real with the Unreal. As an adult, I am very disappointed in how my holidays were celebrated. Now that I have my own family, my husband and I stress the Real (Jesus Christ) reason for each season/holiday. We want them to know the truth because we know it will set them free. So, “Jesus Freak” keep up the good work! I know I will :)
Hi, Hallee, hang in there! Bottom line is this: you and Gregg are responsible to God for how your children are raised!! Personally, we quit Halloween about 15 years ago, when we researched the history of it-I was shocked. Santa Claus-not Christmas-followed next. We have to stop and think about why we do celebrations. Why do we spend too much money on scarey costumes, candy no one needs and we give it away! Then what is the first thing done when kids come home with their candy? It is gone through, lots tossed out, and then taken away from the child because it is bad for them! What is the point??? Money wasted for needless junk! People do many things out of tradition and never stop to think about changing it or stopping it altogether. You keep doing what you know is right!
Hallee, my family is nothing like yours. I am a liberal, feminist, democrat. We don’t even go to chruch anymore, we celebrate everything. The reason I love your blog is not because I want someone who reflects exactly who I am and what I do. I became discouraged with the church because of the judgemental attitudes and the need for others to mold me into their vision of what they think God wants for them.
I love you and your blog for following what you believe to be true without expecting everybody to do everything that you do. You are a great encouragement to me and if I could find a church body of believers like you and Gregg, I would so be there. Sadly, I just continue to struggle with my faith alone.
I wish you knew what a blessing and encouragement you’ve been over the last couple of years to me, Robin. I wish we all could worship together all the time. That would be fantastic.
Biblical living: This is why I love your blog.
Way to go, Hallee! I have been reading your blog for a couple of years now and have posted on a few recipes that worked well for me. I can totally relate to what you have dealt with, as I have also been going a more Hebraic route. I am still battling with why Sunday is the chosen day of worship when it was never stated in the bible to change the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday after the resurrection. Man changed it. For hundreds of years, the followers of Jesus observed the 7th day Sabbath and still celebrated the Passover and not Easter. The Sabbath is not a “Jewish” things, as many have argued with me. The Sabbath was started on the 7th day of Creation, when there wasn’t even a Jew around yet. Remember, the Jewish nation was started with Jacob.
This is the first year we didn’t do Halloween. I used to think doing the whole Santa thing with my kids was fun. But, as I got closer to God and dove into the bible more and more, I realized it was wrong. (We don’t do the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy, either.) I was breaking a commandment because I was literally lying to my kids! I am shaking my head that being honest with your children could be considered “abuse”. I am sure the people making those comments would not like someone commenting on how they bring up their children. What has happened to the world we live in. Pray for them, Hallee, and continue to be strong, as the ONLY one you need to please is our Heavenly Father, Yahweh.
Many blessings to you, Gregg and the children!
You know, this is the second time I’ve read this post of yours and the first time I had the words with which to comment. I have been reading your blog for a couple of years now and have time and time again found myself admiring you. I am a young-ish wife, hope soon to be a mom and I can’t begin to tell you how much I’ve learned here. I’ve only been at it for three years, but I feel like I’m already a better wife. I don’t comment much, but I feel like I’d be heard here, if I did. Such a great feeling. I too am a liberal, feminist, democrat (to borrow the phrase of someone above) and although we differ on many things, I have been shown a wonderful slice of life here. I love and continue to read this blog because I admire how truthfully you live your life. I hope to live my life as freely and honestly. Most importantly, I love being exposed to such a positive picture of religion-events that caused me to leave the church and ultimately my faith tainted my view of and hardened my heart to religion for many years. Knowing that there are believers like you out there, helps me wade through my own struggles. I am so sorry to hear not everyone is as loving and inclusive. People often forget the “if you don’t have anything nice to say…” mantra and it hurts to be the recipient of harsh words and rash judgements. I wish we could all choose to be respectful to those living a life divergent to our own. I wish all the best to you and your wonderful family!
I just found your site last night. wow,i don’t have a clue on your religion,but I was drawn to your site by old time pictures and,knowing it was Christian based : ) I am pentacostal JESUS name. I do love Christmas , not halloween but, I tell my babies santa not real he is a fake. I respect others beliefs on holidays. : ) GOD bless you enjoying your site!
I. Love. This.
Keep the faith. You are not alone. We do not celebrate pagan rituals and instead observe the Biblical feasts. My children are toddlers and we are working hard to teach them to believe the entire Bible. 2 Tim 2:15… We must all study to show ourselves approved.
yea!! & Amen!!!!! enough said…:)