July 26, 2012
Thursday, 4:30 p.m.
Letter #235: Choices
Yesterday was awesome! This past week, I’ve spent time talking to God and some Christian brothers who are close to me about the ultimatum given me by the other church leaders: choose between (1) getting kosher meals and attending the Messianic Bible Study or (2) leading the choir and playing the piano for the church services. I’ve been so blessed by both, that to have to choose was not easy, and simply “choosing” what I believed God wanted me to do was not easy either.
I’m grateful to clearly know my calling, my purposes, and my goals before me. I’ve prayerfully and carefully sought these things. Therefore, though I enjoy music and can see God’s blessing wherever I’m used within music ministry, it is not my strongest motivation or purpose or need. This made the possibility of losing the music ministry not difficult.
As far as leadership is concerned, those of you who know me well know that though I love leading, I don’t need to lead. When I do lead, my goal is discipleship—raising up others to take the lead. God’s grace has allowed me to raise up many other capable leaders within the choir, so I didn’t fear the consequences of relinquishing that role.
Therefore, I knew that my decision should be focused solely on how God led me regarding the Messianic services, the kosher meals, and these supposed “weaker brothers” I was causing to “stumble” by making those choices. I met with Brother Ray, a close friend who holds fundamentalist, conservative views and who has been outspoken against the Messianics. He has no issue with me being on the kosher diet. However, my attendance at the Bible Studies, he said, encouraged others to follow my lead.
The problem I have with this? Not one man from our services has begun to attend the Messianic Bible Studies since I began attending. Brother Ray told me that actually, the Spanish services leadership has questioned my attendance. (umm … not exactly “weaker” brothers) due to questions they’ve received by some in their congregation. (I’m hearing of lots of people here … none of whom approached me and asked me one-on-one about my choice to attend the study.) Ray told me that the variance in doctrinal beliefs could be confusing and bad for new believers, though he disagreed with Romeo, the head overseer, that the Messianics are “not Christians.”
At the Messianic Bible Study on Friday night, I pulled two of their elders aside and grilled them on doctrine and their personal testimonies for nearly two hours. I’ve never been more sure that someone is part of the Body—the Bride of Christ!
Then one of the guys said he’d given up the kosher meals when he realized it was assumed he was attending the Messianic services just to get the diet, while he’d actually been attending for three years, long before the kosher diet was available to the Messianics. At that moment, God convicted me: I’d requested the kosher diet because of my lack of faith that He could provide all my needs despite the nutrition-deficient prison meals. Right then, I decided to give up the kosher meals, at least for a time, as God leads.
On Tuesday, I met with my mentor and long-time pastor, Frank, for two hours. He also disagreed with fellow overseer, Romeo, who asserted that the Messianics were not believers, but encouraged me to let these younger (in the faith) brothers grow, noting that they’d done wrong in how they’d addressed me in a group instead of one-on-one.
After more prayer, the Lord really clarified for me what it was I should do.
Yesterday, after the head chaplain met privately with the overseers, Romeo and one other overseer met with me to find out my choice. Humbly, I shared how after knowing beyond doubt that I have brothers in that Messianic Bible Study, I would violate Scripture and my own conscience if I agreed to cease fellowship with them.
I told them about God convicting me of the lack of faith regarding the kosher meals and then said I’d be willing to not go to the Messianic Bible Studies if we could agree that we shouldn’t label an entire congregation that has minor doctrinal differences to be “not Christian.”
Romeo held to his opinion, so they asked me to step down from leadership.
To promote unity, I announced to the choir that I’ve chosen to not lead for the time being. I’m excited for what comes next! Thank you for praying!