Since the birth of our third child I've had time to consider our life and my conviction. The last few years have been perplexing and difficult for me. At times my faith seemed so weak, the future fearful, many of those I loved so much turning away from our Master... are we going to make it? Can I really do this? Will the cost be worth it in the end? I think many of us have asked ourselves these questions.
So now I sit here looking into the eyes of my three little children and I wonder how I can possibly do even as good of a job as my parents did at raising me when my faith is so small. I am realizing that the only way I can do this is to cast aside all the doubt that is pressing so heavily on us and love this life with my whole heart, running as a winner. This place will be whatever I make it. If I hold back in fear, my children will never embrace this life.
Our Master said, "Whoever puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for the kingdom." It's clear that it's not only those who leave the plow, but also the ones who glance back over their shoulder in doubt, wondering if our Master is powerful enough to make us His people. We make ourselves useless by our unbelief.
So, I want to be totally wholehearted and consumed with this life. I love our Master and I love my parents for giving up everything to follow Him. By our faithfulness, their lives will not be in vain and there will be a place for our lost brothers and sisters to return to. They so desperately need us to do more than just "hang in there." I want to be a true overcomer, raising my children in our Father's way.
~ Tohorah wife of Nezer
Going through youth-hood was not always easy and when my younger brother chose not to be here, this was a very difficult time in my life. He was my best friend. At this point I realized I needed to have my own conviction about what I was doing and with all my heart I decided to follow in the footsteps of my parents. I embarked on a path to follow in the way I was raised to love God with all my heart, soul, and strength, and to never leave that path. The way is narrow and difficult to walk on sometimes. There is no room for selfishness. Our Father's kingdom will never pass away.
~ Bekor son of Keli
My life was set upon a course by a man who understood the worth and value the sacrifice our Master Yahshua had made. From my childhood I followed until I was old enough to vow my life to the same cause. Looking back, my strongest conviction was probably more a deep respect and admiration for my abba than the full knowledge of the impact that Yahshua's sacrifice would have on my young life. Now, as I have been intimately acquainted with both the goodness and discipline of our Father and tasted some of the difficult tests that can lay in our path, my faith has solidified a little. As we are left with painful voids in the wake of our close friends that have left us, I am forced to ask myself what is keeping me here.
I believe in Yahshua with all my heart and ultimately want to live my life to see Him return for a worthy people. If I could gain anything in my lifetime I want it to be humility, loyalty, and an undying love. I am indebted to our parents and their generation for paving a way for us to follow in an uncharted land. I want to repay the love that has been shown to me with all that I have and raise my children to do the same. I am so thankful that I was raised knowing my purpose and I am determined to give the same gift to my children, raising them to honor our heroes and parents. I pray that I can find the courage and determination to endure the fight so there is a home for others to return to when the scars of their selfish choices remind them of who it was that gave them life. We will gain strength by choosing to live for someone greater than ourselves and overcoming for those allied in our cause. We no longer have time to waste criticizing each other. We must strengthen what remains. Thank you for enduring in the fight. We need EVERYTHING each of us has.
~ Segullah wife of Abraham
When I was younger it was difficult for me to have vision. I didn't have understanding because I didn't ask for it. I wasn't open with my struggles; therefore the evil one trapped me.
But I made a choice to follow my parents. Little by little I am gaining more revelation. The three things we can do ensure us enduring to the finish line: pray for our faith to increase, be diligent in everything and confess our sins. This encourages me that if we do this, we will carry this life forward.
Especially now, having children of my own, I am grateful to see a fraction more every day of how I need our Master Yahshua to save me from things too strong for me. THIS IS WHERE SALVATION IS! I am forever indebted to those who went before us. They took a stand against the tide of evil (though sometimes evil may look good in our eyes). IF we listen, they are always there reminding us of the purpose for which we were born. I want to take that stand every day... to do what I know is right.
~ Shelem wife of Ish
Let me say it like this: there is and always will be 10,000 reasons why I would leave and live my own life, but there is only one reason to be here. That is that there is HOPE TO CHANGE. I have a father who put it into me, with little cooperation on my part, that what is hard is good, what is difficult makes you strong, and what crosses your will saves you. This is why I am here. I have found that if you listen when you are in the worst suffering you will always hear where to put your next foot. None of this works if you are not done with the excitement of the world. I have looked the other way, setting my attention on the ones who have lived their lives to raise me. The love and forgiveness that was a basic foundation for my life has obligated me to respond. It is through my response that I am coming to know my Master, our Master Yahshua.
We must be guided by the thoughtful attention of the people that are closest to us. Let me give an example. It's kind of intense, but that's okay. One of my greatest heroes and close friends lost their wife to cancer. Not too long after she died, he came up to me and put his hand on my shoulder and begged me to never leave the council of my brothers. There was no way to know at that time that those very words, spoken at that very moment from that man would be the single most important lifeline as my wife and I struggled to care for our daughter who died of cancer two years later. So pay attention, be obedient, love your brothers and have care.
~ Abraham son of Kharash
I'm thankful to have life, to have a purpose and to have friends. It's really hard to sum up in just a few words my revelation of our Master and why I am still remaining here. The reality is, it all boils down to my growing revelation of my need for our Master and His sacrifice. Yes, I say "growing" in no uncertain terms: it has to be that way. A bond-slave (of our Master) never sounded so good...
I was barely a youth when I became a bar-mitzvah and at that time I didn't really comprehend the depths of what our Master's sacrifice was to me. Then I started progressing through youth-hood and things became rocky and shaky. Coming close to rashly "throwing in the towel" and following my subjective impulses, I just couldn't do it because of two main things: First, I loved my abba and didn't want to cause him shame (even though at times I didn't understand), and secondly, I felt if I opened that door and crossed that line, I would struggle the rest of my life with that decision even though I couldn't articulate it. More and more, my inner-workings and motives began revealing just how needy I was. From the outside, I may not have seemed so bad (at least that is what I believed about myself - that is, I wasn't trying to be "bad") but it wasn't long before it hit me: "I can't endure in this life merely on the faith of my parents."
Fast forwarding about 17 years, I can gratefully say that I've been saved from so much; from being alone, and destitute in the world. What looked like freedom to me was obviously temporary - just a mirage. I'm thankful I didn't have to incur the full affects of sin of living for myself in the world leading to death (though in certain way I've seen this painfully close enough). I'm thankful to be in a salvation that's becoming more real each day as I draw near to my brothers.
I have to say that through many circumstances, I've realized that the mind is a terrible master but a good slave and is very susceptible to outside influences. The suffering we face fighting our iniquities is supposed to make us more needy for our Master. I think it is. I'm thankful for my parents who with patient persistence enabled me to hear faith and act. Of course I'm not perfect, but that is my heart. I love and appreciate this life and especially you all who struggle to fight the enemies of our Father by His grace. The self-confident way one can gain through living an independent life in the world is nothing compared to the confidence of hearing our Father's voice and responding.
~ Zakar son of Nun
I am thankful for what we have heard about our helmet recently. When I think of war or daughter oftle what comes to mind is that you would need a helmet, sword, and breast plate... You would not want to go for a nice sunny walk through the rolling hills of enemy territory. You might think that this would be crazy, but many of us do this in the spiritual realm. We forget that every day we pass through enemy territory and our life is at stake.
We learned that our helmet is the mind of Messiah. I am thankful that I am learning the mind of Messiah from my parents, through what we learn at the minchot, and our traditions. When thoughts come and we have our helmet on, the accusations will not penetrate and eventually reach our heart.
I am grateful that we have what we have at this time. I know this is the truth and I am thankful and blessed to be born into this life. I am thankful for both of my Sabbas and Saftas and that they responded to the gospel when they did. I also respect my parents for taking on (and adding to) what their parents and others started. It makes me want to endure for them and for my friends. It is hard to see people leave, but if we all left when it got hard, there would be no hope for them when they are ready to come back, and that is my hope, that most will come back.
~ Malachi son of Ethan and Yael
It occurred to me that most of the time our Master is the hardest person to imitate, which is our calling. It is the most selfless way to live. We heard recently that wanting recognition for what we do is leaven. Everything our Master did reflected the heart of our Father. Most of the time I want recognition straight away for something I say or do or the way I may act. It ends up being foolishness or a quick remark that causes an immediate reaction and divides. Being cynical sometimes seems like a solution to a problem or confusion and even can be used to cause people to think, but it is levity. I am starting to be more encouraged about these festivals that make us question where our faith is at.
Anything we shrink back from now will also cause us to shrink back when our Master comes. It is not so scary if you use your will to not shrink back when someone comes with correction.
It is almost useless for me to wonder what I would be like if I grew up apart from the community. Working on jobs and catching glimpses of behavior and lack of humanity in youth my age in the world makes me thankful for people who have gone before me in the stem generation, starting from scratch and giving themselves to form a place where we can be restored to the image of God. The recent festivals have shown to me our Father's provision in giving us these times to systematically remove leaven and iniquity in us to the third and fourth generation. I appreciate my parents for not dividing with our Master or their children when faced with suffering. One thing that keeps me here is the appreciation for my abba's example to not take the easy road when my family is going through hard times (it is quicker to go through it than around it) and not withdrawing from us when we were wrong. He consistently made the trip to our Father and back to us so that we were not left in the dust. I see the importance of trying my best to stay in unity with our Father and my friends even when my parents are absent. The only way for me to bring honor that is due is to follow in their footsteps.
~ Charuts son of Adam and Havah
Recently I had an opportunity to talk with our new brother Tom. He was sharing with me about his past in the world and what he has been delivered from and it made me so thankful for the life that we have. It made me appreciate the stem that gave up their lives for our Master, making a place for us to be wife oftered from the evil spirits that rule the young people of this age. I can see that there is no life in living for yourself. I want to continue on the path that my parents took and build our Master's Kingdom. I appreciate the relationship that I am able to have with my parents. You cannot find that anymore in today's society. Children and youth are growing up doing whatever they want with no control over their lives. I am so thankful my parents gave their lives to do our Master Yahshua's will, to build His kingdom. By them making the right choices, it has caused me to have a purpose for my life. I am thankful for the Body of Messiah that I can give my life to. I am so thankful for a purpose and I hope many others will see the great prize.
~ Eliyoenai son of Ethan and Yael
I am thankful for this opportunity that we all have to share our conviction. I think it will strengthen us as a whole! I've seen so many of my "friends" leave recently and it has caused me to consider what I am standing on. It's clear that our Father is serious about what He is doing; and those who aren't here with their whole heart are being weeded out.
It has become apparent to me recently that it is easy for those of us who grew up here to go on in our own strength. We get a lot accomplished, but we have to ask ourselves whose kingdom we're building.
We are in a real daughter oftle and the evil one wants us to get comfortable "just living this life." This is dangerous territory because once we're dull, He's got us. How foolish we are to think we will make it without real revelation. We have to be violent and cry out to be delivered from the evil one or else we will be swept away. If we allow just a little bit of room for self-life, we will eventually be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
We've heard so many times that if the evil one can't get us from "without" that he will try to get us from "within." That is really the way he has been targeting us; through the spirit of unbelief.
We can't allow that spirit to ravage us because that is what the enemy is using to detour us from our goal. We must press on and strengthen those who remain despite the opposition. I'm thankful for those who have gone before us and have shown us the way. Now it is up to us.
~ David son of Chazaq and Azurah
I know that in a lot of ways I don't realize the extent of the great and awesome privilege it is to have been born and raised here in a pure environment, protected from all the garbage of the world. I have something that only a few have! This shouldn't cause us who have grown up here to be puffed up or proud, but what we need to realize is how important each and every one of are to passing on our heritage.
I remember as a youth and a young adult going through times of testing. There were times when I felt like it was too hard to overcome. Yes, we have to realize that all the forces of darkness are directed against us because we are a threat to the evil one. As we take our stand, we are determining the evil one's fate. There has never been a generation who has done what we are embarking on. I remember coming to a point in my life where I realized that the most amazing life had been handed to me, but now I had to make a choice of whether or not I would make it my own. I really wanted to be here and give back to my parents what they had laid down their life for.
I started praying, crying out! My abba would tell me, "Pray that He would reveal Himself to you!" So I started praying that. I would pray but I still felt so far away. I didn't even know if it was really from my heart. But I did know that our God could bless a step of obedience. I think it is meant to be that way so that when we cry out, He will know that we really desire what we ask.
During that season of my life, Hakam was teaching us about the Three Eternal Destinies. It was fresh and new. I began to realize that I couldn't just live my life in the community as a good girl, but I had to decide what I was going to do. I began to see that my iniquities were too strong for me to overcome without the help of the Holy Spirit. There is no middle ground. I couldn't be "righteous" like the nations, but I would either respond to all the training that I received or I would reject it.
I don't ever want to lose the freshness and excitement I gained when I gave my life to our Master Yahshua. He set me free to love. It is the most freeing thing to not have to live for yourself. The mind set on the self is death, but the mind set on loving like Yahshua is life and peace!
~ Dodavah wife of Yediydyah (daughter of Yowceph David and Lebonah)
All I know is that I am thankful to be here and there is no where else I would rather be! I'm so grateful for all of you who have taken a stand with our Master and are still standing; and WE WILL CONTINUE TO STAND TOGETHER. If our mission were easy to accomplish, it would have already been done. Our Father has been let down so many times. We CANNOT let Him down. He needs us and we need each other.
My husband and I were just talking about how we feel like Gidon's Army. Our Father had to separate the doubting and the unbelieving from those who trusted Him. Those who trusted Him were not the big "We Can Do It" types, they just knew where their strength came from. Our Father was able to use a very few to do something very powerful because they were totally His. They were wholehearted' they didn't hold anything back and they didn't let anything hold them back. That's how we have to be.
I am so thankful for my parents (Ethan & Yael) and my sabbas and savtas (Roi & Rachel and Raphael & Mary Martha) and so many more for devoting their entire lives to establish what we have now. Your trust in our Father has not only strengthened your own faith, but all of ours as well.
~ Havah wife of David
I appreciate so much that my parents brought me into this life as a child. As I look around at people outside our Master's life and understand where my life would have gone had He not plucked us out of the world, it makes me very thankful, even more so now as I am raising my own children.
I am thankful to have a clear purpose for their lives, to bring about the end of the evil one's reign. I think what motivates me to be here is that I don't want my life to contribute anything to the evil one's kingdom, but I want to see our Master's life fill the earth. I also see more and more that this is a very difficult challenge we are faced with, much more difficult than I ever realized.
I can see that it will take us being completely selfless to do it. It won't happen any other way. I want to be willing to lay aside my self-life to see this happen. I believe it's well worth it. I love and appreciate all of those who we are built on and who have invested their lives into us. I want to endure until the end with you.
~ Yael wife of Haggai (daughter of Roi and Rachel)
I am so thankful for this amazing life that we have! It is such a privilege to have grown up here, and never have to taste the world. Often I find myself thinking about those who have left, and what they are doing with their lives. It is hard to not get discouraged when our number is dwindling, but we can't dwell on it. We have to pick up the slack and keep on building up the Body. It should make us realize even more how important our lives are. Our Father needs us to bring about His plan on the earth. He is totally depending on us. If we don't do it who will?
I know I am here because I need salvation, and there is no other place I know where it is possible. I want to be loyal and endure until the end with all of you. I want to bring about our Master's return!
~ Hayeh daughter of Haggai and Yael
First of all I thought I would start by saying how exceedingly thankful I am to have been born and raised here. It hasn't been without many struggles from the start. I am so thankful for my abba and imma who have given up everything to be here. That has always spoken to me because my parents were the type of people who probably would have been in the nations. They had their family of five and nice dream home with a couple other families way up north in the little town of Island Pond. They brought in young people and tried their best to care for people. But my abba was never satisfied. He did not see love anywhere and knew he could not love the way our Master talks about love, the kind of love that draws people together and does not turn their back on you in hard, difficult times. So when he met Yoneq and ha-Emeq he gave it all up for the sake of love and my imma followed. They have been through a lot since they have been here, my imma coming so close to death when I was born, and even losing a couple of my sisters back to the world. My abba always said, "Our Father knows and will work everything out for the good of those who love him and put their trust in Him." Seeing this has caused me to not want to lose heart and forsake our Master when things get difficult. Why should I forsake love when my abba gave his life up in order to love more. I am learning to continually put my trust in our Father and find the grace to continually overcome even when it seems impossible.
In the past few years I have definitely had to cross some deep waters learning what my enemies are and how to fight them. I am realizing that it is completely impossible apart from crying out to our Father with all of my heart continually. When I stop I find myself stumped and lacking what it takes to overcome. I wonder why I seem to never change and get over the same hurdles that I am continually faced with. Then I begin to lose heart, and wonder what my faith really is, and where I really take my stand. Sometimes I seem to be my greatest enemy "in my eyes," but it is because I allow worthless spirits to come in and cause me to forget what I was born for. I think that it's too hard; I can't overcome any more. Or that I am just simply a failure. But this is all because I stopped CRYING OUT! Being honest with my condition and leading an open life is the way that my friends could help me fight the evil one. I have come to see that when we don't build that lasting relationship with our Father then in our times of suffering we turn to what is most comfortable to us, the frivolous things of the world that only satisfy us for the moment. That is all we know because we have not been coming to know our Master. This is when the evil one has trapped us. In this state I stop believing in the hearts of my brothers and sisters and shepherds, that they are for me or even care about me. But if I continually open my heart up and repent and ask for help, if I humble myself, then I find that same life that I had when I was connected to the one who is powerful enough to save us. We have to believe that, HE is POWERFUL enough to save us. We can't save ourselves.
What I have also been learning more recently is what it means to not have a solo flight to heaven. We need everyone! Our Father needs everyone in order to do what He has been trying to do for many years. He even needs those dedicated children that have gone out from us. That is why we, those who remain, have to be faithful. I have inherited something from my abba which can be very good or can also be something that is the greatest downfall, and that is compassion. I have seen there is a fine line between forgiving and overlooking a transgression or bringing something to the light for the sake of getting rid of leaven.
Some of the recent serious accidents have caused me to understand that there are things of the world that maybe I could toy with and I do not plan myself on falling away or leaving, but they cause my friends to fall and be swept away from their covenant. My compassion causes me to want to ally myself in the same things of the world that cause my friends to "soar," thinking that at least they have a friend who can understand them. I believe in them and hope that they would somehow pull out of what they're going through. Instead I've kept them here on the fence. I've been too afraid to get them in "trouble" because maybe they won't be able to stand the correction. I have been seeing that really the only way I can help them to endure is if I put my faith with our Father's faith and lead my friends out of the place they are in rather then staying in the same pit they were in. Really, all it has led to is them losing their way. They fall! I become paralyzed and stop communicating the truth to them. I've even found my self withdrawing from them because I am too afraid to simply be honest with them. But now it isn't just my eternal destiny at stake, it is theirs. I should have been the one who has fallen.
It is so amazing how much our life affects those around us. I am seeing that it is not good enough for me to make it to the kingdom or have what it takes to overcome, but those around me need it too. I have to guard the way so that those following won't fall. I have to rely on our Father and those that have gone before me to help choose my steps wisely and not become distant and go on my own understanding. This is why it is so important to cry out for His discernment and His understanding so that we can have it for others, and for discretion because that is what will keep us from the snare of the evil one.
It has been probably one of the most hurtful things to see my friends, the ones that I love the most, lose their way. I am thankful our Father is teaching me what will destroy the Body without us even noticing. I want to take it to heart and beg that we would all cling to our Father and to those who have gone before us and help each other to make it. I don't want to continue to be a coward. But I also know I will need help because there will be many more deep waters to cross. Let's cross together. I am thankful to be allied in the same struggle with all of you.
~ Emunah Shoshanat ha-Emeq daughter of Kepha and Sarah Masse
I am thankful that I could grow up in a place where I could hear the truth. There were times as I went through my youth that doubt would come to me about our life and the enticing things of the world wanted to overpower the faith that had been put into me. But I know that living for others is the greatest thing that I could give my life to. There is no other place that we could be saved from our selfishness and be able to have the satisfaction of fulfilling our created purpose. Selfishness is futility. I knew that I could live my life pursuing my own desires wherever they would have led me and then come to the end of my life and accomplish absolutely nothing like so many other people. Or, I had the opportunity to receive the truth and give my life to the greatest thing that has ever been and receive an eternal reward. The choice seems obvious but it is so difficult to be open with your life and to die to your natural tendencies.
I saw that it was worth it and it is still hard but I want to continue on the path that will cause us to reach our goal. It is so amazing to have friends that I can be real with. The people I live with are honest with me and I know I can be honest with them. So many people commit suicide because they think no one cares. I also want to say that I am thankful for my parents and everyone else that has gone through so much in the last 30 years in order to follow our master. They are loyal. They give thanks and pour out their lives. I am thankful for the ones that have gone before us. I want to give my life so that our nation can move forward and increase. I want to continue to respond to the truth.
~ David son of Oded
There have been many times in my life that I was very confused about what I was living for, but now I am thankful that our God was able to keep my heart turned towards Him. I have a little son now, and I want to raise him with the same standards that I was raised with. I am thankful for my abba, and how he has been a very faithful loyal man. It hasn't been without struggles, but I believe what my abba put in me has given me what I need to find my own faith, and in turn find faith to pass on to my son. I am thankful for the loyalty of my brother Jesse; I know he has had to face a lot of various trying circumstances, but he LOVES our God and His purpose. Not all of my family is still here and overcoming, but I do have hope that if we endure there is hope for those who lose their way. It makes it all worth it when you look around and see your friends overcoming. Thank you, all of you who are overcoming to keep, guard and protect what our parents gave up everything for, and see it come about. I am thankful for my husband, he saw our Master as worth overcoming for. He gave up his life in this world to see our Master's purpose brought about. I am thankful to be bonded in a lifetime covenant with all of you. I want to remember our covenant through the darkest struggles.
~ Tirtsah wife of Perats (age 26, daughter of Hur)