Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Miracle of the Face Cozy

I'm thinking this morning about that weird prayer I prayed, asking God to give me an invention a couple of years before I met Morgan. Then I just forgot about the prayer until, one day, I was so frustrated by the strap marks I had on my face every night from wearing my glamorous CPAP mask (following my diagnosis with sleep apnea) that I started fooling around with fabrics and designs to make something that would alleviate the problem. When I figured it out, I called the result the "Face Cozy" and got Donna Irwin to help me make some up, thinking they might help other people too. The first respiratory clinic I went to purchased my entire inventory and paid me on the spot. Then Morgan ( who also wears a CPAP- lol) showed up and helped me get the trademark and patent. Candace Morgan everaftergraphics.com helped me with an incredible website. After looking all around Toronto, we found a manufacturer -who has been awesome- right in our town. We got the dyes made up. Landmark TV in the States found us on the web and made a video that played on four major networks in the U.S. Now, the largest distributor of CPAP and oxygen masks in Canada is piloting the Face Cozy in 10 of its locations across Canada. People in the U.S. are ordering from my website. Amazon has approved it for sale in the health and personal care category. Obviously, God has a plan. It's pretty amazing. God is good. Www.facecozy.com

Monday, February 18, 2013

FIVE

This will be brief – and I warn you before you begin reading, that it has no ending - yet.

About two weeks ago, I was working at my desk one evening in my office. There was no music on - no radio or TV playing - nothing through which a voice could speak. I was alone in my home in Uxbridge. No one here.

Suddenly - out of nowhere, a male voice said, "Five." That's all. Nothing more - just, "Five." The voice itself was unremarkable - just an ordinary male voice - although if I were asked to describe it, I would say it had a certain resonance.

This morning, as I was dressing, I looked at a notebook I keep beside my bed to record any unusual dreams, particularly dreams where I suspect God is trying to communicate something to me. The dream I was reading about came on Nov. 17, 2012. Here is the entry:

"Just woke up. Can't remember much of dream. Just know I was in heavy intercession - something about the number five in a box  - or on a box. (Then I drew what I had seen - a square with a #5 in it.) In the dream one of my granddaughters was crying - like writhing in the spirit - in so much spiritual pain - as though trapped between two powerful forces. I was interceding."

I had TOTALLY forgotten about this dream - certainly wouldn't have remembered it, had I not recorded it. You can imagine my shock when I read that I had dreamed about the #5, after hearing an audible voice say it.

Obviously, God is trying to communicate something to me that is important, and so I shall pray into it to try to understand. I wanted to record it here, now, so that there will be no question of God's involvement in whatever happens.

Meanwhile, I looked up the significance of the #5, and it means "Grace or God's goodness." Her middle name is Grace.

To be continued...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Justice

"Somebody has to pay."

It's the natural response when someone suffers loss at the hands of another. Justice is the expected cry of the wounded heart.

Last night, I wept, thinking of all that has been lost in my life as the result of actions of another person. Today is Easter. It used to be a joyful time of family celebration when all would gather in a home filled with love for each other – and now it's a painful time because what it once held has been scattered to the wind. It's no longer possible for us to gather around the family table enjoying the blessings of the day. Our table and the home in which it sat, have been sold. We see others doing what families do, and remember what we thought life used to be.

It's not fair. I tried to be the best daughter, wife, mom and grandma I could be. I loved my family more than anyone could ever know. Why have things turned out this way? Why am I alone, struggling to survive, when all my efforts for years, were focused on the betterment of life for everyone around me? Now, out there in places where I can no longer hold them, are broken hearts that I can't fix. It makes no sense. Aren't we supposed to reap what we sow?

This morning I went to the Easter service at our church (the Embassy in Oshawa). There was a drama, called "The Choice."One scene was a portrayal of Christ hanging on the cross, bloodied and bruised, with a crown of thorns jammed on his head. As I sat, alone, watching the actors trying to communicate the reality of what actually happened on that dark and awful day, I thought of the tremendous injustice Jesus could have felt, hanging there surrounded by mockers and misery. It wasn't fair. He had done the best job He could to communicate God's plan of salvation to the world. He had done nothing wrong. He was suffering because of the actions of others.

As I sat watching, a deeper revelation of justice began to unfold in my heart. I began to feel a gratitude for being able to understand a tiny measure of what Jesus experienced on my behalf and on behalf of the person who demanded payment for the offense perpetrated against him. I can't undo any of our circumstances, but Jesus was God. He could have pulled his hands free from the nails, jumped down from that cross, spoken healing over Himself and disappeared through the crowd. But He didn't. He stayed there until the blood that poured from His wounds gave way to His death and He said, "It is finished." His life was gone. It was His choice to take the injustices of the world upon Himself.

But it wasn't fair.

Is God not a God of justice? Doesn't somebody have to pay for the offenses people commit against each other?

Somebody did pay. With His life.

Nothing on earth can make up for the injustices perpetrated by sin, selfishness and perversion. Nothing can change the painful circumstances of the past. No amount of money can undo a sin committed by someone against a victim. No amount of attention and kindness can erase memories of manipulation and offense. No therapy can activate a magic button in the brain that releases the pain of betrayal.

We can rail against injustices, fill our moments so full that we don't have to think about the pain, jam ourselves so full of bitterness that it's impossible for anything else to get inside to hurt us, leave the perpetrators so far behind in our dust that they have no way of ever seeing us again or isolate ourselves from everything connected to the source of our pain – and still the injustice survives.

So - where is justice?

Justice lies in final surrender in a crumpled heap at the foot of the cross, finally realizing that nothing on earth can satisfy the blood lust in our hearts for payment. Our pain is too deep and too wide for anything to fill it. It requires Someone who is able to cover our deep wounds with the blood of Jesus - the price paid for the sin that tried to destroy us.

Amazingly, once we find ourselves at the foot of that cross, admitting our inability to exact justice from the world, God's justice begins to kick in. He fills our heart with the supernatural forgiveness that brings us relief through real peace and dissolves the walls that keep us from Him.

For Jesus, justice was found in the purpose of God - the purpose that, until He burst forth from the tomb in resurrection life, was totally hidden from the knowledge or understanding of man.

For us, justice will be found in the purposes of God - the purpose that we cannot yet see, but shall be revealed as we continue to keep our eyes on Him and trust that He has a great and wonderful plan.

The glorious destiny of Jesus did not come without great sacrifice and pain. Why should we think ours could be a cakewalk?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Forgiveness - The Real Deal

Yesterday, I heard Oprah say that forgiveness is all about you - it's not about the offender. It's a tool for setting yourself free from any negative feelings that bind you to the offender and then simply walking on and moving forward with your life, oblivious to whatever may be happening with him or her. It has nothing to do with condoning the hurtful actions of another. It's all about you and moving forward.

I bought into it at first, because the struggles of those around me who have tried to deal with horrible situations of offense would seem to merit that brand of forgiveness. If they could simply speak or write words of forgiveness and then shake off the bonds that tied them to the individual and forget him or her, life might take a fresh turn for them. Everybody knows that hatred, bitterness and unforgiveness have serious physiological consequences over time.

And Oprah was right in saying that forgiveness has nothing to do with condoning the offense of a perpetrator.

The problem is that I have seen sincere efforts, a la Oprah, fail. Now I am seeing people who have taken steps of that kind of forgiveness encased in thick walls of anger or cloaked in denial of real feelings. That kind of forgiveness doesn't work over the long haul. It's powerless.

So - what's the real deal on forgiveness? How does one really do it?

Well - in order for a definition of the concept of forgiveness to have merit, we have to go to the architect of the concept. In this case, it was God Himself. He designed the concept to deal with the offense of the world as a means to have it (us) restored to Him. That was the whole purpose of forgiveness. Restoration.

Now it gets complicated. Restoration takes us where we don't want to go with a person who has hurt us badly.

I thought about what it would be like if God were to watch Oprah and follow her direction for forgiveness. A word from Him, to us, would have to go like this: "Okay - so - you've really hurt my feelings because of what you did. However, I know that in order to keep myself healthy and move ahead with my life, I need to forgive you. So - I forgive you. However, that doesn't mean that I ever want you in my life again. You've lost my trust and I don't ever want to have anything to do with you again. I'm setting myself free of you. Goodbye."

That scenario obviously falls very short of God's meaning of forgiveness. We all know that in order for Him to accomplish His own absolute forgiveness, He had to make the greatest personal sacrifice. But He did it. It was so difficult for Him, that the whole earth turned black in the process. The light went out of the world. It was a time of intense separation from His personal comfort - but it was a temporary separation that would lead the only way to genuine peace. Restoration.

I thought about my most significant experience with forgiveness. It immediately followed the very moment of the most intense offense of my life. My husband's confession shattered everything I had built over a lifetime. As his words came to me over the horizontal plane, a supernatural gift of forgiveness, grace, mercy and compassion was dropped from above, vertically, into my brain, heart and soul, accomplishing a preemptive strike against bitterness.

At that moment of intense pain, I didn't have to scrounge around trying to find God and cry out for His support. He was already there. I already had a relationship with Him. His Holy Spirit was already inside and around me. He was already positioned to do His work.

As we stood there, it was as though the Grand Canyon opened up between my husband and me. Our marriage was over – but that didn't mean I rejected him as a person. His actions had made it impossible for us to proceed with the nicest plan for our lives (an intact family) but one doesn't throw people away. People are not disposable.

As my husband faced me across the yawning divide of the canyon, I saw him as a prince who had traded his kingdom for a bag of snakes. He had bought into the lies of the enemy who had seduced him with the "joys" of sin and now he had to deal with the outcome of his trade. I felt sorry for him - that he had been so weak as to buy into the lies.

That supernatural gift of compassion has enabled me to continue to value the father of my children, help him in whatever way possible to get back on his feet and restart his life, and experience the genuine peace in my heart that is so critical to truly moving ahead with my own life. It has enabled me to live above the potential, personal destruction.

I believe that true forgiveness can happen only as a gift from the heart of God. It cannot be contrived, drummed up or structured from the limitations we place on it. If one really wants to forgive, one has first to genuinely connect to God in sincere desire to experience life's "real deal". When one is willing to lay down all the hurts, the disappointments and shame of life, God will heal the heart and allow us to extend His forgiveness through us.

Empowerment? It requires a Source beyond ourselves.
(Copyright 2012, Diane Roblin-Lee)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Another Day of Grace...

This will be brief tonight because I'm exhausted – but I cannot go to bed without giving God the glory He so richly deserves.

Sometimes I hesitate to tell about all God does in my life because it so often concerns His divine supply and I think people must get so tired of hearing about my constant financial stresses – even though they're told about them only when God has, once again, proven Himself faithful. I don't know why it has taken me so long to get back on my feet, but the reality is that it has. I often feel like a rubber band stretched tight between crises. I am not blind to the fact that each crisis is another opportunity to see the miracle-working hand of God. Without them, I might not be as aware of my dependence on Him and His care for me – and yes, I do tithe. :)

Today I had to put a print order in for a Christian college. As soon as Fedex delivered their cheque, I ran up to the bank and deposited it so that I could upload their files for the urgently needed order. When the teller looked at the cheque, she asked me to wait for a moment and went in to show it to the manager. Because the college had moved, they had overstamped their address with the new address and, granted, it was somewhat difficult to read. The bad news was that they would have to hold the cheque for five business days until it cleared.

Knowing how urgently the order was needed, I came home and crunched numbers to see how close I could get to submitting the order with my own funds and still be able to meet my critical commitments. No matter how I crunched, scrunched and finagled with the figures, submitting the order would run me about $450.00 short in covering my own needs. Nevertheless, I uploaded the files and trusted God for the next step.

I'd like to say that I breezed through the day with full confidence, considering the lillies and how they are adorned, neither toiling nor spinning – but that wasn't me today. My heart was heavy with the demands of life and every drop of tension settled in my shoulders, turning them to stone. Nothing went right all day.
Late in the afternoon, the phone rang. It was a teacher who had stopped by my Legacy Links www.mylegacylinks.com booth at the fair last summer. She said that ever since our meeting, the possibilities of the Legacy Links project had stuck with her in terms of its potential for use in her grade six classroom. She wanted to pair the students with seniors in the community for the communication of wisdom, insight experiences and wisdom.

Wow! Just like that. She's presenting the project to the school tomorrow and if they proceed with it, her order of journals will come to almost exactly $450.00.

Coincidence? Not a chance. It has been another day lived in the grace of God - by design. Whew! Thank you, Lord.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I Almost Missed It!

What an interesting day today!

Let me go back a bit...

Ever since restarting my life six years ago, my desire has been to find a way to make an income without deserting my first love - which is to serve God and really make my life count for His Kingdom. And so, in the development of my business, byDesign Media, I've done graphic design work for ministry organizations, produced Christian magazines (The Crossroads Compass and 50 Plus), published Christian books and served on the Heart to Heart Marriage and Family Institute Board. Making money from secular endeavors was something I tried to avoid. However, I have come to the point where I realize that my idea of where I serve God and derive my income may, at times, differ from His.

Recently, a couple of Real Estate agents asked me to do some personal profile branding work for them and so I did. They loved the work and it became evident that there was a market for my services in that industry. Recognizing the potential for expanding my company, I designed a flier to focus on personal profile (branding) services and put together a package for potential clients. While I was somewhat intrigued by the possibilities, my heart wasn't in it because I felt I was letting God down by drifting away from 'ministry involvement.'

So - that brings me to this morning. I didn't really feel like going to church because I've gained some weight and didn't look forward to going out where it would be obvious. Having worked late last night, I was tired and very tempted to crawl back under the covers and hide from the world. Nevertheless, I got up,showered and managed to get the zipper on my pants pulled up.

Once at church, all the negative apprehensions and tiredness dissolved in the wonderful, warm glow of the presence of God. Following a incredible worship service, my pastor (at the Embassy) began to talk about transitions in life and the call of God at unexpected times in our lives. In the midst of it all, he mentioned that he was going to be speaking at a Real Estate conference this week. I thought "Wow - if God is opening doors for him to minister in the Real Estate market, maybe He has a purpose for me to step into the secular marketplace as well!" It was so odd for my pastor to mention real estate when I was having such a battle with the surrounding issues. I began to think about the importance of being salt and light in the world - not just in Christian circles. Marketplace ministry can be just as purposeful as pulpit ministry - sometimes more so!

Following church, I saw a disabled man who I knew lived about five miles from the church, walking out of the parking lot. Despite the fact that I was headed in the opposite direction, I stopped and asked him if I could give him a ride. I don't know him well, but have given him a ride on previous occasions. I have to preface what I am going to say with a bit of background information. This fellow is in his mid-thirties and, following a devastating car accident which resulted in brain injury and the loss of his wife, family, home and business, God has been doing amazing things in his life. He took him to Heaven at one point and then sent him back to earth to minister to people in specific ways. When Robert speaks a word over people's lives, it's usually right on and remarkable.

When Robert got into the car, he asked, "So - are you a real estate agent?" Somewhat surprised, I asked him why he connected me with real estate. He replied that I had the aura of a real estate agent all over me. Interesting. Weird.

When we arrived at his home, I began to feel that I should invite him out for lunch – but I really didn't want to because I was afraid someone might misinterpret us being together or whatever. Nevertheless, I felt so impelled to invite him that I finally could no longer resist and suggested that we go to MacDonalds because a friend had given me one of their gift cards for Christmas.

As soon as we went in the door, Robert made a beeline for a family (strangers) for whom he had a word from the Lord. As he spoke into their lives, the family was obviously overwhelmed with amazement at what was coming out of his mouth. By the time they left, we had made new friends and it amazed me how God had used Robert.

Well, then we sat down with our burgers and a young man came and sat at the table next to us. The ever-friendly Robert extended his hand and introduced himself, making the young fellow feel included in the situation. Feeling as though God had some sort of purpose in all of this, I asked Robert to tell me all about his experience in heaven. That led to some interaction with the young fellow (Ryan) and we learned that he was a Christian and a music teacher, but had been diagnosed with a bi-polar disorder and was on medication. Long story short, Robert prayed for his healing and, in the process of ministry, discovered that what he was praying with regard to some other aspects of his life, were right on target. It was so wonderful!

I ended up driving Ryan back to his work and on the way he expressed his amazement at the obvious divine appointment.

And I almost missed it! If I had given in to my desires to skip church or just drop Robert off at his house and ignore the prompting to take him to lunch – the divine appointment with Ryan and the other family wouldn't have happened. God's plan for Ryan would have been short-circuited.

Not only that! Had I stayed home from church this morning, I would have missed the two confirmations with regard to God's leading with my work! Now I feel as though I can put my heart into developing personal profiles (branding) for real estate agents and mortgage brokers and whomever else needs my help because God can give us opportunities to serve Him wherever we are – by design!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Off-Track for 2000 Years????? Oi Vey!

There are some things that haven't been adding up for me.

Let me go back a bit. I was raised in the home of a Baptist minister – a wonderful home in many ways – not perfect, but filled with wonderful memories.  The one thing that made less and less sense as I matured, was the total devotion to a God who didn't seem to do anything anymore. He seemed to be taking a 2000 year vacation after all that healing, delivering and miracle making. Involvement of Him in one's life seemed to me to be akin to building one's life around history lessons. Not a lot of fun.

A high-spirited girl, I went as far away from home as I could (in Canada) to university. Leaving not only my home, but the history lessons behind, I broke free and lived life as it came for 15 years - no rules, no accountability, no sense of being part of any great, cosmic 'plan,' I did my thing. By the time 15 years had rolled away, the fun was gone. I was tangled in a marriage that wasn't working and my life was spiraling downward. Mired in depression, I gave up, thinking that if this was all there was to life, I didn't want it.

Unbeknown to me, by that time, my mother and Aunt Jessie had been praying and fasting for me for about four months. They were concerned about my situation and believed that God could restore me. Without a word from them, I began to develop a hunger for purpose in my life. I began to read the Bible, and had a strong sense of knowing that it contained the answers I sought. The problem was that I needed a God who was bigger than me - a God who was still alive and could still do miracles. I wasn't willing to go back into boring history lessons.

I asked my mom what was the difference between Aunt Jessie (a lively, happy Christian) and so many I had seen who didn't seem to have any life of God in them at all. She said it was the "baptism in the Holy Spirit." I'd never heard of it before and so set upon a quest of discovery. What I found was that God had not changed. It was the church that had changed. He was still alive and still did miracles (which I began to experience) in people who really believed!

Typically, I immersed myself in study, thrilled with discovery! The depression was replaced with bubbling joy. I discovered that there was a huge move of God happening in the world that had started at Azuza St. in California at the turn of the century. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit were becoming evident on earth once again, after having disappeared in the Dark Ages.  Blind people were seeing again, crippled people were walking and thousands of people, all over the world, were being filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, prophesying and being delivered from things like depression. Wow! I asked around and discovered a group of these new "believers" right in my home town.

So - that was 33 years ago. Very interesting, because I was 33 years old when I was "born again" and now here it is, 33 years later, and I feel I've made an equally important discovery now!

Here's the thing... For the past 2000 years, ever since Constantine declared Christianity to be the state religion in Rome, Christianity and Judaism have appeared to be two separate religions. However, it always seemed strange to me that Jesus was a Jew and I didn't see any place in the Bible where it said Judaism stopped and Christianity took over as the new approved-by-God religion. As a matter of fact, it seemed to me that the early Christians were still doing all the 'Jewish' things (except sacrificing animals) to get right with God. Of course they no longer had to do that because Jesus had laid His life down and was sacrificed as the "once-and-for-all" sacrifice for all who would believe.

Over the past year, all things Jewish seem to have been coming to my attention. Recently, I began to do some research. What I found, I believe, reveals the astounding truth that we've been totally, sadly off track for 2000 years!

The early Christian church was a mixture of Jews and Gentiles, all of whom continued to observe the Feasts that God had ordained for them to celebrate. While the life of the Holy Spirit in each one had dissolved the need for the legalism of the Law, things like observance of the Sabbath as a day of rest were still central aspects of their faith. They rested on Saturdays because it was a healthy thing to do and then met together on Sundays to worship together. They were full of dance and joy and celebration. The very idea that their worship could ever become a matter of sitting silently in a stiff-backed pew was unthinkable!

Then along came good old Constantine, the Roman ruler who made Christianity the state religion. While I had assumed that he was some kind of hero for ending the persecution of Christians, I discovered something quite different. What appeared initially to be a great blessing in terms of his acceptance of Christianity, in fact rang the death-knell for the genuine Christian church. It was probably engineered by Satan himself - that sly destroyer. Here's what happened:

In A.D. 312, the Roman Empire was in great turmoil. Constantine and Maxentius were contending for the throne. Afraid that Maxentius could have an edge because he was known to be a master of magical arts, Constantine prayed to the "Supreme God" for victory. As far as he knew, he was praying to Mithras, the Persian sun god who he assumed was the supreme god. When he prayed, he apparently saw a flaming cross in the sky, with the words, "Conquor by this!" So - recognizing Jesus as associated with the cross, Constantine was victorious in battle and took the throne with the proclamation that he was now a follower of Jesus.

You can imagine the shock of the Christians who, until then, had been suffering dreadful persecution! For 18 years, they had been living under the brutal rule of Diocletian when many were tortured and killed. There must have been HUGE celebrations in the homes! Fear was vanquished! They must have seen it as an enormous answer to prayer.

Christian leaders were now honoured! It became financially advantageous to become a convert. Rest on Sundays became obligatory. Fabulous churches were built and pagan temples were either destroyed or turned into places to worship God.

The only problem was that Constantine didn't really know Jesus. He mistakenly understood Him to be the manifestation of the sun-god, Mithras – so – while he claimed to be a Christ-follower, he mixed pagan worship into the pot. He kept the image of Mithras on his coins and set up a statue of him in Constantinople (bearing Constantine's own features!).

While the enfolding of Christianity appeared to be wonderful at the outset, the changes proved disastrous. At the Council of Nicea, the first general council of the church in 325, Constantine detailed his un-Jewish design for the church. He declared that it was "improper" for the church to follow the customs of the Jews and identified them as "adversaries" of Rome. In eliminating Passover as an integral part of Christianity, he determined to have nothing in common with the "detestable" Jews. The church leaders apparently didn't object because they were so grateful for his support. A few checks in the spirit appealed more to them than martyrdom!

While the early church had been built on the model of the home church, Constantine abolished "houses of prayer" in favour of the great basilicas he built where crowds would assemble to "hear" the Bishop speak from his prominent throne at the front. Celebrations and dance were no more. Participation in celebratory worship was forbidden. The Bible was chained to the throne so that no one could take it and read it - a far cry from the early church teaching the Torah to children, line upon line. The air in the basilicas was stuffy and rigid. No one was allowed to hold church anywhere but in a Catholic Church building. (The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomon, Book Two, Ch. 32). The essence of the family of believers became lost when the 'Church' became a building.

(As an aside, this is in no way a rant against Catholic believers. I have dear friends who are Catholics, who I know to be genuine Christians.)

The intimate, Spirit-led worship of the early church was replaced by solemn rituals and liturgy - to Constantine, with his Roman mind-set, the richest expression of dedication. The burning of incense and the use of candles, both part of the pagan worship he had known, came into widespread use. The new solemnity or the church mirrored the ceremonies of the Roman imperial court.

In 321, Constantine declared the Christian day of worship to be a Roman holiday. He called it "the venerable day of the sun." That's where we get Sunday! By the fifth century, worshipers entering St. Peter's Basilica were expected to turn at the door and bow down to worship the rising sun!

Biblical feasts were replaced by pagan holidays. While the early church never celebrated Christ's birth, under Constantine they began to observe December 25th, the birthday of Mithras - a favorite pagan holiday characterized by merriness and gift-giving. Now that Jesus was thought to be a manifestation of Mithras, it was declared a Christian holiday! The spring celebration to honour the goddess of fertility (Asherah, Aestarte, Ishtar or, in England, Eastre) became the 'Christian' Easter, to salve the concern of Constantine that Christ's death and resurrection was celebrated on Passover, a Jewish holiday. Because the original pagan celebration of fertility was symbolized by the egg, pagans and Christians alike, decorated eggs and gave them as gifts to celebrate. Oi vey! They didn't even bother to change the name! We now say we're celebrating Easter - the name of a pagan goddess.

Worshipers of Isis (an Egyptian goddess revered as the mother of god and the great virgin) and Artemis (Diana) began calling their goddesses by the name "Mary," so that they could continue their idolatry. Not much wonder the church became full of superstition and idols! While it might have become powerful and respected on many levels in the world, it had no room for the supernatural power of God.

According to legend, when Francis of Assisi had an audience with Pope Innocent III, the Pope, showing off the wealth of the church, said, "Do you see, Francis, the church can no longer say, as Peter once did, 'silver and gold have I none.'" Francis replied, "Yes your Holiness, but neither can the church say 'In the Name of Jesus, rise up and walk'" (from The Messianic Church Arising by Dr. Robert Heidler).

Basically, Constantine's legacy is that he chopped off the Jewish roots and grafted in Greek paganism and Roman imperialism to the extent that what we have seen to be the church is a distorted misrepresentation of what it was meant to be! I am appalled that one man in power could have changed the entire course of humanity!!!!!! So sad!

By the beginning of the fourth century, Christianity was a mixed-up hodge podge in terms of how it was lived. In the cities, it incorporated aspects of paganism and Greek philosophy, while rural areas still exhibited much of the Jewish roots as taught by the apostles. There, the Torah was still taught in homes and Jews and Gentiles celebrated together as "one new man." People walked in the freedom of the New Covenant while still benefiting from the richness of their Jewish heritage.

History records Constantine's hatred for the Jewish people. It was a Roman mind-set and had been for centuries. Frustrated by the diversity, he was determined to standardize Christian worship according to his own paganized style and so commanded every church in the Roman empire to conform to his standard, which eliminated every vestige of Jewish roots. Non-conformity resulted in severe persecution and death. Anyone who followed Jewish practices (as the early church had done for over a hundred years following the death of Christ) was to be declared "anathema" (cut off or accursed) and killed.

Despite Constantine's ruthless changes, the evolving (evilving) Christian church found it necessary to follow the Nicean decrees with Council after Council where they attempted to reinforce the stamping out of Jewish roots. Right up to A.D. 787 at the second Council of Nicea,, it was decreed, "Those who openly or secretly keep the Sabbath and follow other practices in the manner of the Jews are not to be received into communion, nor into prayer, nor into the church" (Canon VIII).

The question begs to be asked – if Jewish elements of Christianity were simply unnecessary adjuncts, why was the the Roman church hierarchy still working so hard to stamp them out over 700 years later?

Sadly, even though people who didn't know Jesus were now called, "Christians," they were still pagans and all manner of atrocities were perpetuated through the Dark Ages in the name of Christianity. How often have I heard people ask, "How can you be part of something that caused such horrors in the world during the Holy wars?" They don't understand that those wars had NOTHING to do with Jesus!!!!

My point of all this is that the original Messianic church was all but snuffed out as a result of Constantine's injection into history. The Dark Ages were dark because the Light of the World had been dimmed by man's efforts to design Christianity his own way.

It's true that there has been a remnant of believers all through the ages carrying the true light of the Gospel, (such as the Culdees of Iona and the Waldensians). They have, however, enjoyed only brief periods of popularity.

Now, just as there was a great move of God at the turn of the century, restoring the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to the Church, I believe another great move of God is restoring the Church to what He meant it to be. While Jews who come to faith in Jesus as the Messiah are known as "completed Jews," I believe Dr. Heidler is right on, in contending that Gentiles who celebrate Christianity within the context of its Jewish roots should be called, "completed Gentiles!"

I am aware that there are many readers who will say, "Diane - we all knew this. You just needed to apprise yourself of the details of church history." That may be true. I may be one of the few who had not understood the full impact of Constantine's edicts – but I have to ask, "If y'all knew all of this, why are we not doing church the way the first and second century Christians – the ones closest to the purest form of Christianity – did it? While my own pastor has been key in my rising interest, with his fascinating teachings regarding the world of Hebrew and his unfolding of our Jewish underpinnings, not every Christian leader stirs their flock to understanding as he does.

I was discussing all this with a friend the other day and her response was, "For us to go back and start celebrating the Biblical Feasts would be like slapping Christ in the face! His work is finished. We don't need to do any of that anymore! We're not into legalism anymore. We're under the New Covenant. We're not under the Law!"

If that's the case, I have to ask, "Why did the first and second century Christians slap Christ in the face by observing the Feasts and enjoying their Jewish roots?"

I believe that God's timing is everything. Although most scholars have been aware of all this for many years, as we draw closer to the end of time as we know it, God is unveiling things that have, until now, been cloaked in misunderstanding, apathy, hesitancy to move too quickly, false teaching or whatever. He is bringing deeper understanding to the world of His ways.

It seems to me that freedom in Christ means being free to enjoy the fullness of what God has given us - including some of the customs that foreshadowed and gave depth of understanding to His amazing plan.

Last night I had a vivid dream. I don't often remember dreams, but this one is staying with me. I was moving from my home. It was all about changing location. How interesting. I don't believe it meant that I am moving from Uxbridge - just that I'm moving to a different understanding.

Shalom - by design!