Tuesday, December 30, 2014


I didn't inherit a whole lot of tradition from my family. Before we got into Torah, we were sorta non-denominational floaters. Never could really find a church where we felt at home. Didn't really have any special holidays--fireworks for 4th of July and a family gathering for Thanksgiving was about the extent of it. You could say Silver Dollar City was a bit of a vacation tradition. But, it's a struggle to recall much else.

I want my children to have a tradition that they can hold onto and pass on to their children, but I face the same struggle that my parents did. I don't belong anywhere. I'm not a Jew; I don't fit in with the Christians. This whole Messianic thing is, well, a mess. My family took a bit of a Karaite approach to Torah, though we didn't consider ourselves strictly Scripture only. We were not anti-traditionalists by any means.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Comments Always Welcome!

One of the things I've noticed whenever I read articles about blogging is how everyone talks about this "blogging community." To be honest, when I first heard about that, I was a little skeptical. How can blogging (which seems to be quite a solo endeavor) and community go together?

Over time I realized that blogging (and all writing, really) can be lonely. Here I am sharing my thoughts with no way to know if anyone is really reading them or what people are thinking. It's a one-man show, my own little stage. My words go out to the world, but a conversation is supposed to be two-way.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Reflections on HarvestMag

For the past one to two years, I've been a part of the HarvestMag team as a column writer. This was a project originally started by Sonja Langford and Zachary Bruno. My brother and I were among the first to join their team just a few months after they started.

When the first issue came out, I read it and thought to myself that I should try to become a regular contributor. Little did I know that I would soon have the opportunity to not only contribute my writing, but be a part of the team. By the time the second issue came out, Sonja and Zachary were putting out the call for a column writer, graphic designer, and editor. My brother Mark and I filled the first two roles, while Kelsey Bryant filled the third role. We would later be joined by Annie Braught (Kerr), Amariah Pinchback, and Rachel Hamburg. These folks were an amazing team to work with, and I will surely miss our monthly brainstorming sessions.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Redesign (or Mid-Blog Crisis)

After a brief mid-life crisis, the blogger in me decided it was time for a redesign of the site. I'll be honest--I'm still getting my feet wet in figuring out the direction for this whole "Hopeful Heretic" thing. But, I wasn't really liking the direction it was going. The title and background image all conveyed the themes of religion and theology. Which, I love both those things. But, that's only one part of me. I also love stories and life, and have a family I want to share about. I was feeling constricted by my own creation. The blog didn't feel personal anymore. I had violated the rules I set out in "On Blogging."

So, for about twelve hours, The Hopeful Heretic sat as a blank slate (literally...there was no background image during that time). After a good night's sleep, I went to work and came up with a completely new design. It's weird how much a background image can affect your mood when trying to come up with blog posts, but I feel like the new design makes the place seem more personal and homey. It better expresses me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Family Vision

Tomorrow, my wife and I are going in for the ultrasound that will tell us if we're having a boy or a girl. It's an exciting moment for both of us. Our ongoing debate will finally be resolved (I'm rooting for a daughter).

We already have names picked out for both a boy and a girl, so after the ultrasound, Little One will actually have a name. No longer will we have to refer to him/her as "it" or "the baby." Suddenly, this whole fatherhood thing is going to become a lot more personal. A lot more real.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Messianic Vision and an Interview on "Unashamed"

You may have noticed a new link at the top of the page entitled "Messianic Vision." It's a note I wrote about two years ago on where I see the Messianic Movement and its direction. I was prompted to put it up when Chris Knight asked me to join him as a guest on "Unashamed" over at Hebrew Nation Radio.

When Chris first asked me what was on my heart to talk about, I wasn't really sure. The things that I had been working on most recently were still too underdeveloped for a live interview. And they didn't really fit the intended audience--Messianic youth. It was during dance last erev Shabbat that I remembered our role as the next generation. We are the ones tasked with carrying on this growing faith. The question we need to be asking is this: What is our vision?

So, that's why I pulled out a two year old note and posted it to the blog. It's relevancy has not diminished, and it still rings near the center of my heart. We need to know where we are going and how we can actively direct our path to get there. Otherwise, we stagnate. Otherwise, we die off. "Where there is no vision the people perish" (Proverbs 29:18).

Anyway, I had a great time conversing with Chris and Daniel on the show. The one question I stumbled on a bit, and would redo my answer if I could was when Chris asked me what I like to write about. In the interview I stuttered something about vision and where we're going. Really, I'd say my favorite topic to write about is the Kingdom. I have often found trouble expressing the things the Father has shown me about the Kingdom of God, things almost too wonderful for words. That's what our vision is all about--building the Kingdom.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Book Review: The Giver

The Giver (by Lois Lowry)

Imagine a utopian world without suffering, hunger, or war. Everyone was treated equally with fairness. Everyone worked his assigned duties and everyone is provided for according to his needs (money had become obsolete). Children were taught from a young age to respect one another and mind the rules which kept their community peaceful. Science had virtually obliterated such nuisances as illness, inclement weather, safety hazards...and emotions.

Welcome to the monotone world of 11-year old Jonas, where everything is carefully regulated to preserve the community. Everything is predictable and safe...that is, until Jonas receives his unique role as Receiver of Memory.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Shabbat in Egypt

Just over two years ago I made one of the hardest decisions in my life--the decision to take a job with the National Weather Service.

It would seem like a trivial thing, a no-brainer. As a meteorologist I could not hope for a better opportunity. But, as a Messianic I would be forced to sacrifice Sabbath. That is no easy decision.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Heretic Hunter Returns

Warning: Auto-defender has identified this post as bearing the marks of the infamous Heretic Hunter. The views contained therein are not representative of The Hopeful Heretic. Please disregard. Steps are being taken to prevent further infractions on this blog.

Ah, there you are. When you took off last time, I thought I might have offended you or something. At any rate, I'm glad I caught up with you. There's this congregation calling itself "Messianic" that I must warn you about. Allow me to list my complaints:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Role of Community in Courtship/Dating

When my wife and I first started courting, we decided not to post it to Facebook. Why? We were afraid of the pressure. I had seen how people can converge onto a "Relationship" status like a pack of hungry wolves. I didn't want that for Brittany and myself. It shouldn't be this way.

When a friend or relative enters into a relationship with someone, we really need to place ourselves in their shoes. The words we speak have such a great effect, especially at such a time of vulnerability. The prospective couple needs encouragement and support, not teasing and pressure.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fall Feast Aftermath

The last several weeks have been quite busy with Yom Kippur and Sukkot. It seems that every year is different--this one was marked by its challenges. If there were one central theme for this year's Sukkot for me, I would say it was learning to love and to serve.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Shadows of the Past

My question of late has been how to deal with the past. The good memories, the regrettable mistakes, the lessons learned. And the times that seem to be a mix of all three. The other night (Erev Yom Teruah), I had the following dream:

In the dream, I was part of a community that had recently moved on to a new town. I don't remember much of the old town, except that there was a feeling we had left to escape something.

Monday, September 15, 2014

FAQ: Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)

For those that are unfamiliar with the holiday, I put together a little infographic on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), hopefully answering some common questions (feel free to share):

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Finding Sense in the Law

It's kinda hard to pray "Lord, teach me your ways," when you're reading through a series of laws that don't make sense. A prohibition on certain people entering the assembly. A test for virginity that isn't really that fool-proof. Instructions on how to marry a captive woman.

When reading the Torah, so many of its practices seem archaic and sometimes unjust to our modern eyes. At one point in time, I would have defended the commandments as the definition of justice, arguing that it's today's perspective that needs to be changed. But, now I've come to the conclusion that this does injustice to the Bible and damages our reputation.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Seeking a God That Makes Sense

The past several mornings, I've been reading through the various laws of Deuteronomy (trying to keep ahead of the Torah portion). With conversations of apologetics settling in the back of my mind, I found that many of the laws don't really make a lot of sense. This leads to me wonder, Does God make sense?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

When Life Overwhelms You (Cause we all have these days from time to time)


Pray. Cry out to God for help. Pour out your frustrations before Him.

Pause. Take a breather. Give your mind a chance to relax.

Pray. Ask God for the strength to continue on. He knows what you're going through. Trust Him.

Start. But, pace yourself. Remember, your Father is with you. Rest in His peace.

Pray. Thank your Father for His help. Thank Him for His grace.

And finally, remember the sun is the most beautiful when it shines in through the clouds of life--and rainbows only appear after the storm.

Thank you Father, for helping me through the business of this week. Thank you for giving me the strength to get done what needed to be done. And thank you for giving me rest. Blessed are you, O Lord our God, who gives man rest.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Carousel of Thoughts

Photo Credit: Aral Tasher
Sometimes one can't write because he doesn't have anything to write about. Sometimes it's because he has everything to write about. Seems that every so often, like clockwork, my thoughts evolve into a carousel of ideas and questions spinning around and around, faster and faster, until finally they blur into nothingness. Perhaps that's where I reach my breaking point. Anyway, that's where I'm at today. The thoughts run round and round and I just don't know what to do with them. I suppose I could share a few of them here.

What follows is a semi-coherent rant; I make no guarantees as to how interesting or intelligible it may be.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Of Man and God

Judaism focuses on one revelation: Mt. Sinai. Christianity focuses on the other: Jesus Christ. Messianic Christianity is faced with the unique problem of reconciling these two focus points in a way that upholds both in the lives of believers today.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


I mentioned in an earlier post that Messianic Christianity is founded upon two great points in history: the giving of the Torah and the resurrection of Yeshua. I want to focus in on that point here and take a look at just how important these two events are.

Most of us tend to start the discussion with the Bible. The Word of God is our "absolute", the standard by which we judge everything else, the foundation upon which we build our religion. Having grown up with the Bible, we sometimes forget that it is the answer to a question, a response to our need for the life in God. The Bible is not simply a given that we are simply expected to adhere to. It is the Revelation of God in a dark confusing world. The Word of God is not normal. It is not natural. It is a breach into our universe, a violation of natural law, an intervention in the course of humanity.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Messianic: A Philosophical Definition

In the last post I focused on the theological distinctives of the Messianic movement. I tried to stay very general and objective so as to be inclusive. Here, I want to talk about the philosophical side of the movement, which by very nature is much more subjective. While our theology may be a mess, we have a unique way of viewing the world that I believe has merit.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Messianic: A Religious Definition

Those of us in the Hebrew Roots / Messianic / Torah Observant Believer / [insert other name here] movement seem to some difficulty in the area of labels. Many seek new labels (or to go label-less) as current ones don't seem to fit or come across as too restrictive. It's part of our identity search as a relatively new movement. Meanwhile, the labels we do have sometimes seem to elude definition. Just what is a "Messianic," anyway?

Monday, August 4, 2014

A New Name

Shalom! For those who have been following "Chasing After The Ruach" for a while, I suppose a bit of explanation is in order. This is in many ways a continuation of that blog. This will be the new home of my various ramblings and personal thoughts on life, faith, theology, and stories.