Wal-Mart Brand Emunah


My wife and I were in Wal-Mart late this evening with my oldest son getting a few things for his upcoming trip to summer camp. While we were waiting to check out we noticed a few guys in their early to mid twenties were standing nearby. One of them had one of his arms entirely covered in tattoos. I couldn’t see the other one well, because there was a display between us. However, my son noticed that he had a single tattoo on his right arm and it was in Hebrew. He told me it said אמונה, emunah, the Hebrew word for “faith.”

So, I approached the young man and struck up a conversation. I asked him, “So, how’s your emunah?” He looked at me confused for a split second, so I pointed to his arm. “Oh!” he said with his face lighting up, “Oh, it’s pretty good. I’m not into religion, but I still have faith.” So, I asked him what caused him to get that particular tattoo. Continuing to smile, he responded by telling me that he was raised in a “strict Christian home,” and used to be religious. He had a friend who knew a little Hebrew and he had him help him find the Hebrew word for faith. He said, “I used to be religious, but I’m not so much anymore. I accept people’s religious perspectives and don’t pass judgment, but I’m not into that anymore.”

We exchanged a few more words, I told him a story about another Hebrew tattoo gone bad, and then I offered him my contact info in case he would ever like to dialogue about religion and his personal journey. He happily put my phone number in his phone and said he might like that. I asked him his name, and he said it was Dillon. We shook hands, I told him I would keep him in my prayers, and we parted ways.

As I reflect back on this experience it makes me think of the multitude of “Dillon’s” there are in the world: young adults who were inspired in their childhood or teenage years and then disillusioned as an adult. Young adults who are searching for something ancient and something real. He went out of his way to find out the Hebrew word for “faith” so that he could permanently imprint it onto his body. The irony of it all is that Dillon says he still has faith. But faith in what? He may have a positive outlook, but does he really have faith? Who and what does he believe in? Emunah requires both faith IN something and faithfulness TO something. I think Dillon holds onto his tatt as an anchor to a time in his life when he did have faith, a time when life was much simpler and the more difficult questions of life weren’t beating on his front door. Maybe it reflects a hope that one day he might regain some type of faith, a hope that there really is a good and loving God that personally cares for him. Whatever the case, Dillon is still holding out hope.

How can we reach the Dillon’s of our generation? I think the most effective means is by living authentic, holy lives. Anything less than authentic, a Dillon can see right through it. That’s what has produced the Dillons of our generation. Anything less than holy, a Dillon knows is disingenuous also. Many in the church claim to be living an authentic life. But living an authentic life devoid of holiness is simply being a Dillon. Holy and authentic lives are what Dillons are looking for. Are you producing Dillons or inspiring them to a closer walk with the God of the universe?

Deep Breath


Hello everyone. It’s been a very long time since I wrote an actual blog post. Things have been happening so quickly in my life over the last year or two that I’ve hardly had time to come up for air. I’ve got a stack of “to do’s” a mile long and had little time to actually whittle away at that list. I thought I would try to touch base with everyone, and try to get back into writing a blog post every once in a while. So many things have changed in my life in these last few years.

One of the biggest is that my family and I have left our life-long home in Arkansas and moved to Macon, Georgia. At the beginning of April I came on staff at Nachamu Ami Messianic Synagogue as the rabbi’s assistant. It’s been an exciting journey—not without challenges—but one I and my family have been very fulfilled in making. We know this is Hashem’s will for our lives and have dove head-first into our responsibilities and building relationships here in Middle Georgia. While our hearts still ache to be with all those we love back in Arkansas, we are so thankful for the path our Father has put us on to help fulfill His Kingdom mission for this area.

I hope to write more at a later time, but I wanted to at least get a brief word in to update everyone on one of our most important life decisions. If you’re ever in Middle Georgia, take some time to come to Macon and visit us and our incredible congregation. We would love to have you!

blessings,
-Darren

Announcing: Digging Deeper with Darren & Randy


Digging Deeper website screenshot

Well, it’s official. I’ve officially started a talk radio show with my friend, Randy Fields. It’s called Digging Deeper with Darren & Randy. We are broadcasting live from KAAY 1090AM in Central Arkansas every Thursday morning from 10:00 – 10:30. Last week we set sail with our pilot episode on Repentance and Rosh Hashanah. This week we will be discussing the Days of Awe and Yom Kippur.

The program is aimed at a mainstream Christian audience who know little about the rich Hebraic roots of their faith. If you would like to listen to the broadcast, you can do so by listening to the live show from the KAAY website, or from the archive on our website.

Our basic objectives are: Dig, Discover, Restore.

DIG into the Word.

DISCOVER what has been hidden.

RESTORE what has been lost.

Be sure to tell your friends, your Sunday school teachers and your pastors to tune in. We want to be a resource for educating and encouraging people to “dig” into the Scriptures. Be sure to check out our website and give us some feedback if you’re able to catch the program.

Narrow Road Concert Message


Narrow Road Concert

You may or may not have known that my old band (Narrow Road) had a reunion concert this past Saturday night. It’s been 20 years since the band first formed, 10 years since it’s last performance and around 15 years since I was involved personally. However, many of my old bandmates and I got back together and played a reunion gig at the local Christian college and we’ve had a lot of positive feedback so far. We played around 20 original song and had a really great time. I had an opportunity to share the Word during the performance and I thought I would share my notes. I integrated not only the name of the band (and the intent behind it), but also a few of the song lyrics as well. The challenge I presented integrated many of the thoughts on discipleship that I’ve shared on my site over the last year. I would love to hear your thoughts…

TODAY

Today Is The Day

Today is the day… The day to be born.
The day to be free. The day to be warned.
Today is the day… The day to decide,
for darkness or light… for wrong or for right.

The author of the book of Hebrews reminds us of our responsibility for “today.”

Scripture:

But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient?
(Hebrews 3:13-18)

KINGDOM CITIZENS

The message of both John the Baptist and Jesus was “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”  We have long since forgotten this message, particularly its original meaning in its original context. We should understand the message of Jesus to be calling us to lay down our own lives and agendas and surrender them to his kingship. But how do we do this and how do we spread this message of his kingship?

Typically, we think that the solution is either to focus on the fear of God (hell and damnation) or to focus on the love of God (grace and acceptance). When our focus is hell and damnation, we lose the intimacy between ourselves and our Creator. When we focus on grace and acceptance, God becomes molded into our image and his standard of righteousness is thrown out the window. When we are consumed with only the mechanics of the “do’s and don’ts” of our faith, our relationship to Christ easily becomes distant. When we say that we love Jesus wholeheartedly and this is all that matters, it becomes easy for us to justify walking in a life of sin. “After all, Jesus loves us, right? It doesn’t matter if we’re not perfect.”

But we fail to recognize the need for both love and fear of an Awesome God who both created us for companionship, and will one day judge us according to our deeds. To live life as a Kingdom citizen is to be subject to the laws of his Kingship and to enjoy his companionship.

Of Jagged Rocks and Cornerstone  

Does anybody know where their soul’s gonna go?
Does anybody see the rocks below?
I see the land approaching as the storm clouds roll
We’re living for the body when the life is in the soul

What are we living for? Are we living our lives for the next adventure, the next paycheck, the next moment? Or are we living our lives for our King?

Scripture:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
(Matthew 6: 19 & 20)

Vampire Christians

Deepest December

“Royal blood: poison to the vampires
which encircle your soul”

The reasoning behind these lyrics is that when the Royal Blood of Christ in our veins, our blood becomes poison to anything in this world that tries to suck the life from us. Through Christ, we should be “more than conquerors.” However, most Christians live a defeated life. Let me explain why…

A. W. Tozer said, “Salvation apart from obedience is unknown in the sacred scriptures.” Dallas Willard takes this a step further by saying,

“This ‘heresy’ has created the impression that it is quite reasonable to be a ‘vampire Christian.’ One in effect says to Jesus, ‘I’d like a little of your blood, please. But I don’t care to be your student or have your character. In fact, won’t you just excuse me while I get on with my life, and I’ll see you in heaven.’”

Willard has spoken out loud the silent thoughts of all Cultural Christians. He has exposed the heart of those who would invoke the blood of Christ in order to wash away their sinful past, but continue to proudly live a life in which the Risen Lord has no place.

They say the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing over and over, but expecting different results. The same is true in our spiritual walk. Paul tells us that if we have life in the Spirit, then our daily walk (life) should also be “in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). If we are walking on our own path, rather than following in the dust of our Master, how can we expect any different results than the ones we are already getting?

Are we a “vampire Christian”? Has our Cultural Christianity lulled us into a spiritual coma from which we cannot awaken? The gift of grace through the blood of the Risen Messiah is entirely free. Yet it cost Jesus his very life. Shouldn’t we at the very least give ours back to him, rather than merely feeding off of his blood?

Repent, because His Kingship is calling…

SPARK

Too many times we want to go out and change the world and start off by trying to “fix” everyone else. But the path to permanent, lasting, sustainable change has to begin with ourselves. Yes, we should be working to change the world, but it must begin with ourselves. It’s like one empty vessel trying to fill another, because we’ve been trying to fill empty people with the emptiness inside of us.

At one point the crowds begin abandoning Jesus because of his difficult teachings. Jesus asks Peter if he would do the same. Peter responds with the beautiful truth, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). But what were those “difficult” teachings of Jesus that caused his followers to give up and turn away?

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58)

Is this saying that in order to have a relationship with Jesus all we need to do is take communion? No, it is saying we must partake in his sufferings and that we must give our entire lives to and for him. In other words, we must allow his life to become our own by “feeding” on him, the incarnate Word of God, daily.

This is my challenge. I want to ignite a spark in you that will eventually become a flame. I want to set you on fire for Jesus, but not just in your emotions, but in your day-to-day living.

Sure, we know Jesus and may have even said the Sinner’s Prayer at some point of our lives. But the question is, “Does Jesus know us?” Have we spent time walking in his dust, sitting at his feet, filling ourselves with the Words of Life? If we truly believe that Jesus is the “Word made flesh” then the entire Word of God should inform our day-to-day choices, rather than sit on our shelves collecting dust. Does our daily life reflect a relationship with the One Whom we serve?

On A Whim

Should we even have to say
Should our actions show the way
Should we feel it every day
Or is it all a game we play?

CONCLUSION

The name of the band is Narrow Road. This name was chosen for a reason:

The Narrow Road

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

The wide road is believing in Jesus. The Narrow Road is living and dying for him.

Someone once said, “Repent one day before your death.” Jesus said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!”

Today is the day… The day to be born.
The day to be free. The day to be warned.
Today is the day… The day to decide,
for darkness or light… for wrong or for right.

Thank you!


Thank you!

I just wanted to publicly thank a particular family in Georgia (you know who you are!) who started contributing to Digging with Darren couple of months ago on a regular basis. It has really made a difference. Their monthly contribution has enabled me to start whittling down the books on my book list, and made it possible to continue my research and writing, particularly in regard to my book on discipleship, a work-in-progress that has taken me several steps back to do some in-depth research from varying alternative perspectives. It has especially been helpful in a time where my family has been in a place of financial desperation. Thank you for making a difference!

Update

While I’m at it, let me give you an update on my writing.

I have continued (ever so slowly) to work on my book, researching and writing; filling in holes, clarifying points, adding illustrations to better help with understanding the message, etc. I am also about 75% complete with a new 2-part post that I hope to be sharing soon that will help bring some discussion on the topic of righteousness and our perspectives on who is and who is not righteous. (Yes, I know it sounds dull now that I read my description, but I really think you’ll enjoy it.) I have also had a potential (not definite) offer come up to contribute some of my teaching on discipleship to an upcoming publication. I have also been putting down my thoughts on various other topics that I have been working into forthcoming blog posts.

Many people probably wonder why I am not as prolific at blogging as some of my other fellow-bloggers. It is because I have chosen not to use my blog as a note-taking system, or outlet for stream-of-conscious-type thoughts. I have chosen to be calculated in my posts so that they will be beneficial for those who are looking for insights into specific subjects.

Once again, a big THANK YOU to my Georgian friends for their monthly donations which have been invaluable. And THANK YOU, my dear readers for your continued support, insights, comments and prayers. They are greatly appreciated. Be looking for things coming in the days ahead. In the meantime, if you would like to help support my writing more on relevant topics from a Messianic perspective, please consider becoming a sponsor through the PayPal links in the right-hand column of the site.

In the grace of our Messiah,
-Darren