André Rivenell אנדרה ריבנל
I remember this old man stopped one day and said, how old are you son? I said 10 years old sir, he went onto say can I ask you a question boy? I said I sure, is there an answer to every question and where would you think you’d find the answer to that question… as a 10 year old boy I did not know how to answer him. I remember sitting at the dinner table that night and asking my father, dad I said, does a question have an answer to everything. He said well yes son, I said, how do we find that answer and reason for life? All he could say at that time was in life’s experiences, so I left it at that.
Looking back now, and seeing from the age of 10 to 31. I can see multiple mistakes that if guided in the right way my mistakes would have been fewer than they are today. This comes down to having a trusting heart and seeing well in others rather than bad… I have certainly learned allot of misconceptions in this as from today. It seems like I'm continually on trial in this area of my life.
Since the age of 31 until now, I've walked with the Father and as I look back at this journey I'm still walking, Torah found me about 10 years ago now, I have never looked back, but I have come to the realization that finding someone who feels, loves, sees and hears the way HaShem does is very hard thing to find. I feel this is due to the fact that there are many diversities in this world that dictate the way we feel, love, see and hear that guide our destiny in becoming further away from the Father than we think. So we continually walk in a downward spiral to total oblivion in an evil world which nobody cares about.
So back to my question, what if you wake up one day, and you have a question? And the question is – what am I supposed to be doing whilst I’m here on this earth? When you go searching … there’s a power there and whoever gets the power is the teacher. In the beginning you have the power and that power is you, it is allot easier to get that power than to get rid of it…
And through it all, I became depressed you have to understand what society does to a person and still does, everything is physical only physical. There are rules and regulations that just don’t make sense, and theirs a generation that just got fed up with it. Because we just wanted to be free. I went to every Christian religion I could find, healing this one and that one ungodly signs and wonders and many other experiences around the world and so on… until I came to the point that this does nothing for me, I was unhappy, disappointed but not discouraged still making the same old mistakes. As a Christian, I was worse off than when I first began. The Christian theology says in there NT you can do the commandments or have faith in your religion. So I said to myself well that doesn't work in Christianity so I’ll try the commandments.
So what did I do? I got on a plane and went to Israel… on arriving I prayed by the kotel/the wall and prayed like this, whatever you say for me to do HaShem I'm going to do. Immediately a guy came up to me and said, do you want to put on Tellfilin … and I repeated the Hebraic words he was saying since then my question had been answered and my life changed forever.
So why have I stayed with the Torah all these years? Why didn't I move on from Torah like any other experience’s I had like in Christianity? wherever I went and it works I'm going to stay here in Torah and still do today, as soon as it doesn't work I'm out of here and so far my Halakah walk with HaShem has been working, who’d ever want to go back to something that doesn't work?
If we practice the Torah with the physical aspects, the details… it will only come a burden, but if we include the spiritual aspects to Torah, then every mitzvot commandments we do becomes elevating in every way, the problem is with most believers today is they haven’t found the spiritual perspective in the Torah here…. and where do they go from here, they end up go back to what they’re accustomed with, mixing religion and their own preconceived ideas of Torah, and what do they see?… they see and say they see exciting things which is totally opposite to what HaShem has called us to do … not like the so called leaders who say you got to do this and you got do that. If they also would find the spiritual perspective in Torah, there’d be no need to go outside of Torah and look for another bandage religion [….] But for a person like me it’s not enough it’s more…. We need to see some light we need to see some experience, some purpose and reality now. And this is the advantage now for people around the world that they have, but they don’t know it or see it […] They can bring with them that thirst of spirituality and search it and find it themselves.
But why is it hidden? Why has it been lost? Seems to me the so called leaders and individuals are afraid if someone will go off into the spiritual, he/she might forget the physical. We need the physical; the soul without a body can do nothing. But the body without a soul is dead. If we don’t believe the physical needs go hand in hand with the spiritual needs, we neither understand either one of them, which I have said before we need to find a balance between the two.
The word used in the B'rit Chadashah/NT for church is the Greek word ekklesia which literally means a “gathering” or an “assembly” of believers. It is the means and the vehicle that Elohim (The Father) has chosen to fill all things with the glory and pre-eminence of Mashiyach to come.
I often tell people, “I don’t go to what others call church”. My belief is we function as the Body and there is a very big difference between the two. Going to church is done once or twice a week. Being the Body is a daily lifestyle. Some have accused me of forsaking the assembling of believers because I do not go to a church building or meet the way they think I should meet. The B'rit Chadashah (Messianic) does not tell us how to worship, it simply tells us to do it regularly. Just because I do not worship the way the majority of Christian believers do today, that does not mean I have forsaken the assembling of myself with fellow believers. Since I now walk Torah and attend Shul and my household does all the Mitzvot [Commandments] and keep the biblical appointed times [Moadim]
Intimate fellowship with brothers and sisters is very precious to me, as we are Commanded in Torah to live a lifestyle second to none and walk as though all mankind will be in the after life. When I refer to the term “organized church”, I am referring to that system of denominationalism that says “worship must be conducted in this manner” or “you must believe this particular way.” And while churches won’t actually say it, most believe that their way of worship or their belief system is the best. I reject this deceptive spirit and hopefully by the end of this testimony, you will better understand and perhaps even appreciate my viewpoint. Please give me time to explain and continue to read on.
I have been a follower of HaShem now for almost 27 years - 10 years in Torah. I have been to many different denominations within and outside the AOG. I have been to churches with a broad range of theological beliefs. I have been an Armeanist, a Calvinist, a dispensationalist, a fundamentalist, and a pre and post-tribulationalist and the “lists” go on (if you don’t know what these terms mean, don’t worry—you’re not missing anything… and WOW! you can see why I was so confused). I have also studied systematic theology and have an Advanced Diploma in Christian Theology. I also hold a Bachelor’s degree in counselling which is International. BUT?
However, through a series of very difficult circumstances in my life, HaShem began to shake the very foundations of my beliefs. My belief system over the years was based on fallible men and systems, and changed as frequently as I changed churches. I had book knowledge of the Father, but my understanding of His character was theologically, not experimentally based on walking Torah and coming along side Moshe's teachings. Of course, this is not to say that the study of the scriptures is not important. However, when intellectualism takes the place of spirituality, then study has become futile.
Denominationalism had clouded my vision and given me a skewed perspective of Elohim’s love and the purpose for my life. What the Father had done in my life (and continues to do so) is to take a very prideful, arrogant, self-righteous man and strip him of self-achievement and self-exaltation. I began to see all my theology crumble before my eyes.
I saw that much of the knowledge I had accumulated was simply the “traditions of men”. Yes I’ll say it again that traditions of men took me away from the central truth of the Father in me and the hope of glory. Through my brokenness, I no longer wanted to impress men with my so-called knowledge of the scriptures. I was like Moshe when crossing the desert when cast out of Egypt without food, water and the knowledge of Elohim. My Maker was ready to put His hammer to the anvil to mould me and change my life forever.Elohim was revealing to me the glorious revelation of HaShem being all. I saw that I had become a very religious man - a believer but a religious one at that.
My focus was on ministies, opportunities in preaching and teaching or even worship itself had become meaningless. I had left the simplicity of the Father’s love in my life, as He was not my focus. Ministry duties had become more important, being about my business instead of allowing to be led by Ruach HaKodesh back into the Father’s arms. Almost instantly, the Father had set me free from denominationalism, (if you think non-denominationalism is different, you’re misled) it is all the same just systemized.
With this revelation, I began to see denominations as hurtful divisions in the Body. Not only had Elohim begun showing me that He was not pre-eminent in my own life, but that He did not have the first place in others lives also. HaShem had lost the pre-eminence in His own Assembly, and just like the early church of Ephesus, the modern church has lost its first love, by tuning their cheek away for His Torah
Service is important - but only when that service flows from our intimacy with the our Maker. Anything less is idolatry. We have made our ministries and our activities into little idols. Like Avram when offering Isaac up before Elohim, we too have little Isaac’s in our hearts that we need to sacrifice and we have to repent and walk accordingly to Torah.
In conclusion, my intent in writing this short article is to answer some of my friends and family who are concerned because I am not walking as they are. I will not question any person’s choice of where they worship. That is between them and the Father. While I strongly believe that denominations divide the Body and are not Elohim's best, the L_rd surely uses them in the lives of His people. If you feel that you are one of “the called out ones” from any form of denominationalism, do what you believe the Father is leading you to do. But for me, I cannot participate in a system that I feel has left the spirit of HaShem.