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.

HarvestMag has been everything that my dreams are made of--writing, theology, friends, and the chance to make an impact on my generation. Our motto was something that will stick with me forever: "Encourage, challenge, and inspire." All of these things were a fulfillment of previous dreams and so much more. I can't even begin to thank God enough for the opportunity He gave me (same goes for all the members of the HarvestMag team for their work in making this project a reality). HarvestMag gave me a glimpse of what I want to do with my life and confirmed my desire to write and teach.

I am sad to see the magazine go. It filled a hole in the Messianic movement where there are few resources for the youth. Everything has a season, and HarvestMag's season has come to an end. But, the mission to encourage, challenge, and inspire is far from over. If HarvestMag has proven anything, it is that you have a voice and a role to play in building the Kingdom of God. Whatever talents and passion God has given you, keep on shining your light before men.

One of my main roles in the team was writing the "Portraits" column--Biblical character sketches. I hope to continue those here from time to time. Below I've copied the very first one I wrote for Harvestmag.

Even though HarvestMag is over, you can still read all the past issues at There's a lot of wisdom and encouragement to be found in those pages written by our readers and my teammates. You can also check out the websites of some of my teammates as they go on to pursue their dreams: Zachary Bruno's music, Kelsey Bryant's blog, and Annie Braught's photography.

Abraham and the Idols

I looked around at the works of my father’s hands. Statues made of gold, silver, and wood lined the shelves, each one promising to satisfy some fleshly desire. Gods of lust and gods of war, gods of wealth and gods of destiny filled my father’s workshop. In the center of the room stood my father’s pride—a terrible beast rising above the rest. Its silver wings were outstretched like an eagle’s, its head crowned with a golden mane. Its eyes were painted with a fiery jealousy that threatened to consume any who dared oppose him. As I stared into those eyes, a plan began to form. With a large stick I began smashing the worthless idols. One by one they went down until only the one was left. I placed the stick into the remaining idol’s hand and waited for my father to return.

“Abram, what have you done?” my father cried. “I witnessed it all myself, father. I heard the idols whispering and the tall one became jealous. He took a stick and smashed the others to pieces!” My father was not impressed. “Do you take me for a fool? These idols have no minds that they should talk or act.” As soon as the words escaped from his mouth, he realized what he had just said.

The story above is a traditional story, adapted from the Midrash—a legendary tale about how Abram stood against the idolatry of his people. Did it really happen? Probably not. But it illustrates the choice that Abram had to make—to follow in the idolatry of his father or seek the truth of his Creator.

Something in Abram’s life must have prompted him to see that there was One greater than the idols formed by human hands and even greater than man himself. For in the end, worshiping a statue was nothing more than the glorification of man and his own desires—the same idolatry we see today, only under a different disguise. Abram saw right through it. Man worshiped creation, but who was the Creator?

The problems we face today are nothing new. Mankind tries, as he has always done, to find ways to deny his Maker. I can imagine Abram walking through our streets today pointing out all of our impressive structures, our feats of engineering, our works of art, and telling people that each one of these things is nothing more than the result of chemical and physical processes working over an extended period of time. We give credit to man for his creation; why are we so afraid to give credit to God for His?

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