I’d like to personally thank Hannah, Micaela, and Sarah, for carving out time in their busy schedules, to entertain my questions. Thank you three for lifting your voices like a shophar, using the musical aptitude Yah gave you, to glorify Him! Lastly, thank you for this awesome lesson in patience. Lol.
I asked the sisterly trio that constitutes the Praises For Yahweh band, the following inquiries, and they were kind enough to reply! Enjoy!
Micaela, Sarah and Hannah, may you three please describe the moment(s) where the narrative of your faith shifted from, “I was born into this Messianic worldview. My Mom and Dad worship El Yisrael, so will I,” to, “I now truly believe, on an individual and personal level, that Yahweh Is God.” May all three of you answer? Pretty please?
That moment came when I was around 13, but I didn’t fully understand the gravity of that choice until I was 15. When we were kids, we were raised with plenty of knowledge and rules of the faith we followed and saw plenty of other examples of living out this faith and walking in it. Like you said, though, some children that grow up in this faith become youth that resent the beliefs of their parents and the way they were raised, or they find very little importance or significance in it. I think the biggest thing that stuck with me throughout my childhood and early teen years was that Yahweh would always be there and I should bring anything I couldn’t handle to Him. He would never leave me and He was always wiser and stronger than me and loved me. That stayed in my mind no matter what was going on in my life, nor how angry I got about my upbringing or how many times I doubted whether this walk was something I actually would continue.
Even when I was 13 and thinking about my “big dreams” of becoming a singer or moving to a big city and chasing my career (my career choices back then are pretty laughable now and I’m super grateful I never actually did them), I still always felt pulled to need some sort of faith in the future I saw for myself, and it looked a lot like the faith I was raised in. I wanted to keep Shabbat every week and continue using the Sacred Names and keep the feasts, as well as eat kosher. Oddly enough, no matter what my goals were, I still wanted to keep all of those things because they seemed important and right and I didn’t want to let them go. I won’t say I’ve never doubted or struggled with my faith and my beliefs, or had to figure out how to stop seeing them as my parents’, but I just couldn’t let go of that faith, no matter what, it’s in my heart so it’s there for good.
Personally, I feel like there were seasons in my youth where I needed to reconcile my faith with my observations of the world around me (limited though they were).
Around age 18, I started taking responsibility for my own beliefs, recognizing that though many of the secular worldview seemed happy with the way they lived, their life purpose was short-lived. I couldn’t accept that everything on this earth started at the point of “nothing”, without needing intervention from a Master Creator. With these thoughts in my mind, I decided to fully embrace the Torah-Observant/Messianic mindset and faith. It was also important that I recognized that though there were some in the faith who were not good examples of the love Yahshua spoke about, this did not mean that the principles of a TO-lifestyle were inherently wrong. I can and should choose to walk in the example we are given of grace and mercy, without hypocrisy/legalism through keeping of the commandments.
For me, the choice to follow Yahweh was a gradual choice, marked by moments and experiences where I experienced difficulties in emotions, decisions and direction. As I neared becoming an adult, I became more aware of who Yahweh was to me and the fact He had forgiven me and continued to guide me even though I knew how flawed I am. Another defining moment that helped me choose was the moment I realized, that should I choose to follow Yahweh, I was solely responsible for my decisions and salvation. Should I choose to live in the world, I would be without direction and clarity. Yahweh is the one who reminds me what is important.
You three have such a vast panoply of songs. How are you so prolific when it comes to curating melodies/digital albums? Where or who do you derive inspiration from?
Thank you! We listen to tons of music from Christian and Messianic artists and take a lot of inspiration from all of those bands. We also find inspiration from the artists we know personally! We knew some really cool people with awesome music and that is one of the best ways to be motivated to do your best – watching others use their creativity. Our parents raised us listening to music constantly and as we got to teenage years, all of us started finding more and more bands we liked, which made us want to write better songs and replicate the style of those songs. I wouldn’t say we fit quite exactly in any certain genre, but our music has come a long way in finding a style that is enjoyable to listen to and hopefully touching hearts. Obviously a huge source of inspiration for any artist writing music (especially lyrics) is personal experiences, and that has created many of our songs. Experiences, other peoples’ experiences, verses and stories from the Bible, and certain feelings or ideas all give birth to song ideas. Music is such an amazing way to express the thoughts of your mind or beliefs of your heart in a way that people relate to; different and beautiful compared to just words alone. After all, David wrote an entire collection of heart-wrenching, beautiful, and raw, real songs. Those Psalms hold nothing back about the current state of his heart when he wrote them, he poured out his anger, grief, pain, fear, praise and awe to His King. That’s what I hope we can do in our band! When we sing, we want to be an expression of praise to Yahweh even if it’s a raw, honest song discussing things that aren’t always happy and pretty. He already knows our struggles, we can hide nothing from Him, but we can praise Him through music, pray through music, and hopefully touch and heal lives through music ONLY because He’s in it, not because of us alone.
Truly we were blessed in this area with guidance and motivation from our parents. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them. Pretty early on in our band’s development, we stopped listening to secular music with any regularity. It was important to us to be influenced by music that praises our Creator rather than glorifying the selfish desires and motivations pushed by the secular music industry. This was a huge step in pulling more inspiration from the Scriptures and Christian/Messianic artists.
I personally love many different genres of music; from piano instrumentals to rock and hip-hop, I enjoy the creative arrangements of large groups like Prestonwood Worship and Paul Wilbur’s live concerts, but I also enjoy leading worship with a guitar/piano and voices. It is important to me to continue to expand my “musical horizons” beyond what I am comfortable with, while still providing musical arrangements that are enjoyable to the majority of our audience. Through all of this though, Yahweh needs to be first and foremost, and even in the most personal of songs we write (for me it would be “Daddy Don’t”) we point back to our Creator who gave us these talents to worship Him! Some of these songs are born of very difficult seasons in my life, but I try to remember that I need to tell the whole story, both of the hardships and the hope, the trials and the blessings.
My personal playlist tends to be 75% worship music of varying arrangements and styles. Not only do these songs provide creative inspiration for writing worship music for those of the TO-lifestyle, but they also serve as a constant reminder of the grace and mercy of our Messiah Yahshua to me as a believer.
Praise Yahweh. You know, our Dad has often said those songs didn’t come from us. I agree, because many of the concepts we wrote about were not merely inner imaginations of children, but rather the result of Yahweh’s gift to us and, hopefully, as we got older, He saw our heart to worship and blessed us with those lyrics/songs. Inspiration is first and foremost Yahweh, however family, life, travels and other artists have influenced our style of music.
I was listening to your most recent single, The Only One. Beautiful song. I was thinking about these words in particular:
Take me/Break me/Bring Your light.
Take us/Break us/Give us faith.
These two lyrics sound so courageous and counter intuitive. Micaela, Sarah, Hannah, may you please unpack what these lyrics me to you personally?
These lyrics to me mean: take me down to my core, strip me of the pride that’s inside of me; the sin, anger, fear, every single thing that lives inside my soul and takes up room instead of Yahweh. Psalm 34:18 says: יהוה is near to the broken-hearted, And saves those whose spirit is crushed. In order to be fully made new, we have to be broken and contrite and stripped of our own pride and self-absorption, even if our lives are painful when we’re alive, or we’re constantly forgiving people that hurt us without earthly reward. So many of the greatest people of the Bible lived lives of constant heartbreak and pain, held together by Yahweh and made whole by His love. If we’re empty of self, don’t we finally have room for Him? This same point is made in a verse in Job, a man who literally was broken and rebuilt by Yahweh. Job 5:18 “For He bruises, but He binds up; He smites, but His hands heal.”
In those lyrics, we’re asking Yahweh to break us to bind us and bring His light to shine through our souls, shine in our life and reign on this earth. To break us as a whole and fill us with faith; make us new in Him. As Job also told us in his time of total brokenness and heartache: Though, He kills me – in Him I expect! But I show my ways to be right before Him. (Job 13:15) In order to be wholly new, the old man has to die first.
It is difficult to add to what has already been expressed. From my personal viewpoint, the grace of Messiah Yahshua is made much more tangible and necessary when we are humbled and broken, kneeling before our Maker in sheer despair. It can be difficult to fully appreciate the sacrifice of the Lamb when we are built up on our pedestals of pride and stubbornness, even within the faith as a result of our self-righteousness. Being broken-hearted before our heavenly Father can allow for His light to come in and strengthen us.
My vision for the song itself was the constant reminder of Yahweh’s presence being in our hearts in order for us to forgive. Naturally as humans, we are not automatically forgiving. It takes a deep reliance on Yahweh and letting go of self to be able to forgive someone who has wronged you. Sometimes, though, Yahweh has to break us (whether emotionally or give us trials) in order to humble us and remind us that the anger we hold is sinful, because we ourselves don’t deserve His forgiveness. I wasn’t thinking of this verse exactly when I was in the process of writing this song, however this verse is a great reminder of who Yahweh is to us: ‘Come, and let us turn back to יהוה. For He has torn but He does heal us, He has stricken but He binds us up.’ Hosea 6:1
So Micaela, Sarah, Hannah, I saw pictures of your congregation on your website. It looks beautiful and relatively diverse. What do you think congregations in The Body of Yahshua can implement, to better equip us Believers, to be more effectual, in The Great Commission? Matthew 28:18-20. Mark 16:15.
In your respective experiences, do you think The Body of Yahshua is doing a good job at normalizing discipleship? May you please unpack your Yes or No?
I feel that our congregations can best fulfill the Great Commission by taking our faith to people outside of just the assemblies that have beliefs matching our own. We need to enrich our fellow believers, yes, and it is a must to build up the Body of Messiah in whatever way we can. However, if we are simply going to congregations and groups where everyone believes like us, we haven’t taken this faith and the Word of Yah into the places where others don’t know it like we do. Becoming involved with your community and the towns near you is an awesome way to fulfill this command more! While feeding the hungry, helping widows and orphans, and lending hands in any place you can, you end up with hundreds of opportunities to witness and plant a seed in the mind of someone. We also play music at churches, including ones that don’t believe like us. Why? We believe in spreading Yahweh’s name and His praise wherever we can, provided we’re not throwing pearls before swine. It’s amazing the things we see when we go out and interact with our community and the churches around us, bringing our faith to them instead of keeping our distance for fear of the differences that separate us. Yahshua himself was amongst people that didn’t believe because they had yet to learn…
Romans 3:29-30 are good verses to keep in mind when we’re thinking about witnessing or worried about taking our faith to people that have beliefs different than our own. Shaul asks, “Or is He the Elohim of the Yahudim only, and not also of the nations? Yes, of the nations also, since it is one Elohim who shall declare right the circumcised by belief and the uncircumcised through belief.”
I think the Body is doing a better job at teaching discipleship, but with the new generation of youth reaching adulthood, it’ll become even more important for us young people to focus our sights on a life outside just our own personal goals and future. We have to put importance on witnessing to unbelievers as well as those of other faiths.
Our congregation is relatively diverse! We have several different races and cultures represented here. I think congregations in the Body of Yahshua can further the Great Commission by implementing a more welcoming home community: saying Hi to newcomers, inviting them to assembly activities, offering online sermons/services for those who can’t make it to the location often and offering their support to new believers. I think the body of Messiah has a moderate level of bringing new people into the fold, but we as congregations really need to work on being less divisive and work on being unified in holiness. Putting together so many different believers with varying doctrines and you tend to get clashes, but we can put aside those doctrinal difficulties to respect our fellow believer and have a unified front. I think we can encourage discipleship by connecting wise older women with younger women and responsible older men with younger men to bring up the next generation. Part of discipleship is not being solely focused on bringing newcomers in, but also solidifying our youth so they can continue on the faith, instead of them leaving in droves.
Millennials and Generation Z-ers (the latter being labeled The Loneliest generation), are leaving religious/denominational organizations, in droves. Micaela, Sarah, Hannah, what actionable/pragmatic steps can we all take, to ensure the next generation, comprised of youth/young adults, don’t walk away from Yahshua, in droves?
We have to reach the hearts of our children! I think about this all the time. There is an interesting difference to notice between the youth that were raised with a heart for their Father, and the ones that were raised with obedience but not a personal relationship with Yahweh that lives in their heart. We can raise our kids to do the things that are correct and written in scripture, and we can punish them into submission and instill a fear of Yahweh in them, but as I mentioned earlier, the thing that always lived in my mind when I was younger and either doubting or struggling or just plain angry, was that I could lean on Yahweh, He loved me and I loved Him, and still do. That kind of love doesn’t break out of your heart easily and I think if we can raise kids that love their families with their whole heart, and love their Father with their whole heart, we can raise kids that will love their Father and leaving this faith won’t be an option they think is going to solve anything in their life. A lot of times the reason why youth leave this faith is because they’ve encountered (or lived with and are related to) bitter, hypocritical, angry, rude or just plain horrible people in this faith. And yes, there are plenty of those people and not a single one of us is perfect, as it says in Romans 3:10: As it has been written, “There is none righteous, no, not one! Our faith and that of our children cannot rely on how others live out their own beliefs, we all will fail and some believers might also bring others down because of their actions, but ultimately we must raise our kids with a love for Yahweh that will remain alive in their hearts until the day they die, no matter what examples they see around them. If we can raise them with a true love for Yahweh, and show the best example of the love and faith we can, I believe we can raise kids that will have a stronger faith than just, “These are my parents’ beliefs and when I’m old enough, I’m outta here, they’re all hypocrites.”
It is really important to encourage the youth to “prove” their faith when they are younger. Youth in our congregations have a lot of the beliefs already figured out by the adults in their lives, and there is little need to discern for themselves. I think of a fact I learned about trees recently. Trees need the stress of wind to grow strong root systems when they are younger, so they can properly bear the fruit they will grow. We are like trees, and we cannot properly grow good roots without being in situations that will “stress” us.
We cannot continue to keep providing a bubble for our youth to grow up in. They need situations where the principles given to them at a young age can be put into action. Personally, I believe that learning to serve others is an important step in emulating Yahshua and building confidence in our faith that is not easily shaken. So many times, I was in a situation where I had to serve others in ways that were uncomfortable. Sometimes we served at homeless shelters. Other times we would be leading worship in front of complete strangers. Learning selflessness within the community of believers helps us to be less focused on our own selfish desires and motivations. It teaches us to desire and appreciate the accountability and fellowship of our fellow believers. It also puts us youth in situations where we have to defend our faith and live out the principles we are taught throughout the year. As a teenager I was appalled at the way the adults were constantly at each other’s throats over minor differences in beliefs. However, I know now that many had good intentions when seeking to live righteously. They just needed to be reminded that Yahshua was both the example of perfect obedience AND grace, mercy, hope and love. We as the next generation have the example of zeal from our parents and grandparents. We can take that and use it as fuel for an outpouring of ministry into others, taking the Word and turning it into action. Our congregations can provide creative outlets for the youth to use their talents for the edification of the assembly. They should also give youth opportunities to lead and room to “fail” within the covering and protection of the assembly.
People rarely become movers and shakers by chance or random opportunity. The desires to serve and lead as believers can be cultivated, but it must be done actively. I personally did not know I had a “gift” for giving presentations and cultivating discussion until I was in a situation where “someone” needed to speak and I chose to be that mouthpiece. Until that moment, I was terrified of the idea of public speaking. Having consistent opportunities for our youth to develop their gifts and learn selflessness can go a long way towards preventing a falling away from the faith.
I partially replied to this question in the above answer but I will elaborate more. I believe that youth often leave because they:
- Don’t feel valued as a member of the body (no purpose or direction) and lack encouragement from the body
- Their parents care very little about investing in their child’s spirituality, and kind of let the assemblies raise their children. However, I think assemblies/churches should invest in teaching parents and children together, rather then separating them into groups. Obviously, when children are young, they can’t make sense of the heavier topics of the Bible however parents should explain the topics in a way they can understand. As they get older, youth should be strongly encouraged to sit through services, as well as participate in services (giving messages, serving in the worship ministry, moderating, writing or reading poems or articles)
- Churches/assemblies and parents alike do not understand how prevalent, dangerous and influential the internet/social media is for their child. In this day and age, youth are learning about adult topics faster than ever, but not always in the appropriate context. Parents should be in consistent and caring fellowship with their children/youth, teaching them about these topics or dangers they may encounter and how to handle them Biblically. Preparation is key. Instead of learning about things from their ignorant or foolish friends, youth should incur wisdom from their parents or responsible adults, who have experienced those things before they have.
- Not all parents care about the faith and I have seen many cases where the child or grandchild is the only person of their interested in the faith. However, they can get discouraged by lack of righteous mentorship, especially if they come from a troubled home. I believe it is the body of Messiah’s job to recognize those lone youth who may not have appropriate adult leadership in their life and be able provide responsible leaders to speak and demonstrate Biblical wisdom in that youth’s life.
- Prepare and equip your youth to defend their faith. Incorporate bible studies and generate debates that get youth thinking about how they will answer about their faith to someone who asks. When you understand and can effectively communicate what you believe, you become more confident in your beliefs.
- Avoid hypocrisy. Youth pay attention to what you do just as much as what you say. If what you say does not line up with your actions, you will be dismissed as a hypocrite. Better to admit your flaws to your children and encourage them to learn from you, rather than to hold them to a standard you yourself do not follow.
Thank you so much for reading this interview. I pray it is an encouraging blessing to you!
These young ladies are hip, cool, and with it. How do I know?
They’re on the socials!