Luke Tanner

Congregation Leader



I’ll try to sum up my life and walk with God in a nutshell. Some of my earliest memories are going to church as a child.

My dad (below) was a pastor for as long as I can remember. It became apparent to me early on that we were different from everyone else because our whole life revolved around going to church. We went twice on Sunday and again on Wednesday night. It was normal for me. It was all I knew.

I’ll be totally honest with you. I had a love/hate relationship with the church. Don’t get me wrong though — it wasn’t with God. I had put my trust in Him when I was about thirteen years old and will never go back on that. But what I saw in church troubled me. I have distinct memories that I believe were precursors to what God was going to do later in my life.

When I was around sixteen years old, I specifically remember going to church a little early one Sunday evening with my father. As he walked around and cleaned the auditorium and bathrooms, (my dad was an incredible leader and servant in that church … the people will probably never know to what extent) I walked up to the pulpit and look out over the rows of empty chairs and thought to myself “I will never be a pastor.” If you have been in ministry or are the kid of someone who has been in ministry, you will understand the sentiments I had at the time. I saw my dad give everything he had to that congregation and people and, to me, it seemed all he got out of it was a bunch of grief and strife. So why in the world would I ever want to follow in his steps and enter ministry?

Well, I now realize my thought process was limited and somewhat misguided. I have come to know it wasn’t about my Dad and it’s not about me: it’s about serving God. When God implants the desire, like an uncontrollable fire born forth from His promptings to carry out His word and will, that is the path you must follow. It really doesn’t matter how hard it is or who listens or responds. I, like my dad, know this is the path of life I will follow. I will follow God where ever He leads me.

As I grew up and watched some of the other kids and families around me, I saw the shortcomings of those families and kids in their walk with God. Slowly the things of God started to erode in their lives. Sadly, the lives of these kids and parents began to be filled with chaos. At the time I didn’t realize it, but God was using what I saw to lead me where He wanted me.

I met my wife, Merrilea, in High School and we were married after attending the University of New Hampshire. Soon after we married, I started to lead the youth group at my father’s church. During this time I began to develop some questions that I did not quite have any answers to. What happened to the Sabbath? What about the “Old Testament” festivals and dietary laws? I couldn’t quite put my finger on why it seemed like everything changed after Jesus came. When I read my Bible, it didn’t look like anything changed for His followers. So why did the Church seem so far removed in so many ways?

When I was twenty-two Merrilea, and I moved to Arizona. It was while we were living out there I was introduced to the “Messianic movement.” I had started taking Hebrew lessons with a Jewish friend of mine, and shortly after that, we started attending a Messianic congregation. It was during this time I began to become disillusioned with the modern church. There was just so much of the world influencing the church instead of the church impacting the world. I was pretty much done with it all.

My dad called me one day to tell me he had heard a fascinating Bible teacher on the radio named Brad Scott talking about the Hebrew language. I looked up Brad online, and after reading some of his stuff and listening to some audio teachings he had put out I knew God was leading me in a new (well, ancient) direction. Everything I had questions about slowly began to get answers as I looked at my Scriptures through this new mindset.

What was this new mindset you may ask? It was the truth that nothing had really changed when Yeshua came! I began to learn that the Torah, law, was still to be lived out in the lives of Yeshua’s followers. I started to understand that the church did not begin in Acts 2 and that I was actually grafted into the people of Israel! As such, all the Torah with all its blessings and curses were mine now! I had a connection and an actual heritage! I can’t explain how exhilarating this was. My life was changed. I now had a renewed purpose. This was the way to live. The requirements for my life were laid out clearly.

So much of the ambiguity and ethereal nature of the spiritual walk I had seen and experienced was gone. I believe that this airy religious walk, whether it was known or not, was a vital factor in the wholesale departure I had seen in the life of the kids who grew up with me. They saw the emptiness and pointless hypocrisy that was rampant in the religious world we lived in. Without knowing it, we saw the pointlessness of everything religion had dealt us. It was all without the foundation and substance the Torah gives. Friends of mine thought “what’s the point?” In essence, we were no different than the rest of the world except we didn’t drink, smoke or swear. This wasn’t the whole truth, but we didn’t know there was something big missing.

I believe this is a prevalent condition in the kids of my generation. There has to be something tangibly real for them to grab hold of and make their own before God Almighty. Will they choose to see the covenant as theirs and walk in it? It is real, and there are defined parameters. This is really what every kid (and adult) is looking for. Instinctively a person knows God cares for him just like a child knows the parent cares for him. And for all of us, God has set forth His instructions (Torah) for our own good. He loves and cares for us.

So, there I was — standing at the pulpit in my dad’s church. It’s funny how

God works in our life. Now I’m the leader of Zion Hebraic Congregation. But it’s not anything like what I had in my head as a sixteen-year-old kid. Well, it is in some ways, but that doesn’t matter anymore. I’m not doing this for me, for the people, for the money (there isn’t any), or for the prestige. Nope, I’m doing this because I can’t do anything else. I’m doing this because I’m a child of the King of the Universe.

I have my own kids now. I want them to see that their dad believes in something with all his heart, soul and strength. I want them to see there is nothing that will stand in the way of my living for God. Too many kids of my generation no longer walk after the God of their fathers. In part, this is because of the sins of their fathers. It’s time for this to stop. God is my help, I want my life to be real and something they will desire to follow.

Let me lay out for you my heart’s desire —

Through my teaching, preaching, and life, I want to motivate believers in Yeshua to live wholeheartedly for God as they experience the joy of walking out the Torah (the whole Bible) in their lives. My prayer is to reach those who do not know the God of the Bible. Let's get after it!