Emunah

Faith: What is it, biblically?

The word used in the Brit Khadasha for ‘faith’ is אֱמוּנָה, “Emunah”; this is from the root word אָמֵן “ahman”, where we get our word “Amein” [ay-men, for you southerners].

The Navi Khabakuk tells us what Avraham, Yitz’khak, and Ya’akov, and all the Patriarchs of the “Faith of Mashiakh” understood:

צַדִּיק, בֶּאֱמוּנָתוֹ יִחְיֶה

“A “Tzadik” in his faith will live on”; often rendered “The just shall live by faith”.

This is what was said of Avraham when he made covenant with Abba:

הֶאֱמִן “And Avraham ‘he’emin’ trusted in YHWH, and He considered that “tzedaka” for him.” Gen 15:6

In Khabakuk, the word is “emunah”.

In the Brit Khadasha, when Yeshua says, “For Elohim [G-d] so loved the world that He gave His One Beloved Son, so that whoever trusts in Him should not perish, but have eternal life,” the word for ‘trust’, often xlated as ‘believe,’ is ‘הַמַּאֲמִין’ ‘ha’ma’amin’, or “the ones who trust”, rooted in our word אֱמוּנָה , אָמֵן.

This word is not just ‘cognitive awareness’, in the sense of “I believe”; it is an affirmation of something that is absolute; firm, reliable, trustworthy.

When we say “amein”, it is supposed mean that we support whatever is being said. There are many who erroneously say that “amen” is not in the bible. Some even assert it is a pagan word; that is ludicrous. Wrong. It is in the scriptures many times, and is in that precise context; it shows that Israel “agreed” with Elohim that the Torah is good. It is used 12 times in Deut 27 alone; and each time, it was Israel agreeing that the pronounced curse from Elohim was just. After Ezra read the Torah to Israel for the first time in 70 years, He blessed Elohim, and all Israel said, “Amein”. The psalmists used this word to affirm the blessing of YHWH as well, 7 times.

So, this word in which ‘faith’ or ‘believing trust’ is rooted is ‘affirmation of something that is firm/trustworthy.’ It means to put our trust in something with which we agree.

So, how do we become righteous by our ‘trust’?

Trust in what?

Look at Khabakuk’s prayer, that caused him to receive the promise from YHWH that the Tzadik [Righteous one] shall live on in his Emunah.

“Why do You show me iniquity, and behold mischief? And why are spoiling and violence before me? so that there is strife, and contention arises? Therefore the TORAH is slacked, and justice never goes forth; for the wicked beset the tzadik [righteous]; therefore justice goes forth perverted…..they are terrible and dreadful, THEIR ‘justice’ proceeds out of themselves.”

[sound like today?]

Clearly, our “Emunah” is to be toward Messiah, understanding that Messiah Yeshua is the embodiment of the Word of Elohim, which is the Torah. He ‘affirmed’ it many, many times over. [Matt 5:17-19, John 14:15,21, 15:10].

It is indeed through our TRUST, our FIRM AGREEMENT with G-d, that Yeshua is indeed His Risen Son:

“G-d makes a Tzadik [a justified one] of everyone who puts his EMUNAH in this man [Yeshua, declared to be the Son of G-d, risen from the dead], even in regard to all the things concerning which you could not be made a Tzadik by the Torah of Moshe.” Acts 13:39

Shaul is preaching here, and he shows that he understood the same thing as Khabakuk and Avraham, quoting Khabakuk’s verse three times directly in his letters [Rom 1:17, Gal 3:11, Heb 10:38].

In preaching this message, he shows us he is drawing from Khabakuk, warning the Jewish hearers not to ignore his words the way they did the prophets, quoting the verses in Khabakuk that follow this very simple statement:

“Watch out, then, so that this word found in the Prophets may not happen to you: ‘You mockers! Look, and marvel, and die! For in your own time, I am doing a work that you simply will not believe, even if someone explains it to you!’ ” Acts 13:40, quoting Khabakuk 1:5

Emunah is the only thing we can ‘offer’ Elohim in order to be ‘made right’ in His eyes, and it is specific Emunah. It is trust that only Yeshua is the last offering, the final and completely satisfying offering made by a man [Yeshua] before G-d as atonement for sins, on our behalf made. All the offerings in the Beit HaMikdash only temporarily sated the soul, giving the faithful trust that one day YHWH would save Yisrael in a Messiah. That day came. And many in Israel rejected Him. One day, soon, however, ALL Israel will be ‘saved’; they WILL trust. Rom 11:26. They will then weep over the One whom they pierced. [Zech 12:10].

But, until then, Jew or Gentile, those who ‘trust in’ Yeshua, HaMa’amin, are made each a Tzadik, one who is ‘justified’, and able to perform the work of Torah by simply ‘agreeing’ with Elohim.

It is very interesting that the three letters in the root of this word give us a word picture from the Hebrew symbols of the letters:

אָמֵן

Alef is “G-d”, Mayim is “Water”, Nun is “Seed”.

Elohim [G-d] waters the seed [of trust].

Is that why Yeshua said : “With what can we compare the Kingdom of Elohim? What illustration should we use to describe it? It is like a mustard SEED, which, when planted, is the smallest of all the seeds in the field; but after it has been planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all the plants, with such big branches that the birds flying about can build nests in its shade.”

And: The Shlikhim said to Adoneinu [Our Master, Yeshua], “Increase our Emunah.” He said to them, “If you had Emunah as tiny as a mustard seed….”

That is IT. That is all you need: TRUST. That is the ONE thing you must ‘do’ to be made just: Trust that His Word is True. Then, begin to DO it, and HE will PROVE it to someone else through you.

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Ascending to the Menorah to meet Messiah!

Messianic nut-job strikes again! If you don’t like Hebrew, don’t read this!
I LOVE the symbol of the Menorah, and what it represents.
The meme attached does not show that before he said, ‘in your ascending,’ He said “Say to Aharon,”
This is the High Priest of Yisra’el.
I read this while working on my own copy of Torah [we are commanded to write it!, it is a VERY spiritual process, I highly recommend it.] But I ‘saw’ something in it this time that blew my mind.
It starts out in the second person, talking to Aharon, and it switches to the third person… ‘he shall light the seven lamps.’
Hmmmmm
First, I notice this is an ASCENT. The Menorah sits just before the vail, on the north side of it, where one can see all seven lamps horizontally before him. The ‘Ner Tamid,’ or ‘eternal lamp,’ the one in the middle on the ‘tree’ of the Menorah, is always lit, but the other six have to be lit at dusk. But, in this chapter, this is the FIRST TIME the Menorah has ever been lit, so ‘someone’ had to light all seven lamps…
We know from Hitgalut [Revelation] that the Menorah of the Temple was a picture of the Ruakh HaKodesh that burns in front of the throne of Elohim.
We also know from that book that each Congregation, if it is founded on Torah, has a Menorah in its midst. But, that Yeshua Himself will take it away, if we do not remain faithful to His Word. This has happened in most settings, though most people are oblivious to it, because they have such a distorted view of ‘church.’ They ‘think’ the Ruakh is ’emotion,’ ‘chill bumps,’ ‘agape’ fake love, crying, running, screaming, falling down, spewing incoherently, ‘dancing in the spirit’, all of these can be foisted on any people group, through music, lighting, and hypnotic techniques that many have used in certain religious settings in America since the 1840s.
The Ruakh is TRUTH! The TORAH IS TRUTH.
But, I digress.
So, ‘someone’ lights the lamp here, after Aharon ASCENDS up before the ‘face’ of it. The word that leaped out at me was MUL. It is actually the word for CIRCUMCISION!
The Menorah is in the ‘heart’ of the Temple! Right in front of the veil. ‘Circumcise your HEART!’ This is a TORAH command, Shaul [Paul] did NOT invent it in Romans!
“What does יהוה , your Elohim, require of you, but to fear יהוה your Elohim, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve יהוה your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul; to keep FOR YOUR OWN GOOD the commandments of יהוה , and His statutes, which I command you this day? ………….. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.”
What makes one certain he has a Menorah in his heart, in his congregation?
Circumcision of the heart?
In ancient Judaism [Messianic Judaism!] it is called ‘Teshuvah!” And this is what Yeshua said would cause HIM to remove the Menorah from the congregation in Ephesus! They were believers! And HE was going to TAKE from them!
“Remember, therefore, from whence you have fallen, and SHUVU! [ REPENT! ] And DO the first WORKS! [The Torah was FIRST]. Or ELSE, I will come to you very soon, and I will REMOVE your Menorah from its place, unless you REPENT.”
If we read Acts, we see that Ephesus studied the TORAH daily for two years under Shaul’s tutelage. At this point they had TURNED from it, and Yeshua told them TURN BACK TO IT, and DO it!
This is circumcision of the heart. Shaul says it applies to JEWS and GENTILES.
Rom 2:29
“But a real Y’hudi [Jew] is one who is inwardly so, and circumcision is of the heart, spiritually, and not literally; whose praise is not of men, but from Elohim.”
The Menorah is the Ruakh, with seven ‘breaths’ that light a flame upon Messiah. Read Isaiah 11:1-2 and ‘see’ those seven breaths/flames.

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אהבת המשיח

Yeshua’s model on love, correction, and discipline:
In about 90 AD, Yokhanan had a crazy experience on Yom Kippur [The Day of YHWH, NOT ‘sunday’].
He was told to write 7 letters, one to each Kahal [assembly].
The first one started with “I know your works, how hard you have labored, how you have persevered, and you cannot bear wicked people…”
The second one started, “I know how you are suffering and how poor you are, and the insults of those who call themselves Jews and are not…”
The third: “I know where you are living, where HaSatan’s throne is, yet you are holding on to My Name”…
The fourth: “I know your works, your love, trust, service, and perseverance…”
The fifth: “I know your works, that you have a reputation for being alive, but in fact you are DEAD”
The sixth: “I know your works: See, I have put in front of you an open door, and no one can shut it. I know that you have but little power, yet you have obeyed my message and have not disowned me…”
The seventh: “I know your works, that you are neither hot nor cold; O, how I wish you were one or the other!”
I began contemplating some different aspects of these statements a few days ago. First, while these are seven letters to seven different earthly congregations, they are also a single message to the One Kahal of Messiah Yeshua.
He begins by lauding the Kahal that assembled in Ephesus, He started with honoring them, because honor was due them. They had works. They were ‘doing’, and they did not abide the wicked, or those who break Torah. He lauded them for that. Yet, He told them to return to their first love: studying Torah! If we read Acts, we find that they were the city where Shaul rented a public meeting place for two years, to teach them the Torah, The Word of YHWH! [Acts 19:9]. He tells them, “REMEMBER how you fell, TURN FROM SIN, and DO what you DID at first!” You must remember, the wrongly dubbed ‘new testament’ had not been written! ‘Turn’ is “repent”, and in biblical parlance it means ‘turn to Torah’, since Torah tells us what sin is, we turn to it to know how to turn from sin.
Can we ‘hear’ Yeshua’s ‘tone’ in these letters? No. But, can we infer certain things about it? Yes. He is compassionate here, then scolding, then encouraging: “You have this in your favor: You HATE the Nicolaitans’ works, AS DO I !” WHAT? Yeshua hates something?
HATE. It has such negative connotations in our baby-fied society that thinks love is nothing but ‘soft’. Yeshua’s great LOVE for truth demanded severe HATE for error. But, notice, He hates their WORKS! NOT the people! And He praises the Kahal for hating those WORKS. What ‘works’; in their case, ‘controlling the people’ and bilking them for money, explained to another congregation later.
Then, He encourages them again, and makes a promise of blessing: “To the one who is victorious I will give the right to eat of the tree of Life which is in Gan Eden of Elohim.”
So, we have Yeshua giving honor FIRST. Then, we have Him chiding them for their error. Then He encourages and reinforces what they do right, and makes a promise of blessing, conditioned on their becoming ‘overcomers’.
The next congregation does not get praised first, because they were suffering. The first thing Yeshua does is show compassion for their suffering. Ephesus, the first one, did not have suffering. This one did. And He shows them compassion. He strengthens them by telling them DO NOT FEAR, and WARNS them that their suffering is not over!
Yeshua does not ‘candy coat’ anything. If it’s bad news, He gives it! But, with the bad news comes a message of hope and encouragement: “remain faithful, even unto death, and I will give you a crown of LIFE.”
It is so tiring to hear people sugar coat the gospel, and whine and cry about how everyone should just get along. People sin! It is a hard life! Sometimes, the people of God suffer; sometimes they suffer more than anyone else. If one comes to Yeshua thinking life is nothing but cake and icecream, they came to Him with a grave misunderstanding, and selfishly motivated. Those who have this understanding are typically those who reject Him eventually, following deceiving spirits that promise “real love” where nothing goes wrong and where one can do no wrong. WRONG. SIN is still SIN.
Life is REAL, and we are NOT promised a trouble-free life in this world! We are in fact promised trouble, by Messiah Himself: “IN THIS WORLD YOU WILL HAVE TROUBLE.” Isn’t it compassionate of Him to have told us that! And now we know He sees our struggles. BUCK UP! ENDURE! “Khazak V’Ematz!” Because in the next world, THERE there will be no sorrow; we will get there IF WE are faithful! To Messiah and His Torah. He certainly is faithful to us!
This pattern of recognition/honor, correction, and honor with reinforcement is seen through the next messages to the congregations.
It is the third Congregation where the Nicolaitan error is again addressed, and more fully expounded. Yeshua calls it the error of Bilam. What was that error? Selling the Word of YHWH! “Nicolaitan” means ‘controlling the people’. This was the beginning of the infiltration of the pagan idea of “clergy vs. laity” in the congregations. When the congregations were established, there were always multiple ‘overseers’ appointed, not just one man. Multiple pastors, multiple ‘deacons’, etc. And NONE of them were paid positions! The only people serving the people who received money from the people were those on missions who had left their homes and possessions and means of income! Shaul himself worked with two other Jews, making tallits, so that he could support HIMSELF. [Acts 18:3]
Is it not interesting that He starts five of these letters with “I know your works”? And two times those works were NOT HONORABLE. Remember, He is addressing believers!
“Avodah”: That’s a very Jewish term, my friends. It points to the Torah, which tells us we must ‘serve Elohim.’ There is so much more to ‘service’ than just “good deeds” [helping the poor, sick, afflicted, and helpless]; there is ‘service of worship’, assembling with the brethren on the prescribed times of assembly. prayers, etc. The Torah instructs us in ALL of these things. Our ‘works’ have to be His Works! Not men’s!
In His message to the fifth congregation, and the seventh, we also learn of Yeshua that He will NOT give praise/honor to those who have not earned it! Look at the message to the fifth congregation: He starts chiding them immediately! “You ‘look’ alive, but you are DEAD!”
Where is lovey-dovey ‘Jesus’ all of a sudden?
Today’s teachers think that we have to drum up ‘praise’ for the unruly child who has done no good; or for the congregant who does not serve the Body, but only ‘wants’ from the body, begging for ‘love and compassion’ without being willing to actually do the HARD WORK of LOVE! Love means accepting offenses and moving past them! It means looking into oneself and being willing to accept ones own error. Love is so much more than a feeling.
If one is not SERVING in His Congregation, they deserve NO HONOR~! Nothing is more disgusting than disingenuous “positive reinforcement”. In fact, it does nothing but perpetuate BAD BEHAVIOR. Yeshua warned these two congregations to straighten up and fly right! “Remember what you received and heard, and obey it, and TURN FROM YOUR SIN! For if you don’t wake up, I will come like a thief; and you don’t know at what moment I will come upon you!” And, “Because you are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth!….As for me, I REBUKE and discipline EVERYONE I LOVE; so EXERT yourselves, and TURN from your sins!”
We dare not forget that He was speaking to believers in these messages.
Love, “Ahava”, is a wonderful commodity, not an emotion. Love is an ACTION that offers good OR bad emotion! The ‘negative’ emotion of CONTRITION, provoked by tough love, is a powerful thing, and is absolutely NECESSARY in those who trust in Messiah. “FEEL” BAD, if you are not obeying Him! Because if He does not discipline us, we are NOT His children.
Love is SO MUCH MORE than being ‘sweet’. That is only one side of it! And it’s the side we all want. But that is immature, to think that’s all there is to it. It is sickening, what the world thinks love is! Sometimes, love is DEATH! “GREATER LOVE has no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Yeshua set the example on how to love. And sometimes, that means being a little tough on people. There is much at stake.

Pick this up!

Our Brit Khadashah portion this week has Sha’ul in Yerushalayim.  We learn a lot about the Jew, Sha’ul, in this chapter.  He is a dual Citizen of both the Roman Empire and Yisra’el.  He speaks HEBREW, and some are surprised to learn he speaks Greek [NOT the other way around].  He STILL KEEPS the TORAH, even long after he has become a believer in Messiah Yeshua.  Not only does he keep it, but he acts as a Rabbi in the making of a very serious offering IN THE TEMPLE.

Our chapter picks up with his arrival back to Yerushalayim, after having been all over Eurasia to declare the B’sorah.  The Galatian error of Acts 15 and the book of Galatians had already occurred!  And the issue had been SETTLED. The conclusion of Jewish leaders of the many THOUSANDS of Jewish believers [Acts 21:20] was that the new Gentile believers in Messiah Yeshua did NOT have to ‘convert’ to Judaism in the way of Shammai, the way Gentiles still must convert to Judaism today, with circumcision being the final sign of conversion to a manmade religion, and ‘salvation’ being the reward of keeping Torah, but that JUST LIKE FOR THE JEWISH PEOPLE, TRUST in MESSIAH YESHUA ALONE saves a soul, and obedience to the Torah is the outward expression of GENUINE FAITH.  The Jewish community of believers in Messiah laid on the Gentile believers about four different Torah precepts that comprise the equivalent of several chapters of the TORAH as a LITMUS TEST for continuing to worship in the synagogue!  They declared that they were SAVED, but reminded them that they would continue to hear the Torah in the Synagogue on Shabbat. [chapter 15, and 21:25]

In chapter 21 of Ma’asei HaShlikhim, Sha’ul, called here Pavlos, which is his name among the Gentiles, a rumor had preceded him to Yerushalayim: “but they [Jews who keep Torah AND believe in Yeshua the Messiah, see v. 17 and 20] have been informed about you that you teach all the Yehudim who are among the Goyim to forsake the Torah of Moshe, stating that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to follow after the customs of the Torah.”  This is a very, very serious infraction in the mind of an observant Jew, and still is today.  But, what Gentile believers in Messiah have done for about 1700 years is to teach that what was spoken against Pavlos in this chapter, which was a lie, is actually TRUE!

Very ‘advanced’ Bible readers read these verses, and yet turn around and teach that “Paul” abandoned his Jewish lifestyle, and turned against his own people.  But, after this chapter explains what Pavlos was to do to try to overturn this rumor, the Jewish Leaders of the Congregation of Messiah Yeshua in Yerushalayim said this:

“…then everyone will know that what has been said against you is a lie, and that you  [Sha’ul/Pavlos] yourself uphold the Torah and obey it.”

In order to prove to the Jewish BELIEVERS in Messiah [v 17 and 20] that he did NOT turn his back on Torah after having come to faith, NOR on the TRADITIONS of Moshe, Sha’ul went into the Temple and took a Nazarite vow.  This is a personal vow of consecration.  Sha’ul was asked to enter into the Vow of a Nazir with four other Jews, and go the whole way with them through the vow.  This meant that during the duration of the vow, a duration they selected, they would be like Shimshon [Sampson], a Nazir, and like Yokhanan HaMatbil, not eating grapes or drinking wine or strong drink, and not cutting their hair for the duration of the vow.  At the END of the vow, which could go on for months, or even years [we’re not told how long this one lasted], the Nazir was to shave his head.  Sha’ul volunteered to pay for all five hair cuts at the end of the vow.  And, he went into the Temple with them, and they performed the last rite of the vow, making an animal sacrifice to end the days of purification.  Sha’ul did NOT put his trust in this for saving himself, because he already trusted in Messiah.  But, he participated in TEMPLE WORSHIP, and, as an advanced Rabbi, “informed them how to complete the days of purification until the gift [animal sacrifice] of every one of them was offered.” [21:26]  True, after all that happened, a mob of Yisra’elis DID arrest Sha’ul, and beat him, and want him prosecuted.  But, Gentile readers today mysteriously forget verse 20: “see how many thousands there are in Y’hudah [Jews in Israel] who are believers, and they are all zealous for the Torah.”  

It was a LIE that Sha’ul broke Torah and taught others to do so.  Sha’ul, many would argue, should be considered great in the Kingdom of Messiah.  Even those who THINK he was a Torah breaker, and taught others to break the Torah AND the customs of Moshe.  They would agree he was great in the kingdom, even though they do not ‘see’ that his teaching was consistent with Yeshua’s, both of whom were Jewish Rabbis, Rabbi meaning ‘Torah Teacher”.  But, Sha’ul clearly taught Torah AND Jewish customs to JEWS [Acts 19:10, 21:26] AND GENTILES [Acts 19:10, 1 Cor 11:2, 2 Thess 2:15, 3:6].  Following Yeshua’s lead, and becoming great in HIS KINGDOM by TEACHING THE TORAH!

Do not expect that I have come to weaken the Torah or the Nevi’im; I have not come to weaken it, but to confirm it.  For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not even one yod, nor a stroke [of the pen] shall pass away from the Torah until everything comes to pass.  Whoever therefore tries to loosen even one of these smallest mitzvot, and teaches men so, he shall be regarded as small in Malkhut HaShamayim; but anyone who observes and teaches them [the mitzvot/commandments of the Torah], he shall be regarded as great in Malkhut HaShamayim.”

And religious leaders the world over ALL teach the LIE, that Sha’ul turned away from the Torah, completely.  It was a LIE then, and it is a LIE today….

Ask the blind man, he saw it too!

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It was a lie:
“And they appointed FALSE witnesses who said, “This man does not cease to speak against the Torah and against this makom hakodesh [holy place, i.e. Jerusalem] for we have heard him say that Yeshua HaNatzri shall destroy this place and shall change the customs which Moshe entrusted to you.” [Acts 6:13-14]

This was an accusation concerning Tzefan-Yah [Stephen], the first person to die for his faith in Messiah Yeshua.

They LIED, saying that he spoke against the Torah.
He did not.

They LIED, saying that he said YESHUA would CHANGE the CUSTOMS of Moshe.
He did not say that, because Yeshua did NOT do that.

It was a lie then; it is a LIE now.

The Torah and the Customs [ancient, biblical, non-rabbinic] go together.
They told this same LIE about Shaul [Paul]:

“Our brother, see how many thousands there are in Y’huda who are BELIEVERS, and they are all zealous for the TORAH: but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Y’hudim who are among the Goyim to forsake the Torah of Moshe, stating that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to follow after the CUSTOMS of the Torah. Now, therefore, they have heard that you have come here. Do, therefore, what we tell you. We have four men who have vowed to purify themselves; Take them and go purify yourself with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads; then everyone will know that what has been said against you is A LIE, and that you yourself UPHOLD the Torah and OBEY it.” [Acts 21:20-24]

{wait, I thought Yeshua ‘fulfilled’ the Torah? And believers of ANY ilk, Jewish or Gentile, didn’t ‘have’ to?}

And that LIE is STILL told about Sha’ul. But, they first said it about Yeshua, who ‘fulfilled’ the Torah! That word means both to VALIDATE and ELUCIDATE, NOT to ‘finish’ it, or worse, do away with it.

This lie is exhausting. Because so many people still believe it. And in extreme PRIDE they insist that that Apostles changed it/ abolished it/ did not obey it, denying utterly these two very CLEAR passages of scripture.

The ‘customs’ of Moshe go along with Torah! They are the ‘how’ concerning doing the commandments. “How” do we complete [fulfill, AFFIRM, uphold, guard/etc] the command to assemble on Shabbat, the SEVENTH day? By assembling together, coming out of our homes to the Assembly house, the Beit K’nesset, and hearing the TORAH read and expounded. This is the ‘custom’ started by Moshe, and Yeshua practiced this: it was His ‘turn’ to read in Natzaret when He read from the Bimah in His home-town Synagogue [Beit K’nesset, House of Assembly]. [Luke 4].  It was also HIS CUSTOM to do so!

Sha’ul taught these ‘customs’ to GENTILES!

1 Cor 11:2
“HOLD FAST [uphold, affirm, fulfill, etc.] to the JEWISH CUSTOMS which I passed on to you!” [in the greek it is ‘paradosis,’ meaning JEWISH customs!] This is echoed in 2 Thess
2:15 and 3:6.

“If you don’t believe this lie is true, ask the blind man, he saw it too.”
Stop reading scripture through the lens of religion!

I Wanna Be a Cow, Boy….

I got a phone call today [four years ago from yesterday, 05/22/19] from a ‘leader’ in a locally known, significantly present ‘church,’ first asking me on behalf of all their leadership if I would come and speak to them about the Jewish perspective on the Brit Khadashah [New Testament], then asking a personal, biblical question: why did Peter and Paul teach differently, why did Peter not preach grace like Paul did. I’m sure the first request will not occur, after the second request resulted in the following:
I explained that they [Kefa and Sha’ul] preached the same thing, citing chapter and verse [Acts 2, 3, 10, 13, 15, Galatians 3, 2 Kefa 3, etc]. Then the conversation turned to Rom 14; so I explain the context of Sha’ul’s message there…then ultimately the guy comes round to Matthew 5:17, “Jesus FULFILLED the ‘law'”, he said vehemently, as if I’ve never read the verse. I quote all THREE verses, putting back in context the verse he used to parrot bad doctrine, citing 17-19, explaining that Yeshua’s ‘fulfilling’ of Torah was NOT a means to do away with Torah, nor to excuse men from keeping it, especially because Yeshua SAID He did NOT come to do away with it in verse 17! And that not even the tiniest pen-stroke in the Torah would go away, AND, HE [Yeshua] said that those who go about teaching men to break it [The Torah] will be LEAST in His kingdom…and that those who teach men to DO THE COMMANDMENTS will be greatest in His Kingdom. [verse 19] That is SO simple and plain, yet so many IGNORE it, or TWIST the scriptures, just like Kefa said they did in his day.  Then, I explained that He began to ‘make the Torah full’, or CONFIRM it, ESTABLISH it, by explaining the Torah in the next 2.5 chapters! “Do we make the Torah void by grace?  NO!  We ESTABLISH Torah.”  I explained that the Torah did not go away, BUT IS STRONGER than previously understood by Jews! At this point, the guy called me a liar and hung up on me….
Several times during the conversation, he would NOT let me speak, but spoke over me;  So, I pushed back a couple of times, and then he accused ME of not letting him speak. The more patient I became, and kind, the more belligerent he became.
It never ceases to amaze me how deaf people are to the WORD of G-d. They read out of it what they WANT to read out of it, and they ignore the words of Messiah Himself! Very PLAIN words.  They do so, it appears, to perpetuate their own doctrine, things which are NOT in the scriptures!
I prayed for the man; first, that he would recognize how rude and inconsiderate he was, given that he called ME, and I was taking time out of my day for HIM. Then he calls me a liar! This is the SAME behavior MARTIN LUTHER exhibited toward the Jews! [Is it any wonder that this guy’s dogma was very Luther-esque?]
Persecution of Jews is coming, and it will not matter to the false “believers” that this Jew LOVES the Messiah of the Renewed Covenant.
The Torah Is His Light. Messiah IS the Torah, the WORD of Elohim. He will not violate it, and He will not have us violate it. Commandments LARGE AND SMALL [in man’s eyes] apply to those who trust Messiah.
Gentiles joined YISRA’EL when they came to faith in the Jewish Messiah. And in studying History, I see that it is the ‘gentile’ ‘church’ that rebuilt the ‘wall of separation’ that Yeshua tore down to LET THEM IN [Ef 2]. It is very interesting to me that I just read our parasha for this week from the Brit Khadasha, Efisim 2:11-19.
If anyone knows me, they KNOW that I will have any conversation that can remain civil, EVEN IF WE DISAGREE. I understand that there are many who do not ‘see’ what we see in scripture…but to go about treating people that way ‘in his name’ is a dangerous game to play… May יהוה have mercy upon us all.
I will CONTINUE to do what MY MASTER, Yeshua the Messiah, the Jew of Natzrat, said to do: to teach people to OBEY the Torah of Elohim.  Those are HIS words of guidance for me.

Saving Tom, Richard, Scot, and Mike

Declaring the truth of the “B’sorah” [Gospel, more on the deep word later] is the same, whether one walks in christian or messianic circles.  If we do not clearly ‘declare’ [what ‘B’sorah’ means, ‘declaration of good news’, ie “gospel”] the death AND resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah, we may only win a mind, and NOT a soul.

Winning a mind is temporary.  Winning a ‘soul’ is eternal.  And there is a difference.

I have had the great blessing of bringing many people who formerly did not believe in our G-d nor His Messiah to new and lasting, transforming belief.  Several of them were when I first came to belief myself, way back in the fourth grade.  A young boy named Curtis, and his cousin we called “Tom Tom”.  Curtis and I were talking to Tom Tom behind the church we grew up in, and I remember him smashing his fist on the roof of the pump house and breaking a piece of it off, and then expressing his trust in Messiah; he transformed before our eyes.  Both of these young men are gone today.  I take comfort in their expression of faith and immersion in Yeshua.  There were several others in my young life that I saw come to trust as well.

Over the years, as I stated, I have had the great honor of seeing people leave death behind and embrace life.  Of seeing them turn away from sin and turning to His Word, which is perfectly expressed in Messiah Yeshua.  I have pretty much lived my life with a great desire to see people TRUST in Messiah, AND express that trust with obedience.  The second is indeed the more difficult, and the lies of men and devils often thwart that effort from the start.  But, Salvation is indeed the most important thing.  But, only salvation that is followed by love for G-d that produces obedience and fealty to HIM is a guarantee of ruling with Him as a Kohen in His Kingdom.  And that is what I strive for every day.  To save the lost, and to help the saved “work out their salvation with fear and trembling.”  I realize there are so many who disagree doctrinally, and are content merely to ‘punch the ticket into heaven.’  I am not.  I long to see genuine transformation, continually, in people of faith.

As I sat reading and praying this morning [05/08/19], one of the psalms reminded me of all of this.  Particularly of the four men whose names are in the title of this piece.  Each of those men, who are among a number I’ve lost track of in regard to bringing to faith, are the more memorable encounters with His Truth that I’ve had in my life.  Each of them needed something different, a different approach, a different perspective on the declaration of truth from His Word, and a different confrontation.  And the B’sorah is nothing, if it is not a confrontation.  I’ve told each of these stories at different times over the years, in trying to teach others ‘how’ to introduce a person to our Messiah, or some other biblical topic that related to the event.  I was compelled this morning to put them all in one place, and to share it with the wider community.  I hope someone benefits from the telling.

I’ve gone in chronological order, so I start with Tom.  I was in the Navy, and I met Tom at the gym on the Submarine base where I was last stationed.  He was clearly a marine, betrayed by his physique, his haircut, and his demeanor.  He came up to me and asked for a spot, and I spotted him, and we got to talking.  At that time, my faith had gone ‘warm’ from very hot just a few months before, as I was pretty much alone in faith on that base.  I was attending a church, but still frustrated with doctrine, having begun to eat kosher, and having seen the validity of “Rosh HaShannah” and its prophetic nature.  Tom and I took a shine to each other, and began to work out regularly together.  We shot pool on occasion, and went out a few times on the weekend, doing what young sailors and marines do to bide their time.  Eventually, Tom became a bit of a temporary roommate, staying semi-permanently at an apartment I shared with another sailor, to avoid the barracks and eat a home cooked meal on occasion.  We’d grown quite close, and I remember him having to go to sea on a sub tender, and how I ‘memorialized’ his spot in the kitchen til he got back.  After his return, I was packing a bag and planning to go and visit my grandparents, as I did each month the whole while I was in Georgia.  Tom saw me packing, and he asked where I was going.  I told him.  “Can I come?”  I was taken aback a bit that he’d want to go, but happy that he asked.  “Sure!”  “Cool,” he said.  “But there’s a catch,” I warned.  “What?”  I don’t know what went through his mind, but I finished, “You have to go church with us on Sunday morning.”  That was an understanding most people had about my grandparents.  Sunday is their Sabbath, and we go to worship.  Tom thought nothing of it, and we headed out.

I had learned that my uncle Billy was in Athens in the hospital, and everyone would be there by the time we got in the area, so we drove straight to the hospital.  My grandparents were there, my aunt, and my cousin Torry and his wife, and of course my uncle, the patient.  I greeted my family with hugs, introduced them to Tom, and we visited for a bit, just our usual cutting up, jokes, hugs, etc.  Then we went to Grandma’s house.  It was Fri evening.  The next day was pretty typical of my visits there.  Up for breakfast, clean up after breakfast and start making lunch. Torry and his family came over, my Aunt did, and we ate and cleaned, sat around the kitchen table, went out on the front porch.  I showed Tom the old, circa 1838 antebellum plantation home, and the land.  But most of our time was spent in the kitchen around the formica table, talking, telling stories, joking, etc.

By late evening, when the cousins and aunt left, and my grandparents were tired, everyone started preparing for bed.  Tom and I were staying up in one of the nearly 400 sqft bedrooms.  The room at the top of the stairs was huge, as all bedrooms were in that town.  The town was the original home of Mercer University, and there was an ordinance that anyone who built a home there had to house university students.  The room we were in had at least 3, if not 4 double beds in it.  I was in the one closer to the door, and Tom in the next.  Before we turned out the lights, we had started talking about the ‘night life’ around, and I told him how my cousin had taken me to Milledgeville, a little college town up the road, to a club, and the place was packed with beautiful college girls.  We started making some tentative plans, typical of young, single, military men.  But, the conversation took a turn.

Once we settled in for the night, Tom said, “Dude, I have never seen so much love before as I do in this family!”  Here is Mr. Tough Guy, picture a young Jason Stathom, a Marine, and he’s remarking about ‘love.’  “Really?”  “Yeah,” he said.  “There is so much love in this family… where does it come from?”  I knew what he was talking about.  That is why I went and visited at least once a month the whole time I was in Georgia.  My grandparents were remarkable.  They were simple people, products of the depression, believers in the Messiah, people of faith, and their whole life was their family.  Their love for one another was well known in the whole area, as they were never seen apart.  They had, at that point, been married for around fifty years.  They were people of faith who never missed going to church, even though, at that point, getting my grandmother to and from anywhere was a chore.  She had MS, and had finally succumbed to needing a wheel chair.  Yet they went to church every week.  In their simple understanding of the Bible, they loved God.  And they gave that love, to the best of their ability, to others around them.  And they loved their family.  And I simply loved being there.  I loved my aunt; she was my ‘favorite’ aunt, and a beautiful woman [all women in the family are beautiful], and I had a little innocent crush on her beauty.  She and I picked and joked a LOT.  I loved my cousin, probably more than he ever knew, and in spite of his mean streak, he was my ‘favorite’ cousin.  I had a deep admiration for him.  I can’t speak to their reciprocity, but Tom may have gleaned that it was a shared commodity in our family.  I explained that the source of all that he ‘felt’ was God.

Tom was not completely new to the concept of God.  He told me he was catholic, but had only been to church a time or two in all his young life.  I explained that, unlike catholics, our faith was not so much ‘inherited,’ but personal.  I remembered that Grandma had told me that when she met my Grandfather, he was not as yet a believer in Messiah.  They had gone to a revival however, as she had given him the condition of his going to church before they ‘dated,’ and Grandpa heard an itinerate ‘revival’ preacher preach the ‘good news,’ and he, at that point, became a person of faith, in a transformative way.  I explained that grandpa’s faith was genuine and strong.  Once, not too long before that night, I told Tom, my grandfather had met a man who had come into their little Baptist congregation in despair, dying of leukemia.  Grandpa put his hand on him and prayed for him, and the man was healed, and lived.  I told him how my mother stipulated to my father that we would go to church once he retired from the military, and that we did, faithfully, and that I met Messiah when I was in the fourth grade.  I explained how my mother was the most faithful, strongest, most loving person of faith, in spite of living with a very, very hard man, unlike my gentle grandfather.  And that her love held our whole family together.  But, I also told him that my grandparents were probably the real heroes.  They prayed for everyone they loved, faithfully, by name, every single night of their life.  They got down on their knees, literally, together, for over forty years, until they were physically incapable of getting on their knees.   I told him that any minute now he’d hear my grandfather go to my grandmother’s bed and hold her hand and pray for everyone they knew.  It was mere seconds when the ‘prophecy’ became a reality.  Grandpa went to her bed, took her hand, and started praying, and Tom heard them pray for my parents, all my four siblings, and me.  Then, they prayed for my aunt, and my cousins, her two boys, and their wives and children, and then for their son and his family, and then for their many living siblings, and then for people whose names I did not know.  If they got to someone who had a particular need they knew about, they asked Abba to meet it.  It was probably between a five to ten minute prayer time.

Tom was, I think, impacted by that.  He asked what the basis of their faith was.  I told Tom the “B’sorah,” the good news of Messiah.  That we were all born into the propensity to sin, and were guilty before G-d of breaking His commands, and that the punishment for breaking His law was death.  But, Messiah, a Jewish man born some 2,000 years ago as the Son of G-d, understood our flesh, our weakness, since He came here from G-d’s heart, and lived in flesh.  But, because He was born of G-d and not of man, He had the Nature of G-d in Him, and overcame sin.  And, because of His great love for us, He died in our place on the tree, taking the punishment for our breaking His law into His own flesh, so that we could be free from the guilt of our transgression.  I told him that our guilt would be lifted by trusting in that act, and we’d have a ‘clean slate’ before G-d, and that He would give us His Life, His Spirit, to enable us not to break His law any more.  So that we could ‘live for Him’ in a pure way.  I told him that He rose from the dead, displaying His power over sin and evil and death itself, and that if we trust in the blood that He shed, and in the fact of His resurrection, that we would also live forever, rising from the dead one day ourselves.  Then, Tom surprised me: “What do I need to do?”  I was absolutely floored.  Effectively, he’d asked, ‘What must I do to be saved?’  I told him that if he believed what I had just told him [and this is still a ‘summary’ of that night; I tend to be detailed and a bit long on words], that all he needed to do was to tell G-d that fact, and deal with Him about his own sin, confessing it, and being ‘sorry’ for breaking His laws, and that he desired now to obey Him.  Then I prayed quietly that Abba would forgive me for not being light to Tom up to this point, and I thanked Him for the opportunity to share His Son with Tom.

The room got quiet.  Moments passed, maybe five or ten, I don’t know.  Then, Tom said, “Dude, I did it.”  “What?” I replied.  “I asked Jesus to forgive me, and to save me.”

“There’s more you need to do, then, if you meant that.”

“What?”

“You need to tell people, and you need to be baptized.  Telling people affirms it for you, and baptism is your first step of obedience, and brings into reality the washing that you just experienced by His forgiveness.”

“Hmmm…”

“You can do that in the morning at church.”

And we went to sleep.

The next morning, we awoke to the sounds and smells of breakfast.  As we got up to get ready, Tom immediately said, “Dude, I don’t know if I can do it.”  I asked, “Do what?”  “Tell people at the church what I did last night.”  “That’s between you and G-d, dude.”  And I left it at that.  When we got there, the old, antebellum church was maybe half full.  It was a huge edifice, and the town was tiny.  There were maybe fifty old folks on the right side, and maybe the same number of recovering alcoholics on the left side.  My grandfather had helped to found a ministry there that was one of the more successful addiction programs in the state.  The old preacher was a country boy, a snaggletooth simpleton, but he spoke the gospel as plain as day, affirming my words from the night before, and apparently was reading Tom’s diary.  When the traditional, baptist altar call was given, Tom very nearly knocked me and my grandparents over getting down to the preacher.  He told him of his salvation the night before, and asked to be baptized.  There just happened to be an immersion planned that day for a few of the recovering addicts.  Tom was among them that day, and he was genuinely transformed before my eyes.

We left there that afternoon, and Tom said, “I need a bible.”  So, we drove to Athens, and I bought him a bible.  We took a little, winding highway back to our route back to the base, and Tom had asked to drive.  We were sporting through the hills in my little mid-engine sports car, and he said, “Man, I feel like a ton of weight has been lifted off of me! I feel like I could fly!”  “Your sin debt is gone, Tom; that’s the guilt you didn’t know you had, lifted off of you!”  When we got back to our apartment, he called his mother.  He told her that he was now a believer in Jesus, and unbeknownst to him or her, he quoted bible verses he had never read, explaining why he believed he knew Jesus.  “You’ve done gone down to the Bible Belt, and they’ve brainwashed you!  You’re catholic, Tom!”  “Mom, if I need to be catholic, I will, I’m just telling you I believe in Jesus now, and he’s saved me.”  He did not let her frustration phase him at all.  He promised her that he’d look into catholicism, and the two of us spent some time in the library studying the catholic catechism, and determining they were in fact in error against the scriptures.  Tom’s faith was secure, and I saw him tested in several ways over the next months.  I also saw him become the most kind, joyful Marine anyone had ever seen.  Sadly, some of those around us who called themselves believers have since accused Tom of being ‘not really saved,’ but I know different, even though I have not seen him in almost thirty years.  If their congregation was unable to train him properly in the discipline of Messiah, the fault lies on them to some degree.  They were some of the most self-righteous people I’ve ever met anyway, having already judged me by their misperceptions and twisted doctrine, and I regret ever having introduced him to some of them.  But, over the next six or so months, the last months of my time in Georgia, Tom and I experienced the presence of Messiah many times over, and I still remember several of those moments of my life.  His salvation impacted me so much that I wrote a poem about it.  It was truly as if I had experienced Messiah anew myself, ‘the day I saw Tom saved.’  For Tom, it was indeed the ‘fruit’ of righteousness, of the Spirit, that gave him the evidence he needed, in order to consider the Son of G-d for salvation.  My prayer for him, wherever he is, as I haven’t spoken to him for twenty years, is that he still remembers that day, and the One who saved him.

I left Tom behind when I got out of the Navy.  Before I had gotten out, though, I met a young man named Richard, not entirely different from Tom, though he was in the Air Force.  We met in the gym in a small, East Texas town every time I came home on leave.  He’d also be home on leave [usually around xmas time], and we hit it off, being the only muscular guys in that redneck gym.  When I got out, Richard had already been out of the Air Force for some time, and had married a beautiful girl, and had a handsome young son of less than two years old.  He and I became permanent fixtures in that gym, rulers of it, one might say, since the two of us were formidable young men.

We, too, became fast friends, and I began to go everywhere with them.  They introduced me to several young ladies, hoping to make a pair, but it never seemed to work out.  So, we were the ‘three musketeers’ for a season, four if the little one wasn’t with his grandparents.  Richard was your typical ‘good ole boy,’ cut of great cloth and of really good character.  Having grown up in a nearby, Texas town, he was certainly exposed to the gospel.  The more we hung out, the more I think he realized that I lived my life just a bit differently than the average, small-town Texas redneck.  Though I was single, I had stopped pursuing what most single, military men and rednecks do, that night after Tom became a believer.  One weekend, Richard and his family had decided to go to the lake.  He asked if I wanted to come, and I obliged.  While we were there, Richard was drinking a few beers.  He’d offer me one at the very onset, which I declined, not because of ‘religious sensitivities,’ but because at that point I had not developed a taste for beer.  After he’d had a few [they were the tiny Budweiser bottles], he took one out of the ice chest, looked at me very intently and said, ‘want a beer?’.  It was more of a strong suggestion than a question.  In spite of my distaste for Budweiser, I took the beer.  I actually ‘felt’ motivated to take it, to show him that I was not judging him for drinking.

It was not long after that when he and I were working out one day, and the subject of G-d somehow came up, the casual mention of the creator.  “What do you believe?” I asked Richard suddenly.  We were on the ‘low row’ machine in the corner of that little gym.  “What do you mean?” he asked.  “About G-d, about Jesus, about the Bible,” I clarified.  “What do you believe?”  He very matter-of-factly said, “I really don’t know, Dan.”  And I began to tell him basically the same thing that I had told Tom that night, of who Yeshua is, where He came from, why He came, what He did while He was here, and where He is now, and what our response to Him should be.  I stressed our propensity to sin, our great need of salvation through repenting, and choosing to do right, the resurrection of Messiah and His being the Son of G-d, still living in flesh, standing beside the Father right now.  Richard just ‘thought’.  He didn’t say anything in response.  He just thought.  We continued our workout and parted ways as usual.  We didn’t hang out together for a bit, and time passed for us as usually, with no futher conversation on the matter.

Not very long at all after that, I was sitting at my parents’ house one evening, and the phone rang.  Mom answered, and she said, “Danny, it’s for you.”  Let me explain the dynamic: today, I’ve now known Richard for about thirty-three years, and he never calls me.  Even while we were young and hanging together almost every weekday, and probably part of every weekend, he never called me.  In thirty-three years, he’s called me about five times.  So, this phone call was the first, and I was very surprised.  “Hello?”  And Richard began to pour himself out with so much joy and amazement.  He explained to me that his brother-in-law had been struggling with drugs and alcohol, had small children, and was in a very bad way.  A domestic incident occurred, and formidable Richard was called to intervene, because of his size, his quiet strength, and his willingness to get physical when necessary.  Richard went over to the situation, and when he arrived, somehow managed to get his brother-in-law calmed down enough to listen.  “I told him everything you told me, Dan, about G-d, and about Jesus, and how to be saved.  And He believed!”  Richard explained that his brother-in-law broke down before him weeping, and prayed, and asked G-d to forgive him, and told Him that he would walk with Him and serve Him.  Richard was beside himself with enthusiastic joy, which is a bit out of character for the man, but having seen the power of G-d transform his brother-in-law before his very eyes, he himself was ‘filled’ with that same joy, just like I had been when I shared the same with Tom.  His brother-in-law never touched drugs and alcohol again, and I understand that he later became a minister of the gospel of Messiah.  Richard was later immersed, and has lived a circumspect life these thirty-plus years.  He was the best man at my wedding, and remains one of my closest, most cherished friends.  And I know that part of the reason for that fidelity is because of his fidelity to Messiah, and the love of Messiah in him.

Not long after that, I took a job in a larger town, out of necessity.  I had proposed to my wife of nearly twenty-eight years by the time of this next event.  She and I were truly brought together by Messiah, as I had prayed for a “Proverbs 31 woman,” and for a spiritual “helper, suitable for me.”  On that job, which was a place where I worked with nearly forty former military men, I found out the reason that Abba sends us to work.  I must divert the thread a bit, because the background for this next sharing of the B’sorah is very, very important.  On the very day I checked in at the Port Authority for work, the guys I would work with for the next six months or so were waiting at the pier for the tug boat.  They were expecting me.  Two older men were sitting in front of the security booth.  One of them saw me approaching in the issued cover-alls and hard hat, and said, “So you’re the new guy?”  “Thats me.”  “I hear you live in Woodville?”  “Well, near there,” I said.  “So do me and Pete.”  He gestured toward the older gentleman sitting beside him.  “Maybe we could car pool?”  At this point, I cannot explain the sensation that overcame me, but lets just say a big ole “NO!” was hanging over his head.  It was a gut-wrenching warning in me, and I had no obvious justification for the sensation.  “Maybe so,” I said, “Let me think on it,” trying to brush it off.  I introduced myself to some of the other guys waiting around.  That night I asked G-d for wisdom in the matter.  The very next day as I approached, the same fella looked at me and preempted me, saying, “We talked about it, and you probably don’t want to ride with us two old codgers, being that we smoke and all.”  “Yeah, I like to stop and work out on the way home anyway, and I go through Silsbee to get to my house.”  And the situation was abated. 

I brought my bible with me every day, and would read during break times, taking a spot somewhere on the foreward part of the ship.  I often sang praises while doing the more menial tasks.  I didn’t engage in foul conversations.  I’m a quiet person by nature anyway, and I was very big compared to most of them.  I’d been out of the Navy, and my hair had grown quite a bit, and I was wearing an eye patch due to a bizzare eye infection, and I looked a bit like a pirate.  I was a bit foreboding, I think, so they pretty much left me alone.  But then, after the eye patch came off, some of them started coming to me and asking questions.  A little bible study and prayer time started organically with about five or so guys, and the rest of them saw us doing so.  It became common knowledge that I was a believer, and I looked like a bit of a leader, even to an old, retired missionary who joined our little group.  I’d answer their questions to the best of my ability, and my ‘teaching’ nature came out.  Meanwhile, the country was in an election cycle, and one of the issues was abortion, as usual, and at lunch one day there was a group discussion about the politics.  One of them brought up abortion.  They looked at me and asked my opinion on it.  I quoted Yirme-Yahu [Jeremiah], saying, “G-d told the prophet, ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you!’  Abortion is murder.”  Several of them started really asking me questions, and one of them was our supervisor.  He had been sitting beside me when that conversation occurred.  One day, as I went to turn in my papers for his review, I approached the makeshift office where he had set up on the port side of the ship’s berthing.  As I approached, I heard conversation.  He was talking with “Travis”, [not his real name] the older gentleman who’d invited me to carpool.  As I got closer to the office, I heard Travis say something about “masons”.  I knew nothing of them.  When I entered the room, he saw me, sat upright from slouching, looked at me point blank, and then looked at Joe and said, “I think every good christian ought to be a mason.”  I ‘felt’ that same “no” again, only worse.  I handed the supervisor my papers, and left the room.  “Travis” was, I had learned, one of the most crass, foul-mouthed, dirty, arrogant, and rude people I’ve ever met.  I went down that passageway about fifty paces, and turned into an empty bunkroom.  I got down on my knees.  “Abba, I do not know what a mason is, but I know the fruit I see in that man’s life.  And I know that Joe [supervisor] has been hearing your Word.  I believe this is a distraction from Joe hearing You.  Take Travis out of the way.”  I got up and returned to my station and told one of the fellow believers what had happened, and he told me he had grown up as a junior mason, his grandfather being well advanced in the cult.  He explained to me briefly what they were about, and gave me some references so I could learn more.  I told him what I had prayed, and he joined me in that request.  That was a Tuesday.  By Friday, ‘Travis’ was not at work.  I told Joe of our prayer.  The next time any of us saw Travis was about six weeks later, and he had gone blind, and was carrying a blind man’s cane, having been at the Houston lighthouse for the blind.  This background was necessary for telling what happened next, with Scot.

All the while all the above was going on, all of us dealt with Scot.  He was incorrigable.  He was petulant, and violent at times, the most unpleasant of souls, and no one really wanted to be around him.  He never did anything to me, but I did not give him any opportunity to.  After all the time had passed encompassing the above events, we were about to transfer to the Mississippi River and the port at Harvey, La.  I was having my lunch one day, alone.  As I sat eating my sandwiches and boiled eggs, I had the strongest ‘unction’ to go and tell Scot the gospel.  This is not something I wanted to do.  He was sitting a few tables in front of me in the galley, and I could see him, and hear him being the difficult person he was.  The more I sat there and tried to defer the sensation, the stronger it got, and I told myself, ‘if he’s still in here when I finish my lunch, I’ll talk to him.’  I finished my lunch at a liesurely pace.  He was still there.  He started for the trash can near the door behind me, however, and I figured he was leaving the galley.  I got up and threw my trash away first and closed my lunch box.  As he walked by, I said, “I’d like to talk to you, Scot.”  He did not hesitate.  “I know what you want to talk about, and I don’t want to hear it.”  He left, and I followed him out to the starboard gangway, saying,  “I just have one thing to say, and then I’ll leave you alone.”  He blurted, “I grew up in a ‘christian’ home, and I don’t want anything to do with your ‘god’.”  He stopped walking, as I continued, “I just want to tell you that G-d loves you, and that Jesus is calling you to serve him.”  “Yeah, I know all about the *&^%*&; My father is a ‘preacher,’ so don’t tell me anything I don’t already know.”  “I can’t speak for anyone.  But, what I can tell you, is that you will stand before the judge one day, and you will not be able to point at your father, or christians, or anyone, as to why you did what you did.  You will be judged on your response to His gospel, and on your actions.  He loves you, and He has forgiven you, but you are running from him.”  I truly did not know why I said those things.  They just came out.  He look at me with piercing intent, and said, “If you really knew me, you’d hate me.”  At that moment, I had no reason to speculate, but I ‘knew’ that he was a homosexual, even though there was not one outward shred of evidence.  “I’m already not fond of you, Scot, as a person. But, as a believer, I am commanded to love you, and that is what I will endeavor to do.  I will not bother you again; I just needed to tell you that He loves you.”  And our conversation ended.

I never spoke to Scot again beyond saying, each and every morning, “Good morning, Scot.”  We were indeed transferred to Harvey.  Each morning, as we boarded the van to get to the port for work, I would see him, and I’d say, “Good morning, Scot.”  And that was it.  The fellowship of the brethren continued, and others were impacted by our humble and weak efforts to ‘shine.’  One day, when we all showed up to wait for the van, Scot showed up.  He had makeup on his face, and went around telling everyone he’d been in drag the night before.  And, that he was gay.  He did not tell me.  “Good morning, Scot,” I said, and smiled.  And my usual, daily greeting continued, as the whole while Scot’s demeanor changed more and more.  He acted feminine.  He’d show up with shades of makeup on.  He’d blurt profanities about his sexual exploits.  “Good morning, Scot.”  That is the only thing I ever said to him.  My wife and I had gotten married, and she and I both began to pray for him, along with Bill, the former junior mason, and a few others.  Since I had just gotten married, I no longer wanted to be away from my family, and I told the managers that I would like to be transferred back to the warehouse in our city.  They did not oblige me, so I resigned.  We continued to pray for Scot.  About a year or so later, I found Bill’s phone number on a small piece of paper on the top of my refrigerator.  Bill had given it to me the day I left the job, sensing that I would not come back on that next Monday.  I called him, just to see how he was doing.  The very first words that came out of his mouth when he found out to whom he was talking were, “Guess who is saved now?”  “I don’t know, Joe?”  “Nope.”  “Jerry?” “Nope.”  “Andy?” “Nope.”  “Then who?” I enquired.  He said almost gleefully, “Scot.”  “No way!”  “Daniel, he is a totally different man.  We were working in Alabama.  He reached rock bottom.  He told me he remembered you, and how you treated him, and said that because of you and me, he started looking at Jesus again.”  “Wow,” I said.  “And guess who brought him to salvation?”  “You?”  “Nope.  His father!  He called him that night on the phone, and they prayed together over the phone.  All that feminine behavior vanished, all the foul language, the hatred, it was all gone.  He is a brand new person.”  I was so thankful to hear of his salvation, of his repentance.  I had just told Abba, that day, that I didn’t feel like I was accomplishing much, still unemployed, and newly wed, and no congregational home.

The next years, for me, were a shift of a sort.  I ventured into a new career, and that took me to Houston eventually.  I still got to minister on the job and in the gym.  I started a bible study, by request, at a company I helped get off the ground.  And then three businessmen at the gym asked me to teach them the bible, and eventually they became believers, immersed, and began a life of faith.  We met every week for eight years.  Some of them were ‘flashes in the pan,’ just doing it because their friend was.  And their friend eventually ‘gave up,’ as his wife was not fond of me, and judged me, ‘a good judge of character’ laid baseless hatred and accusation on me, even though she really did not know me, and only knew what her husband told her.  She effectively split up the group that had grown to about eight to ten men.  But, a core group remained faithful, and Abba started a fledgling Messianic Jewish congregation shortly after that.  And He has given me real ‘brothers,’ which to that point had eluded me.  It’s as if He was waiting, planning it all along, and He used the beligerent wife’s prideful hate to prune the vine.  And then the vine began to flourish.  Most of the men of that study were in fact ‘dead weight’ that was thwarting the work of The Creator.  A few remained faithful, and learned, and grew, and became fully obedient to their Creator. 

During that time, I changed jobs, and my new job took me to California a lot, to West Texas nearly every week, and once to the Middle East.  In California, I had helped to troubleshoot a new SCADA control system, but we had to call in a representative from the software company we were using, and he fixed our issue within ten minutes.  When our Middle East contingent was having issues they created, I called him (his name was Mike), and the two of us ventured to the desert to solve the problems.  

One night, after having finished our work in the oil field out in the desert, while we were in a five star hotel’s restaurant in a major Islamic nation’s capitol, sitting among Arabian and other Islamic Sheiks as we had dinner, somehow, the conversation made it’s way around to G-d.  I do not remember the trigger, but I remember very clearly and very early on Mike saying that he was an athiest.  I’m a Jewish man who believes in the Messiah Yeshua, sitting among muslims, in hostile muslim territory, and I immediately blurt out in my Texas accent, “No you are not!  The FOOL says in his heart that there is no G-d, and you are NOT a fool!”  Mike was, to my estimation, shocked.  Thankfully, none of our ‘neighbors’ took note of the conversation, but I was already my typically ‘animated’ self, and I began to break down the erroneous conclusions he had drawn, showing in the scriptures how misinformed he had been about G-d and His Creation, and His plan of Salvation.  This was a very intelligent, scientifically-minded person, who had ‘logical’ and ‘intellectual’ reasons why he thought there was no G-d.  All of his conclusions were based on the diliberate and willfull choice of mankind to use their ‘great intellect’ to decide to be stupid.  I told Mike this, citing Kefa [I’m certain I paraphrased, but I’ve cited these verses so much when sharing the gospel to those who have already been exposed to it, so I likely got very close to ‘word for word’]: 

“There shall come in the Akharit HaYamim [Last Days], mockers who scoff, following after their own lusts and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since our fathers died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” Of this they are willingly ignorant, that by D’var HaElohim [Word of G-d] the heavens were [created] of old, and the earth emerged from water and by means of the water; and those men, because of whose deeds the world of that time was flooded, perished under that water; but the present heavens and earth are sustained by His D’var [Word / Torah / Yeshua ] and are reserved for fire on Yom HaDin, which is the day of the destruction of ungodly men.”

I explained to Mike that what these so-called scientists use as ‘evidence’ for spontaeouns ‘creation’ without G-d, and an ‘old earth’ estimation of the universe, is deliberate misrepresentation of the evidence.  And that the flood is what ‘marred’ the earth’s surface, giving it the appearance of ‘age long erosions’ [grand canyon, etc].  I answered questions about carbon dating, explained that the atmosphere was different before the flood, having been watered from a mist from beneath the earth, and having never rained before.  He interjected that “Noah’s Ark” had always been a problem for him, since animals would never ‘volunteer’ to come to Noah, and surmised that two of every kind would never fit on a boat that size.  I explained that the scriptures address that: before the flood, there was no enminity whatsoever, no fear, between man and beast, as mankind was wholly herbavorian as were all living creatures.  And to the ark, that there were actually SEVEN pairs of CLEAN [Kosher] animals, and only two of the UNCLEAN, and that I find it interesting most of the ‘believing’ community that eats unkosher meat does not know this.  Further, I posited, “What if it were seven and two pairs of INFANT animals?  Would there not be enough room for all of them then?  Would there not be a breeding issue, since they were only on the boat for a year?  Would there not be less food required for storage?”  And we discussed that for a bit.  I explained that after the flood, the atmosphere had changed, and that G-d commanded mankind to eat meat.  He put fear in the beasts, for their survival, and to keep glutonous mankind from eating them to extinction right away.  This new atmosphere is the cause for the disparity between pre-flood and post-flood lifespans, as before the flood there was a protective canopy of water, a ‘sea’ of a bubble in which the earth floated, and that it fell to the earth, because G-d caused it to [the ‘outside’ force’ that ‘scientists’ say had to have been there for a flood to occur, duh, G-d was that outside force, and the Word says so].  Water is a radiation barrier.  Mankind lost a heavy layer of protection from the sun’s rays.  Lifespans changed.  We discussed the details of animal migrations and survival, and extinctions, showing that dinosaurs are mentioned in the scriptures, post flood, and that they merely died off for various reasons.  Also, that many [not all] of the ‘dinosaurs’ mankind has invented are merely that, INVENTIONS, to further old earth, evolutionist lies.

After giving him convincing proof of the Creator, then I shared the Messiah sent by the Creator, and that He, Messiah, is the power of Creation manifested in a human Body.  That G-d remained on His throne while Yeshua was on earth, and that Yeshua worshipped His Father, יהוה, the G-d of Creation, in a Jewish context, as a Jew, and that He never broke any Torah law.  He did not come and create a new religion, but taught JEWISH people that FAITH saved Avraham and all the patriarchs, and that SIN has to be dealt with FINALLY by a substitionary, perfect sacrifice, and that He had come to BE that perfect sin offering.  This cleared up the ‘trinity’ confusion he had, and showed the continuity in the scriptures.  He received the same further explanation of the process of Salvation as all the others.  

After a couple of days, Mike got to see the hand of G-d in my life, albeit in a small way.  We went back out to the desert, and left the country from there.  The Royal Army of our host country was the security force in that tiny, desert airport.  When we got there, the luggage clerk told me that I would have to unlock my suitcase when the police got there, for inspection.  I realized that I had left my Siddur, a Jewish prayerbook, on the very top of my clothes.  In this country, Jewish religious items are contraband.  I went and sat next to Mike, and I leaned over and told him that there was a Jewish prayerbook in my suitcase.  “What?  Where is it?”  “On the very top of everything, in plain sight,” I said. “Oh my G-d!”  [coming from a professed atheist]  “What?  What are you going to do?”  “I dunno.  I’m just praying they don’t ‘see’ it.”  We sat there for maybe twenty minutes, and the whole while, Mike was more worried about my fate than I.  My number was finally called, and I went and opened my suitcase. The Siddur was right on top, where I had left it, with its Hebrew writing in gold glowing in the light.  The royal policeman pushed it aside, but I could not tell if he knew what it was.  He rummaged through all my belongings, moving my Siddur several times, but, for whatever reason, overlooked my Siddur.  And we got on our flight and left in peace.

It was not until two or three years later that I learned that Mike had become a believer.  One of the coworkers in California was a believer who had invited me once to teach the feasts at his home when I was in California for a week or so.  Mike had left the software company and taken a job there.  The coworker and I spoke on the phone once about some of our mutual business, and in similar fashion to Bill telling me of Scot’s salvation, this coworker, named Scott, told me that Mike had become a believer.  And my heart rejoiced.  I cannot say for sure that anything I said was the catalyst, because Mike and I have not spoken since that day on the plane leaving the desert behind.  We parted ways, since I went to Jordan, as I was on my way to visit Israel, and he went on home.  But, if I did do anything, it was to break up fallow ground, and maybe, just maybe I also planted a seed.

So, these four encounters that I have had, among a larger number of people that Abba has privileged me to participate in their eternal Salvation in some way, are the most memorable so far.  And they vary in how the approach went, what their individual place was in life, what their background was in regard to exposure to the B’sorah and the whole Word of G-d, and what it took to get them to ‘taste’ and to ‘see’ that יהוה is good.  Two of them just ‘believed’ on the spot.  Two of them denied and/or resisted the Truth that was told to them, but then LATER considered what they fought so hard against.  One saw the long-term affect of the B’sorah lived out over a brief period of days, and that provoked an envy for such blessing, even though the people who were his ‘witness’, his ‘light’, were old, frail, and poor.  One was simply told by a friend, who was not judgmental of his ‘non-christian behavior’.  One, who hated religion, specifically the ‘christian’ religion [which I did not preach, but I preached SALVATION by the SON of G-d, a human being, a man raised from the dead and seated in Heaven beside His Father, G-d, and trust in HIS BLOOD], continued to hate me, but received only love in return.  And one, who needed intellectual ‘evidence’ of Creation, got it.  All of them were clearly shown THEIR sin, but not such as to condemn, but such as to show their NEED of salvation.  

I hope that these accounts of Salvation help someone who is hoping for salvation for someone, or who believes so strongly in His Son and His Salvation that they want to share Him with others.  As I said, I was compelled to write this for some reason.  Shalom!