On July 25 2017 I was worshipping with other believers at faith sister Donna’s home. We always have a paper and pen ready for recording visions or impressions the Lord downloads into us.
As we sang out our songs of love and worship this is what I received from the Lord:
“Prepare yourself My precious bride. Put on your pure white gleaming bridal gown. Sully it not with any imperfection for I desire a perfect bride. You are so beautiful and I love you so much. Our wedding day is soon coming, so keep yourself pure. I come with rings and a crown of gold and diamonds. I love to lavish the costliest gifts upon you, for you are my beloved forever. Be faithful and wait for me……It won’t be much longer before we are joined together eternally! ”
So let us now ask ourselves…Are we ready? Will we not be ashamed at His coming? If we are not ready, no time like the present to get ready. Are we repenting of our “pet” sins?? Repent of them NOW!!! If we love Him as we profess, He will help us to do that. May HaShem lead us all into all holiness and righteousness.
If you read the description of this blog, you saw that I described myself as a Messianic Jew. Whenever I tell someone this, in my mind I see quizzical facial expressions, or a large question mark blinking on and off on the forehead of the befuddled person. Ninety percent of the time, that’s what happens.
To elucidate, a Messianic Jew is a Jew who follows a Messiah who has already come. You could
say that all Jews that believe in the Messiah (whether he has come or not) are Messianic Jews, but most Jews do not identify themselves in this way because there is a spectrum of beliefs as to: 1) Is there a Messiah? 2) Is the Messiah a physical person? 3) Is it a Messianic era that we are waiting for rather than a man? Messianic Jews today believe that Yeshua (aka Jesus) is the Messiah as prophesied in the Hebrew scriptures.
In my opinion, Messianic Judaism is like the Rodney Dangerfield of all religions….We don’t get no respect! Because we do not exclusively call ourselves Jews nor Christians creates an unsettling effect on those two groups and many others. People like to put labels on you so they know what pigeonhole to put you in. It makes them feel safe and comfortable. To proclaim yourself as a Messianic Jew is akin to trying to put a square peg in a round hole.
We’ve heard all the usual arguments…..”If you believe in Jesus, then aren’t you a Christian?” We reply, “No, because we identify with the very first believers who were Jews”. We observe the biblical Sabbath and the moedim (appointed times, feasts)…..Christians do not. We take our cues from the Jewish believers of 2000 years ago who remained true to their Jewish roots and also accepted Yeshua as the promised Messiah. We are not deterred from this faith position by the opinions and lack of acceptance of others. Therefore, we say to our detractors “Get Over It – We’re Here to Stay”.
I have a dream………..I dream of a future day when the mistrust and negative feelings towards us will be relegated to a museum exhibit. I can see it all now…..within the diorama will stand figures of Messianic Jews, huddled together in the center holding their Bibles over their heads to form a collective shield. A group of Jews at one far side and Christians on the other are frowning at them and throwing an array of objects on/towards them. Those looking at the exhibit will say…..remember when it used to be like that for the Messianic Jews….thank G-d it’s no longer that way.
May that day come soon…………..Amen
How do you share your faith with your drug dealing neighbor? Very carefully. Continuing in our commuter marriage for a bit longer, me and two of our kids were living in Endicott, NY (home of Big Blue-IBM) as I worked for the utility company in a great paying position. Endicott and Binghamton are kind of post-industrial cities. Many jobs were lost when shoe company Endicott Johnson left. Like many cities, Endicott struggled over the years as evidenced by the ghost-town like Washington Avenue with its many languishing empty storefronts and tumbleweed-like paper debris blowing around. Here is a picture of Endicott in better times
Scaling down expenses, we moved to a smaller apt. in a little 2-building complex on Oak Hill Ave. Talking to a neighbor I learned that a cocaine drug dealer lived in the building next door. We often saw people coming and going to his apartment. Rey Torres was a small-framed but muscular young hispanic man who lived with a girlfriend. He wore a cap cocked to one side and drove an expensive car. Once we crossed paths on the sidewalk. He was heading in with some friends holding a few pizza boxes. He had a spring in his step and when we passed each other he smiled and said “We’re having a pizza party because my mom is visiting”. His childlike demeanor really touched me – a mother-loving drug dealer. I concluded he couldn’t be all bad.
I wanted to share my faith with him so he might repent but was unsure how. Many were the times on some evenings I stood beneath his apartment window, looked up at it with one arm raised heavenward, and prayed for his eternal soul. I used to keep paperback new testaments around and gave them away to people as the spririt led. Once I picked up a young married man hitchhiker and he spilled some of his issues to me, especially about his failing marriage. Pulling over later to let him out, I gave him the New Testament to read, telling him God loves marriages including his and wants restoration and healing for him. He smiled, got out and started leafing through it as he walked away. I wanted to bring Reynaldo a New Testament but I punked out. I thought perhaps he would take offense, get mad, curse me, throw it at me, kick me out, so those fears restrained me. This response is what the Bible calls “the fear of man”….fearing negative reactions from others that paralyzes our intentions. It can be very hard to overcome this fear. Reminds me of a popular saying “The trouble with Christians today is no one wants to kill them anymore” (for the message they bear).
In the spring of ’98 the word on the street reached me that soon there would be a city-wide drug bust that included Rey (Operation Golden Road). The day came and the bust went down all over Binghamton and Endicott. I walked out into a sun-rich spring morning to go to work and police were everywhere. The trunk of Rey’s car was open and they were fishing around in it.
Later I learned he was out on bail. It was now or never I thought regarding the New Testament. I worked up my courage and went to his apartment one evening to see him but only his girlfriend Melissa was there. No hoochie mama that girl – more like the girl next door. She was a pretty young woman with long chestnut hair and blue eyes. I told her I brought this book for Rey and to please give it to him. She agreed. I wrote a note to him on the inside cover that went something like this: Dear Reynaldo…..I so wanted to bring this New Testament to you but feared your reaction. Please forgive me for being such a gutless wonder. I wanted you to read it and be reminded of the things you learned at your mother’s knee as a little boy. Can’t remember the rest..probably said I would pray for him, etc.
Rey went to jail and a friend who worked there told me he had to tell Rey about his mother’s passing back in Puerto Rico. I remembered the happy day of the pizza party and thought this news had to hit him hard. My friend confirmed that it did. Was all this God’s plan and timing after all?….my initial cowardice? ….giving him the NT after the bust went down?, his being brought low first by the incarceration and later by his mother’s death? Only God knows. I don’t know where Rey is now or if he ever came to faith but will look for him in the life to come. By faith I believe I will find him in that good place.
Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon described in 1973 in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors.
Historically victims of Stockholm syndrome have been abused or intimidated into developing a relationship with their captors; a kind of survival reflex. In my case, this was not true. Yeshua (Jesus) took me totally captive by His love, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, and acceptance. I was so taken with Him that after He captivated me, the thought of ever leaving Him was unimaginable. Like the apostle Paul, I became a willing prisoner of Messiah Yeshua and like Paul, I kiss my chains.
I now wear a bracelet of little connected handcuffs so I can share this story with others who initially might recoil at the thought of any kind of “imprisonment”. Being “chained” to Yeshua has brought me nothing but love, peace and total joy. I can only pray that others may grasp the metaphorical meaning of this message I impart to you today.
[ God’s Marvelous Plan for the Gentiles ] For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
2015. That was the year that was. It was a year of surgeries, injuries, physical therapy for both me and my husband. It all started in late 2014 when John needed surgery for a torn roto-cuff followed by physical therapy. All went smoothly. In February John had a trigger finger problem. Again surgery and therapy came into play. By March my right hip arthritis became painful enough to get a joint replacement. Regarding aging, if it doesn’t hurt, it already fell off. John was an angel, waiting on me hand and foot when I got home. Pain meds comforted me and soon therapy got me recovered. Well enough to drive, we drove to Rochester in July to see our daughter and family. We arrived July 1st with our cat Lulu and began enjoying ourselves. Our son Jesse was planning even drove over from Binghamton with our grandsons Jonah 4 and Tucker almost 3.
The next day as John skipped down the stairs from our bedroom, he slipped on a lower step, and fell, his cries of pain rang out into the entry foyer. We learned he had a triple fracture in his right ankle and surgery was strongly urged before leaving town. It was so bad they put a metal plate and pins in his ankle. Now it was my turn to be his primary caregiver which I happily did. I wondered will these accidents, surgeries,and therapies ever end. We finally started home two weeks after we came. I drove 1000 miles over 4 days, taking care of John and Lulu. Soon John was in therapy once again. Our therapist, Jessica couldn’t believe what we’d been through. While in therapy for his ankle he woke up one day to a severe case of vertigo. He could hardly walk down the hall without putting his hands on the walls to steady himself. A few Epley maneuvers soon corrected the problem. Heard enough? Buckle up there’s more.
At the ocean one day in August with friend BeBe, a wave knocked me down and I got on all fours to get up with her helping. I was very overweight and lifting my body’s weight with my knees tore my right meniscus. Back in the O.R. we were becoming familiar faces at the hospital. More therapy. Jessica’s jaw dropped when I walked in for therapy. I jokingly said we want a memorial room with a plaque over the door with our names on it because of all the therapy we had. She laughed heartily. I made progress but knee didn’t really bend like before.
Now in late October I had an endoscopic test and learned I had a gastric ulcer and 3 erosions. My appetite was very poor and I made major dietary changes. Although the ulcer is now healed my appetite is still not great and some days tummy is very touchy. I went from 208 lbs in late summer to 162 in March 2016.
At Thanksgiving we went to Binghamton to be with our son. We went for turkey dinner with him, the grandsons, his ex and her daughters. It was terrible. My stomach was in knots because they could not stop sniping at each other for more than 10 minutes. I barely touched my food. We left the restaurant and were saying our goodbyes to the grandsons in the parking lot, I leaned over to kiss Tucker and kept going, falling forward. Jesse broke my fall somewhat but I still hit the asphalt with my right knee. Later my doctor drained 6 vials of joint fluid out of my swollen knee. We looked at my exray and there was not much cartilage so decided on a knee joint surgery which was on Jan. 28. More pain meds and therapy for me. The battle to feel “normal” was like me being Don Quixote battling windmills with wooden swords.
I was totally wearied by the cycle of injury, therapy and lots of staying home, drifting through seamless days that were indistinguishable from one another. Sick of our home looking like a medical supply store with commodes, canes and walkers, I lost my enthusiasm for writing, reading, etc. often vegging out in front of the TV. Although I got out a few times a week to be with friends, overall my life felt like one big Blah. My great joy was joining my faith sister Donna’s music ministry team at the Global Pray Center in Daytona Beach a few Fridays a month. I love music worship. It’s like a healing balm to my soul. I sang harmonies and played the djembe drum. I often sang in the spirit too. That’s when you sing out some thought or praise about God, and you allow the Spirit to take over and sing through you. Once back home I was back to the blahs, the lack of energy, and the lethargy that tormented me.
I was living with a mindset of sickness and pain. Largely because I allowed myself to do so. In late March I began constantly smelling the fragrance of oregano. I asked “Is a pizza following me around?” It was especially strong on the Saturday I went to a worship service at Baruch Hashem in Bunnell. “Did someone bring a pizza for the lunch that followed?” I wondered. I thought this may be a God message. Maybe God has put me through a time of bitterness (oregano is a bitter herb) for a season, for some greater purpose. I texted Donna asking what she thought it meant. No answer. During the opening prayer Dorothea prayed which included the petition “Oh cleanse us with your hyssop, O Lord” “Wash us and we will be whiter than snow”. Didn’t mean anything at the time. Back home I researched oregano on the internet. It comes from a Greek word which means Joy on the mountain. I thought, well after the bitterness ends there will be joy on the mountain. I emailed Donna to share these thoughts. She replied these interpretations were great. Then she told me oregano was a type of hyssop which in Biblical times was used for cleansing/purification. She said, “Tovah, God has been purifying you through all these trials you have endured”. Wow! that was powerful. Then I remembered Dorothea’s prayer and it all fit perfectly. God was telling me just that through her prayer.
I recently returned to the beach (my great love) and sat to write in my journal…the salty zephyrs planted welcome back kisses on my face. Decided would return there a few times a week. After the last Inspired Mic and listening to some motivational speakers including a chat with BeBe, decided to use the laws of attraction to shape who I am. To say everyday I am healthy, full of energy, full of creativity and productivity. I have been cleansed and purified with hyssop, reborn, never to return to that former self.
In early June 2015 I went to a fellowship group called Wave Riders in Ormond Beach.
We met in a former Bank of America building on Granada Boulevard. Inside it was kind of dark and cozy with klieg lights
and a stage area. The group was composed of some folks of mixed ages….a few bore tattoos and one lady was from Denmark, now living in Daytona Beach with her husband. Christian music played and those who knew the lyrics sang while others did some free form vocalizing, singing in the spirit.
The leader, a tall man with a ponytail led the group. Everyone knows him as Java John because he works as a barista at the Ocean Walk Starbucks. Many just call him Java for short. He was there with his wife P Bear….the sweetest couple you’d ever want to meet.
During the singing some ladies danced, others sat on their chairs silently worshipping. Soon we began discussing a variety of Biblical topics which I can’t remember at the moment.
We closed the meeting with a prayer circle. Java prayed about God scooping us up in His arms like a big loving daddy that He is. As he said this a vision formed in my mind. I saw myself being scooped up by my Heavenly Father and as He did this, I leaned in closer to Him trying to use my hands to draw myself closer and closer to him. No matter how wide I tried to extend my arms, I could not take all of Him in yet I kept reaching and stretching. I pressed myself into Him, harder and harder. Then suddenly, I broke “into” Him, entering His very being. He was all beautiful light like I’ve never seen. Like a feather riding on a warm zephyr, I floated in the beauty of the golden light. The image above is the closest I can come to regarding what I saw in that moment.
7/2/2015 7:30 a.m. BOOM! BANG! THUD! My husband stumbles off a lower stair and lands like a sack of potatoes. Cries for help and sounds of writhing pain break into the silence of the front door foyer at our daughter’s home. Hubby insists something is broken as our daughter counters it is probably a bad sprain. We immediately embark on a journey for medical attention and soon learn his ankle is fractured in 3 places. We are advised to see an orthopedic doctor immediately. We do and discover the injury requires surgery which happens a few days later.
Finicky husband with a fractured ankle….the test of servanthood commences. Wants and needs hit me like a rushing avalanche. Nerves crackling like a raging campfire. “I want this”, “get me that”, “I need…..” and so it goes. I need the patience of Job and a servant’s heart like the Little Sisters of the Poor. I pray to God:
“Lord help me to die to self for another’s sake. I think I am capable of this then realize how I failed so miserably. Bring me to a place of feeling joy at fulfilling each request. Would I not do the same for Yeshua?”
I sense Him telling me
“Consider John as Me and Me as John and walk in that knowledge. Serving resentfully is not of Me….so change your attitude now, lest you remain in my displeasure. If you ask, I will empower you, strengthen you so you will enjoy blessing your husband. Remember how he tirelessly took care of you just a few months ago after your hip surgery? Follow his example. Many are the times he was more like Me than you were.
I love you Tovah and desire only the best for you. You CAN pass this test of servanthood, but only to the extent of your dying to self and letting Me and My Spirit operate in and through you. I AM so with you in this. Let’s do it together.
To that I say, Amen and amen!
It’s the Monday after a 3-day holiday weekend (Veteran’s Day), 11/14/2005. Having moved here earlier in the month we needed new plates and licenses. We arrive at the Las Vegas DMV at 7:30 a.m. The parking lot is crowded and a long line has already formed outside the front doors. Although the official day starts at 8 a.m., at 7:45 the doors open like a gaping maw and we happily allow ourselves to be eaten up by the building.
We get into a snake-like line to show a clerk what we need and get a number. The line reminds me of being at a theme park. Maybe someday they will have some TV screens suspended from the ceiling showing driver safety films giving those in line something to watch. About 8-10 clerks line this counter. We finally get a lanky clerk with a pencil mustache and we cheerfully present our paperwork. He told us to get Nevada plates we first need a vehicle inspection and directs us to drive our car through a gate on the premises. He said when we get the approval paper to just come right back to him at the counter. Having done that, we learn that for our licenses we require more ID. We go back home and get proofs of identity for our licenses. When we get back a lady with cotton candy hair assigns us number A251…and that’s just the “A” group.
We find seats in a very large seating area. News web crawlers keep us up to date on such things as the birth of Conan O’Brien’s second child, a son Becket. There were so many people there, spending hours and hours. The place actually sold soda, franks, popcorn and pizza in case you got hungry. A long counter is before us with 26 clerks seated in front of DMV terminals. Electronic screens hung from the ceiling announced whose “number has come up”. A human sounding female voice announced the next number to be served. She speaks in a slow, calm, well-modulated tone that reminded me of the voice on the space ship in the movie “Alien” calmly instructing the crew that the ship will self-destruct in five minutes. How unnerving was that? The whole scene was reminiscent of a twilight zone episode….like all these people had crossed over into some holding cell to be processed before going to their “final destination”. For a moment I thought I saw Rod Serling, complete with skinny black tie and cigarette, milling about through the glaze-eyed throngs. I could almost hear his voice, “You’re lost in time and space, wondering how you got here and not quite sure how to get back to from whence you came. It’s a land where time seems to be standing still….you search for the exit in vain…lamenting with those trapped with you ……In the Twilight Zone”
An hour goes by and they are only up to A130. This is because there are other letter and number combinations like C294, K1369, etc. They represent different kinds of DMV needs, fleet vehicles, trucks, limos, etc. Tick tock, tick tock. After two hours, our number finally comes up and we get our Nevada plates and John’s license. The copy of my social security card was unacceptable so would have to return another day. The cost for plates and one license totaled $161. John gets his photo taken and in just a few magical minutes he is presented with a spanking-new Nevada license.
We are free to go and I abandon my fears that the DMV is like a kind of “Hotel California” where “you can check out anytime, but you can never leave”..