First Few Pages to the Sequel of NAOMI, THE RABBI’S WIFE

Naomi Cantor’s stomach flipped and flopped. And her heart? Pounding. And how many times had she told her husband she was fine? Oops, a white lie is still a lie, but, well, the last thing he needed was worrying about her.

Yet, of course, she knew he wasn’t fooled—each time a thought tickled her brain (how will tonight affect your future? where do you go from here? will he end up blaming you?), her stomach did its flip-flops and with each adrenaline spike she grew lightheaded. Daniel had even made mention of her audible heavy breathing.

Naomi walked out of the kitchen expecting to find Daniel where he’d been sitting before she’d compulsively run to grab another brownie.

“Daniel—” Where’d he go? “Daniel?”

He emerged from their bedroom having again changed his tie. “How’s this look?”

This third change of clothes belied his otherwise calm exterior. Each time she had begun a sentence with, “Maybe we should. . .” or “Why don’t we wait. . .” he had gently shushed her. It was clear he was determined to carry out his plan for this Friday evening, yet Naomi did receive some momentary satisfaction in his tugging at the new tie. Aha—he, too, was nervous.

“Oh, honey, you’re wearing the tie I gave you. I love electric blue on you.”

Daniel bent down, kissed the top of her head, and placed his arm around her waist. “We need to go.”

That was her cue, as in “Naomi, get your purse.”

They were almost out the door, when he snapped his fingers. “The alarm.”

“Oh, we always forget that, don’t we?”

Daniel punched the code in the keypad, took hold of his wife’s hand, and they began their familiar Sabbath walk to Temple. Their last such walk.

Naomi squeezed her husband’s hand, “I talked to Melinda. She has a whole lot of people praying for you…”

“She’d better. She’s the cause of all this.”

Her stomach muscles clenched as she recalled Daniel’s recent fury directed toward her. His rejection was so painful. Less than three weeks ago, he refused to touch her. “You are unclean,” he’d told her in response to discovering her secret faith in Yeshua.

And only her newfound faith in the Messiah strengthened her to endure that agonizing period of time. But this comment, blaming Melinda—what if he isn’t teasing? What if . . .?

Daniel lifted up her chin, allowing her to see the playful crinkle of his eyes. “I need to meet Melinda sometime soon . . . to thank her. Because of her you came to believe. Now I . . .”

He seemed unable to finish his sentence. “Daniel, what?”

His eyes sparkled while using one finger to affectionately trace her lips. “Once upon a time, long ago it seems, you and I talked about b’sheirt. Remember?”

She nodded. Oh that glorious day when divine providence brought them together. “Of course I remember. I was standing outside the synagogue in Brooklyn and wondering why my feet felt like they were velcroed to the sidewalk—and then you came out.”

He exhaled and shook his head with a look of astonishment. “How much we didn’t understand back then. How could we have known He would lead us to this very night?”

Daniel removed his hand from her chin, and displayed both his hands. “I know they’re shaking, but still I know God will walk us through this, and speaking of walking . . .,” he said as he gestured toward the front door.

“We’d better keep moving. I know.”

Once they picked up their pace, Daniel observed, “You’re limping.”

Without stopping, she assured him, “Don’t worry. All that hiking in Israel for the last two weeks—I should have worn better shoes, I guess—but I’m okay.”

On their way out of their housing development, they waved to the guard, and stepped out onto the sidewalk on Boca Raton’s main thoroughfare, and were instantly assaulted by the din of Friday evening rush hour traffic.

Between the blaring of the car horns and the blazing July sun, Naomi couldn’t help but consider how much more comfortable they would be if riding in their new air-conditioned shiny red Oldsmobile.

“This is just as hot as it was in Israel.” She tugged at his jacket sleeve, and cautiously looked up at him. “Daniel, could we now consider . . .”

“What?”

Something about the way he abruptly asked the question. It was clear he knew where she was heading. She looked up into his penetrating gaze and his raised eyebrows, and responded with, “Never mind.”

Once again she momentarily panicked—she could never again endure the sting of his rejection, but assured herself it was simply her wacky insecurity. Since the miracle at the Wall in Jerusalem he now shared her faith in their Messiah. So what if he continued believing they must walk on Shabbos? A little sweat and a few blisters on her feet—that would be a small sacrifice. Anything to continue basking in not only Yeshua’s love, but also in the love of the man she adored.

It seemed as if Daniel must have heard the sharp tone of his response to her, and did not want the past to cast its ugly shadow. He had shared recently that the memory of how cruel he had been to her still caused him to cringe. He lifted her hand to his lips and gently kissed it.

About a half block from Temple Beth Shalom, members of his congregation recognized their rabbi and began waving their arms. Daniel turned to Naomi and arched an eyebrow. She knew what he was thinking—when was the last time his members beat him to Friday night service?

Typically Daniel was the first arrival on Friday, then a smattering of the faithful would meander in, and all during the service others would saunter in, greet those already seated and flagrantly disregard whatever religious ritual was taking place in front of them.

“They must have missed you and are probably anxious to hear about Israel,” Naomi volunteered.

Daniel and Naomi approached those gathered and were greeted with a chorus of “Shabbat Shalom.”

They, in turn, wished all the smiling faces a peaceful Sabbath as well.

“Oh, Rabbi, we missed you so much,” Mildred gushed as she batted her eyelashes.

Naomi couldn’t help but feel sorry for this 80-year-old woman—she was infatuated with her young rabbi. Naomi had warned Daniel on a number of occasions about this but he continued to say, “Naomi, you have a vivid imagination.”

Morris Bagliebter stepped between Mildred and Daniel, and in his gruff voice told him, “That guy you got to fill in, Rabbi Solomon, he was okay.” Morris then went into a prolonged coughing jag.

Naomi looked to Mrs. Bagliebter and tried to offer an empathetic smile. How much longer did her husband have left? Well, I guess maybe Rabbi Solomon will do the funeral. After tonight, they’re not going to want my husband. Why can’t Daniel wait a little while before . . .?

Naomi gave Daniel her familiar doe-eyed imploring expression. He pulled her aside and moved them toward the sanctuary.

“They liked Levi Solomon, maybe he has a full-time job waiting for him.”

Upon seeing them, Jay and Sandy Marcus ran toward them and hugged them. Daniel and Naomi shared a secretive glance. Both knew their special friendship with this couple would very soon end. No more barbeques, beach excursions . . . at best a polite avoidance of one another. And what about their son Jake? He would probably be forbidden from even talking to the traitorous Cantors.

But for now, they were welcomed as one of the tribe. “Hey, great to see you back in our land. That was an incredible trip. Sandy and I were saying how much we appreciated you putting it together.”

Sandy confessed to Naomi, “I haven’t even begun unpacking yet. So tired after all that walking.”

Naomi simply nodded and smiled.

Once seated in the front row, Naomi whispered, “Are you sure?”

“Honey, trust me, I’ll take care of you. And more importantly,” he pointed his finger upwards and said. “He’ll take care of us.”

They were interrupted by the sound of the shofar and the chanting of the Shema. Now it was time for Rabbi Cantor to step up to the bema.

Daniel’s voice carried its usual strong authoritative tone, but Naomi believed it exuded a special new warmth as he said, “Let us welcome the Shabbat together. Psalm 95 in your Siddur.”

Naomi noticed that while her husband waited to hear the familiar sound of the pages being turned, he slowly and deliberately ran his hands across the dark polished wood of his podium.

A shared look between them accompanied by his wistful smile assured her they were recalling the same moment—when fourteen year-old Benjamin, beaming with pride, presented his woodworking project to the family’s rabbi as a birthday gift.

“I did it in shop class,” he had boasted.

Naomi recalled how cute the young boy was as he nervously kept pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. Daniel smiled toward Naomi and subtly mimed pushing an imaginary pair of glasses up toward his nose. A sweet silent chuckle transpired between the couple.

Pursing his lips together, Daniel appeared to be chasing away the nostalgic reverie and steeling himself for moving full-on into the present moment. He instructed the congregation, “Read with me, ‘O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation . . .”

Others continued reading from the Psalm but Naomi noted Daniel’s voice breaking off and then observed his eyes lift heavenward. She knew exactly what he was experiencing as she recalled the first time sitting through a Shabbat service as a new Believer. She had been overwhelmed by the beauty of words once recited by rote year upon year. And tonight how much more so it must be for him.

Slowly she noticed the voices of their congregation trailing off, their faces reflecting a sense of confusion. Why was their Leader not leading them?

Daniel wiped the tears from his eyes and reached for the glass of water always situated on a ledge inside his podium. “Let us welcome the Sabbath as a groom welcomes his bride.”

He cleared his throat. “Dear friends, please, bear with me. I am changing our usual service for the evening. I have some announcements to make.”

To Naomi the pause Daniel now took seemed like an eternity. The congregation communicated their impatience by noisily shifting in their seats and murmuring to one another. They felt it. They knew something very different was in the air.

Daniel, do you know what you’re doing? This is our life. I’m not ready for everything to change.

With Daniel’s foot on the accelerator, Naomi longed to jam on the brakes. While all eyes were looking expectantly to their rabbi, Naomi’s eyes were drawn to the indigo velvet Torah cover—so beautifully plush. With the help of Shirley, one of the older women at the Temple, Naomi had labored over the sewing and then the embroidering of this intricate design. It had some obvious flaws—the gold silk threads were a bit tangled and the design of the menorah at the center was a bit off-balance—but Daniel had assured her it was perfect.

Daniel shifted his weight from one leg to the other and clasped his hands in front of his stomach and then behind his back. Finally he spoke. “Apologies are never easy. However, I need to apologize to every one of you sitting here tonight because I have loaded you down with burdens too heavy for any man to bear. I realize I have spoken many many times about our responsibility as Jews to take up the yoke of the law. But I now realize none of us can take up that burden—not even your rabbi.”

After another swallow of water, he continued. “My first announcement is that I will be resigning as your rabbi.” In response to the gasps and murmurs, Daniel extended his open palms toward his congregation, “Please, be patient and wait for me to give you an explanation.”

Naomi put her head down, refusing to make eye contact with anyone who might be looking her way. The roar in her ears must be an indication her blood pressure was rising (she had read that somewhere).

Meanwhile she heard the uproar all around her. People turning to the person next to them or nudging the person in front of them. Naomi heard a general mutter of “What’s this all about?”

And how could she be afraid? Or angry at Daniel? Oh, how she must be disappointing Yeshua. Only three weeks ago, she had been fervently praying that her husband would share her faith. But I didn’t expect him to . . .

Daniel intentionally cleared his throat loudly into the microphone, effectively silencing the crowd as they looked up expectantly. “My wife and I will be available to any and all of you to come to our home and ask more questions—you see, what I am going to tell you next will startle you, and I am praying some of you will want to know more.”

Daniel rubbed his neck, as if trying to massage out a crick. Naomi had told him more than once, “Honey, sometimes you get this nervous gesture with your neck.” He must have recalled her advice because he stopped and glanced at her.

Daniel leaned into the microphone, the felt cover brushing against his lips as he softly addressed the congregation. “Have you ever had an experience where in an instant everything changed? Have you ever had a revelation that made you see things differently? No, excuse me, it is more like suddenly you see with clarity . . . crystal clarity.”

With the word clarity spoken, Naomi witnessed a profound transformation in Daniel. His jaw unclenched and the tightness around his mouth softened. Naomi perceived what seemed like a glow. She often chided herself for her vivid imagination, but this radiance was no illusion.

There was something in the Bible . . . something we read while in Israel. I think it was in a book called “Acts.” Something where one of Jesus’ disciples was filled with the Holy Spirit and appeared to glow. Well, something like that. Is that what’s happening to Daniel? But I think that’s the guy who they stoned until he was dead.

“The first night we arrived in Israel, although it was late and everyone traveling with us checked into their rooms, my wife and I went to the Western Wall. I was carrying a heavy burden and believed if I prayed there at the Wall, that burden would be lifted.”

Daniel turned to Naomi and she mouthed back, “I love you.”

“While praying at the Wall, the burden I took with me was lifted, but not how I thought it would be. The true burden I was carrying had been that heavy yoke of the law. I need to read you something.”

Would anyone notice the Bible their Rabbi had reached for from the podium and was now holding up—would they notice it contained the New Testament?

Daniel stepped away from the podium. At the precise moment he opened his Bible Naomi’s stomach growled—loudly. Except for the brownies, she hadn’t eaten all day. Those around her turned in her direction and chuckled—her stomach was always a troublemaker. It caused enough of a stir to catch Daniel’s attention. He looked toward Naomi with a quizzical look, but quickly shrugged away the distraction.

“Psalm 118 always made me wonder. It says that the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” He paused and looked out at the congregation. “Let me ask you something. If it is referring to us as the builders, if we Jews are the builders, then who is it we have rejected?” He paused and scanned the crowd.

A few people leaned forward in their seats and raised their eyebrows. They were paying closer attention to their rabbi than Naomi had ever seen before. It seemed to have registered on them where her husband was going. Their increasing scowls expressed their displeasure.

“In Yeshiva we were taught to avoid certain Scriptures, one of them is the one you just heard. Why? And why do you think all year long we avoid Chapter 53 of the Hebrew prophet Isaiah? Are any of you familiar with this passage in your Tanakh?” Their heads shook no. “I didn’t think so.

“For the first time today, you will hear it. Listen and consider who Isaiah is speaking about when he says, ‘He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.’”

Daniel looked up from his Bible and into the faces of his congregation, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our in—”

Naomi heard the sharp intakes of breath from the congregation. Frozen in her seat and afraid to move her head lest anyone catch her eye, she stole a sidelong glance and saw them muttering with one another.” However, when Daniel stepped down and walked up the aisle, Naomi turned her whole body to watch.

He fixed his intense blue eyes on theirs as he continued speaking, “My professors taught us that Isaiah is speaking of Israel, but I never could reconcile that being true. It is so clearly speaking about a person, and if you continue the rest of this chapter and try substituting Israel each time it says ‘he’ you’ll see it doesn’t make sense.”

He implored, “Please go home and read this chapter for yourself. Then ask if this is not about Israel, then who is it describing?” He shrugged his shoulders. “Is it your Uncle Irving?”

When Daniel approached a row, those seated there stiffened their backs and turned away from him. The angry voices grew louder and a few rose from their seat until soon they had formed small gatherings, and soon these gatherings turned into one large angry mob. Demands were shouted, some demanded he sit down and others demanded that he leave the building.

One demure eighty-something year-old lady in an aisle seat, reached up to tug on Daniel’s jacket. In a reedy voice, she said, “Rabbi, genug iz genug. Enough is enough. You’re getting us all fermisht.”

He stooped down and softly said, “Please, Mrs. Schwartz, I know everyone’s getting shaken up by this, but, please, give me one more minute.”

Jerry, a burly man in his sixties, walked menacingly over to Daniel. “What? Someone pay you to convert so now you’re trying to convert us?”

Daniel walked past Jerry and climbed back up to the podium. Naomi was amazed at the calmness of his voice. “As I announced at the beginning, I will be stepping down as your Rabbi and will arrange for a new leader.” Taking one more swallow of his water, he tucked his Bible into the crook of his arm. “And again, if you want to discuss this further, please know our door is open.” Down two steps, with one more to go, Daniel appeared to realize he was not finished.

“Please pray and ask God to show you the truth about our Messiah.”

Naomi, her chin tucked into her chest, saw Daniel’s hand suddenly reach for hers and she immediately grabbed it. He scooped her up in a tight embrace, shielding her from the angry crowd.

Several feet away from the parking lot, Daniel and Naomi finally escaped the clamor following them out of the Temple. Daniel leaned down and kissed her tenderly. “I heard your stomach growl.”

“You did?”

Daniel cradled her head in his arms and ruffled her hair. “Hey, curly, let’s walk into town and get something to eat.”

HOW TO BE TORAH OBSERVANT

John 5:24-47
24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. 25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. 30 I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.
31 “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true. 33 You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved. 35 He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light. 36 But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. 37 And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. 38 But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.
41 “I do not receive honor from men. 42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. 43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. 44 How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

Jesus says you search the scriptures looking for life – and you worship Moses and he wrote of me – Gen 3:15, written by Moses, is the first Messianic prophecy. In answer to the objection often heard by the “Torah-Observant” Jewish people that Yeshua cannot be the Messiah because the Messiah would not be murdered, YET Moses foretold, “satan would bruise his heel”

We can only be TORAH-OBSERVANT if we Worship Jesus__ the embodiment and fulfillment of the Torah

GOD HAS NOT FORSAKEN US – “HE DOES SEE US”

Aside

qtq80-KOE0iOEzekiel 8:5, 6, 12 & 17 and Ezekiel 9:2, 3, 5, 11-13

5 So I lifted my eyes toward the north, and there, north of the altar gate, was this image of jealousy in the entrance.
This image saddens me—to disappoint my LORD by worshipping anything but Him – after all, He is not jealous OF me, but FOR me— I am grateful for the opportunity to experience both sadness and fear/reverence

6 Furthermore He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel commits here, to make Me go far away from My sanctuary?
Psalm 73:28 tells me that the nearness of God is my good, therefore,
why would I want Him to go far away from me?

12: In the dark, every man in the room of his idols? For they say, ‘The LORD does not see us, the LORD has forsaken the land.’”
AND CHECK THIS OUT: VERSE 17, Indeed they put the branch to their nose. Basically, thumbing our nose at God

9 Then He called out in my hearing with a loud voice, saying, “Let those who have charge over the city draw near, each with a deadly weapon in his hand.” 2 And suddenly six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his battle-ax in his hand. One man among them was clothed with linen and had a writer’s inkhorn at his side. They went in and stood beside the bronze altar.
3: And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side; 4 and the LORD said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”
If you have been sealed with His mark, OH BE GLAD, eXCEEDINGLY GLAD – for I know all about the counterfeit mark and want never to have that on my forehead

HEBREWS 13 5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
11 For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. 12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13 Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
All of us Believers, we have our “camp,” where we needed to go forth to Him and outside our particular camp. For those who are Jewish Believers, most of the Jewish community accuses us of being outside their camp. Being accepted by the One who has promised to never leave us or forsake us, suffering outside the gate, is opportunity to be near our Lovely
Savior.

IF THE APOSTLE PAUL WERE LIVING TODAY AS AN AMERICAN

mom radiant

Michael and I are committed to a reading plan from Bible Gateway. Today’s reading was Esther Chapters 9 and 10 and Acts 7:1-21, which contains Stephen’s speech before being martyred. What stood out for me was the Lord’s preservation of the Jewish people, and never forgetting there was a purpose—a mission—TO GLORIFY HIM.

Lately I’ve been pondering how to encourage a few Christian friends who are consumed with their trials. How do I help them when I have not conquered my trials consuming me? Today I realized we must change how we view our circumstances. We lose all perspective and become self-pitying instead of understanding it is always for His glory. Isn’t this why Paul could say, “I’ve learned to be content” no matter what situation he has found himself in?

Most of us are familiar with the writings of Paul and turn to many of his promises to receive encouragement: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” and “. . . we know that all things work together for good. . . [and conveniently leave off the rest of this verse];”

Now imagine if Paul had the mindset many of us today in America have. The words of Paul would sound something like this: “Why did God let this happen to me?” and “Is this how He repays me for all I did for Him?” yada yada yada.

With these thoughts this morning, I turned to the first chapter of Philippians:

In verse 5 I read about “your fellowship in the Gospel…”
For true fellowship, to have a right relationship with each other, I realized it is found in the message of the Good News of our grace (recognizing our unworthiness for His gift of salvation and His love). Walking in the realization of this would provide the much-needed antidote to envy, backbiting, putting others down so we can lift ourselves up, etc.

Verse 6&7 reads “being confident of this very thing, that He would who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Paul could not have written these words of encouragement if he was feeling sorry for himself or questioning God’s goodness since he wrote this while in chains.

Can I undergo such trials and not whine, but rather still be grateful for His grace and, therefore, be in a position to encourage others—and even draw unbelievers?

Verse 9 reads “…and this I pray that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment.”
Our cup can overflow if we grow in the knowledge of the Sovereign and loving God—if He is indeed sovereign and loving, I must reconcile myself with the fact that He is allowing whatever situation I am in, never for a moment something He cannot control and never for a moment not loving me.

Verse 10: “that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. “

SO INSTEAD OF THOSE STERLING WORDS ABOVE, OUR MODERN-DAY PAUL COULD CHOOSE TO FEEL AND/OR THINK LIKE A VICTIM. I CAN IMAGINE HIM WRITING SOMETHING LIKE THIS:

I question my so-called faith. How could God be good? Look, I’m sorry if I preached Him to you —maybe it was a mistake. I mean look at all I did for Him, and now I’m in chains. That’s the thanks I get? All of you are living good lives while I’m in this dark, dank place chained to the wall. Did I mention it smells horrendous in here? I can’t take this anymore. I know I told you He never gives us more than we can handle, but this is more than I can bear—my back is killing me, I’m starving, I’m all alone here—this is more than I can endure and I know I said He would provide a means of escape, but there’s no such luck for me. Peter, that lousy ignorant fisherman, some angels provide an escape for him—but me? What? Am I not as good as Peter? No, I’m better. I deserve better.

At church last night we were told to think of someone who inspired us—someone we would want to emulate. I quickly thought of a dear friend named Joan. I’ve never seen her complain, but only praise God and thank Him for His goodness. If she can do it in our modern world of entitlement, then not only do I have Paul as a role model, but I can thank God for you, Joan—sweet humble Joan.

The photo at the top of this post is one of my radiant mother–even before she knew the Lord, my mother always showed gratitude for all she had. I loved the way she reverently referred to God as The Almighty–she knew He was all mighty.

OUR LIVES: IT’S A PUZZLEMENT

me puzzled

A woman, probably in her 80s, recently came over to me at a church where we were setting up for our Passover Seder. “My life’s a puzzle,” she said. “My name used to be __________, then I got married and then I was _______________. I used to live in Pennsylvania, but now I’m in Florida.” Her eyebrows were furrowed as her eyes seemed to plead with me to help her with this puzzle she called her life. And on and on she repeated the same phrases. Finally I had to excuse myself—people were coming into the church and soon we would be sharing the origins of our communion service.

After the presentation, I was standing at our book table and this puzzled woman came back and began explaining her predicament once more. In the Gospels, we read about times Jesus met those whose minds were troubled. And I did find when I spoke His name, it seemed to calm her. She agreed when I said, “You know, through all those puzzling times, Jesus Himself was with you.”

Last night I had to admit, in many ways I am feeling the same as this woman. Now in my late 60s (YIKES!), with so many different times, so many different places—and maybe not so many different names, but yet so many different personas, it’s hard not to want to “put it all together”—or see all the puzzle pieces come together into one complete landscape. Yet it doesn’t—each individual segment of my life has its own identity and the yearning to pull it all together seems an impossible task. And I know what I told this woman last week holds true for me as well. If I do not make my Lord the focus of every aspect of my life (past, present and future) but instead make myself the focus, I’ll never have peace.

THE LONGING OF MY HEART

cropped haggadah cover

What does being glorified mean to you? I confess for me, it was always more to have a glorified body (no aches, pains, etc.). But last week, while conducting the Christ our Passover Seder presentations, I began to think a lot about the leaven. One day IN GLORY, I will be free from the leaven of sin.

Romans 8:28
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Can you imagine being completely free from sin? Please imagine with me, no sin. Yes, those who are in Messiah Yeshua have no condemnation (we are justified), but oh to be one day glorified—My Lord Himself will cleanse “my house” from all leavening materials. Oh Hallelujah—GLORY HALLELUJAH. At this moment, His resurrection means we will one day be resurrected into a body free from all sin—I’m sorry, I know I’m repeating the same thing over and over again, but I can’t find any apt words to convey the freedom and joy.

Question: When you think about being free from sin, are you thinking more about getting rid of the leaven from the world and others around you? Or are you really thinking about the freedom from your own sin? A dear friend of ours would say, “There I go meddling again.”

“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” Psalm 68:19

Just finished listening to Jodi Eareckson Tada on the radio speaking of interdependence. Her message was about our fears of being a burden to others. Being a quadriplegic, she could, of course, easily fall into the trap of thinking of herself as a burden to others, but she offered a new way to see this: The joy of our interdependence.

For many years, I carried the burden of guilt—being an only child and Dad having passed away, I always felt guilty because I lived in New York City while my Mom lived alone in Montgomery, Alabama. Then Yeshua found me and I understood that only through Him could one receive everlasting life. I left to work as a missionary in Chicago, sharing the Gospel with other Jewish people—but again came the nagging guilt: What about my Mom—who’s going to share with her?

Oh, what a limited perspective I had—you see, God had it covered! My mother’s house was at the end of the street, until one day an enterprising developer decided to cut down the trees at the end of her block and create a cul de sac. Four homes sprouted up, and all four were filled with Christian families. Mom spoke often about one family in particular, and in particular their young daughter. Catherine. I was told by Catherine’s mother that one day she overheard her daughter speaking with my mother. “Miss Nell, how come you don’t believe in Jesus? He was Jewish.” Mom was heard saying, “Well, I guess I do—everyone keeps telling me about Him.”

About five years later, the Lord brought Michael into my life and we moved to Montgomery, Alabama. During the last year of Mom’s life, now under the care of Hospice because of her breast cancer, she came to live with us, and we watched as her Savior drew her to Himself. Her funeral was attended by the precious families who lived in the cul de sac, each told “thank you, you will see Mom in glory.”

Now twenty+ years later, thanks to Facebook, I received a message from Catherine, now a wife and mother, establishing a reconnection.

She wrote: Oh tears of joy are streaming down my face. I loved her so dearly. My memories of her are among some of my most precious memories. I can’t wait to hug her again in Glory. I have missed her lately. Maybe it began with the terrible potato pancakes I ordered at a deli here in Atlanta. They made me long for hers. I order them wherever they are on the menu, and none have ever been as good as hers. She made them for me often during the afternoons I visited her. And I’d sit in her little room next to the kitchen and play on her black key typewriter. She was the one that taught me how to use a typewriter! So many fun memories I’m sure I could fill a book.

So all the time I was feeling guilty, and thinking basically “It’s all about me—and up to me,” our Loving Father was weaving together a resplendent tapestry (oh, my Mom loved doing needlepoint). So sweet and so tender. Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to glimpse your masterpiece.

mom radiant

BEING AN ONLY CHILD — EXPECTING TO GET WHATEVER I WANT

This weekend I watched Saturday Night Live, which I hadn’t watched for over 25 years—for that’s when YESHUA’S LOVE BROKE THROUGH MY UPSIDE-DOWN WORLD. Tuning into the show this Saturday, I remembered that once a upon a time being a cast member of Saturday Night Live was my “dream” – having auditioned and my agent telling me they were considering me, wow-oh-wow, I EXPECTED TO GET WHAT I WANTED—I’D BE A STAR! Eventually I was told, “We got Gilda Radner, we don’t need you”. At that time, I was heartbroken—but today my heart is exploding with gratitude. My Bridegroom Yeshua knows never to give me something just because I want it! What a mess my life would be if that happened. No, He bestows upon His children only that which is good and perfect.

And today, as His Child I realize I can even now behave as a “spoiled brat / only child” – I want it, so shouldn’t I be given it? Amazingly, He loves each of us as if we were HIS ONLY CHILD (He knit us together in our mothers’ wombs and knows every hair on our head—and somehow loves us as if it were for ourselves alone He endured the cross). Yet I need to be on the alert for I can easily slip back into the attitude of kicking my feet and demanding I get what I want—when I want it!

I bet we all have had moments where we were reminded of something we had once longed for and today are so grateful we had a loving Father who said “no.” Want to share any such moments you had?9781498441612_Cov2.indd

 

Review by Tom Cantor, Israel Restoration Ministries

Miriam Finesilver is a very talented writer. Love “hopeth all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7.) It is a privilege to hope for the day when “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Romans 11:26.) Naomi, the Rabbi’s Wife engages the reader to hope and believe and pray for the deliverance of the Jewish people through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Tom Cantor
Founder Israel Restoration Ministries
http://www.israelrestoration.org/

THE BEAUTY OF BELONGING

Isaiah 62:4a: “Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken . . . but thou shalt be called Hephzibah.”

I do not usually take one small phrase out of context from our Scriptures, and am especially careful when it clearly is speaking of Israel and the Jewish people. (Bet you can guess I’m about to say “However”)—however, the other day I read the above passage from Isaiah and it spoke to me so personally. I don’t know about any of you, but the idea of NOT BELONGING evokes some very painful memories for me (and sometimes fears for the future). Back in public school the message “You don’t belong” was engraved into my heart. And even today memories of living alone in New York City can still bring tears to my eyes—such as a time period in which I paid for a room in a women’s boarding house and the image of my sitting on a bed playing solitaire all evening.

I know this won’t relate to everyone reading this, but if such NOT BELONGING resonates within you, I pray you are one of His Redeemed—for truly we who are redeemed have something so precious to celebrate. WE DO BELONG to our Father and the only purpose such painful past memories can serve is to provide a contrast to who we are today. The Hebrew word Hephzibah represents the Lord’s favor toward her.

From HALLELUJAH TO YOU, GOD OF THE REDEEMED:
We belong to You, Father
Love has come and we’re orphans no longer
Brought into Your light and freedom
By the blood and mercy of Jesus