As we are turning there, just a little bit by way of introduction. Some of you are new to me and I’m new to you.
I’m a Jewish believer in Yeshua in the Messiah and I have been ‘that’ since November 1970.
Even some of you who have been here for 40 years weren’t even alive back then, so, I’ve been a believer for over 50 years.
I was raised in a very traditional Jewish home in New York City. New York still has about 2 million Jewish people and I literally live in the ‘holy land’, Brooklyn.
It’s kind of like Golders Green – East you know, and ours is West. There’s almost a million Jewish people in my Borough of Brooklyn, one of New York’s boroughs. It’s kind of like Golders Green on steroids.
I came to faith as a 19-year-old. I was not a good Jewish boy. I was a drug dealer, a hippie, and my hair was all the way down to my back. I was a terrible person you know, but I also was a good middle class Jewish hippie, which meant I knew that any time I wanted, I could cut my hair, go home, and my parents would put me through college.
But I enjoy it, I milked it for as long as I could. I was never in it for the ideology; I had no ideology at all. I was just in it for the fun.
And so, I was a very ‘non-serious’ sort of young guy whose two best friends became believers in Jesus. That really upset me because I was raised modern Orthodox, I knew more than they did.
They were liberal and conservative and all these ‘non-orthodox’ types of things. They didn’t know what they were talking about, and I was convinced that they were ‘hoodwinked and kidnapped’.
So, I tried to talk them out of believing in Jesus, and well, I lost the argument, thankfully!
I began reading the Hebrew Bible again, on my own, although we studied it quite well and I did know a little bit more than they did and then, I stumbled upon this ‘other Jewish book’ that seemed to be attached to the old one: the New Testament.
I came face to face with Jesus as I read through the New Testament. I kept trying to figure out if Jesus was Jewish or Catholic – which was my understanding. In New York, you’re either one or the other. And I kept trying to find out if Jesus celebrated (you can always tell the person by their holidays, right?)
I wanted to see. I knew Jesus celebrated Christmas I mean, come on! So, I kept looking for everything I wanted to find to help me dissuade my friends so I wouldn’t ultimately have to tell my mother I believed in Jesus (which was not going to be good). And lo and behold …
I basically looked for the holidays and, of course, He celebrated Passover (Pesach) and Hanukkah which is not even a Biblical holiday; and He celebrated all the other festivals, and He was just so Jewish! It was obvious that he was Jewish, a first-century Jewish person, a little different than me but, obviously, He was Jewish. We kept the same calendar for Heaven’s sake!
So, I gradually warmed up to Jesus, and then embraced Jesus as my Messiah.
You know, the day afterwards, I really thought I would become a gentile! I did! Which for you may not be the worst thing in the world but for me, it was not going to be good!
Because I was brought up in a very Jewish home: we died for being Jews, we resisted to the point of death (we’ll be talking a little bit about that today, martyrdom).
And I thought that this was really important. Therefore, my big ‘give’ in coming to Yeshua was:
“Okay, even if I become a gentile, I’m still going to believe it because it’s true.” Giving up drugs and all that that wasn’t that big a deal, I was tired of it anyway.
I accepted Yeshua and, honestly, over the years, I’ve married a Jewish woman, we’ve had two beautiful Jewish kids, and I’m going to be a grandfather.
Miriam, my daughter, who some of you know, is with child and I’m going to be an old grandpa you know.
The only response I had when it happened was, “It’s about time!” She married a Jewish believer in Jesus, so you can tell we’re a pretty Jewish family.
The Lord means everything to me, I’ve spent my life trying to tell my fellow Jewish people that, “It’s okay to believe in Jesus, you’ll still be Jewish, a lot more and so in fact!”
We all give up something, don’t we? to serve the Lord.