Thursday, March 31, 2016

About "losing faith"....

This afternoon my husband took me to see the Christian movie, “Miracles from Heaven.”  It was the true story about a little girl with an incurable illness who fell 30 feet into the hollow tree she was climbing, and she “went to heaven” and “talked with God” while she was unconscious.  God told her she would be okay and she woke up, smiling.  No broken bones, nothing.  It was a miracle.  Somehow this fall “re-set” her brain, which caused her body to function normally again, and she was miraculously cured from her illness.

I know miracles can happen because, just before I turned 21, I nearly died from a ruptured appendix that remained inside me for four days and put me into a 3-week coma.  (They couldn’t figure out what I had.)  What always gets me about Christian movies like this, though, is that people always “lose faith” because God didn’t answer their prayers; and their pastors can never seem to find an answer for the question:  “Why do bad things happen to good people.”   The mother in this movie lost her faith and asked several times why God would allow a little girl to suffer.  (And all the while, some hypocritical “holier-than-thous” at her church suggested she wasn’t“ praying hard enough” or perhaps the family, or the little girl had sin in their lives….)

Anyway, WHY CAN’T pastors answer that simple question?  What the heck do they learn in seminary besides how to give “fluffy” sermons ?   Do they not know that “bad things happen” because we are in a fallen world where bad stuff happens?  We are IN this mess because Adam and Eve disobeyed YHWH by “eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”  Whatever that really meant, we simply don’t know, but we DO know that, ever since then, we have ALL been reaping the consequences of that “knowledge!”  THAT is why “bad things happen to good people.  NOBODY is exempt!  Not you, not me, not little innocent babies…NOBODY!  The Garden of Eden was Utopia, but man blew it over a piece of fruit, and now we are left to deal with sickness and death and poverty and wars and earthquakes and tornadoes and fires and floods.  That’s just the way it is!

People who have a REAL and SOLID relationship with YHWH/Y’shua don’t “lose faith” whenever things don’t go their way” or their prayers aren’t answered.  They know they need to pull closer to God and simply trust Him in WHATEVER happens!  Yes, we must have faith and hope, and to pray for a good outcome to our situation, but if we or our loved ones don’t recover, it doesn’t mean YHWH “didn’t answer our prayers” or that He doesn’t like us, or that He’s forgotten about us.  It means, He had other plans, for whatever reason (reasons we don’t get to know until after we’re out of these earth suits).  We aren’t equipped to see into the future, but YHWH is.  He KNOWS the beginning from the end, and He has His reasons for allowing things to happen – good or bad.

Isaiah 46:9 "Remember things that happened at the beginning, long ago - that I am God, and   there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. 10 At the beginning I announce the end, proclaim in advance things not yet done; and I say that my plan will hold, I will do everything I please to do. (CJB)

In the case of this little girl, He truly performed a miracle – so that her story could edify others and, if nothing else, at least cause them to think.  THAT is surely why He decided to save her.  It wasn’t because she was such a “good little girl” who deserved a miracle.  It was simply HIS choice – the same as it was HIS choice to make the murdering Paul an Apostle who would ultimately witness to the Gentiles, or raise Lazarus from the dead…so that people could see or hear of His miracles which caused them to stop and go, “Wow!  Maybe this God really IS real!” 

There is no doubt in my mind that He allowed me to recover from that ruptured appendix and the resulting gangrene throughout my body that caused my hair to fall out and my fingernails to curl from the high fevers…which also resulted in acute pancreatitis, which was another thing that should have killed me, but didn’t.  Like that little girl in the movie, I wasn’t spared from death because I was such a good girl, believe me!  Had I died back then, I would surely NOT have been destined for eternal life….

The truth is, YHWH has obviously done everything in His power to reach us here on earth – including causing His “Son” to be born as a human so he could live to proclaim the Kingdom of YHWH and teach people Torah!  (Luke 4: 43, Luke 8:1)  He uses whomever He wishes to get the point across that HE IS (IAM! - Exodus 3:13-15).  He revealed Himself to that little girl in the movie we saw today.  He revealed Himself to Adam and Eve and to Cain and Abel and Noah and Lot and to Abraham, the pagan Chaldean who became our first Patriarch, and to myriads across the millennia….He revealed Himself through His own Son who performed many miracles while walking this earth, and who willingly went to the stake to martyr himself as our final Sin Sacrifice/Offering.

Please don’t ever turn your back on YHWH, no matter what happens in your life.  He IS there and He LOVES you…that’s why He allowed you to be born into this world…a world where you have the choice to belong to Him, or not. 

      Deuteronomy 30: 19  “I have called the heavens and the earth as witnesses today against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore you shall choose life, so that you live, both you and your seed, 20  to love יהוה your Elohim, to obey His voice, and to cling to Him – for He is your life and the length of your days – to dwell in the land which יהוה swore to your fathers, to Aḇraham, to Yitsḥaq, and to Yaʽaqoḇ, to give them.” (ISR)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Why is the Georgia governor catering to "gays"

Fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, eroding seashores and earthquakes, all of “biblical proportions”….Is it any wonder that YHWH has removed His hand from our country? Here’s part of the reason why the U.S. is undergoing these tribulations: Atlanta (CNN) – “Under increasing pressure from major corporations that do business in Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal announced Monday he will veto a bill that critics say would havecurtailed the rights of Georgia's LGBT community.” So this guy – who claims to be a Christian – has revealed exactly whom he truly worships!  Well, shame on him!  On one hand, it's quite understandable why he did this, but that being the case, he needs to stop pretending he's a believer, because you CANNOT cater to God and the world at the same time.....

I feel for those who believe themselves to be “gay” – however, I draw the line when they push their lifestyle on me, forcing me to accept it as “normal.” It’s NOT “normal” for me to see two men or two women in a “made for television” movie, getting on! It’s NOT “normal” for me to see, for instance, a “Sunday Morning” show segment about some guy who has done something wonderful and you’re feeling all warm and gushy about him – and then, before the segment ends, the interviewer parades in the guy’s husband (obviously to make sure we all know he's "gay"), who walks over and kisses his “husband” on the lips.

I'm sorry, but for those of us who LIVE our faith, it’s NOT “normal” to have homosexuality pushed down our throats as if it WERE normal; and I, for one, will NEVER bow down to "the world" and pretend this whole thing is "just fine" with me! Where are MY rights today?

Whether the "lukewarm" wish to believe it or not, YHWH HATES homosexuality! He said so, time and time again. NO AMOUNT OF SCRIPTURE twisting will change that! 

Leviticus 18:22 You are not to go to bed with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination. (CJB)

Romans 1: 22 Claiming to be wise, they have become fools! 23 In fact, they have exchanged the glory of the immortal God for mere images, like a mortal human being, or like birds, animals or reptiles! 24 This is why God has given them up to the vileness of their hearts' lusts, to the shameful misuse of each other's bodies. 25 They have exchanged the truth of God for falsehood, by worshiping and serving created things, rather than the Creator - praised be he for ever. Amen.

26 This is why God has given them up to degrading passions; so that their women exchange natural sexual relations for unnatural; 27 and likewise the men, giving up natural relations with the opposite sex, burn with passion for one another, men committing shameful acts with other men and receiving in their own persons the penalty appropriate to their perversion. 28 In other words, since they have not considered God worth knowing, God has given them up to worthless ways of thinking; so that they do improper things.

29 They are filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and vice; stuffed with jealousy, murder, quarreling, dishonesty and ill-will; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God; they are insolent, arrogant and boastful; they plan evil schemes; they disobey their parents; 31 they are brainless, faithless, heartless and ruthless. 32 They know well enough God's righteous decree that people who do such things deserve to die; yet not only do they keep doing them, but they applaud others who do the same.

2 Peter 2: 19. And they promise them liberty while they themselves are the slaves of corruption: for, by whatever thing a man is vanquished, to that is he enslaved. 20. For if, when they have escaped the pollutions of the world by the knowledge of our Master and Redeemer Y'shua the Mashiyach, they become again involved in the same and are vanquished, their latter state is worse than the former.

21. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after having known (it), to turn back from the Set Apart Commandment that was delivered to them. 22. But the true proverb has happened to them: the dog returns to his vomit and the pig that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire.  (AENT)

Revelation 22:14 How blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they have the right to eat from the Tree of Life and go through the gates into the city! 15 Outside are the homosexuals, those who misuse drugs in connection with the occult, the sexually immoral, murderers, idol-worshippers, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (CJB)

Many Christian pastors tell their flock that "it's okay to be gay" and they cater to the tired mantra, "We're born that way." Well, I challenge them to think about this: Would the Creator purposely cause someone to be "born gay" only to then turn around and make their lives miserable by telling them their acts are "an abomination?" For those who refuse to believe people “weren’t born that way,” then I posit this: Decide WHOM you wish to worship, and stop making excuses for SIN! If you want to do that, then stop pretending you belong to God! Stop running to your church or synagogue and pretend you're holy, because you're not! You CANNOT serve two masters.

The bottom line is: KNOWING homosexuality is wrong, but to continue the behavior, anyway, is “deliberate sinning.” Here are just two examples of what Scripture says about deliberate sinning:

Hebrews 6: 4. But they who have once descended to immersion and have tasted the gift from heaven and have received the Ruach haKodesh 5. and have tasted the good Word of Elohim and the power of the world to come, 6. cannot again sin and a second time be renewed to repentance; or a second time execute him on a stake and insult the Son of Elohim. 7. For the earth that drinks the rain which comes often upon it and produces the herb that is of use to those for whom it is cultivated, receives a blessing from Elohim. 8. But if it should put forth thorns and briers, it would be discarded and be approaching closely to a curse, and its end would be a conflagration. (AENT)

Hebrews 10: 26 For if we deliberately continue to sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but only the terrifying prospect of Judgment, or raging fire that will consume the enemies. (CJB)

Sexual immorality of ANY kind is an abomination to YHWH! If you refuse to behave yourself according to HIS Rules, then WHOM are you worshiping?

Those who are pushing this stuff down my throat are stepping on MY rights!  I would be happy to leave you and your lifestyle alone IF you would agree to stop pushing your lifestyle on me.  But as long as people are out there shoving this stuff into my face to the point where I can't go to the movies or to the mall or anywhere in public without having to close my eyes against their SIN, I will be right here, fighting the good fight for GOD!

Monday, March 28, 2016

“Why was Jesus so determined to destroy family and friends?”

Every once in awhile, people write to our website with the question: “Why was Jesus so determined to destroy family and friends?” Great qestion While it may seem like Yeshua came to destroy family and friends (because that is what he said!), what they fail to understand is that he didn’t actually come to "destroy"; rather, it was a metaphor for what he knew his TEACHINGS would do - divide family and friends. And the bottom line was: People had (and still have) the choice to follow Yeshua's teachings, or not...and many who did, lost family and friends.

That still holds true today…It holds true especially for those of us who believe in Yeshua AND in obeying his Torah - divine instructions in righteousness, without which we would have NO blueprint for moral, holy living! 1 John 2:6 tells us: “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Yeshua did.” And how did he walk? In Torah! 

Y'shua's death never negated the need to OBEY our Creator. All his death did was to remove the need for a priest to kill innocent, blemish-less animals to atone for our sins....

Yet, "family and friends" insist on harassing us for our desire to obey. That's why Y'shua warned us that, not only WOULD this happen; BUT that we would be forced to make a choice between him and the family and friends who reject us.

The "million-dollar question" is: If we choose "family and friends" WHOM are we really worshiping?

Matthew 10: 34. Do not think that I have come to bring calm on earth.  I have not come to bring calm, rather a sword.  35. For I have come to divide a man from his father, and a girl from her mother.  And a daughter-in-law from her mother-in-law.  36. And the adversaries of a man will be his household.[1]  37. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.  And whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  38. And anyone that does not take up his staff[2] and come and follow me is not worthy of me.  (AENT)

Luke 12: 51. Do you think that I have come to place tranquility on earth.  I say to you, No, rather division.  52. From now on:  For there will be five in a certain house that will be divided three against two, and two against three.[3]  53. For a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter, and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.[4]  (AENT)


[1]  Micah 7:6

[2]  Take up your staff and follow means to exercise your personal authority.  A staff is a symbol of authority that is used for mobility and protection (see B’midbar/Numbers 17:16-25.  Christian versions insert “cross” here which does not appear in either Aramaic or Greek texts.

[3]   Possibly an autobiographical comment.  According to Mark, Y’shua had at least four brothers and two sisters.  Two of them became Shlichim/Apostles (Ya’akov and Yehuda) and the two others (Yosip Jr. and Shimon) were at one time plotting to have Y’shua locked up (Mark 3:21), or tried to put him into a potentially dangerous situation (John 7:1-5).  Furthermore, the younger unmarried sisters would have been given no say in the validity of their brother Y’shua’s teaching; however, Torah requires that Y’shua and his siblings also honor their mother, and apparently the father was deceased. As for Maryam, she clearly supports her son along with Ya’akov and Yehuda, which tallies two against three and three against two.

[4]  Micah 7:6

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A brief word about “cognitive dissonance”

Good grief – everywhere you go these days you see people accusing each other of “cognitive dissonance” (the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change).

The anti-missionary Jews and their converts accuse Christians and Messianic/Hebrew Roots types of suffering from “cognitive dissonance” because of our belief that Y’shua is our Divine Messiah. Hebrew Roots/Messianic types accuse the anti-missionaries and their converts of “cognitive dissonance” for their rejection of Messiah Y’shua, while applying the same term to the Christians for their rejection of Torah.

Christians tell us we are guilty of “cognitive dissonance” for our belief in Torah (since Torah, to them, is "a curse!).  And atheists accuse all of us of suffering from “cognitive dissonance” for even believing in a deity. Apparently, we are ALL suffering from mental problems - LOL! (And all this is going on while the whole world is watching us duke it out!) 

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all stopped trying to put people “in a box” by accusing them of something we can hardly pronounce (much less understand), and simply kept a rational, respectful dialogue open so we can ALL find our way to YHWH/Y’shua/Torah as the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) leads?

The church trend of "feel-good" religion" will send people to hell....

A recent "Sunday Morning" show featured a segment about Pastor Joel Osteen who rakes in many millions every preaching "fluff." He never mentions hell or suggests you "get yourself right with God, or else!"; he just talks about what “God” can do for YOU, and how "God is a God of restoration and possibilities." WOW! In my eyes, that really isn't much different from what the serpent said to Eve: "Did God really say.....?"

Is it any wonder millions are running around thinking they’re holy, simply because they “believe in Jesus” and they “go to church” on Sunday morning? They have no clue this train of thought, in reality, makes them lukewarm enough to be vomited from Y’shua’s mouth upon his return (Rev. 3:15-21)!

Yes, YHWH certainly IS a “God of Restoration” – IF you live life according to His Torah/Divine Instructions! He makes no bones about what He will do to you if you don’t “talk the talk” AND “walk the walk!” (Read the Torah for the complete picture!) Take a look at what Revelation says about WHO is truly “saved”: 

Revelation 12:17 And the dragon was enraged against the woman; and he went to make war upon the remnant of her seed who keep the Commandments of Elohim AND have the testimony of Y'shua. (AENT) 

Revelation 14:12 - Here is the patience of the Set Apart believers who keep the commandments of Elohim, AND the faith of Y'shua. (AENT)

Most churches seem to teach that all that’s required to belong to God is “love”…Love God with all your heart, mind and soul, and your neighbor as yourself. Well folks, the entire Torah and the prophets HANG/are dependent on those two commandments! 

Matthew 22: 36. "Teacher, which Commandment in Torah is the greatest?" 37. And Y'shua said to him, that "You should love Master YHWH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might and with all your mind." 38. This is the first and the greatest Commandment. 39. And the second is like it. That "You should love your neighbor as yourself." 40. On these two commandments hang Torah and the prophets. (AENT)

According to Matthew 5:19, Y'shua taught Torah and the Commandments of YHWH from the very beginning of his ministry. According to Matthew 15:3, Y'shua warned the Pharisees against making void the "Commandment of Elohim" by their traditions. In Matthew 19:17 Y'shua spelled out the Commandments to the rich young ruler, teaching that "if you will enter into Life, keep the Commandments." The rich young ruler asked which ones? Y'shua gave him Torah Commandments!

And let’s not forget that, when taunted by Satan in the wilderness, Y’shua didn’t argue with the enemy; he quoted TORAH (Matthew 4:1-11)….He didn’t say, “Aww, dude, don’t sweat it. All ya gotta do is love God and love your neighbor, and you’ll get to heaven!”

Being led by the Ruach haKodesh to observe YHWH's Torah (instructions in righteousness) is a perquisite to entering the Kingdom; in fact, Torah is magnified (made great) by Y'shua according to Isaiah 42:21. In 2 Peter 2:21, 22, Peter levies a sharp rebuke; "…it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after having known (it), to turn back from the Set Apart commandment that was delivered to them." 

John teaches in 1 John 2:4; "For he that says I know him and does not keep his Commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him."  There can be NO doubt these are YHWH's Commandments because John teaches in 1 John 3:22: "And whatever we ask, we receive from Him because we keep His (YHWH's) Commandments and do acceptable things before Him." But some theologians – such as Joel Osteen - teach that if you "love" you don't need to keep any Commandments; however, this is the tradition of the Laodicean Church who interprets "love" according to religion.

The true remnant, the Israel of Elohim, keep the Commandments of Elohim and they know Y'shua is Mashiyach ben Yoseph; not some “fluff monger” who suggests you don’t have to DO anything except “believe in Jesus!”

The entire “Old Testament” reveals who YHWH is and how He expects His people to behave. That didn’t magically go away when His Messiah died, as Christians seem to believe! Why can’t Christians (and even many “Hebrew Roots” and “Messianic” types who like to “talk the talk” but don't mind tweaking their theology when it suits their purpose) drop their rabid desire for “feel-good” religion long enough to see “the whole picture?” Throughout Torah, YHWH constantly reminded my people, “Keep my commands and all will go well with you.”

2 Thessalonians 2: 9. For the coming of that (Evil One) is the working of haSatan with all power and signs and lying wonders 10. and with all the deceptiveness of iniquity in them that perish; because they did not receive the love of the truth by which they might have life. 11. Therefore Elohim will send upon them the strength of a deception that they may believe a lie; 12. and that they all may be condemned who believe not the truth but have pleasure in iniquity. (AENT)

For more on this, please see our article on Second Thessalonians.  

Saturday, March 26, 2016

A mini-teaching on Yeshua and Matzah

Matzah  is unleavened and, in the baking process it is pierced and striped. Unleavened because it is to be without contamination -- without sin. Pierced and striped, it illustrates the beautiful symbol of our Messiah, who being without sin, yet was pierced according to Scripture.

Zechariah 12:10 And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. 

Psalm 22:16 Dogs are all around me, a pack of villains closes in on me like a lion [at] my hands and feet. I can count every one of my bones, while they gaze at me and gloat. They divide my garments among themselves; for my clothing they throw dice.”

As you know, Isaiah 53 perfectly illustrates Yeshua – the flogging, the piercing, the torture he endured on our behalf:

Isaiah 53: 1 Who believes our report? To whom is the arm of ADONAI revealed?  2 For before him he grew up like a young plant, like a root out of dry ground. He was not well-formed or especially handsome; we saw him, but his appearance did not attract us. 3 People despised and avoided him, a man of pains, well acquainted with illness. Like someone from whom people turn their faces, he was despised; we did not value him. 4 In fact, it was our diseases he bore, our pains from which he suffered; yet we regarded him as punished, stricken and afflicted by God.

5 But he was wounded because of our crimes, crushed because of our sins; the disciplining that makes us whole fell on him, and by his bruises we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, went astray; we turned, each one, to his own way; yet ADONAI laid on him the guilt of all of us. Or: and in fellowship with him 7 Though mistreated, he was submissive - he did not open his mouth. Like a lamb led to be slaughtered, like a sheep silent before its shearers, he did not open his mouth. 8 After forcible arrest and sentencing, he was taken away; and none of his generation protested his being cut off from the land of the living for the crimes of my people, who deserved the punishment themselves.

9 He was given a grave among the wicked; in his death he was with a rich man. Although he had done no violence and had said nothing deceptive, 10 yet it pleased ADONAI to crush him with illness, to see if he would present himself as a guilt offering. If he does, he will see his offspring; and he will prolong his days; and at his hand ADONAI's desire will be accomplished. 11 After this ordeal, he will see satisfaction. "By his knowing [pain and sacrifice], my righteous servant makes many righteous; it is for their sins that he suffers. 12 Therefore I will assign him a share with the great, he will divide the spoil with the mighty, for having exposed himself to death and being counted among the sinners, while actually bearing the sin of many and interceding for the offenders."  (CJB)

YHWH, we thank You for sending us Yeshua the Messiah, who broke bread and gave it to his disciples. He said to them, 'Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.  Halleluyah!  May we we never forget what he did for us!

Friday, March 25, 2016

What's Shavuot?

With Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread now underway, we are looking forward to Shavuot, which represents the giving of the Torah and the Ruach haKodesh/Holy Spirit.  It also represents the beginning of the body of Messiah on Earth, in which ALL believers, redeemed through the blood of Messiah, are lifted up before ADONAI and set apart as holy.   (Acts 2, John 14:15-18, Ephesians 2:11-22, the Book of Ruth, Exodus 19:1 thru 20:23; Numbers 28:26-31 and Ezekiel 1:1-28, 3:12.)   This Feast was fulfilled by the coming of the promised Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) on the disciples of Yeshua in the Temple.

To show our anticipation and desire of Shavuot, we begin “counting the Omer” for seven weeks, until the day finally arrives where we can commemorate the giving of the Ruach haKodesh.  (Explanation can be found in this article.) So what we see here is, at Passover, the Israelites were freed from their lives of slavery in Egypt; and 50 days later on Shavuot they accepted YHWH's Torah which made them a nation committed to serving God.

Exodus 34:22 tells us: "Observe the festival of Shavuot with the first-gathered produce of the wheat harvest, and the festival of ingathering at the turn of the year...."

As a side note about when to start the Omer count, which is to start on "First Fruits":  There is a huge contention about which day is to be called "First Fruits" when the wave offering made and the 50-day count of the Omer begins. The contention boils down to the meaning of the word "Shabbat" in Leviticus 23:10-11. Every year, people argue about whether the word "Shabbat" means the "weekly 7th day" or the High Holy Day of the Feast of Unleavended Bread. (Many don’t realize that ALL High Holy Days are "Shabbats" in the meaning of the set-apart day of rest, no work, or convocation. See Leviticus 23:24 and 23:28 for example).   To clear up the confusion, we have written this article.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The day I became a true believer....

Last night on one of our favorite shows, they “killed off” one of the main characters.  The daughter of the woman who was in love with the deceased said, “Mom, he’s in heaven.”  The mother (who is an atheist) replied, “How do you know?”  To which the girl replied:  “He was a good person.”  This seems to be the consensus among those who really don’t know Scripture, because NOTHING says we will “get into heaven” just because we are “good people.”  By whose “measuring stick” do we know we’re “good”?  What “good” means to me, doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing to someone else….

Anyway, a similar scenario caught my attention on the day I “got saved” in a little town in Missouri on a cold January day in 1995. God had just assigned a handsome farmer named Ellis to “lead me to the Lord” and this was our first date.  (In a CHURCH of all places!  Who’da thunk it, LOL!  Me, at the ripe ol’ age of 44, sitting in a church on a DATE!   I truly thought all Christians were hypocrites and pretenders, and it upset me to know that this new man in my life was a “Bible thumper.”  But I had high hopes that I would eventually get him over his “Jesus” kick….)   

Well, the joke was on me because the pastor at First Baptist happened to say just the “right” things that day, starting with this:   “Let’s suppose for a moment you died today and stood before the Lord God, and He asked you, ‘Why should I let you into My heaven?’…What would your answer be?”

Peering at Ellis, I grinned and shrugged.  Until that moment, I had never really thought about it.  God had never asked me that question, LOL!  Yes, I had had several “divine experiences” during the course of my life, and I definitely “believed” in God – but I had never heard that you could “have a personal relationship” with Him until Ellis told me.  (I had had some truly mysterious experiences in my life.  To name just a couple, I met Jesus when I was in a three-week coma just before I turned 21; and nobody was hurt when I was involved in a high speed auto accident on a freeway outside of Houston, when some pregnant woman with two kids in the car cut me off, and I broadsided her.  We should all have died that day, or at least, been seriously hurt….)   
Regardlesss, far as I knew, I would automatically end up in heaven.  After all, I was a good person who just happened to have lived through many misfortunes and been forced to endure hell on Earth.
An uneasy silence hung in the air before Pastor Wil spoke again. “Would your response be something like, ‘I am a religious person trying to live a Christian life the best I can’?” he asked.  “Or, ‘I go to church, give to the poor, help people in need, and have always tried to be a good person’?” 
“Of course that’s what I’d say,” I thought.  What else can you say when you’re standing in front of your Maker?”

But the pastor’s next comment knocked me for a loop: “If your answer to any of these questions was ‘yes’ then you’d be wrong because none of those things would get you into heaven!  The only thing that gets you into heaven is your belief on the shed blood of Jesus Christ – by your faith in Jesus Christ who was our Sin Sacrifice and died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins….”

Sin Sacrifice!  The words resounded in my mind.  Jesus was our Sin Sacrifice?  What on Earth did that mean? 
As if in answer to my question, Wil’s sermon went on to explain why and how Jesus was the divine Being sent by God to forever abolish the need for the animal sin sacrifices required of God’s people since the day Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden.  If you believed in Christ with all your heart, Wil explained (and of course, I am paraphrasing quite a bit here, but I’m doing my best to get the gist down), then you were “a brand new creature” who would be assured a place in heaven.
I couldn’t believe my ears! Here was the answer to the question I had posed once while looking at this dead Jesus hanging on a cross in a Methodist church (whose threshold I crossed ONLY to join my singles group on Sundays).  I had asked him in my mind as I stood staring at his lifeless body:  WHO are you?  And the reason I had asked that question was because he seemed to crop up all the time, when least expected.  Throughout my life I never managed to get completely away from Christians hounding me about “getting saved.”  It had been truly irritation sometimes….
But Pastor Wil’s simple explanation had explained everything for me:  Jesus was our SIN Sacrifice; THAT’s who he was!  WOW!  Why had no one ever told me this before?
As if guided by some unseen force that was telling Wil exactly what I needed to hear, he went on to explain that God, in His wisdom, grace and mercy, had provided the world an easier way to atone for sins and that was why, in the modern world, the priests and rabbis and whatnot, weren’t required to kill innocent animals anymore….
A faint memory emerged from the archives of my mind about some book I’d read, or some movie I had seen that had included the idea of the Old Testament God demanding blood sacrifices for man’s every little infraction.  One thing that had remained with me was the idea that God had killed an animal to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve who suddenly knew “shame” because of their blatant disobedience to keep away from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  I remembered thinking how awful it must have been for Adam and Eve to have an animal they had loved and named, being killed in their presence.
As disgusting as the animal sacrifice thing was to me, it made sense in a way because God Himself had provided a “covering” for us, just as He had for Adam and Eve.  Jesus, from what I had just learned, was the covering for those who actually believed in God and all those fairy tale-like stories in the Bible….They WERE just fairy tales….right?
Somehow, I found it incomprehensible that a good and perfect person like Jesus – whom I had actually had the privilege of seeing while in my coma – had died in my place.  After all, I was the one who had sinned; not him!  On the other hand, as Wil was in the process of explaining, God always demanded a perfect, blemish-free, clean sacrifice – which meant I wasn’t qualified to atone for my own sins.  Ohhh…this was just too weird.  I truly wanted to get up and dash out of there!
A thousand thoughts crashed through my mind at once.  My rapist adoptive father always proclaimed to be a Christian – so was he in heaven? (He had died a few years back, and I had always hoped he was in hell!) If he was in heaven, I didn’t want to go!   On the other hand, it wasn’t up to me who did and didn’t get to enter Heaven, was it?....
“Nobody,” Pastor Wil was saying, “is good enough to enter Heaven on their own.  Nobody.  Our works are like filthy rags to God.  He is holy; He is perfect.  Nothing imperfect can come into His presence.  That is why Jesus took the sin of the entire world upon His shoulders.  He chose to do it; He didn’t have to.  Thanks to Him, and Him only, we have a chance at eternal life. The moment He died, we were all forgiven, every one of us.  When He died, He rose again and as a result, we have the Holy Spirit to remind us to BE like Him.  All we have to do in order to ‘be saved’ is to repent and ask the Holy Spirit into our hearts, confess with our mouths that we know we are sinners, and then ask Him to guide our lives from now on.  That is what will get you into Heaven.  That is the only thing that will get you into Heaven.”
“YES!” I thought.  “YES!!!” Inside my head, something – like raising the blinds on a window, or opening a door and seeing what was on the other side – happened, and I felt strangely...liberated. I “knew” the things Pastor Wil said to be true; just like I had “known” that my foster grandmother was telling me the truth about God once, back in Germany when I was just five.  It was a feeling like the first time I figured out how to read or ride a bicycle:  I just “knew”…. (You would have had to be there to understand the picture I’m trying to paint here.)
“...He is the Potter and you are the clay,” Wil was saying.  “He loves you and desperately wants to have a relationship with you.  Realizing this, repenting, and getting down on your knees in complete surrender to your Maker is the only way you will ever be able to live your life to the full.”
My throat ached as the urge to cry became overwhelming. I knew that I knew that I knew that the things Wil was espousing were absolutely true. 
Peering over the rim of his glasses, Wil slowly scanned the congregation and said – and I couldn’t help but think he was addressing me – “Won’t you give your life to Jesus today?”
I wanted desperately to go up to the altar to publicly accept Christ, but found I just couldn’t do it.  While I felt something special had just taken place inside my soul, the fact remained I was a stranger at First Baptist; I didn’t know these people, and didn’t know how they would react if they were to discover I was now one of “them.”  Just because I now believed, I didn’t want to come across like some Bible thumper, even though I was sitting in a nest of them.  Plus, I didn’t want to make a fool out of myself by bursting into tears in front of all these strangers....
In the back of my mind I realized that the sermon had come to an end, and I suddenly felt tired and worn out.  With the apprehension gone – along with some of the resentment towards Christians, I felt good and yet guilty at the same time, knowing that somebody else had died on my behalf.  The thought was almost too much to bear. A million questions crashed through my mind, but they would have to wait until I had a chance to speak with Wil, one-on-one.
Ellis smiled and took my hand as we stood to leave.  I believe he could tell there was a change in me; that something was different! I wasn’t sure exactly what had happened, but something had changed inside my mind, my heart, my very being. It was as if a light bulb had been turned on and I could now “see” what God had been trying to tell me all my life.
I was a new person that day when I left that little white church in Seymour, Missouri.  And I now knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that meeting Ellis had been no coincidence. We were never meant to be a couple, because YHWH had other plans for me.  But it’s amazing how HE leads you to exactly where you need to be to hear that “just right” message that finally gets through all the muck of your life, so you can begin to learn about God and the Bible and accept the salvation He offers through belief in His Divine Son, Yeshua haMashiyach. 
Halleluyah!  Thank YOU, Abba, for never giving up on this unworthy woman who once was blind, but now had 20/20 vision! 
And that was only the beginning!