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November 15th, 2011

I was at a presentation during Holocaust Education Week. This talk was dealing with Polish issues; more specifically about those people who just stood by and said nothing. It was well presented and I found it enlightening that there are, to this day, new discoveries as well as new avenues to research, but it is not about this that I write.

After the presentation they opened the floor up to questions.  Lo and behold, the first two people at the microphone, who I believe came early to get front row seats, were the same two individuals who had been at a presentation a few nights before, also dealing with Polish issues.

This evening, the hosting Rabbi asked that questions be kept to one or two sentences since we had only 15 minutes.

The first man, a child of Holocaust survivors, started by saying this was not the first presentation where the ambivalence of the speakers bothered him. He said that the suffering of his parents was the motive for his presence.

You could sense his unhappiness and desire to seek restitution; to hold someone accountable for what had happened to his parents.  In this case, the accountability lay at the doorstep of the evening’s speakers.

He directed his questions at the speakers as though they were the very perpetrators of the hideous Nazi crimes. Imagine! He was not even alive at the time of the atrocities.

After venting his feelings for a time he finally did ask a question: “What is Poland doing about it today?”  But I sensed his sole purpose for being there was to talk about himself and his issues and have someone acknowledge his case.

The second man was a much older man.  He was disdainful of the speakers’ considering themselves as experts on the topic. He was a Holocaust survivor.  He was there, in Poland.  He knew what really went on.  He was about to begin a long-winded story, as he did at the previous event, when the Rabbi stepped in and stopped him from continuing.

Both these men came to tell their story, rather that to listen to the presentation or to learn something or to even ask a question.  Just as I had witnessed night after night, I sensed a question and answer session was not going to happen here, so I got up and left.

All the time, however, I thought, “Forgiveness!  Forgiveness! Forgiveness!! That is what they need to free themselves from the bondage of their bitter thoughts.”

While driving home, I thought about my best friend’s dad. He was a great supporter of the Jewish people, the State of Israel and B’nai Brith.   I looked up to him and admired this man as a mensch (Yiddish for an upright man).

When he heard that I had come to know Jesus as my Messiah, the first and only thing he could say was, “after what they did to us in history!?” It was not about disagreeing, or what he believed in, or even what had happened to him, but “what they did to us.”

I have heard it said that the Holocaust is a central defining theme of Jewish identity today.  If that is so then it can be said that unforgiveness is the bondage of Jewish people today. For it is hard to find a Jewish person alive who is not bitter to the point of hatred over the Holocaust.

I am not trying to say that what happened was right or justifiable; it was not even explainable. “Where was God?” we ask.  But as one man put it: “where was man?”

I once had a conversation with a woman who, as a result of her experiences in the Holocaust, did not believe in God. I pointed out that it was man, not God, who did such horrific acts. She responded that it was not man, but God, who did the crimes. Her explanation?  The Bible says God created us in His image (Genesis 1:27), and so God is ultimately responsible!

As a result of my experiences at Holocaust Education Week, I now have much more insight into why we study history in an effort to change today and tomorrow. But forgiving is not forgetting, and forgiving sets you free.

When we see people as God does, and when we forgive as easily as God does, we are set free.

Yeshua said,

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Matthew 6:14-15

Contributed by Alan Friesner: a Jewish believer in Yeshua on the staff of New Covenant Forum.

Posted in Alan Friesner, Jewish Objections to Jesus, Personal Stories, This, That, The Other Thing | No Comments »

The Gospel and Anti-Semitism

November 7th, 2011

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 14:6

“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.  And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:11-12

These statements, the first spoken by Yeshua (Jesus) and the second by his disciple Simon, were both expressed to Jews.  They are very explicit statements saying that faith in Yeshua is the only way to be Jewish (or Gentile) and to have eternal life.

I recently had some passing words with James Carroll, a Roman Catholic and an author and columnest with the Boston Globe, who believes that the Jews have salvation through the covenants found in the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures).  He suggests there are other way to interpret these verses.

I would suggest that the only way to interpret these verses differently is to ignore the context in which their spoken, or to deny that these were spoken at all by Yeshua or Simon.

With regard to the latter, if you are to deny that these things were said at all, then we have to deny that we can have any point of Christian faith deriving from the Scriptures.  As for the latter, here are some things to think about:

  1. None of the covenants that God made in the Tanakh – whether with Abraham, or Israel through Moses, or King David – none of them were about salvation.  They were promises of nationhood, land, and kingship.
  2. Although there were provisions in the covenant made at Sinai dealing with personal atonement, that was not the main function of that covenant.
  3. That said, the atonement in the Sinaitic covenant is of no avail to the Jewish people today because:
    • The means provided in that covenant concerning the atoning sacrifice are no longer available.  That is, there is no temple and no altar on which to sacrifice.
    • God declared the covenant broken, and promised a new covenant to replace it (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
  4. Yeshua recognized himself as the fulfillment of the New Covenant promise (Luke 22:20).

The reason so many want to side with James Carroll regarding the viability of rabbinic Judaism is because, if you say that Jews need to believe in Yeshua in order to have eternal life, you are labeled anti-Semetic.  And, if you are a Jewish believer in Yeshua such as myself, you are often lambasted with the label Jewish self-hater.

This is incredibly unfair.  If I declare that Yeshua is the Messiah and that faith in him is the only way to have eternal life, that does not mean that I hate myself as a Jew – I don’t.  In fact, my Jewishness if far more important to me now then it was before I believed.

Furthermore, saying what I believe the Scriptures clearly claims to be true, both in the Tanakh and the B’rit Hadashah (New Testament) is not anti-Semitism.  Anti-Semitism is when I treat a Jewish person differently or with disrespect because they won’t believe.

To be sure, the church has been guilty of such disrespect and anti-Semitism is still a problematic issue in the church.  These can be attributed to two factors: 1) not all who say they are Christians actually have a right relationship with God in Messiah Yeshua, and 2) there is ignorance of the teachings of Scripture and of Yeshua.

The faithlessness or ignorance of people who have done hateful things in the name of Messiah, however, does not detract from the truths about him found in the Scriptures.  Yeshua is the Messiah of Israel.  He is the one promised by Moses and the Prophets.  He is the means of eternal life.

Read the Scriptures and find out for yourself.  Contact us and we would be happy to send a copy to you, or to answer any questions you might have.

“Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope.   For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.  But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
John 5:45-47

Contributed by Daniel Muller, General Director of New Covenant Forum.

Posted in Atonement, Biblical Interpretation, Daniel Muller, Evangelism, Following God, Jesus and Israel, Jesus and Jews, Jewish Identity, Jews and Christianity, Jews and Jesus, Messiah, Messiah in the Tanach, New Covenant, Personal Stories, Salvation, The Bible, Things Doctrinal and Theological | No Comments »

The Holocaust: Where Was God? Part 2

November 7th, 2011


If you have not read PART 1 of this series you might want to do so.

Zion stretches out her hands,
but there is none to comfort her;
the LORD has commanded against Jacob
that his neighbors should be his foes;
Jerusalem has become
a filthy thing among them.
“The LORD is in the right,
for I have rebelled against his word;
but hear, all you peoples,
and see my suffering;
my young women and my young men
have gone into captivity.
Lamentations 1:17-18

At this same Holocaust event, the rabbi who introduced the speaker talked about how the purpose of the Jewish people was to help make the world perfect.  My knee-jerk response went unexpressed: “Yeah?  How’s that going?”

The idea that, by following the law, we would help the world to become perfect was shown flawed right from the time that Israel made the golden calf at the foot of Mount Sinai (Exodus 32).  It was a flaw in our understanding, not God’s, for God knew we would fail as a nation (e.g. Deuteronomy 31:16-18 among many others).  In fact, the Israelites were not to follow the law in order to perfect the world, but in order to glorify the God who gave the law to them.

I am told that Eli Weisel was once asked about where God was in the midst of the Holocaust and he responded with something to this effect: that the question isn’t, “where was God?”  Rather, the question is, “where was man?”

If the Holocaust points to anything, it points to the fact that, despite the assertions of humanists, man’s capability to do evil is great.  And if the Tanakh (the Hebrew Scriptures) points to anything, it points to the fact that man’s predilection to do evil is also great; this being true for Jews, as well as for Gentiles.

Despite their special relationship with God; despite their witnessing of his might in Egypt and elsewhere; despite their having been given the Law that showed them the way to behave in order to have God present with them; despite His very presence in their midst, the nation of Israel proved that the Law could not save or lead the people to righteousness.

Jeremiah, like the other prophets in the Tanakh, rightly points out that the destruction of the Northern and Southern kingdoms of Israel were the result of their infidelity to the Lord.  It was painful to be sure, it was tragic, but it was an inevitable result arising from God’s character as a righteous judge.

The point I’m trying to make is that we humans are ultimately not capable of being a perfecting force for the world; and a Jew is no more capable of being so than any other.  “We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)”

That being said, it is hard to imagine what other expectation there can be than the evil that we see in the world, even the evil of the genocide of the Holocaust, or of those we saw in Rwanda and Serbia, or, may I say, the sad persecution of Jewish believers in Jesus in the modern State of Israel.  All point to the fact that, in a world that rejects God and His plans for us, we can expect the worst that humanity has to offer.

Where was God during the Holocaust?  He was weeping at the iniquity of us all, which could bring such evil things to pass.

How could God allow the Holocaust?  He permits the consequences of our rejection of Him, both by Jew and by Gentile, to be executed.  We are given the choice to follow God or not to do so, but in order to have such free will, we must also be allowed to taste the consequences of our actions.

Jeremiah recognized this principle.  Why can’t we?

If you are a Jew who doesn’t believe in God, might I suggest that you examine your own life in light of His expectations?  Might it not be that, like myself and everyone else, you are part of the problem with the evil in this world?

There are many people who think they are ok people, because they are “basically” good people.  God says otherwise.

I have said somewhere before that God expects perfection from us, but he doesn’t anticipate it.  Still, our transgressions separate us from God leading to spiritual death (Isaiah 59:2; Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 6:23).  Even our best deeds are insufficient to make us right before God (Isaiah 64:6).  Ultimately we are all transgressors against God and deserve death (Genesis 8:21; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23).

But God is a merciful and gracious God.  That is why he sent a Messiah (a Saviour), Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ), to be an atonement for sin.  Yeshua was God’s self-sacrifice; His asham (guilt offering) on our behalf.

Accepting this sacrifice makes us right with God – not perfect, but right.  This is how we become one of God’s children.  The world will always have evil in it until Messiah returns to bring judgment to all things and the olam habah (world peace).  Till then, we can have peace with God in our heart through our Messiah, Yeshua.

If you would like to know more about that forgiveness and peace, then please contact us.

Contributed by Daniel Muller, General Director of New Covenant Forum.

Posted in Atonement, Daniel Muller, Following God, Israel, Jesus and Jews, Jewish Objections to Jesus, Jews and Christianity, Jews and Jesus, Knowing God, Messiah, Messiah in the Tanach, Personal Stories, Salvation, The Bible | No Comments »

The Holocaust: Where Was God? Part 1

November 5th, 2011


This week is Holocaust Education Week* here in Toronto.  I went to one event where a Holocaust survivor was sharing his sad yet touching story of survival.

The gentleman was there with his family, including an infant great-grandchild whom he was holding in his lap before and after speaking.  He was a very gentle man, with a good sense of humour.

He made it very clear how atrocious the Nazis were; how evil and ruthless were the things that they did.  There was no question in the minds of anyone there, including our speaker, that what went on during those dark years in Europe was evil.

At one point, we had the privilege of seeing a video clip of his story, and in it he declared that he did not believe in God.  I found that very sad.  Interestingly, later on in that same clip, he made a declaration about something and swore to God that it was the truth.  It got me thinking.

This man could not live in accordance to what he claimed to believe.  If he did, if he truly believed there was no God, he could not then maintain any moral judgment against the actions of the Nazis.

I say this because, if God is not real, then there is no basis on which we can make moral judgments.  The truth of the matter is that, according to Nazi ‘docrine,’ the torture and killing of the Jewish, Roma, Slavic, disabled and homosexual people were morally acceptable actions.  If there is no God, on what basis do we maintain that they were wrong and that these acts were heinous?

If you are going to say that one can judge something as morally wrong, then there must be some absolute morality from which to draw that conclusion.  If there is absolute morality, then there must be an author to that morality – there must be God.

If there is no God, then we can judge nothing and no one.  We can only give our subjective opinion, and give recognition that we might be wrong.  Can anyone in their right mind say that the Holocaust wasn’t wrong?

The holocaust survivor to whom I listened is mistaken, I think, if he says he believes in no God.  He might deny God, but deep in his heart he knows there is God, because he lives according to that premise.  Many survivors came out of the Holocaust denying God, yet they continue to make moral judgments that point to the absolute truth of God.

The prophet Jeremiah witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and the destruction of the First Temple during the Babylonian conquest in 586 B.C.E.  If you read his Book of Lamentations, you will read about horrors reminiscent of the Holocaust.

Jeremiah knew that what the Babylonians had done, and the way they had done it, was wrong.  But he never gave up hope in God.  Quite the opposite, in fact:

Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
Lamentations 3:19-24

Instead of giving up on God, why not know Him better?  Contact us and let us help you do that.

*The Holocaust Education Week (Nov. 1-9, 2011) is sponsored by the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre of the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, and there are a series of events all over the Greater Toronto Area.  The last of these events occur on Wednesday, November 9.  For more information about the events click here.

Contributed by Daniel Muller, General Director of New Covenant Forum.

You can now go to PART 2 of this series.

Posted in Daniel Muller, Following God, Knowing God, Personal Stories, The Bible, This, That, The Other Thing | No Comments »

Making Sense of Birds

October 31st, 2011

I was travelling home last night.  My wife was driving and so I had leisure to look around me: at the waning colours of autumn, the picturesque farmland that we were passing and so on.  I looked up and noticed some geese flying in formation.

It suddenly struck me.  Why are there birds?  Certainly, life did not start in the air, flying about.

The Darwinian answer, of course, is that they evolved.  Take some specie or other, presumably a reptile one, which develops vestigial type wings; add the laws of natural selection, over  tens or hundreds of thousands of years, and many incremental mutations – and voila!  Bird!  Simple, isn’t it?

Just one question:  at what point do vestigial wings become evolutionarily beneficial?

Presumably, these proto-creatures were eating food on the ground as always. What “evolutionary” pressure could there be to make vestigial appendages useful enough to be favourable for natural selecion?

Listen, I’m no scientist I admit.  But the idea that a land animal ever came to “evolve” into a flying animal seems extremely far-fetched and unnecessary.

The fact that anything came into existence by chance is, to my mind, far-fetched.  If you are an evolutionist and you are reading this, I would love to hear an explanation that makes sense.

To me, this makes sense:

“So God created … every winged bird according to its kind.”
(Genesis 1:21)

This is a simple explanation, and perfectly reasonable if you accept a God who created.  I see no reason not to believe in such a God.  In fact, I see a number of reasons to believe:

  1. The unlikeliness of the first scenario above, for one.  (Downright fanciful if you ask me.)
  2. The simplicity of the second scenario for another (a thumbs up for the Ockham’s Razor principle).
  3. The clockwork precision of the universe and our own world’s bio system (and clocks are created, not evolved, into being).
  4. My own personal experience with the living God.  This is a purely subjective argument, I know, but I am happy to share with anyone who asks the nature of that experience (647-439-2936).
  5. The fact that, regardless of their own experiences, I share a common understanding of this eternal God with all those who have put their faith in Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ); and that this common understanding includes but also transcends intellectual understanding.

God creating is a simple explanation that makes sense.

Chance creating is a complex explanation that doesn’t.

As always, I am happy to hear from those who disagree.  Just comment on this article.  Or contact us, whether you want to disagree or you want to know more about our Creator God.

Contributed by Daniel Muller, General Director of New Covenant Forum.

Posted in Daniel Muller, Knowing God, Personal Stories, This, That, The Other Thing | No Comments »

God’s Love is the Standard

October 27th, 2011

I must say, I have never been very good at anything.  I play bass guitar, but I wouldn’t say I do it really well.  I write, but not particularly well.  I am a  husband and a father, but I could certainly be better at both.  I am a pastor and a missionary, but I can’t say I’m stellar at either.

It’s not that I don’t want to be better at these things – I do.  I can certainly make all kinds of excuses: the lack of time to practise, the busyness of life that prevents me from being focused, or the distractions of things that keep me from being “on the ball.”

There may be elements of truth in all these things, but when I come right down to it I have to face the fact that I do not live up to the standards I have set for myself.  Maybe I’m over-reaching, but there you have it – I have fallen short of my expectations.

What about God’s expectations?  Are they not higher?  Consider the words of Ezekiel: “The soul who sins shall die. (Ezekiel 18:4)”  Who hasn’t sinned against God?  Or consider Isaiah’s words: “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment (Isaiah 64:6)”  If even our best deeds do not stand up to the Lord’s inspection, how can we?

Yeshua said, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)”

The truth is that, as the Apostle Paul wrote, we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  How then can we expect to enter the Kingdom of God?

“Thanks be to God through Yeshua haMashiach [Jesus Christ], our Lord! (Romans 7:25)”

The fact that God expects us to be perfect, doesn’t mean that God anticipates us being perfect.  He knows our inability to bring ourselves to His standard.

That is why he has provided a means of atonement.  In the days of the Israelites in the Land, he gave a means of atonement through the sacrificial system. These days, however, he has given us a greater atoning sacrifice: Himself.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)”

That is God’s standard, to believe in Yeshua (Jesus) who is God in the flesh.  This should not be a surprise – God promised it in Isaiah 53 to bring about the new covenant promised in Jeremiah 31:31-34.  God’s love is the standard by which we enter His Kingdom.

Want to follow God by His standard.  Then check it out in the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures) and the B’rit Hadashah (New Testament).  We’d be glad to help you with any questions you might have if you contact us.

The Kingdom of God is at hand!

Contributed by Daniel Muller, General Director of New Covenant Forum.

Posted in Atonement, Daniel Muller, Following God, Knowing God, Messiah, Messiah in the Tanach, Personal Stories, Salvation | 1 Comment »

A Question of Integrity: an Interlude at Snowden Station

October 18th, 2011

A number of years ago, I was leading a team of evangelists outside of Snowden Station in Montreal, where a number of the Jewish community lives.  We were trying to engage people in conversation about Yeshua (Jesus) and offering them some materials about him.

After a time, I looked across the street and noticed that there were some people from Jews for Judaism surrounding one of my helpers.

Jews for Judaism is an organization dedicated to preventing the message that Yeshua is the Messiah from reaching the ears of the Jewish community.  In this case, they were trying to keep us from speaking to individual Jewish people, and tried to take our literature out of their hands and put their own literature in its place.

I decided to cross the street to help my friend.  When I reached her, she was in tears.  She had been having a conversation with a Jewish lady who came from Russia, when a couple of Jews for Judaism people interrupted their conversation preventing my friend from speaking.  They were speaking to this lady, even as my friend was lamenting the situation.

I comforted my friend with the fact that the Russian lady still had the information she had given her, along with whatever information she gleaned from their conversation.  I reminded my friend that no one can turn off what the Holy Spirit of God has turned on.

Not long afterwards, I had an opportunity to speak with the same lady, and I was glad to see that, along with the materials that Jews for Judaism had given her, she still had our information.  She told me she was open-minded and not easily swayed, either by us or by them.

This was the gist of my response:

“Look, you have their information and you have ours.  I’m not asking you to take my word for what we believe, I only ask that you check it out for yourself.  Read our material and read their material. More importantly, read the Scriptures to determine who is accurately representing it.

“Then all I ask is that you pray and ask God to show you His truth – not my truth nor the rabbis’ truth but God’s truth.  I can’t ask any fairer than that.”

It’s interesting to me that when you talk to those arrayed against us, like Jews for Judaism, they will tell you not to read, not to speak, not to consider – basically, not to think.

We don’t ask you to put your mind on a shelf.  We don’t ask you not to read the materials that Jews for Judaism puts out.  We don’t ask you not to talk to your rabbi about it.

What we do ask is that you simply consider the message of the Gospel – that Yeshua is the Messiah of Israel promised by Moses and the prophets – and check the truth out for yourself.  Read the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures).  If you’re willing, read the B’rit Hadashah (New Testament).  Consider for yourself, and then ask God to reveal the truth.

What can be a more reasonable than that?

Contact us, will you, and let us help you to hear the message.  We would be happy to give you the Sciptures, old or new (or both).  We would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

We are happy to help in your search, but in the end we will leave you to do with the information what you will.

 Contributed by Daniel Muller, General Director of New Covenant Forum.

Posted in Daniel Muller, Evangelism, Jesus and Jews, Jews and Jesus, Messiah, Personal Stories, The Bible, This, That, The Other Thing | No Comments »

Anecdote from the 2011 Walk With Israel

September 26th, 2011

On May 29th I had the great pleasure of walking in solidarity with my fellow Jews in support of Israel.  I was walking with my wife Esther and others, wearing T-shirts with “Jesus Loves You” written inside a large Star of David.

During the walk, I had the opportunity of a long conversation with a young man, which started when he asked “How do I know Jesus loves me?”  He was Jewish, did not go to synagogue, and did not believe in religion or God.

His next question was why did he need any one to make the rules for him?  He was a good person, even if he sometimes made mistakes?  He felt it was enough to do the right thing most of the time.  This is a very common belief among many people today, not just Jews.

I told him that, once upon a time, I used to think like him (a response I used often during our conversation).  I too once felt that I lived up to the rules and mores of society – since I made them up for myself.  From time to time I even changed the rules, so I could still be within them.

This is the platform from which we began our debate, all the time walking. I asked him where he got the parameters for his morals? I also asked, since he lived in society and had to follow laws, where he thought those laws came from?  Why did he not just do whatever he wanted?

I went on to point out that much of civil law is based on the biblical law. I found him very receptive and sincere in his questions while all the time trying to work out some flaw in my argument, but he always seemed to back himself into a corner.

We were walking at a good pace, all the time talking, and I was beginning to get short of breath. I knew that the Lord was with me when he asked if we could stop and get water. Boy did I need a drink at that time!

He then wanted to know how a mere man (meaning Jesus) could be “right” and “the one”.  As I shared with Him about the gift of salvation Yeshua (Jesus) brought and the Ruakh HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) that dwells within us when we put our faith in Him; as I showed how these things were pictured in the Tanakh (the Hebrew Scriptures), I saw a change in the young mans countenance – one of understanding.

I went on to share with him how Yeshua changed my life.  The joy I feel in walking with God and knowing that the principles I was following were not just “made up.”

I challenged this young man to read the Bible.  I asked him to take a moment and go to the New Covenant Forum web site and read some of the stories I had posted. I parted with him feeling I had delivered a message to him from the Lord at a time he needed to hear it.

Two of his friends he had been walking with caught up with us and asked what we had been talking about?  And I responded “I gave him a free express ticket to heaven!”  I pray he uses that ticket.

“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:7)”

Contributed by Alan Friesner: a Jewish believer in Yeshua on the staff of New Covenant Forum.

Posted in Alan Friesner, Evangelism, Following God, Jesus and Jews, Jewish Identity, Jewish Objections to Jesus, Knowing God, Personal Stories, The Bible, This, That, The Other Thing | No Comments »

Call to Me!

May 18th, 2011

“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”
Jeremiah 33:3

This verse of Scripture had a profound impact on my early walk with God. 

First of all, if God will answer me, it means He can hear me.  This made God very real and approachable to me.  I can have a conversation with Him.  I can ask questions and He will answer.

Secondly, He is asking me to call on Him and to look to Him for answers.  This is an outright invitation to engage in a relationship with Him.  To me the way one calls on God is to pray to Him.

Last, but not least, this verse says my prayers will be answered and He will reveal to me things that I do not know.  That’s very exciting!

This image of God makes it very easy to see Him as a Father.  He is someone you can look up to and to whom you can go for answers.

God wants us to come to Him with the things we do not know; to seek Him in prayer when we need answers.  He promises to reveal the answers to us. 

How often do we try to figure things out on our own, believing we know better?  We only turn to the instructions as a last resort.  Usually this is after we have exhausted all other means and ways. 

Why not ask the question first?  It is so simple: stop and think, pray and wait, expecting an answer.

Do you have unanswered questions about the Messiah?  Have you ever thought about asking God?  When you pray, do you have an expectation of an answer? 

If you are reading this, I would suggest that you are being led to investigate the claims of the Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus).  Do you have unanswered questions about Him?  Have you ever prayed to God to reveal to you His truth about Yeshua?

We here at New Covenant Forum would like to hear from you with this or any other questions you might have about Yeshua or the Holy Scriptures.

All you need to do is contact us.

Contributed by Alan Friesner: a Jewish believer in Yeshua, a business man, a volunteer for the work of New Covenant Forum and a great story-teller.

Posted in Alan Friesner, Knowing God, Personal Stories, This, That, The Other Thing | No Comments »

Another Moral Dilemma

March 23rd, 2011

Not long after coming to know Yeshua as my Messiah I traveled to Israel.  I am not sure what I was seeking, but I was seeking.

I was fortunate enough to be the guest of a family who had moved there just a few years before.  The son had worked for me in my bicycle store and had since went on to be “religious;” a follower of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov.  He had attended yeshiva and immigrated to Israel.

I rented a car while there, and we traveled to the four corners of Israel.  We traveled from the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea; from the Golan Heights to Eilat on the Red Sea.  I saw and did many things.

The story I want to share with you occurred on our way to Eilat to snorkel in the Red Sea.  This was towards the end of my trip and one of our longer drives.

We had been driving most of the day and were about an hour out of Eilat when it happened. It was late, we were tired and I pulled over in the middle of nowhere in the desert so my friend and I could relieve ourselves. Upon returning to the car I realized that I had locked the keys in the car with the engine running.

We were hundreds of kilometres from Tel Aviv where I had rented the car and I assumed that we could get help from the rental company.  There had been nothing for many  kilometres and I had no idea how far it was to anything.  My friend said, “God is testing us, to see what we will do.”

I  then realised that we were opposite an army base. I thought help was not far away.  The soldier we talked to said there was not much they could do; they could not leave the base. He offered us use of a phone and phonebook and so my friend spoke to a locksmith in Eilat who said, “just break the window.  It will cost less than my time to travel out there and open the door.”  We had now ascertained that we were about 120 kilometers from Eilat.

The car was a hatchback and the smallest window was a triangular one behind the door. My friend went about trying to pry it out.  I remembered how expensive the moulding can be –  more so than the glass itself – but it was too late.  He had already torn the rubber moulding.

I looked down and saw a suitable piece of iron rod in the ditch. One good blow and the problem was over, we were in the car and on our way to Eilat.  I should say the problem had just begun, since we still needed to get the window fixed.

Upon arrival we checked into a hotel.  Since the car was a hatchback, there was no trunk, nor any way to lock our stuff up, so we had to unload it all.  

We then found an auto glass place.  The man there said that original glass would be expensive and days coming from the dealer in Tel Aviv.  The moulding would be even more difficult to get and would take even longer, but he could get aftermarket glass tomorrow and “silicone glue it in” so that the rental company would not know.  After much diliberation I made the choice and agreed to return the following afternoon. I recall $150.00 dollars as the cost.

A dilemma ensued as my friend and I engaged in a moral discussion of right and wrong.  A moral debate began between the “Orthodox Jew” and the “man of the world,” as he saw me, since he did not know I had come to know Yeshua as my Messiah.

I was not concerned that the rental company would be a problem.  I’m the handyman sort, and I knew the repairs would go unnoticed.

For me it was about doing the right thing: not causing any additional damage to the car.  I was sure the rental company would charge good for all original parts and labour. Under my  insurance contract, I would be responsible for a maximum of $500.00.

The real issue was about living truthfully, doing right by God and being a good witness of godly conduct to my friend. It was not about what was best for me.  Then again I guess it was about what was best for me: for my conscience, for my soul, and for my eternity.

So first thing in the morning I called the repair shop and cancelled. I then proceeded to the rental company and told them what had happened.

They said I should have called them; that they would have come and opened the car.  It was included in my rental, even in the middle of the desert.

They took the dirty broken car and exchanged it for a clean fresh one. We continued with our trip with little interruption and went back to Jerusalem that afternoon. My friend commented that I was different.

When I turned in the car they said they did not know how much the repairs would be and that they would bill me. I left Israel in peace knowing I had done the right thing. When I got the credit card bill 6 weeks later I had been charged $67.00 for the repair.

I knew I was different and had changed; and I continue to change, all in the name of Yeshua my Messiah.

Contributed by Alan Friesner: a Jewish believer in Yeshua, a business man, a volunteer for the work of New Covenant Forum and a great story-teller.

Posted in Alan Friesner, Following God, Israel, Jesus and Jews, Jewish Identity, Jews and Jesus, Knowing God, Personal Stories, This, That, The Other Thing | No Comments »

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