So, I have been ‘declaring’ the good news of Messiah for forty-three years now. I can honestly say that I cannot count how many Messiah has revealed Himself to through my efforts. Please understand, I boast in Messiah Yeshua, who uses me in spite of myself. I did ‘sleep’ a bit, as I have put it, during my high school and early adult life, until I was at sea on a submarine, cut off from the world, and cut off by a girl friend, and also cut off by my nearest friend at that moment, who thought his wife and I were developing intimate feelings for one another, though each of us viewed the other as a sibling. Because she mentioned me in their ‘family grams’, radioed messages from home to the submarine, he resented me. He took his vengeance a few months later, shortly after we returned to port. [I wrote a related episode you can read here: He did it for good! ] But, before that episode, he ‘tested’ us to see if we would cheat. It almost seems that when we did not, he got more angry. But, I digress.
Yokhanan HaYakhid, Yeshua’s ‘best friend,’ one might say ‘bosom buddy’, has always been my ‘favorite’ Shali’akh [apostle]. While I came back to obedience through the writing of the Shali’akh Matti, by reading Yeshua’s first ‘drash’ in his account [Matti 5-7], Yokhanan’s account of Yeshua’s life appealed to me more, which I read a mere few days after Matti’s account ‘turned me around.’ As I said, I was at sea on a submarine. The girl I had been dating, for whom I’d just bought a necklace, had stood me up for the date where I was going to present her that gift, just before I went to sea. Shortly after going to sea, my friend began to shun me. Deeper into that patrol, I was not hearing from my family, not receiving any of my ‘family grams’. This was the longest patrol of my career, and I did not like the Navy anyway. I did NOT mind being on the submarine; I quite liked it. But, the morale on our boat was very low, as we had a tyrant for a captain. But, I was always ‘blessed’, and seemed to be supernaturally protected from his tyranny. But, nonetheless, I was distraught and dissatisfied with my life. My grandmother, who I later learned was Jewish, had given me a bible when I was fourteen years old. I had taken it with me on each of my three patrols on the boat. But I had not once, to my recollection, picked it up and read it, until that night. I have the journals from my patrols, and the ‘tone’ of my writing shifted drastically from before my encounter with Yeshua and directly thereafter. Before that night, I had written, “I still cannot reason why more of us are not conscious of the need of being good to one another. Being good to one another is being good for one another [yes, I did italicize in cursive]. I am certain we would all be healthier and happier. This [inability of man to be kind to his neighbor] is no cause to hide from society, but it is perfect cause for being cautious in our association with others; after all, the lamb has yet to lie with the lion.” Little did I realize that the lion I need to lie with was about to visit me! And that I would then ‘see’ His deep affection for His friends in Yokhanan 13, at the Pesakh Seder that was His last meal. And in the reading of that, I learned what a true friend is, and realized I had one on the boat, and it was not the ‘buddy’ who had silenced our friendship over suspicions, suspicions I now realize were birthed of the adversary. That friend was a young man from Massachusetts. I had written of him after the ‘turn of events’ with Messiah: “Dennis and I are starting to get along quite well. He is trusting me with personal experiences from his past which are normally not discussed, and I the same with him. I really admire this young man. He has the mettle to adhere to the moral discipline that his parents wished him to practice. He never says anything that is unkind, even to people that are not deserving of such treatment. He is confident in himself, but not to the point that he is haughty. His only problem is that the guys in his division are envious of his intelligence, so they treat him like Cinderella. [very direct comments and names of his persecutors are left out] I am rueful of his situation; it is extremely unjust.” As I write, I fondly remember my last visit with Dennis in Mass just last September, and our latest conversation just weeks ago. It has been a thirty-three year friendship, and Abba has seen fit to cause two of my jobs to send me to his state many times over the years so that we could visit. I was contemplating friendship in my journal at that point, because of the shutdown from the other friend. And then, while mourning that and the girlfriend, and the lack of communication [I love to communicate] from home, I picked up that bible. I said a prayer I will never forget. “Father; I want to know what Yeshua [I still called him by His English name then] would say to me if he were standing here.” My eyes were closed, but I ‘saw’ Yeshua standing next to the top bunk in which I lay, in bunk room five on the U.S.S. Ohio. I opened my Bible and my eyes, and I turned somehow to Matti chapter five and read what most call the ‘beatitudes’, and the following two chapters. I ‘saw’ for the first time, having heard those scriptures all my life, that Yeshua was not describing different groups of people, but ONE person: a true believer. I realized that the qualities He attributed to the “Happy” man were not in me, and this was why I was not happy. I vowed that night to pursue those qualities.
3“Happy are the poor in spirit, for theirs is Malkhut HaShamayim. 4Happy are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5Happy are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6Happy are those who hunger and thirst for tzedaka, for they shall be well satisfied. 7Happy are the merciful, for to them shall be mercy. 8Happy are those who are pure in their hearts, for they shall see Elohim. 9Happy are those who make shalom, for they shall be called sons of Elohim. 10Happy are those who are persecuted for the sake of tzedaka, for theirs is Malkhut HaShamayim.” 11“Happy are you, when they reproach you and persecute you, and speak against you every kind of bad word, falsely, for my sake, 12then, be glad and rejoice, for your reward is increased in heaven; for in this very manner they persecuted the Nevi’im who were before you.”
I was a bit of a money-grubber, even writing in my journal my financial goals; I did not ‘mourn’ for the right reasons [over unrighteousness, though I had rejoiced in Dennis’ righteousness], I was certainly not meek, I had not hungered or thirsted for righteousness [looking back, I was ‘starved’ for it, but did not realize it]; I was not merciful, having just sucker-punched a guy for a very minor infraction against me; I was not pure in heart, nor one who made shalom, nor was I ever, during my navy tenure up to that point, persecuted for Messiah’s sake [not until shortly after that night!]. In short, I realized my confession of Yeshua was not producing any fruit whatsoever.
This was nearly 33 years ago. Shortly after reading that passage, five of my sailor friends trapped me in that same bunk room and asked, “What gives? What happened to you? Why are you all of a sudden so happy, so kind?” One of them was a cook, whose girl I had stolen from him a year before. One was a sonar tech, a professed atheist, whom I actually liked. Another was a missile tech, a bit of a comedian. Memory fails as to who the other two were, and I did not write about them. But, my point is that a mere few days after Yeshua showed me the ‘goal’ of my life [Rom 10:4, Phil 3:14], the very PURPOSE for my life [which I had questioned in my journal], I was ‘declaring’ the death, burial, and resurrection of Yeshua, the Son of God, and His free gift of salvation by trust in that event that is a most foundational, historical FACT.
I brought up Yokhanan earlier, because after these events, which were so ‘monumental’ in my life [I still remember most of the details, without having to resort to my journal], I was indeed ‘tested’, ‘proven’ by Messiah as to whether my ’emunah’, my ‘trusting, absolute, firm faith’] was real, whether the soil of my heart was good soil [the parable which I discussed with the atheist friend, whose name was “Chris”; isn’t that rich, an atheist named after “Messiah” 😉 ]. That first test was the meat of the story linked earlier. Those times of testing STILL come! Most recently, I have been hearing complete misrepresentations of me, by people who are supposed to be righteous. I did not willingly leave, but was forced out. We did not one time ever ‘take’ from our former ministry. I begged for a meeting, and did not refuse to go to one. I never once even hinted at threatening a woman and a child in email, a child for whom I only cared and prayed and blessed and doted over since shortly after her birth. Yet several ‘elders’ are spreading that doozie. And worse. But, every time a trial comes, I am COMPELLED from within to SHOUT the “B’sorah”, the GOOD NEWS of Messiah Yeshua, to anyone who would but ‘hear’. To rescue anyone who belongs to the adversary and sin, and bring them into the Shalom of Messiah Yeshua.
That is our purpose. Those of us who trust in the blood that Yeshua shed on the tree, to SAVE us from OUR sins, are to DECLARE that GIFT to those whom Abba brings into our lives; that is our purpose in this life. Like Yokhanan HaMatbil, we are in a wilderness of bad doctrine, of deceit, of fake people, “P’rushim” [dividers who follow religious pride and not Messiah], and we are to SHOUT out the truth of The Lamb, “HaSeh”, to all, regardless if they respond or not.
This morning, before setting out to write this, I read Tehillah 68.
12Adonai gives the word; those who declare the good news are a great army.
And a few verses later, which is interpreted by Sha’ul to be about Yeshua:
19You have ascended on high, You have recaptured the captives; You have taken gifts to mankind. And even among the rebellious, Yah, Elohim, is to dwell. 20Blessed is Adonai, day by day He bears our burden, even the Elohim who is our Salvation. Selah. ….. 36Awesome is Elohim out of your Mikdashim [sanctuaries]; the Elohim of Yisra’el, He gives strength and power unto the people; blessed is Elohim.
I hope someone is inspired to DECLARE GOOD NEWS! Too many these days are distracted by Torah, and not practicing the ‘spirit’ of the Torah, which is the declaration of SALVATION in Yeshua! When Yisra’el came up out of Yam Suf, Moshe sang,
2Yah is my strength and my song, and He is become my Yeshua[h]; this is my Elohim, and I will glorify Him; my father’s Elohim, and I will exalt Him. 3 יהוה is a man of war, יהוה is His Name. 4Paroh’s chariots and his army has He cast into the sea, and his chosen captains are sunk in Yam Suf.
Paroh’s army is out for death. The great army that declares good news is out to give LIFE! ETERNAL life! Yeshua’s very name means ‘SALVATION’. He SAVES us from our sins! The Torah is indeed the ‘target’ for our lives, His perfection, but it is NOT gained by OUR POWER, but HIS. And if it is bereft of the DECLARATION OF HIS SALVATION, then it is just noise. Jews keep His Torah, and in many ways they do a better job than Messianic people. But they have MISSED THE MARK! And so do many who ‘think’ they follow Torah. They have stopped ‘declaring’ SALVATION. All they talk about is the works of the Torah, and not the GIFT. And therefore they do not declare Yeshua. So few actually receive SALVATION by that, and many actually become twice a son of Gehinom by their teaching. They do NOT understand the compassion of Elohim, and His ABUNDANT patience with us. So they ‘bite and devour one another.’
If I have seen anything afresh these days, it is the SALVATION of יהוה … That His compassion is bigger than people’s condemnation, judgment, betrayal, and lies. That one of the greatest proofs of “Emunah” is the WILLINGNESS to declare SALVATION to a dark world, in spite of our suffering in the doing of it. And to come along side brothers to HELP them in their weakness and trials, and not to kick them, talk about them, judge them, and abuse them. I take my own advice from thirty three years ago, or as one friend puts it, ‘eat my own dogfood’: “This [inability of man to be kind to his neighbor] is no cause to hide from society, but it is perfect cause for being cautious in our association with others; after all, the lamb has yet to lie with the lion.”
Our little congregation’s message this week was very, very powerful and practicable, and is already changing lives. I hope that this missive on the heels of that will help someone come out of their shell and be VALIANT in the declaration of Yeshua, the Son of G-d. That is indeed the very thrust of my life and motivation. And I give ALL PRAISE to Him for what great things He has done. And look forward with HOPE for the things HE IS STILL DOING, because of absolute trust in the blood of His Son, and in His resurrection from the dead.