My life prior to trusting in Yeshua
Both my parents were Jewish, and their parents were Jewish, and so on. So I was born Jewish and raised in a Jewish home, and had a Bar Mitzvah at age thirteen. I was comfortable and confident in my identity as a conservative Jew and proud of my Jewish heritage and loving Jewish family. Although I did not attend synagogue much as an adult, I did believe that the God of Israel was God, and He alone (The Shema). After college, my primary concern was simply to pursue a career in business so that I could provide for my family. For most of my life, I felt that if I was a good person then I would go to heaven and in my estimation of myself, I was a good person. That was all the theology I felt that I needed until something very strange happened to me.
I went jogging one morning in Cherry Hill, New Jersey in 1991—I was 35 years old at the time—and I spoke these words out loud, "I will be a servant of the Lord in bringing forth the fruit of the earth." I did not know what it meant, but I felt assured indeed that the God of Israel had somehow spoken to me or through me and communicated His purpose for my life. For the first time in my life I sensed a divine purpose for my life. However, because I had not read the Bible and had been a businessman all my life, I thought in terms of business not theology. In fact, I was so business-minded that I thought that God wanted me to be in the fruit business!
Why would God want me to go into the fruit business... to bring forth the fruit of the earth? Well, I reasoned—using my business mindset—fruit is evidence that there is a Creator. It is perfectly suited for human nutrition, amazingly designed by a Designer, who is the only true God, the God of Israel. It was my goal, therefore, to glory God by distributing the highest quality fruits and vegetables nationwide, with a company I'd named, "The Fruit of the Earth." On every piece of fruit that I would distribute, I planned to have a little sticker on it that read: "This fruit is evidence that there is a God; it is perfectly made for human nutrition." I tried several business ventures involving fruit, but they never succeeded. Thankfully, the fruit that God wanted me to bring forth was not apples and oranges! God must have gotten a good laugh out of my ventures in the fruit business during those days!
Also around this same time in 1991, I, (of course it was the Spirit of the Lord who was directing me), decided—for the first time in my life—that I should start to read the Bible. No one had witnessed to me, or pressured me to buy and read the Bible. It was a sudden desire I had (again this was the Spirit of God working in my heart and mind). I promised God, the God of Israel, that I would read it cover-to-cover, every word, both Old and New Testament, no matter how long it took. So I walked into a book store in Southern New Jersey and purchased the most official, authentic looking Bible I could find. I ended up with a large print, leather bound King James Bible. I thought to myself that I had read countless magazines, newspapers, books and the like over the years, and all of that reading did not do much for me, but I had never read the Bible. So I began to read a few pages of that Bible each day on the train commute I took from my home to my store. I was working my way page-by-page through the Bible, reading through the Old Testament first.
How I came to trust in Yeshua for my salvation
In the fall of 1993 I needed a sign for one of my retail sportswear stores. So I went to a sign shop in Atlantic City, New Jersey. This sign business was owned by a gentleman named Howard Layton. When I walked into Howard's sign shop, I noticed hand-painted Scripture posters around his art studio with various verses from the Bible. Howard noticed me reading the Scripture posters and asked me if I was reading the Bible. I told him that I had just finished reading the Old Testament. Howard invited me to read portions of the New Testament with him after work. I agreed and Howard knew exactly what portions of Scripture I should read. We each had a Bible and he directed me to open to the book of John in the New Testament the third chapter. As I read John chapter three, I paused at verse six: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
I did not understand the verse and I thought deeply about its meaning. I thought about the first part of the verse, and grabbed the skin of my arm, my flesh, and understood the first part of the verse to represent my first birth, my physical birth. I did not however understand the second part of the verse. I began to think deeply and God must have opened my mind to understand that part, for suddenly I realized that just as I had experienced a physical birth in 1956 (from my mother's womb), I now was experiencing a spiritual birth. I understood and believed that Yeshua—Jesus Christ—was indeed the true Messiah, the Son of God and that He died for my sins and was raised from the dead. I was very much aware that I had just experienced a re-birth, a spiritual birth, and that this birth would never end but be eternal, all because I came to place my trust in these words in John chapter three spoken by Yeshua the Messiah. I had no doubt that these verses in the New Testament were inspired and authoritative, the very Word of God.
What my life has been like since trusting in Yeshua
After I trusted in Yeshua, I suddenly had an unquenchable desire to study the Bible, the Word of God. I'd never studied or read very much prior to my salvation in 1993, so I came to realize that this hunger to learn and to teach was a new gift from God, a spiritual gift that I had received along with the unspeakable gifts of the promise of heaven and forgiveness of my sins. During my continued reading of the New Testament, I read a verse in John 15, which astounded me: "You have not chosen me but I have chosen you and ordained you that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain."
This verse echoed the words I had spoken years earlier on that jogging track in 1991. It became clear to me that God wanted me to serve Him and His people: the fruit was not literal! I attended and completed Bible college—Philadelphia Biblical University—and went to seminary for my Master's degree in theology and biblical studies—Talbot School of Theology, Biola University—and continued to learn and grow in the Lord. I am currently pursuing Ph.D. Studies at Talbot School of Theology.
It did take a while but I finally learned that the fruit that I am to bring forth includes the personal fruit of God-honoring character and the eternal fruit of witnessing and making disciples for Yeshua. I am now bringing forth His fruit of the earth, God's beloved people, as a full-time Bible teacher in a Christian school, enjoying doing advanced research in Christian Education and Spiritual Formation and serving the Lord at Ben David Messianic Jewish Congregation. Praise God for His "Hesed,"—a rich Hebrew word that means His amazing love, kindness and grace—Amen!