The Leftovers – Part 3

Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. Jesus saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn, He went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw Him walking on the lake, they thought He was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw Him and were terrified.

Mark 6:47-49

Basically the disciples are freaking out in the storm. I don’t know how to put it any other way – they were freaking out. The storm was more than they could handle. Sometimes I have the same feeling, but to tell you the truth, I am not afraid anymore.

I was looking for some information on hell – why not – and I stumbled upon the concept of the afterlife from the Jewish perspective. I am still planning on writing about that, but something struck me. For Jewish people, this life is more important than the next. Heaven and Hell are not mentioned specifically in the Five Books of Moses (The Torah), but only in the books of the Prophets, the Writings, and the Talmud.

Why is the afterlife absent form the Torah if it is such a crucial part of Jewish philosophy? Heaven is not discussed in the Torah to emphasize that Jews do what’s right because it’s right. As simple as that.

We are not meant to dwell on the reward and punishment that awaits us in the next world. I can be a “righteous” person my whole life, do every single commandment, stop hunger, bring about world peace, save the ozone and cure all diseases. I can go to church every single Sunday, pray in the name of Jesus, and give my money to the poor – but if I did it all for a reward in the next world – I have lived a selfish life.

A story is told of a Jew who gave away his portion in the World to Come in order to rescue a kidnapped family being held for ransom. When asked why he was not sad over losing his place in Heaven, he responded, “I was always concerned that I was serving God for the wrong reasons. Now that I don’t have a portion in the World to Come I can serve Him reassured that I am doing it purely out of love and devotion.”

This is true service of God. God will judge our actions as well as our motives.

Even from the Muslim perspective, I found a poem from a Sufi poet. My Christian friends: You should know Sufi Muslims are the Charismatic Muslims. They are the Mystical Muslims. I met a Sufi Muslim in Delhi, and we had a wonderful conversation, I will write about that too – as God allows me. Sufis do not constitute a separate sect of Islam (as do, for example, the Shi’ites), but can be found within both the Sunni and Shi’a sects. All Sufis stress the supreme importance of religious experience, and distinguish themselves among other Muslims by their insistence that experience of God can be achieved in this life.

O my Lord, if I worship you

by Sufi Rabi’a Al-‘Adawiyya

O my Lord,

if I worship You
from fear of hell, burn me in hell.

If I worship You
from hope of Paradise, bar me from its gates.

But if I worship You
for Yourself alone, grant me then the beauty of your Face.

I think that the more I see the world, the more I want to follow Jesus. And don’t misunderstand what I mean by that. Does that mean I believe Jesus is God? Or that He died for my sins? Or that He was crucified? I don’t have the answer to those questions as of now. But I will continue to hold on to His teachings. It’s like a marriage, you know. If Jesus is indeed who the Bible portrays Him to be, I have been betrothed. I am a Bride waiting for my Bridegroom. Would I dump my husband because He is not coming back just yet? Would you dump your wife just because someone told you they saw her with another man? Would I get a formal divorce because I heard rumors of my Bridegroom not being the person I have thought Him to be after all these years? No. Of course not.

When you have marriage problems, you deal with your own problems as a couple. You fight, and wrestle with each other, until things become clearer. You stay there if you really love each other because marriage is sacred in the eyes of God. You try, and keep on trying, because when you married your spouse you made a promise to God. That is what marriage is for me – commitment. For better or for worse.

If Jesus is the Savior- if He is the Savior of the world- then nobody can snatch me out of His hand. Nothing spiritually evil can touch me. My body, you can kill it if you give me a poisoned red velvet cupcake – but not my soul. Nothing will be able to separate from the love of God. Not death, not life, not angels, not demons, not things present, not things to come, not any powers, not height, not depth, not any other created thing (call it human beings, jinns or Shaytan himself), will be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Jesus the Messiah.

Isn’t that awesome? That if Jesus is the real deal, then the love of God for somebody can be so wide and long and high and deep that God is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think. And that this love surpasses human wisdom, knowledge or human understanding – because it doesn’t make sense that God could love this much! And that by knowing this love, you might actually be filled with the fullness of God.

If someone misguided me to worship Jesus – the church or a pastor – then I will deal with that. Not alone, but with YAHWEH who knows it all. I hope my blog helps other people to see this fearless faith – even if you don’t agree with it.

The Christian faith is NOT just a blind leap in the dark, you know, like you are gonna run to the end of the cliff hoping there’s something there to catch you. No. The Christian faith is also rational. 

Faith is trusting what we have good reason to believe is true. It provides us EVIDENCE that appeals to our minds. The Christian faith is not an ALL or NOTHING proposition. You don’t have to be TOTALLY CERTAIN or else, you have NO FAITH AT ALL. That is not the faith that Jesus talked about…

– Rich Nathan

This has been my struggle. But what if Jesus saw His disciples in the storm and thought, “I wish you would just look down in the boat, ’cause you’ve got your sack full of broken pieces…”

They had the evidence for the miracle of feeding fifteen thousand people. They had just witnessed it, but they were focusing on the storm. In the middle of my own storm, I should not focus on my circumstances. I will focus on the things that Jesus has done for me before. I will take my basket full of broken pieces into the storm of tomorrow. The same God who was with me back in the storms of yesterday is the same God who is with me in the storms of today. The same God who brought me to where I am now is the same God who will get me through this.

Jesus climbed into the boat with them, and told them DO NOT BE AFRAID.

There have been times when I have asked God who He really is with only a Bible in my hand. I have also done that with only a Quran in my hand. Was He Allah as revealed in the Bible? Without corruption theories… Or was He Allah as written in the Quran? With Quran as the final revelation?

My Muslimah has been so faithful praying for me through all this. She prayed something called Istikhara in my behalf. In love, she asked Allah to guide me. After finding out what Allah had revealed to her, I asked God to reveal to ME who He really was – Bible and Quran side by side. I am thinking that If Allah gave HER an answer in my behalf, then Allah would have to give ME the same answer. Otherwise, we were not talking to the same Divine Being.

Call me crazy, but on my own prayer time, Allah guided me to the same account in both Quran and the Bible. The account of Judah as he offers himself to protect Benjamin during the famine in Egypt. The accounts are SO different in both books and Judah WAS NOT a mere coincidence for me. God did not lie with His revelation to my friend. He was so truthful with His guidance to me as well. In His loving character, and being faithful to Himself, Allah showed me the two paths.

And I chose the LION OF JUDAH.

My Jewish husband – Part 2

Crashing a Jewish Wedding 101

If you aspire to be like John and Jeremy (Wedding Crashers, 2005), this might help you out enormously. A Jewish Wedding Celebration is filled with humongous deep spiritual meanings in every step. I hope you enjoy reading about them.

1. Kabbalat Panim or Pre-Chupah Reception 

On the wedding day, the bridegroom is like a king and the bride is like a queen. This day is considered a personal Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) for the groom and the bride, for on this day all their past mistakes are forgiven as they merge into a new, complete soul. By tradition, the bride and groom refrain from seeing each other for a full week prior to their wedding, so as to increase their love and yearning for each other. The mothers of the bride and groom break a china or glass plate to show the seriousness of the commitment. Mazal Tov!

2. Badeken or Veiling

A procession headed by the groom goes to the bridal reception room, where the groom covers the bride’s face with a veil. The custom of covering the bride’s face with a veil originated from Rebekah, who covered her face when meeting her groom, Isaac (Genesis 24:64-65).

The veil emphasizes that the groom is not solely interested in the bride’s external beauty, which fades with time, but rather in her inner beauty, which she will never lose.

3. The Chupah or Marriage Canopy

The chupah is a canopy which sits atop four poles and is usually ornately decorated. The marriage ceremony takes place beneath this canopy which is open on all sides. This is a demonstration of the couple’s commitment to establish a home which will always be open to guests, as was the tent of Abraham and Sarah. The chupah is the groom’s domain. After all this preliminary activity, the actual marriage ceremony begins.

4. The Betrothal or “Engagement”

According to Torah Law, marriage is a two-step process. The first stage is called kiddushin, loosely translated as “betrothal,” and the second step is known as nisu’in, the finalization of the nuptials after the Seven Blessings . Nowadays, both kiddushin and nisu’in are accomplished successively beneath the chupah. 

Two cups of wine are used in the wedding ceremony. The first cup accompanies the betrothal blessings, recited by the rabbi. After these are recited, the couple drinks from the cup. They are now betrothed. This finalizes the kiddushin. The marriage contract is read and the Seven Blessings are recited. The first blessing is prayed over the cup of wine. Then, the couple drinks from the second cup. This finalizes the nisu’in. They are finally married. 

It is very interesting to note, however, that in ancient times, the two stages of marriage (kiddushin and nisu’in) were done on separate occasions. They were separated by a full year -or even more- which the groom would devote to Torah study. There are Biblical accounts for this like Samson’s Marrriage, the wedding of Isaac and Rebekah, and the wedding of Jacob and Rachel.

There were negotiations involved for the arranging of the marriage, which were conducted by the members of the two families. The negotiations involved the marriage contract (ketubah) and the price of the bride. The groom would pour a glass of wine and would offer it to the bride. If she drank from it, the proposal was accepted and they were betrothed (kiddushin). After drinking from that first cup of wine, they were to be considered as man and wife in all legal and religious aspects, except that of actual cohabitation. It was an agreement only to be dissolved by a formal divorce.

In present-time weddings, after this betrothal stage is finalized, the groom then places the wedding band on the bride’s finger. While putting the ring on her finger, the groom says: “With this ring, you are consecrated to me according to the law of Moses and Israel.” Then the ketubah is read aloud.

But tradition tells us that after the betrothal, the groom would return to his father’s house to make a place suitable for his bride. He would only come back to get her with his father’s approval. Meanwhile, the bride would be making herself ready so that she would be pure and beautiful for her bridegroom. During this time she would wear a veil (badeken) when she went out to show she was spoken for – she had been bought with a price.

After a year, the groom went to the house of the bride at midnight, creating a torchlight parade through the streets. He was accompanied by his male friends. The bride would know in advance this was going to take place, and so she would be ready with her maidens. They would all join the parade and end up at the bridegroom’s home (the chupah). The couple would drink from a second cup of wine because they were finally together.  They would live together as husband and wife.

This explains why nowadays the couple are in different rooms at the beginning of the ceremony. They re-act the whole thing. He goes, veils her, and everybody takes them to the chupah. Once there, the betrothal and finalization of the wedding is done. The ceremony tries to represent all the stages that had to take place in Biblical times. That’s why it is so full of meaning.

5. The Ketubah or Marriage Contract

The ketubah details the husband’s principal obligations to his wife to provide her with food, clothing and affection, along with other contractual obligations. The ketubah document is reminiscent of the wedding between God and Israel when Moses took the Torah, the “Book of the Covenant,” and read it to the Jews prior to the “chupah ceremony” at Mount Sinai.

6. The Seven Blessings

The first blessing is the blessing on the wine (as we already saw) to finalize the nisu’in, and the remaining six are marriage-themed blessings, which include special blessings for the newlywed couple. They drink and they are finally husband and wife.

A cup is then wrapped in a large cloth napkin, and placed beneath the foot of the groom. The groom stomps and shatters the glass. The shattering of the glass reminds them that even at the height of personal joy, they must, nevertheless, remember the destruction of Jerusalem, and yearn for their imminent return there. Mazal Tov!

7. Yichud Room

After all the public pomp and ceremony, it is time for the bride and groom to share some private moments. Inside the room, the couple traditionally breaks their wedding day fast. It is also a time when the bride and groom customarily exchange gifts.

8. Reception and Grace after Meals

When the bride and groom emerge from the yichud room to join their guests, they are ceremoniously greeted with music, singing and dancing. The men with the groom, and the women with the bride, traditionally dance in separate circles.

Indeed, on a Jewish Wedding, there exists a deep mystical connection between wine and marriage.


I started to write this blog to share the struggles of my faith. But if Jesus is who He claimed to be, I have drunk from that first cup of wine. I am married to Him.

In the middle of my present circumstances, am I seriously considering a formal divorce?

My Jewish husband – Part 1

I want to talk about the Passover Celebration. If you are not very familiar with what that celebration is, it will help you to know that the Israelites had been slaves for 400 years in Egypt and Passover was the night when Pharaoh let them go free. I’m sure everybody has watched the movie The Ten Commandments (which in reality should be called The 613 Commandments).

When God is giving the plagues to the Egyptians, the last one is the death of the firstborn. The people who want their firstborn to live have to sacrifice a lamb, and put the blood of that lamb on the doorposts of their house. If they do it, in faith, then the angel of the Lord would spare the firstborn son of that particular house. The angel would passover them. Passover. Got it?

Doing a thorough research of some Orthodox Jewish websites, I’ve found some great information on how they celebrate the Passover Seder Service. They have very specific ways to do it, and even something called Laws of the Four Cups of Wine [Read the section on the Cups, third paragraph].

The meaning behind these four cups of wine is associated with the promise of deliverance God gave them in Exodus 6:6-8.

Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians [First cup]. I will free you from being slaves to them [Second cup], and I will redeem you [Third cup] with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. And I will bring you to the land [Fourth cup] I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.

– Exodus 6:6-8

I won’t go right now on whether alcohol is a great thing to consume or not. In Christianity, it is a big taboo depending on the denomination you were raised in. In Islam, drinking alcohol is considered haraam (prohibited). Whether you believe in any of these faiths or not, we cannot deny the fact that wine is a very special drink. A royal drink, these websites said. It is very appropriate for special occasions such as Passover because they are celebrating freedom. And I’m going to tell you why…

Wine represents blood. According to these websites, the wine represents the blood shed by Pharaoh. That spilled blood brought them freedom from slavery, as Pharaoh told them to leave Egypt. But the blood of the lamb also brought them life, as the angel of the Lord spared them if He saw it on the doorposts.

When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, He will see the blood on the top and sides of the door frame and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.

– Exodus 12:23

The Blood of the Lamb is a very Christian concept. Christians believe that Jesus is the Passover Lamb whose blood on the cross rescued people from death – spiritual death. It’s no coincidence then that Christians celebrate Easter as the Jews are celebrating Passover.

I am not being biased. This information I am finding it in very serious Orthodox Jewish Websites. I mean what can be more Jewish than this?

Can a Jew believe in Jesus?

Of course a Jew can believe in Jesus. Just like a vegetarian can enjoy a rump steak, a peace activist can join a violent demonstration, and a dictator who preaches martyrdom can surrender himself to his enemies. As long as logic and clear thinking are suspended, anything makes sense!

– Aron Moss

They don’t hesitate in telling you to buzz off if you are a missionary. Even if you call yourself a Messianic Jew, you are no longer a Jew. You are an apostate. They also have counter-missionary handbooks. There’s a lot of hate going on in the religion world right now, people, I’m telling you. Maybe it has always been like that. I was just never aware…

Jews against Christians. Catholic Church telling Jews they are cursed because the rejected their Messiah. Then Muslims saying that is exactly why their Prophet Mohammad came. He came to clear up all the mess we [Jews and Christians] made. Then you have arguments about the Oral Torah, The Written Torah, the New Testament manuscripts in Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek… but then God decided to reveal His word in Classic Arabic.

A lot of Muslims around the world don’t even speak regular Arabic, let alone the Arabic in the Quran. And I also read about Muslims versus Muslims on the net telling each other they are not real Muslims because they don’t speak the language of the Prophet.

Enough religion already! This is what upsets me. Why would anybody want to get closer to God when they see this?Are you telling me I have to understand Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek – become a freaking scholar – to understand God? I am a mother of two young children who watch Peppa Pig as I try to find a way to write and ponder about the spiritual issues in my life. I believe God can and will meet you where you are. No matter what language you speak.

God has to show me His power in my life. A God worthy of all my praise and all my submission has to have a better excuse of why I couldn’t find Him other than a language barrier. God has to become personal in my life. He has to sweep me away in HIs arms, and meet me in my every day struggles. The God of Israel has done that. And I met the God of Israel through the teachings of Jesus.

I’m just trying to sincerely follow God here. And I don’t understand a lot of things lately. Am I gonna jump ship on God right now just because I don’t understand everything that I am going through? Believe me that right now jumping ship would be the easiest thing to do. But I cannot jump ship on my God.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,

and he will direct your paths.

– Proverbs 3:5-6

But I’m telling you, as I do my research on Judaism and Passover, I keep on stumbling upon the same concepts of blood, sacrifice, redemption, joy and celebration, all related to wine.

Guess what? A new concept has just popped up. And it changes things drastically for me.

Wine is also symbolic of MARRIAGE itself.