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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

A Full-of-Faith Family

In terms of spiritual beliefs, some might call us “mixed”, “mixed-up”, or “beautifully-blended”. It’s not like one of us believes one thing, and the others believe other things. Nope, we’re all in this together, which is rather amazing in itself, given our diverse origins.

All we can say is, “It’s a God thing.”

My dear readers have asked the hows and whys, so here we go on a brief, or not-so-brief explanation.

Who are we, anyway?

Are we Jews for Jesus, or Christians for Judaism? Well, kinda both.

Benedetto and I have Jewish backgrounds on our mothers’ sides, and Christian backgrounds on our fathers’ sides. Technically, given such a heritage, the Nazis would have wanted to nuke us, and Israel would want to recruit us.

Jews.

Except that we are believers in Jesus.

Christians.

For us, none of the above is odd. All of the early followers of Jesus (“Yeshua” in Hebrew) were Jewish. It actually caused quite a debate in the early church, whether or not to allow Gentiles (non-Jews, idol worshipers, barbarians), into the faith without first making them convert to Judaism. Peter had a vision of clean and unclean animals (kosher and non-kosher mixed together, coming from heaven, and a voice telling him not to call anything “unclean” that God has cleansed.

After the heavenly message, Peter immediately traveled up the Mediterranean seacoast to preach to Cornelius, a Roman centurion who had sent messengers to him to inquire about faith. Peter did this at great personal risk to himself, because the early believers did not really want pagans bringing ham and cheese sandwiches to synagogue, (even if they were in pita bread), not to mention entering a Jewish house of worship with uncircumcised private parts, nor mingling with Roman military commanders. Eventually, faith in a Jewish Messiah took hold among the Gentiles, as well.

Any student of history knows that Judaism has had its Messianic figures:  from Bar Kokhba in 130s AD to Chabad’s Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who passed away in 1994 and is still expected to rise again after his death.

Too late. Jesus had BTDT.

A careful study of the Hebrew Bible (what Christians would call the Old Testament) shows that there are over 320 Messianic prophecies, or predictions, describing the coming Messiah. He would be born in Bethlehem, but be called out of Egypt. He would preach in Galilee of the Gentiles. He would be born to a virgin. His own people would reject Him. He would enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey. He would be betrayed by a friend. He would be called “the Son of God”, “the Lamb of God” who takes away the sin of the world, “the Suffering Servant”, “Wonderful”, “Counsellor”, “the Mighty God”, “the Everlasting Father”, “the Prince of Peace”.

The Lord would lay upon Him the sins of us all. In death, not one of His bones would be broken. He would rise again the third day.

Not having been present in the First Century (though my kids may think me old enough), what leads me to believe that these reports of Jesus’ fulfillment of Messianic prophecy are true?

Many have argued that the Bible is unreliable and that texts have been changed over time. Yet, continuing archaeological discoveries such as the Dead Seas Scrolls match the texts word for word.

Another argument for faith in Jesus as the Messiah comes from the fact that the early followers (up until this day) were willing to give their lives for this belief. Thousands were persecuted, tortured, thrown to the lions, or crucified. Many sang hymns of praise as they were burned at the stake.

Folks, this is not normal. Any Jim Jones-like cult leader could inspire followers to do the unthinkable, but as happened with the Kool-aid king, eventually pretenders or those not fully persuaded, try to sneak away and save their own lives. That has not been the record of born-again believers who are not fading away into oblivion.

Both Messianic Judaism, and Christians who celebrate the Jewish roots of their faith, are growing movements worldwide. How does this translate for our family?

Beautifully. Our children embrace the Lord as their Redeemer who brought them out of Russia. He is also their Healer who helps to mend those who have been hurt or harmed. He is putting the pieces back together again.

The Lord has also healed my husband, who had been damaged by “religion” and who laughed at people of faith when I first met him half a world away. His scientific mind told him that these were religious fanatics who needed some sort of crutch in life. Yet, his heart began to open to the idea when he saw changed lives and miracles happening to those who believed. Now, Benedetto could not be any more convinced of the Savior’s love and resurrection life since praying to receive Him one Shabbat in Jerusalem long ago.

Caught a TV program last night called, “Pregnant in Heels”, apparently about women woefully underprepared for the role of motherhood, but that was my first time watching it. Maybe it concerned which pair of heels to wear for childbirth, I don’t know. Anyhoo, one couple had interfaith debates leading up to the birth of their first child. The father was Jewish and the mother was Catholic. Each felt diminished and attacked by the other’s adherence to their religion and insistence that the daughter would be raised only in one side’s faith. (Never mind that the father did not keep kosher, etc., and was a rather liberal guy. Never mind that the two had never discussed this prior to marriage.) They looked close to splitting up. Their big breakthrough moment was when a counselor suggested that they have a Catholic baby baptism, followed by a Jewish naming ceremony at the after-party-! The two had never thought of that, but agreed, it was something they could “live with”. I think I might have been able to help them more. Why they didn’t call Alexandra will remain one of the big questions of life.

So today, for our family, if it’s in the Bible, we celebrate it. (As well as many holidays not in the Scriptures, such as New Year’s and the Fourth of July, to name a couple. Personally, I’ve never felt any particular draw to Groundhog’s Day.)

Our kids are not confused. At Hanukkah, they celebrate Yeshua as the Light of the World. At Passover, they recognize Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb of God. At Yom Kippor, they need not ceremonially throw their sins as breadcrumbs into moving water, but they are secure in the knowledge that they have forgiveness of sin through Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross.

Even as their Russian roots do not negate their American present, but instead, enhance the fulness of who they are, our children embrace Jewish roots in their born-again faith.

Dual citizens, I guess you could say, feeling at home with both.

(This is for Winnie and Kathleen, and anyone else interested. Thanks for asking!)

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10 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Ann White says:

    Well spoken! I know a few Messianic/completed Jews. One is a teaching pastor at our Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • avatar admin says:

      Wow, that’s pretty cool, Ann! He must bring a real breadth to the pulpit. We are all unique and different, and bring fascinating backgrounds to our current lives. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about people who wish they were someone else. Why? They’re already so special in their own right, but if there’s something we can change for the better, why not?

  2. avatar SLB says:

    Very interesting! I believe spiritual beliefs are very important. I would have to say that our family origin would be Gentile. (Thank you Peter.) We believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Lamb that was slain but rose from the dead, paying the price for the sin of humanity. All three members of our family attend church regularly and serve in different areas. Our son is turning 20 soon. Since birth, he has been raised in the same church, under the same pastoral teaching, leadership and guidance. We believe this has been instrumental in him becoming the well mannered, high achiever he is. (Easy to say when your work is practically done and you’ve gone through the majority of child-rearing battles… hopefully so anyway!) It helps to know that there is victory in Jesus! We are blessed to have pastors with Jewish backgrounds. Their Jewish roots of faith help to open our eyes and ears of understanding to the Bible. It comes alive in greater detail! Today the majority of our family discussions are usually based upon revelation we have received from teachings and how it ties in with our goals and dreams for real life. I’ve often heard it said, “If only children came with a manual”. Well, as far as this mom is concerned, they do… the Bible. Without the Word of God, awesome pastors and great friends, I would be bald, sporting a white jacket with extra long sleeves! Great blog! Makes one feel right at home!

    • avatar admin says:

      To have a young person growing up in a family of faith is very special. All kids are going to be kids, but I don’t believe they have to have extreme struggles all the time if you’ve got the Lord on your side. At least that’s been our experience. The thing that always surprises me is when some parents say, “Oh, I’ll let them decide for themselves when they get older….” We don’t do that about school, or vegetables, or anything else important. Thanks for joining the discussion!

  3. avatar Winnie says:

    I think you have one of the most un-usual set of beliefs I’ve come across – not that I have much exposure (everyone I knew growing up was Southern Baptist). I like it though, as it seems odd that we throw away all Jewish rites and take up “new” Christian ones when Jesus was a Jew himself and practiced Jewish beliefs (though I am glad the Kosher thing didn’t stick because ham and cheese is pretty good).
    I saw the pregnant in heels thing the other day and happly passed it by, didn’t think I could stand another show full of pregnant clueless people and your description let me know I didn’t miss out on a thing. I don’t know how you could stand to watch the whole show.

    • avatar admin says:

      The hostess of the show seemed pretty level-headed, and not to be uncharitable, but she was working with one client who had never touched a baby before (and didn’t want to-!) and was due in another week-?! I don’t know where they find these people, but it must be a different sort of casting call. Hey, I might qualify…. I felt it was my duty as a social commentator (heh, heh) to watch the thing. One day, I’ll get up the strength to watch some “Real Housewives” episodes which I understand that many are not housewives, and “real”, well, that’s a matter of opinion….

      Maybe I could do an “Adopting in Heels” counterpoint-! You’ve got me going now, Winnie….

  4. avatar Lisa says:

    I came to my faith, saved by my rock and redeemer Jesus Christ when I was close to 40 years old. God rescued me from a pretty dark place. Perhaps He wanted to prepare me to help my daughter navigate her way out of her dark place.
    As the years and Easters go by I want to know more about our Jewish roots, do you know of any books (besides the bible) that discuss this movement? Thanks, you make a positive and informative difference in my day!

    • avatar admin says:

      Thanks, Lisa, you’re too sweet. Here are a few books you might enjoy: “Our Father Abraham” (Wilson), “Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts” (Booker), “The Feasts of the Lord God’s Prophetic Calendar” (Howard & Rosenthal), and “All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible”. Those should keep you busy for a while…!

      You are absolutely prepared to help your daughter with the same help that God has given you–you could not have said it better!

  5. avatar Kathleen says:

    I love how you weave the two together in a way that totally makes sense and creates a beautiful whole. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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