New York City Reflection #3: We ♥ New York!

As I have already shared in Reflections #1 & #2, our trip to New York City last week to attend the World Baseball Classic Qualifier was full of surprises. No greater surprise was that of New York City itself. As mentioned, this was really the first time there for both of us and we each carried with us our prejudices. Robin never wanted to visit there as her mind was filled with the stereotype of the rude New Yorker and muggings in Central Park. I knew there was much more to the U.S.’s biggest city than that, but I still was in no way prepared for the reality we would encounter.

First, we met some of the most friendly and helpful people in our entire lives there – and I am talking about strangers! In my first reflection I tell the story of the lady who came up from behind us to direct us to the better restaurant. Another time, as we got off the subway, we weren’t sure which way to go. So another lady noticing this, asked us if we needed help and pointed us in the right direction. Wherever we were, it was the same. On the street, in restaurants, in our hotel, it was all the same. I will share about the particular friendliness among the fans at the ballpark in my next (and final) reflection.

But speaking of the ballpark, I mentioned the friendliness of New Yorkers to a person I was talking to during one of the games, and he suggested that it was the effect of 9/11. The attack on the city and the great loss of life, according to him, changed the people for the better. I personally wouldn’t know, but we were certainly impressed.

[Note: I would guess that many of you reading this could share negative stories about New York. But every city has its share of good and bad. We are grateful for the privilege of seeing some of the good.]

Speaking of 9/11, our second of two excursions into Manhattan coincided with a special event called “The 2016 Tunnel to Towers 5K Run and Walk,” in support of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. Stephen Siller was a New York City fire fighter, who had just gone off duty when he heard about the attack on the first tower. Not able to drive from the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel due to the road closure, he strapped his 60 lbs. of gear to his back and ran through the tunnel to the World Trade Center, where he gave his life saving others. The foundation raises money for injured rescue and military servicemen and women. At least 25,000 people took part that day.

Our first destination that morning was the 9/11 memorial, two enormous waterfall pools, where each of the two towers once stood. Etched in metal around the perimeters are all the names of the over 2600 people who died there. Here is a brief video I took of the north pool, where the first tower to be hit was. To grasp the size of the pool, look at the people on the opposite side.

Later, back in the subway, we saw a couple of young ladies who must have been part of the Run & Walk. I will let the photo speak for itself:

Two young ladies in New York

After the Tunnel to Towers Run & Walk

A version of the words on her shirt is here.

Whether it be the magnitude of the heroics of Stephen Siller and people like him, the height of the buildings, the vast beauty of the surrounding area or Central Park, the impact of seeing Times Square or the theaters on Broadway, New York is big – but it was the bigness of its heart that impressed more than its size.

More photos:

Brooklyn Street

Walking from the bus to the subway, we turned down this street, and Robin got excited, saying “This is soooo Brooklyn!”

One World Trade Center

The new One World Trade Center (aka the Freedom Tower). Opened in November 2014, it is tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and the sixth-tallest in the world.

Strand Bookstore, Manhattan

On our way to Strand Bookstore, featuring “18 Miles Of Books”.

Times Square

Times Square is…different.

Times Square with Mickey Mouse mascot

You never know who you’ll meet in Times Square!

Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway

If only we had more time! Maybe next time!!

New York City Reflection #2: A Profound Surprise

Planning for our recent trip to New York City to attend the World Baseball Classic Qualifier last week drove me crazy! Having not really been to New York before (I explain the “not really” here, I found it very difficult to figure out where to stay, how to get around, etc. You may think I am indeed crazy to learn that I booked four different hotels (is that legal?)! Part of the difficulty is that there really isn’t much choice in the Coney Island area, where the tournament was. We settled on the last of the four, the Best Western Brooklyn Bay. We found through some locals that there is no such thing as “Brooklyn Bay”, but for some reason the hotel didn’t want to use the real name: “Sheepshead Bay.”

As it turned out the location worked well for us. We took the bus to the baseball stadium each day, fully enjoying our walk to the bus stop each way. We arrived at the hotel Thursday afternoon, but didn’t have a chance to check out Sheepshead Bay until Saturday morning. It’s very touristy-looking with its many fishing piers and restaurants. But we didn’t yet know the incredibly moving experience we were soon to have.

A fishing boat at Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY

A fishing boat at the pier Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY

I had told Robin about this delightful find after my morning walk. And so as I had a rest, she went off on her own to explore the area. Upon returning, she told me she went further than I did and discovered a Holocaust memorial. So we went back out together to take a closer look.

At the west edge of the bay, a small park has been transformed into “Holocaust Memorial Park” and dedicated by New York City mayor Giuliani in 1997. This spot was chosen because of the many Holocaust survivors who settled this area after the Second World War.

We were both intensely struck by the simplicity and significance of the memorial. A symbolic tower, resembling a smokestack, is surrounded by the names of the countries affected by the Holocaust and sits in the center between two grassy areas each filled with granite markers. On most of the markers are a wide variety of inscriptions, honoring individuals and communities who suffered at the hands of the Nazis. There are also relevant quotes, poems, and so on to help visitors reflect.

As I walked among the markers, I was also struck with a sense of being in the right place at the right time. After all the frustration and confusion over figuring out the details of this trip, we knew God had led us here. With the Jewish High Holidays approaching, it was fitting that we pay our respects to those among our people who fell victim to this great tragedy.

After sitting silently for a time, we recited the Mourner’s Kaddish together. The Mourner’s Kaddish is an ancient prayer recited in Aramaic, the language of Yeshua, not as a prayer for the dead, but an expression of honor to God, who in the midst of chaos and suffering remains in control and worthy of honor and worship. Here is an English translation (from http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/text-of-the-mourners-kaddish/):

Glorified and sanctified be God’s great name throughout the world
which He has created according to His will.

May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days,
and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon;
and say, Amen.

May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.

Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored,
adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He,
beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that
are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us
and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who creates peace in His celestial heights,
may He create peace for us and for all Israel;
and say, Amen.

I hope the following photo gallery captures some of the impact of what we experienced. You should be able to read the inscriptions.

Holocaust Memorial Park Signage

Main signage. For a closer look at the text see next image.

Explanation of Holocaust Memorial Park

Closer look at the text.

Tower (smokestack) of remembrance - centerpiece of the memorial.

Tower (smokestack) of remembrance – centerpiece of the memorial.

Robin walking among the pillars to the one side of the tower.

Robin walking among the markers to the one side of the tower.

Famous saying by Rev. Martin Niemöller

Famous saying by Rev. Martin Niemöller

A sampling of granite markers

A sampling of granite markers (an enlargement of the one in the right-bottom corner follows)

A summary of the life of Anne Frank, whose diary survived the Holocaust

A summary of the life of Anne Frank, whose diary survived the Holocaust

In memory of the Jewish communities of Belarus and Moldova

One of the markers in memory of countries significantly effected by the Nazi horrors. As far as I know all our grandparents came from either Belarus or neighboring Lithuania. Robin’s father and his family left Lithuania in the nick of time in 1936. Many of their extended family were killed.

In memory of the Jehovah Witnesses

I was extremely touched that the memorial was not exclusively Jewish, but also included other communities that were targeted by Nazi terror, including the Jehovah Witnesses, the disabled, and homosexuals.

An urgent plea to not forget the Holocaust from Elie Wiesel.

An urgent plea to not forget the Holocaust from recently deceased Nobel-laureate Elie Wiesel.

"Are you my brother's keeper?" (Genesis 4:9-10)

“Are you my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9-10)

For more information about this Holocaust memorial, visit the Holocaust Memorial Committee web site.

New York City Reflection #1: Crying over Breakfast

There’s a lot more to this picture than meets the eye. Let me explain…Alan Gilman

After staying overnight in New Jersey, my wife, Robin, and I drove into Manhattan to try to take in a few sites before heading to our hotel in Brooklyn that afternoon. We were in the area to attend the fourth and final qualifier for the World Baseball Classic. The winner between Brazil, Great Britain, Israel (thus the cap in the photo), and Pakistan would get to compete with fifteen other teams in the Classic in March 2017. But this trip was about a lot more than just baseball!

After parking, we went for looking for a restaurant to eat breakfast. It wasn’t long before we had our first of many wonderful New York City experiences. As we were reading the menu in the window of one place, a lady came up from behind us and said, “Don’t eat here!” We’re not sure exactly what she said after that, but she proceeded to lead us down the block to the Flame Restaurant and took off. The service was great; the food was good. We’ll never know if what happened there would have happened at the first place. All we know is that it happened.

All through the trip, it was difficult to explain how this was really our first time in New York City. Robin had never been there. But I had been to New York City forty years ago, though very briefly – not quite twenty-four hours, in fact. That brief stay marked the beginning of one of the most difficult stages of my life. Now I was back in New York for the first time since then. In the photo I had just finished crying, and here’s why.

In May 1976, my best friend and I took the Greyhound bus from Montreal to spend some days in the New York area. We arrived late afternoon, went to a movie that night, and then, somewhat similar to last week, headed out to breakfast. I don’t think it was the Flame Diner, but it was similar. As my plate of food was brought to me that morning, I had my first-ever panic attack. I didn’t know what to do with myself as I was becoming unglued. I told my friend I was going back to our hotel where I threw myself into the bed. My friend called my mother in Montreal who arranged to fly us home that afternoon.

I somehow made it through the summer, working as a camp counsellor. But when I returned home, the panic attacks returned with a vengeance. On September 1, I was coming to the end of myself. I was sitting on my bed, banging my mattress and pulling my hair, crying out, “What am I going to do!” Then two days later, I went to a friend’s house, where I met the person who told me about Yeshua (Jesus) and how he fulfilled the promises about the Messiah in the Jewish Bible (Old Testament). He told me that if I asked him into my life, I would be happy forever (a bit naïve I later learned, but it’s what I needed to hear). So that afternoon, I told God I was sorry for my sins and asked the Messiah to come into my heart and life. It took me about a day to realize that the panic attacks had stopped, and my life has never been the same since. While I have continued to struggle with anxiety from time to time, it’s very different. No matter what challenges I have faced in these past forty years, God has seen me through over and over again.

I wish I could say I never have anxiety any longer, but that wouldn’t be true. I especially struggle when anticipating a trip as in New York forty years ago and New York last week. Ever since I transitioned into Bible teaching over four years ago, I have travelled more than ever. People who follow my adventures know how positive these experiences have been, but I still haven’t learned to fully rest in God. I am not proud of this fact, especially given everything that he has done in and through me all these years.

For whatever reason, I was especially struggling in anticipation of this trip. Perhaps it was the memory of that infamous day when the panic attacks started in New York. That it was so long ago doesn’t make a difference. To me, it was like yesterday. Even though time and time again, God has seen me through in spite of fear and nerves, I couldn’t shake the specter of the pit I had fallen into back then.

So here I am, forty years later, sitting across from my best of best friend (my wife), eating breakfast in Manhattan for the second time. But this time I am okay – no panic – having fun actually. And instead of panic, something else hits me: the realization of God’s goodness, power, presence, direction, provision, faithfulness, and love. And so I lost it; not freaking out with overwhelming fear, but with tears of gratitude and joy!

God-mented Reality

Young smiling man playing a video game in a wheat field

Pokémon Go is one of the most popular fads of all time. This smartphone-based game enhances the real-world by placing imaginary creatures, called Pokémon, in all sorts of locations based on GPS coordinates. Pokémon may be found down your street, in parks, in and around tourist attractions or historic landmarks, and so on.  As you look at your normal surroundings through your phone’s camera, you never know when or where a Pokémon may appear. Many are enthralled by this interactive game experience superimposed on what was just recently boring, normal life.

Pokémon Go is an application of a technology that’s been in existence for some time called Augmented Reality (AR). It is unlike Virtual Reality (VR) in that while VR immerses users into a simulated environment, AR provides users with additional information or an enhanced experience of the real world. An example of VR is a flight simulator, where users experience flying without being in a real airplane. With AR we can look at a famous landmark such as the Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building through our smart phone and on the screen pops up historical background or tourist information. There is a surveying application that provides geological data when viewing terrain. In both these cases our view of the real world is enhanced or augmented with additional information. While this information is not completely unknown, it is not readily known within the immediate context. Therefore, we can say that AR makes the unknown known or the invisible visible.

What if I told you that you can have the power the see the invisible or to know the unknowable without Pokémon Go or any application of augmented reality. You don’t even need a smart phone. If you think AR is something, just wait until you try “God-mented Reality”!

God-mented Reality comes in several forms. First, while the world around us and its events are knowable through our five senses, understanding the world as the creation of God, made on purpose and for a purpose, is not naturally known. In order to truly perceive the meaning of life, we need the revelation of God. The Bible augments our natural experience of life by accurately interpreting the world in which we live. While proponents of Intelligent Design are right to demonstrate the reasonableness of deducing that the complexities of life point to a designer, it is the Scriptures that clarify his identity and intentions.

The negative elements of our sin-soaked world easily distracts from the truth that “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 24:1). This came to me so dramatically during my trip to Haiti this past summer. The troubles of this very poor country had eclipsed the greater truth of God’s presence and beauty in that land. Through his Word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, I was able to see Haiti through God’s eyes.

Similarly with events. The Bible is full of catastrophic phenomena, from the flood of Noah’s time to the ten plagues of Moses. We know that these were not random freak natural events, because we have recorded prophetic utterances to inform us that they were purposeful acts of God. Real things, real events, but augmented with the necessary additional information that enables us to relate to these things effectively.

If you say “God-mented reality” aloud, you may hear it as “God-meant-it reality.” This is exactly how Jacob’s son Joseph viewed his life. Victimized by his jealous brothers, he knew there was more going on than the negative effects of his brothers’ actions. He saw the powerful hand of God at work in spite of their evil intentions: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20).

It gets better! Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise” (John 5:19). Jesus’s life was not a reaction to circumstances nor driven by a cause. He had nothing to prove nor was he fulfilling his dreams. He also didn’t live a spiritual life disconnected from the material world. Far from it! He interacted with the real world of God’s creation, effectively confronting the effects of sin and evil based on what he saw God his Father doing. God-mented reality. He was keenly aware of what God was doing in all the ways described about, plus he saw into the invisible realm. He knew the difference between natural illness and demonic oppression. He saw people’s hearts and knew their thoughts. This is not due to his divine nature, as some may think, but because of his ongoing dependency on the Holy Spirit; the same Holy Spirit who has been poured out upon every one of his followers.

Note that the promise of the Spirit as foretold by the prophet Joel and fulfilled on the Jewish festival of Shavuot (Pentecost) majors on seeing into the invisible realm:

And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit. (Joel 2:28-29; compare Acts 2:17-18)

Dreams, vision, prophesying – God-mented reality – God’s enabling his people to proclaim what our natural eyes cannot see. The creation is made up of two aspects, the visible and the invisible. Most of us only focus on the visible, resulting in our being like the prophet Elisha’s servant, who was overwhelmed by his circumstances. Elisha, on the other hand, lived in the awareness of both the visible and invisible spheres. That’s why in the face of a great opposing army, he could confidently tell his servant, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16).  In response to Elisha’s prayer, God caused the servant to see the invisible realm: “So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” There was a stronger, yet unseen army, fighting on their behalf, but until the servant experienced God-mented reality, his understanding of reality was insufficient. It’s not as if there exists more than one reality. The creation is made up of both the visible and invisible realms. Our problem is that we, like Elisha’s servant, tend to only be aware of the visible. But now due to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we too can have our eyes open. The better we see into the invisible realm, the better we will be able to understand and interact with the visible.

I am aware of the abundance of misunderstanding and abuse there is with regard to human interaction with the invisible realm. But this should not stop us from pursuing an authentically biblical approach to such things. Bogus claims of the miraculous and claiming the Lord’s leading to justify selfish ambition are no less harmful than the denying of Scriptures’ teaching on spiritual gifts, prophecy, healing, and so on. It is time to follow the Messiah and start doing what we see God our Father doing.

Why spend time trying to find funny little creatures through your smart phone, when God wants to reveal the invisible world to his people. Through God-mented Reality we can begin to see the world in which we live in its fullness and be better equipped to set people free from their oppression, helping them to be all that God wants them to be.

A Baseball Odyssey

Baseball players in silhouette Growing up in Montreal, I liked baseball. Hockey was my favorite, but I watched both sports on TV, played with my friends, and collected trading cards (those were the days when they came with bubble gum, and we preserved them in binders). In my later teens and twenties, I didn’t follow sports that much. There was a moment later on that baseball caught my attention in a special way. We had returned to Montreal in the latter half of the 1980s and one of my household contributions was doing the evening dishes. So when possible, I would listen to Montreal Expos baseball games on the radio. From time to time, they would have a special commentator on by the name of Bobby Winkles. Winkles had been a major league manager and coach. Knowing the game as he did, he drew the listener into the mind of the manager. The effect was a pulling back of the veil, so to speak, and I was able to see the intricacies of the game as never before. People will often criticize baseball for being slow and boring. But once one grasps what’s really going on in preparation for each and every pitch, the anticipation becomes as interesting as the action.

It gets better. Years later, now back in Vancouver, I was due to give a sermon at the congregation we attended. I was working in web hosting and design at the time. While I was at my desk, I had some music playing. The song, Home Run by the band Geoff Moore & the Distance, began to play. I knew then what to speak on. Being aware of the statistical reality that home-run hitters tend to be strike out leaders, I was going to explain how people who are called to attempt the greatest achievements tend to experience the most embarrassing failures. And unless those folks learn to how to deal with failure, they are never going to fulfill their destiny. Too many people are sitting in the stands, watching the game (of life), because they are too afraid of failure. It turned out to be a very special morning.

This one object lesson has become a book’s worth over time. I came to realize that there is something about baseball that illustrates the dynamics of real life in a way that perhaps no other game does. Some years ago I put many of these ideas to paper, hoping to publish them one day. They continued to sit on the shelf when last year I received a surprise invitation to be the chapel leader of Ottawa’s new professional baseball team, the Champions. Through all this time, I have pondered why it is that the theme of baseball would capture my heart the way it does. My greatest passion is for the Scriptures – that I would be able to help others effectively connect with God and his Truth as revealed in his written Word. Yet at the same time I know how essential it is to let God do the leading, and that the paths he calls us to take may seem very strange to us. While seeking God about my possible baseball book, I had no idea that I would ever be asked to be involved in sports ministry.

And I never would have dreamt that this sports ministry would end up being a spring board to a most unusual baseball (and life) adventure as Robin and I get ready to head out to Brooklyn for the World Baseball Classic Qualifier, featuring the national teams of Brazil, Great Britain, Pakistan, and…wait for it…Israel!

Team Israel is favored to win as they have the most players with major league experience. The vast majority of players on Team Israel are Jewish American. Like all these teams, players don’t have to be citizens of the country, but simply eligible for citizenship. If you are interested in learning more about Team Israel and this week’s tournament, here’s a great article.

I really don’t know what to expect this week, but as appropriate and able, I hope to blog as often as I can and post pictures to Instagram and Facebook.

Redeemed! Reflections on a personal story

Alan Gilman in 1976

Alan Gilman in 1976

Tomorrow will be forty years since the most extraordinary day of my life! When I share my story of coming to know God through Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah, they often respond with all sorts of questions: How did your family react?; How did this change your life?; What does this mean to you as a Jewish person?; and so on. Yet some years ago I was asked a particular question I had never been asked before: “How did it work?”

My Background

First, some background: As a child and teenager, I suffered quite a bit from anxiety and depression, including an emotional breakdown at age 11 and panic attacks at 18. I grew up in a home full of discord and strife. My parents separated when I was 8 years old, reconciled a year later only to split up permanently when I was 14. I lived with my mother until I went away to school at age 20, my three older brothers having moved away. I saw my father rarely through the years.

Transformation

Just before my 19th birthday, I met a young Jewish man – a friend of a friend – who demonstrated from the Jewish Bible (the Old Testament) that Yeshua was the Messiah.* He explained to me the biblical concepts of sin and forgiveness. He said that if I asked God to forgive me and believed that Yeshua died for my sins and rose from the dead, I would be “happy for the rest of my life and live forever in heaven.” While there was so much of what this young man said that day that was true, I eventually learned that his guaranty of constant happiness was inaccurate – inaccurate, but not entirely untrue. If happiness means a life completely devoid of grief, struggles and disappointments, then he was wrong. But if it means a basic sense of well-being in the midst of the ups and downs of everyday life, then he was absolutely correct.

My panic attacks stopped immediately and for the next few months I was on an emotional high of a nature that I had never experienced before. That high didn’t continue, however, which at first was somewhat of a crisis. But it would not be long before I would come to understand the depth of what God had done for me. While my assumptions regarding being happy forever (or at least in this life) would not be realized, the change that God caused in me has been no less profound. Believing in Yeshua has completely changed me. From my emotional state to my outlook on life to my sense of worth to my values and goals, I have been transformed. While I may still struggle some with the scars of my first nineteen years of life, I have experienced a most wonderful transformation through my encounter with the reality of the God of Israel through the Messiah.

How Did It Work?

But years later, when asked, “How did it work?”, I didn’t know what to say. That I had truly experienced the transforming power of God was clear to me, but as to exactly what it was that God did to me to cause that change, I couldn’t say. God brought about the change, but that explains who changed me, not what he did to change me. The person who asked the question surmised that it had to do with my coming to an understanding of the meaning of life. They thought that my getting a handle on what life was really all about stabilized me

There is truth in this, but that too, doesn’t really answer the question, “How does it work?” My changed viewpoint has had a great positive effect on me. But is that what made the difference? And even if it did, what caused my viewpoint to so radically change? Was it my own willingness to adopt a new way of thinking that transformed me? I don’t think so. Is there even an adequate answer to this question? It wouldn’t bother me if there wasn’t. That God’s reality is at work in my life is good enough for me. Yet after giving this much thought, I do think there is more that can be said about how the transforming power of God works.

The most obvious aspect of my transformation was psychological. The panic attacks stopped. My outlook on life radically changed. I had been a very self-centered person, and while I do not claim to have attained selflessness, my world was no longer just about me anymore. Similarly, issues of morality had meant little to me, but once the Messiah came into my life, I began to develop a strong sense of right and wrong. Also, life in general which previously had no meaning now had purpose. My Jewish identity had been important to me, but without much substance. Once I came to know the reality of the God of Israel, I began to see myself as part of his eternal plan that was intimately rooted in my forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. A lot changed, but none of this explains exactly what it was that God did to me that day.

The Answer: Redemption

The best way to explain it is through the biblical concept of redemption. Redemption is the act of buying back a person sold into slavery or the restoration of property lost due to extreme poverty. According to the Torah (the five books of Moses), when this occurred, it was the obligation of a near relative to redeem the person or property (see Vayikra / Leviticus 25 & 27 and Bemidbar / Numbers 35).

Redemption in the Bible

Redemption is a reoccurring theme in the Bible. Jacob refers to God’s redemption in his life (Bereshit / Genesis 48:16). The deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt is called redemption (Shemot / Exodus 6:6; 15:13). God as the Redeemer of Israel is found several times in the prophets (Isaiah 41:14; 43:1; 43:14; 52:3; Jeremiah 50:34; Micah 4:10; etc.). The Book of Ruth is a beautiful story of redemption. In the Psalms we have references to God as redeemer of both Israel as a nation (Psalms 74:2; 77:15; 78:35. etc.) and for individuals (Psalms 19:14; 69:18; 103:4, etc.).

Redemption is the act of rescuing a person or persons from a most dire situation and restoring them to a place of freedom. This is what happened to me.

Rescued From Oppression

I had been in an oppressive state which included several components. The most basic was the spiritual one in that I had been alienated from God. But it also included a relational component in that my home life was extremely dysfunctional and my friendships were based on selfishness. It had an economic component as well in that the only parent in my life was no longer able to provide for our needs. It had an intellectual component in that I had no direction for my education. I also had a sub-standard work ethic, since I thought life was simply about comfort and pleasure.

When I encountered God that day, he redeemed me. By Yeshua’s giving his life as the ransom for my sins, God rescued me from my oppression, set me in right relationship with himself and began to direct me in the quality of life he desires for us all. It was his redemption that significantly alleviated my extreme anxiety. It was not that my perspective on life resulted in a psychological adjustment. Rather I experienced a psychological adjustment due to God’s transforming power of redemption.

Not long after asking Yeshua into my life, I remarked to myself that things looked different. While my physical surroundings hadn’t really changed, it was as if the realm in which I found myself had. The fact is it did. As expressed in these words from the New Covenant (New Testament) writings:

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14).

God’s redemption of the people of Israel in Egypt anticipated an even greater redemption through the Messiah, which is now available to all. It is not just a new frame of mind or a deeper commitment to a religious lifestyle, but a life-changing encounter with the God of Israel.

* If you are interested in seeing a list of Old Testament prophecies that are fulfilled by Yeshua (Jesus), go here:

http://www.alangilman.ca/content/messianicprophecies.html