The Lord has blessed me with 61 years of life. I spent my first 25 years as a Jew. I was raised in the Conservative Jewish Faith. My mom and dad took me to the synagogue every Friday night to worship our God. I loved my faith and was very comfortable in it. I went to Hebrew school and was Bar Mitzvah’d at age 13. That means that I became a man in the eyes of the Jewish community. I did real well in Hebrew school where I learned to read and understand Hebrew. I learned about the history of my people. My father was a very religious guy and a wonderful father. My mother worked hard, as did my father, to put food on the table and provide for us. We were not very well off, but we had what we needed. Dad went to temple most every morning before work. I went with him at times and prayed to God. The rabbi thought that I was doing extremely well in Hebrew school and offered me a full scholarship to become a rabbi. I was a good boy and seldom got into any trouble. I didn’t drink or smoke, except to try it when I was at camp one summer. It wasn’t anything to do with peer pressure. I just wanted to try it. I got dizzy and tingly, and I didn’t really enjoy it, thank God. My mom died of lung cancer from smoking. My sister had open-heart surgery and had a valve replaced in her heart, due to smoking. She is only two years older than me.
When I was a kid, in my very early teens, I vowed to myself that I would always stay in shape and never do anything that would hurt my body, like smoke, drink in excess or take drugs. My friend’s brother offered me some marijuana when I was in high school, and I simply said no. I wasn’t going to let anyone destroy my life. A while ago I was buying some fuses for our car and a young kid, who was in the car next to me, asked me for a cigarette. I laughed and said, “I don’t want to die!” I think smoking is repulsive because of what it did to my mom. She died when my son was only one year old. What an awful thing. She lived that last year just to see him. She never got to see my younger son at all. She missed so much of life. I miss her and my dad. He died about 27 years ago of colon cancer. This is another reason why I want to stay in shape. I want to live a long and healthy life. Your health is everything. Without it, if you don’t take care of your body, it will not take you through life. The deacon at church died about a year ago. He was only 60 or so. He drank a lot before he turned his life over to Jesus, and he stopped quite a while ago, but it took its toll. His body quit. His liver failed. What a waste. Take care of yourself. Stay off drugs and booze. If you don’t you may never get to see your grandchildren grow up either. The body is so wonderful. God gives us the power to heal, but we have to take care of it. We need plenty of exercise, good food and plenty of rest. Our soul needs God. Our spirit needs to be in touch with our creator, God. Some people never find God or Jesus. As a result, they try to make themselves happy in all the wrong ways: drugs, women, alcohol, gangs, and many other ways that hurt their body or damages their life. We need God’s guidance to live the good life.
When I was in high school, one of my good friends that I was in boy scouts with asked me to go with him to a bible study group at church. If it weren’t for him, I may never have searched for and found Jesus. That was one of the best things anyone ever did for me. They asked me to go to church and find out about Jesus. It took me 8 years of reading and searching to understand about Jesus, because my Jewish faith said that there was no Jesus. You’ll never guess where I found my answers that led me to believe in Jesus. It was right there in the Jewish Holy Scriptures that I got for my Bar Mitzvah all the time. The rabbi and the teachers in Hebrew school never showed me the prophecies in Isaiah or Jeremiah or Ezekiel or Micah or Daniel. My bible told me that the Savior, the Messiah, would be born in Bethlehem. It also told me that He would be born of a virgin, and we know that there has only been one person born that way and that it was Jesus. This was the special sign that God gave to Isaiah that would convince the Jewish people that the Messiah was real and really the Savior of the world. Some Jews believe that the “special sign” was that the Messiah would be born of a young girl (almah in Hebrew). That’s not a very special sign. Billions of people have born of a young girl. That’s what did it for me. In Jeremiah 31:31 I read that there was going to be a new covenant between God and His people. Christians call it the New Testament. Daniel said that the temple would be rebuilt and then the Messiah would come 490 years after the prophecy was given. Well, guess when the temple was rebuilt and guess who came after that to be the Messiah, the Anointed One that God sent to His people. You guessed it! I also read that the temple was going to be destroyed so there wouldn’t be any more blood sacrifice. That happened in 70 A.D. The temple was destroyed after the Messiah came because God’s chosen people didn’t believe in the Messiah that God sent. The temple will be rebuilt one more time before the Messiah comes back again. Jesus was the final sacrifice for all of us so our sins would be forgiven and so we could go to Heaven with Him when we die. What a beautiful plan for us, God’s children. It took me eight years to find the answers that I was looking for, which finally convinced me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus was the only way. I became a follower of Jesus on the eve of my 25th birthday. That was 32 years ago…32 wonderful years ago.
I like the fact that we are all God’s children. That makes you and me brothers and sisters. We are family. Our Christian family is often much closer to us than our blood family. That’s because Christians love each other and care for each other.
When I was a boy, I was very shy and I didn’t feel very good about myself in school. I was a C student. I didn’t do very well in school except in band and gym. I almost went into physical education. I loved going back to the gym after school and working out on the gymnastic equipment. I did it every day. It was a way of life for me. I felt good, and I found something that I did well. I felt the same way about playing in band. I almost became a mechanical engineer, because I enjoyed designing things and drafting. The teacher I had was old and became sick. The teacher that replaced him was older and didn’t want to teach, so that was the end of that. It was spring of my senior year in high school and I had to make a decision as to what I wanted to be in life. I picked the thing that I did the best and enjoyed the most. I went to the Boston Conservatory of Music. I made the deans list about half the time I was there. I would have made it a lot more often if it hadn’t been for English. I had this teacher that didn’t enjoy teaching at the school and he took it out on us. Oh, well. I really loved school now and I learned the tools that would allow me to teach others the love of music that I had.
At this point in my life, I didn’t know Jesus yet, but I had read the bible through about 3 or 4 times by that time. Every time I read, I learned more about God’s plan for me. There is so much in the bible that reading it through only once was not enough for me. It’s so hard to imagine why every Jew and Christian haven’t read through the bible. I guess a lot of people are just too lazy to spend the time with the Lord, or maybe it’s because they just don’t see the need to. Their life is ok and things are going all right. So why spend the time? Boy, have they missed out on the most precious thing in the world…God’s WORD. If you think your life is ok, you should try living it with God and for God!!! What an adventure!
I graduated from the Boston Conservatory in 1969. I was very anxious to teach and use everything that I had learned. Well, unfortunately, the Viet Nam conflict was raging and I had to make some life-changing decisions. I could take a chance with the draft or I could join the Army reserve. The draft meant that they put all the days of the year in a hat, so to speak, and they would pull one birth date at a time. If yours was picked, then you had to go to basic training and then go over to Viet Nam to serve your country. The other choice was to join the reserves and serve your country in the United States and not have to put your life on the line. I chose the reserves, and it’s a good thing I did, because my birth date was chosen second. I was number 2 to go over. I made the right choice for me. I wanted to do the honorable thing and serve my country, but I couldn’t picture myself fighting in Viet Nam. I went to basic training at age 23. I still hadn’t decided to accept Jesus yet. I didn’t enjoy basic training at all. To keep my sanity, I went to the synagogue on Friday night and Saturday morning. On Sunday, I went to church in the chapel across the street from the synagogue. I played sax in the folk group with a bunch of civilians. They asked me if I wanted to go off post with them after church. I knew I wasn’t supposed to, but I did. That was ok for while, but I finally got caught. I had to spend the night in the commander’s office. (Not too bad!) I had the privilege of being the cantor for the whole post for the Jewish High Holiday services in the synagogue for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. They actually let me out of basic training for a few days so I could learn my part. It was a lot of work, but a very fond memory.
Basic finally got over and I was back home teaching music. It was great. I loved teaching kids how to play their instrument and about music. I got married and moved to the middle part of Massachusetts. I got a job in a junior-senior high school. It was ok, but it was a very small town atmosphere and there were a lot of behavior problems. I had to put a lot of time in after school. Rehearsals were at night and I had to put in time during football season with the marching band. I was getting nowhere, because the high school kids had jobs and they didn’t want to have to rehearse at night. The band was small and I didn’t get much support from the principal. I was looking for another job and one opened up in the next town. I got the job and things were going well. The principal wanted one of his friends in my position so my contract wasn’t renewed. I was out of public school teaching for 18 years. I was teaching retarded and handicapped adults in institutions. I loved the job and the people. We all worked together to help the people who we served who were living there. Everyone thought I was doing a wonderful job. I finally felt good about myself.
At this point in my life, I had just accepted Jesus. The first church I was in was a Universalist church. I made some good Christian friends and was starting my Christian walk. I was hungry for the Word of the Lord. My life was changing. I found out the Christians cared about me and others. This Christian way of life felt good, because I wasn’t just living for me, but for others also. I was teaching with someone who told me that I just had to try getting into the prison ministry. I thought about it and when they announced at church that they were looking for some carolers to go to the local jail around Christmas time, it seemed like the logical thing to do. I took my guitar and gave it a try. I saw a bunch of guys in orange clothes, because that is what they wore to distinguish them from the people who worked there. They loved to sing, and I had something that helped them forget the bars that were keeping them there, away from their families and a life of freedom. My heart went out to them. I knew that this was for me. I met some guys that I would become friends with once they got out of prison. I met a bunch of wonderful guys. They were the same as me. They just got mixed up with drugs or gangs or something that got them into prison. I loved them. I cared for them. I wanted to give them something that made them feel good and gave them the Lord’s message. The message would set them free, even though they were still in prison. It was freedom from sin and guilt. It was the same freedom that I was experiencing. I finally felt good about myself, because I was caring for someone and doing something good for them instead of just worrying about me for a change. I knew this was what Jesus wanted of me. I knew that this was the right road that I was on. I could see that Jesus made a change in their lives. He gave them hope and peace and a way to make it right with their families again. They cared for them. They made peace with their parents, their wives and their kids. They found that forgiveness could make things right again. They asked forgiveness from their families and from God. They forgave the people who hurt them instead of trying to get even with them. Their lives were changing and the hurt was going away. When these guys got out of prison, their lives were changed. They didn’t go back to the old life. Some did, but the return rate for the guys who came to the chapel was much, much less than everyone else. The head of the prison thought that R.E.C. was great. It helped guys so they had a way to help themselves, a way that made a difference in their lives. (R.E.C. was short for Residents Encounter Christ). They also had R.E.C. on the outs for guys who wanted to continue the Christian experience with others who were released. I have been doing prison ministry for 19 years now and it is just plain AWESOME!
My hunger for the Lord was ever growing. I took a two-year course to become a teacher in church. By this time I was a member of the Baptist church. This church was the best church I had ever been in. The reason I felt that way was because they had classes for everyone. They had classes for couples, singles, young, old, divorced…you name it, and they had it. We would go to church and then go to class. Once a month we had a singspiration. All we would do was sing Christian songs that we all loved to sing. We spent 2-3 hours of an evening singing. The church was spirit-filled. I felt that my soul was really being fed at this church. I hope everyone can find a church like that. Our soul knows that we need that experience. When we go to church and pray, when we go to a retreat and spend a weekend with the Lord, it feels good because we are spending time with the Lord, our creator. The more we can do things like that, the better our lives become. The closer we get to Jesus and the more we try to fashion our lives after Him, the more productive our lives are. The more time we spend with the Lord, the more He will speak to us in thought and message. We hear Him telling us how we can serve Him, our brothers and our sisters. There are so, so many ways that we can use our time and talents to help others in need. The best way I do that is to go to a local detention center. When I left Massachusetts, I promised the guys that I would contact the prison system where I was moving to and let the Lord lead me to a place where I could serve Him and help those who were looking for the Lord too. I was led to this detention center where a lady told me that they had been praying for 2 years for a guitar player. Well, here I am. The center is for boys 12-18 years of age. They are so precious and open to the Lord. I have led hundreds and hundreds of them to the Lord, because they hear and believe and turn their lives over to Him. What a joy and blessing for them and for me!
The Lord told me that I should be there for the guys when they get out. He told me that it would be a good thing to do with my time when I retired. That sounded like a good idea. Well, my friend who told me about the prison ministry in the first place sent me a video about helping those when they get out of prison. It made me think. I knew that this was going to be the right thing to do. My wife wanted to go to the movies to see THE GREEN MILE. It was about guys on death row. I thought of the guys locked up at the center. The movie showed how these guys were killed in the electric chair. One of the guys was put there for something that he definitely did not do. They killed him, too. You could see that he was a man of God. He had the gift of healing people and giving life to the dead, even. It was his turn to go to the electric chair. I wanted to get up and leave the theater in the worst way. I almost got sick, but I knew that God had a plan in seeing the horrible way that people are treated in jail, and even that some people would be tortured for things they didn’t do. I watched this man go to the chair and I felt the tears roll down my cheeks. As I write this, it brings back visions of this horrible experience. I can feel the tears coming again. We left the theater. I felt like a zombie. I felt terrible. I thought of the center and the beautiful boys I have met over the years. I saw some of their faces. I thought of the fact that some of them would be going to prison some day and maybe even go down that same GREEN MILE as they did in the movie. We got in the car and we started to leave the parking lot. My wife asked me how long I had been in prison ministries. I lost it…I cried, I wept, I sobbed, I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t even drive. I had to get out of the car and she had to drive home. I told her that she shouldn’t have taken me to see this movie. Well, I guess God had a plan. I got the message, all right. Retirement was too far off and too many wonderful boys, children of God, were going to be going down this horrible path if I didn’t do something for them. It is time for me to get out there in the community. It’s time for me to let it be known that I am there for them when they leave the center. Retirement is too far away. There are too many lives that would be wasted if I didn’t do something about it. I have to show people this movie that I saw, that my friend gave me. I have to purchase the GREEN MILE and show people what it is like. I have to tell the boys in the center that I need them, when they leave, and ask them to join with me to reach others. I have to let them know that it’s not just good enough to know about Jesus, but we have to help those in need. We have to be Jesus to those who need Him. We have to give of ourselves. WE HAVE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE, because if we don’t, every one of us, nobody else will do it for those in need. God needs you. Jesus is calling you. We have to act. We have to respond. We have to give of ourselves. When we do this, we will be a servant like Jesus was. God gave me this message to give. God gave you this message to hear. I know what I have to do. I will do it. When God speaks to me, I know that He is speaking. He doesn’t have to knock at the door and come personally. If everyone cared for each other, there would be no more prisons. People would be busy helping and not hurting and thinking only of themselves. We can have Heaven here on earth. We can feel God’s goodness when we serve His children. We can be God’s hands and heart. If we aren’t, who in the world is going to be? Who can do it as good as you and me? We can make a difference.
I am now a band director in elementary school. I have truly been blessed with many good friends and kids that I teach.
I believe in miracles because God healed me when I had 4 ruptured disks in my back (please see the MIRACLES SECTION). He has led me to and opened many doors in my life; to get jobs. He has led me to a new church where I lead our 13-year-old son’s bible study. I play flute and sing in the choir in church. I have just started an adult bible study on Revelation. The Lord has blessed me with a wonderful and loving wife who I love and adore very deeply, thanks to Jesus and answering prayer in helping our relationship and making it something so unbelievably beautiful, beyond our wildest dreams (please see MIRACLES SECTION for details). God is good. He has also worked a miracle with the relationship I have with my son. We are getting much closer now. The more I turn my life to Him, the better it gets and the better I get. I have a long way to go and grow yet. I have so many things that I want to do for God and mankind yet. There are so many ministries and people to share with. My number one goal in life is to let people know about Jesus and how He can save you from your sins, and thus bring you to Heaven. Your soul lives forever. Jesus said that He was the only way to the Father. I believe it, because He said it. It is really that simple. When I was driving in up-state New York several years ago, I saw a billboard that said, “GOD SAID IT, I BELIEVE IT, AND THAT’S THAT.”
I have recently started a new chapter in my life. I have been thinking ahead to my retirement in 8 years, and I want to serve the Lord even more when I have the time to do so. I started to entertain the thought of taking my Master’s Degree in Divinity so I could be even more of an active part in our church. The Lord told me that 8 years was way too long to wait. I am planning on starting the Degree program this summer. When the Lord speaks, I listen. I am so excited!!! My heart just jumps when I think of starting. It’s going to be wonderful. I have a peace about me now that I have never felt before. It feels right and good. Every time I take another step closer to God, it feels RIGHT AND GREAT! Please pray for me in this endeavor. It’s going to take a lot of work, especially now, since I still have a full time job, a family and many responsibilities. I hope to use this program as a starting place for my next endeavor. I hope to bring our church and the Jewish community around us together in song, celebrating the Jewish holidays, learning Hebrew and Jewish traditions and dance and just getting to know each other as children of the same God that we all love and worship. Maybe some day we’ll take a trip to Israel together. Maybe we can support each other and the mission to support Israel both financially and spiritually. God is love. He loves us all. We should all love Him and each other! Perhaps some day we will all worship and pray together as brothers and sisters. WOULDN’T THAT BE AWESOME!
It has truly been a blessing. I have come to know and talk with people all over the world. What an awesome tool to carry out God’s directive, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Just think what Jesus could have done with the internet. Maybe He would even have a cell phone. If He did, I’m sure He would say…(you know what’s coming)…CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?! Well, I will keep you posted on the wonders that God has in store for me as my life continues to grow in the Lord. My prayer is for the church to use me…just use me…that’s all I can ask. Remember: BE A BLESSING—GET A BLESSING!
God bless you my brothers and sisters.
I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!