“What goes around, comes around”

That is an axiom that most of us have heard all of our lives.

But what is the spiritual lesson in this circular pattern?

Recently in our Torah study lessons we have been learning about the pre-existence of the soul. For most of my life I have rejected that notion, not believing that there is a biblical basis for thinking that all the souls of men and women were created in the beginning and are waiting somewhere in the presence of God to be incarnated in the flesh.

I admit that I was puzzled by the fact of the pre-incarnate Son, but I didn’t think that we regular humans could have had a pre-incarnate state of being.

BTW everything I, we, learn is temporary. We are always learning more, and revising or tossing out what we thought we knew!

  • Now I believe that our soul was pre-existent to our bodies, and goes back to the Father to wait for the resurrection when our body dies. At that point the renewed and perfect body will be reunited with our post-incarnate soul.
  • When a human being is conceived, God sends the soul to inhabit the body that is being “knit together” in the mother’s womb. (Another BTW: this tells us how much God values this process since he decided to present himself to the world through the womb of a woman!)
  • When the soul inhabits the body it leaves the all sufficient presence of the Father. Before being sent to the body, the soul has no decisions to make. There are no choices before incarnation. Every need is supplied, and there is no sin to tempt us. God is such a constant presence it could be compared to a fish in water. It doesn’t know that it’s in water. It just is.
  • The incarnated soul has entered the “world of concealment”. God is no longer a constant presence. The soul must now seek him. He or she will have choices to make. That is what free will is. God will not interfere with our choices. He wants us to freely choose him.
  • God has created the soul in such a way that it longs for reunion with God, even though it does not fully remember what it was like to be with him. We call this “the God-shaped void”. Yeshua told us that when we seek him, we will find him.
    • He made us so that we can communicate with him.He introduces himself to us by his Spirit.He made us so marvelously that we can hear, speak, and read.He gave us written instructions for life
    • Yeshua also told us:  Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14:21 ESV
  • While in the body, the soul will have trouble. Yeshua promised that, too.  
    • There will be a battle between the body and the spirit the whole time it is on the earth.
    • There will be sickness, heartbreaks, struggles, pain, hardship and eventually death.
  • When the body dies, the soul leaves the body and goes either to “Paradise” as Yeshua told the thief on the cross, or somewhere else, to await the resurrection.
  • The soul takes nothing back with it, except what it did, and learned, during its time in the body

The questions might well be asked:

  • If the soul is going to make a round trip, and it will have so much trouble while it is on this trip, why should it have to go at all?
  • Since the soul had everything it needed before it ever incarnated a body, why did it have to do so?
  • What did it need that it did not already have?

The answer is simple and profound: the soul needs the body at the time of the resurrection. There will  be a place in the world to come for complete humans only—souls in bodies. In order to do, and be, who God intends us to be in the world to come we must arrive there in our new bodies.

Paul wrote “So it is with the resurrection of the dead. When the body is “sown,” it decays; when it is raised, it cannot decay. When sown, it is without dignity; when raised, it will be beautiful. When sown, it is weak; when raised, it will be strong. When sown, it is an ordinary human body; when raised, it will be a body controlled by the Spirit. If there is an ordinary human body, there is also a body controlled by the Spirit.”

1 Corinthians 15:42-44 CJB

So that brings us to the picture of the roundabout. I would like to tell you a story.

My mother went through some of the most horrible trials people can go through. She lost her youngest daughter, and granddaughter, in a double-murder suicide in 1983. In 1986 she lost another daughter to pneumonia. At the same time her husband, my dad, was being tortured by mental illness via demonic oppression. Through all this, my mom, struggled to support herself and learn to live with the tragedies that had befallen her. The strain on her body took its toll. She had bouts of losing her eyesight, or hearing, or both.

In 1987 I invited her to take a vacation with me. She was living by herself in California. She flew to Seattle where I picked her up for our trip around the “Cascade Loop”.

From Puget Sound into the Cascades and back runs “Washington State’s Ultimate Road Trip”. We took several days to enjoy the scenery and each other’s company. At the end of the trip I took her to a seafood restaurant in Bellingham, not too far from where my family lived.

When we finished dinner I said to her, “Mom, I have an invitation for you. The only thing you are doing by working in the bank in California is paying for your condo and your car. You could sell the condo, pay off the car and come live with us.”

She didn’t need much time thinking over the invitation, to accept it. Within a week or so I flew to California to drive her car, and her, up to our home in Ferndale, Washington.

Mom took about two years to recover her equilibrium. Then she enrolled in Bible college.  She has written all this history in the book she wrote about herself. You can find it on Amazon.

It is titled, Help Me Be a Good Girl. Amen.  

You may also read my daughter’s tribute to her, here: And She Laughs

My mom, Becky Terry

Mom lived with me most of the next 28 years. For a little while she lived in Canada as dean of women where she went to Bible School, and for a little while she lived by herself in Blaine, in Scotland to care for a sick infant, and in Hong Kong to smuggle Bibles into China. After Tim and I were married she came to live with us for the last 20 years of her life. I encourage you to read her book. What a life she led!

In 2016 her soul left her body to return to the Lord. During the dying process she was in hospice for a couple of days. When my brother and his wife arrived to see her there, Tim and I left for awhile to have dinner. The closest restaurant was closed, so when Tim asked me where I would like to go instead, I said, “Let’s go to Anthony’s it has a nice view of the water.”

As soon as we were seated at Anthony’s, I realized that we were in the exact same place Mom and I had been in when I had invited her to come live with me, 28 years in the past. The restaurant had had a different name then, but we were in the same place; it seemed that we were even at the same table.

Within an hour of our dinner at the same restaurant where Mom’s journey with me began, she was gone.

A full circle had been drawn. Like leaving a roundabout and going back the way you came, Mom had completed her round trip.

. . .the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Ecclesiastes 12:7

Mom in burial shroud
Grace, law vs grace, Replacement Theology, Uncategorized

Grocery Store Jesus

Recently I heard another story about people when asked where their groceries come from answered, “From the grocery store”.  I have always found it surprising when people say that. They may understand that the food is not produced in the grocery stores, but they give little thought to all the background that is behind that product to get it to the grocery store.

When I heard this comment a few days ago, it got me thinking.

I “got saved” more than 40 years ago. Up until almost 10 years ago I did not think much about the Jewish background of “Christianity”. Everything changed after I made my first trip to Israel in 2013. I came back from that trip stunned. For several months I could not even express what I had seen, much less understand it.

Someone asked me, “What was the highlight of your trip, Grace?” I couldn’t answer. I stared at that person for a several seconds, then said, “Chris, I can’t answer your question. I feel as if I am standing in front of an incredible stained glass window. You are asking me to remove one pane from that window to try to explain the whole thing. I can’t do that. It would not explain anything and in trying to do so I will ruin the whole picture.”

My visit to Israel was more than a paradigm shift, it was life changing. I started to see the Hebrew/Jewish background and context of my faith. I started to ask questions.

“What is this thing we do on Sunday mornings, and why is so different from what we read in the book of Acts?” I asked my husband.

I read several books on the history of the “Christian” church through new lenses.

I no longer thought of “Christianity” as a different “religion” from Judaism. I began to understand the continuum. “Christianity” was never intended to be a new religion. The Bible that I had been studying for so many years is Jewish, start to finish.

What an exciting, enlightening, enriching journey it has been for the past few years.

Jesus did not suddenly pop into history; He came through thousands of years of preparation in history—Jewish/Hebrew history. (it is His Story minus one s=history).

We skip the vast richness of our faith when we just pick up Jesus and don’t understand all the development of His-Story behind it.

Here is my analogy:

  • So many people pick up their food at the grocery store, but don’t know all the background that went in to getting it there. Yes, the food is nourishing but mostly unappreciated for what it took to get it to the grocery store.
  • So many people pick up their Jesus at church-and yes he is nourishing, and saving, and secured our future, but the taste is bland without savoring the cultivation and care it took for him to arrive.


A partial list of  what I have learned since studying Jesus in his context

  1. Jesus, Yeshua, was, and is a Jew
  2. Replacement theology is wrong
  3. Yeshua did not start a new religion
    1. Our faith is Jewish, start to finish
  4. The law was not abolished
    1. Yeshua’s “fulfillment” of the law did not abolish it  
    2. Yeshua never broke the law–that would have disqualified him as the Messiah
    3. Gentile believers were expected to attend synagogue and learn the Torah (Acts 15)
    4. Yeshua did not change the food laws
  5. The gospel is “Repent. The Kingdom of God is at hand.”
  6. Heaven is not the goal, nor our home
  7. Sabbath did not get changed to Sunday
    1. Sabbath keeping is the 4th commandment
  8. Paul was a faithful Jew all his life.
    1. He did not “convert” to Christianity or get his name changed on the Damascus Road
  9. Pharisees are not all hypocrites
    1. Yeshua was a Pharisee
  10. “Binding and Loosing” are legal terms, meaning prohibiting and permitting
  11. “An eye for an eye” is a legal term having to do with monetary compensation for loss
  12. The Sanhedrin is the high court, like the supreme court in the United States
  13. “Old” and “New” Testament names are misleading
  14. The Bible does not teach “original sin”
  15. The “evil eye” is stinginess
  16. “Treasures in heaven” is a euphemism for “Treasures with God” and does not refer to a place

I would love to hear your comments, questions, additions or corrections. I am still learning.

Believer's Path, Grace, law vs grace, Sabbath Keeping, Uncategorized

Was the Law Abolished?

“Do not think that I came to abolish the law. . .”

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven,* but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-20

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. Matthew 7:21-29

Several years ago when my husband and I started to learn that Jesus, Yeshua, was a Torah keeping Jew, we joined a group that was studying the “Old” testament. The study is called “Shadows of the Messiah”. It teaches what Yeshua taught the two disciples on the road to Emmaus—the entire “old” testament points to Him!

Our study group met in a church near our home. We met on a weekday evening. The pastor’s wife came to the first couple of lessons. When the third lesson started, the pastor of the church walked into the meeting—not as an attendee, but as the authority of his church. He demanded to know, “Who in this room believes that we are still ‘under the law’”?

The twenty or so people in the room were stunned into silence. No one answered him.

Now, several years later, my husband and I would have an answer for him, “Yes. Of course. Jesus did not come to abolish the law. He was a Torah Observant Jew, and as his disciple, we do what he did.”

After the confrontation from the pastor, the group moved their meetings to our home. We learned, and are still learning the importance of  keeping the law.

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14:21

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23

“Workers of lawlessness?” ! Who were these “workers of lawlessness”? Those who thought they were doing things for Him. Did they not do mighty works in his name? So why did Yeshua call them “workers of lawlessness”? Because they did not keep the law! 

One of the things we learned early on in our study of Yeshua and “the Law”, is that the word that is translated “law” in most of our English bibles, is “Torah”. Torah is the first five books of the Original Scriptures (the name we prefer for what is commonly called “Old Testament”). “Torah” means instruction, or teaching. Yes, God’s laws/commandments are part of it, but Torah is God’s loving instructions for life. Torah teaches us how to approach Him, and how to live with each other. When Yeshua comes back, Torah will be the constitution of the whole world. We had better learn to follow His instructions now and not be numbered amongst those who are “workers of lawlessness.”

Grace and Torah are not opposites. Grace and Legalism are opposites. We cannot do enough good, or earn our way into the kingdom of God by “keeping the law”. All of us before and after the incarnation are and were, dependent on grace made possible by Yeshua. That’s what he meant when he said, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you cannot enter the kingdom”. He said, “No one comes to the Father (i.e. enters the kingdom of God) except by me. Since God doesn’t change, the rules don’t change. All the people before and after the cross are dependent on His grace. Abraham saw his day, and rejoiced.

So do we.  

*Do you think Paul will be called “least in the kingdom of heaven”? Of course not. He was, contrary to teaching you may have heard, also a Torah observant Pharisee right until the moment he died. When he was brought before the chief priests and the council before being sent to Rome “he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. Acts 23:6

He also said, “My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews. They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee.” Acts 26:4-5


Re-thinking the Parable of the Wineskins

Matthew 9:14-17 ESV

Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”

I “got saved” in 1976. For more than 40 years I understood these words of my Lord to mean that Jesus’ teaching does not fit into Judaism. He brought something new. Christianity could not be contained in the old wineskins of Judaism. The old wineskins of Judaism must be replaced with new wineskins.

Then in 2016, I went to Israel. My tidy world of Christianity was shaken to the core. (I will go into that more in another post.) As my husband and I walked out of church a few weeks later, I asked him, “What is this THING we do on Sunday morning, and why is it so different from what we read in the book of Acts?” Thus began our radical journey to becoming Messianic Gentiles.

Now I know that Jesus did not come to replace old ways. He did not start a new religion. He was a Torah keeping Jew until the day he died, rose again, and left. When he returns he will rule the whole world with the Torah as our constitution.

I am learning to read what we now call the Apostolic Scriptures through the lens of the Original Scriptures. It is impossible to understand the Gospels, Epistles and Revelation without following the “hyperlinks” on every page back to Torah, the Prophets, and the Wisdom writings that make up the Bible that the writers of the NT knew.

Here is the filter:

If Jesus had not been Torah observant, he could not be the Messiah. Those who opposed him knew that. They tried over and over again to trap him, or to prove that he was not Torah-observant. They could not prove it.

Yeshua himself said: Matthew 5:17-19

Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete, (or verify) it. Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah—not until everything that must happen has happened. So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot (commandments) and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys them and so teaches will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

This means that whenever and where ever we read something that seems to contradict his Torah observance, we have to dig deeper than what we have been taught, to find the truth.

The parable of the wineskins presented just such a conundrum to me yesterday.

I found the explanation in Jewish Commentary by David Stern

This verse and the next speak to the issue of whether faith in Yeshua the Messiah can be combined with Judaism. Here the old coat is Judaism. The unshrunk cloth is Messianic faith which has not been adapted (“shrunk”) to the framework of Judaism as currently practiced. (“Shrinking” here is simply an aspect of Yeshua’s “patch” metaphor. It does not imply that Messianic faith must be diminished in order to fit into Judaism.) Combining un-adapted Messianic faith with traditional Judaism doesn’t work–the patch tears away from the coat; that is, faith in Yeshua apart from Judaism–and, later on in the case of Gentiles, faith in Yeshua apart from the foundational truths about God taught in the Tanakh, is useless and worthless. Not only that, but it leaves a worse hole-attempting to combine un-adapted Messianic faith with traditional Judaism leaves Judaism worse off than before. The implication is that one must shrink the new cloth-adapt Messianic faith to Judaism-for Yeshua does not imply that there is anything wrong with patching an old coat! The early Messianic Jews did adapt Messianic faith to Judaism, but the later Gentile Church did not. Instead, some forms of Gentile Christianity became paganized precisely because the Tanakh was forgotten or underemphasized. Messianic Jews today are once again trying to bring New Testament faith back to its Jewish roots.

Verse 17: Whereas in v. 16 Messianic faith has to be adapted to Judaism, here it is Judaism which must be adjusted to Messianic faith. If one tries to put new wine, Messianic faith, into old wineskins, traditional Judaism, the faith is lost and Judaism ruined. But if Judaism is freshly prepared, reconditioned so that it can accommodate trust in Yeshua the Messiah, both the faith and the renewed Judaism, Messianic Judaism, are preserved.

This understanding is undergirded by the writer’s careful choice of words: “new” (Greek neos) wine, “fresh” (kainos) wineskins. “Neos” means “new” in respect to time, implying immaturity or lack of development. “Kainos” means “new” or “renewed” in respect to quality, contrasting with “old” or “not renewed” and implying superiority. Old wineskins have lost their strength and elasticity, so that they cannot withstand the pressure of new wine still fermenting, although an old wineskin can be restored to service if its useful qualities are renewed.

The meaning of the figure is that the new wine of Messianic living cannot be poured into old religious forms if they remain rigid. But if the old religious forms become “fresh,” they can accommodate Yeshua.

 When “kainos” is rendered “new,” as in many translations, the implication seems to be that Judaism cannot possibly be a suitable framework for honoring Yeshua the Jewish Messiah-only the “new wineskin” of Gentilized Christianity will work. This is a peculiar conclusion, especially if it is recalled that Yeshua was speaking with his fellow Jews.

 As rendered here the point is that the only vessel which can hold the new wine of Messianic life in a Jewish setting is a properly renewed, restored, reconditioned and refreshed Judaism, such as Messianic Judaism was in the first century and aims to be now.

Taken together, verses 16 and 17 imply that both Messianic faith and Judaism should adjust to each other. However, the accommodating must be true to God’s Word; on that there is no room for compromise.

See Matthew 13:52

And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

A Torah-teacher who has been made into a talmid (disciple) for the Kingdom of Heaven, that is, a committed and knowledgeable Jew who has become Messianic, brings out of his storage room, out of his treasury of knowledge, both new things relating to Yeshua and the New Covenant and old things, relating to the pre-Messianic Judaism he already understands. The storage room contains good things, things the house-owner wants and treasures. Some of the good things are new, some of them old. Likewise, the new Messianic and old Jewish things can both be good. Thus the Messianic Torah-teacher is uniquely placed to enrich Messianic Judaism by expressing Messianic truth in Jewishly relevant ways, to repair old coats with good patches and restore old wineskins for new wine.

A good Jewish education, far from being a prophylaxis against believing in Yeshua and the Kingdom he preached, as some opponents of Messianic Judaism suppose, instead ought to provide “rich soil” for bringing forth for Yeshua “grain, a hundred… times what had been sown” (13:8). The outstanding New Testament example is Sha’ul (Paul). Jewish New Testament Commentary. David Stern. Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc. 1992. pg. 37

BTW Paul was also a Torah-Keeping Jew until the day he died!

My husband and I have been studying with materials from First Fruits of Zion for several years. We are thankful for their thoughtful, professional teaching. We are approaching the end of a two-year study titled “Jesus, My Rabbi”. Check it out at torahclub.org