Tag Archives: Israel

Waiting to Inhale

*The following first appeared on ungrind.org. If you missed it the first time around, I hope you are blessed by it now.IMG_4880

The streets of Jerusalem are electrifying in the middle of the day. I love the business, the honking of horns, the way everyone, even perfect strangers, interact like one, big family.

Something stirs in my core to hear the ancient, resurrected, biblical language, Hebrew spoken in everyday, non-religious, simply familial or industrial circumstances.

Eifo ha’sheirutim? (Where is the restroom)?

Kama ze ole? (How much does this cost)?

Lama at lo medaberet ivrit adain? (Why don’t you speak Hebrew yet)?

After 10 months of living here, I still get misty-eyed at the sight of tzit-tzit, tallit, and kipot on the religious men. Reminders of who they are and whose they are.

And I’ve become of the opinion that the Orthodox Jewish women wear the most elegant of women’s fashions. Their hair piled high and majestically, covered with feminine and funky colored fabrics, revealing such strength and dignity in their countenances.

I was never so aware of my five senses as I am living here in the City of the Great King. I get to see and touch and hear and taste the treasures of the Land sought after by historians, theologians, and artists for millennia. But there is one thing that brings my feet to a serene halt on the busiest of streets, causing me to close my eyes, inhale deeply, and hold my breath as long as my lungs can endure before I slowly exhale. The fragrances of Israel are conclusively unmatched anywhere else I’ve traveled to. The warm Jerusalem breeze causes the Middle Eastern spices to mix with the fragrances of the oils, fresh baked breads and pastries, and fresh produce and flowers promised by God to His People and His Land. Together they produce an exotic bouquet that delights me like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.

Smells have always aroused so much emotion in me. When I was a little girl one of my favorite fragrances in the entire world was the smell of tar and asphalt on my father’s work uniform. I loved that smell because it meant my father was home, the family was together, and we could settle into our evening routine.

For years after my daughters were no longer babies I brought Johnson & Johnson’s lavender bath baby wash and baby lotion as gifts to baby showers. The fragrance reminded me of the smells of my freshly washed, smooth skinned, all pajama’d up babies fresh from their sink bathing. I was enraptured nuzzling my nose over their bellies and their wild, dark hair. I wanted to make sure every new mommy I knew had the same experience with her babies.

To this day I smile and remember the campground showers of my adolescence when I gently squeeze a bottle of shampoo releasing a puff of air infused with a floral, buttery, fruity scent. That fragrance takes me back a couple decades and then I’m lost in the memory of bare feet, the desert heat, dark, tanned skin, and the Colorado River on the California/Arizona border.

And every Friday morning, with arms full after rushing around my neighborhood on foot to gather all the groceries my family will need for the weekend before all stores close for the Shabbat, I stop at the top of my apartment complex’s stairs before making the four-flight descent and breath in the tantalizing aroma of the chicken soup being prepared by the Jewish wives and mothers before they settle in to their day of rest.

What is it about the sense of smell that is so overwhelmingly powerful? While one smell can swiftly whisk you away to another time and place, another can cause your whole face wrinkle up in repulse or even cause your insides to twist and turn almost violently.

Over the last 10 months the Lord has brought me repeatedly back to the fact that He places great emphasis on the sense of smell; both the pleasant and the offensive.

On sixteen different occasions in the book of Leviticus, an “aroma” is mentioned as something pleasing to the Lord, specifically in reference to the sacrifices commanded by God.

In Isaiah chapter 1, the prophet is given a vision from the Lord. In it, the Lord conveys His feelings regarding the rebellion of His Beloved Israel against Him. He then speaks to the people of Judah and Jerusalem telling them that because their hearts are wicked, their sacrifices are displeasing to Him.

“Listen to the LORD, you leaders of Israel! Listen to the law of our God, people of Israel. You act just like the rulers and people of Sodom and Gomorrah. ‘I am sick of your sacrifices,’ says the LORD. ‘Don’t bring me any more burnt offerings! I don’t want the fat from your rams or other animals. I don’t want to see the blood from your offerings of bulls and rams and goats. Why do you keep parading through my courts with your worthless sacrifices? The incense you bring me is a stench in my nostrils!’”

God commanded these sacrifices of His people, but because of the atrocities of their rebellion, He now said they were a “stench in His nostrils!”

The concept of “fragrance” becomes much more personal to us Gentiles when we read through the teachings of the Apostle Paul. 2 Corinthians 2:15 tells us that we are the “sweet fragrance of Christ.”

On the night of June 15th, three Israeli boys were kidnapped on their way home from school. This event rocked the entire nation as we all felt that they were “our boys.” Just minutes after the news broke of their abduction, our neighbor, *Esther, an elderly Jewish woman from South Africa knocked on our door and with tears in her eyes asked, “Do I even need to ask you to pray for our boys to come home?”

I said, “Esther, we’ve been praying and we have Christian friends all over the world who are praying. Why don’t you and I pray together right now?” I took her precious hands and said, “Esther, you and I pray differently. Is it okay if I pray my way?” She said yes and we prayed.

Three weeks later the bodies of our boys were found and my thoughts immediately went to Esther. I knocked on her door and she came out with tears streaming down her face. I was at a loss for words until she reached for my hands and said, “Will you just hold my hands and pray like you did last time?”

I left her door that night keenly aware that there is a God-fragrance being carried from my home to hers.

[*Editor’s Note: Esther’s name has been changed.]

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I Won’t Relent

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The sun is slowly rising in the East over the Judean Desert mountains. I say slowly, but really it is rising at the perfect pace at which you sent it. The mountains are a soft, gray silhouette surrounded by a very faint blue into a pale, blush pink as the sky rises behind them. They’re ancient mountains, set in place since the beginning of time. Their shape may have changed over millennia, but their place has not. And just as they watched over Abraham close to 4,000 years ago, they watch over me now.

If the many stones and grains of dust could speak they would tell of a man and his family. An ordinary man with an extraordinary calling. A man of faith whose woman had many sorrows. They would tell of the bitter tears she cried and the strength of his embrace as he tried to comfort her. He was a man who acted in haste. A man who received forgiveness and through whom we all may receive salvation. He was a friend of God.

The sun continues to rise. Its colors are soft. Like sidewalk chalk sprawled across a residential walking path. They’re not quite the vibrant oil pastels smudged into a white canvas I was hoping for. But still, they captivate me. They hold my attention. And although I can see my breath before me and my skin is prickled with cold, I remain atop this balcony because I know before me is a lesson for the ages.

I breathe in the clean desert air as camels and donkeys sing in the distance accompanied by the crowing of a lonesome bird in harmony with a howling dog.

Today’s sunrise delivers a message to me. The sun rises in purity. It is not tainted by the opinion of the people it overshadows. It is 6:34 a.m. I’ve been sitting atop this sukkah awaiting its arrival for 15 minutes. And it arrived exactly when you sent it to.

If I stand now and say,

“Sun, I’ve been waiting for you for 15 minutes! You’re late!”

It doesn’t dim its brilliance, nor sink and inch and apologize. No! It continues to rise, never lacking one fragment of purpose.

If I prefer that it hold its rays another hour so that I can sleep in, it only continues to rise. It is defiant. It was sent on this day and at this time for a purpose designed by the God of the universe and it will not relent. And tomorrow’s sunrise is not affected by whether or not today’s colors and brilliance appeal to the desires of man.

You send it each day to serve many specific purposes: to give light and warmth and to cause life to grow and reproduce. And each day in boldness and radiant confidence it rises in pure unadulterated purpose.

My Lord, how many times have I hung my head, or slumped my shoulders, or hidden my tears, and turned from your purpose for me? And as I sit in this desert place where many a prophet heard from you, my mind still grows restless by the echo of old words.

“Your ways are too radical.”

“Your style is too emotional.”

“Your passion seems condemning.”

I stand before an unrelenting sun, yet I’m tempted to hide because of the opinions of man.

Lord, forgive me for digging my heels in behind this mountain. Forgive me for watching my surety die and for willingly burying it where it fell. You are the resurrection and the life. I implore you by your own mercies, breathe life upon it once more. I tune my ears to your voice and no longer to the opinions of man. Give me grace to rise in your time, surrounded by your brilliance, to perform your purpose in unmarred purity. I am yours and you say of me,

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

It’s 6:50 a.m. There she is in incandescence. Today her train is a soft, yet auspicious yellow. Tomorrow it may be blush, or violet. Regardless, she’ll be resolute. She’ll fulfill her purpose without hesitating. Just as I will.

 

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Hope

“They devoted themselves to the prophets’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)

For as far back as I can remember I have heard people reference a longing to return to the days of the early Church, “The Acts 2 Church.” Having spent much time wandering the streets of Jerusalem, I must admit I can’t help but daydream about what those days must have been like. The words, the miracles, the numbers added daily! The two things that used to boggle my mind the most, however, are the love had and community shared by the first century believers. What would it look and feel like to be so devoted to God that you in turn devote yourself to others to the point of speaking covenantually,”What’s mine is yours.”

In July of 2007 Patrick & I found ourselves in the midst of new pages in life and being written upon with words we never expected. We had no home church. This was new to us and frankly speaking, it truly upset my idea of the Christian walk. Yes, I know the Church is not a building, but the corporate body of believers in Jesus as savior. I had always been a part of such a body. And now we were in a place where after 8 years of close intimate fellowship with people who had become family, it was just we four. We live in a city that is often times referred to as “crowded” with churches, so we began our search for the people we would join our children and ourselves to as our church family.

We awakened early each Sunday morning and went through the routine of preparing for church and drove across town to “try out” each new place. As we did I asked the Lord to lead us to the people He would have us call “home.” I didn’t lay out before Him my list of requests for what I’d like in a church. I only wanted for my family what God had for us; the man who would speak the Word as directed by God; the Sunday school teachers and children’s church leaders who would seek God weekly and partner with me and Patrick in training up our girls in the way they should go; worship that was pure, for and about Jesus; and a community that would love us like Jesus, regardless of where we had been, what we had done, or who we once were.

Finally, after months of searching which often times resulted in quitting, we found ourselves walking through the doors of Hope Community Church one Sunday morning in December.

We asked where to take our children for classes, checked them in, and walked into the sanctuary and found our seats all without being greeted. Ironically, this was perfect for us! Only God knew how desperately we wanted to just blend and not be noticed. He loved us so much and cared so much about us living out His plan to hide us from a community of people who are typically quick to greet visitors. This was His way of delicately aligning His plan for us, people who were so fragile we might have shattered at the slightest approach.

We settled in for only a couple minutes (we purposely got there as close to start time as possible so that we would not be forced to be “fake” with strangers). When the lights dimmed and the music began to play, in the darkness I heard an angelic voice begin to sing:

You’ve taken my pain and called me by a new name.

You’ve taken my shame and in its place, you give me joy.

You’ve taken my pain and called me by a new name.

You’ve taken my shame and in its place, you give me joy.

That’s all it took. I broke. I thrust my hands up in the air, the flood-gates flew open, and I began to weep in the presence of God. With those tears and as the song continued, I felt my soul going through a baptism. I received hope that with the death and burial of my old life, I might receive a new life and with it a new name and joy.

As the service closed out and the team returned to the stage to close out with the same song they opened with, I heard God speak to me through His Spirit saying, “This is your safe place.”

We returned faithfully week after week. After our initial “visit” we were greeted every week and many of the faces became more familiar until it was just natural to see the same people every week. But we continued to “sneak” in so we really did not have any names to go with many of the faces we saw.

It wasn’t until two years later that we felt the nudging of the Holy Spirit to truly commit to this community by receiving their friendship and offering ours. What has followed as a result has been like nothing we’ve ever experienced within a community of believers.

They have not only loved us, but they have loved our children, and they have nurtured our call by speaking words of prophecy and knowledge and praying for us and giving to us constantly.

Which brings me to 3 weeks ago, July 2012.

We were in Israel for three weeks, California for one week, and Dallas, TX for a few days for ministry and family time. The whole time we were away from home we were hearing about the record-breaking temperatures in and around Springfield. We were bracing ourselves to return home to an unbearable summer and I knew that this was weighing heavily on my husband.

We returned home at 8:30 on a hot Wednesday night to find a cool house and new air conditioners in three of our rooms including our two living areas and our daughters’ bedroom. These were gifts from people who chose not to divulge their names, but we know they were from our Hope family.

Dear Hope Family,

There are no words to express the gratitude in our hearts (although I may have already written much more than some may have the patience or time to read:). Your gifts over the past 3 years have touched us much deeper than many we have received from others in the past, because we know that they came from wells of love and altars of sacrifice. You have provided for us, and more importantly for our girls, what we could not. We do not take this lightly. We love you all deeply and will always praise God for guiding us through the silent halls of Hope on that somber Sunday morning 5 years ago. In doing so, He lead us to YOU. Our desire is to be as much of a blessing to you, or more, as you have been to us.

We are so excited because we see in the Word that love like you have given us is often times followed up with “the Lord add[ing] to their number daily those… being saved.” (Acts 2:47) And that is our ultimate desire as a community.

We love you, our treasured friends,

Patrick, Rebecca, Eden, & Leia

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The Dance of Jerusalem Day

I wrote the following last year as a reflection of my time in Jerusalem on Jerusalem Day. I decided to post it today in honor of Jerusalem Day 2012, which is tomorrow May 20th. Be blessed and sing with gladness for Israel!

This is what the Lord says:”Sing with joy for Jacob;shout for the foremost of the nations.Make your praises heard, and say,’Lord, save your people,the remnant of Israel.’ (Jeremiah 31:7 NIV)

Patrick & I have been home from Israel for over two weeks now and my days and  nights are still filled with precious thoughts of our amazing experience. Chief among them was having been in the Old City at the Western Wall on Jerusalem Day this year. As Patrick & I stood in the midst of thousands of dancing men I couldn’t help but imagine Jesus there dancing among them, a smile on His face, and tears flooding His eyes, as He celebrated the City that He loves. It is an experience I know I will never forget and I pray I will live out again many times. The following article was written by a dear friend of Bridges for Peace named Moshe Kempinski. As I read it I felt it painted a vivid picture of what we saw and experienced on that amazing night.

Please take time to read it and continue or begin a habit of praying for the peace of Jerusalem.

The Dance of Jerusalem Day

Written by Moshe Kempinski on May 31, 2011 – 2 Comments

Categories: Jerusalem Insights

President Obama would do well to listen to recordings of the radio broadcasts that were aired prior to the Six day war. This was prior to the formation of the 1967 lines precedent Obama seems to rely on. This was before Judea and Samaria, the biblical heartland was returned to their ancestral tenants. Yet in spite of the fact there was not yet an Israeli controlled “west Bank” hatred was overabundant. Yet President Obama will probably not stop to listen, as he is too busy speaking.

Before those fateful days in June of 1967, the radio waves were filled with hatred and threats against the small sliver of a country called Israel. Gamal Abdel Nasser, the president of Egypt declared on radio” We intend on beginningan all out campaign, it will be a total war and our basic purpose is theeradication of the Israeli state” (27.5.67). Ahmed Shukeiri the head of the Palestinian resistance movement also delivered the following statement:” Israelis who were born in Palestine that will still be alive after the war will be allowed to live in Palestine. But based on my best estimation not a single one of them will still be found alive.” (26.5.67)” Similar threats were being aired every day by leaders of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Even the darling of North American media, King Hussein of Jordan joined the war that began in June of 1967 with the following words,” Kill the Jews with everything that comes to your hands. Kill them with your arms, with your hands, with your nails and with your teeth.”

The days prior to those fateful days were days filled with prayers, concern and gloomy and dark fears. Then everything changed in a flash of divine intervention.” Thou didst turn for me my mourning into dancing; Thou didst loose my sackcloth, and gird me with gladness ;”(psalm 30:12).

In the summer of 1967 the radio broadcasts from Israelreported the following; The Kol Israel (Israel Radio) microphones held by the Israeli war correspondents were picking up the voices of battle and the commands and instructions of the commanders.  Amidst intermittent bullet fire one hears General Uzi Narkiss asking breathlessly, “Tell me, where is the Western Wall? How do we get there?”

Israeli radio correspondent Yossi Ronen continues with following hesitant words, “I’m walking right now down the steps towards the Western Wall. I’m not a religious man, I never have been, but this is the Western Wall and I’m touching the stones of the Western Wall,” and his voice trails off into a silence of awe and tears .

In the background one could hear hoarse voices of battle weary soldiers screaming, “Shehechiyanu v’kiyimanu v’higiyanu lazman hazeh — Blessed are You, L-rd G-d, King of the Universe, Who has sustained us and kept us and has brought us to this day.” As Yossi Ronen and others answer “Amen,” Rabbi Shlomo Goren, the Chief Rabbi of the army, declares, “Baruch ata Hashem, menachem Tzion uvoneh Yerushalayim (Blessed are You, who comforts Zion and builds Jerusalem),” and again a loud and hoarse “Amen” is heard. At that point some of the soldiers begin to sing Israel’s National anthem, ‘HaTikva,’ .

Shots continue to be fired and soldiers continue to weep as Rabbi Shlomo Goren blows the shofar he has brought with him with mighty and crystal clear sounds. He then ends with the declaration, “L’Shana HAZOT b’Yerushalayim hab’nuya, b’Yerushalayim HaAtika! This year in a rebuilt Jerusalem! In the Jerusalem of Old!”

That shofar began a melody in my soul as well in the souls of many of my brethren .It began an eternal melody that has given direction to all those who attune their ears to hear. Only with that melody resonating in one’s soul one can step back and see the splendor of that which is being formed in our lifetime. With that melody in one’s heart one begins to see that regardless of the spiritual blindness of some of the builders the building continues.

This past week has seen thousands come through the gates of the old city, to sing dance and pray. Yesterday a group of seemingly secular Jews formed a circle at the foot of the Hurva synagogue and began to sing songs of Jerusalem. One man then pulled out a large shofar and began to blow. He was soon followed by another. Within minutes there several  shofars “ singing” with the circle of people.

Tonight again, as always the streets of the old city will be filled with tens of thousands of people coming to celebrate within the walls of the eternal city. It is then that I always remember the dancing man.

Several  years ago in preparation for the thousands of people who were going to be dancing with Israeli flags, through all the gates of the Old City on Jerusalem Day, a music and record company had set up a booth outside of our shop. Their speakers were playing Jewish Chassidic music throughout that whole Jerusalem Day.

Early in the day I saw an older man walking across the square and stop when he heard the music. He turned to two strangers who were walking in the same direction, grabbed their hands and started dancing with them. They danced but soon left him, yet he continued to dance alone. Very quickly several other people joined him in a circle. When they eventually left he continued to dance on his own until he was joined by others. When one disc had ended and there was a pause before the next music disc was put on, he still continued to dance. It was obvious that the melody he heard was not coming from the speakers. A group of young secular children walked by and smiled at the dancing man. He beckoned to them to join him and they hesitated. They did not hesitate for long as they probably saw the melody burning in his eyes and another circle began to form.

Within minutes a group of young soldiers joined in and the circles became larger and one circle formed within another one. The dancing man continued to sway and dance in the middle. Everybody he touched or danced with him left the encounter a little bit changed. Even those who did not join but preferred to watch or dance from a distance heard the very same melody that had captured this dancing man’s soul. It was a melody exuding from every move of his feet and sway of his upturned arms. The dancing man continued alone or in circles with others for a very long time.

Finally, when the first wave of marchers came through the Jewish Quarter on their way to the Western Wall, he was swept up with them, lost in the flowing blue and white flags. I followed him for a part of the way until he became enveloped by the growing joyful crowd. Yet he never stopped dancing.

President Obama may keep speaking but we will never stop dancing

The melody that began in the mighty blast of the Shofar at Mount Sinai and then continued in the blast that I heard from the shofar of Rabbi Goren over forty years ago and continued to run  through the soul of this dancing man . That melody was the very “song of Hashem.”

As the Psalmist writes in Tehillim 137: “How shall we sing the L-rd’s song (the song of Hashem) in a strange land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand lose its strength. If I do not remember you, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I don’t prefer Jerusalem over and above my chief joy.”

It is a song that cannot be sung in a “strange land,” and at times it is even forgotten. Yet those that have not forgotten the melody will find themselves drawn back to the land of their forefathers and brought up into the Gates of Jerusalem. “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the House of Hashem!’ Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.A city that is re-united ( Chubra Yachdav) together” (Tehillim 122:1-3)

Yom Yerushalayim Sameach – May we soon see Yerushalayim completely rebuilt, with the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple)!

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What’s the Deal? Part 2

We had the amazing opportunity last week to do four hours of teaching with a group of 25 young adults in Federal Heights, CO. Our topic was the very subject we will be bringing to Las Vegas, Southern California, Phoenix, Albuquerque, and Dallas as we continue on our five week long journey:

God’s heart and plan for Israel and the Jewish people and how we as Christians have a vital role in it.

As we have been journeying together with the Lord ministering to the Church and blessing the nation and people of Israel we are asked often: What’s the deal with Israel?

The following is an essay which was written about 5 years ago and can be found on the Zealous 8:2 website http://www.zealous82.com. There really is no need for me to rewrite it as it is written so well. I hope the lord sparks something new in you as you read it.

If you or someone you know is between the ages of 18 and 30 and would be interested in a tour of Israel designed for young adults please message me for information on our upcoming June tour.

Zealous 8:2 Young Adult Adventure Tour June 2012

What’s the Deal with Israel?

Why are so many Christians starting to get interested in the nation of Israel? Is this the Israel of the Bible, the Israel of God, or merely the result of human politics with an unfortunate name? Do we as Christians have a connection with the nation and people of Israel by virtue of our faith in the God of the Bible, the God of Israel? If you have ever asked such questions, then we have attempted to answer them, or at least give food for further thought. Our intention is to offer a resource to the honest enquirer.

It’s about God, not Israel

What I mean by this is that God’s relationship with Israel is primarily about Him and not about them. Whenever we make God’s dealings primarily about the people, we have put the cart before the horse. We have made man, not God, the starting point and primary focus of His work. God always takes the initiative when relating to men, because we cannot. He always relates to men on the basis of who He is rather than who they are. This is the principle of grace. The issue of Israel in the Scriptures is all about the character and of God. We cannot afford to lose sight of God’s sovereignty in His choosing Israel and the Jewish people, nor make this relationship primarily about them rather than Him.

It’s about His Glory

It is important to understand that God desires to bring Himself glory in the world, and this forms part of His motivation in every action He performs. (This does not mean that love, mercy, holiness, and the other characteristics of the Person of God are not also present in His actions, only that a desire for His personal glory is always present). Since God desires that all men know Him, His character must be displayed in dramatic visible ways. It is evident in His work of creation, the stars declaring the praises of God (Ps. 19:1), in the sending of His Son (John 17:1, 5), and in His action of saving people (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14). The same is true in His dealing with the nation of Israel. Ezekiel chapter 36 speaks clearly of the return and re-establishment of the nation of Israel, and God clarifies His motives for doing this, “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake” (Ezek. 36:22), that is, His reputation and glory. God is working in Israel for His own purpose and glory, demonstrating powerfully before the nations that He is faithful to His promises (Ps. 105:8–11); He is able to fulfill His Word. If the issue of Israel is this important for God, it should be for us as well.

It’s about Salvation

God used Israel to bring salvation to the world. All the major biblical characters, the people God used in His plan for salvation, were all of the people of Israel. Moses, David, all the prophets; basically, all the heroes of the faith came from Israel. Jesus (Yeshua), the Man Christians know as Messiah, was and is Jewish. All the apostles were Jewish. All the books of the Bible (save Luke and Acts) were written by Jews. The 120 people in the upper room on the day of Pentecost were Jews. The entire early church was Jewish. It was only later, under the ministry of Paul, a Jew, that the Gospel was taken in a substantial manner to the Gentile nations. As a person who is of European descent, I have to acknowledge that while God was dealing with Israel (and had been dealing with them for thousands of years), my ancestors were pagans, worshipping creation rather than the Creator (Rom. 1:20–25). God chose Israel to reveal Himself to the world, and if it wasn’t for Him choosing and using them, we would still be in this same desperate situation, without hope in the world (Eph. 2:12). The same is true for every nation and people on earth. God used Israel to bring salvation to the world. We see in this the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham that, “in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3).

It’s about Our Identity

The issue of Israel is about our identity as believers. While the center and root of our Christian identity will always be found in Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach), the Scriptures teach us that we have become a part of redemptive history that precedes His work, which began with Abraham. In Romans chapters 9 to 11 Paul says that Gentile believers in Yeshua HaMashiach have been grafted into Israel, or, using his analogy, we as wild olive shoots have been grafted into the cultivated olive tree of Israel (Rom. 11:15—25). This olive tree has been cultivated by God, over millennia, by the following (Rom. 9:4—5):

  • “the adoption,” the fact that God entered into relationship with them, choosing them to be His special people
  • “the glory,” the wonder of being chosen by God to be His special people, out of all the earth
  • “the covenants,” those solemn promises which define the nature of the relationship between God and Israel
  • “the giving of the law,” which Paul describes as holy, just and good (Rom. 7:12), a revelation of the character of God, who is holy, just and good
  • “the service of God,” that Israel was called to be a priestly nation in service of the God of heaven
  • “the promises,” which God made to Israel
  • “of whom are the fathers,” the fact that all the heroes of the faith were of the house of Israel, including the patriarchs, the fathers whom God loves (Deut. 10:15)
  • “and from whom, according to the flesh, Messiah came,” that God used Israel to birth Yeshua into the world.

God has, by His grace, grafted Gentiles, who were outside the promises and without hope in the world (Eph. 2:12), into this rich heritage by faith in His Son, Yeshua HaMashiach. This rich heritage should therefore form part of our identity as believers.

It’s about World Redemption

We live in a day and age in which more prophecies are being fulfilled than any other time in history except for the first coming of Yeshua HaMashiach. These prophecies are focused around the re-establishment of the nation of Israel. These events, which were long foretold by the prophets and recorded in Scripture, are unfolding in our day and age. What do we mean? Let’s look at a basic outline of prophetic events:

  1. Isaiah 66:7—10 spoke of the birth of the nation of Israel in a day. This happened in 1948, the first time Israel was a sovereign nation since the exile to Babylon in 586 BC.
  2. Many prophecies speak of the return of the Jews from the four corners of the earth (Jer. 32:37–41; Ezek. 20:34, 34:13, 36:24; Zech. 8:7–8). Since the nineteenth century, millions of Jews have returned home to the land of Israel.
  3. Yeshua said in Luke 21:24 that Jerusalem would be trampled by the Gentiles. Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70 and AD 135, and came under Gentile control. This agonized the heart of the Jewish people who have always viewed Jerusalem as their spiritual home. However, thankfully, this was not the end of the story, for Yeshua added, “until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” In 1967, during the Six Day War, east Jerusalem was recaptured and came under full sovereignty of the Jewish people for the first time in 2,600 years (Also see Zech. 8:7–8).

What does the fulfillment of these prophecies mean? Yeshua clearly linked these events to His imminent return (Luke 21:27–32). It is therefore an exciting time in which to live, for we are seeing the unfolding of prophetic events long foretold by God and recorded in His Word. God is fulfilling His Word and we are alive to see it.

It’s about you

The issue of Israel affects you. If we love God, then we should love what He loves. If He loves Israel, so should we. If God longs to see Himself glorified in Israel, so should we. If God is working in Israel, which He clearly is, so should we. Loving and supporting Israel isn’t primarily about Israel; it is primarily about loving what God loves, because we love Him. It is about choosing to embrace for ourselves what He has embraced for Himself out of our devotion to Him. We serve God by serving His plan and purpose for Israel.

Secondly, we need to understand that we are indebted to Israel (Rom. 15:27). God used Israel to show His great mercy to us. Perhaps we should be involved in showing them the same kindness we have been shown through them?

Lastly, understanding what God is doing in Israel (see the section, “It’s About World Redemption”) is about understanding the nature of the day in which we live. The New Testament clearly describes the signs of the times that will precede the coming of Messiah. These signs are most clearly seen when looking at Israel. We are not saying this will happen in the next 10 years, next 50 years or even our lifetime. We are merely pointing to the signs of the times. We need to hear the words of Yeshua:

“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly” (Luke 21:34).

Let’s shake off the cares of this world and pursue God with the passion and zeal that He deserves. Let’s be zealous for Him. Let’s be zealous for what He is zealous for.

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What’s the Deal?! Part 1

Patrick & me on the Mt. of Olives. Our first trip to Israel.

I’m sitting with my family of four in our tiny 2-door Honda Accord driving through Kansas City. Our car is loaded down with everything we need for five weeks of life and ministry. In the next five weeks we are schedule for over 20 meetings in six states. Just a few hours ago I was finishing up the last few of our dirty dishes before locking up our house to leave. I was listening to CFNI’s You Are Holy when I was overcome by the powerful sense that I was preparing to do the very thing I was born to do. I’m not talking about that thing that wedges itself into your heart and mind when an inspirational speaker at youth camp preaches a message about dreams. I’m talking about actualizing my role in God’s plan on the earth.

We will spend the next five weeks speaking to young adults about God’s heart for Israel. We will be teaching them what the Bible says concerning Israel and equipping them to stand with and bless the nation of Israel the Jewish people.

When Patrick & I first got involved with this ministry I was asked the same question by several people.  And even now, upon meeting new people, I receive the same question:

Are you Jewish?

No. I’m not Jewish. I’m Mexican-American.

Well then, did you grow up around a lot of Jewish people and Jewish culture?

No. I grew up in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods and can’t remember having even one Jewish friend while I was growing up.

Well, then why Israel? Why do you love the Jewish people so much? What’s the deal with Israel?

I love Israel and the Jewish people so much because when I was four years old I met and fell in love with a Jewish rabbi named Yeshua, Jesus. At the same time I met and fell in love with His Bride, the Church. And as I learned to walk with Jesus I also fell in love with His Word. And as I read through His Word I find that from Genesis 12 through Revelation 22, God is speaking to Israel, about Israel, or giving us instructions for living because those who have received Jesus as Lord and Savior are grafted into the Olive Tree, Israel.

If I had to pin-point one specific time when I began loving Israel I would have to go back to some of my earliest childhood memories growing up in church. I loved hearing the Bible stories taught each week in Sunday School. And I especially loved the flannel graph pictures. One of my favorite stories was the story of Peter’s restoration over breakfast after Jesus is resurrected to life. I remembering thinking about how great it would have been to be alive during Bible times living in all of the places I heard about from my Sunday School teacher. I remember the excitement and jubilation that always enveloped our church during the Easter season as we prepared for our annual Easter production; the costumes and music, and the massive sets constructed to turn the entire sanctuary into a Jerusalem market place. It was all so exciting! Little did I know that the Lord was beginning to plant the tiniest seeds and that one day they would flower and bear fruit.

There were sporadic times since then when the Lord brought my heart back to Israel. But the one moment that stands out to me was when I was 19 years old. I had just moved back home after a year of discipleship and ministry training in Phoenix, AZ. It was my first Sunday morning back in my home church – an elementary school cafeteria. For some reason I had the hardest time entering into worship that morning, so I sat down with my Bible on my lap and began reading the first page it opened to. My eyes fell on Psalm 122:6 –Pray for the peace of Jerusalem…

I had read that verse and heard it quoted thousands of times since I was a little girl. There was even a popular song on Christian radio when I was kid that said “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” So I’m sure I had even sung those words before. But this time I knew that something significant was set in motion when my eyes fell on those words.

I’d like to say that I immediately began studying everything I could about Israel and Jewish culture and that I even began taking courses in conversational Hebrew. But I didn’t. The truth is, I didn’t do one single thing in regards to Israel for a lot of years. However, I always knew Israel would play out in some way in my life.

I spent the next 12 years of my life working for and directing an intense discipleship and ministry training school for young adults. I met and married my husband and we had our two daughters and we worked hard and gave of our time and energy and resources to discipling young people.

We loved our ministry and the young people we ministered to very much and never would have chosen to leave it or them. However, in 2007, the Lord used a series of painful events to show us that our time there was done. We graduated our last class that May and instead of sending our resume` out to other churches we believed we were to wait. Wait for what? We were not sure except that we knew God would direct us.

We spent some of the darkest days of our lives from 2007-2009. We experienced what felt like the death of our ministry, a horrible miscarriage, painfully critical words from people we loved, and destructive, invading lies from the enemy during that time. I can recall many dark moments with my face buried in the couch as I screamed at God for abandoning me. And then I would feel so heavily condemned for those thoughts that I’d end up with my face in the couch again, this time begging God for His forgiveness.

It was at the end of this dark period, when we were sure that we would never do ministry again, that we were introduced to Bridges for Peace. We were invited to attend a conference in Florida. We had every intention of going, but then time got away and our lives got busy. Our oldest daughter started school that fall, my grandfather got deathly ill and we had to drive to California, and then there was the constant lack of finances. About one week before the conference, as we were packing to go to California to say our good-bye’s to my grandfather, we got a phone call. The gentleman on the phone began telling me that funds were raised to fly both me and Patrick to the conference and to cover our conference registration, which included an evening at Disney World. After a quick conversation where I was told to expect another phone call where I would be given flight information I sat on my couch thinking Who are these people?! Funds were raised? By people we had never met before?

A few days later, and still under a very dark cloud, we found ourselves in Cocoa, FL hearing a message that we had never heard before. We were hearing and reading scriptures and passages that we had read and heard since we were both children. But we had never had them presented this way. And the more surprising thing was that they were making more sense to us than ever before. We received hours of teaching and never grew bored. We were the foolish ones sitting at the edge of our seats with our mouths wide open in awe. I felt, for the first time in my life, the Word of God as a double-edged sword. I could almost physically feel it piercing to the division of my soul and spirit. It was just the Word. But it wasn’t presented as symbolic or allegorical. It was presented as the history of an actual people and an actual Land. And it was presented as prophetic word concerning an actual people and an actual Land. And I was taught that it was my history and prophetic word concerning me because I’ve been grafted into that people. The Word became more exciting to me that night than ever in my life.

The next morning we were in a time of prayer for Israel. I’ll be honest, I was a bit intimidated. I hoped we wouldn’t have to lead out loud. I had been in church my entire life and now I was wondering How do you pray for Israel? I knelt at the altar silently listening to the prayers in the room. And then, feeling no pressure to, I began crying out to God. I don’t remember what I said word for word, but it had to do with all the years that I spent discipling young adults and how I had missed a vital part of God’s Word – His heart for, words to and about, and His plan for Israel and the Jewish people.

Patrick & I decided that if God ever chose to put us in a position of influence with young people again our focus would be the entirety of His Word; which from Genesis chapter 12 to Revelation chapter 22 is centered on Israel.

So, here I am watching the sun set over the plains of Kansas heading to Colorado.

The Eastern Gate from the Mt. of Olives. Jesus will return here and enter the city through these gates!

The Western Wall.

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