Sunday, December 11, 2011

Father Abraham

            As I studied Romans with several college-age students last week, I was struck anew with the amazing life of Abraham.
            A Bedouin, living some 2000 years before Christ, Abram responded to a call from God to leave his homeland and travel to a new country.  Ten years later God spoke to Abram again and told him he would be blessed (Gen. 15).  Abram asked for clarification on that, since he had no children.  God responded by taking him outside, showing him the incredible number of stars in the night sky, and then promised Abram he would have that many children!  To drive the point home, God changed his name to Abraham, Father of many peoples. 
            To Abraham’s credit he believed God in spite of not having any children yet at age 85.  Now that is faith!  Abraham held onto that faith for the next 14 years.  Yes, he and Sarah tried to help God accomplish this promise and ended up causing problems that still exist today.  Again God appeared to Abraham and assured him that he and Sarah would have a child before the next year was past.  Sarah laughed but God didn’t join in the joke.  God over ruled and Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 and Sarah a mere 90!  The result is that Abraham’s descendants have numbered in the millions of Jewish people born over the last 4000 years.  But that isn’t the extent of the miracle:  everyone who trusts God, who has Abraham’s kind of faith (according to Romans 4) is one of his descendants!  That means there are many multiples of millions who trace their lineage back to Abraham and this covenant promise from God!
            Where is God stretching your faith right now.  Has he spoken something to you years ago that you haven’t seen fulfilled yet?  God doesn’t waste anything.  He seems really slow compared to our instant-on-demand society, but He uses even the delays to draw us closer to Himself.  I have begun to learn (I’m turning 65 this month—yeah, yeah, slow learner) that whatever I’m going through is all about learning how to trust God and go deeper into relationship with Him.  Isn’t that what “faith” is, after all?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Putting a Face on Prayer

            One of the most overwhelming experiences I’ve ever had in connection to the Jewish People was my visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.  The entire exhibit is deeply moving as you walk from room to room tracing the events of the 1930s and 40s—seeing pictures of people who died in the death camps, standing before a pile of shoes (some high fashion, others shabby and worn out). 
            But for me, two exhibits stand out in my memory.  One is the Valley of Destroyed Communities.  Covering several acres, this out-door exhibit is a maze created by tall limestone walls 20 to 25 feet high.  As you wander from one open air room to another you realize you are in a map of Europe, each room a different country—Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, etc.  The walls are inscribed with the names of villages, towns, whole cities that were entirely wiped clean of any Jewish presence—5000 communities where no Jew was left alive by the Nazi regime!  It is beyond imagination.
            The second is a darkened room dedicated to the memory of one and a half million children who did not survive the Holocaust.  As you enter the site through a dimly lit hallway, your eyes slowly adjust to the darkness as you view huge photos of individual children.  When you move through a door at the end of the hall, you find yourself in a totally dark room.  You feel your way around a path with hand railing and see in the center of the room six candles staggered on a glass column.  The walls, ceiling and floor are covered with mirrors that reflect not only the six candles in the center of the room, but the images of the mirrors opposite them.  The illusion is millions of candle lights surrounding you out into infinity in every direction.  In the background different voices, one after another, recites the name, age and country of origin of the children who were killed in the death camps.  The memory still haunts me today, over 20 years since I first saw this exhibit. 
            But as powerful as those two experiences were, the thing that moves me to pray is putting a face on Israel.  It is not enough to think about the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.  That is impersonal.  What really makes it real to me is to meet and become friends with Jewish people in my city.  As I have befriended some of them, it has made my prayers take on new life.  Yes, I do pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  I do pray for Israel and its leaders.  I pray the nation of Israel will be protected.  But when I pray for my neighbor here in my city, it takes on a whole new meaning.  I pray they will experience the love of God and the gift of His Grace that leads to righteousness and eternal life.  Join me?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Judgmental Spirit

The problem for me is that I’m just so good at judging other people.  I’ve been doing it for so long and so often that I don’t even realize when I’m doing it any more.  But Faithful Holy Spirit is reminding me, lately, when I begin to do it.
            A judgmental spirit is the opposite of what Jesus told us to do when He said “love one another.”  It cuts us off from other people.  It sets up barriers between us and people He gave His life for thus creating barriers against evangelism.  As soon as I judge someone else, I limit how God could use that person to bless my life or how God can use me to bless them.
            When I judge someone else, I am assuming I’m right and they are wrong.  This can only be true if they are violating God’s standards in some way.
            We are called on to judge people’s actions when they are contrary to God’s laws.  Jesus judged some people (the Pharisees) for their pride and for placing obedience to minute laws above concern for people in need.  Jesus also judged cities for rejecting His miracles.
            My judgments are usually not based on righteousness, but on my personal preferences.  I don’t like someone’s hair style.  Or their style of worship.  There are so many things that separate us.  Whether to use drums and guitars to worship or not.  Do we sing three hymns—first, second and fourth verses only—or can we only use the latest praise chorus sung fourteen times with our eyes closed?  Come on folks.  We’ve got to lighten up with one another.
            Jesus Himself said in the Sermon on the Mount:  “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.  For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure it will be measured to you.”
            “Lord, give me discernment to not judge others by my standards, but Yours.”

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Redeemed Culture

            One of the justified criticisms against Christian missionaries from the West has been their rejection of the culture of the people they lead to faith in Jesus.  There are accounts from around the world of this tragic mistake.  Here in the United States we saw horrible results when the white man forced Native American children to be taken away from their parents and culture to be raised by white families in an attempt to “Christianize” them.  There are also accounts of totem poles destroyed supposedly because they were idols worshipped by Native Americans, when in fact they were historical accounts of the tribe.
            How powerful was the opposite position Lou Engle took at The Call Detroit on 11/11/11 this past weekend!  The opening of the 24 hour prayer time for Detroit and America was led by Broken Walls of Partition, a Native American group from Canada. Complete with full regalia, drum, and dancers they led the crowd in some of the most anointed worship I’ve seen in a long time.  The original songs written by the group featured powerful lyrics that conveyed deep spiritual truths and calls to join the Family of God—all done in music that was faithful to their culture.  That was followed by leaders from Black churches in Detroit who were given freedom to lead prayers in their colorful styles consistent with Black culture.
            Redeemed culture is a powerful tool that Holy Spirit can use.  One of my favorite verses from Revelation is the picture of what our worship will be like in heaven.  Rev. 5:9-10 tells us that the 24 elders around the throne of God take their bowls full of our prayers and sing a new song:  “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.  You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”  WOW!!!
            I can see in my spirit millions upon millions of believers worship around God’s throne, each taking a turn to bring praise and honor to His name in thanks for the redemption Jesus accomplished for them on the cross.  Imagine Native Americans in full regalia dancing their hearts out in thanks and praise.  Think of punk rockers who have been redeemed jamming before the Throne.  I think they will be in awe when they see staid, stiff white Anglo-Saxons worshipping Jesus with shinning faces as they sing “O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing.”  I know I was in awe as I saw Holy Spirit ministering through Broken Walls last Friday night.
            Redeemed culture is the reason I love being around Messianic Jews.  They are expressing their faith in Yeshua through their Jewish culture that is so rich and full of traditions and spiritual truths.
            How about you?  Are you letting God redeem your culture?  Find ways to express eternal Biblical truths through the culture you are comfortable living in.  God wants to use YOU to touch others in your culture group.  Don’t be afraid to redeem your culture.  If there are things that need to be cleansed in your culture and changed into expressions of holiness—do it!  Allow Holy Spirit to clothe Himself in your culture and bring others into His kingdom, for the glory of God and the praise of Jesus.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Another reason to pray for Israel

            Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East.  She is surrounded by Arab/Islamic states that dwarf her in size, population, and military might. 
            To study the history of Israel’s modern independence in the 20th century is to be impressed with the miracles that God performed to bring about the establishment of the state of Israel.  There is a whole series of television programs which document some of these unexplainable events.
            But Israel faces constant threats of extermination and must remain ever vigilant.  Lest we here in the United States think it is just “their problem”, we need to do all we can to support Israel because what happens to Israel will directly affect the U.S.
            Mossab Hasan Yousef, author of Son of Hamas and a believer in Jesus, recently spoke to a congress on Israel in Germany.  In that speech he clearly warns that if Israel were to be eliminated, it would be the beginning of the end of our Western freedoms.  I urge to you listen to his warning in a 14 minute video available at
            Please, if you have never prayed for Israel, please join the growing army of intercessors around the world in praying for her protection and for God’s blessing on Israel as a nation.  If you have been a part of that army already, I urge to you step up your prayers for her and encourage others you know to join you.  These are most crucial days and your faithfulness to pray is more and more needed.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Why have the Jews been persecuted over the centuries?

            Without doubt the Jewish people have been the most persecuted group of people throughout the centuries.  Over the history of man, there have been major attempts to remove Jews from society or limit their activities and ability to do business.
            The book of Esther describes an early holocaust plotted by Haman who became enraged at Mordecai, a Jew who refused to pay homage to Haman.  Haman projected his anger not just at Mordecai but to all Jews living in the country. 
            Herod was so threatened by the news of a baby born in Bethlehem that he had all baby boys two years old and younger slaughtered.  Rachel wept for her children.
            Jews were thrown out of Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella.  They were hounded from one country to another—generation after generation.  They were blamed for the black plague in Europe because there were fewer deaths among Jews (who avoided the ravages of the bubonic plague simply by keeping Mosaic law of washing their hands and handling human sewage).  The Russians and Polish people drove the Jews from their homes with pogroms. 
            There was the holocaust—calculated to be the “final solution” to the Jewish “problem”.  And lest we think that is all over and done with, there is a resurgence of Nazi ideology today complete with burning of Synagogues, desecration of Jewish cemeteries and frequent violence against Jews, especially in Europe.
            Sadly a significant portion of this persecution came from misguided Christians who blamed the Jews for the death of Jesus.
            What is the explanation for this sad history of persecution, of which we have just barely scratched the surface?   
            The only explanation that makes any sense is that this persecution is spiritual in nature.  Satan hates the Jewish people with a malevolence we cannot begin to understand.  He has hated them from the moment he realized that the Savior of the world would come through the sons of Abraham.  Over and over Satan has tried to eliminate the Jews as a people group to keep the Messiah from accomplishing His mission.  When he was not able to keep that from happening, he has continued his assault on the Jews to express his hatred for the covenant people of God.
            Now, in the 21st Century, Satan knows his days are numbered.  As a result he has stepped up his persecution of the Jews.  This includes the Messianic community who have a double reason for being an object of his hatred—Jews by ethnicity and believers by faith. 
            We Gentile believers need to step up our prayers and support for our Jewish cousins.  Like Ruth, we need to embrace the people of God.  (More on that another time.)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Simchat Torah (Joy of Torah)

The Feast of Tabernacles is celebrated for seven days by building a booth, or sukah, in the back yard or on a balcony—anywhere outdoors where you can view the sky through the branches placed as a roof on the temporary shelter.  Israel was commanded to celebrate it every year and a warning of judgment was given for those nations that wouldn’t celebrate it:  no rain was to fall on them.  Zech. 14:16-17.
            We have celebrated this feast every fall for the last 20 years and find it to be a great time for family to gather and share God’s faithfulness.  It is a time to think about how God has blessed through the year.  This year we even had a basket of vegetables on the table in our sukah that we had grown in our small garden.  We talked about how the Israelis had to live in booths like this for 40 years as they wandered in the wilderness after believing the bad report of 10 spies who had checked out the land promised to them by God.  We tried to imagine what it must have been like to live day and night in a booth like this.  We also talked about how this flimsy, temporary shelter is a picture of our physical bodies that we will shed some day when we receive our heavenly bodies and live in eternity with our heavenly Father.
            After taking meals and even sleeping in a sukah for seven days, the eighth day is called Simchat Torah, which means Joy of the Torah.  On this day, the most joyful day of the year, the Jews finish reading the Torah for the year by reading Deut. 33:1 through Deut. 34:1.  They also begin reading the Torah for the coming year by reading Gen. 1:1 through 2:3.  This is considered the most joyful day of the year because the Torah is life!  We could learn much from the Jewish perspective of reverence for the Word!  Big celebrations are set up throughout Israel on Simchat Torah—all centered on celebrating the Torah.  Circle dances to lively music fill the parks and families joyfully gather to honor the Torah.
            As Believers in Yeshua, this day ought to be our day to celebrate the Living Torah and declare all that He has done in setting us free from sin.  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  Let’s celebrate true life in Yeshua.  Happy Feast of Tabernacles and Simchat Torah. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Feast of Tabernacles

            This Wednesday at sundown is the beginning of The Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths).  It is the only feast in which we are commanded to “rejoice”.  It is celebrated by building a small, temporary structure outside with the ceiling covered with branches so those inside can see the sky and behold God’s creation.  The walls are decorated with art work by children of things we’re thankful for—especially harvest items.
            This feast is a joyful time for families to gather to remember how Israel lived in booths for forty years in the wilderness after coming out from Egypt.  Lev. 23:33-43 gives specific instruction on how the feast is to be celebrated as a remembrance of how God delivered Israel from slavery.  What a great time to share with our children and grandchildren how God has delivered us from the tyranny of sin.  We need to make a big deal of the difference Yeshua makes in our lives—freedom from all sorts of bondage.  If it weren’t for the blood of Yeshua, what would your life look like?  The blessings of a righteous lifestyle need to be taught to our families.
            This feast also looks forward to the seven year Bridal feast of the Lamb when we will enter the joy of the Lord for all eternity.  It is a great time to teach the spiritual truth that our bodies are a temporary dwelling place but one day we will be given eternal bodies and live with Yeshua throughout eternity.
            Our family has celebrated this feast for the last 20 years and my grandchildren enjoy it as a special time with the family.  They help put up the pvc pipe framework and hang blue canvas on the walls.  We gather branches from various trees and bushes and lay them over the network of rope that forms the ceiling.  It is usually too cold in Central Oregon to sleep out in the booth, but it is great fun to lay out sleeping bags, look at the stars in the evening and talk about the goodness of God and our righteous heritage.  May God especially bless you and your family as you celebrate the Feast of Booths this year!
            Next week I will share about the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Simchat Torah (Joy of the Word). 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement
            On Saturday (sundown Friday to sundown Saturday) this coming week, Oct. 7-8, we celebrate the Day of Atonement—Yom Kippur.  It was on this day during the First Testament period that the Priest went into the Holy of Holies to make atonement for the sins of the people from the prior year.  It was repeated every year.  Heb. 10:1-7 teaches us that it was a reminder of their sins, but didn’t make the people perfect.  It covered their sins before God but didn’t remove the consciousness of those sins.  It was impossible for the blood of animals to take away their sins.
            But now, as we celebrate the Day of Atonement, we do so celebrating the perfect sacrifice of Yeshua on the cross.  His blood has opened a new a living way for us into the Holy presence of God.  By His blood our sins are removed from us and our consciences are made clean from the guilt of sin.  We can live in “full assurance” of faith that “our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”  Heb. 10:19-22. 
            What pure joy is ours in Jesus.  What great freedom for this life and confidence for eternal life!  Instead of the wrath of God, we have entered into the love of God!
            Pray that your neighbors will see the peace of your heart and be prompted by Holy Spirit to ask you about it.  Pray for Gentiles and Jews alike to come to an understanding of the Atonement available to them in Yeshua.  Pray, pray, pray.  It is the key to seeing God’s kingdom come—and how desperately we need His kingdom to come!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Feast of Trumpets

            This week marks the fifth of the seven feasts of the Lord commanded in Lev. 23, called the Feast of Trumpets.  It marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year and is celebrated by blowing of the Shofar.  It also begins the “ten days of awe”, a time of introspection and self-examination leading up to the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.
            There is much speculation about the Feast of Trumpets.  Many scholars hold that it will be the time when Jesus returns as King and sets up His earthly dominion.  For the most part, most Christians are not aware of this feast and ignore it completely.
            For me, it is a time to particularly pray for my Jewish cousins that their eyes would be opened to the awesome work Yeshua has done for each of us in His life and death.  This time of year many Jewish people are more spiritually sensitive as they soberly examine their lives.  What a wonderful time to pray that Holy Spirit will bring conviction of sin to their hearts and that they will turn to Yeshua and be saved.  All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved!
            With all the huge, historic things that have happened at the UN this past week, this is a great time to pray that people will humble themselves and pray and be healed.  May they truly hear the Shofar of heaven, calling them to repentance before God Almighty.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Understanding UN Bias against Israel

            If you go to Youtube and type in “understanding UN bias against Israel” you will access one of the best explanations I’ve heard on why the UN passes so many resolutions against Israel.  There is also an invitation to join a protest in New York on Sept. 21st against the Durban conference.
            The Durban conference is sponsored by Unesco and gets its name from the conference held in Durban, South Africa, in 2001 to combat racism around the world.  In 2009, at the second Durban conference, one of the speakers was Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran.  His speech was, as expected, a diatribe against Israel.  He even concluded that Zionism is the root of all racism!
            This year’s Durban conference is to be held this week in New York in conjunction with the opening session of the United Nations.  It is being boycotted by several nations, including the United States.  I applaud those nations who have taken a stand against this hate-mongering.  Fortunately there is a movement in opposition to this conference.  A call has been issued inviting people to join a protest against the Durban Conference.  It will be held in New York on Sept. 21st at 11 a.m.
            Most of us will not be able to attend this protest rally, but we can pray.  I urge you to take time this week to specifically pray protection over Israel.  With the possibility that the Palestinian Authority will petition the UN for full recognition as an independent state and the incredible pressure Israel is under, prayer is urgently needed.  If you can’t attend the conference, don’t fret over what you cannot do.  Do what you can do:  pray for Israel.  Pray with the covenants of God as your starting point.  God has given this land to the Jews and has re-established them there to work out His purposes for the last days.  Pray that God’s covenants will not be violated and the His will for all the nations will be accomplished.  May the Holy Spirit guide you as you intercede for Israel.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Focused Intercession

I have found that using scripture is the most effective way to give substance to my prayers.  Along with the Israel Prayer List (available at, I urge you to use the following scriptures to intercede for Israel during this critical month.

*Psalm 9:3-5; 15-16. "When my enemies turn back, they shall fall and perish at Your presence. For You have maintained my right and my cause; You sat on the throne judging in righteousness. You have rebuked the nations, You have destroyed the wicked; You have blotted out their name forever and ever.The nations have sunk down in the pit which they made; in the net which they hid, their own foot is caught. The LORD is known by the judgment He executes; the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. (Meditation-Selah).
*Psalm 33:10-12. "The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance."
*Jeremiah 12:14-16. "Thus says the LORD: 'Against all My evil neighbors who touch the inheritance which I have caused My people Israel to inherit-behold, I will pluck them out of their land and pluck out the house of Judah from among them. Then it shall be, after I have plucked them out, that I will return and have compassion on them and bring them back, everyone to his heritage and everyone to his land. And it shall be, if they will learn carefully the ways of My people, to swear by My name, "As the LORD lives," as they taught My people to swear by Baal, then they shall be established in the midst of My people."

*Zechariah 9:5-7. "Ashkelon shall see it and fear; Gaza also shall be very sorrowful; And Ekron, for He dried up her expectation. The king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited. A mixed race shall settle in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines. I will take away the blood from his mouth, and the abominations from between his teeth. But he who remains, even he shall be for our God, and shall be like a leader in Judah, and Ekron like a Jebusite."

Pray for Israel during September! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A sample prayer

            Father, let the Fear of God be upon the leaders of the nations.  As delegates gather in New York this month, may the fear of the Lord come strongly on them.  May they make no resolutions that are contrary to Your will and the covenants You have made with Your people.  Even if they do not honor You or have knowledge of You, cause the fear of the Lord to shape their decisions.  Just as you raised up King Cyrus to decree a return of Your people to Israel, so raise up delegates who will look with favor on Israel. 
            Confuse all schemes that are against Israel.  As You confused the languages of man at the Tower of Babel, so throw into confusion any and all plans that would be contrary to Your will for Israel. 
            Cause Israel’s leaders to recognize that it is not by their military might or by their wisdom that they will succeed, but only by Your Spirit.  May they bow humbly before You, seek Your guidance, and stand firm on Your counsel.
            In Yeshua’s Name.  Amen.

Monday, September 5, 2011

"I will bless those who bless you..."

            Avi Tekle is on the pastoral staff of Tents of Mercy in Israel.  Avi recently made a trip to Japan and Taiwan with another Messianic believer from Israel and reported on that trip in the most recent issue of Tikkun Ministries’ newsletter (available at  What fascinated me in Avi’s article was the highlighting of a humble tea farmer in Taipei.  Ching is a fourth generation tea farmer.  A sign on the gate to his small tea plantation states that they harvest tea six times a year.  A normal tea plantation will get three, maybe four, harvests per year!  What is the secret to Ching’s success?
            Every day Ching rises early to go out among the tea trees and pray.  One of his main prayers is for Israel.  Though he has never been to Israel, he faithfully prays for Israel and he attributes the success of his abundant harvests to this one fact—that he prays for Israel.
            It was no idle promise when God told Abraham, in Genesis 12:3, that He would bless those who bless Abraham. 
            It was also no idle warning when God added:  “I will curse those who curse you.”  I fear greatly for the United States.  The path its leaders have chosen in recent months to stand against Israel and call for Israel to return to the borders of 1947 will surely result in a lifting of God’s blessing on the United States.  The State Department has a long history of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel policies.  This is a time for concerted, intense, prolonged prayer by those who understand God’s covenant with Israel and the Jewish people.  Do yourself and your country a favor—pray for Israel today.  And pray for a change of heart among those who lead our country.  May their eyes and hearts be opened to the place Israel holds in God’s heart.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Attacks on Israel

            We are encouraged to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  The question is why and how to do that?
            I have found that what happens to Israel in the physical is often a picture of what is happening to the Church in the spiritual.  The same spirit that is attacking Israel also hates the Church.  The spirit of anti-Semitism is closely related to the spirit of anti-Christ.
            Israel has been under constant attack from Gaza for several weeks now.  Hundreds of rockets have been launched against cities in Southern Israel resulting in several casualties and deaths among the citizens of Israel who are just going about their daily lives.  The missile defense system developed in cooperation with the United States has been helpful in bringing down many of those incoming rockets, but some rockets still get through and cause damage, fear and casualties. “Father, we cry out to You for relief from these rocket attacks.  Change the hearts of those who hate Israel.  Cause the rocket attacks to cease, in Jesus’ Name.”
            “Abba, we also ask Your protection for Your people, the Church, against the attacks mounted by the enemy of our souls.  Cause the lies and slander leveled against believers to be exposed for what they are—lies.  Set a shield against the schemes of hell to discourage Your people with fear, division, jealousy.  Keep Your people pure and holy.  We praise You that nothing can separate us from Your love in Christ Jesus.  May we be the people of God You want us to be.  Use us to draw others to Yourself, in Jesus’ Name.  Amen.”

Sunday, August 21, 2011

2011 Pharisees

In one of the most insightful passages I’ve read in many years, C. S. Lewis describes the pitfalls of being a “Pharisee” in his closing paragraph of The Screwtape Letters.  “Some were all rules and relics and rosaries; others were all drab clothes, long faces, and petty traditional abstinences from wine or cards or the theatre.  Both had in common their self-righteousness and the almost infinite distance between their actual outlook and anything the Enemy really is or commands.”
            One of the things God is in process of delivering me from is a Pharisaical spirit.  I grew up in the church.  We were in that latter group that was so proud of not playing cards (Rook was okay but anything with a King, Queen or Jack was prohibited) not going to movies or dances, and looking dour was a badge of spirituality.  But as I moved into adulthood, God began to convict me of my judgmental attitude toward those who said the rosary or raised their hands in worship or any of a number of other things I was so proud that I didn’t do.  Being “in” the church didn’t keep me from being a first class Pharisee. 
Lewis closes his paragraph:  “The fine flower of unholiness can grow only in the close neighbourhood of the Holy.  Nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar.”
            Worshipping God in spirit and in truth begins with bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.  It is not enough to show up in body, close our eyes, lift our hands and sing with intensity.  It must start with asking God to cleanse our hearts from lustful thoughts, judgmental attitudes, and smug self-righteousness.  Before God’s throne we are all in need of a Savior.  But having come through the Blood of the Lamb by way of repentance and confession, we have the amazing liberty to embrace Abba Father and love Jesus the Son through the power of Holy Spirit.  May you enjoy His freedom today!

Friday, August 12, 2011

"...only unto you as long as..."

“…only unto you as long as…”
            With those words I pledged myself to be faithful to by wife.  I stood before God and a church full of people and said I would never sleep with anyone else as long as the two of us were alive.  By God’s grace I have kept that vow.  And she has kept her vow to me.  So I am marking our 44th anniversary today with this blog entry.
            Cindy has given me respect even when I didn’t earn it.  Grace.
            She has nursed me back to health through two bouts with cancer.  Mercy.
            When I failed to meet her expectations as a spiritual leader, she prayed for me.  Forgiveness.
            I dropped the ball (more than once) in raising our wonderful kids and she confronted me with loving firmness.  Love.
            Cindy has prayed for me, probably every single day, for 44 years.  Faith.
            When there was no money to pay bills, she told me it would get better.  Hope.
            I have learned more about God’s love for me by walking these many years through life with her.  I am grateful beyond words. 
            Thanks, Cindy.  I love you.  You truly are God’s gift to me.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Praying for Israel part 2

Many people want to obey the admonition in Ps. 122 to pray for the peace of Jerusalem but don’t know how to go about it.  Or they get bored just repeating the phrase “Lord, bring peace to Jerusalem and Israel.” 
            So one suggestion is to learn as much as you can about what is going on in Israel and pray under the direction of Holy Spirit about those current conditions and issues.  As you are looking for information about what is happening in Israel, don’t rely solely on the major media outlets.  There are many ministries working inside Israel and reading their newsletters and blogs is an excellent source of what is really happening there.  David Dolan is a reporter and a believer who has lived in Israel for 30 years.  He has written several books including Holy War for the Promised Land.  His newsletter (available at filled with first hand insight and analysis and serve as an excellent source for prayer.  The one newsletter I always read completely is from Dan Juster at Tikkun Ministries.  You can get that newsletter at
      Don’t limit your exposure to just Christian ministries.  Arutz 7 gives another perspective from the orthodox Jewish viewpoint (though you may not agree with everything they say). 
            Another way to add a dimension to your prayers is to pray things seen in Israeli culture.  Consider the flag of Israel.  It was designed after the prayer shawl the men wear when they pray.  What impact would it have on Israel if its leaders and citizens began acting and living under a mantle of prayer?  The formal emblem of Israel is a seven branched candlestick with two olive branches on either side.  Where did that come from?  Look at Zech 4.  What does that mean?  It is a prophetic declaration to Israel that she is not to rely only on her military might or intellectual capabilities (both of which are awe inspiring), but Israel is to look to God for guidance, protection and wisdom. 
            Using scripture to pray prophetically over Israel will deepen your prayers like nothing else.  There is a great sense of satisfaction and fulfillment when you begin to obey the command to pray for Israel’s peace.  Remember to pray that Israel and her citizens will look up and embrace the Prince of Peace.  True peace will only come when they say “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.”

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Temptation!  What image comes to mind when you hear that word?  Indulging in some decadent dessert?  A pornographic image you saw somewhere?
            Paul had four specific areas in his mind when he wrote about temptation in I Cor. 10.  Notice that Paul’s teaching about temptation uses examples from the lives of the Israelis as they came out of slavery in Egypt and before they took possession of their Promised Land.  He specifically says that their experiences are examples to us on how to stand up to temptation (v. 6).         
            Idolatry was the first sin Paul warns us about in v. 7.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have any golden calves hidden under a blanket in my back yard.  Check.  No problem with sin #1.
            Immorality is sin #2 in v. 8.  Now Paul is hitting a little closer home.  Immoral behaviors and life styles are certainly an issue today.  If you are having a problem in this area, listen up.  Paul has some specific instruction for you. 
            Verse 9 is a bit nebulous.  “Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents.”  What happened is recorded in Numbers 21:5.  The people began questioning Moses (and God) about why he brought them into the desert—there were no McDonalds or Starbucks out there.  What are we going to eat?  And we’re thirsty!!!!  As a result many of them died of snake bite.  The plague of snakes was only stopped when Moses placing a bronze snake on a pole—whoever looked in faith at the bronze snake lived, whoever did not, died.
            Verse 10 gets real close to where many of us live.  Grumbling about situations we find ourselves in is an easy habit to get into.  If you study Ex. 17 you will learn about the sin of Massah and Meribah.  The Israelis found themselves in the hot desert with no water.  The sin was not that they cried out about their desperate situation—the sin was that they questioned whether God was among them or not! 
            In all four scenarios Paul’s solution against falling into temptation is the same:  Be careful that you don’t walk in pride, thinking that you would never fall into that sin.  But when you are confronted with the temptation to act immorally or grumble about life situations and question whether God is still with you or not—stop and look for the exit.  When you find yourself in any temptation, there is a way of escape.  Look for it.  God is faithful.  By depending on Him, you will be able to endure it and overcome it.
            Ps. 56:9b:  “…this I know, God is for me.”  Never question whether God is with you.  Jesus promised to be with us to the very end.  Hallelujah!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Praying for Israel

            About 24 years ago God did a deep work in me and in my wife.  We were introduced to a Jewish lady who had recently immigrated to Israel.  After listening to her love for Israel, and wanting to go there ourselves, she prayed for us that God would give us a heart for Israel.  WOW!  Did He ever answer that prayer!  Since that time we have been to Israel eight times and were blessed with a six month stay in Israel in 1993.
            While we were living there, the first Oslo accord was signed on the White House lawn between Yasser Arafat and Yitsak Rabin.  That began a downward spiral for Israel in which the hoped for peace was replaced by increased violence of Intifadas, terrorist bombings, and growing international pressure to give up more and more land.
            Meanwhile, we noticed a huge upswing in support for Israel among people of faith around the world.  We began hearing about groups in Korea, New Zeeland, Australia, South America, Europe, and across the United States that were praying passionately for Israel.  Our own hearts grew in support for Israel as we began praying for her on a regular basis.  The more we have prayed for Israel, the more we have noticed the intensity of spiritual warfare increasing.
            This past week our church held around-the-clock prayer and one of the emphases was Israel.  One six year old boy told his mother that he was going to pray that Israel would be protected from her enemies.  We also just returned from an evening of prayer with other churches in our city—and the whole two hours was prayer for Israel.  God is stirring up His Body to intercede for Israel.  What an awesome privilege to partner with Holy Spirit and voice His heart for His people and His Land.  Join us.  Pray as Holy Spirit prompts you. 
            If you want more information on why to pray and how to pray for Israel, I urge you to read Don Finto’s book Your People Shall Be My People. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

More Anti-Semitism

          Anti-Semitism is alive and well on planet Earth.  Its expressions are obvious in the lunatic proclamations of Iran’s president Ahmadinejad as he openly declares Israel should be wiped off the map and while denying the holocaust ever happened, promises he will bring about a new holocaust to eliminate all Jews from the Middle East.  Less obvious but just as anti-Semitic are the calls by members of liberal Christian Churches who call Israel an apartheid state guilty of persecuting Palestinians.
            Now comes a call for a third Durban conference on Human Rights.  It is sponsored by the United Nations Human Rights Council and is advertized as an “anti-racism week”.  The first two were touted as conferences to support human rights world-wide, but were simply anti-Israel rallies that called for censure of Israel for its treatment of Palestinians.  This third conference, scheduled for late September, promises to be more of the same rhetoric   
            But there is a movement to support Israel.  Friends in Israel have notified us that a demonstration will be held against the Durban council in front of the UN headquarters on the opening day of the General Assembly. The Demonstration will be held at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, on the 21st of Sept, 2011, at 11 am.  For more details visit the events website at, join the Facebook group “Boycott Durban III.  I urge you to watch a short video on their website that gives a clear history of the anti-Semitism that has characterized the resolutions and attitudes of the United Nations for the last forty years.
            I urge you to be informed and watch for the anti-Israel bias that permeates today’s media.  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and all of Israel.  She is still the “Apple of God’s eye.”

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Dividing Line

            It never ceases to amaze me that one can be Buddhist, Bahai, or even atheist and still be fully Jewish.  But if you embrace Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah, you are accused of betraying your Jewish heritage, you may be denied citizenship in Israel, and be rejected by family and friends.  There are cases where people who have lived in Israel for many years have been, after being found to be Messianic, threatened with deportation, have lost their jobs and been ostracized on many levels.  A Messianic Pastor in Jerusalem was recently sued along with a couple in their fellowship on a trumped up charge of trying to convert a minor.  They were acquitted, but the anti-missionary group that sued them has now taken it to the next higher court—and so the persecution continues.
            Those who come to faith in Yeshua are not giving up their Jewishness, but in fact are more fulfilled as Jews than ever before.  They continue to celebrate the feasts and find deeper meaning in those feasts as they understand not only the historical significance behind them but also the applications for their spiritual lives today.
            Jesus was a Jew.  Unfortunately, as the number of Gentiles who believed in Jesus for forgiveness of their sins increased, more and more of the roots of Christianity in Judaism were forgotten or abandoned on purpose.  As the Church became dominated by Gentiles, the sense of connectedness to Jewish history and foundations was lost.
            Over the centuries those who call themselves Christians have wrongly persecuted Jews for killing Jesus.  They have changed the true Jewish image of Jesus into a “Christian” Jesus and erased all the Jewish identity he had.  This has further alienated Jews from Christians and set up barriers between them that are very difficult to overcome.  There is a great need for us Believers in Yeshua to humble ourselves and ask forgiveness for the ways our predecessors have treated the Jews in the Name of Jesus. 
            I am not saying Gentile Believers should begin looking like their Jewish cousins by eating Kosher, keeping Sabbath, etc.  Nor should Messianic Believers be expected to look, act and live like Gentiles.  Paul exhorts us to remember that we are saved by faith, not by keeping the law—a spiritual axiom for all Believers, Jew and Gentile alike!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Standing with Israel

            “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.”  God gave Abraham this amazing promise.  If you look at the way this was carried out in the book of Genesis, you see time and again God’s blessing flowing to someone who honored Abraham. 
            Then as you follow the children of Abraham through Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy you see this pattern continue to the succeeding generations. 
            Even down to today, I have seen people who take a stand against Israel pay a heavy price.  President George H. W. Bush refused to guarantee loans for Israel to build much needed housing in Israel and a few days later his own home on the East Coast was hit by a major hurricane.  In a more subtle way, we have seen church denominations take a stand against Israel and the result has been a lifting of God’s blessings on that group.
            That is the background for my concern for the Quakers.  This past week they called for a boycott of companys who stand with Israel.  Their call for this boycott is couched in terms of standing against the violence that Israel has done against the “Palestinian people” in Gaza.
            The Quakers need to go to Israel and see the conditions on the ground as well as review the history of Israel.  They have apparently just accepted the liberal-left agenda and media story line of how the government of Israel has persecuted the Palestinian people.  The closure of the border between Gaza and Israel only happens in response to the firing of rockets from Gaza into population centers in Israel, or because of some other terrorist threat from Hamas or some similar group against Israel.  If Hamas and the Palestinian leaders would stop the violence perpetrated on Israel’s citizens, life would be much easier and more peaceful for everyone.
            In another blog entry, I will delve more fully into the history of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.  It is a complicated situation.  Our prayers and efforts need to be directed to both sides.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Acts Déjà-vu

            The book of Acts is being lived out again by our Messianic brothers and sisters in Israel.  As they quietly go about their daily lives and simply live out their faith in Yeshua, they become a thorn in the side of religious people who are threatened by their faith.  This past week a dear brother who leads a congregation in Jerusalem was dragged into court under false charges of attempting to convert a minor.  The judge threw the case out when our brother produced a letter they had given the young lady stating that she would only be allowed to attend their congregation if her parents would give their permission.
Praise God for His protection.  This same pastor was told by a rabbi that “harsh opposition” is being planned by other rabbis against the Messianic community.  But in the face of that persecution, he acknowledged that they are not really rejecting him but rather Yeshua.  He continues to walk out love toward those who are making his life difficult.
            This is just one incident in a long list of ways the Believers in Israel are being persecuted.  About 20 years ago the Baptist Church in Jerusalem was burned to the ground by Orthodox Jews who wanted them out of the country.  Two years ago a young teenager was severely maimed and nearly died of his wounds as he opened a Purim gift left on his front porch that exploded when he opened it.  The “gift” had been planted there by an Orthodox group who hate Messianic Jews.
            And there are many other incidents like this.  Many Messianic Believers have lost their jobs when the boss found out about their faith in Yeshua.  Others have been deported, or threatened with deportation, by the Orthodox controlled Department of Immigration.
            Pray for our Brothers and Sisters in Israel.  Early Believers passed on a witness that eventually led to our being included in the Family of God.  Now, 2000 years later, a remnant of Believers is back in the Land as living witnesses to our Living Lord.  May He protect them and increase their witness for His glory.