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.”