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.