Monthly Archives: September 2013

Racism: Who’s in the Right? And Who’s in the Wrong? (Part 17)

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Not counting the Bible, I’ve read Tramp for the Lord by Corrie ten Boom more times than any other book. The memoir contains stories from her worldwide travels. A particular one seemed appropriate today.

In it, Corrie ten Boom related how she traveled to a church in Munich, Germany, in 1947, to proclaim the message of God’s forgiveness to the defeated and bombed-out German people. She stated to them:

“When we confess our sins, God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever.  And even though I cannot find a Scripture for it, I believe God then places a sign out there that says, ‘NO FISHING ALLOWED.'”

Afterward, the German crowd stood up and filed out, few daring to believe the message’s truth. None approached, except for one heavyset man who moved toward her.

Ten Boom recognized him as one of the cruelest guards at Ravensbruck, the concentration camp where she and her sister were imprisoned. She survived, but her sister died because of the guards’ cruelty.

The man stood in front of her and offered his hand. She fumbled in her purse, not wanting to shake it. Her message sounded glib to her ears at that moment. He admitted being a guard and then said:

“But since that time, I have become a Christian.  I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well, Fraulein. Will you forgive me?”

Corrie ten Boom ignored the man’s hand, not being able to forgive because of painful memories. It was too big a hurdle, even though she knew she had to do it. So, she prayed:

“Jesus, help me! I can lift my hand. I can do that much.  You supply the feeling.”

When their hands finally touched, God’s love flooded ten Boom. “I forgive you, brother, with all my heart,” she cried. Then she finished the story by adding:

 I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.  But even so, I realized it was not my love.  I had tried, and did not have the power.  It was the power of the Holy Spirit …“The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:5)

This story communicates what God expects to happen when He squeezes inner cities and how forgiveness of white Americans will come by the power of the Holy Spirit.

(Continued in Part 18)

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Do The Two Most Important Ones First

(Actual letters from children)

(Actual letters from children)

 

Not too long ago, I found myself with three writing projects and wondered where I should start. As I sat there, a gentle voice whispered to my heart, “Do the two most important ones first.”

“What?” I said, not knowing which two were the most important.

“Write replies to the two letters you just received.”

I pushed aside the three writing projects and reread the two letters, sitting on a to-do pile next to the computer. One letter was from an 8-year old girl named Joshni, who lives in Tamil Nadu, India, and the other from a 5-year old boy named Anupam, who lives in West Bengal, India. Both are Dalit children who attend Bridge of Hope schools and are sponsored by Carol and me.

I wrote letters to both and included three pictures in each envelope. The pictures reveal life in California and my family to them.

I’m a small potato in the writing world, but to these children, I’m probably the big enchilada. You see, my letters are most likely the only ones they will ever receive. A few words can make a difference in their lives.

And the Lord seems to agree with me.

If you are interested in knowing more about sponsoring a child in Gospel For Asia’s Bridge of Hope program, check it out here.

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Racism: Who’s in the Right? And Who’s in the Wrong? (Part 16)

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Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, “Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,” when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-4 NLT)

Thank God for Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the other Civil Rights leaders who pointed at America’s log in its eyes − institutional racism − so that changes happened. Was it a peaceful stroll in the park? No, it was messy, but with rare exceptions, institutional racism is now a horror of the past.

Rev. King and the other leaders deserve honor and gratitude because they were types of Moses, sent by God to deliver America from this horrible sin.

Does racism still exist in America? Yes, and as long as pride and fear exist, the sin of racism may rear its ugly head at times.

Who has more racism − whites or blacks? This question is irrelevant because both races struggle with the sin of racism, with one big difference right now: God and His plans.

You see, God’s plan for America includes having a black river flowing out of our nation’s inner cities, filled with apostles and prophets, who will help deliver the rest of the country from racism and religion. They, in turn, will also be deliverers, much like Moses.

Yet to be deliverers, God will squeeze racism and sin out of these black apostles and prophets. The squeezing will resemble a hand squishing a tube of toothpaste to wring every bit of gel out of it. As with the toothpaste tube, the first bit of squeezing to remove racism and sin will seem easy, but as it continues, it will be more and more painful.

To many, the painful squeezing may seem unfair, since the inner city blacks have suffered through almost 400 years of anguish in America. But for God, He’s looking forward to the finished products: brilliant diamonds reflecting Jesus to all.

(Continued in Part 17)

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Inside Israel

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Once again, it’s time to hear from our sister in Jerusalem about what she is witnessing there as a believer in Yeshua.  Put your prayer shawls on and pray for Israel and Sister J. Now here she is …

5 Sept 2013 – My elderly neighbor’s voice was very loud as he was on speaker phone to a friend.  I worked in the kitchen and went to close the window when I caught his words basically saying: “Yes, and the Suez Canal was not that far…” I began to listen.  This is the day that the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur war is being commemorated.  I listened as he and his friend recounted their minute by minute experiences. “No. That was Thursday and I still didn’t know what was happening.  Rumor said that there would be a cease fire (hafsaket esh) but we were still fighting.”

I had listened to a stirring account given by a man on the radio news this morning.  He said that in the first day of the war alone he lost 85 of his friends, family and unit.  The interviewer asked how he had survived and he immediately said, “That was only God.”

It was better then listening to the news where I heard a disappointing statement given by our Defense Chief this week saying that Israel can depend on no one but herself, her capabilities and the IDF (our military).  I gasped with grief, not a mention of The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  God have mercy!

I said out loud: “We depend on You Lord!  Our eyes are upon You!”

Dear Brothers and sisters, Shalom.  May The God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, by the power of The Holy Spirit.  May you be blessed and may The Lord be glorified and blessed.

I wrote the above several days ago and then time ran out and I lagged several days behind.

“Succot Sameach. Happy Succot!” we said yesterday to bus drivers, vendors and strangers on the street, rushing home after work to prepare the dishes to bring out to the sukka. There was a heavy air between my husband and me this year as we put up and decorated our succa. Some family issues weighed heavily upon us, as well as the uncertainty concerning our move and the lack of family with us tried to block out the joy of the holiday.  Finally, however, the succa was up, and I added new scripture verses this year to the ones I normally hang in Hebrew and in English. Our visitors usually include local believers, Christians from the nations here for the MANY feast related meetings and prayer watches, and local friends and neighbors who are not yet believers, some of whom don’t yet know what we believe.

The scriptures therefore have a multifold purpose: to glorify Him, to remind us of why we are sitting in the succa, to spur us to Him, to declare Him and His purposes both to those who come in and go out and to the very heavens above, to stand in agreement with Him.

So I carefully pin the computer generated hangings I too hastily put together on our walls made of strips of different material I have collected over the years.  My husband cuts the palm branches from a few date palms around our house and puts them on top of the lattice of loose sticks that are laid across our clothes line.  Usually I am able to get some willow and other branches added in, but this year it is just date palm.  As tacky as it sounds, I then put up the ‘plastic’ fruit hangings − grapes, pomegranates, peppers etc. − I have collected over the years, much like Christmas ornaments. Then I put up the fresh fruit I bought at the shuk yesterday: pomegranates with their stems and leaves and boughs of early yellow dates.

Finally, I head out through the area in search of boughs and colorful flowers.  I come back with lots of fragrant myrtle, branches from the red pepper trees laden with red peppercorns, a blue hanging flower, and various lovely leaves and fragrant herbs, and I hang them where there are spaces.  I have to be careful that the pomegranates are not hung above where someone will sit as they can HURT when they fall!  Bowls of huge sweet grapes, dates, all colors and varieties of fruit and nuts sit on the table. The living Thanksgiving offering is prepared in a living tabernacle to house living stones hoping to be a sweet smelling savor to Him.  Time to enter in.

This is my “close up view” of yesterday’s preparations.

Around us swirl a huge flurry of events including a spiraling amount of convocations hosting Christians from around the world.  What a cacophony of activity.  When we first made aliyah, there was ONE Christian Feast of Tabernacles’ conference which hosted believers from all around the globe. It was one of the biggest events in the general Jerusalem calendar yearly.  Over the past few years groups have split off and other groups have come in, depending upon persuasion and emphasis of doctrine, and perhaps geographic area of the world. The result has been multiple large conferences going on simultaneously.

How blessed we are to have many, many thousands of believers from all over the world gathering to pray and intercede for the nation and to worship The King.  Although we don’t often get to go to partake in any of the meetings due to work constraints and so forth, we often get meet encouraging visitors during the holidays. Our kehila will be full of visitors tomorrow night.  One was with us last night in our succa from California.  She joined, with a pastor friend and his wife, as we sat under the Jerusalem stars sharing The Word, testimonies, and His glory.

Along with the Christian feasts, there are both huge and small Jewish gatherings in individual and group succas.  The secular make it a “nature feast” and travel and camp and have fun.  Each morning thousands of people wend their way to the Western Wall or to synagogue with their “four species:” a palm branch, called a lulav,  two willow called the aravot,  minimum of three myrtle branches called haddasim , and finally one citron  called an etrog. They pray and say special blessings. There will also be the ‘Blessing of the Cohenim, the proclaiming of the priestly blessing over the people sometime later this week at the western wall.

AND there will be the Jerusalem March where believers come front and center: marching through the streets of Jerusalem often in traditional dress depicting their home countries and with banners proclaiming scriptures and promise. The streets are all closed and lined with joyful spectators, amazed that Christians come to bless them. What a season!

Leviticus 23:33 “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 34 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord. 35 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary workon it. 36 For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.
37 ‘These are the feasts of the Lord which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the Lord, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, everything on its day— 38 besides the Sabbaths of the Lord, besides your gifts, besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings which you give to the Lord. 39 ‘Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest. 40 And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. 41 You shall keep it as a feast to theLord for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43 that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I amthe Lord your God.’” 44 So Moses declared to the children of Israel the feasts of the Lord. (For a few of the MANY other references in scripture see: Deut 31:10,Zech14:16, John 7:37, 2 Chron 5:3 and 2 Chron 7:8-end (amazing celebration)

I must continue to work during Succot so it is a particularly busy time for me.  The first and the last days of the feast are both proclaimed days of rest. I don’t work on those  and neither does public transportation or anything else. Yet how I love to see the succas lining the streets as I make my way to and from work, and to hear the noise of people inside.  Occasionally, if I have a moment, I will drop in to a stranger’s succa and become an immediate friend.  The succas are open to all.  Strangers are welcome.  It is a law in Jerusalem that every house must be built with a place for a succa, even if that is in the street out front.

The last day of Succot is Simchat Torah, or Joy in the Torah. It symbolizes the end of the yearly cycle of reading the torah scroll and the beginning again at “In the beginning GOD…” ( Gen 1:1)

A dear friend who was just in our succa for lunch today told us how it just hit her they are not talking about reading the Bible, but THE SCROLL.  It is rolled out through out the year, and at the beginning of the new cycle of reading through the scroll, it must be manually and carefully rolled up to start again, which is no small job.  What an interesting thought: someday this world will be “rolled up as a scroll” and there will be a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness.  We do long for such a day.

It is time to go and prepare the evening meal.  I do love sitting outside and hearing the wind in the trees and the birds signaling the different times of day. It’s like hearing The Lord signaling the different seasons. May we have ears to hear.

Brief family update: our new son-in-law whom I’ve told you about, and whom I’ve asked for prayer, is suddenly becoming very “religious.”  This is a shock and actually a panic.  I told you that our daughter has been a backslidden believer and her husband a backslidden Haradi orthodox Jew.  I have been praying The Lord would pursue them unto Himself as they both truly seem to want and be looking for His Truth.

Suddenly, however, he met a rabbi who is very cultish and has taken him in − hook line and sinker.  They are currently in California living with our older daughter and family.  It has become VERY strained, painful and grievous on many levels.  Our younger daughter who is pregnant cries all of the time. Thank you for praying for them as there is tremendous tension now where there was joy.  May we ALL – and our families and our generations − be found IN HIM FOR HIS GLORY.

I want to take a moment to thank you for caring.  I mean that.  Thank you for caring for us, our family, this people, this nation.  Thank you for caring for the Church worldwide.  Thank you for loving God and being Light in such a dark world.

Blessings to each of you,

Your sis in Jerusalem, J

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How Not to be Vulnerable

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To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to be sure of keeping your heart intact you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully around with hobbies and little luxuries, avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safely in the casket of your selfishness. And in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will not change, it will not be broken. It will become unbreakable, impenetrable and irredeemable. The only place outside of heaven where you can be perfectly safe from the dangers of love is hell. (C.S.Lewis)

Gospel For Asia’s Bridge of Hope offers love and hope to the most vulnerable humans in the world − children − through sponsors like you and me. If you’re interested, check it out here.

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Racism: Who’s in the Right? And Who’s in the Wrong? (Part 15)

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To the Egyptians, Moses was a back-stabbing murderer who fled to Midian for forty years. He was the poster-boy of why Egyptians should never treat Hebrews with respect because if they did, Hebrews wouldn’t change, even if wealth and power were handed to them. As the popular proverb said: dogs always return to their vomit.

To Pharaoh, it was more than that, it was personal. Moses’ act of treason brought shame and loss of face to the royal family forty years earlier. Moses’ name was probably spoken by royal family members in much the same way Benedict Arnold’s name was mentioned in America after the Revolutionary War: in disgust.

Thus, when the Bible states God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, it is easy to understand how God did it. He allowed Pharaoh to see Moses as a weak, disgusting Hebrew compared to Pharaoh’s deified stature as the incarnation of the god Horus (god of the sky), a son of Re (god of the sun), and Osiris (giver of life).

As far as the Lord God of Israel, Pharaoh looked at the weakness of Moses and the slavery of Israel’s people and assumed the Lord was a weak, low ranking God compared to himself and Egypt’s many other gods. After all, Pharaoh could openly see his gods, but could not see the Lord God of Israel.

To the Hebrew slaves, Moses’ return, at first, encouraged the slaves because of the signs he performed and his prophetic words to them. But soon, Pharaoh retaliated against Moses’ words by oppressing the slaves more than ever. Then the slaves reacted in anger toward Moses because they were discouraged by the brutality they suffered. They no longer listened to him.

Nice situation for a prophet to find himself, right? So what did God do?

Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, and gave them a charge to the sons of Israel and to Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt. (Exodus 6:13)

The Hebrew word tsavah is translated into the English word charge in the above verse and more nearly means to put in command or in charge.

This is what will soon happen in some inner cities.

( Continued in Part 16)

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Inside Israel

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Once again, it’s time to hear from our sister in Jerusalem about what she is witnessing there as a believer in Yeshua.  Put your prayer shawls on and pray for Israel and Sister J. Now here she is …

Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, the day of repentance, the day of dread, the day that it is said  all the hearts are examined, and those who are appointed for death, will be written for death, and those appointed for life will be written for life. Then the books are closed and sealed.

“G’mar khatima tova” is heard every few minutes. Literally it means: “may you finish with a good signature stamp.” We wrote in English − in my childhood days − “May you be inscribed in the book of life.”  Others wish me also “tsom kal’’ or an easy fast and I respond, “tsom mashma’oti” or “may you have a MEANINGFUL fast” and then we enter into a short conversation concerning the true meaning of a fast before God.  

A Hebrew language teacher advised me to say “tsom mo’il” or may you have a beneficial fast.  

“What?” I asked.  “Why is that better then a meaningful fast?”

My boss was quick to answer: “I want my fast to give me points.”

 Wow!  Talk about saying it as it is.  

“Well, when I fast, my desire is to draw closer to God and to find those things that stand in the way of a deeper relationship, and repent from them,” I said.

He thought and said, “You must be ahead of me.”

But I added, “No.  I could NEVER have enough points to win my way into the book of Life.  I am way lower then you.”  

His answer was from the teaching of the sages: “Those lower are far ahead…”

So it is at the time of Yom Kippur.  The seriousness of it impacts the entire nation, a nation of people seeking to secure their place in the book of life. I am in the midst, SECURE that my name IS INDEED written in THE LAMB’S BOOK OF LIFE.  How wonderful to be both without fear or dread, and be assured that I have the adequate atonement.

It is almost sundown and the streets are silent as people finish up their last meal.  I caught the last bus and train home from work.  The buses stopped at 1:00 and the trains at 2.  The television and radio stations shut down at the same time, and our airspace and airport are also closed, along with all of our borders.  We are effectively sealed off from the world to be sealed in with God and here in Jerusalem it is silent.

Many of the believers take this time to fast as well, not to obtain atonement and gain points to get into the book of life, but hopefully, after spending special time asking The Lord to examine our hearts for any sins of compromise, presumption, unforgiveness, hardness, whatever we may have been blind to– to pray for the blinders to be taken off our nation and our people. For the veil must be be stripped from the eyes and YESHUA must be revealed as He says is Zech 12: 

“And they shall look upon Him Whom they pierced and mourn for Him as for an only begotten Son.” 

The Pascal Lamb IS among us and His once and for all time sacrifice IS sufficient and oh what reason for rejoicing!  Zechariah 8:18 speaks of a day:

Zech 8:18 “And the word of the LORD of hosts came unto me, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.”

The entire chapter, indeed the book, is full of promises yet to be fulfilled, but I have heard people say, “How can a fast be a joyful feast?”  

Oh, what joy to feast on The Lord and His heart for Israel during this fast.  To me it already is a joyful feast and I long for the day that it will be for the entire nation. 

The synagogue service is really a culmination of a month of prayer.  For the past ten days many have been praying prayers of slichot or forgiveness at the western wall or in their synagogues at 4:30 in the morning. There have been daily special prayers and reading of scripture mid day and evening and into the night.  Many, if not most, of what is read in synagogue and being prayed is directly from scripture and very passionate.  But as is true in Christian churches, so it is in synagogues, people can sit hardened and unrepentant under The Word.  People can harden their hearts, stiffen their necks, close their ears and remain blind. 

On shabat, our Pastor’s wife challenged us to examine our own hearts once again concerning this issue of forgiveness before The Lord’s supper (tsudot  h’adon in Hebrew):

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
“So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”
And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”

“Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Years ago, as I was struggling and losing the battle to forgive a sister who seemed continually to hurt me, I suddenly understood my unforgiveness had the power to bind her so she could not be loosed in heaven.  The awful understanding so horrified me that I seemed to stand on a precipice looking at the power we had toward one another, and The Lord set me free to forgive.  Although I still struggle at times, the impact of that view has stayed with me all of these years.  I have been forgiven MUCH.  How dare I not forgive everything? I stand in the midst of a people who long to know that forgiveness. 

This morning at prayer, a sister visiting here from another country for this season of feasts and conferences, shared that last night after being at a prayer conference, she had been able to witness to a group of 5 locals. She was amazed at how hungry and open they were to hear the good news.  I envied her ability to share so freely.  

Most Israelis will accept much more willingly the testimony of a gentile believer then a Jewish one. Indeed, today at work I had a strange experience that used to be much more common and it took me a bit aback.  Some new immigrants came in to see the doctor where I work for the first time and we began to talk.  They just arrived a week ago from the state of Texas.  When they asked where I was from and I told them, suddenly the woman took a deep breath and looked askance at her husband and I remembered that look.  She had been warned about me.  She began to ask some specific questions which left little room for doubt.

I don’t feel worthy of the title: dangerous.  

Years ago large groups of people were warned by their rabbis to stay away from me as I was such a dangerous woman, but I thought my lack of fruitfulness had stripped me of that distinction.  But of course, the knowledge of Him – His Name – is dangerous. Dangerous to the enemy and to all we hold dear in this life, and the knowledge of Him so radically changes EVERYTHING. 

Years ago, before we moved here, a young Israeli man stayed in our village to work in the fishing industry there.  We became very close and I talked to him much about The Lord.  One day I said to him, “I can not convince you.  You ask Him yourself.  Ask Him, ‘Do you have a Son, is He The Messiah, and is His Name Yeshua (Jesus)?”‘

He bowed his head and did just that and to my shock, he crumpled in a heap on to the floor.  He began to weep and to pray.  But when it was over he said to me, “Do you know what I just did?  I have separated myself from my people, my nation and my family.”  

Well, I knew that feeling partially.  I remember thinking, “Uh oh.  I’m Jewish.  What will happen to my parents,” but I didn’t understand then Aam Israel – the people/nation so ancient and so veiled. I had been in the captivity (dispersion or diaspora or scattering) for too many millennia to fully understand. 

So, the kitchens of Israel or at least most of Jerusalem are closed now for 25 hours.  Darkness has fallen and the synagogues are full.  The vehicle-free streets are full of children riding bikes.  Although we are sealed off and silent, today also marks 40 years since the Yom Kippur war and 20 years since the disastrous Oslo “peace accords” were signed.  

People are dying as I write in Syria. Iran is plotting our demise and the world stands on the precipice.  It is the right moment to stand sealed off before The Lord. 

And, of course, Wednesday night we get to, once again, to dwell in our little succa’s (booths) for a week and rejoice together.  What a great great God we serve.  He certainly knows what is best. 

If you choose to fast and or pray along for this nation, it might be a good time to read the book of Hebrews. It is so rich in truths which are still hidden here. 

Thank you so much for caring and for even reading what I write.  I am so blessed by you, dear sisters and brothers.  

Lovingly, your sis J

 

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