Category Archives: Christians

I AM NOT RACIST…or am I?

It wasn’t until the death of George Floyd that the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to the part my apathy had played in racism.

Apathy?

Out of the 807,391 words used in the New American Standard Version of the Bible, the word “apathy” does not appear one time. And the word “apathy” does not appear even once in the other top ten selling English translations of the Bible.

But a well-known synonym for apathy does appear in a verse in each of the top selling Bible translations –

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked (Revelation 3:15-17)

Lukewarm?

Most Christians think that term describes believers who give their lives to the Lord at a Jesus Crusade and then fall away, no longer fellowshipping with other believers, praying or reading their Bibles. They have their stay-out-of-Hell fire insurance card and that’s good enough for them.

Is this an accurate description of all lukewarm believers?

Let’s check out my life on the morning the Holy Spirit pointed His finger at my sin of apathy:

I climbed out of bed at 4:30 a.m. that morning and spent two and half hours in prayer. I read the Bible for sixty minutes and listened to some teachings by Mike Bickle on my iPhone throughout the afternoon as I worked. Plus, I fasted two days that week.

This was not an atypical day or week for me. It is the routine which I have followed for over thirty years. It does not matter whether I am struggling through the worst of times or enjoying a season of blessings, I continue to plod along and seek the Lord. It is my life.

One of the prayers I prayed that morning, as I do almost every morning, was this one from a psalm by King David:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT)

“Point out anything in me that offends You, Lord.”

There is not much I could say to the Lord when He answered this prayer by pointing out my sin of apathy, except, “Forgive me, Lord.”

Normally, I just keep on walking with Him and don’t look back after I ask the Lord for forgiveness. I know He isn’t angry with me nor does He love me less because I sinned and fell short of His glory. Yet, on that morning, I felt like I needed more information and asked, “Lord, how did I end up being lukewarm in my love toward my black brothers and sisters? “

The Lord eventually dropped His answer into my spirit. It was far different than I thought it would be – like hello! Doesn’t that always seem to be the case?

The Lord reminded me how for the first fifteen years after my salvation, I did not listen to newscasts or follow politics. I felt it was a waste of my time when compared to seeking Him.

This changed in early 2000 when I read a prophecy spoken by a man I admired – Bob Jones. “A burning bush shall come out of Texas and be elected the next president of the United States,” he prophesied.

Jones’ prophetic words stirred me to follow politics and to begin listening to newscasts and a few conservative radio shows while I drove my truck. I soon began thinking the GOP was God’s Own Party and the Democrats were controlled by Satan and his minions.

Almost 90% of black Americans vote for Democratic candidates. Thus, love for my black brothers and sisters became collateral damage in my new political thinking.

I continued on this political path until January of 2009. That’s when the Lord let me know He loved both Democrats and Republicans and I should do the same. He told me that I could be delivered of my attitudes toward Democrats if I quit listening to news programs and conservative talk radio – AND – quit voting in elections.

It took six months, but the Lord’s proposals changed my life. I no longer looked at a person through a political mindset. I saw each person as a valued being, created in God’s image, one who Jesus died for on the cross and one who He loved with all of His heart.

Take a deep breath, okay?

I am not you. The Lord knows my heart and how to set me free of my attitudes. If you have a bad attitude toward Democrats or Republicans, seek the Lord on how to love them as He does.

Just so you know: I don’t listen to the news, but I do read some news articles and check out headlines on news sites on the internet. Thus, I do keep abreast of what is happening in America and the world.

And He said to them, Be careful what you are hearing. The measure [of thought and study] you give [to the truth you hear] will be the measure [of virtue and knowledge] that comes back to you—and more [besides] will be given to you who hear. (Mark 4:24 AMP)

As I wrote earlier, love for my black brothers and sisters became collateral damage with my change in political thinking. My spiritual ears no longer heard their cries for freedom nor did I feel their pain anymore. This love did not return when the Lord delivered me of my attitudes toward Democrats, but instead my attitude was that my black brothers and sisters needed to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and join the twenty-first century here in America.

Sadly, I forgot how I wasn’t able to set myself free from most of my problems without the help of other believers.

Bear one another’s burden, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

Thus, I ask forgiveness from my black brothers and sisters for my sin of being lukewarm in loving them.

(Excerpt from my upcoming book entitled A Black River by Larry Nevenhoven)

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Filed under African-American, black people, Christians, Race, Racism, Uncategorized

Will We End Up Being A Part of the Great Falling Away? (Part 7)

“He’s dead! He’s dead!” exclaimed the courier from Rome as he trotted toward us.

I stopped working and stood up. The other tent makers did the same.

“Who’s dead?” I asked.

“The Apostle Paul’s dead!” said the courier, wiping the sweat from his forehead. “He was beheaded in Rome about a month ago.”

Even though I knew Paul’s ministry would probably have a sad ending, the news stunned me. O Lord, why? I thought.

I walked away from the group, not wanting to talk about the apostle at that moment. It was just too painful. I ended up walking down by the Aegean Sea and sitting on a rock by myself. There, I thought back over my years with Paul.

The first time I met Paul, I was not impressed. His stature was too puny, only 4 feet 6 inches tall and 110 pounds in weight, and his public speaking talents were too shallow when compared to Apollos and the other orators. Yes, he was brilliant and could write, but these were facts that I learned later and did not figure at all into my first impressions of him.

Yet, there was something about Paul which drew me to him. Maybe, it was his fiery passion for the gospel, his fierce boldness or his love for the church. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but anyway, I joined up with Paul and traveled along with him as his aide.

On our first journey to Rome, we ended up swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. Somehow, the Roman soldiers did not execute us and we were able to swim ashore to Malta. And eventually, we did arrive in Rome.

Next, I spent two years, waiting for Paul while he was under arrest. When we finally resumed traveling again, everything became a blur of afflictions, hardships, distresses, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, sleeplessness and hunger.

Then, the fire in Rome changed everything for us from bad to worse. Christians were blamed for the fire and Paul became a marked man. Nero sent soldiers to hunt him down in Asia.

Finally, I mentally collapsed under the stress.

“Paul, I didn’t join your ministry to be killed by Roman soldiers,” I said on the day of my departure. “I’m going to Thessalonica, start a business, maybe marry a young woman and start a family. I’m too young for a martyr’s death!”

Paul was disappointed, but what could he do? I fled on a boat.

It had been almost a year since I last saw Paul and now he was dead. My mind wandered here and there as the blue waves splashed against the rock I sat on.

Did I make the right decision when I left Paul? I wondered.  And how will I be remembered by future Christians?

for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica…(2 Timothy 4: 9)

The above is a fictional story about Demas who is only mentioned in the above verse, Colossians 4:14 and Philemon 1.24.

Now, if we think that the three verses about Demas are added to Paul’s writings just to fill up space, then we’ve completely missed the point. I believe the Holy Spirit used Demas to give later believers a name and a face for fallen-away Christians.

Yes, I understand God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness handles problems like this, but still the words of 2 Timothy 4:9 are a part of God’s written Word forever!

(Continued in Part 7…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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Filed under America, Christians, Church, End-Times, Falling Away, Prophecy

To Speak in Tongues or To Not Speak in Tongues? That is the question. (Part 3)

Praying in tongues quiets the mind. When Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist, compared brain scans of Christians praying in tongues with Buddhist monks chanting and Catholic nuns praying, the study showed the frontal lobes—the brain’s control center—went quiet in the brains of Christians talking in tongues, proving that speaking in tongues isn’t a function of the natural brain but an operation of the Spirit (1 Cor. 14:2, 14). (Adapted from Seventy Reasons for Speaking in Tongues by Bill Hamon(Destiny Image). Reproduced by permission of Destiny Image.

An early step in my heart renovation happened during the winter of 1993 when I scheduled a teaching at a home group in Story City, Iowa, a fifty-five mile journey from Fort Dodge. My 1975 Chevy gas-hog of a pickup truck sat outside of my apartment with a gas tank resembling my empty billfold.

I already had a teaching ready for the group and felt the Lord had a way to somehow get me there. I prayed in tongues on my knees for an hour before a scripture crossed my mind.

One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed (Proverbs 19:17).

“Lord, how will this scripture help me?” I asked aloud.

No response came, but I knew the scripture contained my answer. I memorized it and meditated on it while praying in tongues for another hour. The Holy Spirit eventually reminded me about giving all the money in my billfold to a poor woman who lived just down the street. The ex-husband was late with child support. The family needed milk and groceries.

“Okay, Lord. That builds my faith because I did give money to a poor person, but how am I going to make my faith work in this instance?” I said.

No answer again.

I returned to bowing on my knees and continued meditating on the scripture while praying in tongues for another hour. This time I felt the Lord instructed me to cut out a piece of paper and tape it over my gas gauge so the needle pointing to E could not be seen. My faith would then be in God and not in the gas tank. I followed His instructions.

The truck’s engine roared to life when I turned the key and headed out into the cold, windy, snowy evening. There was little traffic on the highway. My thoughts on the ride centered on whether an angel had a gas can and continually poured fuel into the tank or if the Lord recycled the fumes. I never figured it out, but I arrived at my destination without any incident.

The Lord has built in my heart a deep trust in prayer over the years. He is my Father, who loves me enough to bankrupt heaven for me. I ask Him to provide for whatever I need in the quiet of the prayer closet and seldom have ever mentioned anything to others. Thus, I never told anyone about my empty gas tank at the house group.

The meeting and fellowship lasted until midnight, but just before I left, a man handed me thirty dollars.

“The Lord told me to give this money to you,” he said.

I thanked him and let him know how much I appreciated his obedience to the Lord’s voice.

(Excerpt from my memoir, The Hunt for Larry Who.)

Be still and know that I am God... (Psalm 46:10)

(Continued in Part 4)

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Filed under America, Christians, Church, Gifts of the Spirit, Prophecy, Speaking in tongues

We Need Heroes (Part 1)

 

Most people have seen the movie, Titanic, and its fictional love story about a poor boy, Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio), and a rich girl, Rose (Kate Winslet), on an ill-fated ocean voyage. The movie won the 1997 Oscar for Best Picture. Its box-office sales of over $1.8 billion rank it as the second most successful movie of all time, behind Avatar.

Hollywood created its own fictional heroes for the movie script, but on April 14, 1912, there were many real heroes. One of them was named John Harper.

John Harper, a thirty-nine year old widower and a Baptist preacher, was traveling to Chicago aboard the R.M.S Titanic on its maiden voyage with his six-year old daughter, Nana. He was scheduled to preach some evangelistic meetings at the Moody Church.

At 11:40 p.m., the Titanic hit an iceberg on the starboard side of the ship. As soon as Harper realized the ship was going to sink, he took his daughter to a lifeboat and placed her aboard. “Nana, I’ll see you again someday,” he said to her.

Then, while flares lit up the sky, he marched up and down the decks yelling, “Women, children and unsaved into the lifeboats!”

At 2:20 a.m., a rumble arose from deep within the ship as it broke in half. Hundreds of people, including Harper, jumped into the 28-degree (-2 C) water as the Titanic slipped into its watery grave.

As soon as Harper hit the surface, he frantically swam from one person to the next, leading them to Jesus before the people succumbed to the icy waters and hypothermia. He asked one young man who clutched a piece of wood, “Are you saved?” The young man answered that he was not.

Harper tried to convince the young man, but the man refused to listen. Harper took off his life jacket and threw it at the man. “Here then, you need this more than I do,” said Harper as he swam off to other people.

A few minutes later, Harper returned to the man and successfully led him to Christ. Then, Harper attempted to swim to other people, but the icy waters were too much for him. “Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved,” he shouted before he sank under the waters.

Of the 1528 people that went into the icy waters that night, lifeboats rescued only six. One of them was the young man who later recounted how Harper had led him to Christ.

Declaring the end and the result from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure and purpose (Isaiah 46:10)

Maybe some will believe John Harper ran into some bad luck by being on the Titanic, but don’t believe that for even a second. You see, our loving Father looked into the future and knew the Titanic would sink on that fateful night. He could have stopped Harper from being aboard that ship by any number of ways if He had wanted to do that. But instead our Father used John Harper as His representative in the midst of a terrible tragedy. A man willing to fight the good fight, finish the race and keep the faith all the way to his last breath.

I truly believe John Harper represents the type of hero the Lord will be raising up in the days ahead as our nation seemingly heads toward its disastrous finish.

(Continued in Part 2)

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Filed under America, Christians, Church, End-Times, Faith, Heroes, Prayer, Tribulation

Will We End up Being a Part of the Great Falling Away? (Part 1)

Most of us read Scripture through a foggy set of lens. For instance, let’s look at Judas.

I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me. (John 13:18)

Jesus chose twelve disciples, whose ages were probably between fourteen and twenty-two years old. Young kids. But oops! One of them was a teenager named Judas Iscariot.

Now think about it: was Judas a robot on auto-pilot to fulfill Scripture from the moment Jesus chose him until he kissed Jesus in the Garden?

No, of course not!

Jesus spent three years teaching and preparing the twelve chosen disciples to preach the Kingdom of God. He explained to them that He had to become the sacrificial Lamb and would need to die for the sake of others. He even told them, “One of you will betray Me.”

All of the disciples, including Judas, replied, “Is it I?”

Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. (John 13:26)

This was the pivotal scene, which I believe was staged mainly for Judas’ sake. The disciple had to know that Jesus would have forgiven him if he had confessed his sin to Him, but Judas hardened his heart and Satan entered him at that moment.

All Jewish boys memorized the Psalms. So, there’s no doubt that Judas knew Psalm 41 by heart, but obviously he never once considered he would be the one to fulfill a prophecy in it –

Even my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted (relied on and was confident), who ate of my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. (Psalm 41:9 AMP)

Bad choices by Judas caused his name to be linked to betrayal forever because he fulfilled this Old Testament prophecy.

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

Almost every Christian has memorized this verse, written by Paul to the Thessalonians who were confused about the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. We now look at the verse as a New Testament prophecy.

But like Judas, memorizing and knowing this verse doesn’t mean we’ll avoid being a part of the thousands and thousands who will fulfill Paul’s prophecy about the End-Times.

(Continued in Part 2)

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Filed under America, Christians, End-Times, Falling Away, Forgiveness, Judas, Kingdom of God, Prophecy, Uncategorized

Prayers for Senior Citizens (5/30/2019)

 

Let’s stop blaming Democrats, Republicans, the media, social media and anyone else for America’s problems. And let’s start looking in the mirror at the major causes for our problems: me and almost every senior citizen in our nation.

We are the ones who inherited this nation from what Tom Brokaw called the “Greatest Geneation” and then allowed it to be turned into a selfish, government-reliant, money-hungry, anti-God, abortion-loving, self-absorbing, comfort-adoring, gender-confused generation, filled with our children and grandchildren.

The buck stops here for me…and hopefully for millions of others.

I refuse to spend my twilight years sitting in a rocking chair and just passing time until I die. I want to make-up for those years I failed to pray, fast and help shape my children and grandchildren into men and women of God who build His kingdom for His purposes.

My prayer today:

Lord, I repent of my apathy and lethargy over the last fifty years. Help me to deny myself, pick up my cross daily and follow You. And Lord, give me Your grace to be what You desire me to be now.

Join with me on Thursdays to fast and pray for Christian Senior Citizens in America.

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Prayers for Businessmen (5/21/2019)

If you’re working in the marketplace, and you’re not the owner or the owner’s son, you’ll have managers supervising your work. Some of the managers will be good and a few might be bad. Yet even so, the Bible is clear on how we should treat all managers −good and bad:

Servants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not with eye service as men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with good will doing service as to the Lord, and not to men. (Ephesians 6:5-7)

Paul reiterated these same instruction in Colossians 3:22, 1 Timothy 6:1, and Titus 2:9, but Peter took it a step further:

Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. (1 Peter 2:18 NASB)

Why should we honor our managers with loyalty and good service?

Knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. (Ephesians 6:8)

If we are hoping to serve the Lord and have Him prosper us, we need to be loyal and honor all of our managers. If we struggle with any of our managers, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us. This is His job as our Helper.

But if for whatever reasons, we aren’t able to honor a manager or a company, then maybe we should resign and look for employment elsewhere.

My prayer today:

Lord, help us businessmen to love the managers who supervise us with Your love, the love You revealed to us on the cross.

Join us on Tuesdays to fast and pray for American men in the marketplace.

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Praying Against National Discouragement (1/31/2019)

Since 1973, there have been over 61 million abortions in the US. In the world, there have been more than 1.5 billion abortions since 1980. (If you want to see a constantly updated abortion counter board, click here.)

Watching the numbers change at the abortion counter board are mind-boggling. They just keep moving forward. Each tick represents another dead baby. And another. And another. And so forth.

But let’s be honest, it’s easy to be discouraged about abortion, especially when we read about New York’s new up-to-the-time-of-birth abortion guidelines, the Virginia governor’s statement about babies surviving abortions and the media’s words.

Why even pray? Why even fast? It seems like such a waste of time. Might as well just not care at all anymore, right?

But what does discouragement really mean?

Being discouraged actually means we’re looking at our problems and seeing them as bigger and more powerful than our God and His leadership ways. But of course, none of us would ever admit this, right?

Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. Revelation 8:3-5)

Maybe my individual prayers are not making a big difference at the local Planned Parenthood Clinic, but that’s not necessarily my intention. I’m praying to the Creator to let Him know I agree with Him and His leadership ways against abortion and that I know my prayers will soon cause noises, thunderings, lightnings and earthquakes on earth.

That’s enough to keep me in the battle against abortion and other major problems.

My prayer today:

Lord, I pray that You would give each believer the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of You, that the eyes of our understanding would be enlightened about prayer and that we would know the exceeding greatness of Your power backing our prayers. (Based on Ephesians 1:17-19)

Join with me on Tuesdays to fast and pray for our nation.

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Filed under Abortion, America, Christians, Discouragement, Fasting, Intercession, Prayer, Prophecy, spiritual warfare

Politicians, False Prophets and Jesus (Part 6)

Global Warming

Two years after his An Inconvenient Truth documentary hit the movie theaters in 2006, former Vice President Al Gore spoke at the New Baptist Covenant Celebration in Atlanta.  “Global warming is not a political issue,” Gore told a crowd of approximately 2,500 paying attendees. “It is a moral issue. It is an ethical issue. It is a spiritual issue.”

Gore repeated his views that increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere was causing a global climate crisis. He used four Bible verses to justify his spiritual issue assertion:

Then He also said to the multitudes, “Whenever you see a cloud rising out of the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it is.55 And when you see the south wind blow, you say, ‘There will be hot weather’; and there is.56 Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time? 57 “Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right? (Luke 12:54-57)

“The evidence is there,” Gore said. “The signal is on the mountain. The trumpet has blown. The scientists are screaming from the rooftops. The ice is melting. The land is parched. The seas are rising. The storms are getting stronger. Why do we not judge what is right?”

Robert Parham, the executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics referred to Gore as a Baptist prophet and added, “Prophets are unacceptable because their truth is inconvenient.”

Jesus said that we should judge prophets by their fruit. So let’s do that, okay?

First, if Al Gore is a true prophet, the truths he proclaimed in his ground-breaking documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, should be accurate. Are they?

Not really. Almost all of his predictions have failed so far. A judge in England went so far as to demand that nine untruths in the documentary be changed or a syllabus provided for the teachers, in order for the documentary to be shown in the nation’s school classrooms. Gore and his group caved in and provided a syllabus. Others have suggested even more errors than just nine.

Second, money, and lots of it.

Gore earns between $100,000 and $150,000 per speech. His wealth is estimated at almost $300 million dollars. Although his royalty earnings from his books and film projects are pledged to his nonprofit, Climate Reality Project, he has successfully leveraged himself as a climate activist and received invitations to be involved in numerous lucrative deals over the years.

Third, scriptural justification.

Gore’s use of Luke 12:54-57 to justify his spiritual issue assertion has nothing to do with his theories on global warming. He could just as well have used, “Balaam rose up in the morning and saddled his ass” because it’s just as meaningless to his cause as the verses in Luke. 

Fourth, hypocrisy.

Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elijah, Elisha and other prophets of God, not only preached what Israel needed to do to avoid calamitous judgments, they also lived in the righteous ways they expected others to follow.

But a critic of Gore said, “Al’s a limousine liberal, a tiresome pedant and climate alarmist who lives a jet-setting, carbon-profligate lifestyle while preaching asceticism for everyone else.” He lives in an oceanfront six-bedroom, $8.9-million villa — the exact place where he predicted the water would rise twenty feet when the ice in Antartica melts.

Okay, is Al Gore a prophet?

Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. (Matthew 24:11)

I believe Gore’s fruit shows that he is a false prophet on global warming. And if he is the point man who is at the forefront of the global warming movement throughout the world, what can we say about the others who are following him? At the least, I believe they are deceived and at the worst they are also false prophets and maybe even greedy hucksters.

It’s my opinion that God is still in control of the weather and that the global warming movement is an anti-God money scam.

You, of course, need to make up your own mind.

(Continued in Part 6…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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Inside Israel

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 —

“When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it.  Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.”  Joshua 3:3-4

Greetings, dear sisters and brothers,

May The Lord be seen, glorified  and blessed, and may you be blessed and edified toward Him alone.

I have been much impressed over the years by the fact that the prophets, the fiery prophets, prophesied NOT during times of great darkness but generally during times of spiritual prosperity.  Isaiah prophesied during the days that, among others, Hezekiah was king.   Jeremiah prophesied during the days of Josiah.

I could go on, but what struck me about this is that it is HARD to hear the message “repent or else” while we think that we are okay, especially  while we are seeking The Lord, praying, reading, obeying.  When it feels to us as if The Lord is blessing, hearing us and answering and we are walking in fellowship. Then all of a sudden, we hear rumblings of “Seek The Lord now or else!”

Sometimes we can feel uncomfortable, condemned and even get angry. “Who do you think you are?”

What a time we live in, and we CERTAINLY have not passed this way before!

I’m sure that it has been with horror that we have all read the reports of the California fires in Paradise. The descriptions remind me of nuclear war, people overtaken by flames and incinerated instantly.  It is difficult to grasp. Everywhere we turn there are reports of great human suffering and we don’t really know if it has always been this way. Or has social media accessmagnified it through bombarding us moment by moment. But no matter what, it is indeed snowballing before our eyes.

Here in Israel we are also experiencing nonstop fiery dilemmas.   I have described the fires in the South set by incendiary balloons and kites.  It looked as if it was going to burst forth into a full-fledged conflagration last week when some 450 rockets and missiles were fired at us from Gaza. One person was killed (ironically, a Palestinian man) when a rocket collapsed a building in our southern city of Ashkelon. There were quite a number of injured during the 1.5 or so days of fighting, which then suddenly stopped.

Yes, it was very intense.

The media and the politics appear to be in a free-fall at the moment.  Our Minister of Defense’ Avigdor Lieberman, resigned in the face of our government accepting a cease fire (again) with Hamas.  It appears most likely that we will have to go to early elections as the government is collapsing in the light of the pull out of Avigdor Lieberman’s party from the coalition form of government that we have.  Our word belegan (total mish mash of confusion and mess) seems to apply to the situation before us as Hamas laughs and states that “this has been nothing compared with what we have planned for Tel Aviv.”

And yet I believe that our leaders are not stupid. The rumblings in the north (Syria, Lebanon, Iran…) are serious.  There are plans going on of which we know nothing…

But I have always been arrested by the verse above in Joshua 3:3-4… Step back! Leave a space! You have never passed THIS WAY BEFORE!

Many people feel as if they know what will happen.  I do not.  One thing I do know:  This is much bigger than I am, and I can/MUST bring it all before The God Who IS bigger than ALL.  To do that effectively I need to heed the cry of the prophets to repent fully before our Holy God.

I am telling you nothing new, and nothing that you don’t know until this point, but I will lighten up. I DO have some local stories to share.

So here is a story:

Last night was Friday night, erevn Shabbat (the evening of Shabbat, when Shabbat enters.  Saturday night is motze Shabbat- when Shabbat leaves).  We have been blessed to have our younger daughter and family back in the land for the past more than 2 years already, and as they only live two blocks away, they join us for most erev Shabbat meals: the festive meal.

I have shared before a bit about our son in law who was born here, the oldest of 14 in a Haradi (ultra orthodox ) family from French Algerian background.  He is a sweetheart and I have learned a lot of traditions from him that are different from those that I was raised with in New York City, America.

Last night our 4.5 year old Granddaughter Maya said, “In the shuk today a man gave me a yummy birthday present.”  She smiled broadly.  

“But Maya,”  I said, “It isn’t your birthday.”

Yitzhak (our son in law) said, “No.  But it was HIS birthday.  That is how you are SUPPOSED to do it.  You have to bless OTHERS when it is your birthday because you have gotten the BIG blessing of your life on the day when you are born.  You are already blessed with the biggest gift so you need to bless others on your birthday.”

Maya added, “Abba and I went to the shuk and this man gave me a bag full of sweet things and nice things and blessed me.”

I asked, “How old was this man?”

Yitzhak answered, “He said that it was his 85th birthday and he was handing out bags of goodies to everyone at the shuk”’

I smiled and thought of Meir Slama who was the first one that I knew of at my work who came to me with a beautiful box of expensive handmade chocolates and flowers and told me that it was his birthday. I was taken aback.

When we first made Aliyah, it was common to be on the bus and a girl or boy would pass around goodies and tell everyone it is their 16th or 18th birthday. I was so touched as they shared but I didn’t understand the depth of the tradition.

I thought back a few years and remembered again, older people at the shuk, passing around goodies and flowers on the occasion of their birthday. It began to fall into place.  “You need to bless people because you have been blessed with life.  They have it backwards in the west where people get gifts on their birthdays.  You have to GIVE.”

I remembered visiting Maya’s gan (pre-school) for her birthday party and remembered how our daughter had to bring 30 little gifts and packages to give to all of the other children.

Huh!  I think that I like this tradition.  At my husband’s birthday dinner, Yitzhak had told him that he should go around and give each one a blessing. It was a special time as he did just that and we were all edified.

It is a good tradition with its roots in truth, but it is still a tradition.

I  feel challenged today to cut away the nice things of my life and get to the raw part. Let God deal as deeply as He did the day that I met Him because the time is short. Even so, I have not passed this way before.

In my last letter I described the march of the young people from the south saying that they had had enough of “red alerts” and fires.  That was just a few short days before the whole south blew up into a full-fledged battlefield.  It was also just before our Mayoral runoff elections about which the word that was in my heart was either the sons of Greece or the sons of Zion (Zechariah 9:13).

The religious candidate won over the secular candidate.  How strange that that was all just one week ago.  It really feels as if it has been years!

May we be found in HIS Peace gazing at Him, abiding in Him, as time and this world continue to run.    And as it runs, may we sit at His feet.  And as we are at His feet may we sing blessing and honor and glory and praise unto HIM WHO ALONE IS WORTHY, Whose Name is The Word of God (Rev. 19:13).

Lovingly,

your sister J

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