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God’s Love Must Torpedo Inner Cities’ Bitterness…Or Else (Part 8)

At the beginning of evil King Jehoiakim’s reign over Judah, Jeremiah stood in the court of the Temple and prophesied a stern message to the people of Jerusalem:

“If you will not listen to me, to walk in my law that I have set before you, and to listen to the words of my servants the prophets whom I send to you urgently, though you have not listened, then I will make this house like Shiloh, and I will make this city a curse for all the nations of the earth.” (Jeremiah 26:4-6)

God caused His tabernacle to first be set up in Shiloh during Joshua’s days. It remained there until Eli’s two evil sons decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant from Shiloh into Israel’s army camp in hopes God would help the nation defeat the Philistines. The Philistines then defeated the Israelites and captured the Ark of the Covenant. God’s tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant never returned to Shiloh again.

Shiloh represented a time when God’s glory departed from Israel.

Jeremiah’s words instantly stirred up the prophets and priests of the Temple. They demanded that Jeremiah be killed for his blasphemous words.

Some wiser officials compared Jeremiah’s words to the prophet Micah who prophesied stern words against Jerusalem during King Hezekiah’s reign. Micah’s life was not threatened. Thus, Jeremiah’s life was spared for the same reasons.

Yet at the same time, another prophet named Uriah prophesied almost the exact same words about Jerusalem. He was hunted down by King Jehoiakim’s warriors, captured, brought before the king and killed by a sword. His body was dumped into a common grave, which was not the usual burial place for prophets.

Now think about this for a moment. Both prophets – Jeremiah and Uriah – stood before the Lord, heard His voice and then spoke the word of the Lord to Jerusalem. Yet Jeremiah’s life was protected and spared, but Uriah’s life was not protected. He was killed.

Why did God allow this to happen?

I can’t say for sure, but I do know that God uses martyrs as His witnesses to nations, groups of people and before His throne. The blood of the martyrs cry out to the Lord and says, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood…

Can we expect something like this to happen in America’s inner cities?

(Continued in Part 9…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 —

Greetings with grace and mercy in The Blessed Name of our Lord, Yeshua h’meshiakh* May He be blessed and glorified, and may you be blessed and edified.  May He take this small offering for His glory alone and the edification of those to whom it is sent with love.

Elul is the last month of the modern Hebrew calendar.  The month of Elul will end on the 29th of September this year, ushering in Rosh h’Shana (the day of the blowing of trumpets, now celebrated as the new year), followed closely by Yom Kippur (the day of atonement – repentance – the most solemn day in the Hebrew calendar of fasting and prayer) and then the wonderful  7 day feast of Sukkot (feast of tabernacles). Autumn (‘stav’ in Hebrew) is upon us with the fall feasts rushing in!  How suddenly summer ends.

School began here in Israel on the 1st of September (yes, Sunday is our ‘Monday’ because Saturday is our Sabbath (shabbat) and being that today (Tuesday) is my day off from work, I smiled with joy as Eric and I walked our 5 and half year old Granddaughter Maya to ‘gan ho’veh’ (or ‘advanced kindergarten’ for those who get to go again).

Our daughter was taking 2 and half year old Nuria to gan, which she began on Sunday – one excited little cookie!  ‘All in our places with sunshiny faces’ was all I could sing as we made our way along with the throngs of parents and grandparents taking all of those little shiny excited faces to their respective schools or ga’nim (kindergartens).  I was totally absorbed in watching Maya on her scooter chattering joyfully to me when I tripped over part of our notoriously choppy sidewalks and fell smack on my knees, injuring my pride terribly but thankfully otherwise not doing anything serious.

‘Oh Tata! Tata!  Are you ok?  You scared me!’ (Maya couldn’t say Sav’ta when she was tiny and Tata stuck)

‘I’m fine!’ I assured her as we continued on and I introduced myself to the ga’ne’net (teacher) so that we could get through security to pick her up.  Isn’t the love of a child amazing?  (To you parents…it gets WAY better when you are grandparents believe it or not.)  May we BE like them, that tender, simple and honest love to our Abba God!

 

The past couple of weeks have been ‘belegan’ here in Jerusalem.  The last two weeks of summer vacation there is no kay’tin’ah (sort of summer ‘day camps’ that most children attend.  They are specialized and can be just play or sport or art or science, language or history , all sorts of age classified enrichment activities).

As you know, our economy here is different than in the west, a huge portion of this tiny country’s  resources  go to very necessary defense, so it is pretty rare for a family to be able to survive even simply on one paycheck. Most parents honestly HAVE to work, not to get ahead, but to survive.  HOWEVER, the last two weeks of summer, ‘someone’ needs to be home with the children (if retired grandparents aren’t available), and most vacations are taken then.

Consequently, the streets of Jerusalem have been PACKED with large families (religious families are particularly large. As I have said before, our son in law is the oldest of 14).  The time is spent getting school supplies and being out on ‘te’oo’lim’ (‘trek’ or ‘trip’, outing).  The lite rail and all buses were packed way beyond capacity as families enjoyed museums, parks, the zoo, the Old City, shops and restaurants.

Our dear friend Janet is staying with us for awhile and I have so enjoyed reading her updates (although she has been here on and off for many years, she always sees things with new eyes. I can’t help but borrow from her beautifully written letters:

She mused about large families dressing their children in identical clothing and I hadn’t thought about that for a while but I always think of them as big gardens.  The pansies are planted here and the daisies are there, then there are the sweet peas.  I think it really solves many problems:  First, like school uniforms, it solves the fashion problem.  ‘Here’s your ‘dress’ for the year girls’ and each one gets what Ima (mama)  picked out.  You surely can see your whole family in a crowd without losing any easily.  And when they are all on sale it’s a win-win situation for the family.  Often though it is a bolt of material that is on sale, and one pattern.

I’ve often wondered at the resilience of the people of this country, how it continues life in the midst of all of the stresses, threats and challenges. There is a philosophy or a culture that has been planted in the people. Perhaps a survival skill.  I heard so many stories about how people survived in the death camps of the Holocaust.  I was told by a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto about the schools that they set up, about how, in spite of starvation, slavery, degradation and death everywhere, they set up a functioning society with phony money to use to keep themselves from being penniless and to keep an order. Concerts performed by those who could sing or make instruments from garbage.  Humor and other forms of entertainment. Doctors and teachers continuing their trade so that they could encourage one another to life.  This way they kept themselves from despair and from degradation.

 

Our borders are heating up.  I know that I say that to you often, but things erupt here suddenly.  On Sunday we had a skirmish with Hizbollah in Lebanon sending residents of the North into shelters and sealing off the roads.  It did not erupt into the war …yet.  There is MUCH background fighting going on and as our Prime Minister has openly announced often, he (we) will not compromise Israeli security and will strike at all threats.  We have been doing that with missions and raids in Syria and Lebanon and in other places.

Iran has been playing a chess game against Israel, using other counties as pawns since they have no border with us, but their proxies – Syria and Lebanon do share our borders and Iran has been based there.  It has been a game of cat and mouse so to speak as Israel identifies threats (sophisticated weapons and deadly projects) and eliminates them.  Drones and drones heavily armed with highly destructive smart weapons have entered the arena.  To admit it, Iran has to expose their presence, which is illegal, so it has been covert.  But it has been intense and building.  Added to this toxic mix is Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Isis in Gaza and in the Sinai, infiltrating Judea and Samaria – our heartland – called by the world media “the West Bank.”  With continuing active riots on the Gaza border every Friday, our southern population is frayed but not Afraid

“Be strong and of good courage”…”DO NOT FEAR NOR BE AFRAID” are probably THE most oft repeated COMMAND given throughout the scriptures, particularly the Torah (the first 5 books of Moses) when the fleshly REASONS to fear were ABUNDANT.

In my 44 years of reading and re-reading through the Scriptures I am strongly struck by the irony of this command. Perhaps it is one of the PILLARS on which our faith rests. YES, the giants are there!  YES, the Sea is before you and the Egyptian army behind you. YES the inhabitants of the land are fierce and we are as grasshoppers in our own eyes and probably theirs. YES there is no water and YES there is no food and YES we are surrounded by armies far larger than we are and YES!  IT IS IMPOSSIBLE, BUT LOOK UP!  THOSE WHO ARE WITH US ARE MORE THAN THOSE WHO ARE AGAINST US, as Elisha told his servant when the Syrian army was coming down upon them.

I listen to some who seem to feel that faith in our God is a “get out of jail free” ticket and we will be always physically well and safe but in Luke 21, Yeshua says something very interesting that bares understanding and the context of the whole chapter is helpful:

“You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death.  And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.  But not a hair of your head shall be lost.  By your patience possess your souls.” (Luke 21:16-19)

SOME OF YOU WILL BE PUT TO DEATH, BUT NOT A HAIR OF YOUR HEAD SHALL BE LOST.  May our values be His, our perspective HIS.

We (as a part of the body of Messiah here) have been through fire lately in the loss of 4 beloved members.  Eliyahu Ben Haim and the three members of the Rosetsky family.  These were all people walking in the will and the ways of The Lord and living completely for Him, aside from 2 month old Itai, who had as yet done not right nor wrong). They ARE safe with not a hair of their head being lost.

His ways are not ours. His thoughts not ours but it is a wake-up call for sure.  One sister remarked to me last shabbat that “We weren’t yet back to normal’

I said, “I don’t think that we are SUPPOSED to be ‘back to normal.’  A very precious sacrifice was placed on the altar and I believe that He wants us all changed by what we have witnessed.”  

We don’t know what lies ahead, but we are NOT afraid.

We are told to fear ONLY GOD and we believe that.  Our upcoming re-elections are scheduled to be held on 17th of Sept.  Lord knows what lies ahead, we don’t.  But one thing we know (both you and us) is that the ONLY safe place in this world in IN HIM.

Our pastor is faithful to remind us time and time again to turn our faces to Him.  Run into Him!  Look to HIM! THE AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF OUR FAITH!

My years are running into one another and I surely never expected that, did you?  May we ALL be found IN HIM IN (HIS) PEACE!  May His Word be a living two-edged sword in each of us.  May we be dangerous to the enemy for His sake.  May we be kept from deception. Oh may we be humble in the fear of The One True God, The Lord of heaven and earth!  May we be purified for His glory.

Lovingly,

your sister J

 

*Small note.  Lately transliterators have been writing ‘kh’ instead of ‘ch’ to indicate the sound that is like ‘clearing your throat’.  For years it has been written ‘ch’ but we know that in English ‘ch’ is pronounced like the beginning of  ‘child’ and that leads to much confusion.  I am joining the pack, so I spelled (Messiah) Meshiakh instead of Meshiach.

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God’s Love Must Torpedo the Inner Cities’ Bitterness…Or Else (Part 5)

“With all that is going on around social justice, churches must calibrate what that means for them in the present,” said the Rev. Dr. Yolanda Pierce, a black professor and dean of the Howard University School of Divinity. “Churches have to ask the fundamental question: ‘Are we going to be at the forefront of struggles for justice, or are we always going to be catching up to where the arc of justice will literally take us.'”

“The one thing that would be dishonorable for us is to bring all this attention to the assassination of Dr. King (fifty years later) and not have a resurrection of the efforts and the unfinished business dealing with systemic racism, systemic poverty,” said Dr. Barber, pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, N.C.

The black church was the stabilizing institution which emerged from the horrible pit of slavery after the Civil War. Black pastors then became the preeminent leaders and spokesmen for both the Christian and non-Christian community alike. These pastors focused themselves on meeting the needs of individuals, preaching messages, building self-esteem of an oppressed people and addressing the concerns of their communities in a segregated society.

In the the 1950s and 60s, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. added a new role for black pastors: that of being a prophetic voice demanding the freedom of God’s people. They then became social justice warriors, too.

Today’s identity of the black church is that of a spiritual Israel suffering in this world with the pastor as the Moses leading the people to the Promised Land.

It’s hard not to look at the roles that black pastors fill in their communities and then not shake our heads in wonder and amazement at what they have accomplished. They have been the glue that has held Christianity together in America’s inner cities.

But even so, we need to remember that Moses never led Israel into the Promised Land. It was a non-priest named Joshua who completed the task.

So, will a Joshua generation of leaders rise up to lead the inner cities into their divine destinies?

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

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Will We End Up Being A Part of the Great Falling Away? (Part 3)

I have used this story before, but this time, I use it from a different angle.

In the early 1990’s, Larry Burkett told a story on his radio program, “Money Matters,” that still sends shivers down my spine. Burkett told about the time he attended a local church and heard a Chinese man tell his testimony.

It seems the man was a lieutenant of Mao Zedong when Mao’s communist army defeated Chiang Kai-Shek and took control of China. Mao then set out to cleanse China of all imperialist influences, especially American connections. Missionaries were sent home or killed. Chinese pastors were imprisoned or killed. Christians were killed. Political leaders, people who had visited America or attended schools there were killed.  Historians estimate 40,000,000 Chinese were executed by Mao during his various purges.

The man, who told this testimony, was chosen by Mao as one of the leaders in the rural purges. He dispatched his tasks with cruel efficiency. But some Christians focused their prayers on him and he was miraculously saved. So convinced was the man that Christ was the answer for China he decided to return to Peking (Beijing) and tell Mao the good news of Jesus.

Mao was not impressed with his lieutenant’s message and commanded him to renounce his new found faith. The man refused and said, “I cannot deny the experience I’ve had with Jesus.”

Mao brought his wife and children before the man. Soldiers stood behind his family with guns aimed at their heads. Once again, Mao asked the man to renounce his faith. The man fell to his knees and said, “Please do not kill my family, but I cannot deny Jesus.”

His family was executed before his eyes.

Next, his parents, brothers, sisters and their families were brought before the man with soldiers standing behind them with guns at their heads. Mao insisted the man renounce Jesus. The man refused. His entire family was executed before his eyes.

All of his friends and their families were placed in front of him, but still he would not renounce Christ. They were executed.

Then, Mao decided death was too good for this reprobate of a man. He was stripped naked and placed in a cold cell. Once a day, guards were ordered to beat him.

His imprisonment and beatings continued for fifteen years. During that time, the man led 90% of the guards to Christ and the guards even risked their own freedoms by bringing Bibles to him.

When he finally emerged from prison, he walked down a road, heading toward his hometown. As he walked, people in the fields next to the road, fell to their knees and cried out to be saved by Jesus. Yet, the man said nothing because the presence of God was so heavy upon him that he just continued to walk.

Larry Burkett said that when the Chinese man finished his testimony he was asked, “What do you think of our American churches?”

The man gazed at the audience with tears in his eyes. “You American Christians do not know the Jesus I know,” he said.

But whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:33)

If we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us (2 Timothy 2:12)

This man’s testimony shines a light on a worst-case scenario for all of us believers. We obviously all hope to never face such terrible circumstances, but what if we do? Could we still hold onto Jesus and not deny Him?

I don’t believe any of us can pass a test like this without having the following revelations:

  1. Our Father is a good God. We can trust Him with our lives and the lives of our family and friends.
  2. Our Father is omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (all-present everywhere at once) and omniscient (all-knowing). In His omniscience, He saw the circumstances before they happened and He still allowed us to go through them. He expects us to be faithful until the end, trusting Him till our last breath.
  3. God honors His word. God exalts His word about His authority and abides by His own rules.

If any of us do not have these revelations of our heavenly Father, we need to seek and ask Him for them. He desires to reveal Himself to us.

Remember: The number one reason for being a part of the Great Falling Away – now or in the future – will be denying Jesus and His character attributes.

(Continued in Part 4…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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God’s Love Must Torpedo the Inner Cities’ Bitterness…Or Else (Part 2)

 

70% of African-Americans live in America’s inner cities or inner-ring suburbs. Most of the following facts refer to that 70% of African-Americans. These facts are not written to throw stones at our inner city black brothers and sisters, but to show where they are right now.

  1. The abortion rate for African-American women is five times higher than it is for white women, accounting for 37% of all abortions in America.
  2. 1 in 3 African-American men can expect to spend time in prison during their lifetimes.
  3. 70% of juvenile arrests in America are African-American youths.
  4. One third of all welfare recipients are African-Americans.
  5. Each year, roughly 7,000 blacks are murdered. Ninety-four percent of the time, the murderer is another black person.
  6. 72 percent of black babies are born out of wedlock. 
  7. Poverty rate among African-Americans is 36%.
  8. The homicide rate among males between the ages of 14 and 17 is nearly 10 times higher for blacks than for whites and Hispanics combined.
  9. The preponderance of school violence in America occurs in big-city schools attended by inner city black students.
  10. Black education is in a state of shambles for elementary and high schools in most inner cities of America.

Without a doubt, the above facts are discouraging, but here’s the irony of it all:

  1. Inner city African-Americans are the most devout Christian group in America and the difference is 21 percentage points higher than the next group.

With the exception of the inner cities blacks being devout Christians, these facts are disheartening.

They remind me of the time a little black six-year old black girl named Cici sat on my lap during a church service at the inner city ministry I attended during the 1990s. She looked up at me and asked, “Can I go home with you and live with you?”

I was shocked at her words. “You want to leave your mother and live with me?” I replied.

Cici nodded her head up and down.

I understood her feelings about her home life. Her mom was a drug addict. Her dad was in jail, but numerous men lived with her mom at various times. Her four brothers and sisters ranged in age from two to twelve years old. Not enough money. Not enough love. Not enough personal attention.

I actually prayed about doing what she asked, but my life was a mess, too.

Cici would be thirty-two years old today…if she’s still alive.

“Life does not ask what we want. It presents us with options.” (Thomas Sowell)

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God’s Love Must Torpedo the Inner Cities’ Bitterness…Or Else (Part 1)

 

During the mid-1990s, while I was a member of an inner-city ministry, I had a dream that showed a black river flowing out of the inner cities to every city and town in America.  The dream zoomed in for a closeup of the river, revealing it not to be a river but an army of black preachers. These men of God had scars and tattoos covering their arms. Many were ex-cons. Their message was the same that John the Baptist preached two thousand years ago: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

I somehow knew these men were not seminary trained, but were taught by the Holy Spirit. Their faith had been forged in the brutal fires of inner-city life, but it was their eyes that captured my attention.  Their eyes burned with a love for Jesus, a love not matched by any other generation of preachers before them. I felt these black men were sent to deliver the rest of America from false religious views.

Before you reject my dream as a pizza-induced fantasy, let me share another one from the same time period.

In this particular dream, I saw a race war between black Americans and whites taking place in our nation. As most know, dreams can be weird, but it was not the case for this one. It was a straight forward, four-color documentary of possible future tragic events.

The dream opened up with a large army of inner-city black youths marching into upscale white neighborhoods. The youths carried AK-47s, AR-15s, Glock pistols and knives. They went from house to house, slaughtering white men, women, children and babies. None of the victims defended themselves nor did anyone attempt to stop the youths in their thirst for blood. When they finished, the youths torched the homes and danced in the streets, firing their guns in the air.

The next segment of the dream showed politicians attempting to handle the outbreak of racial hostilities with words, committee meetings and new laws. Although the leaders of both major parties condemned the violence, all worried about losing votes in their upcoming elections. Therefore, a political stalemate arose with nothing concrete being done.

The final portion of the dream showed white Americans hiring trained mercenaries to hunt down the black youths. The mercenaries went into America’s inner cities, killing young black males and filling the streets with their dead bodies. I knew as I looked at the bullet-riddled corpses lying on the asphalt that a whole generation of black leaders had been wiped out.

If both dreams are actually from the Lord, how can they be such polar opposites?

Okay, I wrote the above 439 words as an opening for an article to be published on WND.com. Then I wrote another four hundred words of blah, blah, blah and more blah.

Thank God, they chose not to publish the article because it stunk. Period!

Hopefully, this series will provide a roadmap for our prayers and for our ministry efforts in America’s inner cities. But to do so, we need to heed some wise advice:

Whatever we wish to achieve in the future, it must begin by knowing where we are in the present – not where we wish we were, or where we wish others to think we are, but where we are in fact. (Thomas Sowell)

(Continued in Part 2)

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Prayers for American Churches (7/25/2019)

Christ Church Stellarton

Photograph of Christ Anglican Church, Stellarton, NS. Taken the morning of October 28, 2005

How does the Kingdom of God fit together with the church?

Most who have taught on the kingdom of God over the last fifty years have made a dramatic separation between the church and kingdom of God. In other words, they’ve said the kingdom is totally different from the church. That statement is true and also false.

It’s true if you define church as a Sunday morning service or you define church as a building or you define the church as all of the believers in the world. Then the church is not the kingdom and the kingdom is not the church. Those two things are completely separate.

BUT if you define the word “church” as it appears in the English New Testament as ecclesia, which is the Greek word for it. And ecclesia meant a local body of believers that lived in face-to-face community that had a shared life together and took care of each other and loved one another and knew each other in the sense that they saw themselves as family despite racial divisions, despite economic divisions, and despite sexual divisions (meaning men and women). It you see it as that – a living, breathing, close-knit extended family – all of whom were living by the life of Jesus Christ.  Then that was the kingdom of God on this earth.

You see, a kingdom refers to the king, his domain and the people ruled by the king.

In 30 AD, if you wanted to see the kingdom, you needed to find Jesus. He embodied the kingdom. After Jesus ascended, the corporate followers became Christ on the earth – His kingdom.

So, if you want to see the Kingdom of God now, we need to find a group who expresses Christ living in and through them. (Frank Viola, Insurgence Podcast)

My prayer today:

Lord, You promised that You would build Your church on a rock so that the gates of Hell would never prevail against it. So, we desperately ask that You build Your church in America now. (Based on Matthew 16:18)

Join with me on Thursdays to fast and pray for America’s churches.

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