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Inside Israel

SHUK

The Shuk in Jerusalem

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Yeshua,

I greet you AGAIN in His Precious Name and for His glory Alone.  May you be blessed and encouraged and may HE be glorified, magnified and BLESSED.

So quickly, again, running together, the quiet overtakes the noise. Runningis the word that comes to mind for me because in less than an hour begins the last of the three Fall Feasts, and, yes, they RUN on the heels of one another.  Sukkot, known to most of the Church as the Feast of Tabernacles, is here in 45 more minutes.

The commands for Sukkot, to me, are quite beautiful.

” ‘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.  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. You shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 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 am the Lord your God.’ ”So Moses declared to the children of Israel the feasts of the Lord.” (Leviticus 23:39-44)

 and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.  Not a hard command to keep…what a GIFT!

I have enjoyed the many lessons that He has taught me sitting in the booth, the little sukka built outside our rented apartment, with a rug on the earth and pieces of gaily decorated material for the walls. Palm branches form the roof, through which we can see the stars.  I enjoyed decorating ours with mostly live fruit from the shuk, nearby trees, and a huge assortment of flowers and branches cut around the neighborhood. Scriptures pinned to the curtained walls in Hebrew and English.

We put a table inside and chairs and pillows and have invited many guests over the years. Both those who know Him and those who don’t yet. I have prayed that it would be a testimony to Him and a place where He would be spoken of and glorified, and it has been.

Alas, this is the first year that I have nothing even resembling a sukkah set up.  Since we moved to this apartment up two flights I have struggled to decorate our inappropriate merepesset (sort of balcony), but this year even that little bit didn’t happen. I find transitions sad.

The sun is setting so I am off to my daughter’s family sukkah 2 blocks away and I will continue this letter soon. Well, it IS a seven-day holiday.

 

Good morning to you all or ‘chag semaech!’ (joyful holyday).  I love waking early on these silent mornings and spending the richest of times with Him as the sun begins to rise and the early birds begin their songs.

At our feast that we shared last night in the sukkah of our daughter’s family, we spoke to our little granddaughters of the things of God that their young hearts could understand. How HE made the stars and HE made us and HE is big enough to take care of all. The stars, the birds, the cat trying to get the chicken on the barbeque and us.  Maya, age 4, sang a Sukkot song for us in Hebrew that she learned at her gan (pre-school) and I prayed that He Who reveals Himself in such perfect ways will reveal Himself to them.

I believe that these HOLYDAYS that HE has given us are for reasons far deeper than we begin to understand. So, I like to ask The Holy Spirit to help me remember the Sukkots since we have been here, over the past 24 years. He has taught me so many layers of lessons, each a bursting revelation on my mind.  I think of the night during the last intifada, when so much blood was being spilled in the streets, such a traumatic, unsettled time. And yet, there we were.  STOP!  BUILD LITTLE BOOTHS!  SIT IN THEM! Flimsy, little temporary dwellings and we did.

I remember looking up at the sky through the branches of my palm-roof and seeing the stars through the trees above me, hearing the quiet wind and KNOWING that HE had it all in control. The understanding burrowed deep into the very roots of my being.  I knew that I was indeed nothing but a flimsy little sukkah of a body containing a vulnerable soul. Yet when that soul was given over to THE KING OF kings AND THE LORD OF lords, The Holy Spirit would inhabit this weak sukkah and NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD!

That knowing burst into my very being. Perhaps the sukkah is intended to be one of HIS places of revelation knowledge.  NOT on our terms, only on His.  He gives to us (or not) Light according to HIS choice.  Have you ever waited for a Word or a Revelation and it HASN’T come?  I have!

God KEEP me from running anyway even when I have NOT heard that Word from Him.  God FORBID that I should ever run with a counterfeit.

Sukkot was commanded to bring in the harvest…to remember His goodness and abundance and to give back to Him and to others.  It was ALSO commanded to REMEMBER WHERE WE CAME FROM, the promises, the journey, our failures in the light of His perfect faithfulness. We were ALL slaves in Egypt at one time.  REJOICE IN HIS GOODNESS.

The symbols of these three fall feasts still sit together on the tables: the shofar (ram’s horn) The Word, honey, apples, the good fruits of the land, grapes and almonds, pomegranates and dates, figs and citrus. And the people rejoice.

It is such a unique season because the streets are also filled with believers from the nations around the world who have come  to participate in one way or another in the fall feasts.  Many come to take part in the conferences and convocations – Christian gatherings for times of prayer and teaching.

Because this IS one of the three feasts where all Jewish men were COMMANDED to come up to Jerusalem and to worship and to bring an offering in the place where The Lord put His Name. There will be the ceremony of the blessing of the Cohenim (or the high priestly blessing) which takes place at the Western Wall, when the blessing of Aaron will be pronounced and many thousands upon thousands will participate.

As I walked through the streets of Jerusalem it seemed to me that there were less sukkas this year, but the ones that we passed last night on the way home from our daughters resounded with the warmth of songs and laughter.  Everyone whom we passed greeted us with “hag sameach.”

“MOEDIM L’SIMCHA!” is the way in which we greet one another now, whether friends or strangers whom we are passing on the street.  These are the days called khol h’moed – or the “in-between days” of the holyday.  The meaning of simcha is joy or rejoice and the meaning of moed (moedim being the plural) is an appointed time of meeting. So these are the appointed times for meeting (with) with joy.  Pretty neat, eh?

But that is my translation.

Although translations are thought of as standard and pretty well perfect by those of us who are not particularly gifted with many languages, I have been shocked to learn just how SUBJECTIVE language translation can be for everyone. I have mentioned before that Hebrew seems to me to be like a sculpture, each word describing an entire object or concept including its history.

In contrast I see English as a line drawing, carefully describing details line upon line. And yet even in English, how we can misinterpret one another.

And so, MOEDIM L’SIMCHA. 

No matter WHAT happens between Russia and us.  Moedim l’simcha. No matter what takes place at the United Nations gathering.  Moedim l’simcha. Despite the fires and floods and the awful battles at the Gaza border and wars and personal griefs that we cannot escape. Moedim l’simcha.

LORD!  Give us ALL eyes to see, and ears to hear and a heart that beats with Yours!

 

But now I WILL leave you with a Jerusalem story:

I was coming home from work last week (between Rosh h’shana and Yom kippur) and I was T-I-R-E-D.  As I approached the crosswalk on the road to my bus stop. Alas! the bus was approaching.  I sighed.  Another 25-minute wait.  Oh well, I have learned the hard way that my days of running for the bus have past, since my last fall and broken rib.  The bus pulled up to the crosswalk and stopped for me to cross.  Huh?  Ok, but still I wasn’t about to run to the bus stop, but he parked the bus a bit further back than usual and WAITED. It is now against the law for bus drivers to do anything special for anyone and even with the BACK door of the bus open.  Ok, I sped up still figuring that he would pull away before I got there but he didn’t.  I got on through the back door and passed my card up by way of other passengers to the front of the bus to be processed.  I couldn’t see the driver, but the bus emptied quite a bit before I got off so I made my way to the front.

“Toda reba reba!” I said (thank you very very much) as he approached my stop.

He turned and smiled.  “I would stop for you ANYWHERE and ANYTIME!” 

I smiled back. ‘Orie,  thank you.”

It was deeply humbling as recognition set in.  He was one of our patients and I really had been quite concerned about him when he fought a grievous illness a number of years ago.  Yes, I did sort of go the extra mile to accommodate his needs at times but I NEVER expected this.  It was a delightful gift because Jerusalem may be the center of the world’s conflicts and The Place where THE LORD OF ALL chose to put His Name.  But it is still a small town, reminding me that we are all so small, flimsy temporary dwelling, chosen to be indwelt by The Living God.

Moedim l’simcha to all of you.

Lovingly,

your Sister J in Jerusalem

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“Planning + Preparation = Survival” is FREE Today

Planning = Prep1

 

My book, Planning + Preparation = Survival, is FREE on Amazon today through Sunday.

Amazon book description:

WARNING: This book is written by a Christian author who believes Christian principles and prophecy can save lives. It is not just another “doomsday prepper” publication, telling you to buy land in Idaho and build a fortress there for you and your family. The author actually believes Psalm 91 declares the truths about the shelter we all need to seek now.

What is the #1 statement spoken by individuals during large catastrophes?

“I didn’t think this would ever happen to me.”

Why do they say this?

They thought catastrophes always happened to someone else, never to them. But if it did happen, they believed the government would arrive on the scene and rescue them before their cups of coffee turned cold.

If this is your present thinking, then allow me to say one word to smash your ideas to smithereens: Katrina. Yes, Hurricane Katrina, the watershed event when all should have learned to never again place our faith in governments to rescue us and our families from catastrophes.

“Planning + Preparation = Survival” is a new revision of the 2013 edition. It’s still a no-nonsense book written to show Christians how to pray, plan, and prepare ourselves, our families, and our communities for possible natural and terrorist catastrophes in the near future.

This book should be a required reading for all Christians, especially those who live in the cities of San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Portland, and Seattle.

Available on Amazon for Kindle and Kindle Apps. You can check it out here.

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Geezer Up (Part 8)

Jane

Because of my standby reservation, I was the last person to board the Virgin Airline’s Airbus A320. One hundred and forty-five other passengers walked ahead of me to their seats. I looked at my boarding pass − Row 24 Seat B − and tried to look over shoulders and heads for my seat, but my five feet three inches of stature hindered my efforts. I eventually arrived there, lifted my black suitcase into the overhead storage compartment, and squeezed past the outside passenger’s long legs into the seat.

The young sailor with a shaved head in Seat A by the window looked up from his iPad and nodded at me. The lanky man to my right, sitting by the aisle in Seat C, paid no attention and opened his iPad, connecting to the Internet through Virgin’s free WiFi service. Both put headphones on as soon as the plane taxied toward the runway.

I reached down and pulled a Michael Connelly paperback novel out of my purse, but the Harry Bosch story failed to hold my interest for long. My mind kept wandering back over Dylan’s and my off-the-beaten-path spiritual journey.

It all began when Dylan walked out of Jedidiah Smith Community Church on that first Sunday in June three years earlier when the new pastor preached his first sermon. Dylan explained that he couldn’t listen to another sermon while he ignored the Lord’s voice telling him to branch off into a different type of church ministry. That different type of church ended up being a home church, which we called Last Chance. Two senior couples joined us in the new venture: Phil and Faye Strawmeier and Vinnie and Gracie Nguyen. Both couples had been our closest friends for years. Others joined our house church so that the original assembly now numbered eighteen people.

But it was Pamela Walter’s words to Dylan and me just before she died which stirred Dylan’s heart. “The Lord wants the Last Chance groups, like yours, to spread all along the West Coast, from San Diego to Seattle. He wants to use senior citizens as His last chance army to touch millions of people −” she said.

Dylan interrupted her and explained we didn’t know how to do something like that.

I still remember her words: “Shush! Of course, you don’t, but He knows how to do it. Fast and pray and He will show you.”

Then, she died.

Dylan focused his life on obeying Pamela’s prophetic words to us from that moment forward. He fasted, prayed, studied the word, and continually sought the Lord on what we needed to do. His seeking led to three new groups being started: one in Hemet, Lake Elsinore, and Corona.

I went along with whatever Dylan wanted, not because I heard the Lord’s voice for myself or even felt impressed to do so. I just trusted that Dylan heard the Lord’s voice and followed him. Maybe I caved in too easily rather than seeking the Lord on my own.

But when Dylan said he felt the Lord wanted us to plant Last Chance home churches in San Francisco, I was shocked and nervous. As he spoke his vision to me, I comforted myself by figuring it would be years before we reached the Bay area. Yet, two days later, he received an invitation to speak at a Business Men’s Fellowship luncheon in China Town. He left a week later, hoping doors would open for Last Chance groups in San Francisco.

I watched him leave and waved at him, but in my heart, I prayed nothing special would happen. I hoped it would be a nice trip for Dylan but nothing more. Nothing more at all.

Maybe you think I’m selfish and maybe I am. But I am seventy-three years old and so is Dylan. I want to get off this spiritual merry-go-round and enjoy life again. Do some traveling to Branson, Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, and even Paris or London. I want to enjoy our sunset years without worrying about jail or confrontations. Why not? We deserve it, don’t we?

(Continued in Part 9…if you’re interested, the full series to date may be seen here.) 

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The Rumors of Larry’s Death Were Not Greatly Exaggerated (Part 13)

(Click on photo to enlarge)

(Click on photo to enlarge)

A Catholic friend of mine hungered for the baptism of the Holy Spirit for many months. Her trips to large Charismatic Renewal conferences in Des Moines and Kansas City resulted in nothing happening for her.

So, she came up with a Plan B. When her husband left for work and her children attended school, she would go into the living room, place candles on the floor, light them, and bow down in the middle of the lit candles. There she cried out to God for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Plan B failed, too.

On a July 4th holiday weekend, she invited another family to their home for a picnic. What says Independence Day more than hot dogs, potato salad, and a picnic, right? While she stirred a large batch of potato salad, she looked out the window at her friends and husband, and at that precise moment, she was baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.

Now, think about this for a few seconds. What was God thinking when He baptized her in the Holy Spirit at that awkward moment? Couldn’t He have performed it at a more opportune time?

REMEMBER: God is Boss and He chooses the breakthrough times in our lives. We don’t!

A little over four weeks ago, I turned on the water, stepped into the shower, and the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart: “Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship.”

I was absolutely shocked because I had not thought about that particular men’s fellowship in over twenty-five years. The FGBF had been an important part of my life in my early Christian years, but I had drifted away when I moved to Ames, Iowa.

As soon as I dried myself and slipped on some clothes, I rushed downstairs to check on the computer for the nearest FGBF chapter. None were nearby or within fifty miles. Yet, in my Google searches, I ran across another businessmen’s group: Business Men’s Fellowship. There was a local phone number for BMF and I called it.

My phone call resulted in a meeting at Starbucks with Bill Keith, who had moved to Temecula a few months before and happens to be a great guy and the national president for Business Men’s Fellowship. What a remarkable coincidence, right?

We talked for a few minutes and then I looked at him and said, “I’ve been waiting for twenty-two years for you. Where have you been?”

(Continued in Part 14…if you’re interested, the full series to date can be seen here.)

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The Rumors of Larry’s Death Were Not Greatly Exaggerated (Part 12)

(Click on photo to enlarge)

(Click on photo to enlarge)

 

It was only a dream, but it seemed so real.

I stood on a starting line for a race. A man dressed in a long white robe stood off to my left, wearing leather sandals on his feet. His dark beard and long hair framed his bronze face. He held a starter’s gun in his hand and nodded at me.

“Are you ready?” he asked.

I pulled up my red track shorts, yanked my white athletic t-shirt outside my shorts for more freedom of movement, and checked to see if my shoestrings were tied tightly on my Nike running shoes. Everything seemed ready. I nodded back at him.

“Now remember,” he said, “you need to go as fast as you can. This is a timed race. You only have a limited amount of time to finish it, okay?

I looked over the racecourse. In the distance, I saw the finish line with healing, deliverance, prosperity, miracles, wonders, peace, and joy awaiting me on the other side. Between the starting and finishing lines stretched an obstacle course. Posts sticking out of the ground. Fences. Brick walls. Quicksand pits. Mud bogs. Trees. Rivers. Water falls. Railroad tracks. Highways. Tunnels. Dangerous cliffs. A narrow path zigzagged its way through the course like a switchback jungle road. It looks easy enough, I thought, just stay on the path and run as fast as I can.

I nodded again to him.

“Get ready.”

I got down on my haunches.

“Get set.”

I rose into a sprinter’s position. My feet and legs strained, set to slingshot my body forward.

“But first, you’ll need this,” he said before firing the gun.

He walked over and covered my eyes with a black blindfold. Not one ray of light touched my eyes. I could not see a thing, not even my feet.

“Now, don’t forget, you must go as fast as you can.”

I heard a faint whispering behind me, a soft voice saying something. I paid no attention to it.

BANG!

I took off like an Olympic sprinter, running as fast as I could.

BAM!

I hit a post and fell to the ground. My nose felt like it was broken with blood gushing from it. The warm wetness soaked through my t-shirt. It hurt so much I wanted to just lie there and quit.

The dark haired starter walked over and stood above me.

“Now, don’t forget this is a timed race. You need to run as fast as you can.”

I struggled to my feet. As I did, the same soft voice whispered words behind me. But again, I paid no attention and took off running.

YUCK!

I fell into a quicksand pit and found myself sinking under the heavy glop. The more I flailed my arms and legs, the faster I sank. The sandy goop soon reached my neck, not far from my nose.

“Help me, Lord,” I shouted.

My body relaxed and I floated over to the edge, crawling out of the pit. I flopped down there. It was all I could do to catch my breath from the all-out physical effort of trying to survive. I wanted to quit.

“Don’t forget. This is a timed race. You need to go as fast as you can,” the starter exclaimed.

Why I stood up, I don’t know. Maybe I was a glutton for punishment or possibly a modern day Don Quixote searching for futile endeavors to joust against. I brushed the sand off my legs and attempted to clean my shoes. I once more heard what sounded like soft whispers in the background, but like the earlier times, I ignored them.

My sense of direction was completely out of kilter. I could not figure up from down, let alone north, south, east, or west. However, I gave it the old college try and took off running.

SPLASH!

I feel into a deep river with fast-moving waters rushing over me. The hurtling rapids sent me flying downstream in a haphazard manner, smashing my body against rocks and floating logs. I attempted to swim toward shore, but the full force of the current battered my body, flinging me about like a rag doll in a typhoon.

“Lord, help me!” I screamed.

My hand reached out and grasped a tree limb. I pulled myself across the stream, hand over hand on the limb, and climbed onto the shore. This was the end. I couldn’t handle anymore.

I heard the soft voice whispering to me once again. This time I gave it my full attention and listened.

“Stand up,” said the gentle voice.

I obeyed it.

“Okay, now turn to your right ninety degrees.”

Again, I obeyed.

“Walk four steps ahead and stop.”

I walked ahead and waited for the next command.

“Turn forty-five degrees to your left.”

I turned.

“You went too far. Turn to your right five degrees.”

I adjusted myself in accordance with the instructions.

“Walk ten steps forward and wait.”

I stopped after walking ten steps.

“Won’t this take a long time to finish the obstacle course,” I said.

The gentle voice laughed.

“My system is the fastest way through the obstacle course. However, you can always choose to return to your running blindly method, but as you have learned, that can be extremely painful. What do you want to do?” the voice said.

“Lord, what’s Your next instruction?”

Then I awoke with a Bible verse on my mind:

“Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left (Isaiah 30:21 NLT).

The dream made perfect sense to me: wait on Him and follow the voice of the Holy Spirit when He spoke to me. It seemed so easy at the time, but soon things became more complicated.

(Excerpt from The Hunt for Larry Who by Larry Nevenhoven, ©2014, Amazon eBook)

This dream certainly depicts my journey on building a publishing company.

(Continued in Part 13…if you’re interested, the full series to date can be seen here.)

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The Rumors of Larry’s Death Were Not Greatly Exaggerated (Part 10)

(Click on photo to enlarge)

(Click on photo to enlarge)

I began this series on January 10, 2015, but because nothing was moving forward for me, I placed it on hold. Now things are happening again. So, I’ve decided to rerun the earlier parts before I began anew. If you don’t want to wait, you can read the first ten parts in their entirety here.

 

Twenty years ago, if you would have asked, “What will you say when your publishing company is successful?”

I would have quickly answered by singing a Toby Keith song: “How do you like me now? Now that I’m on my way. Do you still think I’m crazy, standing here today? I couldn’t make you love me, but I always dreamed about…How do you like me now?”

You see, when you’re walking through the wildernesses designed just for you by God, there’s not a lot of people who believe in you because of your mistakes and how unsuccessful you appear to them. If you bother to mention your dreams to others, you invite ridicule and the inevitable questions: “How?” and “When?”

And all you can do is shrug your shoulders at their queries.

But in all this, you have to hold onto the promises given to you by God. You can’t ever let go of them. Each day, you must thank the Lord for your publishing company and your promises being fulfilled, even if you’re sleeping in a car and eating out of dumpsters. Walking by faith is not an easy path for anyone.

So, for a major part of my journey through the wilderness, I kept going for one major reason: the desire to prove my worth to others. I wanted to show them that I heard God’s voice and that He honored me for my perseverance.

Today, if you asked me the same question, I would answer, “It was by His grace and I deserve no credit for any success.”

Somehow, in the wilderness, it no longer became about me and my quest, it became all about Him.

(Continued in Part 11)

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The Rumors of Larry’s Death Were Not Greatly Exaggerated (Part 8)

(Click on photo to enlarge)

(Click on photo to enlarge)

I began this series on January 10, 2015, but because nothing was moving forward for me, I placed it on hold. Now things are happening again. So, I’ve decided to rerun the earlier parts before I began anew. If you don’t want to wait, you can read the first ten parts in their entirety here.

 

Ten thousand and seventy-four days ago, a female minister named Linda Sutter (Olson) pointed to me as I sat in a pew of a small church and asked me to stand up. She then began prophesying to me: “God is doing a quick work in you…”

Even today when I look at her prophetic words, which I wrote down in the back of my Bible, I laugh at God’s idea of a “quick work” versus mine. I thought it would be months, certainly not 10,074 days or nearly thirty years.

But let me tell you a little bit about Linda Sutter Olson.

During the early 1970’s, the Lord told her to go into full-time ministry as a teacher and a prophetess, but she had at least three  problems. First, she was a woman. Second, her pastor would not endorse her ministry. Third, she did not have any contacts.

What could she do?

She sent out a few flyers to area churches, but had no responses. No one seemed to need her ministry.

One day, Linda was driving through rural Iowa and stopped at a diner in a small town. She sat down at a table and ordered her lunch. Linda noticed the couple sitting at the table next to her had received their meals and were praying before they ate.

She leaned over and said, “It’s nice to see a couple pray together in a restaurant.”

“Oh, you’re a Christian,” replied the husband. “Why don’t you join us for lunch? We would enjoy fellowshipping with you.”

The couple turned out to be a pastor and his wife. The pastor ended up inviting Linda to minister at his church that evening.

Linda eventually ministered in numerous large churches and then traveled to Russia, Albania, India, Eastern Europe, China, and the Philippines. But every door that opened to her calling could be traced back to that chance encounter at a diner in a small town in Iowa.

So, when I look at the boxes of books in our closets, I like to think that I’m just one divine encounter away from publishing success.

(Continued in Part 9)

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