Monday, June 22, 2009

For His Name's Sake

Several weeks ago, our bible study leader, Chuck, asked us an important question:

"Why should you care about Israel?"

We went around the room, each person providing a biblically sound answer, but Chuck pointed out something none of us mentioned: the Lord's Holy name. He then asked us to turn to Ezekiel 36.

How does the the Lord's Holy name relate to Israel?

In Ezekiel 36:19-23 the Lord says:

19"Also I scattered them among the nations and they were dispersed throughout the lands According to their ways and their deeds I judged them.

20"When they came to the nations where they went, they profaned My holy name, because it was said of them, 'These are the people of the LORD; yet they have come out of His land.'

21"But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations where they went.

22"Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.

23"I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst Then the nations will know that I am the LORD," declares the Lord GOD, "when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight.

At this point, if I was listening to Ezekiel, I might be feeling a little scared of whatever wrath might be coming next, but look how the Lord says he's going to vindicate his holy name...

24"For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land.

... with Jewish Aliyah!

25"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.

26"Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

27"I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

... and Salvation!

28"You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.

... and one more reminder of Aliyah!

It is for the Lord's very own name sake that He brings Israel back into the Land. This statement holds true even today. The formation of Israel in 1948, after 2000 years of non-existence, is the Lord's work of proving Himself as holy. To stand against the existence of Israel, is to come against the holiness of God.

Be encouraged! We are truly blessed to be living in the day of the Lord!

callie m.

All bold text is my own emphasis.

Good Resources:
Go here for sermons by Chuck.

Related Posts:
Hosea 3

Thursday, June 18, 2009

BiBi Throws A Grenade

Living in Jerusalem situates Devin and I in one of the most politically and spiritually charged places in the world. We can't help but to pay attention to current events and political processes. In some cases, we're even obedient to do so if we are to effectively live out the calling of watchmen on the wall.

The past few weeks have been loaded on the international scene. American President Barak Obama delivered a speech in Cairo, Egypt addressing peace in the Middle East; evidence emerged indicating that North Korea did in fact test a nuclear bomb; Iran presented the results of an election that might have been stolen, prompting revolutionaries to take a stand for their disapproval in the current government...

And then there's BiBi.

"Bibi" is short for Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, to be more specific. This is his second term as PM in Israel, his first running from 1996-99 (I know its weird to think about him taking office 10 years after his first term from an American perspective, but that's how they do it here!). Just a little fact about BiBi that I personally enjoy: He is a personal friend of Joel Rosenberg, who used to be his speech writer. Cool, huh?

So what did BiBi do?

He threw a grenade right in the center of all the talk on Peace in the Middle East and a "Two-State Solution" between Israel and the Palestinians. He spoke the hard truth about the situation over here, and he drew some hard lines about what Israel expects from the other side.

On the reason for the conflict, BiBi says:
"In order to bring an end to the conflict, we must give an honest and forthright answer to the question: What is the root of the conflict?

... Even as we look toward the horizon, we must be firmly connected to reality, to the truth. And the simple truth is that the root of the conflict was, and remains, the refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own,* in their historic homeland.

In 1947, when the United Nations proposed the partition plan of a Jewish state and an Arab state, the entire Arab world rejected the resolution. The Jewish community, by contrast, welcomed it by dancing and rejoicing.

The Arabs rejected any Jewish state, in any borders.

Those who think that the continued enmity toward Israel is a product of our presence in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, is confusing cause and consequence.

On what Israel has tried:
"Many good people have told us that withdrawal from territories is the key to peace with the Palestinians. Well, we withdrew. But the fact is that every withdrawal was met with massive waves of terror, by suicide bombers and thousands of missiles...

...Territorial withdrawals have not lessened the hatred, and to our regret, Palestinian moderates are not yet ready to say the simple words: Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and it will stay that way.

And on what Israel expects:
"The Palestinian leadership must arise and say: 'Enough of this conflict. We recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in this land, and we are prepared to live beside you in true peace...'

...Therefore, a fundamental prerequisite for ending the conflict is a public, binding and unequivocal Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.

...I have already stressed the first principle - recognition. Palestinians must clearly and unambiguously recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. The second principle is: demilitarization. The territory under Palestinian control must be demilitarized with ironclad security provisions for Israel.

...Regarding the remaining important issues that will be discussed as part of the final settlement, my positions are known: Israel needs defensible borders, and Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel* with continued religious freedom for all faiths.

Simple, clear, and concise. I hope it detonates!**

For the speech in its entirety go here.

*All bold text is my own emphasis.
**I don't mean detonate into a real war... just that BiBi's firm stance would scramble efforts from other nations that come against the Word of God granting the Land of Israel to the Jewish people.

Related Posts:
War Drills, Hamas, and Stuff.
Hosea 3

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Shabbat Shalom

Dear Family,

The Lord is so good to us! There are so many things happening in the world right now that could cause us to cower in fear. Our God is with us and we don't have to be afraid. We also don't have to given into fatalism by saying, "What' the point, the world is going down anyway?" We have a hope and a future through our belief in Yeshua. He faced all that could give us cause to fear, and He overcame it. Through this victory, we can walk knowing what hope and victory is. We live our lives for God honoring what Yeshua did for us, and that means living with hope. In Israel this can be a real challenge. There are continual threats here that other nations could not even conceive of nor handle. Please pray for the Body here to become the shining light of hope for a people so used to seeing nothing but difficulty.

Lord has been very gracious to us by helping us get established here. Callie is working on some very interesting projects which make her work really enjoyable. The Lord has been faithful to establish her here and cause her to prosper. She will start learning hebrew in a few weeks, so please pray for her mind to absorb the language well. The Lord seems to be opening some amazing doors for the language business here. Please pray that He would continue to show me how the business should progress.

Lately, the Lord has been teaching me about the mystery of His favor through receiving our shipment from the US. We have been married for six months now, and we have still not used most of our beautiful wedding gifts. This has been quite a challenge for a new bride, longing to set up house. After our honeymoon, we (or Devin, actually) worked really hard to get all of our gifts safely packed and cataloged for shipping. It was March before the moving company was able to come and pick them up, then we waited until May before our crate actually went out to sea. It is now June and although the shipment has finally arrived in Israel, the moving company has not yet been able to deliver our belongings to our apartment.

One day I was feeling particularly discouraged that this process has been taking so much time, then a friend shared with me that it took her family six months to receive their shipment from England. A few days later several other friends shared a similar stories of lengthy shipping time frames. It was then that my mindset changed from "its been three whole months...." to "its only been three months!" I had a revelation that what seemed like a long time for me was actually the Lord's favor on our shipping time.

He has been working mysteriously amidst the hold up to bring our belongings safely into the land. I just needed to stop being so self focused in order to see it. It is for this reason that we are instructed to give thanks in everything. We just don't know what all the Lord is doing behind the scenes to help everything work out for our good. As we all wade through a difficult economic and political season, we need to remember to be in a posture of thanksgiving for the favor, seen and unseen, that the Lord is bestowing on our daily lives. :)

In Yeshua,

Devin and Callie

(Devin wrote the top part and Callie wrote the bottom this week) :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Adventures at the Beach in Tel Aviv

Israel has great Mediterranean beaches! The closest one to us is in Tel Aviv. Its a crowded beach (due to being in a big city), but at only 45 minutes away, its an easy trip to take on weekends.

Unfortunately, our camera battery died a little while after we arrived, but our sister, Erin, was able to get a few photos for us! Thanks Erin!

I found this photo on google, just to give a general sense of what the Tel Aviv beach is like.

Under my umbr-ella-ella-ella-a. Everyone rents an umbrella.

This was ours. It blew away a few times, but it did its job! None of us got sunburned - or impaled!

Me and Erin.

The beach started to clear out during the late afternoon, but it was still crowded compared to the beaches along North Carolina's Crystal Coast that I'm so familiar with.

What I wish you could see is all of the Matkot (paddle ball) players along the water! Maybe if you look closely, you'll find a few. EVERYONE was playing paddle ball. Apparently its a pretty big deal. It created an interesting white noise along with the waves, but the density of all the people playing made walking along the shoreline very difficult! I'm sorry I wasn't able to get a photo of this unique Israeli phenomenon. ;)

Hot husband in the sand... and our friend Tim's feet behind him!

Check out all the Kite Surfers behind me. They were very entertaining to watch. Tel Aviv beach also has surfers and sailboats, too! Its a very active beach!

Looking wind blown!

We had a great time at the beach that day, visiting with friends who live in Tel Aviv, eating a picnic lunch of chicken salad, cucumbers, and tomatoes, and swimming in the warm Mediterranean Sea. Hopefully we'll go again soon!

callie m.

An Idiot's Guide to the Tel Aviv Beach

related posts:
Adventures in Ein Gedi

Monday, June 1, 2009

War Drills, Hamas, and Stuff.

Life in Israel never fails to be interesting. This week the revelation has been, "Yes, I live in a nation that has war drills." This is a foreign thought for most Americans born and raised well after the cold ward, at least it is for me! Tornado drills? Sure. Fire drills? Monthly. War Drills? What's that?

The alarm sounded at 11:00am this morning, announcing the first official war drill that I've ever experienced. In the office, we had a brief meeting before the drill to discuss what we would do in the real case of an emergency: hide in the bathroom and seal the window and door. Besides that, we just made sure to save our files and then we sat through the alarm. I organized colored pencils—ROYGBIV—while we waited for the sirens to finish. Devin said he just hung out in our apartment during the drill. Overall, it was a fairly low-key event for those of us in the private sector. I imagine it was probably more interesting for school children, who would actually have to go into the bomb shelters, much like we would exit school for a fire drill.

More important than what we did during the War Drill is why we have to do it. Very few people know or understand the reality of the threat that Israel faces from surrounding nations. During the last war, Cast Lead, most of what viewers heard from the media was criticism of Israel's "disproportional force." Little was said about the giant amounts of Antisemitism within Palestine's current government, Hamas, and how that Antisemitism was, and is, causing them to act out violently towards Israel.

Hamas is recognized internationally as a terror organization and they hate Israel. When I say "hate," I really mean it. Its not just an exaggeration. This hate is clearly spelled out in the Hamas Charter, a document that lays out the basic principles of Hamas concerning the existence of Israel.

A few such statements from the charter are as follows:

"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it" (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory). (Introduction)

"The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews." (related by al-Bukhari and Muslim). (Article 7)

"Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse directed against part of religion. Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas] is part of its religion. Its members have been fed on that. For the sake of hoisting the banner of Allah over their homeland they fight. 'allah* will be prominent, but most people do not know.'" (Article 13 under Peaceful Solutions, Initiatives and International Conferences)

The Charter continues on for 36 articles, all of which state claims similar to the ones above. Notice the first two state a clear hatred of the Jews with a desire to obliterate Israel. The third quote makes it clear that any peace agreements made between Israel and the Palestinians will not be honored under a Hamas government.

Then there's Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He openly denies the Holocaust ever happened, and calls for Israel to be "wiped off the map." But that's a whole other blog post.

Even though there is strong political evidence to support Israel, ultimately, our loyalties should lay with this nations because it honors the Lord to do so (see Gen 12:3, Eze 36:22-28, Joel 3:1-2). If you are confused about what the truth is about Israel, I'd encourage you to seek the Lord in prayer about His heart for this nation, and to search the bible to see what He says through the word. Hosea 3 and Romans 9-11 are good starting points! Make sure the ask the Lord to renew your mind from the influences of replacement theology!

callie m.

*In the charter, the name of the Muslim god is capitalized but I elected to leave it lowercase.

Good Resources:
Israel, the Church, and the Last Days Keith Intrater and Dan Juster
Why Care About Israel? Sandra Teplinsky
Islam and Terrorism: What the Quran Really Teaches About Christianity, Violence and the Goals of the Islamic Jihad Mark A. Gabriel

Related Post:
Hosea 3