Tuesday 22 January 2019

We Were Not Alone

We Were Not Alone

Her nerves are stretched to where she feels she can stand this no more. She slams on the brakes of the car in the parking lot and sits staring at nothing as the motor idles. Her mind seems to have gone on hold. No thoughts, no feelings, no nothing. It’s been too much.

Finally, shaking her head as though to awaken from a deep sleep, she turns the ignition off and takes a long agonizingly deep breath and steps out of the car.

Walking into the building she walks to the elevator and rises to the third floor. Slowly she opens a door and enters into a plush waiting room with a fake palm tree in one corner, enticing comfortable chairs, and carpet so thick she feels she could curl up on it like a cosy warm bed.

She signs the sheet on the clipboard and takes a seat. Glancing at the stack of magazines she ignores a Man sitting across the room. Then her name is called.

For thirty minutes she sits with her hands folded tightly in her lap and tells her counsellor about a horrifying memory of her childhood. Tears stream, she wants to scream but takes a deep breath and fights to maintain control.

He’s sympathetic and asks several questions. She replies as best she can. One question arises that throws her into a tizzy. “Where was Jesus when this happened?”

She bolts out of the chair and paces.

The Doctor waits.

Unbeknownst to her, the Man has entered the room.

He waits.

She stomps across the room and with fists tightly clenched at her sides, she stares out the window at the parking lot below. Tears stream down her face. She fights to subdue her anger.

“Where was Jesus?” the Doctor asks again and she spins around facing him. “I don’t know!” she almost screams.

She runs her hands through her hair in a frantic, hopeless and frustrated gesture, and plops down on the couch. She closes her eyes trying to fight the flood of tears that want to rush down her cheeks, and before the Doctor can say anything a vision appears before her.

The vision is so clear of Jesus on His knees with tears streaming down His face and begging His Father to stop what is happening to this child. His pain is so evident and His agony is even greater than the child’s that He’s praying for, her!

On the couch, she is shaking violently and sobbing. Now she knows the answer.

Luke 22:42 – “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Even Jesus asked His Father to not let this happen, and yet He suffered greatly, even unto death. Children do not have the physical or emotional ability to stop the abuse that is being inflicted upon them; be it emotional, physical, or sexual. They cry out in many instances to deaf ears and blind eyes begging for it to stop.

The hurt goes so deep it becomes anger and many times that anger is directed straight at God. “Why didn’t You stop it!?” “He did nothing!” is how many deals with those issues. As in the story above, the great I Am was there. He can’t reach down and stop the torment being inflicted, but He is praying fervently for the child. He knows our suffering. He knows our tears, His heart is being ripped out at seeing what we are going through, then and now. He is with us through it all.

We can blame God, or we can reach out to Him to help us overcome all that was done. If the suffering is continuing through your thoughts and memories, reach out to Christ. Invite Him into your suffering. He’s waiting to take you in His arms and heal your heart.

Sunday 20 January 2019

Dealing with Evil in the Church, without losing your faith

19  But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? 20  You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. 21  No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.
Genesis 50:19-21 (NLT2)

In one of his (Boccaccio) stories in the Decameron, a practical Jewish businessman, Abraham, is contemplating conversion and baptism, at the gentle leading of the pious archbishop of Paris, but has to reside at Rome for a season to do business with the Borgia family and the papal bankers. The archbishop asks him if he wouldn’t like to receive baptism before his trip, but he is a practical man, and business must come first. The bishop is convinced that Abraham will never join the Church once he sees her corruptions with his own eyes; but when he returns to Paris, he asks to be baptized! He explains to the startled archbishop, “I’m a practical Jewish businessman. I don’t know theology, but I know the business. And one thing I know with certainty is that no earthly business that corrupt and venal could possibly last fourteen weeks; this one has lasted over fourteen centuries. It’s a miracle! Count me in!”

I have been grieving over the church recently.

It seems like we are entering a season where evil seems to be winning, thrusting its devastation both near and far. I see the broken lives, some still in denial about what is going on, about their role in the game, I sense that others don't really care, passing by the broken lives as the priest and the Levite did on the road.

On the national level, the battles are like icebergs. In my denomination, you see it in the reactions to a document which alleges chronic, planned and coordination bullying. The Catholic Church has its internal wars going, as do the Methodists, Baptists, and other groups.

And what is even scarier, the wars we see are often not the real war. As any counsellor/manager knows, the stated problem is rarely the real problem. Those are deeper, even at the point of sub-conscious, as our souls can't bear the trauma.

On a local level, sin has raised its bitter head to many times in the past two months. Again, the temptation is to deny the seriousness of the impact on individuals and parishes. We want to say, "that's their problem, it won't affect me or mine." Yet, even in saying that, we acknowledge the division in the church.

To that point, Peter Kreeft's Socrates referents Boccaccio, and makes me think deeper. Could our evil be used by God to draw others to Him? (This is by no means an excuse, or should we use it to justify or be complacent about evil - we need to confront it) The Jewish businessman finds hope because the church perseveres in spite of the corruption, in spite of the evil.

It requires a great deal of faith or true depending on God to see this. It takes the attitude of Joseph, who can piece together all the things God used to come to a point where the family is preserved, where they are provided for in the midst of another storm.

God doesn't like such things or plan them, and I am sure they break His heart. Yet, His love finds a way to use them to bless us, all things, even the evil, even the brokenness. He promises that so many times, along with the fact that He will never leave us or forsake us.

We need to know that in these dark days, and in those to come.

He is with us, He will be with us, and somehow, He will use even these times.

May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus

Friday 11 January 2019

Why It's Complicated Being a Messianic Jew During Election Season

The political fabric of the State of Israel is more complicated than many may realize, and it becomes more so if you’re a believer in Yeshua.

With the upcoming elections, a lot of questions have popped up for Messianic voters in the Land. One might assume that if you’re a Believer, you must support the conservative party, but then you must ask, which conservative party? Unlike in America, there are multiple conservative and liberal parties, each representing their own ideological, religious and ethnic groups with their own unique needs and interests.

Let’s take a look at the Likud party, for example; the most popular political party in recent years. Likud was officially founded by Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon - both famous political figures in Israel’s history - later to be succeeded by the current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The Likud party is considered to be right on the political spectrum, as evident from their support for Jewish settlements in the West Bank and a general rejection of a Palestinian state. Economically, the party advocates for free trade, privatizing government-owned companies, and the dismantlement of monopolies (though many exclusive services companies still operate in Israel, dictating high prices).

With the above said, the party also has a less conservative side; for example, taking a positive stance on gay marriage and, more crucially, on the ability of same-sex couples to adopt. Netanyahu once said in regards to the surrogacy law, “I made it clear in the past; it is not a matter of right or left. First of all, it is a private and human matter. I would like to remind you that in the earthquake in Nepal in 2015, we worked extensively with the various aid agencies in flying male couples as part of the surrogacy process.” The party even has its own LGBT branch, “Pride in the Likud,” headed by MK Amir Ohana. They actively participate in public events and gay parades throughout the country.

The ones who dare disagree with this definition of marriage and family are the Jewish Orthodox parties. Similar disagreements arise over laws regarding abortion, as the Likud and other "secular" right-wing parties generally hold liberal views on these issues. On such moral issues, the right is deeply divided between its secular and religious blocs. Usually, they sit together in the coalition, as they seek to propel their agendas in the Knesset, but just as they are the only stronghold against an atheistic and liberal worldview, they are also big advocates against everything Messianic.

Marriage for Messianic couples, or mixed couples who may not be Jewish by birth on their mother’s side, is impossible here. Believers are forced to fly out of the country in order to become legally married, only then being permitted to register with the Ministry of Interior. The Rabbinate holds the monopoly over marriage, burial, and perhaps one of the most controversial things for Believers – immigration. Even if you happen to be Jewish on both sides of your family, traceable all the way back to King David, if the government finds out that you have put your trust in Yeshua, you will be met with closed doors. In essence, more power to the right-wing bloc equals less freedom for the body of Messiah here in the Land.

In contrast, some left-wing parties have a tendency to embrace a more pluralistic approach towards Believers, but we also must take into consideration what they stand for as liberals. Few of the leftist parties hold to socialistic views anymore, even the Labor party, making the main difference between the right and left the issue of settlements, and of how much of a grip Judaism has on the character of the nation. If that grip is loosened and the Rabbinate loses its monopoly over the definition of who is Jewish, we may see the Believing population begin to rise; for with our “Jewishness” given back to us, we might see Jewish Believers finally being allowed their right of return.

All of this may seem very confusing, and many times followers of The Way will be required to choose the “lesser evil”, or simply withhold from voting altogether. Israel’s political scene is not as clearly defined as that of America’s, thus Believers in the Land may have a harder time making their choice.

Ultimately, whoever ends up taking a seat this year, among the 120 available, will require the frequent and fervent prayers of Believers both in Israel and around the world. As the political war rages on and the politicians' decisions, both on the right and left, encumber the Body of Messiah, I would like to suggest that we ought not merely stand with Israel, but rather, stand with God in Israel.


The Strongest Weapon Against Demonic Religious Intolerance

Your Strongest Weapon

On the mission visit to Eastern Europe, we ministered inside a city in south-central Ukraine. This as being a major metro section of in regards to a million people, the church there hired us a person to chauffeur us around. Thus we met an old Soviet army colonel I'll call Sergei, using the intimidating appearance from the army officer he was previously. Beneath his tough exterior, however, lay a light heart of gold.

Sergei eagerly told us his story, and that I never tire of repeating it. In the army unit would be a youthful private, a Baptist Christian. Every day the boys arranged information to recite the pledge of allegiance towards the USSR. Based on his Christian conscience, this youthful private declined.

Clearly, this caused an issue for Sergei, who perceived it as being a menace to discipline within the ranks. Frustrated and getting no clue how to proceed, he made the decision to talk with the youthful private's pastor, and together they laboured out an answer. The non-public could recite the pledge to the part that violated his conscience, after which he could remain silent because everybody else could be facing forward at attention, nobody would notice. To date, so great, with the exception that Sergei now considered this youthful man to become a troublemaker.

To handle the issue, he started to assign this Baptist conscript all of the worst jobs, from cleaning toilets to shovelling dirt. It had not been lengthy, though, before he observed something he did not expect. Regardless of what he did for this youthful man, he never heard a complaint from him, no hint of rebellion or anger. He saw just the heart of the respectful servant.

Searching a little much deeper, he saw that whenever other people of his unit had problems, they switched for this Baptist private for counsel and solace. Sergei told us, "Which was the very first stop by the bucket toward me repenting and achieving a Christian."

As so frequently occurs when cultures deny God, crime and thievery run rampant-so it did within the culture from the Soviet army. Two times or even more each year, each commander needed to go prior to the "minister," because they known as the federal government representative, to take into account conditions under his command. No commander ever anticipated these conferences.

A Christian at this time, Sergei searched for the counsel of his pastor on how to lessen the crime rate in the unit prior to his next ending up in the Soviet minister. "Well, would you pray for the men?" the pastor queried. Sergei required his pastor's advice and started to wish.

In the next ending up in the federal government minister, he reported that crime in the unit had decreased to almost nothing. Actually, he earned up two occurrences that did not really happen, wishing to prevent an accusation he was laying concerning the crime rate. The minister accused him of laying anyway, insisting that this type of huge decrease in crime couldn't have happened. An analysis premiered that was discovered that Sergei had lied concerning the two occurrences to avoid being charged with laying concerning the decrease in crime.

After admonishing him not to lie again, the minister clearly mentioned the decrease in crime needed to be due to God otherwise it could have been impossible. Sergei's wife then grew to become a believer through her husband. She offered to be an aide towards the commander of some other unit. She too searched for her pastor's counsel by what she could do like a believer and started to wish. This brought towards the conversion of her unit's political officer.

Within the USSR a political officer was, essentially, the priest from the communist way billed with enforcing proper communist doctrine and holding the military rank of major. Talking with this type of person about Jesus, therefore, involved tremendous risk, as atheism was in the past the state Communist Party doctrine regarding religion. She obeyed God, however, not allowing the sunshine to become obscured by fear.

Hearing the reality in her own heart and her words, the main gave his existence to Jesus. Battling with how you can continue spouting communist doctrine incompatible together with his new found belief, the political officer also searched for out his pastor for advice, asking, "Exactly what do I actually do now?" His pastor told him he must tell his troops about God.

All of this came into being because one minor, no-name private within the army of the godless government declined to permit a gift basket to become placed over his light. Darkness collected around him, but light shines brightest in dark places. His simple witness and servant's heart were the pebble that began a landslide. He might have protested and reported injustice, but he chose to become a servant, strategically placed, who acted for each other and bore enormous fruit

Popular Posts