For Those Who Mess Up (and Those Who Don’t)

“There’s nothing you can do wrong to make God love you less; there’s nothing you can do good to make God love you more.” —Horacio Spafford

Some days I really need to know this. In fact, every day. Okay—every minute of every day. You get the idea.

What a relief.

—j

The Garbage Bin of History (An Editorial)

(I rarely editorialize, so be forewarned. Another, more encouraging post is on its way soon…)

“What is truth?”, Pontius Pilate once quipped at the words of Jesus, just before he sentenced Him to death. If you ask the same question to UNESCO, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the reply would be something like, “The truth is whatever we decide, excuse the facts.”

Though somewhat softened in its wording, UNESCO’s World Heritage 21-member committee voted today to ratify a document declaring that the factual, historical, cultural, scientifically verified center and capital of ancient Israel, Judaism and Christianity never existed as such—never mind the vast and irrefutable scientific, historical, literary and cultural evidence to the contrary. In fact, if the wording of the declaration hadn’t been altered due to Israel’s last-minute diplomatic maneuvers, even the Western Wall—the holiest site in all Judaism—would have been declared a Moslem site that had been occupied by Israeli “aggressors”. Even so, the walled city of Jerusalem and the historical Temple Mount was claimed by UNESCO for Palestine and Jordan through the manipulation of a committee of nations who are no more concerned about Education, Science and Culture than a cat. “What is truth?” was the question posed right before the brutal execution of a rather significant Jew in Jerusalem a couple thousand years ago. Irony of ironies. Israeli diplomat Carmel Shama-Hachone, in his own assessment of the matter, said the whole thing belongs “in the garbage bin of history.”

On a personal note, I must express my gratitude to you, UNESCO, and your parent organization, the United Nations, for openly clarifying the quality and integrity of your Educational, Scientific and Cultural understanding of truth and facts. Now—what was it you saying about global warming…?

The Immovable Ladder

As I’m teaching in Jerusalem, I offer a short provocation from Christianity’s holiest site… (5:30)

The Furnaces of Auschwitz: Where Was God?

(…and, yes, God rescued the Hebrew youths…)

A Panorama of History: Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives

Something Different—in Jerusalem…

For the next 3 months I will be doing something different—taking a short sabbatical from Church, Chaplaincy and Dinners, and becoming director of the Calvary Chapel Bible College Affiliate in Jerusalem. Yes, I will return (my visa expires in 90 days), stopping in Ireland on the way home for some fellowship and ministry. I’m back the end of May, but with all the technology, I’m still close to home. I will post videoclips and some sermons (once a month or so), and my weekly messages and Biblical Dinners will resume May 31. If you want to schedule a Biblical Dinner or Galilean Wedding (or something else) when I return, I’m an email away. I appreciate your prayers, and so does my family. Shalom, and thanks for praying, everyone…!

Get a Good Night’s Rest…

It’s been busy in the Middle East lately, but not all the news is bad—or at least it won’t be. Let me start with a recap of the stories that tend to keep us awake.

Three Jewish boys were kidnapped and murdered by the enemies of goodness and sanity. The ambulance carrying away their bodies was pelted with rocks and paint to the cheers people rejoicing in the murder of children. The festivities continued with a barrage of rockets raining down on civilians living in southern Israel.

There’s also something out there called ISIS. Smart, extremely well organized, wealthy beyond the dreams of Croesus, politically brilliant, terrifying in its bloody resolve and bent on conquering every land with a Moslem shrine. In a matter of weeks it captured most of Iraq and northern Syria and is organizing cells in Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Israel is right in the middle, possessing the third holiest shrine in Islam.

And then there’s us. The U.S. had been Israel’s friend and staunchest ally since 1948. Now she has recoiled as if from a disease from the only free democratic government in the Middle East. The only one. In recent years we have lied to Israel, pressured and threatened her to trade more land for more conflict, joined with some of her anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist neighbors impugning her for retaliating when hit, demanding that Israel retreat to her original borders and surrender Jerusalem, her historic capital, to hostile, sometimes genocidal enemies.

Add to to this Iran, who has persistently threatened Israel’s annihilation, supplying arms and ordinance to terror groups like Hezbollah and Hamas through the porous borders of Sudan and Syria, while the UN yawns.

Now, all that being said, King David once wrote,

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!

“May they be secure who love you!

Peace be within your walls

and security within your towers!”

For my brothers and companions’ sake

I will say, “Peace be within you!”

For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,

I will seek your good.[1]

Now more than ever.

But despite all the unsettling news about Israel, there are a couple accounts in the Bible that sort matters out rather well.

The first took place in the days of King Hezekiah and Isaiah the prophet, when the vast, relentless Assyrian army besieged Jerusalem—a battle-hardened force of more than 185,000 soldiers, feared for their terrible cruelty. The Assyrian commander mocked God and the King with a fearsome and blasphemous ultimatum shouted across the city walls while the besieged trembled in silence.

The ultimatum was handed to the King, who, with Isaiah, took it to the Temple of God, laid it on the alter, and prayed. And God answered. He told the King and the Prophet that He would take care of the people because they were His people and protect Jerusalem because it was His city. And besides, He reminded them, He’s God and He knows where the enemy lives. In other words, “Go home and get a good night’s sleep—I got it handled.” You can read God’s full answer in Isaiah 37:21-35.

In the morning, the King and the blasphemous commander both awoke to the silence of 185,000 dead Assyrian soldiers, killed during the night by a single angel.

The second took place years later in Babylon, and (interestingly) concerned three Jewish boys kidnapped by megalomaniacal king who commanded them to bow and worship his huge golden idol. They defied the enraged king had he them executed on the spot. You probably know the story—that God not only protected the boys, but that He also stood with them in the blazing furnace into which they were tossed. But I like this part best: while on trial for their lives before the king, they retorted, “…we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”[2] [Emphasis added]

They knew Who was in charge, and though they might not survive the moment, the final outcome was assured. God will deal with His enemies. As for that king, God reduced him to insanity; when he recovered He worshipped God alone.

God knows, God rules, God is working. And though sometimes hard-fought, the outcome is assured.

So pray for the peace of Jerusalem—pray, pray, pray.

And for their battles—and your own, lay the threats on the alter, and go get a good night’s rest. Dawn is coming—I wonder what we’ll find when we awake…!

Blessings,
—j

 

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Ps 122:6–9). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Da 3:16–18). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.