As I watch events being played out across the world stage, particularly what appears to be the increasing marginalization of America and the daily ratcheting up of the outcry against Israel to make even more concessions to those who would destroy Her, I am left with an ever increasing sense that time is short. It is almost as if the "birth pains" are now increasing in intensity by the day.

As the world looks on with dismay and perplexity, we as Believers need to focus our attention more and more on the "author and finisher of our faith," the Word, and the need to take inventory of those things in our lives that may hinder us from "running the race that is set before us."

And as we focus our attention on those things that are above and not on the temporal, may our Yahweh instill in our hearts a sense of urgency to redeem the time, that we may serve Him boldly and that our lives may in every way glorify the King of Glory.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Update From Sderot 9/24/10

Rocket and mortar fire from Gaza has been stepped up in recent days, with some twenty Kassams, mortars, or Katyusha rockets fired at Israel since the Rosh Hashanah holiday. Wednesday the 15th, saw the heaviest activity with ten rockets or mortars being fired from Gaza.

This has been the heaviest activity we have seen since “Operation Cast Lead” which began in December 2008. In one day, the ten rockets or mortars that were fired at Israeli civilians hit the cities of Sderot, Ashkelon, and Ashdod. At least two of the mortar shells fired on Wednesday was confirmed by authorities as white phosphorus mortars.

The secretary for one of the Negev communities said, “Every time we have peace talks, rockets and mortars rain down on us from above, but we try to maintain our daily routine… as talks proceed it will only get worse”.

The current wave of violence peaked as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met in Jerusalem with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the first time since the launch of the new round of peace talks in Washington three weeks ago. The latest stream of mortar and rocket fire from the Gaza Strip is clearly an attempt by Hamas to fulfill threats of violence meant to derail Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

As Believers, we understand that those involved in the current peace negotiations are looking for human answers to spiritual questions. The battle is a spiritual one, which means we need to have an understanding of God’s prophetic purposes and plans for Israel that we may be able to pray with understanding.

God has a purpose for Israel that shall be fulfilled despite all the attempts of the Enemy to destroy Israel and to stop God’s plan. All the hatred and indifference of the world against Israel shall not prevent the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to Israel. It shall come to pass even if some in the Church continue to ignore God’s Word and remain indifferent toward Israel’s survival.

So what are we who love Israel to do? We are to pray. Just because God will perform His Word concerning Israel and the nations does not give excuse to sit back and watch it happen. God has always wanted us to labor with Him in the fulfillment of His purposes. This is the mystery of our relationship with Him and the mystery of prayer. But we are to pray with understanding, an understanding of God’s purposes and plans for Israel. That knowledge will only come with diligent study of God’s Word. May God remove all that distracts us from His Word.

Every year in Israel, on the first Sunday in October (October 3rd this year) is a national day of prayer. Will you mark your calendar and take a few moments on that day to join those here in the land in prayer for the peace of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel. May Ha’Shem hear the prayers of His people.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Update From Sderot 9/12/10

Well as the sun is setting on this the first Shabbat of the New Year, and the week of preparation and celebration of Rosh Hashanah comes to an end, I am thankful to Ha’Shem for His many blessings. It has been a long and very full week. Before I share a bit about that let me just give a brief overview of Rosh Hashanah, the first of the three Fall Feasts all of which occurs this month.

The fall is arguably the most important time of the year in Judaism. Three of Israel’s holiest days are celebrated then, and all in the space of 15 days. They are Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, followed 10 days later by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and 5 days after that by the week-long Feast of Tabernacles. This season is a time of reflection, contemplation, and putting things in order and getting right our relationship with God.

Leviticus 23 calls the blowing of trumpets a memorial but does not say what it is a memorial of. Many believe it is a memorial of God’s grace to Abraham when He substituted a ram to be sacrificed instead of Isaac (Gen. 22). It is also regarded by both Jews and Christians as a memorial of the creation of the world. This holiday is the New Year’s Day, on which the people rejoice in grateful remembrance of God’s benefits and implore His blessing for the future year.

The Feast of Trumpets and Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) which follows are the holiest days of the Jewish year. These ten days are called the Days of Awe or High Holy Days. Unlike other holy days, they do not celebrate a season or historical event. This season is a time for looking inward to spiritual growth.

The giving of gift baskets is practiced throughout Israel at this time of year. Although they can be filled with many different things, they commonly contain sweet things; candy, apples, honey, and pomegranate. This past week we assembled and delivered 280 such baskets for the families we help each week, as well as those who have been injured by the kassam rockets. I’ve posted some pictures below.

In other news; a total of 6 kassam rockets were launched this past week, 4 since the start of Rosh Hashanah. Thankfully there were no injuries; however one did cause damage to some school buildings just thirty minutes before the start of school. On Tuesday morning we were awoken by the sound of the “seva adom”. The sound of the impact was very loud as it hit with a greater force than usually. We learned later that day that it hit about a ¼ mi. away. The increase in attacks is a common occurrence as the holiest days are celebrated here, but the increase is also meant to coincide with the peace talks.

"You will not fear the terror of the night,

nor the arrow that flies by day.” Psalms 91.5

ar"yti la;


On the lighter side, the Feast of Tabernacles is just around the corner. This is when temporary dwellings are built all over Israel. This holiday reminds us not to hold too tightly to material things of this world. When the Israelites were wanderers in the desert, they all lived in tents–rich and poor alike. We must remember that this life is only temporary, and that we are citizens of a heavenly home. Anyway the goal is to help build a sukkot this year, and perhaps even sleep in it. Shalom.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Update From Sderot 9/5/10

The work here is so much more than just the delivery of food to those who are in need. Each day often brings an opportunity to share the heart of Ha’Shem with those He brings into our lives. The day I met Yitzchak is one such experience. Yitzchak is an observant Israeli who works with another ha’mutah here in Sderot. He has a wonderful heart for those living in Sderot who are in need.

Over several months now both ha’mutahs have been working together on a project to gather and organize “war supplies” so that when the time comes we will have ready- to- deliver boxes of essential items. Yitzchak had been working on the food portion of our list and had contacted a few distributors here in Israel to get price quotes.

Yitzchak asked if we could meet with him to discuss the price quotes and also to go with him to one last distributor here in Sderot before making any final decisions as to what distributor we would use. We met and compared the price quotes and when we had looked at the proposed cost of each item we then went to the last distributor in hopes of being able to save a few more shekels. And so we met with the manager and after an hour or so had gone over each item and were given a price quote. Most of the items on our list were less expensive with this distributor, a few were higher.

After thanking the manager for his time and assistance we agreed to discuss the bid and call him with a decision. And so after a few quick errands and some shawarma for lunch, we returned to the ha’mutah to discuss the morning’s endeavors. So what’s the point? The point is the conversation we had with Yitzchak that began at lunch and continued into the afternoon as we returned to the ha’mutah.

You have to understand; observant Jews go to synagogue regularly and hear the reading of the Torah, but many do not read the Torah themselves on a regular basis. Their understanding of the Law and how to observe it mostly comes from the Midrash, the Talmud, the oral traditions and what “this or that” Rabbi says. In addition, there are many customs that seem to allow one to follow the letter of the Law while totally missing the heart of it.

For example, the Eruv is an actual wire that encircles most Israeli towns. There is one here in Sderot. If an actual wire does not exist then there are agreed upon structures that mark the outer boundaries of the town or city. The purpose of the Eruv is to extend the personal boundaries of one’s home and incorporate them into one large community domain. Why? Simply put, it is so that you can travel anywhere within the Eruv on the Shabbat and not be violating the Law.

Well back to my story… as we sat enjoying our shawarma and Cokes, and discussing the morning activities, Yitzchak said, “I don’t know what to do… Ye’shi said not to lie.” Ye’shi is the director of the ha’mutah that Yitzchak works with, and is currently in the States working with supporters. He had left Yitzchak in charge of the ordering and had apparently told him not to lie in order to get a better deal with the distributors. Ye'shi, understanding the Jewish mind set, left Yitzchak with that one simple instruction.

Now anyone that has visited Israel and has done any shopping in Jerusalem knows that there is a fine art to the bartering system here. Israelis enjoy the fine art of getting the best out of a deal; and Yitzchak is no exception. The goal in Yitzchak’s mind was to get the items we needed at the very lowest price. In his mind, telling the manager we had met with that morning that the other bids were lower than they actually were was simply the Israeli way of business; part of the fine art of getting the best price.

Well the obvious answer to Yitzchak’s question; “Should I lie?” was simply, “No!” And the explanation as to “why” was a wonderful opportunity for us to share the heart of Ha’Shem in the matter with our Israeli friend. Ha’Shem wanted to teach Yitzchak a truth and reveal His heart to him. Yitzchak’s point of view was that this was just business… “It’s the Israeli way in business,” he said. And so we shared…

“But that’s not what Ha’Shem’s Word to us teaches,” we said. We discussed Ha’Shem’s command; “Do not steal”, and how Ha’Shem requires strict integrity in all affairs of life. That any attempt to advantage oneself by the ignorance, weakness, or misfortune of another is fraud in the books of heaven. Ha’Shem also tells us that we are not to bear false witness; we continued, “Any intention to deceive constitutes falsehood.”

And so our conversation continued; “Now Ha’ Shem could have just as easily given us a totally different set of commands, but He didn’t. He carefully chose each one, and each one reflects who He is. Ha’Shem says to us, ‘Do not steal’ because He is righteous and faithful. He says, ‘Do not bear false witness’ because He cannot lie, there is no falsehood in Him. Ha’Shem’s commandments to us are not a random list of “Dos and Don’ts” that we can bend and manipulate. They reflect who He is; they reflect His characteristics, characteristics He wants to build in us, so that we might be able to reflect who He is in honesty and truth to a lost and hurting world.”

As the afternoon passed, we continued to discuss the heart of Ha’Shem versus the “letter of the law” Lessons were learn by all; Yitzchak heard Ha’Shem’s heart in the matter and agreed to speak the truth and trust Ha’Shem to bless his efforts. As for me, as a gentile; I was struck by the amazing opportunity I was given to share the heart of Ha’Shem with my new Israeli friend. Baruch Ha’Shem!