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.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Update From Sderot 5/29/11

Just wanted to start out by thanking Ha’shem for His faithfulness and for the richness of His blessings and provision that He showers on His children each and every day. Baruch Ha’Shem!

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning; great is His faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

This month has been a very busy one here in Sderot. The month started out with two weeks of preparation by Hope for Sderot for an outreach to the Ethiopian community here. The event that was held on May 19th was sponsored by The Joshua Fund. At the beginning of the month we spent several days cleaning and painting the Ethiopian Community Center here in town as well as ordering the many items that would later be given out to these families, as well as single moms and holocaust survivors. A hundred and fifty families were invited to this bi-annual event, at which food and a large variety of household items were given out, along with a brand new cart to carry everything home in.

Fifty American volunteers, who came to Israel to tour with the Joshua Fund and attend the Epicenter Conference, came down for the day to help man the tables and distribute the items. It was such a blessing to be able to share one on one with them about life here in Sderot and what the Lord allows us to do here. The volunteers were able to meet and interact with many of our families and hear about the personal experiences of those living here. At the end of the day, as the volunteers said their goodbyes we were told over and over again that this was the best part of their whole tour. Baruch Ha’Shem! A special thanks to each of you who took time away from touring in order to touch the hearts of the people of Sderot. Kol Ha’kovod! And thank you to The Joshua Fund for making the event possible and for being a faithful friend to the people of Sderot.

The day after the outreach I headed south to Eilat for a couple of days and a side trip to Jordan to visit Petra. Petra, which in Greek means “rock” is a historical and archaeological city that is famous for its rock cut architecture and ancient water conduit system. Petra was established by the Nabataeans as their capital city around the 6th century BC.

Petra is located in the mountains of Seir in the land of the ancient Edomites. In Abraham’s time Petra was known as Selah, and later known as Kadesh.

Just east of Petra is an area known as Wadi Musa, (Valley of Moses). It was through this valley that Moses led the children of Israel on their way to the Promised Land. Tradition says that the spring of Wadi Musa is where Moses struck the rock and brought forth water (Numbers 20:10-11). A fresh water spring still emerges from the rocks at the entrance of the modern town.

And as you travel past the area known as the Wadi Musa off in the distance you can see Mount Hor. Mount Hor is where the Israelites traveled to after being refused passage by Edom (Numbers 20:14) and is the site where Aaron was buried (Numbers 20:22-27).

After returning back home, we had the opportunity to visit with our friend Cheryl for a few hours. For those of you who don’t know Cheryl, she is an American journalist from the Central Coast. Cheryl and I first met in 2008 when I came on a trip to Israel with two suitcases filled with first aid kits.

Cheryl brought three friends with her to Sderot. What a surprise it was to learn they were from Atascadero Bible Church. And even more amazing, one of the ladies in the group recognized me from Atascadero State Hospital where I used to work.

Although our time together was short we were able to share about what we do at Hope for Sderot and the reality of life here. We were able to visit a few places in town such as Sderot’s Indoor Recreation Center, and the Wind Chime Memorial up on a hill overlooking Gaza. Although sad to see new friends leave I know that as they return back to California’s Central Coast they do so now as ambassadors for the people of Sderot. Shalom!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Update From Sderot 5/2/11

Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, will be marked nationwide in Israel on Monday May 2nd. Yom HaShoah is a day of remembrance for the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust and the experience of those who survived its horror. As I ponder the hatred of yesterday, I am forced to examine the continued hatred I see today.

“Of all the extreme fanaticism which plays havoc in man’s nature, there is not one as irrational as anti-Semitism. … If the Jews are rich {the fanatics} are victims of theft. If they are poor, they are victims of ridicule. If they take sides in a war, it is because they wish to take advantage from the spilling of non-Jewish blood. If they espouse peace, it is because they are scared by their natures or traitors. If the Jew dwells in a foreign land he is persecuted and expelled. If he wishes to return to his own land, he is prevented from doing so.” - Lloyd George 1923

Israel, a tiny nation surrounded by those who refuse to acknowledge her right to exist, who boldly state their desire and intent to drive all of Israel into the sea. Their hate filled words are straight out of Psalms 83; ”They say, "Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!" And what of the rest of the international community who increasingly blames Israel for the volatile situation in the Middle East.

Why does most of the world resent this tiny speck of land? Have the lessons of HaShoah been lost? Anti-Semitism is far too ancient, too persistent to have merely originated in the minds of men. Edmund Flannery calls it, “… the longest and deepest hatred of human history”.

At Sinai Jews were told that there is one God, Who makes moral demands on all of humanity. Consequently, at Sinai the Jewish nation became the target for the hatred of those whose strongest drive is to liberate mankind from the shackles of conscience and morality.

At Sinai the Jewish nation was appointed to be "a light unto the nations." There are those who embrace Jews and the Jewish faith because of that light; but there are also those who want the world to be a place of spiritual darkness. They object to morality. Those would-be harbingers of darkness attack the Jews as the lightning rod for their hatred. This "call to Sinai" - the message entrusted to and borne by the Jews - ultimately transforms the world. Yet, it is this very message that draws forth the wrath of those who would give their last ounce of strength to resist it.

On a certain conscious level, people recognize the Jews' message as truth. Those unwilling to embrace the truth have found that the only way to rid themselves of it is to destroy the messengers - for the message itself is too potent to be dismissed.

Simply the answer is; the nations hate Israel because they hate God. To accept Israel, to accept her history, her right to the land would mean one has to accept the God of Israel. Anti- Semitism is at its heart anti-God. It is difficult to think of Israel apart from the God of Israel, how can you accept the God of Israel, the Bible as His Word and deny Israel? Israel is an inconvenience to those who refuse the God of Israel. Plainly, Israel reminds the world that there is a God… and if there is a God, then one must ask oneself; why do I not obey Him? Why do I not live according to His rules