From A King of Righteousness To A Personal Holy Book

An artist's journal statement on the Bible?

Hammer Museum Exhibit Postcard

THE POWER OF REFLECTING ON THE GREAT KING

Ever heard of the King of Righteousness? In the Bible, in the book of Genesis, and after the garden of Eden stories, Abraham has bread and wine (communion?) with a guy named Melchizedek, which means King of Righteousness in Hebrew. In a sense Abraham’s power is derived from this “King of Righteousness”. Abraham is the spiritual father of Jews, Christians and Muslims. But in a way all of these religions (and politics) have failed because  men still train for war instead of peace, there is little unity on this earth, at least not yet.

Most of the major versions of “the Bible” (Jewish and Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant and Messianic versions all differ from each other) but most do title Genesis the “first book of Moses”. In other words, one way to look at the first five books of the Bible is that they are Moses’ personal journal or record of his encounter with God and his version of the stories that came before him. Jews, Christians and Muslims all have their personalized versions of the “official” holy interactions thus reinforcing the power of the King of Righteousness, whomever they envision that to be. Today, perhaps there is power for us in reflecting on and recording our encounters with God.

Who are you and where are you going?


Practically, Jews and Muslims follow the Egyptians and what then became the Abrahamic practice of infant mutilation, or circumcision, by cutting off a portion of a male baby’s member as a covenant with God. In one sense this is a big improvement from sacrificing the whole baby which was also a common practice back then but what about the the Jewish prophet Jeremiah’s call for a circumcised heart instead? Is a “circumcised heart” one that is brutally honest with self and willing to leave a record of one’s heartfelt feelings with God?

IS THIS REALLY PERSONAL?

Why do most of us simply follow the religion of our parents without thinking about what we really, personally, believe? Why does every religion state that it’s closeness to God makes it superior to all the others that came before it? While being closer to God does make one greater, why doesn’t it make us more humble instead of the tendency toward bluntly used power against those unlike us and smaller weaker groups. Unfortunately it is historical fact for the major ‘fufilment’ religions, Christianity and Islam and the largest political system – communism which have all persecuted innocent people. All have persecuted God’s people, Israel simply for being, well, God’s people. All are also guilty of murdering many innocent people both domestically or in their international wars, which today we just call “collateral damage” or “civilian casualties”. Israel itself has a history of political civil war and infighting, Jews killing Jews.

Dear Mr. M,

The Bible’s first book Genesis, writes of you Mr. M. In Hebrew your very name means King of Righteousness. Surely pursing right and good things is well, good. But how does one find goodness and truth Mr. M? Through Abraham who tithed to you Mr, M. Jews, Christians and Muslims claim a common father.

Mr. M I went to the synagogue and the teaching was great. Jews seems to be some of the smartest people around but I learned Gentiles are not included in a minyan – their prayers don’t count. Aren’t you the God of everybody? Also, there was a note on my car for “parking too close to the ass”, my apologies to the owner of the car, I was in a hurry to get to your class in the pouring rain.

Mr. M I went to the church and the leaders of Pacific Crossroads Church told me they have replaced Israel as the people of God. Mr. M, does the Bible that writes of you say all peoples of the world would be blessed? If some church leaders want to theologically “wipe you off the map” how is the church then any different from Pharoah, Hitler and Amminejad and other Islamic leaders who have tried to destroy your first people?

Mr. M I have read the Quran and have observed the Muslims, they are obedient and submit to you with their foreheads to the ground. Yet, some of your followers murdered Christians while worshiping you in a church in Iraq. Where is the freedom religion to decide for ourselves what we believe about you? Where is the righteousness Mr. M?

Help Bring Freedom of Religion

Help Bring Freedom of Religion

The goal of redemption is personal and world peace and true freedom of religion. God transcends everything when we experience this, this is true community, where God is one among all people, even Jews, Christians and Muslims. Mr. M, where DOES one find your community? You said all nations will be blessed through you, where is this?

Like the lost sons in the story of the Prodigal, religions and politicians fight over who God the father loves most instead of making a feast like families should! Bring us pure hearts, heaven on Earth!

My father is. Oh, ok. Nothing for your soul here...
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Jewish Willow Creek Church…but sweeter?

As a renter in some of America’s best neighborhoods, currently in Santa Monica, California, I’ve had some interesting experiences. Not far from the 90210, I had another interesting experience tonight. Actually it started when for some reason Facebook targeted me with an ad to celebrate the sabbath, (“shabbat” in the Bible) at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, not far from UCLA and Westood. It was billed as “Friday Night Lights” which sounded cool. Free event with a suggested donation of a toy. My social options were a party farther east with a friend in West Hollywood or go solo and check out this “FNL” shabbat. What the heck I decided to check it out.

As I arrived security was tighter than LAX with a vehicle search and a pat down upon entry. What a crazy world. Once inside the building is really nice. I brought a toy to donate but oddly nobody seemed to know where to put it and as I looked around I didn’t see anybody else with a toy. Fortunately some lady took the donation and seemed like she knew what to do. The service itself was quite user friendly for someone like me who had never been to a conservative synagogue. In the sanctuary, the room shape was not uniform but the pew style seating was like an old school church yet they innovated with theater like individual seats in the pews. I haven’t seen that before. The band reminded me of services like at non denominational churches, inviting and warm but with much more crowd interaction, back and forth singing, which is very Jewish. The service had frequent sit/stand/sit/stand rythyms more akin to traditional churches. The only awkward moment for me occurred because I opted to sit in the back row of the pews and during the service there is a time when everyone is asked to turn around and face the backdoor as we “observe” the arrival of the sabbath queen/bride. It was awkward for me because it felt like hundreds of people were waiting for me to know when to turn back around from facing the “queen”, so after what seemed like an eternity, and a few of my head turns wondering when people had seen the arrival of the sabbath, we the crowd, agreed enough ritual time had passed and we could turn back to our normal positions. Finally! The service really started and the entire event was really nice. Songs, a few words, silent and group prayers and when you leave they give you candy! I enjoyed the laffy taffy. A sweet touch.

After the service, I noticed there are even a few flat screens w/ Jewish related news streaming. This use of technology reminded me of Willow Creek Church in Chicago, which is also rather innovative – for better or worse. Also, I did notice a lot security cameras as well. Anyways, turns out there was also a post service “lounge” event so I decided to check it out. This is where it diverged from anything I’ve ever seen at Willow Creek or any sanctioned church event. In the gym, it was setup like a high school dance, rock band included, and they had a nice food spread, and booze! I like it. I listened to a few songs which were nice but I was surprised by some profanity. The profanity didn’t surprise me, just the use of it in a place of worship – although technically it was in the gym. Anyways, I had a few cocktails and then went home.

Overall, it seemed like a rather seeker friendly event although I didn’t find people as friendly as you do at church but maybe next time. As I was leaving I did observe many security personnel. How sad if all the security is really needed! Other than that it was a sweet experience.

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Road To Jerusalem – Jerusalem Oh Jerusalem

According to the (Christian) Bible life is the journey on the road from Eden (our first home) to the new Jerusalem. In the meantime, the Bible says we are to “give God no rest” until he makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. We just might be seeing this work in progress today!

Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the city that Saint Augustine translated as “a vision of peace”, others translate it as a “city of peace”. In Arabic it is called “al Quds” which means Holy City. Jerusalem is first mentioned in Genesis in the Hebrew Bible when Abraham has bread and wine with the King of Righteousness in Jerusalem. Since the beginning of time men have killed each other for control of it, artists have drawn it, holy men have written about it and singers have sung about. Today it is a vibrant, complex city.

Currently, there are basically two Jerusalem’s, one mostly Jewish (west Jerusalem) and one mostly Arab (east Jerusalem) – although this is changing, in a controversial manner sort of like Cowboys and Indians or perhaps America’s south fifty years ago. One thing that is absolutely amazing is the economic differences (although Arabs are thriving in Israel in places like Nazareth/Galilee, Jaffa and Abu Gosh).

The Bible says that the final resurrection will occur in Jerusalem near the Mount of Olives so I thought I’d go check it out. On my way to the Mount of Olives I bought two bags of chips, two chocolate bars and a large water at an Arab store near the Damascus Gate near East Jerusalem. Amazingly it only cost about 15 shekels! It would probably be 30 – 50 shekels in the rest of Jerusalem. Nice!

From the Mount of Olives, (har zeitim in Hebrew), there is a beautiful overlook of the city that looks down on the Dome of the Rock aka Temple Mount aka land of Mount Moriah right near the western “wailing” wall, which dates back to the temple where Jesus frequented. It was VERY disappointing walking around as when I tried to enter the Greek Orthodox church on the top of the mountain I was told it was for Orthodox ONLY, confirming that Christian unity is sadly so weak as they continue to discriminate against each other! Its so disappointing when religions discriminate against each other, even worse when it’s seemingly within the same religion. Jerusalem is full of religious people excluding each other. I’ve seen Jews do it to Jews, this is an example of Christians doing it to Christians. The lack of freedom of worship is one of the big disputes of Islam and the West and also very much in Jerusalem. At the Dome of the Rock Muslims won’t let anyone but Muslims pray there. How quickly we forget that before God we are all equals. Why does religion so quickly try to do the opposite and divide people?  Then it got worse, as I went across the street to the small church commemorating Jesus’  Ascension – this is basically in a mosque, I was saddened as this is one of the most pathetic sites I have ever seen, dirty and not maintained at all, and they charge 5 shekels to enter! Churches don’t charge to enter unless its also a mosque, I guess. Also, there is another much larger church in the distance (pater noster?) on the top of the hill behind this one but it has no clear entrance as I walked entirely around the huge hill looking for the entrance. There are some footpaths but due to security concerns I decided not to risk it as I was already in a much disputed area.

After walking around the Mount of Olives I decided to just sit down and enjoy the amazing view. Sitting there on the stairs  I saw a tourist  gimmick with a very Jesus looking guy in a royal robe riding up on a white  horse/donkey being led by an Arab dressed like a sheik. They pull up  not too far behind me. A few minutes later after hearing a noise I turned around to realize the Jesus actor and the sheik had walked off and the noise was of a soft plop and then a sound like a waterfall as the horse dropped a large deposit and just stared at me as I was staring at  it – it was odd. A few minutes later the sheik came back and cleaned it all up, which was rather nice.  This was the fanciest dressed guy I ever saw cleaning up after Jesus’ horse.  Only in Israel!

Israel’s capital Jerusalem, the spiritual capital of the world – is a people and a place of immense diversity, where a plurality of unity is somehow, almost miraculously, maintained. Perhaps this stems from Jewish tradition of agreeing to disagree,  (80% of the “Jewish Bible”, the Talmud, is people disagreeing with each other about the “right” way to worship God in various parts of life – but as a people they still stick together, for the most part.

I think one of the things that really separates Jews and Gentiles is the Jewish ability to make distinctions in everything. Ancient distinctions like: God/man, Jew/Gentile, Jewish, clean and unclean food, a separate day of rest, to modern distinctions in learning. IMHO, the Jewish talent for making distinctions is a key factor in why Jews are such a creative and innovative people who have contributed so much to humanity etc. I believe this “spirit of distinction” is the secret that amazingly preserved God’s people, Israel (as the Bible repeatedly calls them) without a national homeland for thousands of years. In 1948 when the country of Israel was revived from its glory days of Solomon’s temple and the Davidic Kingdom and and the miracle continues as we are now witnesses to this extraordinary event as God continues to regather His people, Israel, and Jerusalem is the center of it.

Rest, aka sabbath, or shabbat in Hebrew, is amazing in Jerusalem because it is so quiet and peaceful in Jerusalem each day of shabbat, when the rest of the week is normally hectic, noisy and frenetic. It is amazing. One really neat thing to see is to go to the Wall just before sunset before shabbat and you will see thousands of Jews spontaneously singing and dancing as they welcome in the God given gift of shabbat. I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else and I think its one of my favorite things to see in Jerusalem.

Shabbat is a marker of time. A full day of rest each week. God’s people Israel also maintain the world’s oldest calendar. Is it really the year 1431 as the Muslims say, or is it really 2010 as the Christians say or is it actually 5771 as God’s people Israel calculate?

Finally, perhaps the greatest thing about Jerusalem and being at the Wall is that one can see that unlike the Muslims and Christians who fence off their holy places like at Mecca (only Muslims allowed) and the Vatican (sealed like a fortress), is that the Wall is basically just a huge open air space for EVERYBODY. Its an open library for prayer and learning (lots of books) about the things of God. Open to all. Awesome, God!

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Open Military

As I said in an earlier post, war is hell and peace is possible. Until people decide to actually follow Jesus, lay down their weapons and stop killing each other, war – hell on Earth, will continue. Looking to that time of peace! One day!

Israel has a very unique program that allows people from many countries to come volunteer to serve in the military for a few weeks or more. The program called Sar El is pretty unusual as I don’t believe this type of program is common in other countries, if any. What other countries have a program like this? (French Foreign Legion is more for pro’s.) This is one way to show support for tiny miracle making Israel.

Here is one volunteer’s account.

Sar-El, an experience that will change your life. My first experience visiting the Holy Land came through the organization called Sar-El. It brought me to Israel in 2004 during the second Palestinian intifada (uprising). Sar-El is a chance to work on a military base, put on the uniform, eat with the soldiers, and meet people from all over the world.

This I promise will forever change who you are.

As a Christian we believe in God’s covenant with Abraham, those that bless Israel will be blessed, those that curse will be cursed, or you can read Romans 15 vs 27. You will be challenged, and tested. You will be asked to do jobs that are humbling, hard, may seem outrageous, you will be stretched past your limits, but in the end your heavenly reward is so much more than you can take in.

As a Canadian life here in Canada is very easy and simple, and I love my country for the chances that it gives me. Israel on the other hand has had too defend itself everyday since 1948. It has fought war after war with enimies that desire to wipe these people and this nation off the map. As a volunteer in sar-el, my helping out allows soldiers to leave the simple tasks behind and be there on the front lines protecting the world.

I have worked with Sar-El on two different occasions, each one making me a better person, and I am left wanting to do much much more for the people and the land of Israel. Sar-El offers so much when you sign up and go, they supply tours, teachings, great food, army type housing, weekends off, most importantly an opportunity to humble yourself and serve.  – Dan

Another opportunity

Experience a dynamic and intensive eight day exploration of Israel’s struggle for survival and security in the Middle East today: “a military, humanitarian, historical, judicial, religious, and political reality check.”

Mission Highlights

* Briefings by Mossad officials and commanders of the Shin Bet.
* Briefing by officers in the IDF Intelligence and Operations branches.
* Inside tour of the IAF unit who carries out targeted killings.
* Live exhibition of penetration raids in Arab territory.
* Observe a trial of Hamas terrorists in an IDF military court.
* First hand tours of the Lebanese front-line military positions and the Gaza border check-points.
* Inside tour of the controversial Security Fence and secret intelligence bases.
* Meeting Israel’s Arab agents who infiltrate the terrorist groups and provide real-time intelligence.
* Briefing by Israel’s war heros who saved the country.
* Meetings with senior Cabinet Ministers and other key policymakers.
* Small airplane tour of the Galilee, Jeep rides in the Golan heights, water activities on Lake Kinneret, a cook-out barbecue and a Shabbat enjoying the rich religious and historic wonders of Jerusalem’s Old City.
http://www.israellawcenter.org/Missions-general-information.html

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Tel Aviv is like New York because…

Tel Aviv - fresh squeezed carrot/orange juice, scooters and great markets

Tel Aviv is like New York because…it’s dense, hectic, dirty and has lot’s of great cafe’s and restaurants. There is an amazing energy here. Tiny Israel has more companies on the American Nasdaq exchange than any country outside of the US, that is an almost unexplainable statistic given Israel’s small size and Tel Aviv (TLV) is the innovation center of Israel. Another interesting fact is that TLV also has one the busiest/largest bus stations in the world – its easy to get around because buses run frequently and all over the place. The train system is quite good as well. The fanciest street in TLV, Rothschild Boulevard, is a pretty nice boulevard and some parts of it have the most expensive real estate in the world.

Tel Aviv is sometimes called the “white city” but I have no idea why because, like New York, its kinda grungy.  The lax cleanliness is somewhat surprising because although religious Jews have strict purity and cleaning rituals the country is somewhat third world in this aspect. There are a lot of stray, scraggily cats wandering around everywhere. A lot of people smoke and just flick their butts anywhere. Also, it is way behind on forcing dog owners to clean up after themselves so watch your step!

On the good side, like NYC, there is a vert good selection of unique products. For example, delicious pomegranate wine! Pom champagne style wine, regular pom wine, port pom wine, its amazing! And great markets with everything you can imagine. I have no idea how people buy clothing though because there are no change rooms in the open air markets. Today, I had lunch at the carmelit “shouk” (market) in Tel Aviv. Delicious!

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The First 30 Days In Israel

On prior trips to the “Holy Land” I’ve visited places like Galilee (region of 90% of Jesus’ miracles) Haifa (beautiful Bahai gardens), Yaachov Zichron (wine area), Jerusalem (holiest spot on Earth), Bethlehem (birthplace of Jesus), Ramallah (capital of Palestine), Hebron (Abraham’s grave), Eilat, Petra (stunning feature in Raider’s of the Lost Ark), and briefly Tel Aviv (vibes like New York). So far my experiences have shown me why the “holy land” is and isn’t holy!

During these last 30 days I have spent time in Jerusalem, Ashdod (a nice beach town south of Tel Aviv, special shout out and THANKS to AVI!), on a brief trip near Ashkelon/Gaza (click here for unedited report) and in Tel Aviv. It was a fascinating time. It was also extremely hot! Thank God for sabra cactus juice and aloe vera juice!

Sep 19 – Had a direct 15 hour flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Tel Aviv (TLV) I sat in 57h, an aisle seat. Luckily nobody was beside me and the dude beside me got in a big discussion with the flight attendant and changed seats because our seats didn’t recline. Lucky for me I got a whole row! And a hint of Israel – the land of big discussions, everything is a big discussion here (not sure if it’s the heat,  history or what, but more of this was to come).

Sep 20 – Surprising that one of the first things I heard upon arrival was “welcome home” both from a sabra native and via email from a friend back home! Since this land is the birthplace of the 3 Abrahamic religions, Israel is definitely a spiritual home for me and a few billion others.

Sep 21 -Hello and a half! What a crazy night, after an exhausting day.  I started the day with volunteer work at a Christian celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot with about 5000 other people from all over the world. Its an amazing event and one of Israel’s largest tourist events. After volunteering in the day, during the evening I ended up helping a friend get ready for the holiday by carrying huge Sukkot (Feast) Palms from Mea Shearim, an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem, (where a brawl almost erupted over what I think was a love-triangle) to my friends house.

Sep 23 – The Feast worship celebration officially opens – amazing  comments streaming in from all over the world for the event in Jerusalem which had a live webcast as well.

Sep 25 – During the day of rest, shabbat, the sabbath, it is so peaceful and quiet in Jerusalem it is really beautiful. A few of us went to the Old City to wander around. While buying some delicious freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, we inadvertently watched a near fight break out! Classic – as one Arab dude grabbed a can of coke right in front of me and then literally threw it at his Arab opponent and then he grabbed a chair from a table, freaking out the gals we were with! Fortunately a crowd gathered and calmed the guy down. This was the second shouting match I’d seen in a week – does the intense heat here make people more tense or what?

Sep 26 – Click here to read a report on Gaza, 70 ton bomb shelters, and prayers, tears and donations pouring in from all over the world!

Sep 28 – Attended the Jerusalem parade that marches through the city. The Bible clearly says the Feast/Sukkot will one day be the universal holiday that brings together all the nations, so is this parade a foreshadowing of the great Messianic march to come in the future? There were so many Christians who happened to be in the area who wanted to join in the march, the crowd almost got out of control. Due to the sheer numbers of hopeful participants you must be registered or security would not be able to control the crowds. I think they have to limit the number of Christians taking part in the parade to balance the local folks in the parade! From the thousands of registered people in our group, over 900 people came from Brazil! I can’t help but wonder why there aren’t more from the US? Also, towards the end of the march a few religious “black hats” made some rude comments because they would rather not see support from the Christian community. But, they got shouted down by their neighbors in the crowd who warmly welcomed us! Anyways, its a neat experience to have so many Jerusalemites cheering you on from the street, balconies and rooftops as you march through the streets. Seeing the national band playing at the end was icing on the cake!

Sep 29 – As the audience of several thousand had assembled to hear the prolific speaker Reinhard Bonnke preach it was kinda funny to see a pretty Israeli security guard frantically leap up from her seat as the “spirit descended” and worship cries/screeches started in the crowd and then thousands of hands rose in response to the message of the sermon.

In the evening the grand finale worship event in the En Gedi desert was quite amazing, hard to describe. I suspect many left Bonnke’s preaching feeling recharged as if their personal “prisoner chains” have been hacked off, like the powerful, heart wrenching true stories he related from Africa. We so easily forget that God provides. But by the grace of God go I.

Oct 1 – I had the pleasure of meeting a pastor from Cameroon/Gabon (where ever in Africa that is exactly I’m not sure) who has been coming for 17 years! He also mentioned that at $2300 for a flight its no small expense to represent his congregation! Impressive dedication! He also had some interesting comments as to how the Feast has changed over the years (used to teach more Jewish roots, more Hebrew songs, and multi lingual prayer etc) . Has the Feast become too “Euro centric”?  For better or for worse the one thing that is constant is that change is constant.

Also for Friday shabbat dinner, I noticed there were 2 groups eating. One for Gentiles & one for a rabbi’s tables. No challah was provided for the Gentile group, just cheap white bread. WTF!! Hopefully, next time our group selects the full “shabbat option”!

Oct 2 – I must say I really love the peace and quiet of shabbat! We drove up to see an annual worship meeting of Arab Christians and Messianic Jews. Had an unexpected scare as our car got pulled over for search at a checkpoint, and one of the gals forgot her ID! This is not America, carry ID at all times! Sure glad to have American passports though! Anyway, after a little adventure finding the forest we got to our destination. It was very encouraging to see these native Messianic Jews & Arab Christians come together in unity and peace. This story doesn’t get told enough in this peace parched land! Although we did hear about the unfortunate bans on Messianic worship in the Negev where freedom of religion is being tested in an unfortunate case of Jews persecuting Jews. Can’t we all just get along? The event finished with a beeeeuuuutiful Aaronic blessing – quite touching in its native Hebrew.

Fortunately, we had enough time to check out the church at the Sermon on the Mount from Jesus’ famous beatitudes. I love the innovative round design, evocative of old school synagogue seating – all too rare today!

Also, we had the pleasure of visiting Yardenit on the Jordan River, where Christian pilgrims follow John the Baptist’s example. There is a wall with an amazing diversity of language panels.

 

The nations proclaim baptism in the Jordan River

 

While inspiring to see this Christian themed site, I keep getting a recurring and nagging feeling pondering why the messianic movement is so disorganized? Where is it? There are many examples of Christianity in the Holy Land yet surprisingly few Messianic ones. Is the Messianic “movement” really moving?

On the way back, late at night we stopped to get gas in the Jordan valley desert near Jericho, right beside the gas station there was a Cafe Cafe with a blow out party happening. It seemed so random at this isolated and desolate location. Israel has a thriving late night culture – perhaps to avoid the stifling daytime heat?

Oct 3 – Visited Jerusalem’s Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem. The evil of humanity is heartbreaking on so many levels. I don’t think the world has learned anything. Nothing has changed in the global system as genocide after genocide continues. How does the world’s longest running conflict, the Israel/Palestine conflict continue endlessly in the so-called Holy Land?? Depressing.  Also of note to anyone who is in a minority, Jewish Christians were considered Jews by the Nazi’s. Like the poem “How Odd of God”, its an odd spot to be in – not fully Jewish according to Jewish Law and not fully Christian according to the Nazi’s. Also, another minority, Jehovah’s Witnesses, were murdered by the Nazi’s for their pacificism which is based off of Jesus’ encouragement for peacemaking. In other words, because they refused to take up weapons, weapons where used to slaughter them as well, just like Jesus. Very sad that the mainstream church still mostly ignores the peacemaking words of Jesus. (Like all the universal Christian soldiers and politicians perpetuating war.) Also, of note that the Vatican held agreements with the Nazi’s – I wonder what the specifics where?

Unfortunately it is disturbing to me that the the majority of people in churches still preach against the Jewish people, a people who are even called “God’s people, Israel” in the New Testament. For example, the leaders at Pacific Crossroads Church who say they, the church, are the “new Israel” – yet most of these leaders have never even been to Israel! Most churches have such little grace for God’s people, Israel. Crazy world. We all need to be more merciful and graceful!

Today, many people in Israel still seem to be displaying pain and abuse of the centuries of persecution. In Israel, you see some extremely disheveled people and people who seem to be under some sort of post traumatic syndrome. I believe the lesson of Yad Vashem (and the many other Jewish massacres) is that Israel’s best long term defense is taking up it’s Biblical call to educate the world about its loving, compassionate and merciful God – which means loving your neighbor and even your enemy. Peacemaking must be taught. What else could be a real solution? With a 20% Muslim population Israel already tries living in plurality, but so much more needs to be done on all sides. May both the church and God’s people, Israel, truly take this to heart one day. And may the end of all these terrible wars come. And let real peace come, LORD. Amen.

Oct 4 – Hot as hades until today! I think its finally cooling off and will be more bearable!

 

Historic event with Angus Buchan

 

Oct 6 –  Wow, had the unique privilege of attending a Christian worship event right next to the Wailing Wall/Temple Mount/Dome of the Rock/Mount Moriah, Zion, whatever you call it, many say its the holiest spot on Earth! 1500 people, mostly from South Africa, at the Davidson Center on the southern end of the Temple Mount. Hopefully freedom of worship will one day fully come back to this spot, it will truly be a “house of worship for all nations” and not exclusively for Muslims, as is the case today. Anyways, Angus Buchan is quite a speaker! This was an historic event. A group of this size probably hasn’t had the privilege of worshiping there since the first Jewish followers of Jesus gathered there 2000 years ago!

Oct 15 – While looking for a place to worship in Tel Aviv I randomly met an Ethiopian gal who dispelled some of my prejudices about Ethiopians (based on years of seeing many pleas for help on tv with their various famines) as she was smart, interesting and spoke multiple languages including French, Italian and Hebrew. Man do I feel like a dumb American!

Oct 17 – Good bye dinner with a friend headed back to New Zealand. So much coming and going…

Oct 20 – It was an action packed 30 days! Hope to follow up with some thoughts on Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and more!

Let me know what you want to hear about??

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Sabra – a type of people and a delicious drink!

Before I came to the land of Israel I was aware of the term sabra. Sabra is used to describe a native born Israeli. According to Wikipedia (so it must be true!), the word sabra derived from the Hebrew name for the Indian Fig Opuntia cactus, “tzabar”, and related to the Arabic word sabr which means “aloe” or “cactus” or “patience”. The allusion is to a tenacious, thorny desert plant with a thick hide that conceals a sweet, softer interior,  suggesting that even though the Israeli Sabra are rough and masculine on the outside, they are delicate and sensitive on the inside. (In the United States, this cactus variety is known as the Prickly Pear.)

What I didn’t know is that they make delicious drinks like cactus juice and aloe vera drinks from prickly pear cactus. Try it next time you visit!

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