It’s Not too Late to Congratulate Jerusalem!

Hi friends!  Do you realize we’re in the midst of a jubilee year for Jerusalem?  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, please see Israel’s Jubilee Years.  Indeed, “liberty is proclaimed throughout the land” on a 50-year schedule, just as the Bible describes in  Leviticus 25:8-11!  Interestingly, on our Gregorian calendar, those years happen to end in “7,” the number of perfection (God’s perfection!).

2017 is the 50th anniversary of the 6-Day War in which Israel re-captured the Old City of Jerusalem, including Temple Mount, and reunited Israel for the very first time since 70 AD when the Romans wiped out the city and drove Jews from Israel.  The victory also ensured freedom of access for all faiths to Jerusalem’s holy sites.  It is an incredibly significant year in Israel’s history.

While the 6-Day War victory was officially celebrated in June (on the actual anniversary of the victory), Israel continues to celebrate the Jubilee Year. As Christians who stand with Israel, it is fitting for us to congratulate Jerusalem in commemoration of her Jubilee celebration.

Did you know you can actually send your own personal congratulations to the people of Israel?  Christians from around the world are sending words of congratulations and encouragement, and all messages are being compiled in a special Jerusalem Jubilee Book that will be presented to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

Be one of millions of Christians who stand with Israel in this very simple and tangible way.  Send your congratulations!

I will bless those who bless you!  (Genesis 12:3)
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good!  (Psalm 122:9)

It’s a Wrap!

A fantastic weekend, filled with learning and reconnecting with friends, is now behind me.  On Sunday, we closed out our reunion with panel discussions regarding what various graduates are doing with what we have learned.  With graduates from 2010-2017, the spectrum, scope and degree varies widely.  Almost all of us are teaching and/or sharing about anti-Semitism and the Holocaust in one way or another.  Some have positions within churches or large ministries where the messages are interwoven into the fabric of the church or ministry’s vision.  Others have platforms of a different kind, such as TV broadcasting, hosting tours to Israel, and even importing/exporting goods from small Israeli communities to help them economically.  One thing is certain: there is great love for Israel, and a common desire to do what we can to combat anti-Semitism that is so much alive and well today.

Time and space prohibited me from sharing casual tidbits and photos over the past few days, but I’ll share a few now…

2017-0811 MOTB EntranceFirst, a few interesting photos from the Museum of the Bible.  The 5 story building is a former warehouse that once had a train track running through it.  Because it is an historic building, they refurbished the exterior to keep much of the character of the building.  For example, large doors on the former loading docks have been turned into windows, and the large entrance where the train pulled into the building is now the entrance to the museum.  On either side of the entrance are 40’-tall, 2.5-ton bronze panels with Genesis 1 from the Gutenberg Bible inscribed on them.  (Bibles were first mass produced on the Gutenberg printing press.)  The impressive entrance will undoubtedly be the landmark by which the museum will be recognized.  Special lighting will illuminate those bronze panels to make them stand out even more.  Crews finished installing those panels the day before our tour!

The museum is jam-packed with features too numerous to mention, but here are a few:

  • The upper floors have a fantastic view of the Capital building, only 3-4 blocks away.
  • Museum of the Bible commissioned the “Drive thru History” folks to shoot2017-0811 MOTB History of the Bible footage in and around Israel for a section in the museum, as well as for video production.  (You may recognize Dave Stott, the tour guide on that series, and a replica of the famous Jeep in that series is being assembled!)  In the “it’s a small world” category, I was privileged to meet the guys behind the cameras when they accompanied Del Tackett on a Grand Canyon video shoot I went on several years ago.  Later, I had a very small part in editing some of the material on the “Drive thru the Holy Land” series.  (Yes, my name is in the credits, but you have to look quickly!)
  • The administrative offices are on the top floor, and include temporary living quarters for visiting scholars, researchers, etc.
  • Another section of the museum will include a “flyby” of Scriptural references that2017-0811 MOTB Flyby Platform-crop adorn US government buildings all over Washington DC.  The machine, designed to make guests feel like they’re flying, was developed for the Museum of the Bible, but will soon be used for different types of effect at various other attractions around the US and the world.  You see the triangular frame of that contraption in the accompanying photo.  It just arrived for installation.
  • While touring, we entered a room in which Cary Summers warned us firmly against taking any pictures or video. Why?  Some of Disney’s finest have been hired to produce some very high-tech graphics for a surround theater.  Those guys were busy at work on some highly-technical, computerized equipment!

2017-0813 WHOn Sunday, we had a 2-hour lunch break, so I made my way one mile down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.  A very large crane adorned the front lawn, presumably part of the major remodeling the President is having done in the Oval Office and other parts of the White House!  However, I joined the throng of people on the opposite side taking selfies!  (My first ever!)

So, what does a museum and the White House have to do with Israel?  Well, stop and think…no Israel, no Bible!  Also, Museum of the Bible is a very active partner with Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and Research Center.  Not only will they share resources, but MOTB is a major sponsor of the Christian Leadership Conferences and Reunions.  In fact, at last year’s reunion, we witnessed the signing of a joint declaration of cooperation between the two!  What a fantastic partnership.

And the White House?  Well, I will always make a point of going there to pray for our President when I am in DC, and one prayer I always include is that our President and our government will bless Israel, as Genesis 12:3 exhorts us to do!  I hope you will do the same!

Blessings from Washington DC!

“Sooooo Loving of Israel!”

I wish all of you could have experienced what I experienced Saturday night at the Christian Friends of Yad Vashem Reunion/Refresher!  In a gathering of graduates from the Christian Leadership Conferences at Yad Vashem (2010-2017), we were so grateful to have several African nations represented among us.  We heard from them on Saturday night, and trust me when I say, “The Lord is alive and well, and moving powerfully through men and women committed to the Lord to love Israel!”

We heard from Bishop Joshua Mulinge, not only one of Africa’s most prominent pastors, but also one of the key people responsible for arranging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent visits to Africa, and the Africa-Israel Initiative that is joining the continent of Africa together in partnership with Israel.  Africa is poised to move to the forefront of world affairs in a very positive way!  (Though we know Sudan [Cush] and Libya [Put] will refuse to follow!  Check out Ezekiel 38 to see why!)

Bishop Mulinge told us story-after-story of that adventure, but you must understand one thing.  Seven years ago, Pastor Mulinge was a staunch Replacement Theology teacher.  His message to his church and around Africa was that God was finished with Israel and the church was the “new Israel.”  Thus, all God’s promises to Israel are now promises to the church.

He told an amazing story of how the Lord revealed that position as false teaching, then how, after Pastor Mulinge’s repentance, the Lord used a Muslim man to bless the church!  He went on to share account after account of God’s blessings as he and his congregation took Genesis 12:3 to heart:

I will bless those who bless you [Israel],
And the one who curses you I [God] will curse.

You have to hear Bishop Mulinge tell his story, so I’m including it here.  The heading for today’s post will make no sense until you hear his story!  (For clarification, in the audio, what sounds like “judge” is “church,” and what sounds like “parrot” is “parent.”)  I hope you are blessed by this brother’s testimony!

Our Challenge in Combating Anti-Semitism

We’ve concluded Day 3 of a reunion and refresher for those who have attended the Christian Friends of Yad Vashem’s Christian Leadership Conference in Israel.  I was blessed to attend in late-2015, and have enjoyed reuniting with classmates and others who attended between 2010-2017.

Yesterday was a day of challenge for us!  There we sat, in a room full of staunch Israel supporters, yet I don’t believe any of us went to bed last night with the assurance that we have done all we can do to connect the church to Israel.  There is so much to be done, and each of us have our own God-given means of accomplishing His purpose.  Mine is to help others come to deeper realization of our role as Christians in understanding God’s purpose for us.

Daryl Hedding, Assistant Director of the US Branch of ICEJ, led off our sessions with “The Role of the Church in Combating Anti-Semitism,” where we were reminded that decisions made impact generations to come.  When the Holocaust occurred, people declared, “Never again,” yet support of Israel has shrunk consistently since then.  We are losing generations, as each one is making decisions that impact the next.

In Daryl’s work with young people, he illustrates steps he believes (and I agree) lead to that problem in many cases:  Rejection of God’s Word (Humanism) leads to things such as Darwinian evolution, which leads to “survival of the fittest,” then racism and, ultimately, rejection of God’s people (anti-Semitism and genocide).  Thus, it seems logical that, if one gets the beginning wrong (ie – teachings of Genesis), he will stray in the middle (ie – did God really give His Son to save the entire world?), and will likely miss God’s best in the end (ie – eternal life with Him).

The segway for the next session was Psalm 102, where we see and hear the distress of Israel (verses 1-11), before acknowledging the steadfastness of God and His compassion for His people (verses 12-17).  What follows is striking.  Verses 18-22 indicate that those things were written for a generation to come, and that the Lord will gaze upon the earth, set His people free, and bring about praise in Jerusalem.  The challenge: we ARE that generation.  Those living in this time have seen the Lord answer the distress call of the Jews and draw them out of the Holocaust.  He is establishing them in their own land, and will one day soon bring praise to Jerusalem!

2017-0812 CFYV Reunion - Intl Panel

International Panel: Kenya, Malaysia, Scotland, England, Ghana

Yet anti-Semitism grows.  We heard from an international panel of what is going on in their countries.  A bright light is Ghana, where 70% are Christians and the country is very pro-Israel (thanks in part to Israeli aid in developing their military and other humanitarian efforts).  However, Malaysia is primarily Muslim and is totally closed to any sort of relationship to Israel.  In fact, as a whole, they hate Israel and will not allow their people to travel there.  England and Scotland are seeing record numbers of anti-Semitic actions (including violence) and attitudes. Not only have evangelical churches become almost extinct, but only about 5% of those remaining are supportive of Israel (according to the panelists).

Following the panel discussion, we ran head-on into a direct challenge issued by Dr Susanna Kokkonen.  Those of us in the west live in a “spoiled society” and we are tremendously complacent.  Many are content to attend church each week, but how many are active in doing the work of the kingdom?  One such work (though not the only work) is taking a stand for Israel.  However, as it was pointed out, there are Christians being persecuted around the world and, in large part, we do nothing!  We are watching Holocaust-type activity going on against “our own people,” but do not take a stand.  Thus, if we take no stand for “our own,” how likely are we to take a stand for Israel and the Jewish people?

Wow…do you feel “hit between the eyes?”  So did we…and “we” are a room full of people who absolutely love Israel!  Please understand, this is not a guilt trip.  God has called us all to something, and if you are doing that “something,” you are within His will.  But, let’s diligently seek His will!  Let’s petition the God of the universe to direct us.  Let’s see what He has in store for those of us who will make Him Lord, not just Savior!

If we are that generation spoken of in Psalm 102, then the Lord is about to act on behalf of His people!  Let’s be part of the action!

Blessings my friends!