Never Again!

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“Never Again!”

It is the mantra of the Jewish people.  It is ingrained in their students and it is trained IDF at Children's Meminto their military.  In fact, part of military training (mandatory for all Israeli 18-year-olds) is intensive onsite study at Yad Vashem, Masada and other relevant sites in Israel.  Those young people are fully immersed in why they are serving their country.  They become fully aware of the need for diligence in defending against those who seek their total annihilation.

During the Holocaust, the world in general stood by while the brutal Nazi regime plotted and sought to carry out the “Final Solution” (extermination of the Jews).  Indeed, had the Lord not been on their side, they would have perished.

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Israel remembers their dead and their survivors.  We would do well to remember with them.  Ceremonies happen throughout Israel, but none is more moving than the one hosted by Yad Vashem.

You can get a glimpse of the ceremony that takes place by visiting A Nation Remembers.  Here is a short intro by Dr Susanna Kokkonen, a friend of mine and Director of Christian Friends of Yad Vashem.

Take time today to remember…

Your Chance to Touch the Western Wall

Many will never have the opportunity to go to Israel and actually visit the Western Wall, the holiest place on earth for the Jewish people.  It is a very moving place, and one I find to be extremely bitter-sweet.  (Here is a live cam…check it out!)

“Sweet” because no people group on earth is any more passionate for their God than the Jewish people.  There are those who visit the wall every day, praying fervently to the God of Israel, and desiring to connect with Him.

“Bitter” because most are “so close, yet so far” from recognizing the Jewish rabbi named Jesus who came as their Messiah.  Luke 19:44 tells us they “did not recognize the time of their visitation.”  But one day they will recognize Him and the wall will be but a shadow of the real thing!

Image result for western wall museum of the bibleToday, however, to go there is a very great privilege.  But, for those who may never be able to go to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Israeli Antiquities Authority has brought a large piece of the wall (and about 800 other artifacts) to the US!  Now housed in the newly-opened Museum of the Bible in Washington DC, a one-ton stone from the Western wall is on display, and visitors are encouraged to actually touch the stone to “connect” to what it might be like to be at the wall.

Related imageAnother “connection” to Israel is the mock village of Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus.  With its realistic look and feel, including staff members dressed as citizens of Nazareth in Jesus’ day, the Bible comes to life as one examines what life in that small village was like.

I am most grateful to the Museum of the Bible, as they are active co-sponsors of Christian Leaders Seminars hosted by Christian Friends of Yad Vashem.  (Yad Vashem is the Holocaust Museum and Research Center in Jerusalem.)  By the grace of God, I was invited to attend one of those seminars a couple years ago and it greatly bolstered my knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust and modern-day treatment of the Jewish people.  During our annual refreshers in Washington DC, I had the honor of touring the Museum of the Bible twice (before it opened to the public) and can attest first-hand to the quality of the museum.

If you have the opportunity to travel to Israel, by all means do so!  However, if that is not possible, I urge you to visit the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC.  The 480,000 square foot Bible museum obviously houses much more than Israel-related exhibits.  However, the “touch of Israel” is significant and the museum is absolutely incredible.  Don’t miss an opportunity to see it!

(Many thanks to my friends at Yad Vashem and Museum of the Bible!)

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!