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Archive for April, 2012|Monthly archive page

HOW DID YOU DISCOVER THE MEANING OF EASTER?

In Uncategorized on April 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm

How did you come to faith in Jesus as our Risen Messiah? When did you discover Easter wasn’t about a bunny? How old were you? Who helped you discover the truth about God’s amazing love and plan for your life? I’d love to know. Please post your story on our “Epicenter Team” page on Facebook.

But even more important, let me encourage you to write the story of your spiritual journey on your own Facebook page to share the Gospel with your family and friends. “And Jesus said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15).

Here’s my story, how I came to faith in Jesus at the age of 8, discovered I was Jewish a few years later, how I struggled through a crisis of faith in my Junior year at Fairport High School and how the Lord spoke directly to my heart. Hope you find it helpful. God bless you. He is Risen!

Please click here for a simple, concise summary of the Gospel — “The Four Spiritual Laws” — and a clear explanation of how to receive Jesus as your Savior and Lord.

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Help Christians bless needy Israelis now and be ready for a possible major new war in the epicenter — please prayerfully consider a generous, tax deductible financial contribution to The Joshua Fund.

THE MYSTERIOUS PROPHECY OF ISAIAH 53: Why did the Hebrew prophet speak of a coming “suffering servant”?

In Uncategorized on April 7, 2012 at 5:47 pm

>> In case you missed it: a video of me speaking at a recent conference, explaining my spiritual journey and how I didn’t discover I was Jewish until I was in the fifth grade!

Lynn and I and our boys had a wonderful time hosting a Passover seder last night. It was a very full house — 52 people! We’d never done a sit down dinner for that many, much less a seder for that many, but it was a great time, with ages ranging from toddlers to seniors, and fun mix of people, including Jews, Iranians, South Koreans, Italians, and many others.

One of my favorite elements of the evening was retelling the story of the original Passover, when Jews living in slavery had to sacrifice a perfect lamb and put the blood of that lamb on the doorposts of their home. If they did this in faith, in accordance to the word of the Lord which came through the prophet Moses, then the angel of death would “pass over” their house and not bring death and destruction to them and their family. But if they didn’t have faith and thus didn’t obey the word of the Lord, then even though they were Jewish, the angel of death would strike their home. The Lord was true to His word, and led the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt and eventually into the Promised Land. Later, of course, the Lord said the sacrifice of a perfect lamb had to be done in the Tabernacle, and later in the Temple, and that faith in the blood of the sacrificed lamb would cover a person’s sins and the Lord would forgive them of their sins for that year. Nothing else would provide forgiveness but faith in the blood of the sacrificed lamb. The question, then, for all Jews since 70 AD when the Romans destroyed the Temple and burned down Jerusalem has been: How do we get our sins forgiven when there is no more Temple?

If we believe the Lord is merciful, then we have to believe He would provide a way of forgiveness before letting the Temple be destroyed. That’s what makes one particular set of prophecies so intriguing. In chapter 53 of the Book of Isaiah in the Jewish Scriptures, the Lord spoke through the Hebrew prophet Isaiah to say that one day the Messiah would come not only to bring us once-for-all atonement for our sins, but to actually be the guilt offering Himself. It was a mysterious prophecy about a coming “suffering servant” who would literally take our sins upon Himself so that we could find forgiveness. Many rabbis didn’t understand what in the world the Lord was talking about. Wasn’t the Messiah supposed to be the King of kings and the Lord of lords? Wasn’t the Messiah supposed to reign over the entire world and bring peace? Why then did Isaiah write about a Messiah who would suffer and die? Why did Isaiah write this: “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him….But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering.” What exactly was the Hebrew prophet saying? Of whom was he speaking, and why?

These are important questions to consider, especially this time of year. That’s why last night, Lynn and I gave everyone who came to the seder the gift of a fascinating book I would commend to each of you. It’s called Isaiah 53 Explained: This Chapter Will Change Your Life. It’s available in paperback or on Kindle. It’s a quick and intriguing read and written by a real expert on the subject. You can also watch a compelling half-hour documentary on Isaiah 53 shot on location in the Holy Land. I’d encourage you to take a look, share it with others, and let me know what you think on the “Epicenter Team” page on Facebook.

That said, may the Lord bless you, your family, and all of Israel with true “shalom” this Passover season!

>> In case you missed it: a video of Joel explaining his own personal spiritual journey and how he didn’t discover he was Jewish until he was in the fifth grade!

PASSOVER & MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY: “Joel, how can you be Jewish and believe in Jesus?”

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2012 at 3:14 pm

It sounds funny, but I didn’t know I was Jewish until I was in the fifth grade. I was 10 or 11 years old when my father told our little family that we were going to have a Passover seder. We’d never celebrated Passover before, and I’d never heard of this holiday, so I asked him what “Passover” is, and he briefly explained it to me. I asked what a “seder” is, and he explained it to me. Then I asked how he knew how to perform a Passover seder, and he said, “Because I’m Jewish.” I just stared at him in disbelief. “You’re Jewish?” I asked. “Does this mean I’m Jewish? How come this never came up?”

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Joel, your name is Joel Rosenberg. How could you not know you’re Jewish? You must have been the dumbest kid in fifth grade!” Guess I was. Nevertheless, I simply didn’t know because up to that point, my father — who was raised Orthodox Jewish in Brooklyn — had never told me. Neither had my mother, a Gentile from an English/German background. There very few Jewish kids in my school or in our community, and the subject just didn’t come up.

Now, when my first novel, The Last Jihad, was published and became a national best-seller in the fall of 2002, radio hosts and reporters noticed that some of my characters in the book were talking about faith in Jesus. They began to ask me, “Joel, are you Jewish or a believer in Jesus?” I said, “Both.” They didn’t understand, so they pressed me, “But how can you be Jewish and believe in Jesus?” It was a question I’d never expected, but was happy to answer. But what I didn’t realize then was that as I wrote more books and those, too, became successful and as I did more interviews and spoke more often around the country and around the world, this would become one of the questions most frequently asked of me: “Joel, how can you be Jewish and believe in Jesus?”

It actually is a very interesting story — and often funny — and one that is very meaningful to me. I’ve shared it in bits and pieces over the years, but over the past few months, a growing number of people have asked me to record my spiritual journey and put it online. So last month I spoke at a conference in Tucson and gave a 50 minute version of my spiritual journey: how and why my parents came to faith in Jesus as the Messiah, how I later did, the initial struggles I had as a young believer, how I discovered I was Jewish in the fifth grade, and one of the key turning points in my life — the night the Lord spoke directly to me and completely transformed my life. I hope you’ll take a moment to listen to it, or watch the video version.

>> To listen to my spiritual journey, please click here (it’s the third message down from the top, dated March 7, 2012)

Once you’ve listened to or watched it, I’d be grateful if you’d go to our “Epicenter Team” page on Facebook and give me your thoughts and comments. I’d love it if you would share some of your spiritual journey, as well. And I’d also encourage you to share this with others, and get their thoughts and see where they are in their spiritual journey.

This is a good time of year to draw nearer to the Lord than ever before and consider where you are on your spiritual journey. It’s a good time of year….. 

Do you know Jesus Christ in a real and personal way? Have you received Him as your personal Savior and Lord? My prayer is that today you’ll take time to truly consider what Jesus said, what He did, and His call to you, “Come, follow Me.” (Mark 1:17).

Please click here for a simple, concise summary of the Gospel — “The Four Spiritual Laws” — and a clear explanation of how to receive Jesus as your Savior and Lord.

IS AMERICA HEADED FOR IMPLOSION, OR REVIVAL? Simulcast set for June 16th.

In Uncategorized on April 2, 2012 at 11:17 am

Is America headed for implosion, or revival? Can America recover from our economic and spiritual challenges before it’s too late? And what will happen to America if we ignore, abandon or turn against Israel in her time of need?

On Saturday, June 16th, we will consider these critical questions during a live, three-hour “Implosion Simulcast,” which will be shown around the country and around the world. Please sign up your church, home fellowship group, or small group Bible study today to participate in this unique event.

During the first hour of the simulcast, I will discuss the research I did for a new non-fiction book entitle, Implosion, examining the reasons why the United States faces not merely “decline” but the real and growing risk of outright collapse. We will consider what the Bible has to say about the future of America and whether the U.S. is ever mentioned directly or indirectly in Bible prophecy. We will examine historic lessons from the remarkable and sweeping Christian revivals known as first “Great Awakening” of the early 1700s and the “Second Great Awakening” of the early 1800s, and consider the possibility of a Third Great Awakening in our time.

In the second and third hours, I will take live questions at Houston’s First Baptist Church where we will be holding the event, as well as questions that come in via text, Twitter and Facebook from those watching all over the world.

With our national debt skyrocketing, our politics divided, many marriages and families crumbling, and the growing threat of another war in the Middle East, one thing is clear: 2012 is going to be a critical year for the United States. Will the Church step up and be the shining city on the hill that Jesus called her to be? Will we see God pour out His grace and mercy in a series of transformative revivals that will save our nation again as He has saved us in the past? Or will we continue rejecting God’s mercy and see our decline accelerate into a national death spiral?

The multiple crises we are facing are very real and the stakes are very high. Please encourage your pastor today to sign up your church for the Implosion Simulcast. You can also sign up your home fellowship group or small group Bible study to watch the simulcast together. I would very much like you to be a vital part of the conversation, and I’d also be grateful for your prayers that this conversation would spread virally and that even before June, millions of Americans would begin praying, fasting and fervently seeking God to have mercy on this great country before it is too late. Thanks so much and may God bless you as you sign up today.

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MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD STRATEGIST SET TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT OF EGYPT: Could emerge as enemy of Israel.

In Uncategorized on April 1, 2012 at 2:41 am

More reasons to pray for the people of Egypt, and the persecuted Church in Egypt.

“The Muslim Brotherhood nominated its chief strategist and financier Khairat el-Shater on Saturday as its candidate to become Egypt’s first president since Hosni Mubarak, breaking a pledge not to seek the top office and a monopoly on power,” reports the New York Times. “Because of the Brotherhood’s unrivaled grass-roots organization and popular appeal, Mr. Shater, 62, a multimillionaire business tycoon who was a political prisoner until just a year ago, immediately became a presidential front-runner. If he wins the June election, the Brotherhood, a previously outlawed Islamist group, would control the presidency, the Parliament and the committee writing the new constitution, moving toward a confrontation with Egypt’s military rulers over the country’s future. His candidacy is likely to unnerve the West and has already outraged Egyptian liberals, who wonder what other pledges of moderation the Brotherhood may abandon. The Brotherhood is also engaged in a standoff with the military over its calls to dissolve the military-led government, and the degree of civilian oversight of the military in the new constitution. The Brotherhood’s participation also turns the election into a referendum on the role of Islamist politics in post-Arab Spring governments that is sure to resonate across the region. Mr. Shater faces Islamist rivals to his left and right — one a more liberal former Brotherhood leader, the other an ultraconservative Salafi. Indeed, the Brotherhood may have entered the race in part because a win or near win by either rival Islamist would badly damage its authority as the primary voice of the Islamist movement in Egypt….An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, declined to comment specifically on Mr. Shater but called the nomination a worrisome turn. ‘Obviously this is not good news,’ the official said. ‘The Muslim Brotherhood is no friend of Israel’s. They do not wish us well. The big question will be how pragmatic they will be once in power. It could go in either direction.'”

Note: Egypt’s process of electing a president will begin May 23, and the winner will be announced June 21st.

(photo: “The Muslim Brotherhood nominated its longtime strategist Khairat el-Shater in the Egyptian presidential election.”/Moises Saman for The New York Times)

>> VIDEO BLOG: What does Bible prophecy say about the future of Egypt?

>> Learn more about the June 16th worldwide “Implosion Simulcast” — and register today.

>> Help Christians bless needy Israelis and Palestinians now, and be ready for a possible major new war with Iran in the epicenter — please consider a generous, tax deductible financial contribution to The Joshua Fund. Thank you!

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