In Uncategorized on March 28, 2016 at 6:19 pm
What a joy and undeserved honor it is to celebrate Easter in the Holy Land, where Jesus of Nazareth traveled and taught and healed and loved His neighbors and His enemies.
Unfortunately, too few Jews and Arabs in this region get as excited about Easter as I do. Amongst six million Israeli Jews, about two million Israeli Arabs, and another four million-plus Palestinian Arabs, only about 30,000 are born again believers that Jesus is the Messiah who died on the cross and rose again from the dead on the third day, according to the Scriptures. The good news is wonderful news — but not enough people in this part of the world know it or believe it.
Then again, my family and I weren’t always excited about Easter. There was a time when we hadn’t heard the Gospel. And even when we did hear about God’s free gift of forgiveness and hope and eternal life, we didn’t all immediately believe it. My parents and I understand what it’s like to be lost, and to feel lost, and to genuinely have no idea that God loves us and wants to adopt us into His royal family.
Today, I’d like to share with you our spiritual journey. In this hour-long audio message (divided up in 5 to 10 minute segments on YouTube), I explain the process my parents went through to come to faith in Jesus Christ, how I later came to faith in Christ myself, and later how I experienced a powerful spiritual revival in my junior year of high school that completely transformed my life. I hope it will encourage you in your own spiritual journey, and that it will be something you can share with family and friends to help and encourage them, as well. Thanks and God bless you.
- My spiritual journey — part 1 — how becoming the author of The Last Jihad triggered people asking me a critical question
- Part 2 — how my Jewish grandparents escaped from Russia, my father’s Jewish upbringing, my mother’s Gentile heritage, and how they met
- Part 3 — my mother’s spiritual journey
- Part 4 — my father’s spiritual journey, and then how I came to faith
- Part 5 — how I learned I was Jewish, and then my crisis of faith in high school
- Part 6 — the conclusion of my story, and so what? Why should this matter to you?
(Photo: The (empty) Garden Tomb in Jerusalem.)
In Uncategorized on March 25, 2016 at 6:34 am
Amidst all the trauma and tension in the Middle East, let’s stop for a moment and focus on some good news — the Biblical story of God supernaturally preventing genocide and saving His people.
This week, we celebrate Purim. This is the ancient Jewish holiday we read about the Book of Esther in the Old Testament. It celebrates the remarkable story of how the Lord used two faithful believers — Mordechai and Esther — and a movement of prayer and fasting to save the Jewish people from an evil Persian regime determine to annihilate them.
Several years ago, you may recall that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu presented President Obama a decorated copy of an Esther Scroll telling the Biblical story. They discussed the parallels between ancient times and today.
There are many remarkable parallels, as I describe here in a video blog.
Here are four ways you can celebrate this year:
- Learn – Jewish families around the world read the Book of Esther as a family to remember all the details of this amazing story, and Christians should, too. To read the Book of Esther on-line, please click here. To read notes of a message I gave to the National Religious Broadcasters convention in 2010 on “Israel, The Iran Threat, and Modern Day Lessons From The Book of Esther,” please click here. Or perhaps you might watch the video blog we made above for The Joshua Fund.
- Pray– We are to praise the God of Israel that He saved and redeemed the Jewish people. We are also to thank Him that He also saved so many Persian (Iranian) people who turned to the Living God at the end of the story (many people miss this part). Especially this year we should follow Mordechai and Esther’s example by praying and fasting for the redemption of the Jewish people amidst the current tensions with an evil Persian regime that wants to annihilate them. Let us also be praying faithfully for the Persian people to be saved and redeemed, as well.
- Give — On Purim, the Lord encourages us to give food and other gifts to the poor. As we read in Esther 9:20-22, “Then Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, obliging them to celebrate the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same month, annually, because on those days the Jews rid themselves of their enemies, and it was a month which was turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and rejoicing and sending portions of food to one another and gifts to the poor.” May we be faithful to the Lord in giving to the poor and needy and vulnerable, as well.
- Go — As you celebrate Purim with family and friends, start praying about going on a tour of Israel, and perhaps Jordan, as well. Come visit the Biblical sites of the Holy Land, walk where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob walked. See the places where our Lord Jesus Christ loved and served people and preached the good news of the Kingdom of God. Study the Scriptures in the places where so many of them were written, and discover how to be a blessing to Jews and Arabs (and Persians!) in our day. After all, Christ commanded us to love our neighbor, and to love our enemies. What better way to do that than to come visit the epicenter where it all began!
May the Lord bless you, and all of Israel, and all of the Persian people this Purim season.
In Uncategorized on March 22, 2016 at 3:53 pm
“A wave of bombings that killed at least 30 people in Brussels were carried out by Isis militants, the group has claimed,” reports the UK Independent.
Two minutes ago, Reuters published a similar story that ISIS has claimed responsibility for the horrific attacks in the city that is headquarters for the European Union and NATO.
“In a statement released through one of its propaganda outlets, the so-called Islamic State said ‘explosive belts and devices’ were used,” the Independent noted on its website.
“Islamic State fighters opened fire inside Zaventem Airport, before several of them detonated their explosive belts, as a martyrdom bomber detonated his explosive belt in the Maalbeek metro station,” a spokesperson said. “The attacks resulted in more than 230 dead and wounded.” The group also said Belgium was targeted as “a country participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State.”