12 March 2014

Anti-semitism in Paris

French parade 2014

January 27th was “International Holocaust Remembrance Day.” On the eve of that day, 17,000 people in France marched through the streets of Paris shouting: “Jews, out of France!” “Jews, France is not yours!” “The story of the gas chamber is bull***!” According to the article, “At one point, in a show of raw, seething hatred, the crowd simply spits out the word “Jew, Jew, Jew!” You can watch the march here:
video

France has the third largest population of Jewish people in the world, so this is no small event. I spoke with a friend of mine who is a retired Marine officer and former strategic analyst, and he equated the parade in France last month to the “Brown-Shirt” marches in Nazi Germany. My friend said, "France today is Germany in 1933". In 1933, the Jews had about six years to get out of Germany, so how long do you think the Jews in France have today? Another friend, who leads a ministry that helps Jewish people return to Israel from the West, received a desperate letter from a rabbi in France pleading for assistance in bringing his family to Israel. We are actively working to help this man and his family, and to bring more awareness to the people in France of the danger they are in. They need help now, and we are working on a plan to do just that.

11 March 2014

Nostalgia as a file

Bob41BDay92.JPG by bobmendo
Bob41BDay92.JPG, a photo by bobmendo on Flickr.
What is it about nostalgia that makes us look back at old photos like this one, or listen to "Come Together" by the Beatles 40 years too late or get all sentimental at the smells in our grandmother's house? What is the drive that nostalgia produces?

Lou Reed said, "I don't like nostalgia unless it's mine." I guess that's a note really about patience. Bill Keane said, "Many of my cartoons are not a belly laugh. I go for nostalgia, the lump in the throat, the tear in the eye, the tug in the heart." I get that lump. Maybe as I age and have more personal experiences. Maybe as I see other mates dying or approaching the end of sectors of life.

I understand why at the old folks' home they discuss their aches, their pains, their doctors etc together. I didn't use to feel so many physical problems as I have now. I don't discuss them because I've got too much of life to live and I'll play through them. I get it.

Nostalgia doesn't always tell the truth, though. Doug Larson is unknown to me. He said, "Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days." This is fantastic. We used to talk about seeing the past with rose-colored glasses. The Apostle Paul said we 'see through a glass darkly.' We often make the past much better than it really was. We forget so much and choose to highlight our triumph or our success in an area of memory. Ah, revisionism.

And there really are times we should look back. To imagine how far we were from the top of Mt Kilimanjaro and then to reach the summit and look back, to say, "Thanks Lord, for letting me ascend, for letting me succeed." And no doubt to add, "And please Lord help me descend and tell about it."

Looking back has its purposes if we honestly evaluate ourselves and situations. If we only want to come out a winner or the best, nostalgia is unnecessary.

What about in comparison to today... was yesterday better? Nostalgia often as Larson said takes the reality off the past. We find a comfort in the eating of that hamburger again at that old diner or the sounds of the retro radio station and imagine ourselves in a bygone era without the teenage angst or hormones or pimples or complexes or parents or ... we use nostalgia as a file.

There are days when I do look back through old photos like this one taken 21 years ago in DC. And I'm pleased with what God has done in my life to make me into the kind of person I am. Oh, don't get me wrong...there's still a long way to go. I do need to grow in godly character and knowledge. I do need to care about people and about the world around me.

Shlomi Krulik died years ago. He was part of our congregation in NYC in the 80s. He used to end his testimony with the words, "I'm not the man I used to be. I'm not the man I want to be. But I'm getting better." I like his view on the past.

What do you think?
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/nostalgia.html#4cX2FuETXla3Hx52.99

07 March 2014

Queen Esther before the King

My friend and colleague Joe Bell in Eastern Tennessee (USA) wrote this for the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America website. It's too good to miss:

Purim: Remembering the Days of Queen Esther

By Messianic Rabbi Joe Bell

Dear friends,
According to the decree of Mordecai and Esther as recorded in Esther 9:20-32, the Feast of Purim was to be celebrated on the 14th and 15th of Adar, and it was established and confirmed that this feast should be celebrated and remembered throughout all future generations as a memorial of how the Jews were miraculously saved from the evil plot of the Jew hater, Haman!

To this day, Purim is still observed around the world by reading the scroll of the book of Esther (the Megillah), putting on elaborate comedy plays of the Esther Story, sending food gifts to one another, and making charity contributions. Mordecai said, "the celebration of Purim is the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presence of food to one another and gifts to the poor." (Esther 9:22)

This year, Purim falls on March 16th and 17th and Jews, Messianic Jews, and some Christians will be remembering and celebrating the incredible story of Esther and Mordecai during this time. It amazes me that in ancient Persia (which is modern-day Iran), a Jewish man arose to become the Prime Minister, even in the midst of severe anti-Semitism. 2,500 years ago, Mordecai the Jew became the Prime Minister of "Iran" and defeated the same diabolical political/spiritual force of anti-Semitism that we face in our world today.

The incredible story of intrigue and danger centers around another decree; a decree by Haman to destroy all the Jews in the Persian Empire. Miraculously, God lifted up Esther and her Uncle Mordecai to bring deliverance to their fellow Jews. When Queen Esther discovered the plot to destroy her people, she called for a three day fast and then hosted two banquets for the King and his chief advisor, Haman, the Agagite. During the second banquet, Esther stirred up her courage to inform the king of Haman’s wicked plan to destroy the Jews.

Initially, Esther resisted this call to act on behalf of her people. She was understandably afraid of the King. Nevertheless, her uncle Mordecai sent these famous words to her, exhorting her to step up to the challenge and to take action: “Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14).

Called to make a decision:
Queen Esther had to make a conscious decision to help her Jewish people. She knew that she could lose her life if she went before the king uninvited. Yeshua (Jesus) said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the Gospel’s, the same shall save it,” (Mark 8:35). Answering the call of God for your life means being willing to lose your old life to follow Yeshua. "Not my will, Lord, Your will be done".

Helping God's chosen people today still requires a decision, a choice. There is no gray area. It’s black and white. Is God calling you to be an Esther, to help save the Jewish people in our generation?

Do the Jewish people need to be saved?
January 27th was “International Holocaust Remembrance Day.” On the eve of that day, 17,000 people in France marched through the streets of Paris shouting: “Jews, out of France!” “Jews, France is not yours!” “The story of the gas chamber is bull***!” According to the article, “At one point, in a show of raw, seething hatred, the crowd simply spits out the word “Jew, Jew, Jew!” You can watch the march here: video

France has the third largest population of Jewish people in the world, so this is no small event. I spoke with a friend of mine who is a retired Marine officer and former strategic analyst, and he equated the parade in France last month to the “Brown-Shirt” marches in Nazi Germany. My friend said, "France today is Germany in 1933". In 1933, the Jews had about six years to get out of Germany, so how long do you think the Jews in France have today? Another friend, who leads a ministry that helps Jewish people return to Israel from the West, received a desperate letter from a rabbi in France pleading for assistance in bringing his family to Israel. We are actively working to help this man and his family, and to bring more awareness to the people in France of the danger they are in. They need help now, and we are working on a plan to do just that.

In other recent Anti-Jewish news, the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said he, “will not recognize Israel as a Jewish State and will not sign a peace deal that does not include eastern Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.” To make matters worse, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry concurrently threatened Israel with a possible international boycott if Israel fails to reach a peace accord with the Palestinians.

Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s intelligence and strategic Affairs Minister said that, “Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with a gun to its head when we are discussing matters which are most critical to our national interests.” Naftali Bennett, the Industry Minister said, “We expect of our friends in the world to stand by our side against the attempts to impose an anti-Semitic boycott on Israel, and not to be their mouthpiece.”

What will You Do?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

Friends, the politically correct new way to be anti-Semitic is to say one is anti-Zionist. They say, “Oh, I have nothing against Jews… It’s Israel I have a problem with". I’m sorry, but if you have a problem with Israel, you have a problem with Jews.

James wrote that, “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:20). Many people tell me they love Israel and the Jewish people, but what they do tangibly and the priorities they choose is the real testimony of their conviction. The Bible explains in Matthew 25:31-46 that God will judge all peoples based on how they treated the Jewish people. God says He will separate the sheep from the goats based on what each person did for even the least of Jesus’ brethren (the Jewish people). This passage is confirmed in Joel 3:1-2, “When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom I have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land…”

Nations of the world are threatening to boycott Israel if Israel refuses to divide the land including Jerusalem, the land God promised to Abraham (see Gen 15:18-21), and the land King David bought in order to build the Temple where the spirit of God rested for centuries.
What will you do? Will you remain Silent? The name of our ministry is taken from Isaiah 62, “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, and her salvation like a burning torch,” (Isaiah 62:1). At For Zion’s Sake Ministries we have helped bring millions of dollars’ worth of humanitarian aid for the needy in Israel through our efforts with The MJAA’s Joseph Project.

Tens of thousands of people in Israel, both Jew and Arab, receive the necessities of life because many of you contributed at one time or another. We face modern day Hamans and a look into the eyes of history repeating itself on the world stage. God promises that if we ACT on behalf of the Jewish people and share in the work of saving them physically and spiritually, greater riches will come to the world.

“But if their (the Jews) transgression means riches for the world, and their (the Jews) loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!” (Romans 11:12).

Friend, you have been called to royalty in Messiah Yeshua, and you are a child of the King of Kings for "such a time as this". Will you decide to act as Queen Esther did? The Jewish people and the land of Israel need real friends today. They need friends in Israel; they need friends in France. Our work is enormous and the job ahead is fraught with danger and sacrifice. Will you be one of those who, like Queen Esther, was not afraid to lay down her way of life and poured herself into the plan that God had for her generation? If you are one of those, I pray that all the blessings of Esther, beauty, favor, meekness, prosperity, wisdom, grace, love, courage and victory, will come upon you, and that God will lead you in what you should do.

In Yeshua’s love,
Rabbi Joe and Dawn Bell

01 March 2014

Qantas in the air, or not

Another Qantas landing by bobmendo
Another Qantas landing, a photo by bobmendo on Flickr.
A few hours ago, in the midst of a week of angst with 5,000 jobs ready to be axed by Qantas, when things couldn't get any worse for the national air carrier, things got worse.

The wing tips of a Qantas superjumbo A380 and a Qantas Boeing 747 struck around 4pm AEST as the planes were being towed out of a hangar. No passengers were on board.

The damage was substantial enough to force the cancellation of flight QF94 to Melbourne and QF16 to Brisbane. Hundreds are stranded in LA for another night.

When things can't get any worse, seems like they can get worse.

The 5,000 people who will lose their jobs and the terminals which will close as Qantas tries to save two billion dollars the next three years would have been bad enough. Today the stock exchange barely even noticed when Qantas shares sold one point lower. (Open 1.15; High 1.182; Low 1.145; Vol 23.467M) But lots of people will notice the bad luck of the Australian national airline this week. And especially those immediately affected either in LA or in Brisbane and Melbourne who will not notice the news and go out to get their mates in the morning.

Qantas needs more than Pollyanna's "The Glad Game" to get through next week. When things are going from bad to worse, what do you do? What should anyone do?

Honestly I've thought about this very thing this week, when Moses (the Bible one) at 80 years old, is told by the Almighty, out of the burning bush, to go to Pharaoh and get the Jewish people out of Egypt. They have been in a detention centre for about 400 years and Moses is the appointed deliverer.

The Jews have been slaves for centuries and when Moses shows up and informs Pharaoh the words he's just heard from God, Pharaoh scorns the words, knocks back the idea of a weekend retreat for the Hebrews, and hardens his heart.

Then Pharaoh turns and issues a new edict, and assigns the Hebrews not only to make bricks and build store cities for him, but also to gather their own straw. Moses shows up to deliver the Jews and ends up making things worse. (This is found in Exodus chapter 5)

So what do the Jewish people do? And what does Moses do? They both complain and things actually do go from bad to worse. For a while.

But after nearly a year, and 10 plagues, God Himself delivers the Hebrews from slavery and leads them towards their future home in Israel. No airplanes. No crashes. Just 3 million wandering Jews out into the wilderness.

The season of 'bad to worse' really does continue, and in fact, in every generation we have some 'bad to worse' times, but there will be a time when that's over. It's on the basis of eternity, when all crashes cease, when enemies beat their swords into plowshares, when Messiah puts his foot down on the Mount of Olives and runs the world, the way it's supposed to be. That's when bad to worse ends.

When Messiah Yeshua is revealed, and we are with him in glory, what a day of rejoicing that will be. Bad to worse will become all good and great and best. No matter what happens with your job or career, with your airplane travels or being stuck in another country, when Messiah Yeshua returns to earth, and only then, will everything be all good.

Please be ready.
Please pray and ask God to be Lord of your life.
It will get you through today. And tomorrow. No matter what comes.