Had a wonderful Hanukkah service at CCSB (An evening of Renewal, Revival & Rededication) that exceeded expectations! The next day flew to Israel and experienced Hanukkah in, Jerusalem! This picture taken at the Southern Steps of the Temple.
(Lily, Stephanie, Me, Sarah)
What a surreal experience yesterday.
Sitting to my right the Consul General Sam Grundwerg, of the Israeli Consulate of Los Angeles. To my left, Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, Director at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. And to Yitzhok’s left, the Ambassador of Korea and the President of Biola University.
All of us were given the unique opportunity to speak of the inspiring life of William Blackstone whose mobilization of Christian support for a Jewish national homeland as early as 1891, five years before the publication of Theodore Herzl’s The Jewish State in 1897, motivated Jewish businessman Nathan Straus and Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandies, leaders of the American Zionist movement, to call Blackstone the “Father of Zionism.”
As I said, it was surreal.
My heart is breaking over the breakdown …
I’m reminded of the crude way that sanitariums in Europe many years ago evaluated the mental health of a patient…
They would bring their patient into a janitors closet where the sink had been plugged and water had begun overflowing onto the floor. Before the doctor left, the patient was given a mop and then left alone to face the problem of the overflowing sink. If upon the doctor’s return the patient was found mopping the floor, the doctor knew that the patient still wasn’t ready to leave – because the real solution was to unstop the drain. The patient wasn’t well enough to see the “big picture” and identify the source of the problem.
Today, humanity is drowning in the “overflowing water” of emptiness, shame, unforgiveness, racism, breakdown of families, ignorance, purposeless, materialism, sensualism, relativism, etc, etc, etc,
We are trying to solve the problem with:
But none of these are addressing the actual source of society’s problem – which is a broken relationship with God! Therefore, if the source of our problems is a broken down relationship with God, it means that the only solution is having a right relationship with God!
We’ve all been reeling from the demonic act of terror in Nice, France that resulted in the deaths of 84 innocent people. I was so moved by the story of a motorcyclist who lost his life desperately trying to climb into the front seat of the truck to stop the driver from running over and killing innocent people! Truly, there is no more powerful narrative than a person giving their life for another in a love rescue.
I think of the Cross of Christ.
What Jesus did on the Cross, it could be said, was stand in front of the “crazed truck” of death, sin, breakdown, the devil, and judgement, in order to protect each and everyone of us from what will destroy us and keep us separate from Him. God demonstrated His selfless, “others oriented” and protective love on the Cross by paying the debt of our sin, and providing power over it’s self-defeating and destructively morphing consequences in our lives both now and forever. Jesus “became sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him!” (Cor. 5:21)
Without the Person and work of the Lord Jesus – sin, hell and death continue to break us down… But in Christ we do “not perish but have everlasting life!” (John 3:16) Jesus is our only hope… He rescues us! Follow Him! And tell others to follow Him too.
We’re amidst a major breakdown in society. It is totally heart-breaking! We’re presently reeling from a series of unbelievable reactionary events. Our culture is increasingly toxic. More and more the modus operandi is a mob mentality.
But here’s the reality: we’re being played by a third party.
The real enemy is not Russia, Iran, gangs, the police, Republicans, Democrats etc. The third party is the darkness of satan!
Something new in world history? Not really. Just read the first chapter of Romans penned during the reign of Nero who had been married twice both to men.
When a society approves and even legalizes what is contrary to God’s natural law — such a society is in the throw of a full blown breakdown.
Sin is no friend of anyone. When left unchecked it morphs into worse self-defeating realities: death to dreams, inner life, relationships, family …
Some are calling that “America needs to return to God!” Is that the right course of action? It’s essential that we don’t mis-diagnose at this point. If we do, we will miss the right prescription at this critical hour. We need to be more specific!
The problem? Broken relationship with the Heavenly Father. The right prescription? “…the gospel of Messiah …is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Gentile …” (Romans 1:16-17).
In short, it’s time that American’s (and the entire world) turn to, Jesus! The Lord. The King. The Savior – who is building a Kingdom that will never breakdown. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life and no man comes to the Father except it be through me” (John 14:6).
Anyone who has lived in a community for a period of time knows that when it comes time to preparing a house for a move it is a kind of “archaeological dig” with multiple layers that often reveal special treasures and memories. These are just some of the pictures we found and enjoyed. They are of my good friend Greg Laurie. Greg has had a huge impact on my life and to whom I am super proud–faithful to the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the best yet to come!!
#1 Preparing for a service in Auburn
#2 Behind the scenes in Philadelphia at the Spectrum Arena Harvest Crusade where Greg was speaking
#3 In flight to a speaking engagement in Nashville
#4 A great day in the City of Jerusalem (King David Hotel)
My heart is overflowing in awe and gratitude to our Heavenly Father. What a year it has been! At times, incredibly intense. A squeeze. Even painful! But graciously and sovereignly the Lord worked out living a dream: Jesus, first – “The Cause”, first – with the ministry of the Gospel continuing in strength…
Amidst it all, like Paul who penned the reality of “light affliction” working an “eternal weight”, I can say that the best part in serving the Lord in one city for 27 years is experiencing the “weight” (substance, eternality) of the Lord’s beauty, power, and plan of God in Christ that has captured and recaptured my heart over and over again. Thank you, Jesus!
Now, on the eve of returning to where I grew-up and where I first came to know the Lord (Los Angeles – 4th most diverse city in the world – 600,000 descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!). The Lord has graciously taught me what it means to remove my “sandals” in His presence. To wait on Him. To pray and be renewed in strength. And, more clear than ever is “the whole counsel” of God (Romans 1:15-17; Acts 20:37)!
It’s been said, “A text without a context is a pretext for a proof text”. It’s another way of saying that when Scripture is not explained in its context, the meaning is hidden.
There is a context to the Gospel. “The Context” is the City of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. It explains why Peter exclaimed, “You men of Israel hear these words, Jesus of Nazareth …” (Acts 2:22) Why is this so important to underscore? In short, because “The Context” will clarify “The Content” of the Gospel which will than by nature identify what the trajectory of the church should be. The reality is, without establishing “The Context” in which the Gospel was first communicated, it sets the church in trajectory not intended by the Lord.
For example, when “The Context” is not established …
1) More often the person and work of Jesus is minimized to appeal to a western consumer mindset. God becomes a means to an end rather then an end in itself.
2) The divinely purposed global message intended by God to Jew and Gentile deteriorates; and therefore along with it- the call to endeavor to keep the unity of the unique diversity of the body of Christ in the bond of peace that embody’s God’s “peace plan” for mankind. And yes, God has a “Peace Plan” for the middle-east in Christ!
3) The authority of Scripture is deconstructed because the catalyst of authority, the person and work of Christ is devalued.
4) The scriptures become a literary device to promote moralism and inspiration rather then the weight of the glory of the plan of God in Christ.
5) The core problem of man is mis-diagnosed, wasting time on wrong prescriptions that obscure the genius peace plan of God and the counter-culture to godless culture, the church that Jesus is building.
6) The church is propelled in a trajectory by mis-guided interpretations of “the elect” (which has more to do with Israel) that notoriously waste time, energy and opportunity!
7) In short, the church fails to proclaim the “whole counsel of God” which undermines The Great Commission; and the call of our Jewish friends to be the right kind of “light to the nations” in the Messiah, Yeshua! Not only do Jews suffer from this off-target preaching but the world does as well.
We are closer to the return of Jesus than ever before which means that we are closer to “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in”. This means than that we are closer to when “all Israel will be saved!” (Romans chapters 9-11) History is turning a corner. We live in a global community. The opportunity to even impact a global community within our own local communities is greater than ever because of the diversity of our large cities. It’s all the more reason that we get it when it comes to the “whole counsel” – so the influence of the church is what the Lord intended.
And so …
We’re heading to Los Angeles with joy overflowing …
Humbled by the unique doors that are opening …
Confident that the Gospel is the power of God to salvation for the Jew first than the Gentile ..
With the “whole counsel” of God burning on our hearts!
And remembering 2 Timothy 4:5, “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
Thank you Jesus!