Archives For Faith and Life

For the past four years, Vice President Mike Pence has been mocked because he will not share a meal or be in a room alone with a woman. They’ve joked that he is weak if he cannot control himself or keep his pants on. Yet, the headlines are littered with stories like that of Rudy Giuliani this week—where he got “Borat-ed” because he was alone with a female reporter in a hotel room.

It is time to rethink the Pence Rule!

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We’re just two weeks away from one of the most significant elections in American history. Several “prophets” are predicting a victory by President Trump. (On the other hand, many of them also said Coronavirus would be gone by last April.) I, too, felt the Lord whisper something to me back in September and I have shared it with several people. But that’s not what this is about.

Today I’d like to share with everyone, who is a lover of Yeshua the Messiah, how we can guarantee victory on November 3rd.  There is no question that President Trump’s policies have been the most pro-evangelical and pro-Israel in my lifetime. He has been incredibly vocal on pro-life issues and has placed three pro-life Supreme Court justices on the bench (assuming Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed next week).

On the other hand, and I say this without any sarcasm, Joe Biden seems barely there. I actually feel sorry for him, watching him try to get words out of his mouth. I’ve never seen a candidate simply stop campaigning, because they do more damage to themselves when they speak, as opposed to when they simply stay at home. On the other hand, they are also hoping that President Trump damages his own campaign with his over-the-top rhetoric, tweets and falsehoods. We have no idea what Vice President Biden’s actual policies will be because he is getting pulled leftward by the Bernie/AOC wing of the party. They want a socialist America and they will rewrite history.

But we can guarantee victory on November 3rd. It’s very simple. As believers in Jesus, we must keep our eyes focused on Him. No matter who wins on November 3rd, Yeshua is still King. No one is going to replace Him! We are still called to herald His message throughout the world.

I have become very concerned by seeing how so many people think the success of the Kingdom of God is dependent on the triumph of President Trump. Is God really that weak? The last great revival in America was in Pensacola, Florida, from 1995 until 2000. Hundreds of thousands of people gave their lives to Yeshua or rededicated their lives. I believe over two million people visited the Brownsville revival. I had the privilege of living there in the latter years and teaching in the Bible school. The atmosphere was electric!

Guess who was president during the Brownsville revival? That would be William Jefferson Clinton. I remember in 1992, when Clinton was elected, a pastor friend of mine in Louisiana declared boldly that Bill Clinton’s victory was God’s judgment on America. Yet we had the greatest revival since the Second Great Awakening, 150 years before.

Where is the greatest revival today? It’s not in Trump’s America. In fact, I’m sad to say that most believers in America rarely share their faith with other people. They are more likely to talk about politics on Facebook than using the forum to plead with the lost to consider Jesus.

The most powerful move of God today is probably in China, which happens to be one of the most repressive countries in the world and is governed by a maniacal, communist regime. Somehow, even with an ungodly government, the church has grown from one million believers in 1948 to around 160 million today! (And yes, prophetically I do believe there is a connection to the year 1948, when Israel was rebirthed as a nation.) It has been reported that every miracle seen in Acts is taking place now in China!

God is not limited by government. My question for you, dear believer, is this: Are you more passionate about politics or the Second Coming of Yeshua? If President Trump loses, will you be depressed or will you be in prayer, asking God how He can use us in spite of a Biden/Harris administration? To be clear, I would be sad that instead of having a president who was pursuing peace in the Middle East, we would have one who will resume the Obama administration’s nightmare of negotiating with Iran.

I’m not saying we should rejoice if Biden wins, but that we should rejoice that God is so big. Do you hear what I’m saying?  GOD IS SO BIG!!! The Kingdom of God will not fall apart if President Trump loses. Sadly, one famous Christian magazine had the headline on a recent article that said, “Why a Trump win is critical to the Survival of Christian Faith and Values.” I just can’t imagine how God reacted to such a headline. He might have said, “Really? I’ve managed to keep this thing going for 2,000 years, through crusaders and dictators, through false religions and hedonism, Hitler and Mohamed … And yet you think that one man, not named Yeshua, is needed for my Kingdom’s survival?”

This type of thinking forgets about the power of revival. If God pours out His Spirit (and He has promised a Joel 2:28 end time outpouring), it changes everything. If you study past moves of God and awakenings, you will find that entire cities were transformed. No, I am not prophesying revival (prophecies of revival have become all but worthless, as they are non-stop, but rarely realized), but I am hopeful. What I do know, with all the political strides we have made in the past four years under President Trump, and many have been significant, is that there has been no major revival in America during this time.

The beauty of revival is that without politics, hearts can still change; and when hearts change, policy changes. In the midst of revival, I’ve seen homosexuals set free, drug addicts find new life and broken families reunited. It is the most beautiful thing when God reaches down and, in an instant, fixes countless broken lives.

So, here is how we can guarantee a win for the Kingdom of God on November 3rd. Let’s remember the final words of Jesus,

“Go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19) …  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15) … But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

I have always been politically active. I am certainly not against it. But our Commission which was described as Great, is not about who wins an election but is about reaching lost, broken souls with the message of the gospel. Let’s stay focused on that, and we’re going to be just fine, no matter who wins. The world still needs Jesus, and they won’t hear about Him without us.

 

 

 

 

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During a walk in Tel Aviv, I came across a very ugly building. It was ugly because it was not finished. It was maybe one-third complete. Now if somebody tried to sell me that building, as is, I would be foolish to buy it. It’s not functionable. There are no walls, no facade and I’m sure the plumbing isn’t working.

However, right next to that unfinished building are two beautiful towers. Within a year or two, the not-yet-finished building will look just like those beautiful towers. They’re over 40 stories high and, rumor has it, the top floor is a restaurant / swimming pool.

No — this blog is not about real estate; it is about you!

If you’re like most believers, then you have moments where you wonder if you’re ever going to fulfill the destiny that God has placed on your life. Maybe you have moments where you feel like that one-third finished building. But instead of having construction workers building you up day and night, it seems like you’re stuck.

I want to encourage you that God is not finished with you! In fact, I can promise you that. Let’s go to the book of Philippians. Paul begins many of his letters with a prayer for his friends in other cities who are contending for the gospel.

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Messiah Yeshua.” (Philippians 1:3-6)

God is not going to leave you only one-third finished! In verse six, Paul is no longer praying or asking God to do something, but he is stating what he believes to be a fact. He says that he is “confident.”  Now this man knows a thing or two about the heart of God. He has visited the third heaven. He has seen the risen Messiah in a vision. He has received some of the most significant theological downloads of any human being ever to live. So, when he tells me that he’s confident of God doing something, my ears perk up.

He says that God is working on me and He’s going to carry it to completion until the day that Yeshua returns to planet earth. Most of us  can break our progress down to two categories:

  1. Areas where we need more equipping
  2. Areas of sin which we need to overcome

Can you relate to that? This same Paul says in Ephesians, using the same verbiage connected to building: For we are God’s handiwork, created in Messiah Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

This part has to do with equipping. God has committed to equip us as His workmanship so that we can do the works of Jesus in this world. Through the Holy Spirit we can heal the sick and even raise the dead. We are called by God to preach the gospel and disciple all nations. Every one of us has a role to play in the Great Commission.

But sin can disqualify us. That’s what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:27, and that is why he disciplines his body to obey Jesus and not his own desires. In Titus he says that, “the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions.” (Titus 2:11-12) Most believers do not understand the power of grace. They think it is a girl’s name, when, in fact, (and no offense to anyone named Grace – it’s a beautiful name) grace is power. We obtain it to overcome sin and to walk in the supernatural.

The Bible tells us that there is a supply of grace at the throne of heaven and good news: It is available to us. But wait, there is more!

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Not only can we obtain grace to give us strength to overcome sin or persecution in the time of need, but the Bible says that because Yeshua became a human and was tempted, even as we are—and yet did not sin—that he sympathizes with our struggle. He cares about you and is praying for you at God’s right hand. No, Jesus is not looking down on you in anger. Instead He is saying, “I understand what you’re going through. I, too, was tempted. But I overcame. I’m now going to give you the grace to overcome as well.”

At His throne you don’t just find grace to overcome, but mercy for when we do fall into sin. Grace is power, but mercy is forgiveness. Mercy is given when we humble ourselves before God, not when we take it for granted and just keep sinning.

Jesus is on your side and one day soon you are no longer going to look like a one-third finished building, but a beautiful skyscraper touching heaven.

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Jewish celebrities fought back on Twitter against anti-Semitic posts using a hashtag — #JewishPrivilege — that was intended to gin up racism against Jews, but instead used it to recount centuries of genocide and persecution against their people.

The hashtag was first used by white supremacist Twitter profiles and bots with the intent of demeaning Jews. The users posted a mixture of conspiracy theories and Holocaust denial while attributing modern societal ails to Jews. Some even apologized for being Jews (if the profiles were to be believed) and “confessed” their privilege. One example was a Tweet that said: “It’s important we pay for that dominant role that hurt so many millions of blacks. We Jews are 1/3 of billionaires and MUST give much more to blacks.”

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I’m going to be honest with you. I am struggling emotionally with what is happening in Richmond, Virginia. Even though I live in Israel today, Richmond is still my hometown, where I grew up. And the most iconic part of the former capital of the Confederacy is Monument Avenue. It’s beautiful with its historic cobblestone streets. I have memories of going to the Easter Day Parade, when they close off a large portion of the street to car traffic, and it becomes an upscale block party. Locals sit on their porches hosting parties for friends. I’ve jogged up and down every part of the historic Monument Avenue.

And the most iconic part of this iconic street, the thing that makes Monument Avenue, “Monument Avenue” are the monuments. Statues of several Confederate army officers with Virginian heritage line the street, including General Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis and J.E.B Stuart. In truth, I have no great love for these men nor hatred. They are just figures in history. When we studied the Civil War in high school, I always identified with the anti-slave north.[i] (Ironically, the latest monument added is of Arthur Ashe, the black tennis player who died of AIDS after a tainted blood transfusion.)

My father grew up on Monument Avenue. I can’t think of any more beautiful place to take a long walk on a bright autumn afternoon. I spent a good part of my childhood at the Jewish Community Center which is on Monument Avenue.

So, when I see these statues coming down, I’m deeply conflicted. For others, it’s deeper; it’s about their heritage. For me it’s just about my short, personal history—nostalgia.

However, I want to remind everybody about something. Slaveowners in America were mostly Christian and believed that God blessed the institution of slavery. Looking back 150 years, we find it unconscionable that religious people owned slaves. And except for the most deranged among us, no one misses slavery. The question is, will our children look back on the monument statue issue in the same way in 50 years?

Just after slavery was abolished came the Jim Crow laws, to ensure the segregation of white and black people. It would be easy to assume that the people who created these laws and the ones who cheered them on were evil monsters. But they were just normal Americans. I might even imagine that they wondered aloud, “Well, we got rid of slavery, what else do these people want?” That’s a sentiment that we are hearing today. (By the way, the answer to that question is equality.) The Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves, but did little to end racism.

In 1915 in Oklahoma, blacks and whites could not even use the same phone booth! I’m not sure when they overturned that, but I’m confident that the good people of Oklahoma don’t long for the “good old days.” There was once a time in America when a black person could not drink from the same water fountain as a white person. And that made perfect sense to the average white person at the time. But looking back we can see how racist, demeaning and dehumanizing the practice was.

When whites and blacks had to drink from separate water fountains.

When I was born, black children and white children did not study together in many places. School segregation was overturned in the 50s but was not fully implemented in Virginia until the 70s. Breaking segregation was not easy, and I’m sure many white Christians were against sending their children to school with black kids. But you know what? I don’t know any white people today who want to go back to segregation—something practiced just 50 years ago. In fact, in Richmond, a bunch of white urban missionaries moved into one of the poorest, most crime-ridden neighborhoods to start a school for inner-city, predominantly black children.

There was a time when going on trial before a jury of your peers meant, for a black man, being judged by an all-white jury—and often being unfairly convicted. I’m sure that made perfect sense to all twelve of those white jurers at the time. But looking back we know it was wrong—prejudiced.

My point is this. Thirty years from now, very few people in America are going to be missing the Confederate flag. More than likely the majority of white people in America will wonder why it was so controversial to get rid of it.

If you’re one of the folks still struggling with the idea of getting rid of the Confederate flag and you call yourself a Christian, then can I recommend that you read the words of Paul when he talks about eating meat sacrificed to idols (1 Cor. 8, 10:23-33, Rom. 14). Even though he knows that there is no power in an idol, he understands that eating this meat will cause many pagans who are considering the gospel, or former pagans, who grew up with the practice, to stumble. His conclusion: Do not, by your eating, destroy someone for whom Messiah died. All we need to do is replace eating with flag waving. The principle is the same. Our mandate before God is not to preserve our history, but to take away all unnecessary stumbling blocks.  

And 30 years from now very few people will be missing the statues that line Monument Avenue. They may wonder why it took people so long to get rid of them. (And by “get rid of them,” I mean, move them to a museum. History can be preserved without honoring that which many find dishonorable.)

While we have made great strides in overcoming racism in the past 150 years—even to the point of electing a black president—it would be a mistake to assume that there is no more work to do.

This social issue is not like other issues such as abortion or same sex marriage.  The Bible doesn’t tell us to take our stand against equality. In fact, it tells us quite the opposite, that we are to stand against injustice.

Now I know it’s a little confusing. You’ve got anarchists. You have the organization Black Lives Matter which is about a lot more than black lives. You’ve got a bunch of white liberals in Seattle taking over part of the city (Ironically they are armed despite being against guns, and they’ve set up borders despite being for open borders). I’m not saying that we accept everything that’s being said. There is a lot to be worked out, and much discernment is needed. And to be clear, I do not think the way to deal with this issue is through anarchy. However, sometimes it takes that (this is not a justification—I find Antifa disgusting) to get people to take an issue seriously. It took a war to to end slavery! Thank God we are not there yet.

I’m just saying that those things that we think we hold dear, that have nothing to do with our commitment to God—when we look back in 30 years we will wonder what took us so long to release them. Culture is good and healthy, but when it is offensive to others, we should be willing to sacrifice it for the sake of our brother.

When we stand before God, He will not ask us how well we preserved our heritage, but but did we do all we could to bring people to Yeshua.

 

[i] It’s true 75% Of southerners did not own slaves (For many reasons, starting with not being able to afford slaves to not believing in the institution), so it’s safe to say that they were not primarily fighting and risking their lives just over the issue of slavery. But the fact remains slavery was legal in the South and illegal in the North. I’ve had many people tell me over the years that the civil war was not fought over slavery but over states’ rights. But what was the main right they were seeking to preserve? Slavery.

“In the official declaration of the causes of their secession in December 1860, South Carolina’s delegates cited ‘an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery.’ According to them, the Northern interference with the return of fugitive slaves was violating their constitutional obligations; they also complained that some states in New England tolerated abolitionist societies and allowed black men to vote.” —History.com

 

 

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