23 December 2011

Dancing with the 'Enemy'

The banquet hall was full.  Good food was served. The music was energised and contagious.  And elderly Jewish Holocaust survivors danced with the grandchildren of Nazi SS officers!
Such is the kind of work being carried out by Helping Hand Coalition in Israel today.  In Or Akiva, a small town situated near Caesarea off the Mediterranean coast, over 200 Holocaust survivors gathered, along with International Delegates from several nations including Germany, Russia and the USA, for a special meal and opportunity for reconciliation at an event arranged by HHC to bring such a mix of cultures and experiences together.  Two young German bands performed songs in Hebrew, followed by an incredibly talented Israeli couple, Shaul and Yulia Ben-Har, playing folk and classical music on violin and viola.  After the meal and a few speeches, a group of youth from Germany performed three dances.  Such was their passion, joy and vigour, that the elderly survivors crowded onto the dance floor and celebrated along with the German delegation, dancing together for over an hour!

16 December 2011

Outreach - Not Just a Spiritual Exercise!

When we hear the word ‘outreach’, some of us quake a little inside.  One to one encounters, knocking on strangers’ doors, and trying to give tracts away to passersby are just a few of the thoughts that can come to mind. And even though we know those things can be effective and poignant, not all of us relish the experience.  Reaching out to people with the love of the Father doesn't have to be such a daunting prospect however, if we allow God to inspire us with innovative and fresh ways to connect people to the message of the Gospel.

Your People My People was excited to hear about some of the latest outreach projects being done by Dugit Messianic Centre in Tel Aviv – going beyond some of the traditional concepts of evangelism and seeking to have an impact where people need it most.  In addition to the daily coffee shop and Dugit Live ministry they run, Dugit staff desire to demonstrate the love of Yeshua (Jesus) to the people of Tel Aviv in both physical and spiritual ways.  Dan is one of Dugit’s evangelists on staff, and being joined by a group from the USA armed with hundreds of stuffed toys and animals they brought to give away, they went to visit the Children’s Hospital in Tel Aviv to bring a smile to the faces of the small patients there, and bless them each with a new toy.  There was much joy and elation and several mothers present expressed their appreciation at this gesture of kindness and generosity.  We were excited to hear what a blessing they had been bringing joy and encouragement to the sick in their city!

10 December 2011

Rumours of Wars? Let Us Pray!

We saw this very personal response after a visit to Israel, by Colin Dye, Senior Minister and leader of Kensington Temple/London City Church, Nottinghill Gate, London and thought you might enjoy it too.
Colin Dye looks with fresh eyes at Israel, God and the Bible and challenges us to do the same.

Growing rumours of war between Israel and Iran: Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem!
By Colin Dye
Every day in the news we hear of violence and atrocities in the land of Israel. In modern times this conflict has been ongoing, beginning with the return of Jews to their homeland at the end of the 19th century. It has continued during the British rule in the 1920s, the division of the nation into separate Jewish and Palestinian states in 1948 and the Six-day war of 1967. As rumours are growing that Israel is about to launch an attack on Iran, I invite you to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Isaiah 62:2-7
"...I have set watch-men on your walls, 0 Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the name of the Lord, do not keep silent, and give him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth”.
A Chastening
When I visited Israel the Lord began to chasten me in my spirit. This chastening has been a pleasant experience though. The Bible says, ‘Don’t be like a mule or a horse that needs the bit and bridle to pull it into subjection.’ He wants to guide us with his eye. The Holy Spirit was so gentle with me, so revelatory and so repetitive; there was no mistaking what he was saying to me, and I confess that in the last ten years I have sinned before the Lord and before his people. My sin has been one of neglect. When we read about watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem, we think first of our own Jerusalem. What is our Jerusalem? London, but we have no right to claim the blessings for our ‘Jerusalem’ until we’ve understood God’s purposes for His Jerusalem. This is what the Holy Spirit chastened me about, and I have responded and repented...
Colin Dye's prayer:  "Father in the name of Jesus, I come before you and I ask your forgiveness for my neglect of something so clearly revealed in scripture and in my enthusiasm to reach the gentile blessings I have at times neglected your heart for Israel. I thank you Lord for your freedom, for your cleansing and I thank you for the release of your blessing through repentance and restoration in Jesus’ name."

06 December 2011

Did Jesus Celebrate Christmas?

If you live in a country that celebrates Christmas, with all the busy preparations for this joyous occasion, it may be hard to imagine winter without this festive season.  In fact for most of us, it probably seems as though Christmas has always been there.  The truth is, setting apart the 25th December to celebrate Jesus’ birth began many years after the actual event.

If one of the 12 disciples happened to time-travel into our living room this Christmas, he would have no idea what was going on. All our traditional activities and foods would be a complete mystery to him.  As a God-fearing Jew however, he would have been busy celebrating quite a different winter festival!  The New Testament gives us a clue as to what this would have been:

In the Gospel of John 10:22 is a simple sentence introducing the paragraph, but one that also sheds some light on what was going on in Jerusalem at this time of year.

Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter,
and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade.”

It was winter and Jerusalem was celebrating the Feast of Dedication. It might ring some bells if you were to know that the Hebrew word for dedication is ‘Hanukah’. Jesus was in the temple during the time of Hanukah, taking the opportunity to teach the people who gathered around him.

In Jesus’ time, Hanukah, or the Feast of Dedication was a fairly modern celebration.