Israel’s Story @ 70

The Land of Israel, “Eretz Israel,“ as it is known in Hebrew, has always been a land bridge connecting the early civilizations living between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers to the northeast and those in the Nile River valley of Egypt, to the southwest.

This “fertile crescent”, between Europe, Asia, and Africa hosted the primeval history of the human race (creation, the fall, the great flood, the rise and spread of nations) and the patriarchal history of the Hebrew race (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph).

Left to itself, it will revert to a desperate and deserted desert-land. Mark Twain visited the land in the late nineteenth century and described the area, in his book Innocents Abroad, as “desolate and devoid of inhabitants.”

Yet, on the beautiful and fertile plain of Jezreel-Esdraelon, great armies of aggressive foreign empires and even theocracies have often wrestled for control, over the last three millennia. There an indigenous Hebrew people developed a thriving civilization and culture in their ancient homeland.

While some of the people remained in their cities and rural communities, most of them scattered across the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa. Although they flourished at times, for nearly two thousand years they lived as an oppressed minority, suffering expulsions, massacres, and ultimately genocide.

They barely survived but they never lost hope. They overcame!

They started a restoration movement, called Zionism, and many began to return to their ancestral homeland.  There they joined those who were already in The Land and built one of the most vibrant and diverse nations the world has ever seen.

That nation is Israel. And, this year it is celebrating 70 years of existence!

In spite of entrenched resistance by many of its Arab neighbors, the modern nation of Israel is a reality and a “miracle”—70 years in the making and deserving of international recognition and celebration!

Recently, U.S. President Trump Continue reading

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The Lord Has Done Great Things!

The nation was deeply moved when the three Korean Americans who had been detained in North Korea walked off the U.S. military plane early Thursday morning at Joint Andrews Air Force Base, near Washington D.C.

Kim Hak Soon and Kim Sang Duk were teachers who had been held in North Korea for a year and Kim Dong Chul had been sentenced to “hard labor” and held for nearly three years. Flashing smiles and V for “Victory” hand signs, they were greeted at their 3 a.m. arrival on American soil by President and Mrs. Trump, along with Vice President and Mrs. Pence.

One of the three former detainees reportedly handed Vice President Pence a note on a 3”x5” card, with a selection from Psalm 126 hand printed on the back.

The verses of scripture read:  Continue reading

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CA Dems Want to Ban the Bible?

This week, the Democrat-controlled California State Assembly passed AB 2943. This unprecedented bill may actually — among other things — ban the sale of books and resources expressing orthodox Christian beliefs about sexual morality.  Conceivably, this could include banning the sale and teachings of the Bible.

As with most legislation, “the devil is in the details.”

AB 2943, authored and vigorously advocated for by the LGBT Caucus in the Assembly, modifies Consumer Protection legislature to ban specific counseling or communication, called “conversion therapy.”  If passed by the state senate, the law will be the first of its kind in the nation to criminalize helping either children or adults with unwanted sexual urges (“orientation”) or gender confusion (“identity”).

The Bible teaches we are created biologically as either male or female. Orthodox believers embrace their biological gender and follow biblical teachings, which clearly say sexual expression is reserved for marriage between a man and a woman.  

Our national Constitution protects these religious beliefs and practices in its very first amendment, included in a listing of “rights” and not “restrictions.” The Democrat majority in California’s legislature wants to change that with this (AB 2943) and other legislation introduced by the LGBT Caucus, like AB 1779 and AB 2119.

If you agree, contact your local California legislators and urge them to speak up and to oppose these unprecedented restrictions on religious liberty.

 

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“Seventeen” in our Culture of Death

Seventeen.

That’s the number of students killed at Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School in Parkland, FL on Valentine’s Day, just a few weeks ago.

It is also the number of counts of premeditated murder which a former student, Nikolas Cruz, was charged after he legally purchased the semi-automatic AR-15 rifle he used in his six-minute murder spree, before putting it down and hurriedly walking out of “Building 12” with the fleeing students.

Seventeen is the average number of years of limited life-experience of gun-control-minded student-activists David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, Cameron Kasky, and the others being sponsored by left-leaning news media and activist organizations funded by socialist-billionaire George Soros.

It is also the number of years since 2977 lives were lost in the Twin Towers attack on September 11, 2001, and the rise of militant Islam, both of which has cheapened the perceived value of human life in our modern “culture of death.”

With approximately 900 abortions performed EVERY DAY by Planned Parenthood (323,999 reported abortions by PP in 2014), seventeen is also the number of years in which Continue reading

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What Happened on Saturday of Holy Week?

Preaching to the Souls in Hades

Here we are on Saturday of Holy Week, midway between commemorating Christ’s crucifixion and celebrating His resurrection. What happened between these monumental events? If Jesus’ body was in the tomb, where was his spirit/soul?

In the Old Testament, the place of departed souls is variously described, dependent on their status of righteousness, at death. The righteous dead went to Paradise (sometimes called “Abraham’s bosom”), while the souls of the unrighteous were and are incarcerated in a place of torment, known as Sheol in the Old Testament Hebrew and Hades in the New Testament Greek. [Compare Ps. 16:10 when quoted in Acts 2:27.]

The Road to Hell

Solomon warned young men of the dangers of the enticing prostitute, saying “her house is the way to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death” and that her guests are “in the depths of Sheol (Prov. 7:27; 9:18).

Peter tells us that sometime during this significant series of days Jesus “made proclamation to the spirits in prison.” These are thought to be the disembodied, disobedient people from the days of Noah (1 Peter 3:18-20), in their designated after-life abode.

This proclamation did not change their state or status.Christ’s preaching to these condemned souls may have been to convincingly justify to them their damnation. The punishment of the unrighteous in Hell, and later the Lake of Fire, is just as eternal as eternal life will be for the righteous (See Matt. 25:46; Rev. 20:14-15; Rev. 21:1-8).

Death Overcome by Life

In Peter’s sermon on Pentecost, he declared to the excited and confused crowds that although evil men had put Jesus of Nazareth to death on a cross Continue reading

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“….He bowed his head and died.”

The Gospels tell us that as Jesus hung on the cross on that Friday of Holy Week, around noon the sky turned dark and stayed that way until the middle of the afternoon. Then, Jesus shouted with his last breath and “bowed his head and died.” (John 19:30 CEV)

At noontime today my wife and I attended a Good Friday service at The Church on the Way in Van Nuys (CA). Hundreds of people took their lunch hour to join together to remember and reflect on the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross for us, over 2,000 years ago! Hundreds more will meet there to observe the same tonight.*

Because of that atoning, substitutional death, “God rescued us from the dark power of Satan and brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son, who forgives our sins and sets us free!” (Col. 1:13-14 CEV)

As a congregation, we sang the meaningful, modern hymn by Paul Baloche, To The Cross

Where can I go/ But to the cross, to the cross/

For there my shame/ You have washed away/

Where can I go/ But to the cross, to the cross/

For there You gave/ Up Your life for me/ You gave Your life for me/

You stretched Your arms out wide/ I lift my hands up high to my Savior/ [more]

[Claim these final truths of victory, in Christ:]

Chains are broken / Shame has fallen/ All my sins are gone!

You stretched Your arms out wide/ I lift my hands up high to my Savior/

Pastor Tim Clark applied the words of King David in Psalm 22, written 1,000 years before Jesus’ crucifixion. The passages yielded meaningful applications and even future quotations from Jesus, himself.

The “Psalm of the Cross” (Ch. 22) prophetically preceded the “Psalm of the Crook” (Ch. 23) where Jesus fulfills the promise of a Good Shepherd.  Those past and present promises, preceded the future promises of the “Psalm of the Crown” (Ch. 24), where David answers his own question, “Who can enter the Lord’s Temple?” The answer is those who truly worship God and serve the descendants of Jacob.

As in all of our Good Friday services, the congregation concludes in song, thunderously declaring the chorus to the Gospel Song, written in 1876, after the drowning of the author’s family: IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL.

*Watch live-streaming of the second Good Friday service tonight at 7 p.m. (Pacific) at http://thechurchontheway.org/watch/ and stay with us to the end, when you too can declare again your faith in the power of our risen Lord and sing, “It is well, it is well with my soul!”

Remember, it is Friday but Sunday is coming!

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Here’s An Unusual Consideration for Holy Week

Today is the Thursday of Passion Week. The next three days call us to remember Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection from the dead.

This day before Good Friday is known among liturgical churches as Maundy Thursday and commemorates our Lord’s institution of the Eucharist or Holy Communion at the Last Supper with his 12 closest disciples. This meal is referenced in all four Gospels (Matt. 26; Mk. 14; Lu. 22, and Jn. 13.) and later, in Paul’s first Epistle to the Corinthians (chapter 11).

With all of the holy celebrations associated with the remembrance of these days, I suggest that we unknowingly overlook a principle of discipleship, which can be observed in the way Jesus dressed for this holy event with his disciples. I acknowledge that it is a personal observation—a private conviction and not a command of Christ. However, perhaps it can speak to you, as it has to me and affected how and why I dress as I do for worship services—especially where Holy Communion is observed.  Will you, at least, consider it with me?

How did Jesus dress, with his disciples, for this first communion service? This unusual consideration can be answered in just one word: “UP.” Jesus “dressed up” for this special instruction and symbolic institution, with His disciples.

How do we know how Jesus dressed, for this occasion? Well, Continue reading

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