Tag Archives: Israel

I Love Sundays

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Ps 91:1

 love Sundays. I  Love the lazy pace of the day. I  LOVE going to church, feeling the Holy Spirit move throughout the building…or listening to a 10 piece band (led by an older trumpet player who knows how to make his instrument sing) that plays “How Great Thou Art” which brings people to their feet…letting a praise choir remind me why running to Jesus is so vital…best yet…learning something new in the WORD.

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” Ps 91:4

shadow

Today it seemed as if God was moving in many churches. I lost count of how many of my FB friends commented on their church experience today and the blessings that they felt after going there. I know that tears pushed past my lashes in church a couple of times. His Love, His mercy, His grace were pouring out over our heads, and all we had to do was be thankful.

“If you make the Most High your dwelling, even the LORD, who is my refuge—then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come new your tent, For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.” 91:9-13

Psalm 91 11#2

We tend to take those verses literally: tent meaning home. But according to Jewish traditions: tent means our connection to God. Go back and substitute that image as you read: “…no disaster will come near your connection to the LORD”. Bad things happen in our world. A much loved child dies way too early; 800 missile strikes have reigned down on Israel in the past two weeks; car crashes that break fragile bodies; spousal abuse, child trafficking, etc. Yet, if we trust our Father, live in His WORD, nothing will break that connection…N-O-T-H-I-N-G!

“‘Because he loves me,’ says the LORD, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” Ps 91:14-15

My daily Bible is getting a little dog-eared. I bought it in ’09 after most of my Bibles burned in our house fire…in fact, after a change of clothes – it was the first thing I bought. Chapter markers are falling off, pages are bent, colorful post-it markers protrude at odd intervals, old church bulletins hang out here and there, while tons of dates, notes and underlining decorate almost every page. Today when our preacher said to turn to Ps 91, I wondered what notes I could possibly squeeze in the margin…BUT I MANAGED. 

 love Sundays – but most of all – I LOVE the LORD.

Random Thoughts

july 10 2014 001Random thoughts: Baby birds are hatching. I never see mama sitting on the nest, and yet, baby birds are starting their journey. Heads wobbly, fuzzy, bare bodies sheltered under a few leaves.
“For this God is our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end.” Ps 48:14
News coverages estimate that 400 missiles have been launched into Israel over the last three days even reaching into Jerusalem. 15 minutes is all they have to reach the nearest shelter after an air raid siren. Today, they returned fire. Disabled children that were sent to Jerusalem for safety are no longer feeling safe. It’s a news report. We’ve heard it before. It’s not here.”O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you.” Is 30:19Rain can be all around the state – flooding in the mountains,- thunderstorms on the ocean – but only a few drops fall upon the land where I live. Now this can be a good thing or a bad thing. This summer – we could have used a few more drops, but then – maybe the cold snap coming next week will bring more.”I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit.” Lev 26:4

The first fruits are coming out of the garden (thanks to irrigation techniques…me holding a hose once a day  ) – heirloom tomatoes, yellow cherry tomatoes – strawberries – gourdes – ballerina flowers…life goes on. It is a night to be thankful. A night to look out into the darkness and say a prayer as Aaron blessed others so long ago.july 10 2014 005

“‘“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’ Num 6-24-26

The Gate-keeper

We beat the gate-keeper to the lake this morning. I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of time to let the girls (our labs =) ) swim and walk this morning (since I had appointments to keep), so I wanted to make sure to take advantage of every minute. It was worth it. 73 degrees, a slight breeze and happy, barking dogs – life doesn’t get much better and I was glad the gate-keeper was on time.

“Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee..” Job 22:28a

But as I watched all the beauty around me, I kept thinking about the 3 teenagers killed in Israel. 18 days missing and buried today. Earlier today I read and shared a post by an Israeli woman. She talked about how the number 18 in Hebrew is equivalent to the word “chai” which means “life”. Needless to say, that one little sentence has been revisiting my thought process throughout the day. A dat spent reading a new book, waiting for the doctors to say I am a perfectly healthy 63 year old – enjoying the freedom to drive around and purchase things I “needed”.

Just – Life.

I think I have a pretty great one, and I am more and more thankful for it everyday. As I stood by the water watching the girls fetch their sticks, two pure white birds flew low over us. They were not the typical sea gulls that are often swirling over the lake, but they were also bigger than the white doves we occasionally see. I don’t know what they were, but they were beautiful. Even the dogs looked up as they were swimming, sticks in mouths, towards me. It’s one of those times I wish I was more like mom. She would have had a camera ready and snapped it. As they disappeared into the shelter of the woods, Israel and America popped into my mind.

Two countries founded upon a faith in one God. Three boys: Two Israelis and 1 American. Two countries tied together by faith. Three boys of different countries tied together by friendship and faith.

The older I get, the less I’m inclined to believe in “quinky-dinks” as my dad and mom used to say. Jewish wisdom looks at every “jot and tittle” as they study the WORD. They believe that nothing – not a dot – not a word – not a repetitive story – in the WORD is just a coincidence. They give God so much more credit than we -people of the new covenant – have done. In fact, we pretty much ignore the OT except for a few stories that we find relevant. We tend to forget that Jesus was totally Jewish and knew the WORD down to every “jot and tittle”. He often repeated the wisdom of the OT in His teachings.

“”Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matt 18:18

I guess with all these thoughts roaming through my busy day, I wasn’t surprised when this last verse popped up in my devotions tonight. Did you notice the reference? 18:18. Did you notice that Jesus repeated a verse in Job? Life. Prayer. Faith. The gate-keeper is standing by the gate.

A Caliphate is proclaimed.

Three boys are buried.

I don’t know thy these things continued to claim my attention today or why I feel so compelled to write about all of it. I only know I am called to circle these thing in prayer, be faithful to what He calls me to do, and offer thanks for all the promises that He faithfully keeps each and every day. I am blessed…and watching for the gate-keeper to open the gates.

http://www.jewishgiftplace.com/Meaning-of-Hebrew-Chai.html

Lenten Journey/Journey of the Cross #32

It has been a long week for some reason. Haven’t really done that much, but every day was different. As if the wash cycle had switched to the spin cycle and then back to wash. In essence the water kept building up all week, soaking deeper and deeper until eventually, the machine just chugged to a stop. Eyes barely open; zoning out watching a favorite musical (Meet Me in St. Louis) and yawning every two seconds. Don’t know why I can’t write these journals at 5 o’clock instead of 10. And yet – here I sit – thinking about this journey. Introspection continues when I really wish I could just go to sleep. Is that how the disciples felt? What is it about this journey that pulls me in year after year after year?

And yet – it does -and has since I was a toddler and rejected a cuddly bunny for a crucifix that still hangs in my room.

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matt 12:40

Early in His ministry, Rabbe Yeshua began dropping hints of what was to come. Metaphor upon metaphor. One repentance story linked to another repentance story. Steeped in Jewish wisdom and Jewish tradition, Rabbe Yeshua taught for three years in the physical heart of the earth…Israel. But this time, He would expand the heart to include Gentiles and eventually enlarge the heart to cover the world. Salvation in practice. Instead of unblemished animal sacrifices and intercessory priests, Rabbe Yeshua would drink …”…a cup is in the hand of the LORD…” Ps 75:6

He reached out, “Then I took the cup from the LORD’s hand…” Jer 25:15

Even in His first night’s journey in “the heart of the earth”, He reached into Himself – the WORD – and brought forth the words that would link the past to the future. An unbroken chain that ties us all to Our Father. From the first garden, designed to be heaven on earth, to the garden where He wept and let the cup begin to spill upon Him instead of letting it spill upon us. He took Our Father’s wrath and spun it into unending LOVE. Love for you. Love for me. This Rabbi Yeshua Barabbas did this for all of us.

“Rouse yourself! Rouse yourself! Arise, O Jerusalem, You who have drunk from the LORD’s hand the cup of His anger…This is what your Sovereign Lord says,
your God, who defends his people: “See, I have taken out of your hand
the cup that made you stagger; from that cup, the goblet of my wrath,
you will never drink again.” Is 51:17,22

The day of pain, suffering and agony is over.

lucasgrail

Advent Words: Week Four

Advent Word Day Twenty-two:      RESTORE        December 22, 2013

All day I kept thinking that today’s word would be easy…it’s the last Sunday in Advent, but it wasn’t. I saw it earlier today, but until about an hour ago, I didn’t know it. As I lit the candles in the Advent Wreath, I thought about this journey that Our Father has been leading me on with all these words. Words that He spoke to my heart….words that for one reason or another seemed to pop out at me during the day…words that encircle the Christmas story…words that set the world on fire so long ago. LOL – literally. The Advent wreath caught fire – set off the fire alarms – and I had to remind myself that this is the reason, you never let candles burn down to the plastic pine decoration surrounding the wreath. Obviously, no serious damage done (not even the wreath was destroyed); lesson learned and things were RESTORED to normal within minutes. (husband was not happy – he doesn’t like candles much) I wonder – can I use candle warmers for an Advent Wreath next year??? – hmmmmm….

Words have power. As I mentioned in an earlier Advent Word post, God “spoke” creation into being, but if you think about it…theeeee “WORD” came to RESTORE…He “RESTORETH our souls…”

“I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands
assail me on every side.”— Psalm 3:5-6

Jewish tradition states that sleep is “one sixtieth of death”. They believe that the soul actually leaves the body during sleep and runs the risk of never returning. (Rabbi Eckstein) Jewish tradition then states that they should offer a prayer thanking God for RESTORING their soul and creating a new miracle of life.

“….He RESTORETH my soul …” (Ps 23:3) David’s words take on a whole new meaning when you add in the meaning of Jewish tradition behind the words, yet one miracle was not enough. Our Father created another miracle to RESTORE our souls. The birth of a baby in a stable far from his home…under a bright star…a baby whose path would RESTORE a path back to His Father for all who listen and follow…”ruined nature now RESTORED...” Charles WesleyHark the Herald Angels Sing” v. 4

Advent Word Day Twenty-third:      IMMANUEL      December 23, 2013

Christmas is drawing nigh. Countdowns are almost over. Presents bought? Wrapped? Ready or not – Christmas is almost here. And yet, at the Kaufman house, the holiday always began on the 24th. Tomorrow is (as we liked to call it when Kaufman Kids were little) “Christmas Eve Day”. It was a day as special – if not more so – as Christmas itself. A day together – baking cookies – finishing crafts we had started – making handmade presents together- laughing – singing Christmas songs – going to Candle Light Service or having our own…Dad reading the Christmas story…opening one small present…praying…lighting our little glass votives and carrying them into our rooms…tearing off the last ring of the countdown bell…”O Come, O Come, IMMANUEL

immanuelIMMANUEL – God with us. “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name IMMANUEL, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Matt 1:23

God folded Himself…lowered Himself…into a tiny, vulnerable baby. IMMANUEL: God with us, and as He was later nailed to a cross, He was called King of the Jews. “Melekh” (Jewish word for king” that felt cold, pain, fear, love, loneliness, sadness, happiness, temptation) inside a baby. Getting the picture yet? Human. The neat thing about Jewish words is there are always meanings that go with every letter of the word. MeM the first letter is also the first letter for water and is often associated with feminine waters – womb, creation. “Lamed” the second letter in the Jewish word “King” means to teach, learn. “Khaf” the final letter means: hands open to receive and give. Getting a picture of the man this baby would grow to be?

IMMANUL: God with us.

A rabbi once wrote, “from the physical, we can perceive the spiritual.” Baal Shem Tov

God became physical so that we could perceive the spiritual path we should follow…the greatest role model of all time.

IMMANUEL: God with us.

On John Wesley’s final minutes on this earth, his words reflected his life, “The best of all is God is with us.” IMMANUEL

“Veni veni, Emmanuel
captivum solve Israel,
qui gemit in exsilio,
privatus Dei Filio.
R: Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
nascetur pro te Israel!”

Advent Word Day Twenty-four:       HOLY       December 24, 2013

NativityCould there be any other word for this night? The night when wise men were still on the road following a star to an unknown destination … when shepherds heard angels singing while watching over their flocks … when a young girl and her espoused husband gave birth to a tiny baby – in a dirty stable filled with animals, manure and vermin … when the incomprehensible being we call God accepted the limitations of a physical, vulnerable body. HOLY,

The etymology of HOLY (you knew this was coming, right? I am a former English teacher, remember?) while given many origins: Dutch, German, Old English, but because of the nature of this night it is the Hebrew word, kodesh, that holds me. Kodesh (in a simple breakdown) means “set apart, separated” by God for a special purpose. There’s much more, but tonight isn’t the night for an English lesson. Tonight is a night to be HOLY.

HOLY night – this night – set apart for a remembrance of a birth. Did you remember or were you busy trying to make this night a perfect memory?

HOLY star – bright, big, bold enough to catch the attention of three wise men born in far away countries? Do you look up at night or is the tv too bright, too captivating, too magical to go outside and look?

HOLY messengers – angels sent to earth and singing their joy regarding the Gift of Grace. What would you have thought if they were singing outside your window right now? Would you stop and go outside and follow or ignore it so your neighbors wouldn’t think you were crazy?

the_nativity_story_08HOLY knees that bowed upon hard ground before a manager holding an unknown infant and scared parents.who were as overwhelmed as the shepherds who found themselves kneeling. When was the last time you kneeled for anything? “I can only imagine…or to my knees would I fall? …would I be able to speak at all?” (love that song)

HOLY infant – “so tender and mild” – an infant – set apart for a special purpose…a purpose that no one knew – not the messengers…not the wise men…not the shepherds…not even the parents…only the infant opening his eyes for the very first time as a human baby. HOLY

I grew up with a mother who watched Christmas Eve Mass from the St. Peter’s Basilica of Rome every year, and I have continued the tradition. Christmas would not be the same without its blessing. As I watch Pope Francis in his first Christmas Eve Mass as the celebrant, listen to the ancient Latin, and remember the HOLY words recorded in the Book of Luke, I think of all the history that this church has seen – bad and good – and I wonder what this new year will bring. I hope his new year in Christ will bring to the world –
HOLY. 
                      HOLINESS.
                                                          HOLY Peace. 
                                                                                                      HOLY Grace.

HOLY. HOLY. HOLY.