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Fulfilled Expectations

[Post updated 5/15/2013]
So the LORD must wait for you to come to Him so He can show you His love and compassion.  For the LORD is a faithful God.  Blessed are those who wait for His help.  Isaiah 30:18 NLT
To compare, the NASB reads,
Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.  For the LORD is a God of justice; how blessed are all those who long for Him.
Now is the time of the Biblical feast of Shavuot.  Shavuot is the Hebrew word for weeks, and this feast marks seven weeks from Passover.  Jews count the 50 days between the commemoration of the Exodus and the time when they gathered at the foot of Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah and entered into a covenant with the Most High God.
This celebration is the second of three days Jewish people are commanded to gather before the LORD in Jerusalem to celebrate and rededicate themselves to the covenant.  The first day is Passover, and the third day is the Feast of Tabernacles.
Why did God command that they gather in Jerusalem on particular days?  Simply so that they would be there when He showed His great love and compassion in the fulfillment of these important feasts.  As they traveled to Jerusalem they prepared their hearts and were full of expectation hoping for the Messiah.  As they traveled, many prayed throught Psalms 120-134 (the songs of ascent).  Read through all of these in order non-stop.  It’s awesome that in Psalm 120 the focus is on daily troubles and by the time you get to Psalm 134 all focus is on the LORD.
Passover is the prophetic foreshadowing of of the betrothal.  The Jewish people were betrothed to God when they left Egypt to follow Him.  This was fulfilled when Jesus, the Bridegroom, met the Torah’s requirements and became the FINAL sacrifice paving the way for all people, Jew and Gentile, to be reconciled to God.  Those gathered in Jerusalem for Passover were there to witness His triumphant arrival into the City on a lowly donkey.  They were there when Jesus was arrested, tried, condemned, crucified, and ultimately rose from the dead.  Simon of Cyrene was there for Passover, but ended up helping to carry His cross.  Sadly, many were part of the crowd that shouted, “Crucity Him!”
Shavuot, is the prophetic foreshadowing of the marriage.  50 days after they left Egypt, the Israelites gathered before God at Mt. Sinai and entered into a covenant with Him as they received the Torah.  This feast later became agriculturally focused as the gathering of first fruits.  This was fulfilled while Jews were gathered to celebrate the first covenant, and Jesus’ disciplies were gathered in the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit empowered them and wrote the Torah on their hearts–a New Covenant–and they all began to speak in tongues declaring the praises of God in languages they never learned. I believe that those in the crowd of 3,000 who received Messiah and were baptized that day were also there 50 days earlier shouting “Crucify Him!”, and this was an answer to Jesus prayer, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they do.”
The third day, Sukkot (Tabernacles), will be the prophetic fulfillment of the gathering of all nations to Jerusalem and the advent of the Millenial Kingdom.  This is yet to come; however, these days are times when we are to be full of expectation and anticipation of God’s faithfulness to His covenant.
God’s heart is longing to pour out His love and compassion, and He is waiting for His people, Jew and Gentile, to turn their hearts to Him, and then there will be a convergence of His heart and our hearts joining as one.  This is my prayer for you, and for Jerusalem and the Jewish people…for another mighty outpouring of the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (The Holy Spirit) to open hearts to receive all that Jesus accomplished, and that Jesus would be the recognized Messiah!

Long Walks in the Sunset

One of the goals on my personal mission statement is to:

Seize every opportunity to teach my children about the goodness and power of God, to impart Godly values to them, create joyful memories and to ensure that they know they are loved.

Now that the weather has warmed up, I have been ending most of my days with long sunset walks on a nearby trail with my three-year-old son, Aaron.  These walks have been such a blessing for both of us, so I wanted to capture this joyful memory.

Everyday Aaron requests to “walk to the big bridge with Mommy.”  The “big bridge” is nothing more than an overpass where we can see cars whiz under us, and boy is that exciting, especially if a truck or a bus passes by! 

This is a beautiful place to live, and I appreciate having this trail so close to our home.  After the long, hard winter we just endured, I really love being outside and seeing everything coming back to life; however, I’m not looking forward to the mosquitoes that I know will infiltrate in the coming weeks.  Right now, the weather is perfect and it’s bug free!

At the other end of the overpass is a foot bridge where we can “say hi to the creek.”  Aaron knows to be careful about rubbing his hands along the wood fence so he doesn’t “hurt his hands.”
This is usually the pace where we turn around and head back home; although, he tries his best to convince me to keep going.  There’s always so much to see, and it’s really fun to be outside.

Walking with a three-year-old is quite an experience.  I don’t get to walk as fast as I normally would like.  It’s not quite as much of a work-out as it is when I walk by myself, but there’s so much more that I notice when I walk with Aaron.  He finds interest in what I think is mundane.  He needs to stop and look at the grass, the “fuzzies” (i.e. dandelions), and the pretty rocks.  He likes to stop to listen to the birdies sing, and of course, he stops to smell the flowers.  And it’s really fun to bring a magnifying glass and make things bigger.

My favorite times are when we’re on the return journey home.  There is usually a moment when Aaron reaches over to hold my hand.  It is so precious to me, and I don’t take it for granted knowing that there will come a time when he won’t.  One time he reached out for my hand and used it to wipe his nose, “Ew.  Ick!”  and then we laughed about it the rest of the way home!  We talk about which jammies he’s going to wear.  Should he wear the star jammies or the monkey jammies?  Most of the time we are quiet as we walk along enjoying the breeze and saying hello to the people we pass.  My prayer is that these special times will create special memories for him (as they have for me), and that Aaron will walk in the glory and the beauty of the Lord for the rest of his life.

In the Shadow of His Wing

As I was praying Sunday morning, I saw the LORD’s outstretched wing.  Beneath the wing was an entrance into another world.  There it was lush and green and peaceful with a waterfall.  People were resting and enjoying the beauty, being refreshed, in the shadow of His wing.  While He was covering people with one arm/wing, the other was engaged in a battle, a “fight for the fulfillment of His word.”  Then I saw a person come out from under the shadow and join the LORD in battle.  It was as if that person was sufficiently rested/strengthened, had matured, and was ready to partner with the LORD to fight for the fulfillment of His purposes.

Last night I was impressed to turn to Psalm 57.  (Sometimes these impressions to turn to certain Scriptures are the LORD, sometimes my own imagination, but I laughed when I read the first two verses.)

1 Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy!
      I look to you for protection.
   I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings
      until the danger passes by.
 2 I cry out to God Most High,[a]
      to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.

Triumph in the Face of Despair

On the eve of Purim, the celebration commemorating the deliverance of the Jews from Haman’s plot, it is most important that we leave the comforts of the palace and hear the cry of Mordechai and others like him who are mourning.

One week ago, this beautiful family, the Fogel Family (mother, Ruth; father, Udi, Yoav (11); Eldad (4) and Hadas (3 mos)), were brutally murdered while sleeping.  Three of their children survived (Tamar (12); Roi (8) and Yishai (2)).  More details of exactly what happened can easily be found on the web, including photos of the crime scene.
The family decided to release the crime scene photos so the world could see the brutality inflicted.  I chose not to include those, indeed I cannot bear to look at them, although I have caught glimpses, and I ask the same question I asked when I first studied the Holocaust, “How could such evil persist?”  I look at these faces and I see no difference between them and my family.  I look at Eldad (bottom center) and see my son Aaron.  I look at Hadas (bottom right) and see my daughter Naomi.  The parents could easily be me and Bruce.  The only difference is that we are here in the USA, and they lived in Itamar, a settlement in the West Bank.

But wait!  Aren’t settlements illegal?  Didn’t they put themselves at risk by living there? 

Settlements are perfectly legal and are in no way an obstacle to peace.  The main obstacle to peace is the Palestinians refusal to accept the legitimacy of Israel.

Myths & Facts about Jewish Settlements

Back to my question, “How could such evil persist?”  How could a human being pick up a three-month-old baby girl and slit her throat?  The same types of questions were repeatedly asked in the aftermath of the Holocaust, and the most consistent answer was that the perpetrators saw the victims as something less than human.  I’m sure the Palestinian who picked up Hadas did not see a precious baby, but a pig, which is in line with how they are taught to view Jews.  My prayer is that eyes would be open to the truth.  That all life would be valued.  That those who perpetrated this horrific crime would be brought to justice, and, in the spirit of Golda Meir’s* sentiment, may the Palestinian people learn to love even more than they hate, and may both the Jews and the Palestinians come to know the love of Messiah Jesus.

“I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear.  I will rid the land of wild animals and keep your enemies out of your land.”  Lev 26:6

The Purim celebration begins with a fast, then the reading of the Megillah (the scroll of Esther), and then concludes with an all out party.  Interestingly, in the entire book of Esther, God is never mentioned, but it is explained that He worked behind “masks” (behind the scenes), so it is customary for children to dress in costume, but rather than going door-to-door collecting treats, they go door-to-door giving treats!  The adult celebration is quite wild, and it is actually required to get drunk! It’s really a carnival atmosphere, and it is so amazing that the Jewish people can press on and celebrate in the midst of such tragedy.  That is such a testimony of hope in the faithfulness of God to His covenant.

Let’s join them as they celebrate this weekend, and pull ourselves out of the challenges we face and triumphantly celebrate God’s mercy and enduring love.

*Golda Meir’s actual statement: “we will have peace with our neighbors when they learn to love their children as much as they hate ours.”

Safe in the Storm

Since the beginning of 2011, my family has been in one storm after another.  At least one of us has been sick with a cold or flu for over two months.  It started with me catching a cold over New Year’s weekend, and just as I was starting to feel better my 3 year old son got it, then as soon as he was recovering my husband got it, then the baby, and after that round, I got sick again with fevers and chills. 

I started feeling better and was looking forward to returning to some sense of normalcy when my son woke up with a stomach bug.  We went through four days of him not able to keep even a teaspoon of water down.  After two emergency room trips and then overnight in the hospital on IV’s because of dehydration, he started to recover.  Then the baby woke up one morning with a raging fever (the highest was 103.8) that lasted for 5 days.  She pulled through,  my son was doing better.  It seemed the storms were calming down–not quite.

I had my annual physical exam and a mandatory mammogram (which I wasn’t thrilled about).  My plan was to get it over with and get on with life; however, when I called to get my results I received the news that my scans were “incomplete.”  The radiologist saw something on my scans that required me to go back in for more.  So, I went back in for another mammogram, then an ultra-sound, then another mammogram, and back to ultra-sound with the radiologist. 

There was ten minutes of absolute silence as they were looking at the screen, and I was doing everything I could to stay in a place of peace, trusting in the Lord.  I couldn’t help but think about all the other women who had laid on this table for this same procedure, etc.  Finally, the radiologist explained that the reason they weren’t saying anything was because they weren’t seeing anything.  There was definitely something showing up on the mammogram, but they couldn’t see it on the ultra-sound, so I was scheduled for a biopsy the following day.

The procedure for the biopsy was quite unpleasant.  Laying on a table they injected me with lanocaine; however, they didn’t give me quite enough.  The needle shot into me and when they started to move it around to collect tissue I screamed and jumped off the table.  The nurse literally held me down and said, “Just scream; don’t move.”  Yeah, right!  They gave me more medication, and I made it through the rest of the procedure a bit shaken. 

The following day I was staring at my phone waiting for the call with the results.  I even called the nurse line twice during the late afternoon to see if the results came in.  It was a Friday, and I really didn’t want to go through the entire weekend not knowing.  Then at 5:15 p.m., I got the call from my doctor.  Benign.


You’d think we could get back to normal; however, my son is fighting another cold.  Fevers.  Sore throat.  Not eating.  Sigh…

As I was doing my daily Bible reading, I came across this verse, “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you His peace at all times and in every situation.  The Lord be with you all.”  2 Thess 3:16

I’m feeling pretty battered and bruised now, but I’m still standing on the Rock.  God never promised that the storms of life would pass us by, but He encouraged us to build our house on the Rock, so that when the storms hit we would continue to stand.

Bruce and I were talking last night, and he was saying that if we can’t handle this storm, how are we going to handle living in Israel and bombs exploding around us potentially.  This a recent political cartoon that was published a couple of weeks ago that describes the climate in the Middle East:

Algeria, Bahrain, Climate Change, Libya, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Middle East, Morocco, Oman, Revolution, Tunisia, Yemen : Dry Bones cartoon.

As God protects Israel, who is the apple of His eye, may we remain safe in His care.

“Guard me as you would guard your own eyes.  Hide me in the shadow of your wings.”  Ps 17:8