Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fire and Forgiveness

Today we went to church (our church meets on Saturday mornings... Sabbath day here in Israel) and found that someone broke into the building and set the church on fire this past week. We found that this was the second time in this church's history that someone tried to destroy it. Apparently it is difficult to be a church that proclaims and praises the Messiah Jesus in Jerusalem. This time, because the building is made entirely of concrete, the fire was only able to destroy the interior (chairs and the "stuff"). So... plastic chairs and new "stuff" was brought in and church went on as usual. We also discovered that after the fire many comments were made against the church such as, "You deserve this you soul- stealers" and other negative comments directed against this congregation of Jesus-followers.

After singing praises, the senior pastor (who never preaches because he does not feel like it is his gift) went up on the stage and said, "Today is a very special day. Today is a special day because today we are not going to hold a grudge. Today we are not going to point fingers or cast blame on those who might be responsible for our fire. Today we will love the people who did this thing to us. We will not hold a grudge because holding grudges and becoming bitter is a burden too great for us to bear. We don't even have to bear these burdens because Jesus said He would bear them for us." Then he sat down and the worship service continued.

It is a beautiful thing to see true Christ-like living. It is beautiful to know that Jesus calls us to "turn the other cheek" and to bless when we are cursed. This type of living does more for the cause of Christ than fancy programs and "outreach" events could ever do. Living out the grace and forgiveness of Jesus is the truly effective form of spreading the message of God's love to the world.

* A side note to this event is that the Synagogue next to the church offered free use of their facilities until the church was able to open again. The stage also was decorated with flowers today courtesy of the same synagogue. A reminder of the love of God came to the Church of Jesus the Messiah from those who do not believe. *

Monday, October 22, 2007


As you know, this year I decided to retire and am now in the process of learning a new way of life. No, I am not quite to retirement age (I have about 30 years to go) but I thought I should retire when my kids were young and when I still had all the energy I need to do all the things I want.
My first week of retirement I drove my family up the West Coast, hiked around the woods, and played on beaches. I spent a week with family in Washington State and went golfing (it wouldn’t be retirement without golf). Then we decided to spend some of our retirement money to travel to Europe and show our kids some sites. From Europe we continued our journey to Israel and spent the first day lying in the sun on a sandy beach along the Mediterranean Sea. Retirement to this point was great. Hotels, restaurants, site seeing, golf, and wearing Hawaiian shirts. (I guess the Hawaiian shirt thing could also mean that I am a Senior Pastor of a church in Southern California).
After our time in Tel Aviv we headed to our vacation home in Jerusalem. It is in a beautiful neighborhood with chic shops and cafes two minutes away. Retirement couldn't be going any better.
Then, I went to Hebrew University where I am studying for the year. I spent my first day in a total immersion class learning Hebrew. Once class was over and the swelling in my brain subsided I took the bus home and wondered if there might be better ways to spend retirement. When I arrived home and found my family in the park directly across the street from our vacation home, I realized that I could make this work for one year. Then I think I will rejoin the workforce.... maybe.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What to Read

One of my readers (Kevin) suggested that I post the top ten books to read in one's lifetime. That thought comes with tons of pressure but because I have not completed editing several posts that I am preparing for this site, I thought I would give it a try. Know that I think the following books give good insight into humanity and God so they are worthy of reading from time to time. I do want to change this list however from "Top Ten Books for a Lifetime" to "Books to Read". The other title is much too lofty for a person like me.

1. The Bible by God
2. "Orthodoxy" by GK Chesterton
3. "Brothers Karamozov" or "The Idiot" by Dostoyevsky
4. "Night" by Eli Weisel
5. "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" by CS Lewis
6. "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain
7. "Tremendous Trifles" by Chesterton
8. "The Ragamuffin Gospel" by Brennan Manning
9. "the Divine Conspiracy" by Dallas Willard
10. "All Quiet on the Western Front" by Remarque?
* Bonus * To Kill a Mockingbird