Pesach Preparations Over – The Day Is Here

JerAtNight1

Happy Resurrection Day!  🙂   And welcome to another look inside Israel and our sis in Jerusalem shares about her Passover this year.  Praying you are blessed by her letter and by your Lord!  Thank you for praying and reading. Now, here’s our sis . . .

Beloved sisters and brothers,
Blessings and loving greetings to you all as we all stand in the midst of a week that represents God’s great faithfulness. What a joy that we can step aside and worship The Lamb in so many forms, glorifying Him and remembering all that He has done, is doing and WILL do.  As is written in Psalm 126:3 “The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad” for sure!
I had fully intended to write yet one more ‘Pesach preparation’ letter (I did it in my head)…but I’m afraid that the ‘preparations’ gathered speed and took up ALL of the time and energy until the sun went down and the siren sounded throughout the city ushering in the feast of the Passover.  That ‘holy hush’ fell only briefly as soon the streets filled with people making their way to synagogue or to the house of another…and the festive joy in the streets was tangible as strangers greeted one another with big smiles ‘Ha’ag  sam’eh’ach’ (Joyful holiday). Our new neighbor’s children brought flowers to us which comforted us as our own children are not with us.
This year’s celebration was to be different for us and we discussed it excitedly on the way to the lovely home where we were being hosted.  It would actually be our FIRST time at a “Gentile Christian Seder” (as was written on the haggada…the little book of ‘liturgy’ that is used to guide the order of the evening.)  We were being hosted by dear friends who came as a tour group from Alaska and were staying at one of the local ‘Houses of Prayer’.  We were very excited to see our friends whom we had not seen in 19 years, since leaving Alaska.  When we made aliyah (immigrated to my ancestral home land of Israel) back in 1994, Israel was a very far away place to most of the Christians of our area, and except for a rare few, there was very little revelation, if any, concerning Israel’s place in God’s heart and God’s plan for the present and the future.  Indeed, the purpose of Israel, past and current, seemed a vague, at best, history lesson.  One dear elderly worker for The Lord approached me gently one day just before we left and said ‘Dear…don’t you realize that you are a Christian now and you are not a Jew anymore?’  I must admit, that took me aback as it revealed a foundational misunderstanding of ‘who’ the Jews are.  Yes, there is the Jewish religion…but not everyone born a Jew… born to the nation of the Jewish people, follows the religion.  Sadly, there are Jewish Buddhists, Hindus, secular, witches and even moslems …but they are all still considered Jewish.  A common question asked at the time was “WHY is it again that you are going to ‘Palestine’?  Are you going to be m….s? (a word describing people who ‘share’ that I can not put in a letter…a word that we don’t use here…nor by the way…is if found in scripture, believe it or not!  AND…Neither is ‘Palestine’ … except in the maps at the back of the Bible! J) At any rate…there were not as yet teachings in the Churches concerning the holidays.  At our home, we yearly had our own form of seder with our children in which we would read about 10 chapters in the book of Exodus as well as others concerning the fulfillment in Yeshua and ending with the ‘last Passover seder’ … the marriage supper of The Lamb.  Occasionally my mother couldn’t get matzo to us on time by mail and so we would use tortillas as our unleavened bread…asking for grace.  Aside from a couple of seders with my parents, that was our general ‘tradition’. It all changed when we made aliyah and neighbors and friends began to invite us to their seder.  Some were orthodox, some had ‘child friendly’ seders, some were believers …all were Jewish, but each one was different from the last.  Some lasted until midnight (I understand some go all night!!) and some were so full of singing laughing teenagers that our stomachs hurt when we got home from the laughter!  And that is right, because although the SUBJECT of the seder is The Lord and HIS great Faithfulness…the OBJECT is stated again and again in scripture: TO TEACH THE NEXT GENERATION WHOSE EYES HAVE NOT SEEN FOR THEMSELVES. 
My husband and I discussed all of this on the way to our friend’s.  What would a ‘gentile Christian seder’ be like?  (I know from my emails that a number of you are going to one, and others are hosting them…some very big!) Well… I can tell you right now, IT WAS A BLESSING!  It WAS learning.  It WAS a testimony to the faithfulness of God!  It WAS the gathering of a deeper understanding of The Blood applied to the doorposts as a type of our hearts… and we could only stand back in wonder when it was over, my husband and I: “Great things The Lord hath done for us, whereof we are glad.”  Here we were in Jerusalem, being hosted at a seder by old friends from Alaska…wow!
Ofcourse, ‘the last supper’ before the crucifixion, was a Passover seder, so we know that when Jesus, Yeshua, walked the earth, Jews were still fulfilling this commandment.  It has never stopped.  It has continued through out the centuries, through out the persecutions and dispersions, through out the wanderings and the return.  In concentration camps it continued to the best of their abilities.  It remains a testimony to God’s faithfulness…and I can only wonder!
I have a dilemma. The longer that I am here…the more that I see and experience and begin to understand…the more difficult it becomes to write about and explain.  It seems to me that the less I knew…well…it was just less complicated and simple to talk to you about.  Now…having ‘dug down’ layer past layer past layer…the intricacies of the work of His Hands and Heart defy description!  Thank you for the grace to be blessed by my inadequate offerings. 
So today we awoke – tired – to a hot spring day, beautiful and quiet.  No one works on this day as it is a ‘high holyday’.  The house is so clean (the kitchen anyway!) that I just want to stare at it and not use it…and…OFCOURSE I spilled the juice (yes, fresh squeezed orange juice!) spilled all over the table and floor first thing this morning.  DAVKA! (remember?  That word means ‘Murphy’s law’, or ‘wouldn’t you know it!’) But I didn’t get upset … His Presence was still too close.  We ate our matzo (which we will have for 8 days) and went out for a walk in the country.  It was there that we were reminded of the ominous realities of the day in which we live as we ran into some locusts.  Yes, it was a very small swarm, but if they have made it this far north, it is NOT good.  They are laying their eggs in the ground right now…not good at all!  The south of the country is experiencing huge swarms. Not good at all.  We also understood from the news that the Syrian rebels have taken over the area north of our Golan border.  This is also sobering news as they are making a great deal of noise in Arabic about how Assad has been so bad by “not liberating the Golan from the Zionist regime”.  We had 2 cross border fire incidents this past week.  The US pressure following the Obama visit upon our government to ‘make painful concessions’ also became ominously evident this week as we ‘eased the Gaza blockade’, released money to the Palestinian Authority and ‘apologized’ to Turkey for the death of those on their ship who were trying to breach our naval blockade on Gaza.  Lord knows what else is coming. 
BUT GOD…WHO IS FAITHFUL, AND WHO HAS BEEN FAITHFUL, WILL BE FAITHFUL TO GLORIFY HIS NAME!  You know, the longer I live here, the less I know about WHAT He is going to do (and I hear many who claim that they do know!) except for that one thing: HE WILL GLORIFY HIS NAME!  His purposes are about ours and His thoughts and ways are above ours, and to stand in the center of His will is the ONLY safe place!  I think of the Israelites standing between the sea and the Egyptian…how HOPELESS it looked; BUT GOD was planning to glorify His Name.  I also think of Miriam (Mary) and the other disciples at the foot of the cross…and at the tomb…thinking all was hopeless…BUT GOD had plans to glorify HIS Name!  The older I get, the more I simply want to draw near to Him and trust Him. 
Ok…my husband is ready to eat; more matzo! When we lived in California many years ago, we had to be creative with zucchini that was incredibly abundant…In Alaska it was salmon (I know…most of you can’t IMAGINE getting tired of salmon…but after 3 times a day, YES!  You CAN!)…and here we go to the matzo. WE WILL GIVE THANKS AND EAT WITH JOY!  I send much love, May His Presence rejoice your hearts and change you (and me) to the reflection of HIM! 
Lovingly, your sis here.
OOOOPPPSS….Personal p.s.: 
Our younger daughter and new husband apparently arrived at our older daughters’ family last night for 8 days of Pesach together.  I would appreciate prayer for them all. 
It has come to my attention lately a couple of you have sent us things and you did not receive a response from me.  IF THIS HAPPENS PLEASE CONTACT ME!  With VERY rare unavoidable exceptions I ALWAYS respond as I am SO THANKFUL for anyone who thinks of us.  I am seeing that neither snail mail nor email is always getting through – especially from here to you. 
And finally:  I know that it is annoying, but I still need to ask you to PLEASE make sure to keep MY NAME or the names of any member of my family off of email completely.  That means even in your address book (as it shows up on your email).  (Just list me as ‘friend’ or whatever you would like)  This is because my emails are very explicit and could jeopardize us.  Thank you!!!   
ani b’derek
Published in: on March 31, 2013 at 7:42 am  Comments (28)  
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Pesach Preparations 3 – Speeding Up

JerAtNight1

Hi and welcome to a look inside Israel during the Passover preparations.  I know it’s already past, but our sis in Jerusalem sent all these lovely letters prior to Passover and I wanted to share them with you!   Thank you and God bless you and yours!  Now, here’s our sis . . .

Beloved sisters and brothers in Yeshua,
Blessings and greetings in Him Who is our Peace…the only sacrifice that can wash us from sin and set us free to have real PEACE within.  May all of His blessings be found abundant in you through His promises so freely given.  Wow!  We are so incredibly blessed!
Preparations for Pesach are gathering speed and it is in times like these that the fact that the blinders that have been ripped off of my spiritual eyes becomes even more wondrously precious to me then ever. Because of His great mercy I have access to Him Who is all in all and I don’t NEED to walk in the shadows.  Do I have all light?  Ofcourse not!  But I DO have access to the One Who does!  Halleluyah!
So…I couldn’t sleep. L  It was two a.m. and I was suddenly wide awake.  I was NOT happy about this.  Four thirty (when I USUALLY get up) comes soon enough on a work day, but on Fridays I leave even earlier then my regular 6:30.  I leave at 5:50 so that I can be at prayer meeting by 6:30 for a half hour before running to work at 7 for a very intense day.  I tried to fall back to sleep but could not get the thought of “the death of the firstborn” – the final plague upon Egypt preceding Pesach – out of my head.  It was a loosing battle.  I got out of bed, resigned myself to a strong cup of coffee, and went to my Bible. 
Preparing the heart is definitely the most important part of Pesach preparations. I have been reading in Prophets, Psalms and the Epistles so had not been reading about Pesach. Since I had this extra time, I turned to Exodus 11 on, and looked for last plague; the death of the first born.  I was immediately enraptured, caught up by His Word into His ways.  “Then Moses said, ‘Thus says the Lord: “About midnight I will go out into the midst of Egypt’ and the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the female servant who is behind the handmill, and all of the animals. Then there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as was not like it before, nor shall be like it again.  But against none of the children of Israel shall a dog move its tongue, against man or beast, that you may know that the Lord does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.’” Wow!  NOT very politically correct, is it!  But this is The Lord God Almighty speaking.  It brought me back to something that I have seen along this path of His.  His Word DIVIDES.  We seem to have a choice all along the way…either it is ‘Yes Lord…let it be done to me according to Your Word’…or to squirm under the ‘unfairness’, the ‘inhumanity’ of His judgments.  ‘Humanism’ becomes more ‘just’ then God…more ‘merciful’…I mean…how can He command the death of the first born of innocent animals?  Why would He make a distinction between the Hebrews and the Egyptians?  Over and over, with increasing frequency, I hear these arguments and my heart shivers. I thought of the disciples turning away when He spoke of eating His body and drinking His blood…they could not understand…so they walked away.  I am so thankful that somehow by His mercy I have sought for and been given (in not great enough measure yet) a fear of God.  I truly believe that His ways and thoughts are higher then ours.  I have come to understand that sin is costly and painful in ways far beyond my pea-brain understanding, but that a truly righteous, just and merciful God DOES in fact, need to judge these things.  As I read on through chapters 12 and 13, scripture after scripture jumped into my mind, flooding me again with the intricacy of His Truth and Way.  “…and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your house to strike you.” (12:23)  I flipped to 1 Corin. 10:1-13, on through Hebrews, scripture after scripture and back to Exodus; “So this day shall be to you a memorial, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generation.  You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.” Again and again He clearly lays out the directions.  They are simple really.  “For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land…”  The blood of the lamb saved them…The Blood of The Lamb still saves…for HE IS THE PASSOVER LAMB WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD! 
Five fifty came too soon.  I didn’t want to leave the wonderful Light of The Word and His Spirit to plunge again into the swirling drama of daily life here, but I had no choice.  The day was oppressively hot…our first sha’arav heat wave of the year arrived as the Tel Aviv marathon took place inspite of strong health ministry warnings against it: sport must go on, right?  The runners began at 6am but by 9:30 one was dead and about 30 hospitalized as a result of the extreme heat.  The locusts continue to invade from the south.  The war in Syria on our northern border continues to press southward.  Iran runs toward nuclear weapons and US President Obama is scheduled to arrive here on Wed, paralyzing the city until he leaves on Friday.  He plans to ‘meet the people, rather then address our government.’  Hum.  As of last night we finally have a government …or at least, we will have once it is sworn in tomorrow (Monday). 
And in the midst Pesach draws near. 
People scurry around purchasing gifts, food, cleaning products.  We have one more week.  Next Monday night at sundown the order of the table will be set and a last breath will be drawn in as the subtle change takes place and the drama unfolds … again.  According to scripture on the 10th of the month of Nissan (which this year falls on Thursday the 21st) the lamb was to be taken into the home – a lamb for a household – and kept for four days until it was sacrificed at the Passover.  We are preparing. 
Perhaps you would like to take a fresh look at the first 13 chapters of Exodus. It truly never gets ‘old’! 
Having so little time to write and then finally writing when I am tired is very sad to me, but it is what I have and I offer it to Him – the Lord, the Lamb, Yeshua, with love…and to each of you, dear brothers and sisters.  I am so thankful that we are one in Him!  Blessings to you, your sis in Jerusalem
ani b’derek
Published in: on March 30, 2013 at 7:28 am  Comments (15)  
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Inside Israel – Passover Preparations / Part 3

JerAtNight1

Hi and thank you so much for stopping by for another look inside Israel.  Today our sis in Jerusalem continues to share about this special time, when people prepare their homes and their hearts. God bless you as you read and pray!  Now, here she is . ..

Shalom, dear body of Messiah.  May you be blessed and may HE be blessed and glorified!
It’s beginning to look A LOT like Pesach (Passover)!  As our stores suddenly become sparkling (well…almost) clean, we find that items that we forgot to get have already disappeared off of the shelves, ie; my husband’s breakfast cereal!  With nearly two weeks still left BEFORE Pesach, my poor husband (who usually goes through withdrawals during just the eight days of Pesach) will have to start early…or…discover a less popular cereal that is still on the shelf.  (as fewer and fewer shelves display foods that have leaven…or don’t have the ‘right’ rabbi’s stamp…when an item is ‘out’ it is not restocked.) 
Are there other signs?  Oh yes, many!  The strong but delightful aroma of fresh GARLIC hangs over the shuk and wafts through the air on the trains and buses.  The garlic harvest happens just before Pesach, and because of that many of us give gifts of the beautifully braided bulbs to hang in the kitchen allowing the recipient of such a gift to use a fresh bulb as they cook…whole barbequed and grilled bulbs of garlic are very popular here and garlic is used in many dishes.  Is that a reminder that our ancestors murmured in the desert because the missed the leeks and the garlic?  We have leeks and garlic in abundance here now…we simply needed patience.  Not just the garlic signals the season in the shuk, but the bright red, sweet and fragrant strawberries deck every fruit stand, the colors are dazzling – like a feast of wild flowers to the eyes – the deep greens, oranges, reds, purples, yellows, whites, of the fruits and vegetables so fresh and abundant – all very present and real evidence of God’s great faithfulness…the wonder of it! 
Other things pop up suddenly; ‘ahat pa’ami’ (literally ‘one use’) shops for a start.  These are shops full of every size and shape of disposable item …plates, baking pans, every kitchen item that you can imagine (almost) made in a disposable manner so that you can use it during this ‘inbetween’ stage when your regular dishes and pans are gone and your ‘kosher for Passover’ ones are not to be used yet.  And, yes, there are ‘ecologically friendly ones’ (although I don’t see how).  Plastics shops do a booming business as people replace everything from dish drains to garbage pails.  There is even a ‘sink insert’ the size of a kitchen sink that you can place in your sink with a drain hole in the center and … voila!  A kosher for Pesach sink is installed. 
“Where are you going for seder?” is the sentence I am now hearing through out the day.  It is such a blessing that people care for one another!  It is commanded that the seder be a big and full meal with your table full and ‘none of the  lamb remaining until morning’.  Although the lamb is now symbolic (yes, many do eat lamb, but it is awfully expensive as is most meat, so often fish and poultry sit on the table), it is considered sad indeed for ANYONE to be alone for this meal and great effort is made to make sure that everyone is cared for.  As you can imagine, it is a very costly meal to prepare, as often the table hosts between 10-100 people.  AND I NEGLECTED TO MENTION THE MATZO!  How could I have done that!  The war of the matzo sales has begun!  Who can lure you into their store with the promise of ‘the best price for matzo’ – this is now the battle!  Bitter roots are appearing to deck the seder plate, and there are gifts to buy as this is the time for giving of gifts…oh the ACTIVITY! 
I have had some wonderful opportunities to open discussions with women of late.  On Tuesday (when I began this letter) I had my regular blood test.  The technician who took my blood was a ‘dati’ (religious) woman and when I said that I was tired she said ‘Oh!  From all of the cleaning and preparations!’  This was a wonderful door.  ‘No, actually I have barely begun, but I find it not so hard to prepare for Pesach as I follow the scriptural command to simply have no leaven in my home.’ She smiled and told me that she has also remembered that this was the command.  ‘One year while I was scrubbing the floor on my knees’ I told her, ‘I felt as if God said to me ‘This is where I want you…on your knees letting me shine My light on leaven in your heart so that your heart can be clean of leaven!’  I told her how liberating that had been to me and she breathed in every word.  I am finding people so very receptive this year as I have shared this with a number of other women. It feels as if I am sowing living seed into prepared soil. 
But all is not ‘roses’ as we prepare together for the feast of remembrance.  We are experiencing our first ‘sha’arav’ (desert heat wave – hot winds blowing off the desert that literally suck the water out of you) of the year and this is early.  An international marathon scheduled to be held in Tel Aviv tomorrow has been cancelled by the health ministry as several years ago a runner died from dehydration during a sha’arav.  The locusts that came up from the Sudan, through Egypt continue to multiply and plague our south and threaten our crops inspite of heavy spraying and our still unsure government has been snagged again as they were to sign the coalition agreement tonight…it is again on ‘hold’.  My heart was deeply grieved to tears as our Prime Minister gave in to the very liberal, humanistic party demanding the education portfolio.  This party has the strong backing of the homosexuals.  Thus far our children have been spared these teachings that are rampant in western countries.  My heart was rent to wake up this morning to see that this ministry was now in their hands.  On top of these ominous events…American President Obama is scheduled to arrive on the 20th…this coming Tues., for a 3 day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.  He will not address our Knesset (parliament or congress) but plans to address ‘the people’.  This is what he has done in places like Egypt before their turmoil…and we are wary.  VERY wary…
There is never a dull moment here.  ‘Boredom’ does not exist. 
So we prepare.  We prepare our homes and our hearts…our families.    
When I came to Him some 37+ years ago, He began to open to me (sovereignly as I read and prayed- not through any teaching) the beauty of all of His patterns and paths.  I saw in the holidays, not a ‘law’ and a ‘restraint’ or ‘religious form’, but a tangible and visible expression of His character and nature…a picture of Who He is…and a loving ‘command’ to ‘keep these ways’.  Somehow it did not occur to me that if HE said somewhere in His Word that something was an “abomination” to Him, that because of The Blood of Yeshua I was now suddenly ‘free’ to ‘enjoy’ it.  It didn’t make sense to me.  Why would I WANT to ‘enjoy’ what my Lord called an “abomination”?  Did His opinion of it suddenly change?  In the same vain, if He told us to ‘keep this remembrance’ of a miracle that He performed ‘forever’, why would I NOT want to keep it.  NO, I DON’T keep if for my salvation, or to fulfill the law…He IS the fulfillment of the law.  I keep it for LOVE’S sake…for the love of beauty of His plan and purpose…from a desire to learn to obey His voice…from a desire to love what He loves and to identify with His people who yet have blinders on their eyes.  Paul (Shaul) said  in1 Corin 9:20“ To the Jews I have become like a Jew in order to win Jews; to men under the Law as if I were under the Law–although I am not–in order to win those who are …” 
I will go to sleep now as tomorrow begins early.  On a personal note, I am so blessed that our younger daughter and her new husband will be traveling on very inexpensive tickets, from Minnesota to California on the 25th to be with her older sister and family for the 8 days of Pesach!  It brings us much joy to know that they have chosen to be together, even if we can not be with them.  How wonderful that He truly has all things set in His order for His purposes and His glory.  May we choose His ways.  May we walk together in peace, demonstrating who HE is to a lost and dying world.  May each of you be encouraged in Him, His Word and His Spirit.  May we love what He loves.  ALL glory to The Lamb that was slain and Whose precious Blood is on the doorposts of our hearts. 
Lovingly, your sis in Jerusalem
 
Published in: on March 24, 2013 at 8:33 am  Comments (25)  
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Inside Israel – Passover Preparations, Part 2

JerAtNight1

Hi and welcome to another look inside Israel as our sis in Jerusalem shares about the preparations taking place as Passover approaches.  This is the second have of last weeks letter. Hope that isn’t too confusing!Thank you and God bless you!  Now, here she is . .. .

Actually, all of the cleaning and changing over that families do at this time of year is excellent opportunity to examine our hearts and the story of Pesach as we are on our knees scrubbing.  The religious families and many others take the full month to recount the meaning with their children.  In the synagogues the weekly readings are leading up to the Pesach itself. 
 
It is so much easier, in a practical way, to ‘keep the Pesach’ here in Israel, then it was in the ‘exile’.  In all of the stores and even in the open markets and our shuk, every shelf and bit of equipment is being scrubbed clean and/or exchanged for equipment kept in storage specifically, year after year, for Pesach.  Many markets boil their shelves.  Food items with any trace of leaven are already being removed completely from shelves or are being placed in a single area that will be cleaned just before Pesach.  Later, just before Pesach itself, certain food shelves and full aisles in stores will be sealed in shrink wrap, and other shops will close completely during the full holy day.  The actual Pesach is observed for 8 days when no leaven is supposed to be seen at all in the land.  Even though MOST Jews and most Israelis observe Pesach, sadly more and more of the secular Jews are casting it aside and more and more leaved items are available – though it is illegal for a Jew to sell them – (although many Arab stores often make a huge display of their leavened goods during Pesach, knowing that they will bring in many of the secular Jews).
 
The Bible (the first covenant or old testament) is part of our regular school curriculum here, so the children in school are also reading the account and learning the traditions that go along with it, including the order of the seder.  While our Grandchildren were in school here, it delighted me to hear their accounts of what they were learning.
 
Over the years that I have lived here I began to notice that the Passover account is referred to, scripturally, in just about all of the prescribed holy days.  I didn’t realize that before.  I began to delight in discovering another reference to the Passover.  At each holy day we are told to remember the exodus and rejoice in it. 
 
Living here has also driven me to pray constantly for increased discernment; not because of physical danger, but more so spiritual.  Often I have referred to my first Pastor’s admonition that we remember that not every spirit that wiggles is The Holy Spirit.  How true!  As each holy day approaches, the wide array of self proclaimed prophets that often join themselves to the local body here for a season or more, begin to announce that ‘this is ‘it’’.  If you have been a believer for more then a year, you have likely stood before The Lord on several occasions, holding the current ‘warning’ before Him and asking Him if indeed He is coming – and or judging – at this time.  It is usually as a particular Jewish holy day approaches.  Generally I have heard most pronouncements at Passover, Rosh h’shana, Succot and Shavuot…usually influenced by the events going on around the world.  It is surely a tumultuous season that we are in and a dangerous one, and the decay of morals and polarization of populations has increased.  One would be concerned just in the natural, and of course we are told to ‘not despise prophecy’;  but to discern which prophecy is of God and which is of the flesh or even of another spirit…this is most important if we are truly going to be lead by His Spirit.  It brings me much fear to recount what the discipline for a false prophet should be…and to see how LITTLE false prophecy seems to be dealt with today…or even repented of!  God help us to walk before Him and to know Him.
 
So, in this atmosphere I am hearing clearly to ‘prepare’, and so I walk.  Prepare my heart, prepare my home, prepare different things as He seems to lead, to prepare my mind by casting down vain imaginations and EVERYTHING that exalts itself above the knowledge of Him… follow Him! 
 
And…I plan to share more with you concerning the preparations for this Pesach as the time approaches. 
 
Thank you for your prayers concerning our family.  To update you concerning my husband’s hip, we were happy to learn that it was not a new fracture, but apparently when his other hip was fractured when he was hit by the motorcycle 2 years ago, there was an undiagnosed fracture on this side as well and it has developed bursitis.  J  We are beginning to function again at our previous pace.  Whew! 
 
Thank you so much, dear brothers and sisters, friends…body of Messiah!  What a privilege I have to walk with you!  I LOVE getting mail and email and I DON’T get a lot, but I admit to sometimes having NO time to answer and I do so apologize.  May The Lord be glorified in His body worldwide.  May He find us waiting, watching and reflecting Him…and finishing the work that He gave us to do.  May each of us be full of Him where ever He has placed us. 
 
I send MUCH MUCH LOVE!  Your sis
 
A small p.s.:  many jokes are going around right now about a locust plague that has descended upon Egypt just 3 weeks before Passover…even as we spray against them in our Southern Negev (they have begun to arrive).  There are some stunning videos of them if you google ‘locusts in Egypt 2013’.  It brings the book of Exodus very much to life.
ani b’derek
Published in: on March 17, 2013 at 8:51 am  Comments (14)  
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Inside Israel – First installment – Passover

 

JerAtNight1

Hi and welcome to a look inside Israel today, as our sis in Jerusalem shares about the Passover preparations!  Thank you and God bless you as you read and pray! Now, here she is . . .

Beloved sisters and brothers,
 
 I look forward to sitting down to write to you because I picture you – and over the years I have grown to stand in love with the body, His body, more and more in wonder.  May each of you be blessed and encouraged in Him.  May we all draw nearer to Him in spirit and in truth.  May His Word be our delight and daily food and may we walk in it for His glory alone, particularly as the time grows short. 
 
I’ve had a repetitive ‘message’ in my heart lately, actually growing in intensity, ‘to be ready’- ‘prepare’.  That is the wonderful thing about The Lord; I don’t need to know ‘WHAT’ exactly it is that I must be ready for, but He leads in the preparations of heart and path ANYWAY.  That gives me such peace!  I have ‘suggestions’ in my heart, and some understanding, but most real to me in this time is:
 “Trust in The Lord with all of your heart and lean not unto your own understanding.  In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He WILL direct your path”. Proverbs 3:3-5.
 
These ‘instructions’ that I have felt so deeply in my heart of late are reflected in the natural as well, as it is time to prepare for Passover – Pesach in Hebrew. 
 
Pesach begins a month after Purim.  If you have been reading these letters over the past 18 years, you know that the preparations for Pesach are INTENSE!  Several years ago the rabbis grew alarmed that so many women were having nervous breakdowns and even committing suicide during this preparation season of cleaning and ‘koshering’ the home, and they realized that many women became deeply burdened trying to remove every possible crumb of leaven from their homes.  When I say ‘intense’ I mean that people on the third floor were removing screens from windows and boiling them, least there have been a ‘dust of leaven’ caught in the screen.  Scrubbing every crack in the home with toothbrushes when you have 8 or 10 children can be quite a challenge.  Many people felt compelled to REPLACE sofas, refrigerators, stoves…and for some…ALL furniture, because there MIGHT be some leaven stuck somewhere.  The ‘joke’ was; ‘And we thought we were slaves in EGYPT!’, but there was much more truth to that then ‘joke’. Then there is the replacing of all of the food and the cooking for 20 or more people…the list drove many women to true madness.  THANKFULLY, the rabbis began to speak with one mouth the message that God was more interested in the leaven in the heart then a possible crumb in an undiscovered corner…AND…encouraging women to remember that dust is not leaven.  In other words, preparing the house for Pesach does not necessarily mean that it needs to be immaculately clean.  The commandment is simply that there is to be no leaven seen in our homes for 8 days. It has not done away with all striving, particularly in the most religious communities, but it has seemed to lessen the panic as Pesach rapidly approaches.   
 
Pesach is perhaps the most significant of all of the prescribed holy days in Judaism for many reasons.  What a beautiful and deep study the study of Pesach is, and it is surprisingly marvelous to many at just how much the observance of Pesach has remained the same since it was commanded by God to the Jewish people some 5,000 years ago. 
I myself look with wonder as the preparations begin yearly…seemingly planted into our very genetic material…similar to the migration of animals; they lift their noses to the wind and ‘know’…it is time to move.  So it seems with us.  ‘Prepare for Pesach!’
 
All of the foundational meaning and directions for the observance of the holyday are found in the book of Exodus, clearly laid out.  During the years that we raised our children in the ‘diaspora’ or ‘exile’ (how BLESSED I was to be ‘exiled’ in such a wonderful land!) we used the book of Exodus as our ‘haggada’ during our Pesach ‘seder’.  A haggada is a small book read through the ‘seder’ meal – which literally means ‘order’ (as there is a prescribed ‘order’ to the meal and ceremony).  The content of the haggada has changed over the years and each community has their own style and content, although they all contain the basic story of Passover.  History and traditions of each community is added to their haggada over the years (sometimes they don’t change their haggada for 100 years or more and continue the reading of the teachings of the old sages as they wrote many years before) but the little beautifully illustrated ancient books are used in each home during the seder meal.  As I said…we used the book of Exodus and we added in the fulfillment scriptures proclaiming The Lamb of God Who came to take away the sin of the world.  We wondered at the Precious Blood that spoke of better things then the blood of Abel and washed our sins away as the blood of lambs and goats couldn’t do…The Blood that, applied to the doorposts of our hearts, prevails even today…and we worshipped The Risen Lord even as we ate the unleavened bread and recounted the extraordinarily intricate perfect plan of God from its inception!  It is quite a vivid revelation to understand that sin costs dearly…that God gave us a perfect picture of just how awful sin is in His sight- and how loudly blood speaks!…that the death of a pure innocent lamb was needed to cover the awfulness of sin…and it still is…but has been paid once and for all at the cost of even greater pain.  What a mystery, so full of love and pain and exquisite wisdom that His children would follow Him in His way!  And yet we haven’t.  How can this be? 
 
Oh, but I am WAY ahead of myself!  Forgive me for getting caught up in the meaning of Pesach.  It is part of the preparation of my heart personally. 
 

(Stay tuned for part 2!)

ani b’derek

Inside Israel – A Time of Sharing / Part 2

JerAtNight1

Hi and thank you for stopping by for another look inside Israel today!  Our sis in Jerusalem is sharing about what she observes with a heart for Him.  God bless you as you read and pray! Now, here she is .. .

It is now the night of the 18th and I began this letter two days ago.  So much is going on in our country and I am clueless as to what is known on the ‘outside’…and if things from here are being reported, how they are being displayed and interpreted. 
 
Currently our yet-to-be-formed government is in a real crisis.  Our system is a mystery to many of you and indeed, it took me about 10 years to get a minimal grasp on how it works.  Although Netanyahu was elected, he was elected to form the next government and given a time period of just under a month in which to do it.  To do that, he must negotiate with the many parties who won seats in our Knesset (Parliament or Congress) and have a majority join him (thus forming a ‘coalition) and that is just not happening.  If it does not come together soon we will have to go to new elections again.  It is quite serious. 
 
We also have a new ‘scandal’ over a previously unidentified ‘prisoner – x’ who apparently committed suicide in jail.  He held duel Israeli Australian citizenship and an Australian news magazine did a major ‘expose’. He was a Mosad (Israel’s famous spy agency) agent and very serious security issues are involved.  The news media is aflutter with noise…and noise that is potentially damaging to Israel.  This is a dangerous diversion that we could have done without. 
 
The war in Syria has begun spilling over into Israel.  Two days ago, seven Syrian soldiers were brought to Israel having been severely wounded and are in a hospital here in our North.  The rebels seeking to take over Syria are of great concern to Israel. 
 
These are just a few of our current crisis’. THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT OUR 7 YEAR WATER CRISIS HAS ENDED! THANK YOU LORD! The FUNNY news is that when the public announcement was made we were told in the next sentence that we were NOT having our water prices rolled back at all, much less the pre-crisis level, because we are now de-salinating water and THAT is expensive!    
 
And in the midst, God remains on the throne!  Does that mean that we will be spared the judgment that seems imminent to the nations of the earth;?  I, personally, do not see it that way.  But it is given to me to know Him and His voice and His ways, and to follow Him. I totally trust His judgment…He IS The Righteous and True Judge.  And how we get to focus on His ways again as the days of Purim rapidly approach.  Thursday is the fast of Esther.  We all seem to love the book of Esther where she is told ‘Perhaps you have come into the kingdom for such a time as this.’  I often think of that as I ride the bus or train or deal with people at work in sometimes such wonderful and fearful ways…but it is for such a time as this that we were each brought to the place in which we stand.  Esther was found faithful.  We read it now and it looks so simple…but the more I look at what it must have been like to really BE her, it the more extraordinary and rare that her faithfulness becomes.  Perhaps you will join with us and spend some time in this book?  Saturday night and Sunday Purim will be celebrated in the country as a whole.  I have been here long enough to watch it take more and more of a form that I am ashamed of…resembling the witches sabbeth or mardi gras more then a scriptural celebration.  The costumes have become generally awful and the drinking (which had a religious tradition) has become a free for all. It is so grievous to me. It is somewhat better for ‘Shushan Purim’ in Jerusalem, the ‘walled city’ which this year begins on Sunday night through Monday.  Perhaps you remember how I have shared over the years that according to the tradition, Purim is held for two days in ‘walled cities’ because Shushan was allowed a second day of Purim.  Since many religious live in Jerusalem, we still see modest Queen Esther and Mordachi costumes.  I do so enjoy watching the religious families with their ‘tribes’ of children, rushing joyfully from place to place happily delivering ‘mishloach manot’ (sent portions) baskets of fruit and sweets all over the city.  As it is recorded in the book of Esther, that the Jews ‘…made the day a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another.’ (from Esther 9:19) and that continues through today. In the midst of it all, we stop and atleast some of us really are taking notice of the fact that ‘Great things The Lord hath done for us, whereof we are glad’ as David said in Psalm 126
 
And so, having taken so much of your time already, I will just quickly bring you up to date concerning our family. My husband was in great pain the night that the prayer conference began, and he was diagnosed with a ‘closed pelvic fracture’.  I have been 120% involved in medical things concerning him and the results are inconclusive, but he is much better.  He seems to be fine now…is walking and working although he has missed a lot of work due to dr. appointments and tests. He became extremely depressed and the weight of our children and Grandchildren leaving the country became very heavy again.  I was way overtired with all of the added responsibilities and came down with a stubborn case of bronchitis. It picked up a shovel and dug me a deep slimy pity-party-pit. His wonderful faithful Spirit battled in me and I repented of that sin and plan to stay in His victory.  I actually have much that I would love to share about that, but will end with a birthday gift that He gave me yesterday:
 
Perhaps some of you remember the wonderful gift that I was given last year at this time when He miraculously opened the door for me to go to Tel Aviv Yafo for a night and two days to attend a conference for local women lead by a sister from America whom I had never heard of (Dottie Schmidt).  I NEVER do anything like this, but I had an irresistible urge to go and recognized that it was Him.  I was deeply touched at that conference and the sister ministering and I had a special connection.  As the same time of year approached I began to pray about going again should she return, but this time the door was firmly closed. I prayed about it.  I received an email from a local sister telling me that she had driven this visiting sister to a congregation to speak that Shabat and Dottie had asked ‘Do you know a woman named ______ (remember I don’t use my name at all online) from Jerusalem?  She was at the meetings last year and I have been praying for her and was looking forward to seeing her’.  The sister mentioned the hotel that she was staying in before the meetings begin and it is within walking distance of my apartment.  Since yesterday was my day off, I prayed and though ‘What presumption! But Lord, if You want us to meet up, please make a way.’  I went down town and did my chores and kept lifting it up.  On the way back home I took a deep breath and thought ‘What can I loose.’ And committed it to The Lord.  I had a card to leave at the desk for her and was going to sit down and write in it when I thought; perhaps I’ll leave a message at her room as well.  I called up from the desk and she answered.  I was flustered.  She insisted that I come up and looked amazed.  ‘How in the world did you know that I was here?’ she asked.  Then she explained that she had only been in the room to sleep and that this was a 3 hour period that she had asked to stay back alone!  Indeed The Hand of The Lord had given me a gift as we shared and prayed together and I was deeply ministered to! 
 
AND…I have NO DOUBT that your prayers (and I do NOT say that as flattery or fancy spiritual words, God forbid!) play such an important role in my life and the path through this world to victory … for His glory!   
 
Thank you so much for taking the time to read all (or part) of this.  Thank you for standing with us.  Please know that you would be embarrassed if you knew how much I care about each of you…you are a blessing! 
 
May His grace and mercy draw each of us deeper into His Word and His Spirit…and may we have His discernment in these day!  Lovingly, your sis here. 
 ani b’derek
Published in: on March 3, 2013 at 9:13 am  Comments (10)  
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Inside Israel – A Time of Sharing / Part 1

JerAtNight1

Hi and welcome to a look inside Israel! Today our sis in Jerusalem shares more of what she has been seeing and walking out.  Thank you for reading and praying!  God bless you! Now , here’s she is . . .

Dear Sisters and Brothers, friends,
I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.
You who fear the Lord, praise Him!   All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel!
.” 
 
I wasn’t sure how to start this letter…except in my heart.  As I began to search the scriptures for the words “bless The Lord”, the verses welled up my heart and overflowed, but this one from Psalm 22:23,24 stood out in particular: I declare YOUR Name, Yeshua h’Meshiach, Jesus, in the midst of the assembly of my brethren.  Those who fear The Lord and all of the descendants of Jacob are exhorted to praise HIM.  It is an exhortation to me, and so prayerfully I begin to write in the hopes of glorifying Him, edifying His children, and being a faithful witness of those things and events around me.  Bless The Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His HOLY NAME! 
 
And that is exactly why I HAVEN’T been writing; I have been stuck in a nasty pity party pit and it is IMPOSSIBLE to be a blessing to The Lord from there…and we are not much good to our brothers and sisters either!  The Lord has forgiven me and I ask you to forgive me too.  I will share more personal stuff at the end of the letter
 
Yesterday, (Friday) on my early morning trip downtown, I finally found a blessing in connection with the train: It was warm and no one could get on and open a window!  That’s right.  Our ‘train’ is so modern that it has an automatically set ‘climate’ (along with everything else) and no windows that can be opened without a sledge hammer.  Along with everyone else, I was NOT happy about having vehicles with windows that couldn’t open, but this winter I am blessed by them.  I tend to suffer a great deal from the cold.  Added to that our apartment is cold and so is my work place.  I have suspected that one way in which The Lord tries me with this, oh so common scenario:  I have been waiting at the bus stop and am cold.  The bus finally arrives and I get on and…ahhh!  It is warm!  None of the windows are open (atleast not near me) and it is cozy! I am able to sit down and, davka, at the very next stop someone gets on and announces ‘Mah zeh!  Hom meod poh! Ain avir!’ (‘What is this? It is so hot in here! There is no air!’) and immediately they begin to open windows, beginning with the one in front of me. Now I am stuck with not-too-nice thoughts…and the battle is on; flesh vs spirit! Does my ‘nah nah nah’ win out or can I be like Paul and Silas, who must have been pretty uncomfortable bound in jail?  I am sure that we all fight this particular battle.  Funny, but it is one of the few things in our lives over which we really DO have any actual ‘control’: How will we respond to what is in our path. Daily, minute by minute, we have this choice and I continue to fight this battle. I listen to far greater more spiritual brethren discussing passionately the times and the seasons and I am still trying to walk through daily life with His Peace characterizing my every word, action and thought! Kita aleph (grade 1) perhaps, but I dare not move on to the next until I get THIS one down!
 
The battle of the mind; As I was passing through the shuk last week, a man carrying a huge wooden tray of fresh pita on his head rushed past me.  This is a common occurrence which I usually take no note of anymore, but I was very suddenly reminded of how unique it looked to me…how ‘picturesque’…when we first arrived.  I began looking about me and noticing afresh what people here wear on their heads.  In the Middle East it is often easy to know much about a person’s probable lifestyle by what they have on their heads.  I began to list them: there were kippot’ (the small ‘cap’, ‘beanie’, ‘yarmulke’ worn by religious Jewish men but what stream of practice they follow can be identified by many things: is the kippa ‘knitted’ or is it material? Is it satin or velvet? Is it black or colors? There are religious women with all manner of head coverings, each style also identifying her with her practices.  There are some with scarves, some with hats, some with wigs, and some with turbans.  Moslem women have their style of scarf, tied differently then the way that the Jewish women tie them.  Then there is the keffiyeh that Moslem men wear, the checked head wrap, also distinguishing identity, position and belief by the color of the check and the twined rope used to hold it.  I am not even going to begin to mention beards and hair styles, also prescribed for different groups of both religious Jews and Moslems.  Add to this mix the secular, who often distinguish themselves by proudly shaving their uncovered heads (both in the case of men and women) if being simply uncovered isn’t distinct enough.  I thought about head coverings a great deal during this wonderfully rainy season too, as I noticed afresh one day all of the Haradi men (I neglected to mention them in the ‘hat list’.  They wear black hats…velvet, fur, felt, again identifying much about them…and their hats, being very expensive, are a specially prized possession.) dressed in ‘plastic bags’. Yes, I mean that literally.  When it rains the hats are covered with a plastic bag from the market.  It works…but I was reminded how ‘funny’ it looked to me when I first arrived in the country. I was also reminded of how we used plastic bags in Alaska to line our boots and it was a wonderfully practical addition (particularly to ‘moon boots’) both for dryness and warmth.  I know that many people, when finding themselves suddenly exposed to the weather here, will line their coat with plastic bags.  I have done this myself and realized that it is surprisingly good insulation. 
So much for a ‘winter survival lesson’! 
This began with what was going on INSIDE of my head, where it counts.  No matter what manner of hat we dress ourselves in it won’t change what is in our heads and hearts. Funny…it might ‘identify’ us to one another, but God has eyes that see through all of that. 
 
It is now 17th Feb…my birthday in the (swiftly aging) flesh and it is a real joy to be spending this time with you!  I want to continue with the thought I left off with last night…about what was going on INSIDE of my head…and I wondered how different we are then those who identify themselves by their ‘head covering’.  What IS ‘my head covering?’ I wondered.  Am I as ‘kind’ as I appear?  As ‘nice’?  As ‘wise’?  As ‘spiritual’? Are these ‘coverings’ or ‘identities’ misleading or announcing me to be someone whom THE LORD does not see me to be when He uses His ‘searchlight’ in my spirit? Wow…that is heavy.  I am reading through both Isaiah AND Jeremiah and tremble when The Lord addresses those who do things in secret and that in the temple!  That is what we are…His temple…and what is done within the secret place of my thought life…am I sure that it is not offensive in there? 
 
All of this came about from ‘head coverings’. May our heads be covered with grace and filled with minds washed by the water of the Word, letting this mind be in us which is in Him!
 
your sis in Jerusalem
continued next Sunday . ..
Published in: on February 24, 2013 at 9:02 am  Comments (10)  
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Inside Israel – From the Negev

Negev Deserttrekearth.com

Negev Desert
trekearth.com

Hi and welcome to this look inside Israel! Today our sis in Jerusalem shares about the trip her and her hubby took  back on January 1st.  Praying that it blesses you and thank you for reading and praying!  Now, here’s our sis . . .

THE NEGEV!  Camels, Bedouin tribes, a wide array of wild life, dry ‘wadis’ (deep creeks), sand and hot winds…these are some of the images that arise in our imaginations…the imaginations of those of us who have not lived in and known the desert named the Negev.  There are other images that arise according to the things that we who love The Lord and know His Word have read; We know that the desert HAS blossomed and that there are now steams in the desert…we pray along with David who knew the Negev so well and cried out “As the deer pants for the water, so my heart longeth for Thee.” We have read of a dry and thirsty land where there is no water and the promises that HE will pour HIS (LIVING) water out upon it.  This is the place that my husband and I chose to visit…to witness for ourselves.
I mentioned that my husband and I have NEVER (in our more then 40 years together) done anything like this…not even taking a honeymoon.  Those of you who know us long, and through these years of being planted in our new ancient land, know that we have been very tired…exhausted really. I would have been very happy with a week to simply clean my house, which is dreadfully in need of my attention.  But we have found that our children leaving has actually been traumatic and we needed to get our bearings. Since my husband has NOT been walking with The Lord for quite awhile, the approaching holidays with no family seemed to loom in front of us like a huge black cloud.  I prayed for direct guidance.  ‘Lord, show me a way to walk through this toward Your victory!’ Just about that time two things happened: My boss told me that I still had a week vacation that I needed to use before the first of Jan. (all I could think of was a clean house!) Also, we received a gift.  The idea of going away for a couple of days sprouted and grew and I finally presented it as a ‘gift’ to my husband.  To my surprise he was pleased and suggested that we go south to the desert.  I have longed to go to the desert.  I have been there twice: once with my ulpan (language class) more then 18 years ago.  We went to the beautiful Mitzpe Ramon crater…a breathtaking sight.  I went there once again with friends who were visiting from abroad, and I road down with them for a day trip, but was so tired that time that I slept most of the way!
The Negev begins basically at Be’er Sheva (pronounced in most English Bibles ‘Beer Sheba’) The name means ‘seven wells’ and is named after the wells that Avraham (Abraham) dug in the area.  It is a huge area and is North of the Sinai Desert which is now in Egyptian possession. Our army has a lot of bases throughout the area that represents about HALF of our country’s land mass!  Our weather reports have reported rains from the north to the Negev, but it turned out that they have not yet received the rain.  When it does rain, there are flash floods that literally FILL the deep wadis apparently very dramatically. Each year people are rescued from the flash floods and some do loose their lives as the water comes up so quickly and almost without warning.  When the rains come, the plant life INSTANTLY bursts into dramatic bloom.  We did not witness it this trip but hope to some day.  The Negev is indeed home to many Bedouin tribes and also to many kibbutzim, towns, farms and ranches.  For all of that, it is still a sparse population and as we drove south from Be’er Sheva, the stress just literally rolled off of us.  We had initially looked for a place (according to friends’ recommendations) at Mitzpe Ramon, but were unable to get rooms for the days that we planned to go.  I continued to pray.  The only remaining place that I could locate with my very limited understanding of ordering a room on the web, was at Sde Boker Vineyard Farms (in English…the Hebrew would translate as Boker River Farm).  The photos looked ok, but ofcourse they were not going to put photos on their ad that didn’t!  Armed with our map and the prayers of a wife, we located a sign in the wilderness with an arrow.  We followed a dirt road to an electric gate with a sign telling us to ‘call this number to enter’.  I called…no answer.  We waited and called again. Uh oh!  We left, but it was only about 10 minutes before they called us and asked what we wanted.  THANKFULLY, they confirmed that we had reservations and could return. 
The gates opened and our first impression was…well…’TUNDRA’!  Ok.  Some of you don’t know that we are from Alaska.  Our weekly newspaper (when we lived in bush Alaska) used to have an illustrated column that taught one word in Yupik (the Native tongue). The ONLY one that I remember showed an Eskimo man ice fishing through a hole and his wife comes up to him and says “What have you caught?”  He makes a ‘0’ with his fingers and says ‘TUNDRA!’ (nothing!)  It was very funny and so we remembered it.  We looked at each other as we drove into our desert dwelling and both said ‘TUNDRA!’ and laughed.  Laughing is good.  We haven’t done much of it lately.  As we walked to our hut we asked where we could get something to eat.  Our young host stopped and thought; ‘Is this Wed.?’ he asked.  We assured him it was.  He said ‘No restaurants on Wed.  Only on weekends. You can probably buy some food at the gas station in Sde Boker…IF they are still open.  I think they close at 4 so you had better hurry.  We have breakfast here though.’ He brought us up to our cabin.  It was COLD (like our apartment) and my husband asked ‘Is there any heat?’ He flipped a switch and a heater came on.  We smiled.  NICE!  We can live with that.  There was a small refrigerator, microwave and electric pot (kumkum). No t.v.-no radio-no phone-… I smiled and relaxed even more.  ‘There are some games in that box’ he said pointing to a box with dominoes and games like that.  ‘Oh! I almost forgot!  The jacuzzi!’ We walked down a small hill and there under a thatched lean-to was an outdoor jacuzzi.  Now, I am not a jacuzzi fan…actually I have only had contact with them twice…but it was so silent and still there that it looked delightful.  ‘Do you have y-fi?’ (internet hook up, for the technically limited…like me) My husband asked.  ‘If you go back down to the bunk house, there is a red chair.  If you sit on THAT CHAIR…SOMETIMES you can get reception.’ I LIKED this place!  We ran off to get some noodles to boil down the road and came back to discover more about our surroundings.  We had hot running water on demand.  That was a real plus, (we don’t have it at home) but I wasn’t sure if my husband was as pleased as I was.  This was NOT a ‘luxury hotel’. ‘You know…we can always just leave and drive down the road.’ I said. ‘Well…let’s wait till morning.’ He suggested.  After our dinner he suggested a jacuzzi, so out we went.  Under the silence and with a canopy of stars, in the warm water, we began to thaw and really relax.  After a deep 12 hour (yes…when I say TIRED, I mean TIRED!) sleep, we woke to a crowing rooster, as we had done for so many of our younger years.  I could hear horses neighing, but nothing else.  I looked out over the desert and prayed ‘Lord, give me YOUR Eyes to see what You have placed here for me to learn.  Give me Your eyes to see the beauty.  Please don’t let me miss a thing.’
And He answered that prayer. 
After a farm breakfast in an open (cold!) hut, we started walking over the hills and into the wadis.  Our eyes became accustomed to the beauty of each rock and we began to pick out more interesting ones.  We found that the Negev is not sand, but ROCKS.  Serious ROCKS!   We heard a donkey and watched 4 Bedouin children with neither saddle nor bridle trying to round up a stray goat.  The oldest child on the front lead the donkey and the next older on the far back switched him to make him go faster.  Between the two older ones, they pinned the 2 smaller ones safely in between them.  We delighted to watch them! 
During our two nights and 3 days we drove to Mitzpe Ramon, explored the Nabatean excavations at Avdat along the ancient Spice Route that is so full of history (the 3 wise men from the east likely took this route when they followed the star) and which also is such a part of the ‘Back to Jerusalem’ vision among the Chinese believers.  I was blessed to see the very scriptures that I had read that morning in Isaiah on the desk in Ben Gurion’s home in Sde Boker identified as some of the scriptures that he kept on his desk through the years. But our BEST times just came in walking quietly in the desert, observing, listening, and breathing in the hugeness of it all.  He is so very very good to ‘confirm His inheritance when it is weary!
We spoke to the young siblings who were running the farm…a girl in her early twenties perhaps and a brother who is scheduled to go into the army in March. They told us that their parents usually run the place with them but their parents had taken a year off and were riding bikes across Europe.  We were deeply touched to see these young people left with the responsibility of caring for a vineyard, horses and chickens as well as bed and breakfast guests and cleaning and maintaining cabins!  Pretty impressive!  But then we were impressed with the quality of the people who live in the Negev in general.  They appear to be strong, passionate and practical in a unique combination.  We talked about moving down there…but we realized that we are just too old to begin again in this manner…just not physically strong enough anymore.  In my heart of hearts as well, I am committed to my fellowship and would have to know that it was The Lord opening the door! 
All too soon it was time to return to the city, but we have been deeply blessed.  I wish I could say that my husband used this occasion to find his way back to The Lord, but there is no outward move that I can share yet.  He Who works in our hearts IS All-powerful and Almighty.
My husband HAS asked me to ask all of you if any of you from our ‘past’ (Alaska or California) are coming for the prayer conference?  Please let us know if you are??
Thank you for enduring my ‘travelogue’!  Thank you so much for your prayers and your friendships.  Thank you for your letters, for the cards that we received, and for love that is such a reflection of HIM!  May God bless each of you in this new year with more and more of HIS Presence.  May He keep us all in the center of the path ahead as it grows narrower and darker.  May we discern what is HIM and what is NOT and choose HIM at every turn.  And may we have the fire of our first love lit afresh with a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit!  God bless you and keep you, dear dear friends.  Lovingly, your sis here.
 
ani b’derek
Published in: on February 17, 2013 at 8:33 am  Comments (12)  
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Inside Israel – A Thank You Letter

JerAtNight1

Hi and welcome to a look inside Israel. Well, today we look inside our Sis in Jerusalem’s heart as she thanks all of you for reading and commenting and praying like you do!  I second her  . ..Thank you and God bless you! Now, here she is . . .

I am sorry that I am writing this from work.  I would so rather sit down with some quiet time and space and really share (or try to) the thankfulness in my heart for you.  Alas, there is no quiet spot at home right now, (my husband’s injury has added many demands.  As he is backslidden, he is also very depressed and I would be ever so thankful for prayer for him to return to his first love)  so if it is to be done, it will be done this way, and I ask for your grace.
For more then 18 years I have written these letters to dear friends…the changes – having come to the center of the world from the ends of the earth (a small village in Alaska) – at not-a-young age…were dramatic, and it was given to me to share what I was seeing, hearing, experiencing as HIS.
Over the years, so many of my friends have ‘moved on’ and I often feel a sense of ‘disappointment’ or even ‘loss’ as I hear from people less and less.  Then Deb began to re-post my emails.  I can not tell you how moved I have been by your responses.  They are fresh!  They are real!  So many of those whom I write to now have come on tours and read much and really know more then I do about so many things.  They have met other people from here and receive other newsletters…and suddenly I get responses from YOU.  And some of you say ‘I never knew this’ or ‘I wanted to understand this’, and my heart literally flutters with joy that there is still a reason to share what is still so amazing to me…and what I will still be learning until He says ‘It is finished’…and then we all shall STILL be found learning!
I have been so encouraged by your encouragement.
Thank you!
I am not NEARLY as ‘spiritual’ as some of you seem to think :-[  I am just a sheep trying to do what I am told…like all of you.
Thank you for ‘receiving me’.  You are really a blessing!
lovingly, your sis (from work)
ani b’derek
Published in: on February 10, 2013 at 9:02 am  Comments (9)  
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Inside Israel – 8th Day of Chanuka

JerAtNight1

Hi and welcome to a look inside Israel today. I didn’t receive a letter from our Sis in Jerusalem this week, but had an older one that hadn’t been shared yet, from back in December.  Thank you and God bless you for reading and praying. Now, here she is . . .

“The entrance of Your Words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.”  Psalm 119:130
We have just lit the final candles on our Chanukiah…all eight lights are gleaming, lighting up the room so brightly.  It is beautiful and peaceful and ushers in the final day of Chanuka. We went to a wonderful Chanuka shabat meal last night at my pastor’s home with most of our congregation and we sang about The Light of The world.  When we came home we heard about the tragic shooting in Connecticut USA where so many little ones were killed.  How distinct Light is from darkness, and how grievously evident its fruits!
I want to share with you that I got to share about HIM and His Light and peace this Chanuka, and I would like to tell you a bit about the young woman with whom I shared, hoping that you will pray for her.  Her name is Molly and she is a new secretary who works along side of me several days a week.  When I met her it was a little bit of a shock.  She is big and tough looking, (not what you generally expect a dr. secretary to look like) and in her early twenties. She was a police woman and I found out that she is now studying criminology.  Wow!  That is quite a subject.  As I thought about it, I wondered what it is like to stare at criminal minds and study them.  I spend my life studying the mind of Yeshua… staring at Him, knowing that as I fix my eyes on Him I am changed more and more into His likeness.  I remember having a good friend in California years ago who was a police man.  He had told us that he and his wife went on required ‘psychiatric retreats’ periodically through his work to ‘debrief’ them.  He said that after awhile you see so much evil that it affects you and you must be brought back into balance and reminded that all people are not like that.  I found myself thinking quite a bit about Molly’s line of study, so I brought it up again several days later.  ‘Molly, I was thinking about your studies in criminology and thought how you must have to guard your heart as you study.’ (The word that I used was not ‘heart’ but ‘nefesh’… a Hebrew word that is more like a combination of your heart, soul and spirit) She was interested; ‘Well, I know and I try to.  I actually study it because most criminals are depressed and I have been very depressed and there is much depression in my family.  As a matter of fact, we have learned that depression is a severe problem in Israel.’  This had really opened a door!  ‘I have noticed that Jewish depression seems to be an ancient problem’ I said. I wondered if this would lead to speaking about how turning from God to sin and darkness brings such depression.  I told her that I get up every morning at 4:30 to ‘Study God’…to read His Word and to stare at Him.  She was interested and it opened a door.  ‘My father died very suddenly 5 months ago and I could not get out of bed I was so sad.  I quit my job and would have killed myself but I couldn’t do that to my family.  I am the oldest of 4 sisters and our father had a heart attack and went into a deep coma.  For one week we all sat by his bed and our Mother cried.  It was awful.  We were so sad.  I prayed and said ‘God…if you are real…please either heal my father or take him home but don’t let him live this way.  Then, right away, he died.’  Suddenly I knew with a deep ‘knowing’ that I had to tell her about The Lord.  Thankfully, the office was miraculously quiet. ‘Molly…I want to tell you something about myself that I don’t usually share here at work.  I am a messianic Jew.’ She said ‘What is that?’ I was hoping that she would know.  ‘I believe that Yeshua is our Messiah.’ I said. ‘Oh! yeshu!’ This is a bad word for HIS Holy Name.  ‘No.’ I said…’His Name is YESHUA.’ Thankfully she did not seem shocked or upset. She asked ‘Are you still Jewish then or are you now a Christian (Notzrei) and not Jewish?’ I told her that I am still Jewish and am a disciple of Yeshua.  All of my parents and Grandparents all the way back were Jewish and so I a, as well…but I follow Yeshua.’ I began to share my full testimony with her…including how I was hospitalized having been (among other things) suicidally depressed and how He came to me Face to face when I had never heard about Him and how He changed my life and flooded me with joy and peace.  She looked at me deeply.  ‘The way you believe in Yeshua is how I believe in God.’ She said.  ‘When my father died and I prayed, when God answered my prayer, He did that to me.  I suddenly was flooded with peace that I knew was Him.’
At this point the office suddenly got busy again, effectively ending our conversation, but – again – I was flooded with peace and His Light seemed to fill the room.  Later that day Molly said to me ‘I am so happy to be working with you.  I have never been this happy to work with anyone.’  I do not know how this will continue, but I pray for her salvation.  Although my words were awkward, His ways are perfect and I know that His Word will accomplish what it is sent to do.  Should The Lord press Molly into your heart, please lift her in prayer, that she would be set free to turn her studies to The One Who is Light?
Having much to share and knowing that you are all so busy during this season of LIGHT, I pray for each of you to be blessed by His Presence. How precious is His Light in this darkening world.  May His priorities be yours daily.  I miss you.  Lovingly, your sis
 
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