From the Church in Israel

By Francis Frangipane

Israel is the epicenter of many of the world's events. Indeed, what happens in the Holy Land can cause powerful shock waves around the world. Daily, we are deluged by reports from newsrooms about Israel.  As we in the church have learned to care more for the Jewish people, we have become more sensitive to how the nation of Israel views us. We are even concerned about the viewpoints of the Orthodox Jews as well as the positions and threats of Israel's Islamic enemies.  Added to this sea of voices and opinions, we also listen to the teachings of evangelical preachers, calling us to pray for the peace and protection of the Jewish people.  All of this is good and acceptable.  However, most of us have yet to hear from the actual leaders of the evangelical church in Israel.

Thus, on a recent trip to the Holy Land, I made it a point to visit with a number of Israeli pastors.  I was so impressed with their love, faith and humility that I asked them if they would issue a statement that might, in some way, express their hearts to the wider body of Christ, especially to the church in America, but also throughout the world.  The pastors with whom I spoke were, in fact, representatives of a larger group of around 70 leaders.  As I listened to their hearts, it was easy to see that these were believers in pursuit of Christ's character.  Although they came from a variety of church backgrounds, their hearts were steadfastly united in Christ, and they are individuals given to prayer and evangelism. 

I believe Christianity needs to hear the voice of the church in Israel.  Thus, in the months ahead, my hope is to feature the perspectives and insights from leaders serving Christ in the Holy Land.  Indeed, I was blessed to learn that, when major hurricanes struck the Gulf Coast of the USA, these leaders did not automatically judge and condemn the United States.  Instead, they focused their congregations on redemptive prayer for America.  As I listened to them, I was deeply impressed that the church in Israel was truly growing into the spiritual temple of God (Eph 2:21-22; 1 Cor 3:16).  In a very moving way, I felt the significance of a genuine holy reality - as big a miracle of grace as the restoration of Israel itself.  The church in Israel was praying for believers in America and around the world.  They were truly becoming "a house of prayer for all nations."   

With the memory of Hurricane Katrina in mind, they sent this greeting:

To the Church in America,

Shalom. We are a body of leaders in Israel who would like to express our hearts concerning the tragic events which took place in America due to recent hurricanes. Please help us connect with as many of our brothers and sisters as possible by forwarding this letter to the Body of Messiah throughout the different churches in the USA.

First of all, please accept our apologies for not responding earlier. Sometimes the sheer enormity of these events leaves one at a loss for meaningful words. We are struck by the weight of the catastrophes which hit the Gulf States of the southern U.S. and by the resulting distress and suffering of so many people. We feel earnest sorrow for the great loss of life and livelihood; and we would like to assure our brothers and sisters in America of our love and prayers, as we earnestly beseech our God to intervene in this situation. We consider it important to let you know that we are standing with you in this critical hour, wanting to express our sympathy and brotherly friendship and taking the opportunity to utter our thanks for the American believers' faithfulness concerning their relationship to Israel. How often in years past have we received your intensive support in prayer and in generous giving!

Our main reason for wanting to extend comfort to you is the simple fact that you are our brothers and sisters in the Lord. In addition, God has used America again and again to provide assistance to Israel as a nation. We are bound together on many levels. "And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it" (1Corinthians 12:26).

At the same time it is our prayer that God will use this season of shaking as a new awakening of the American church, as well as the nation. May He impart His heart and thoughts to His people in more meaningful ways than in any previous generation. May His kingdom break through in new and bigger dimensions - within the United States and, through selfless American Christians, across the entire world! For it is written, "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).

Israel - as God's chosen people and the firstborn among the nations - has experienced a history of much shaking, even to the degree of judgment (a history that has not yet come to an end). But we know that the reason for this is God's holy love and divine calling. He disciplines the ones he loves (Hebrews 12:6). The United States has been considered by all a favored nation, used mightily by God and blessed for her missionary work and for standing by Israel through the years. She has been given abundant material and spiritual blessings. She sees herself as the leader of the world. It is only to be expected that such a nation will be held accountable to a higher standard of righteousness. We want to encourage you to shine brightly amidst a darkening world. In this sense of blessing, calling and responsibility there are strong parallels between our nations, highlighting God's principle that "from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked" (Luke 12:48).

We pray that your ear would be next to God's heart in the midst of the calamities which have stricken your great nation. May you tangibly experience His presence in every trying hour. Through the tears, may you and your nation experience the richness of God's mercy. May He be glorified in your courageous and compassionate response.

We love and appreciate you. We are with you.

Your brothers in Yeshua our Messiah,
Arthur Goldberg
Calev Myers
Marcel Rebiai
Eitan Shishkoff
Evan Thomas
Daniel YahavAvi Mizrachi
Howard Bass
Wayne Hilsden
Dan Juster
Asher Intrater
(And many others who were not available to sign this letter).

For more information on how you can support the emerging church in Israel, please contact
www.revive-israel.org.

The Tent of Meeting

By Francis Frangipane

"When Thou didst say, "Seek My face," my heart said to Thee, "Thy face, O Lord, I shall seek." (Ps. 27:8).

Time to Seek God
There are certain times when the Lord calls us out of the routine of our daily lives. These are special seasons where His only command is, "Seek My face." He has something precious and vitally important to give us that the familiar pattern of our daily devotions cannot accommodate. During such times people are often delivered of sins that have plagued them for years; others discover a depth in their walk with God that leads to greater effectiveness in ministry and prayer; still others experience breakthroughs in their families and are used by God to see loved ones brought into the kingdom.

Yet, here we are not seeking God for things or even for other people. We are seeking God for Himself. Maturity starts as we break the cycle of seeking God only during hardship; holiness begins the moment we seek God for Himself. A touch from God is wonderful, but we are in pursuit of more than just an experience - more than "goose bumps and tears." We are seeking to abide with Christ, where we are continually aware of His fullness within us, where His presence dwells in us in glory.

How do we enter this sacred place? If we study the life of Moses, we will see how he sought God and lived in fellowship with Him.

"Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, a good distance from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And it came about, that everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting which was outside the camp." Exodus 33:7

Notice that "everyone who sought the Lord would go out." If we are going to truly seek the Lord, we must "go out" as did Moses and those who sought the Lord. We must pitch our tent "a good distance from the camp." What camp is this? For Moses, as well as for us, it is the "camp of familiarity."

Is there anything inherently wrong or sinful with the things that are familiar? No, not in themselves, but you will remember that when Jesus told His disciples to follow Him, He called them to leave the familiar pattern of their lives for extended periods and be alone with Him (Matt. 19:27, Luke 14:33). Why? Because He knew that men, by nature, are unconsciously governed by the familiar. If He would expand us to receive the eternal, He must rescue us from the limitations of the temporal.

This is not to say we neglect our families or that we become irresponsible as we seek God. No. God has given everyone enough time to seek Him. It is there. Having done what love would have us do for our families, we simply say no to every other voice but God's. We must redeem the time: cancel hobbies, forsake television, put away the newspaper and magazines. Those who would find God, find time.

Sadly, many Christians have no higher goal, no greater aspiration, than to become "normal." Their desires are limited to measuring up to others. Without a true vision of God, we most certainly will perish spiritually! Paul rebuked the church at Corinth because they walked, "like mere men" (1 Cor. 3:3). God has more for us than merely becoming better people; He wants to flood our lives with the same power that raised Christ from the dead! We must understand: God does not merely want us "normal," He wants us Christlike!

For the Holy Spirit to facilitate God's purposes in our lives, He must redefine both our definition of reality and our priorities in life. Christlikeness must become our singular goal.

For most people, however, our sense of reality, and hence, our security, is often rooted in the familiar. How difficult it is to grow spiritually if our security is based upon the stability of outward things! Our security must come from God, not circumstances, nor even relationships. Our sense of reality needs to be rooted in Christ. When it is, the other areas of our lives experience eternal security.

Yet, our fears run deep and are numerous. Indeed, most of us pass through life umbilically tied to the protection of the familiar. Experience tells us that many good people remain in lifeless churches simply because they desire the security of familiar faces more than the truth of Christ. Even people who have been delivered from adverse situations are often drawn back into hardship. Why? Because adversity is more familiar to them.

Consider that certain prisoners are repeat offenders simply because they are more accustomed to prison life than freedom. Is it not sadly true that often young girls who have been abused by their fathers unconsciously tend to seek out and marry men who eventually abuse them as their fathers did? Groping blindly through life, they sought for the familiar. It is significant that worldwide most people live within fifty miles of their birthplaces.

Humans are cocooned, insulated against change by the familiar. When we work all day only to come home, watch television, then collapse in bed, our lifestyle becomes a chain of bondage. These things may not necessarily trap us in sin as much as they keep us from God.

Moses would leave what was familiar and pitch his tent "outside the camp," where he would then seek the Lord.

"Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Hence, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come." Hebrews 13:12-14

In the same way that Moses and those who sought the Lord went outside the camp, and as Jesus went outside the camp, so also must we, at times, leave the camp of what seems normal and predictable and begin to seek after God. Here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.

This is one reason why Jesus said, "when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray" (Matt. 6:6). Christ desires us to leave the familiar, distracting world of our senses and abide in the world of our hearts, bearing in mind that the highest goal of prayer is to find God.

Every minute you seek God is a minute enriched with new life and new power from God. Give yourself a minimum amount of time - an hour or two each day, but do not set a limit, as the Lord may draw you to seek Him on into the night. And continue day by day, and week by week, until you have drawn near enough to God that you can hear His voice, becoming confident that He is close enough to you to hear your whisper.

If we are going to become holy, we must sever the chains and restraints - the bondage of desiring just an average life. We will choose to leave the camp of familiarity and place our tent in the presence of God.