Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas from Jerusalem!

No, we’re not there today, but we wrote this while in Jerusalem recently.

While at the Garden Tomb, We had a glorious time of prayer for you and for Jerusalem. As seen here, we are on top of the Mount of Olives beholding the sunset over the Temple site. It was here that heaven and earth met, and will meet again; where prophets, priests, and kings were given divine instruction and changed the destiny of the world.

Our morning began very early. We walked through the old city before the sun rose. The Dome of the Rock was open, and Muslims were praying. The Western Wall is always open, and Jews are praying. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is open, and Christians are praying in many languages. At 2:00 AM the orthodox begin their prayers with eight priests chanting in Greek around the tomb. Next are the Armenians with their badarak service in Armenian. Meanwhile, the different groups are singing their matins. Only one Copt is allowed to stay the night, praying alone in ancient Coptic Egyptian. I can see the Garden of Gethsemane where our Lord interceded until His perspiration became as drops of blood.

Shortly after 4:00 AM, the Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz, begins his daily routine of prayer and reading the Torah as he walks through the Jewish Quarter to the Wall. He wraps the tefillin around his arm, recites the morning prayers—the Shacharit—which ends with “God bless the nation with shalom, peace.” To think that this tiny, 48-square miles spot called Jerusalem is the apocalyptic center of gravity where the spiritual battle of the world is being fought. It is here that Satan wages his war, and angels battle demonic spirits.

All roads lead to Jerusalem. How blessed we are to be part of prophecy and the Jerusalem Prayer Team which is greatly loved by the people of Jerusalem.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Walking Through The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death

Seventeen years ago, I was in Cambodia for a nationwide crusade at the invitation of two denominational leaders following the “killing fields” massacre where the bloody Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot had murdered more than 2 million people. They had nearly wiped out Christianity; when I went to Cambodia there were less than 2,000 professing believers still alive. One dear pastor only had six members of his church survive.

Through the miracle power of God’s Spirit, the leaders agreed to allow me to come and preach, thinking that nothing would happen. They were wrong.  Twenty-three hundred pastors from across Southeast Asia came for a pastors’ school. The fire of God fell on that place, and the Olympic Convention Center was packed. A new Church was birthed in that miracle moment…but the murderous regime was furious.

Night after night, demon-possessed men lunged at me, trying to stab me with AIDS-infected needles. I was warned that I would be shot. Then one night, the army surrounded our hotel and refused to allow us to go to the service. They went to the stadium and told the crowd there were bombs ready to go off and forced everyone to leave.

I didn’t sleep a wink.  All night long, I paced the floor of my hotel room, quoting Psalm 23 and praying for God’s will to be done. I was willing to die for the church to be reborn in Cambodia, but I wanted to return home to Carolyn and my family. I missed celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary while I was in Cambodia. 

About 5:30 in the morning, there was a loud knock at my door. Looking through the peep hole, I saw soldiers standing there. I was convinced it was the Khmer Rouge come to kill me…but when I opened the door, I found an American special forces team. They took me and our entire evangelistic staff to the airport. We hunkered down in the floorboards of the cars so no one would see us, and we flew out of the country.

As we celebrate Christmas in just a few days, I thank my Lord that seventeen years ago, as I quoted Psalm 23:1, He spared my life. More importantly, lives of tens of thousands were born into the Kingdom of God. Whatever your need today, I want to encourage you to fear no evil, for the Lord is your Shepherd. And I want to encourage you to continue standing in the gap for Israel. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What does Hanukkah mean?

The word Hanukkah comes from the Hebrew word which means to dedicate. The Feast of Hanukkah, also known as the Feast of Dedication or the Festival of Lights, commemorates the Jews regaining control over Jerusalem and rededicating the Temple. The temple had been desecrated by the invading Seleucid armies of Antiochus in 167 BC. A Jewish priest, Mattathias, and his five sons (known as the Maccabees) led a revolt and called the nation back to God. He said, "If all the nations of the king's dominion harken unto him, yet I and my sons will walk in the covenant of our fathers."

After the invading armies were driven out of Judea and Jerusalem, the Maccabees consecrated the Temple and rededicated the Holy of Holies. There wasn't enough oil to keep the Temple menorah burning throughout the week-long dedication, but somehow the candles never went out. To me, this story is symbolic of you, God's covenant saint and your commitment to keep the light of the Holy Spirit shining brightly in your life. May that light burn brighter than ever for God's glory during this next year.