On March 17 many people will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day without a clue as to why or whom they are celebrating. I know this may raise eyebrows among some of our readers, but I love St. Patrick. Not the legendary guy who stars in stories about snakes and shamrocks and the luck of the Irish–most of those stories are bubbe miesehs,” (Yiddish for “grandmothers’ tales.”) But much of what Patrick wrote and stood for reminds me of another saint: the Apostle Paul.”
Millions of people packed themselves into a 3-block radius, while thousands of New York City’s finest corralled them behind rows and rows of metal bars. Giant searchlights flooded the area, bouncing off buildings, illuminating the clouds against the velvety night sky. Old and young, the people strained and craned, pushed and pressed to see and hear the festivities at “30 Rock.” The air was positively pummeled with roaring helicopters overhead, while below police dogs barked at the hoards of people still flowing up out of the subways. Security was on high alert. The police seemed nervous . . .”
With the presidential elections behind us at last, responses to our new president-elect range from jubilation to despair to everything in between; some are bursting with enthusiasm while others are ridden with anxiety. Everyone has hopes or fears (or both) about changes the new administration will make—changes that will affect our lives and the life of our nation.
Last week I saw a new movie—Religulous.” Believe me, I would not have spent time or money on this film, but inasmuch as Bill Maher interviewed someone identified as an “ex-Jew for Jesus,” I felt responsible to see what, if anything, was said about our ministry.”
Last month I had the privilege of speaking at a large church in the small town of Wasilla, Alaska. At the time, few people outside of Alaska had heard of Wasilla; now almost everyone in America knows that it is the hometown of Sarah Palin, John McCain’s Vice Presidential running mate. She not only grew up in Wasilla; she served as its mayor before being elected governor of Alaska. The Palins now attend the church where I spoke; in fact, during the second service the entire family stood before the congregation as their newborn son was dedicated to the Lord.
WHAT A JOURNEY!
Some people say, It’s a miracle!” whenever God does something out of the ordinary. I believe in miracles, but they occur when God suspends His physical laws of order. Many wondrous, out of the ordinary events He orchestrates are what we’d call “Divine Appointments,” which can be just as faith building. Take for example Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch. No doubt this was a divine appointment: “
Shalom from New York City where I am presently taking part in our annual summer witnessing campaign (SWC)! It always energizes me to be here, out on the streets, telling people about Jesus. Since our ministry’s inception in 1973, every single summer but one, we’ve campaigned to reach New York City with the gospel. No one campaign is exactly the same but they all share the following features:
The Rest of the Story
Have you ever heard radio commentator Paul Harvey’s engaging teaser, The rest of the story”? The first part of Harvey’s story always provides a bit of mystery, always leaves us hanging until he tells, “the rest of the story.” Life is often like that. We hear something. We wonder what it means or how it all will work out, but we are often left hanging. Much of the Christian life is lived in that “in between” zone. The first part of the story does not always appear hopeful or encouraging. That is why we need to live by faith and not by sight; faith gives us confidence to trust God for the rest of the story. Faith assures us that He knows what is best, that He wants what is best and that He will do what is best. Eventually, in His time, we will understand the rest of the story.
“The rest of the story” is sometimes surprising, but it always demonstrates that God is in control, that He is writing the stories of life to bring honor and glory to Himself. I have watched this happen several times in the last few months as news stories have hit the press regarding Israel, Jews and Jesus. I wanted to report to you on “the rest of these stories.”
Quite a bit of controversy has been stirred over the recent publication in the New York Times” of The Gospel and the Jewish People: An Evangelical Statement sponsored by the World Evangelical Alliance. The statement, signed by prominent evangelical leaders, is an irenic open letter denouncing anti-Semitism while supporting direct Jewish evangelism and the rights of Jews who believe in Jesus to identify as Jews.
As you might expect, several Jewish leaders have publicly opposed the statement. The Anti-Defamation League responded to the statement with a press release in which Abraham Foxman shrilly denounced”
In this season, primaries and playoffs dominate the media, captivating people’s attention and passion. There are winners and losers for each and every one of these contests.
Isn’t it amazing how wrapped up some of us get, how much emotion we expend, as we root for our guys” to win? My beloved San Francisco 49ers haven’t been in the hunt for a playoff birth for a very long time, but I am still rooting, for them, still a fan, still energetic in cheering for and/or defending my team.
We so identify with our team that when the game ends, it is as though we ourselves experience “the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.” I admit that I can be downright mopey when “my team” loses, even if it’s the first time I’ve ever rooted for them.
When it comes to politics the stakes are higher, but there are parallels to “the game.”
What would you do if you received enough funds to pay for a full-page ad in a secular newspaper like USA Today” or the “New York Times?” I hope you would use the advertising space to tell people who might never walk into a church something about Jesus. Jews for Jesus has had opportunities to do just that, and over the years we have had all sorts of “gospel ads” in the secular media. This year we did not have the funds to do so—until one family offered to make it happen.
These particular friends wanted to see a gospel statement that would explain very plainly and directly the issues of sin, judgment and God’s remedy in Jesus. They gave a most generous donation for that very purpose, and we worked hard to come up with a gospel statement that would fit that approach. It starts out like this:
A media dust-up has been blowing over political commentator Anne Coulter’s recent remark on the Donny Deutsch cable television show. Coulter told Deutsch, Christians want Jews to be perfected.” He responded by labeling her an anti-Semite and various people began hurling verbal grenades in earnest.
In the midst of the furor we received a phone call from “Newsweek” columnist Lisa Miller, asking if we could explain what Ann Coulter meant by her remark. “