My Yom Huledet: Birthday Thoughts on Existence, Thanksgiving, and Destiny

dna_helixLast Friday I completed my 58th trip around the sun (plus nine months), and this, like other similar times, gives us pause to reflect.

It is amazing and strange to think that for most of all history we who area reading this did not exist: you just didn’t—there was no YOU. Then with the ‘miracle’ of conception—“boom!”—we began to exist, even though we were only a little cell, complete with all of our DNA genetic material and apparently as spirit beings as well, we began to grow. It is an awesome mystery about life and what we really are as human beings, and why we are here. It is good to think about such things that G-d as put into place. It helps us “magnify Him” (cf. Ps. 34:3): we cannot make Him bigger, but we can see Him bigger, more awesome, and more Wonderful.

In Psalm 139 David reflects on the omniscience and omni-presence of G-d: He knows everything about us—He knows us better than we know ourselves—and there is nowhere we can go where He is not already there. David then writes about G-d’s work in bringing David into existence:

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,

And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,

When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written

The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them
(Ps. 139:13–16).

I won’t go into depth here, but I have always thought that it is interesting that David used the idea of “knitting” in how G-d made us (some versions translate it this way). The phrase “skillfully wrought” in verse 15 is one word, רֻ֝קַּ֗מְתִּי / “rukamti”: it means variegate, or to embroider skillfully. If you have ever seen a photo of the DNA helix (like the photo at the top), it looks like it is woven material. Interesting.

Anyway, from there David considers the thoughts that God thinks—God thinks thoughts—toward us:

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

After praying G-d will give his enemies a good thrashing, David concludes with a prayer regarding his own thoughts, and for guidance…even into eternity.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

So, having survived 58 years—when I first entered this world, and took my first breath, and then started complaining, loudly—I’m thinking about this stuff. I thank G-d that He gave me a mother who endured the sweltering heat of an blazing hot August with no air conditioning to carry me to term, and a father who played the roll to me and my sister better than anyone I’ve ever met.

May we all pray that G-d will search us and lead us in the way everlasting as He did for David, and may we each fulfill our destiny in the days that were ordained for [us]” (v. 16.)

Shalom from Jerusalem,

PC

Shalom from Jerusalem and Happy 4th of July!

When Solomon Prayed for the Gentiles

Haas_Promenade_Jerusalem

This morning I read the prayer of Solomon when he dedicated the temple of God in Jerusalem. I’ve read this probably once a year for the past twenty years, but this morning it held new meaning, especially since I am now near the very place where this occurred:

“Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your name’s sake 42 (for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house, 43 hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name” – 1 Kings 8:41-43

Here I am 3,000 years later, apparently I and so many of you—as the very object of Solomon’s thoughts on that day.

I have heard of His great Name, the Name above every name: Yeshua/Jesus, His mighty hand, and of His outstretched arm (cf. Isa. 52:10 – 53:12). I’ll be meditating on this this week: Lord, what would you have me pray for, KNOWING that You will hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and You will do according to all for which this foreigner calls to You?

PC

I’m Here: Shalom from Jerusalem!

talpiot from apt2
Looking southwest, sunset view of Talpiot from my apartment window.

Shalom from Jerusalem! Whew, it’s hot over here!

Anyway, I got to Israel late yesterday afternoon, spent about two hours getting processed through the immigration/border security system, and arrived at my apartment in Talpiot in southeast Jerusalem at about 8:30pm. That is a long day.

My roommate is Mosh (Hebrew short form of Moses) from Indiana via Florida. He is retired, a Messianic Jewish believer who served in the IDF many years ago. We sat and talked a while last night, at least for as long as I could hold my eyes open. He is a good brother in the Lord and I think this will work out well. Imagine, I get to go to Israel and have Moses for a roommate.

First Day
I woke up about 4:30 this morning, had a rich time for my devotions, and caught the bus to the CFI office across town where I met several of the staff and volunteers and had lunch with them. The CFI staff is an interesting mix of people from several countries including Latvia, Holland, Finland, Spain, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Korea, and the US, who are all serving the people of Israel in Yeshua’s Name.

Our offices have recently moved to the Egged Central Bus Station in Jerusalem, which on the bottom two floors is like a shopping mall. It is encouraging to see the rapport that the CFI staff has with the local Israelis: this morning we got coffee at a local Aromas coffee shop there in the building, and Pama the office administrator was practicing her Hebrew with some of them. I also met Avi*, a young Israeli man who signed me up for my phone service, and Dov*, from whom I bought a new battery for my phone. I also received help finding the right bus stop from a young Israeli soldier, Rachel*. She found it interesting that I had moved from the US to serve with a ‘Christian’ amutah (non-prophet org) to help Israelis, and I responded it was because of what G-d has done in my life.

In Jerusalem
The driving here is… crazy! Israeli culture is very expressive and they really like their horns.

After I got off of the bus, I picked up a few groceries on the way home. Fortunately I had my back pack to put them in—when I asked about a bag to put the groceries in, I received a look from the cashier that made me feel a little foolish, especially when she pointed to my backpack. Turns out, it is easier to carry groceries (or anything heavy) on your back than with your hands.

This weekend I will be visiting two different Messianic congregations with some of the people I will be working with. So we will see how that goes. Please pray that the Lord will lead me to the congregation or fellowship He would have me serve with.

Anyway, as I look out the window to the southwest I can see the sun setting over the mountain, which is bringing on Shabbat. Plus jet lag is creeping up on me, so, I’ll rest. Thank you for your prayers and support.

Looking forward to what our Shepherd is going to do with each of us, and Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, the City of the Great King (Psalm 48:2).

*Names changed for individual’s privacy.

 

The Lord our Keeper…forever!

jerusalem evening
Today, as many of you reading this know, was my last day (at least for a while) at Hope of Israel Congregation. After nearly 20 years with this small fellowship (called ‘Light of Israel’ way back when) which eventually grew into a congregation, I have had a mix of thoughts and emotions reflecting about how far we have come, and the many, many dear friends and family members I am leaving behind. I’ll explore this more in the coming days, but for now I want to share an encouraging word I believe the Lord brought to my attention this morning.

During my little devotion time today I read a familiar Psalm, 121, which reads:

A Song of Ascents.

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.

First off, Psalm 121 is called a Psalm of Ascents; that is, in ancient times this was one of a series of psalms (120-134) that sojourners would sing along their way as they went up to Jerusalem to worship. That is sort of what I am going to be doing—going ‘up to Jerusalem’ to live and serve the Lord there. So, that is kind of neat.

Yet in my reading, the work “keep” or “keeper” seemed to get my attention. The words “guard” and “protect” are from the same Hebrew root word, so “keep” in various ways is used six times in this Psalm, thus there is an emphasis on G-d’s protection and keeping power for His people Israel, and each of us.

What really got my attention later today was during our call to worship where as a congregation we read in unison:

“The Lord bless you and keep you” – Numbers 6:24

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” – Jude 24

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus)” Philippians 4:7

So, yes, I think there is a word of reassurance that God can and will KEEP us, as we go forward in life. And for me going to Israel , or Robert Goldschmidt, who is heading for Chicago then NYC, or you and your future, be assured that…

The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.
The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever. vv 7-8.

Shalom, and Shavuah tov…have a good week!

PC

PS. I put this on my FB page, but just in case you missed that, the HOI worship, dance, and AV teams threw a little going away party Thursday evening after rehearsal; and Laurie Taylor made about the coolest cake I have ever eaten. Check this out! (Thanks David and Laurie!

Image may contain: food

A Happy Mothers’ Day memory from Israel!

Safed.jpg
Overlooking the ancient town of Zfat.
Shalom all,
Happy Mother’s Day! Today I am visiting my mom in High Point, NC and I am reminded of when I was in Israel 10 years ago…on Mother’s Day. We were in the ancient Jewish town of Zfat / Safed in upper Galilee, about 10 miles north of the Sea of Galilee. Being seven hours ahead of the US, I called my mom early that morning to wish her a “Happy Mother’s Day,” then walked up the street from my hotel to a small bakery on the corner.

I got a coffee and a pastry, and between him serving customers, I was talking to Moshe*, the young Orthodox man who owned the bakery, about Messiah and the prophet Zechariah. It was a friendly, interesting conversation when I began to talk to another Orthodox guy named Jonathan*. Jonathan was from New York, had ‘made aliyah’ (emigrated) to Israel 5 years earlier and was now a father of five children, loving life in Israel despite its difficulties.

In our conversation I mentioned that I had called my mom earlier to wish her ‘Happy Mother’s day’—suddenly his mouth fell open and eyes grew big and he grabbed me by the shoulders and said, “Today’s Mother’s Day?! Thank you! You saved my life! I have to go call my mother.” We laughed, and with that, he ran off.
Since then I always think of Jonathan on Mother’s Day, and as I have gotten older I have come to realize what wonderful parents I had growing up. Dad went to be the Lord more than twenty years ago; at 83 years mom is in relatively good health, loves and worships the Lord on a daily basis, and is honestly a lot of fun just to be around.
Thank G-d for such parents. I hope you have such a mother. She probably prayed for you at some point in your life, and if she is still living, call her today and tell her you love her. In this may G-d be pleased, and His word honored which says, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).
Pray also for Jonathan, that he will come to find his Father in Heaven. I’ll be leaving in a few weeks for Israel: who knows, perhaps God will have me bump into Jonathan again when I return.
Thank you for your prayers and support for PCinIsrael. And Happy Mother’s Day!
Pat
*Names changed for privacy.
PC cleared to go to Israel!

PC cleared to go to Israel!

Shalom y’all. I just received word that I have been approved by the Israel Ministry of Interior to receive my visa! As soon as I receive back my passport from the Israeli consulate, which should not take more than a week, I will be all clear to go to Israel.

I am shopping for my plane ticket, as well as working to put other things in order before I leave. My departure will likely be around the beginning of June, so please be praying for the Lord’s leading and provision. If you would like to help defray the costs, I would very much appreciate it. Go here for more info, and to receive updates for my newsletter blog: You Can Help!

Thanks again team: more updates will be forthcoming!

PC