Category Archives: Personal

A big, untold story: Since last Yom Kippur, millions of Jews have begun searching for the Messiah, and for atonement for their sins. The media isn’t reporting this. But it’s worth examining.

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Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

Over the past year since the last Day of Atonement, millions of Jews around the world have begun a quest to find the Messiah. Over the past year since the last Day of Atonement, millions of Jews around the world have begun a quest to find the Messiah.

At sundown, we begin Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This is the highest holy day on the Jewish calendar, and one of great Biblical and historic and cultural importance to my people.

I so wish I was home with Lynn and our sons in Israel tonight. Instead, I am in the U.S. speaking at a number of events, from Dallas to San Luis Obispo to Washington, D.C. to Toronto. I am speaking about the darkness that is falling in our world. But I am also explaining to people about a fascinating phenomenon that I’m observing.

Since last Yom Kippur, millions of Jews have begun a quest to find the Messiah. For reasons I cannot fully explain, Jews are suddenly searching for answers to the deepest and most important questions concerning…

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What Christ Has Done

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I was raised to be good and right.
I followed the rules.
I was sure Jesus saved me, but also believed my works kept me saved.

“We come from good stock.”
(No one is good but God.)
“But, we go to the right church.  Those other churches don’t understand what it takes to truly be a Christian.”
(God saved you by His special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.)
“I can’t dance.  It’s against my religion.”
(Christ has really set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.)

I once thought all these things were so very important,
but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.

Yes, everything else is worthless
when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

I have discarded everything else,
counting it all as garbage,
so that I may have Christ and become one with Him.

I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God’s law,
but I trust Christ to save me.

For God’s way of making us right with Himself depends on faith.

As a result, I can really know Christ
and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead.
I can learn what it means to suffer with Him, sharing in His death,
so that, somehow, I can experience the resurrection from the dead!

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things
or that I have already reached perfection!
But I keep working toward that day when…

I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be.

No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be,
but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing:

Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,
I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize
for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.

~from Philippians 3

The Hurt Runs Deep

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A note to the reader: For any who hurt due to abuse, it’s okay to stand up and speak out.  It’s the hardest thing to do, but it will allow the healing to begin. Also, “you” is meant to be universal…I have had too many abusers in my life to name just one.

I am not your punching bag anymore.
I will not stand by and take whatever abuse you choose to dish out.
I will not remain in your presence, because your words are a lie straight from hell.

God says I am His.
God tells me I am beloved.

You tell me I am not worthy…not beautiful…not real.

I know I’m real.
I know what I feel and I know why I feel as I do.

I became a non-entity to you.
I filled up whatever need you may have had for a time…
And when I realized I couldn’t keep it up, I would never be enough…
I curled up into my shell.

And you left.

I was the butt of your jokes.
I was the blame behind your anger.
I was the target of your rage.

No.  more.

I learned I was an object at two years old.
Now, at fifty-two, I’ve decided to become a person.
I will be seen…by those who choose to cherish and not condemn.

I believe it’s time to realize I am worthy…
Because He is worthy.
He sacrificed Himself for me;
HE calls me His own.

Your names for me are a lie.
I choose to hear the Truth:
God loves me.

By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell…With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women He made in His image…Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.
~verses from James 3

When the hurt runs deep…
He is deeper still.

(I must say I’m having a very difficult time leaving this post up…yet, somehow I feel I must. After so many years of not believing I was worthy to speak up, taking this first step toward doing so feels so foreign…so vulnerable…I want to run. But, I know I can’t. I know I must get the words said for no other reason than having it written to look back upon, and know there was one day…a moment in time…I did feel I could speak the truth. I only hope I can survive the honesty…)

Real Life in Christ

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Since you have been raised to new life with Christ,
set your sights on the realities of heaven,
where Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honor and power.

Let heaven fill your thoughts.
Do not think only about things down here on earth.

For you died when Christ died,
and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.

And when Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world,
you will share in all His glory.

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you.

Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires.
Don’t be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry.

God’s terrible anger will come upon those who do such things.

You used to do them when your life was still part of this world.

But now is the time to get rid of
anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language.

Don’t lie to each other,
for you have stripped off your old evil nature and all its wicked deeds.

In its place you have clothed yourselves
with a brand–new nature that is continually being renewed
as you learn more and more about Christ,
who created this new nature within you.

In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile,
circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free.
Christ is all that matters, and He lives in all of us.

Since God chose you to be the holy people whom He loves,
you must clothe yourselves with
tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

You must make allowance for each other’s faults
and forgive the person who offends you.
Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love.
Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony.

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.
For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace.
And always be thankful.

Let the words of Christ, in all their richness,
live in your hearts and make you wise.
Use His words to teach and counsel each other.
Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

And whatever you do or say,
let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus,
all the while giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

~Colossians 3:1-17

I haven’t always lived like this in my Christian walk.

Oh Father, make me wise through Christ’s words. Let me be a true “little Christ” as I follow after Your Son. Thank you, Lord, for bestowing upon me love, grace, and patience. Empower me to fulfill Your will. I ask in Jesus’ name, amen.

Life Together

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I found the perfect spot in the library, away from all the bustle. I was thirty-one with two little boys at home and badly needing a day away to think.  I can’t quite remember if my second relapse had hit me yet, but I knew I was in much need of rest.  I found the perfect spot next to an enormous glass window overlooking the pond.  While sitting on a little couch tucked under the stairwell, I asked the Father to please guide me to do the right thing. “Cause, I desperately want to do the right thing.”  I took out my journal, my pencil, my Bible, and Bonhoeffer’s book, Life Together.

The book had been on the shelf for years, but I hadn’t ever read it, thinking it was too “theological” for me to enjoy.  It’s not a very big book but, as I found, it is chock full of truth and wisdom for the church body to discern what living this life together “should” be like.  It’s a book that radically changed the way I understood I am to “be” in the body.  Practical spiritual wisdom for everyday life together.

God was faithful to guide me.  I understood the admonishment from scripture, “as much as it depends upon you, be at peace with one another.”  With tears streaming down my face, I wrote out the apology, understanding a heart-rending-deep-cleansing had been done.

God made it clear to me what the next step would be.  The apology was sent and now it was time to hope for reconciliation.  It was time to release the situation in order that Christ might deal…

“…spiritual love proves itself in that everything it says and does commends Christ. It will not seek to move others by all too personal, direct influence, by impure interference in the life of another. It will not take pleasure in pious, human fervor and excitement. It will rather meet the other person with the clear Word of God and be ready to leave him alone with this Word for a long time, willing to release him again in order that Christ may deal with him.”
~D. Bonhoeffer, Life Together

It might be time to read that little — powerful — book once again.

The Healing Path

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“Each day we either live for God or for other gods. In each moment of hardship we fear either God or man. When we choose to worship gods and fear men our lives will suffer an emptiness and turmoil that is not much different than trying to fill our bellies with dirt. At first we may feel full, but in short order our violation of God’s plan will lead to torment…

But God will not let his children wander in the realm of death without giving them some kind of wake-up call.

Relationship with God requires leaving, letting go (of other gods), in order to pursue his promises. He calls his followers on a journey that takes them beyond the limits of their sight. Hosea tells us that God will woo us to the desert in order to win us back to himself…

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. In that day,’ declares the LORD, ‘you will call me “my husband”; you will no longer call me “my master” ~Hosea 2:14-16

And what is the desert? It is the opposite of Eden, the garden green with luxury and life. The desert is brown, rocky, and desolate. It is not exactly the most romantic spot to renew a broken marriage between God and his bride. So why would God take his beloved to the desert in order to restore her? Because only there can he reveal to her the magnitude of his love…

The healing path must pass through the desert or else our healing will be the product of our own will and wisdom. It is in the silence in the desert that we hear our dependence on noise. It is in the poverty of the desert that we see clearly our attachments to the trinkets and baubles we cling to for security and pleasure. The desert shatters the soul’s arrogance and leaves body and soul crying out in thirst and hunger. In the desert, we trust God or we die.

God not only leads us through the desert, but he calls us to walk through the valley as the sun sets and shadows spread across the land. To get to the table set for us by God we are called to walk through danger. Any valley is dangerous terrain. Not only can rocks roll down on us unexpectedly, be we are surrounded by higher ground on which an enemy can perch and rain down assault. No military tactician would willingly send his troops marching through a valley; it is a place of death. And if one must march through a valley , the worst possible time to do so is at sunset when shadows distort and make it impossible to pick out enemies hiding in wait.

Why would God have us walk through danger to get to him? Again, because valleys strip us of the presumption of independence; danger draws us to a greater dependence on the only one who can provide and protect. The desert brings us to our knees with craving; the valley calls us to cling to the hem of the one who leads us to safety. The psalmist says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4)

God is with us. His rod and staff and his sure vision, steady balance, and infinite knowledge of the terrain will guide us as we walk through the shadowlands. But don’t be fooled: His leading does not always guide us out of harm’s way. Rather, God often leads us directly into the hottest and most perilous point of the battle…

The healing path is not a jaunt in the park. It is a life-rattling, heart-revealing journey that takes us through danger, harm, heartache — and ultimately to new trust, profound hope, and a love that can’t be scorched by assault or destroyed by loss. The healing path is glorious, but the only way we will stay on course and resist the temptation to flee to safer ground is by comprehending more deeply the assaults and losses we will face on our journey. In the desert and valley we will pass through the dangers of betrayal, powerlessness, and ambivalence. These three realities will pull faith, hope, and love right out from under us if we are not ready for them.”   ~Dan Allender, Ph.D., The Healing Path

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff will comfort me.”

Rescue Us All

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Do not love the world or the things in the world… the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life.

You want to take a headlong dive into destruction?

Sow seeds of destruction and reap the devastation.

I sure wish I didn’t know what that looks like.  I sure wish I had continued to walk the path of righteousness, even when the lust of the flesh appeared better than my temporary circumstances.  I sure wish I had seen the devastation before I went sowing lustful seeds.

The real problem: I did see.

I had read The Word.

I knew what it said about the rewards of sowing to the wind.  You will reap the whirlwind.  You WILL.

And now… on this side of the whirlwind…?  Not much remains of my former life.

Only by His grace do I still live.  I’ve contemplated suicide quite a lot over the past five years.  And, again, this past weekend.

You see, I have known my spiritual gifts are teaching and prophecy.  And I spent much of my life teaching, speaking forth The Truth of God’s Word.  Then, the hard tests of faith became so. much. harder.  I closed the Book.  I told myself I knew enough of what it said… the pit of depression had become so dark, I wouldn’t see the light right beside me… on the nightstand.

Either I forgot the warnings, or didn’t think they’d truly happen to me.

And now, another stands on the precipice… and he’s closing his eyes!

The questions haunt me once again:

What did I do?

Where did it start?

Why can’t he hear?

Who is this precious baby?

Where did he go?

Why God?

WHY?

My heart cries out to a deaf ear…

No.

No.

NO!

HE is NOT deaf.  He hears.  He has spoken.

Will he listen?

Oh, God, please don’t let him close The Book.  Don’t let him forget what he’s learned.  Speak boldly to his heart and mind.  Don’t let him turn away!!  Hold him fast.  Let him stand on the Rock.  Don’t let him sink into the muck of sin, the mire of filth.

Please, God,

Rescue my son!

Rescue us ALL.

Do not love the world nor the things in the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world,
the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life,
is not from the Father, but is from the world.
The world is passing away, and also its lusts;
but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

~I John 2:15-17