Tuesday, December 31, 2013

10 Well-Known Christians Who Met the Lord in 2013 - J. Lee Grady, CharismaNews

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From left, clockwise: Richard Twiss, Edith Schaffer, Charles Lamb, Pat Summerall
From left, clockwise: Richard Twiss, Edith Schaffer, Charles Lamb, Pat Summerall
Media outlets have published lists this week of celebrities who died in 2013—lists that include Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, novelist Tom Clancy and actors Peter O’Toole, Jean Stapleton and Paul Walker of Fast and Furiousfame.
But religious leaders often don’t make these lists, mostly because the work of the Spirit is rarely celebrated on this side of eternity. As this year comes to a close, I decided to look back at 2013 and honor the memory of church leaders who died this year. They include:
1. Samuel Lamb. This brave Chinese pastor died in August at age 88. He spent 20 years in prison for his faith because he refused to bow to his communist oppressors. He taught his flock: “The laws of God are more important that the laws of men.” Today the illegal church he planted in the city of Guangzhou has grown to 4,000 members.
2. George Beverly Shea. Perhaps the best-known gospel singer of all time, Shea performed at Billy Graham’s crusades for decades and recorded more than 70 albums. A Canadian known for his booming bass-baritone voice, he teamed up with Graham in 1947. Ever willing to stand in the shadow of the more famous evangelist, Shea prepared audiences for Graham’s message by singing trademark songs such as “I’d Rather Have Jesus” and “How Great Thou Art.” He died in April at age 104.
3. Edith Schaffer. She and her husband, Francis, both Presbyterian missionaries, established L’Abri Fellowship, a retreat center in Switzerland that became a think tank for Christian theologians and activists. Some believe Edith and her husband—through their many books and lectures—galvanized the Christian Right in the 1980s by encouraging believers to challenge culture rather than hide from it. She was 98.
4. C. Everett Koop. Hated by some members of Congress because of his personal opposition to abortion, this distinguished pediatric surgeon was tapped by President Reagan to serve as U.S. Surgeon General. When Dr. Koop took office in 1981, 33 percent of Americans smoked; when he left in 1989, the percentage had dropped to 26 percent because of his strident campaign against tobacco use. A devoted Presbyterian who wrote a book about his faith journey, Sometimes Mountains Move, he also defended the rights of the elderly and children with birth defects. He was 96.
5. Richard Twiss. Once a monthly columnist for Charisma, Twiss was a rare breed: An outspoken charismatic Christian from a Native American background. His ministry, Wiconi International, focused on promoting reconciliation between whites and Native people. Born on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, Twiss wrote the popular book One Church, Many Tribes, and used his pulpit to reach Native people for Christ. He was only 58.
6. Pat Summerall. Perhaps the best known sportscaster in the U.S., he was fondly referred to as “the voice of the NFL” because his career spanned more than 40 years—and 16 Super Bowls. But what many TV viewers did not know was that the man with the famous voice experienced a dramatic conversion to Christ in 1992 after battling alcoholism. He wrote in his autobiography: “My thirst for alcohol was being replaced by a thirst for knowledge about faith and God. … I felt ecstatic, invigorated, happier, and freer. It felt as though my soul had been washed clean.” Summerall became a Southern Baptist before he died at age 82.
7. Paul Crouch. Raised in the Assemblies of God and driven by a desire to spread the gospel through television, Crouch built his Trinity Broadcasting Network from scratch, starting in 1973 with a station in Tustin, California, using $20,000 of his own money. When Crouch died in November at age 79, TBN had more than 18,000 network affiliates. His fund-raising tactics and spending habits made him plenty of enemies, but millions of donors looked beyond his flaws to help him build the largest Christian TV ministry in the world.
8. Dallas Willard. Considered a leading authority on spiritual formation, Willard was a philosophy professor at the University of Southern California whose books included The Spirit of the DisciplinesThe Divine ConspiracyRenovation of the Heart and Hearing God. He was a passionate proponent for rigorous discipleship, and he chided the American church for thinking we can be Christians without being disciples. He wrote: “The spiritual life is a life of interaction with a personal God, and it is pure delusion to suppose that it can be carried on sloppily.” He was 77.
9. Matthew Warren. He was not famous, nor a church leader. But because Matthew was the son of California megachurch pastor Rick Warren, he did not live far from the media spotlight. He killed himself in April after a long struggle with depression—and the tragedy caused churches around the world to take a more compassionate attitude toward mental illness. Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, spoke candidly about their son’s dilemma in a September interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan in which they said their congregation, Saddleback Community Church, has been fully supportive of them during their painful grieving period. Matthew was only 27.
10. Faye Pama Mysa. Few Americans have ever heard of this 47-year-old Pentecostal pastor who served as secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria. But he died a martyr’s death in May when Islamic militants burst into his home in Borno state and shot him. He is only one of hundreds of Christians who have died in Nigeria in recent years, victims of the Boko Haram terrorist group.
Organizations that monitor the persecution of Christians say the numbers of martyrs increased in 2013, especially in Nigeria, Egypt and Pakistan. In September in Pashawar, Pakistan, 78 worshipers were killed in a bomb attack at a church. In May, officials at the Vatican announced they believe 100,000 Christians are killed annually because of their faith.
I can’t list all their names here. But I pray our hearts will be filled with the courage of a martyr as we head into 2014.
J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of The Mordecai Project (themordecaiproject.org). You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. He is the author of Fearless Daughters of the Bible and other books.
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New day. New year. Renewed hope.

Psalm 121

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The Lord the Keeper of Israel.

A Song of Ascents.

121 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.

God's View of a Woman by Frank Viola - Identity Network

God's View of a Woman by Frank Viola

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Editor's Note: What follows is the transcript of a spoken message Frank Viola delivered to a church in Chile. Keep in mind that the Chilean culture tends to have a very low view of women. 

After tonight's message, if this recording gets out of this room and someone hears it in your country, I will be declared a heretic. I may even be in danger of my life. 

Further, after tonight's message, some of the men in this room may not want me to come back. The women, however, will want me to move here! 

Note the following passages: 

"And the women also, which came with Him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the tomb, and how His body was laid" (Luke 23:55, KJV, emphasis added). 

"These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren" (Acts 1:14, emphasis added). 

Let's take a trip back to ancient Israel and look at how women were viewed before Jesus came. Generally speaking, the Jews had a dim view of women. Jewish women were not allowed to receive an education. Hence, they were largely uneducated. Their only training was in how to raise children and keep house. 

Women were also largely excluded from worshipping God. In Herod's temple, there was a special court that stood on the very outside. It was called the Court of the Gentiles. The Gentiles could go into that court, but they were limited to that area alone.
Five steps above the Gentiles court was the women's court. The women were limited to that one area. Fifteen steps above that was the Jewish men's court. Thus men were given far more privileges to worship God than were women. 

A woman had no voice in her marriage. Her father decided whom she would marry, when she would marry and why she would marry. A woman couldn't divorce her husband under any condition. Only a man could initiate a divorce. 

Jewish women were to be seen as little as possible in public. In fact, young men were warned about talking to women in public - so much so that it was a shame in ancient Israel for a man to talk to a woman in public. Consequently, most women stayed out of the streets. 

Women were Inferior 

Women were regarded as inferior to men. They were regarded as property, just like cattle and slaves. Jewish males prayed a daily prayer of thanksgiving. This prayer shows how poorly the Jews looked upon women. It goes like this: 

Praise be to God. He has not created me a Gentile. 

Praise be to God. He has not created me a woman. 

Praise be to God. He has not created me an ignorant man. 

This was man's view of a woman in first-century Israel. It was not much better in other cultures. In fact, ever since the Fall of humanity, women have been regarded as second-class citizens - inferior to men. But something happened that changed all that. 

Jesus came. 

Take Your High Place 

In Jesus Christ we find God's view of a woman. Not man's view. Not the American view. Not the European view. Not the Asian view. Not the African view. Not the South American view. Not even the Chilean view. But God's view. 

Jesus Christ is God made flesh. As such, He embodies all of God's opinions. In His earthly life, Jesus was the visible expression of God Himself. By His actions and His words, we discover God's view of a woman. And that view was utterly contrary to the prevailing view of His day. 

Consider this. When God decided to make His entrance upon this planet, He visited a woman. He chose a woman to bring forth the eternal Son, the Messiah - the Anointed One for whom Israel had waited thousands of years. 

The life of God was first placed in the womb of a woman before it got to you and to me. And God was not ashamed. 

Sisters in Christ, this is your Lord's view of a woman. Take your high place. 

But that's not all. As Jesus ministered, He ripped down all social conventions that were pitted against women. On one occasion, He rose to the defense of a woman caught in adultery. He became her attorney and saved her life. And God was not ashamed. 

Jesus was noted for palling around with sinners. He supped with prostitutes and tax collectors. We are told in John 4 that He met a woman, and He did something that shocked the disciples: He talked to her in public. And He was not ashamed. 

Not only was she a woman, but she was a divorcee. But not only was she a divorcee, she was actively living in immorality. Yet not only was she a woman, a divorcee, an adulteress living in sin, she was worse than a Gentile. She was a Samaritan - a half-breed. (A Samaritan was a person with whom Jews were never to talk.) 

Your Lord talked to this divorced, adulterous, Samaritan woman in public, and He forgave her of her sins. And He was not ashamed. 

Sisters, take your high place. This is God's view of a woman. 

Women are Heroes 

But that's not all. Jesus Christ had a custom of using women in His parables and making them heroes. He talked about the woman who searched and found her lost coin. 

He spoke of the woman who was unrelenting in the presence of the unjust judge who honored her for her persistence. He spoke of the widow who dropped all the money she had into the temple treasury and praised her for doing so. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God's view of a woman. 

Once Jesus was dining with a self-righteous Pharisee. And in walked a woman. But this was not just any woman. She was a woman of the streets-a prostitute. Upon seeing the Lord, she dropped down to her knees and did something unsettling. 

In the presence of Pharisees, this woman unbound her hair and poured costly perfume upon the feet of our Lord. This unclean woman touched Jesus Christ in public. She wept, washed His feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair. 

This scandalous and improper act mortified the self-righteous Pharisees. At that moment, these religious leaders lost all respect for Jesus and doubted that He was a true prophet. But your Lord was not ashamed. 

Sisters, take your high place. This is God's view of a woman. 

But that's not all. Your Lord allowed an unclean woman to touch the hem of His garment, and He was not ashamed. In fact, He praised her for it. He also gave a Canaanite woman who was viewed as a dog in the eyes of Israel one of the highest compliments He ever gave anyone. He also healed her daughter, and He was not ashamed. 

In the Lord's last hours on this earth, He stayed in a small village called Bethany. It was there that He would spend His last days before He gave His life on Calvary. In Bethany, two women whom Jesus loved had their home: Mary and Martha. They were His friends, and they received Him. And He was not ashamed. 

Sisters, take your high place. This is God's view of a woman. 

The Women 

When Luke writes his Gospel, he refers to the 12 disciples with the shorthand phrase "the Twelve." The Twelve lived with the Lord for three-and-a-half years. And they followed Him everywhere. 

But Jesus also had a group of female disciples. Luke also used a shorthand phrase to refer to them. He simply called them "the women" (Luke 23:55; Acts 1:14). Interestingly, Luke used this phrase the same way that he used "the Twelve." 

They were the Lord's disciples also - the female counterpart to the Twelve. The women followed the Lord wherever He went, and they tended to His needs. And He was not ashamed. 

Sisters, take your high place. This is God's view of a woman. 

But there's more. The greatest disciples of Jesus Christ were not the Twelve. They were the women. The reason? Because they were more faithful. 

When Jesus Christ was taken to die, the Twelve fled. They checked out. All the disciples (except John) said, "See ya!" But the women stayed with Him. They didn't leave. 

They followed Him up to Calvary to do what they had been doing all along - comforting Him, taking care of Him, tending to His needs. And they watched Him undergo a bloody, gory crucifixion that lasted six long hours. 

To watch a man die a hideous and horrible death is something that goes against every fiber that lives inside of a woman. Yet they would not leave Him. They stayed the entire time. And He was not ashamed. 

Sisters, take your high place. This is God's view of a woman. 

Following His death, it was the women who first visited His burial. Even after His death, they were still following Him. They were still taking care of Him. 

And when He rose again from the dead, the first faces He met - the first eyes that were laid upon Him - were the eyes of women. And it was to them that He gave the privilege of announcing His resurrection, even though their testimony wouldn't hold up in court. And He was not ashamed. 

Sisters, take your high place. This is God's view of a woman. 

On the day of Pentecost, the women were present in the upper room, waiting for Him to return, along with the Twelve. 

Unlike His male disciples, the women never left Him. They followed Him to the end. Their passion for and dedication to Jesus outshined that of the men. And God was not ashamed. 
Throughout the Lord's life, it was the women who tended to His physical needs. It was the women who looked after Him. It was the women who supported Him financially during His earthly ministry (Luke 8:1-3). 

It was the women who cared for Him up until the bitter end as well as the glorious climax. Not the men. The women were simply indispensable to Him. And He was not ashamed. 

His Bride 

But beyond all these wonderful things that the Lord did in showing us how beautiful women are in His eyes, He did something else. He chose you - a woman - to depict that which He came to earth to die for - His very Bride. And He is not ashamed. 

Sisters, rise to your high place. This is God's view of a woman. 

Brothers, honor your sisters in the kingdom of God. For God honors them. When our Lord pulled Eve out of Adam, He didn't take her out of his feet below him. Nor did He take her out from his head above him. He took her out of his side. 

Sisters, you are fellow heirs in the kingdom of God. You are fellow priests in the church of God. You are honored. You are cherished. You are valuable. You are needed. 

You are His friends, His followers, His daughters, yea, His own kin. 

So sisters, take your high place ... this is God's view of you. 

Frank Viola has helped thousands of people around the world to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and enter into a more vibrant and authentic experience of church. He has written many books on these themes, including God's Favorite Place on Earth and From Eternity to Here. His blog, Beyond Evangelical, is rated one of the most popular in Christian circles today. 

Frank Viola

Finding Organic Church
A Comprehensive Guide to Starting and Sustaining Authentic Christian Communities
By Frank Viola 
Price: $15.99
Sale! $14.99
Click HERE to order. 


Editor's Note: In my new forthcoming book Leadership Through Love, I devote a whole chapter to the role of women, and how I too highly regard their role today. 

Steve Martin, Love For His People, Inc.

Ancient Jerusalem Synagogue

An ancient Jerusalem synagogue,
destroyed in 1948


Monday, December 30, 2013

Israel Media Ministries - Reaching Religious Jews Together - Ze'ev Nevo

    Ze'ev Nevo, Founder

Reaching Religious Jews Together

Shalom! Did you know that there are religious Jews that believe in Jesus? Yes there are! We can find them in Israel, the US and around the world - and with God's grace and your prayers and support, many more are coming!

Now that all the presents have been opened, the tree is back in storage and Santa Claus has left the building, it's time to refocus on the great commission that God gave us all - to reach the lost with the greatest gift of all - the message of salvation through Jesus!

I am excited to tell you that 2014 will be a great year for the Gospel. A few months ago Israel Media Ministries has begun working on a new big outreach to the religious Jews. This will be the most comprehensive evangelistic outreach that we did so far. I am so blessed and humbled to work on this project with Dr. Michael Brown, who is widely considered the world's foremost Messianic Jewish apologist.

Dr. Michael Brown

Dr. Brown, who is also graciously serving on our Board of Directors, had a tremendous contribution to the fact that my own father, Joseph, came to faith in Jesus, when he was over 80 years old.

That priceless moment happened just about 18 months before my dad passed and went to be with the Lord. There is no doubt in my mind that my dad's salvation was also instrumental to the salvation of my mom, Ruth, a few years later in 2012. I say all this for you to get a sense of how much I appreciate the apologetic work of Dr. Michael Brown and how it is being used by God for reaching the Jewish people for Jesus - even the most Orthodox Jews you can imagine.

My dad was raised as an Orthodox Jew. After losing his entire family in the Holocaust, he kind of lost faith in God and became secular. It was late in his seventies when I, his only son, came to faith in Jesus.

My dad had many objections to my new faith, many Jewish Objections. You can envision how thrilled I was when I found about a man named Dr. Brown, a Jewish follower of Jesus himself, who wrote a series of books called "Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus." To me, it was like I found a treasure! Finally - answers to every possible Jewish objection to Jesus. What depth! What knowledge of the scriptures and the Jewish belief system! How courageous!!

First I presented to my dad just one of the books (there are 5 total.) Even though it was in English and not in Hebrew, my dad read it from front to back. He simply couldn't put the book down. When my dad turned 80 I knew exactly what gift I should give him... and when I handed him the other 4 books in the series, my dad looked at me and said: "You couldn't have given me a better gift!" I am sure you can imagine how encouraging it was for me to hear that!!

My dad continued to read Dr. Brown's books; very diligently, very consistently, contemplating on one Jewish objection after the other. At the same time someone came up to me with a great idea - "maybe you can reach Dr. Brown and ask him if he will be willing to speak on the phone with your dad?" I was able to contact Dr. Brown through another evangelist that I was serving with.   

When Dr. Brown heard that there is an 80 years old Jewish Holocaust survivor in Israel who is reading his books with great appreciation while fighting cancer - he obviously agreed wholeheartedly. A date and a time were set for Dr. Brown to call from the US to Israel and speak with my dad. It was during that telephone conversation when my father said for the first time "I am convinced that Yeshua is the Messiah!"

A few years later, I met Dr. Brown personally for the first time when he visited Israel. God's timing in arranging this meeting was absolutely amazing. It was shortly after my family and I moved to the US to start Israel Media Ministries. I was still in the process of obtaining a US permanent residency. For that I had to go back to Israel for an interview with the US counselor in Jerusalem. 

There was no telling when this interview will be, so we already moved to the US, waiting for an official letter from the counselor's office. Obviously, I had zero control on the date this meeting in Israel will take place - but God sure did!

When the letter arrived, I jumped on a plane back to Israel. The first thing I did when I arrived to Israel was to call a couple of friends of mine who pastor a congregation in Jerusalem. "This is interesting timing," they said, "Do you know who is in Israel now? Dr. Brown. He is teaching our group in just a few days. Why don't you join us?"

And so I did. It was only then when I met Dr. Brown that I realized that his ministry center is in the Charlotte area... just about 30 minutes' drive from where we moved to ourselves!!

The following day I was invited to a dinner in the Jerusalem area to which Dr. Brown was invited too. As all of us held hands and prayed before the meal, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I received a word from the Lord. When I overcame my shyness (being the youngest) I shared it with all that were there. Dr. Brown asked me more specifically what I meant and had a witness that it is indeed from the Lord.

That was the day that the vision for this evangelistic project was conceived. It was just over three years ago. That's quite a long "pregnancy" but it will be well worth the wait. As I am writing these lines to you this vision is becoming reality - and in a few months it will be born! I trust that many Jews, including many Orthodox Jews, will come to faith in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) and be born again into the Kingdom of God. God's Word never returns void!! (Isaiah 55.11)

There is still a lot of work to be done for this big project to be completed, as the plan is to have it in multiple languages to enable us to reach Jewish people in their own heart language, whatever their background is and whenever they are on the globe.

There is also a lot of work to be done in general terms when it comes to Jewish evangelism, as only a very small percentage of the Jewish people believe in Jesus. Well over 99% of us Jews are still waiting for someone to come and share the Gospel with us.

"...my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal in not based on knowledge... How will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?" (Romans 10:1-2, 14)

Your partner for Israel's salvation,


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Israel Media Ministries
6277-600 Carolina Commons Dr., Suite 120
Indian Land, SC 29707

By Ze'ev Nevo


"How are they
to believe in Him
of whom they
have never heard?"
(Romans 10:14)

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Remarkable Pictures of Jewish Communities in the Middle East

Israel's History - a Picture a Day (Beta)

Posted: 27 Dec 2013 01:13 AM PST
Jewish scribes at the “Tomb of Ezekiel” near Babylon, Kefil, 
Mesopotamia (Iraq)  (Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of 

Photography at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside)
The Jews of Iraq

The vast Keystone-Mast Collection at the California Museum of Photography contains many photographs of Jewish communities -- now extinct -- from across the Muslim world.  

We believe most of the undated pictures in the University of California - Riverside Archives were taken between 1898 and 1930 

Using pictures we found in the Library of Congress archives two years ago, Israel Daily Picture has already explored many of the Jewish communities in IraqEgyptTunisiaSyria, and Turkey.  Click on the country to view earlier postings.  

Today, we present the UCR's vintage pictures of  the Jews of Iraq.  Suffering from pogroms, persecution, and confiscation of property, most of the Jews of Iraq left the country by 1951.  The "Jews of Iraq" is Part 1 of a series that will include vintage pictures of Jews of Egypt, Syria and Turkey. 

Click on the pictures to enlarge.  Click on the captions to view the original pictures.

Jews of Mosul (Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, 

California Museum of Photography at UCR)
Inside Ezekiel's Tomb (circa 1931, Library
of Congress). Also view Israel Daily Picture
feature on Ezekiel's Tomb

Persian ceiling of ancient synagogue at
Ezekiel's Tomb (Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, 

California Museum of Photography at UCR)

"Principal Street, Baghdad, Where the Jews and

War II, 80,000 Jews lived in Baghdad.
(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum 
of Photography at UCR)

Shatt-el-Arab, (lower Euphrates. and Tigris). East over 
lower Tigris to Shrine dear to Jews."

(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum 
of Photography at UCR)

"Picturesque homes of wealthy Jews along the
Tigris River in North Baghdad, Mesopotamia." 
Note the woman in the window and the boat, a 
"kufas" row boat on the Tigris. (Credit: Keystone-Mast 

Collection, California Museum of Photography at UCR)

"Jewish families of the well-to-do at the wharf, 
Baghdad, Mesopotamia." (Credit: Keystone-Mast 

Collection, California Museum of Photography at UCR)

Building a "kufas" boat Click here to see
how many people fit in a kufas.

(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum 
of Photography at UCR)

For more information on the Jews of Iraq and the Tomb of Ezra visit Point of No Return, Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries.

In 2003, a U.S. Defense Department analyst, Harold Rhode, uncovered a vast cache of ancient Jewish documents in the flooded basement of the Iraqi Intelligence Headquarters. He led an effort to save the historical documents and bring them to the United States for restoration. The restoration has been completed, but Iraqi Jews around the world are protesting the U.S. Government's plan to return the documents to the Iraq government.