Bok Tower Gardens

September 6, 2014

Today, Lou Ann and I went to the Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Florida for the first time in a decade.  We hadn’t been there since three hurricanes swept through this national landmark and park ten years ago.  But, surprisingly, it looked “no worse for the wear.”  Actually, it was spectacular in its aesthetic qualities.

Although Edward Bok is regarded as the creator of this beautiful place, God is the one who I thought of, during our three hours there, as having made these gorgeous grounds.  It was a great day to enjoy the natural beauty that our Lord created.

Although it was still warm (nearing the end of our Florida Summer) this afternoon, the cloud cover kept a great deal of the heat away from us.  And the shade created by tremendous oaks was a wonderful blessing as the cool breezes brought respite from the humidity.

The tower, also, is an amazing thing to behold.  It is a 205 ft. edifice made from Georgia marble that houses bells (carillon) that ring out every hour with beautiful compositions.  We sat there, today, and soaked in every bit of the natural and man-made beauty of this day.

During the 1:00 afternoon carillon concert, the song “Amazing Grace” was played.  It was a fitting musical piece to listen to in a “garden of Eden” type place.  I thank the Lord that Lou Ann and I were able to spend this day together.  Thank you, Lord, for your goodness and mercy!

The following is from outofzion.org.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that Israel was determined, regardless of ceasefire efforts, to complete the destruction of tunnels that Palestinian militants have built under the Gaza-Israel border.  “We are determined to complete this mission with or without a cease-fire,” Netanyahu said in public remarks at the start of a cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv. “I won’t agree to any proposal that will not enable the Israeli military to complete this important task for the sake of Israel’s security.”   “Hamas’ capabilities would have enabled it to abduct and murder civilians and IDF soldiers while simultaneously attacking from the tunnels penetrating our territory,” Netanyahu said. “We are destroying that capability now. There are no 100 percent guarantees, just as the Iron Dome does not give a complete response, but the IDF’s operations in the field are impressive and they are continuing at full force.”

“We have so far neutralized dozens of terror tunnels and we are determined to complete this task. Therefore, I will not agree to any cease-fire that does not enable the IDF to complete this very important task. Hamas has been hit hard by both the IDF and the Shin, who are closely coordinated. We have delivered harsh blows to thousands of terror targets, rockets depots, manufacturing sites, and launching sites, and hundreds of terrorists have been killed. These achievements and the operation to neutralize the tunnels are only the first step in demilitarizing the Gaza Strip. The United States and the European Union have accepted our stance, and though it was difficult to achieve, we have done so, through hard work.”   Netanyahu stressed that “the IDF is a moral army unlike any other. We are fighting a very brutal enemy, and seek to avoid harming civilians as much as possible.”   “We in the leadership are thinking of the soldiers, as each IDF soldier is dear to us.”  Please pray that the IDF will indeed destroy every tunnel

Photo Credit:  gapundit.com

John Kerry and Israel

August 3, 2014

This excerpt is from Stefan Silver at outofzion.org

Israeli government ministers who on Friday unanimously rejected US Secretary of State John Kerry’s Gaza ceasefire proposal said a day later that the entire affair had clearly demonstrated either the incompetence or the anti-Israel bias of America’s top diplomat.   “Kerry took the terms put forth by Hamas leader Khaled Mashal and then presented them as an American [ceasefire] proposal,” one Israeli government official was quoted as saying by Israel Hayom.    According to some of the details of Kerry’s plan that were leaked to the Israeli press, the Americans wanted an immediate halt to all hostilities in Gaza, followed by negotiations between Israel and Hamas in Cairo. On the table would be vastly increased funding for Gaza’s Hamas regime and an opening of the border between Israel and the volatile coastal enclave.

Kerry’s proposal apparently made no mention of the need to eliminate Hamas’ ability to militarily threaten the Jewish state. Ha’aretz correspondent Barak Ravid, one of Israel’s premier left-wing reportersThe document recognized Hamas’ position in the Gaza Strip… [and it] placed Israel and Hamas on the same level, as if the first is not a primary US ally and as if the second isn’t a terror group which overtook part of the Palestinian Authority in a military coup and fired thousands of rockets at Israel.”  Ravid, like Israel’s government ministers, was forced to conclude that “if Kerry did anything…it was to thwart the possibility of reaching a cease-fire in Gaza. …the American secretary of state will be responsible for every additional drop of blood that is spilled.”

What really irked Israel was that an acceptable ceasefire had already been tabled by Egypt, and Kerry had initially backed that initiative and signaled that his proposal would be based on it.  What Kerry ultimately put forward after consulting with Hamas allies Qatar and Turkey was a complete departure from the Egyptian proposal and a “prize for terror,” according to Israeli officials.   When the Israeli cabinet met again on Saturday to discuss further action in Gaza, there were reportedly few kind words for Kerry. According to Channel 2, various ministers described the US secretary of state as “negligent,” “lacking the ability to understand” what is happening on the ground, and “incapable of handling the most basic matters.” As Israel draws ever closer to Arab neighbors who have a shared interest in seeing Hamas and similar groups defeated, the Obama Administration’s handling of the situation is likely to further drive a wedge between Jerusalem and Washington.   Please pray that Kerry has no more influence in the affairs of Israel

Photo Credit:  slate.com

News from Israel

August 2, 2014

The following is from Stefan Silver, a Messianic Jew living in Israel.

For over 3 weeks now Israel has been engaged in a violent military conflict with the Gaza based terrorist organization – Hamas. The current conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas has many of the world leaders attempting to bring the violence to an end as the number of both Israelis and Gazans killed rises.  Israel has already agreed to numerous ceasefires that were proposed, even to a couple that were proposed by Hamas, yet in every single case, including the ceasefires initiated by Hamas, they were broken by constant rocket fire into Israel from Gaza.

It is no big secret that Hamas is not interested in having any kind of peace with Israel, and any current cease fire is only a pause until the next round begins, whether that be in a week, a month or a year. The reason for this is actually the reason for Hamas’ existence and the actual meaning of the word “Hamas” – violence (see the Hebrew Strong’s Dictionary words 2554 and 2555), and not just any violence, but violence against infidels (i.e. anyone who is not a Muslim) and particularly against Israel and the Jewish people.

We here in Israel are used to having enemies all around us that want to see us and any memory of our existence be erased from the face of the world. We have been experiencing this as a people for thousands of years already and we know that we must be strong and protect ourselves because no one else will. What disturbs me the most in this whole situation is the blindness and misunderstanding of the west in general, and many of those who profess Messiah in particular, to the situation in Israel and around the world.

The world media loves to bash Israel and delegitimize her at any given opportunity, even when Israel and the IDF go to extreme lengths, more than any other army in the world in order to avoid as best as possible innocent casualties. Because of this the many reports and graphic videos of Christians being brutally murdered in the Islamic nations have been pushed aside and are seldom mentioned by any major news agency.

What many people fail to see in their constant criticism of Israel and her predicaments with her Islamic neighbors is that Israel, the only democracy and free country in the Middle East, is in fact the “buffer nation” between the violence of Islamism and the “pastoral” lifestyle of the west. What most people see as a war that is far away from them is approaching them much faster than they think and will be soon knocking on their doors, if it is not already the case, Europe being a prime example of that. But the USA, Canada, and even the distant Australia and New Zealand are not far behind.

This war is not a political one. It is not merely an ideological or religious one, it is primarily a spiritual  war between the forces of darkness and the God of Israel. As believers in Messiah we are told that if we are not with God then we are against Him, and as it seems, most of the west including many believers are currently taking a stand against God by standing against Israel. Not to mention that before long the physical aspect of this war will catch up with the west as we see already in nations like the UK, France, Sweden and many other countries where Islam is taking over more and more neighborhoods and even entire cities and districts, but the spiritual ramifications of such a stand could echo into eternity also.

This is a time to be bold and speak out regarding what God is doing in Israel and with Israel, and how the situation here on the ground is effecting and will effect the entire world. You may be mocked, shunned, rejected or hated. Relationships may come to an edge, but we need to be strong and of good courage and speak out the truth in love. You never know who is listening and how the Holy Spirit will work in someones heart even if it doesn’t look like He is or will. And even for those who do not understand the spiritual side of the issue, standing for Israel and the values that this nation represents against the onslaught of Islamic Jihad and it’s dehumanizing way of life is the only rational course of action to take.

This is came from http://www.out-of-zion.com/carmel-alert/the-carmel-alert-august-1st

Photo Credit:  veteranstoday.com

Faith Assembly

July 16, 2014

This Summer marks the sixth year that Lou Ann and I have been attending Faith Assembly of God in Orlando, Florida, and it has been a wonderful place to work and worship. We have been blessed so tremendously by the Lord, and I just wanted to take the time to reflect on these past few years.

In the Summer of 2008, we had been attending a revival that had changed our lives in a marvelous way, and one of the blessings of that period was God’s leading us to Faith Assembly. We had been members of Calvary Assembly from 2001 to 2007, but when Pastor Robin Cox, Pastor of Evangelism, left the staff of that church, we made a change as well (attending a small church in Lake County for about a year-and-a-half).

Not too long after we began going to Faith, I began my first semester at Asbury Theological Seminary. It was a unique time in our lives, to say the least. The amazing part of seminary was God’s providing a full scholarship, miraculously, to the school.

At the end of that first semester, I had the privilege of meeting with the Small Groups Pastor of the church (at that time), Phil Waisanen. He would, eventually, be my mentor during my third and final year in seminary, but most importantly, he was the head of the evangelism ministry at Faith Assembly, a ministry that I would become a part of for five-and-a-half years. He would be one of the greatest influences in my life for evangelism, along with Robin Cox.

Faith Assembly is headed by a man of God who has been there for over thirty-five years, Pastor Carl Stephens. He began his work at the church as the Youth Pastor, and he has been a great blessing to me for the six years that we have been there. I thank the Lord for his vision for the future of the church, which has now included a wonderful new facility at Curry Ford Road and Econlockhatchee Trail. The youth center is in the process of construction and will be finished, hopefully, this year.

Speaking of the youth department, we have very talented pastors who head up this ministry, Pastor Johnnie Wilson, Lead Youth Pastor; Matt Engle, Middle School Pastor; and Pastor Ashley Hawks, Children’s Pastor. These three have a heart for youth, and that is apparent due to what God is doing in this ministry of the church.

Next, our Small Groups Pastor is Jim Angelakos, and he is a caring and devoted pastor in the church also. Evangelism, which I head up, falls under this department of the church, and it has been a blessing to work under this wonderful man. He is an inspiration to me.

Our Men’s and Singles Ministry Pastor is Wayne Sidley. He also co-heads the Men’s Encounters (weekend revival-type gatherings for men) with Pastor Jim. He has been a part of this church for over twenty years.

Our Music Department is lead by one of the most talented worship leaders around, Pastor Matt Perkins. The praise and worship of Faith Assembly is one of the amazing parts of attending this church. It is unparalleled.

Our Business Department is led by Pastor Ben Rhodes, C.P.A. It has been a pleasure to work with this man for several years now, and he is definitely called by the Lord to this work.

We, also, have a great Counseling Department at the church, led by Dr. Scott Bush. This is an invaluable arm of the church that is reaching many people for God.

The Education Department, led by Pastor Marcos Gonzalez, has been a pleasure for me to be a part of as well. Pastor Marcos has been with the church for three years, and his expertise and dedication to education are apparent. It has been wonderful for me to be able to teach evangelism and to come under Pastor Marcos’ care.

I could go on for quite a while, but I will stop for now. I wanted to thank Jesus for leading Lou Ann and I to this phenomenal church that is doing the work of the Lord. “Thank you, Lord, for your direction.”

Photo Credit:  turbosound.com

 

Prayer for Israel

July 12, 2014

    The Bible tells us to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6).  The following is my  prayer (that I try to pray daily) for Jerusalem, Israel and the Jewish and Arab people living in Israel.

“Lord, I pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for blessing for the nation of Israel.”

“Jesus, I pray that the Jewish and Arab people will come to know you as Savior, Lord, Messiah and King.”

“Lord, give wisdom, guidance and direction to Benjamin Netanyahu and those under him.”

“Lord, protect the borders of Israel.”

“God, I pray that you would confuse, frustrate and thwart the plans of Israel’s enemies:  Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah, North Korea, China and Russia.”

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Photo Credit:  veteranstoday.com

Don’t You Think…..?

June 20, 2014

Don’t you think, by now, that we should have a cure for cancer? Yes, although there are many different kinds, we should have made greater progress through research.

Don’t you think, by now, that there should have been an invention that allows seawater to be the fuel for the automobile engine? Yes.

Don’t you think, by now, we could grow twice the amount of food in the same space, thereby reducing world hunger significantly? Yes.

Don’t you think, by now, that there should be a non-toxic pesticide that would decimate the worldwide mosquito population and, as a byproduct, would reduce human life lost to malaria? Yes.

Don’t you think, by now, that there should have been a way to reduce crime in our major urban areas? Yes, assuredly.

Well, here’s what happened. The cancer researcher was aborted in 1981. The inventor was aborted in 1975. The agricultural specialist was aborted in 1990. The chemist was aborted in 1985, and the politician was aborted in the first year of legalized abortion, 1973.

Photo Credit:  blog.smu.edu

Church at the Barn

June 16, 2014

Yesterday, my wife and I had the privilege of attending worship service at Church at the Barn in Astatula, Florida. It was an actual barn that was transformed into a church. It is a wonderful sight to see in the pastureland of Lake County, Florida.

The pastor of the church is Steve Lee who was a childhood friend of my mother’s youngest brother, John. His wife, Janet (Donise), was a childhood friend of mine. They are doing a wonderful work in leading this body of believers in Central Florida.

We were welcomed like royalty by Pastor Steve, Donise and the entire congregation. It was a blessing to be able to worship with old friends and acquaintances.

Donise did a great job in leading the worship in music, and Pastor Steve preached a great sermon on the Father’s Day theme. To God be the glory!

Photo credit:  mychurchatthebarn.com

 

39th Birthday

May 27, 2014

30 A.D. to 33 A.D., this is the time when most Biblical scholars think that Jesus was crucified.  We have many sources, Biblical and non-Biblical that put the time of Jesus’ death around those years.  We don’t, however, know the exact date.

I do know, though, the exact date when the Lord miraculously saved me.  It was on Tuesday, May 27, 1975 between 9:00 and 11:00 pm.  It was a night that would change my life forever.

I thank the Lord for what He did 2000 years ago on the cross, and I thank him for what he did 39 years ago for a little twelve-year-old boy who was lost.  Thank you for saving me, Jesus!

Life in the Fast Lane

May 25, 2014

Memorial Day weekend holds the greatest day in the sport of motor car racing. Three of the world’s biggest races happen on this particular Sunday: The Monaco Grand Prix (Formula One), The Indianapolis 500 (Indy Car) and The Coca-Cola 600 (NASCAR). Without a doubt, the auto racing enthusiast is entertained from morning till night on this day.

This morning, as I was getting ready for church, I watched Nico Rosberg win the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix in Monte Carlo. After lunch, I came home and watched Ryan Hunter-Reay win the 98th Indianapolis 500. Tonight, Fox will cover the Coca-Cola 500 live from Charlotte, North Carolina.

In auto racing, there are many dangers in traveling at speeds that range between 200 and 235 miles per hour. There is a fine line between a great “pass” and disaster on the track. It takes a special person to be able to handle all of the obstacles, hazards and perils that are “thrown” at these professional race car drivers.

The Apostle Paul alludes to competitive sports, in the Christian life, when he wrote, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

Just as the winners of earthly races win the crown for their endurance and perseverance, so will those who are faithful to Jesus. The Lord will give them the greatest prize of all: eternal life.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Photo:  en.wikipedia.org

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