I Have a Confession…

I have a confession to make (hence, the title of this blog). It’s a little-known fact that I have a strange preoccupation with a certain “thing.” I don’t know when it started, but I remember my family feeding this by buying me products related to it. I would pour over books and magazines written about it. Curious? Okay, don’t be disappointed. I am borderline OBSESSED with the Jewish people and their culture.

It has been a lifelong dream of mine to visit Israel, to study everything I can about its history (the only time history means anything to me), to be with them. I know it’s strange. So strange, in fact, that there is a woman on YouTube who does videos on hair, makeup and skincare, and the only reason I watch her is because she’s Jewish. I have no idea most of the time what she’s saying because I’m only half listening. Besides I’m way too old for the makeup advice she dishes out, but I watch her anyway because she’s Jewish. I like to look at her face.

Before you get creeped out that I’m some kind of crazy stalker chick, know that this started at a young age, and I can only attribute it to God. I’m fascinated by His love for them that He extends to me. I learn so much about Him through His interaction with them. When I was a kid I really wanted to be Jewish because I wanted to have the same blood flowing through me that flowed through Christ. How amazing to have the Son of God born out of your own bloodline! It hurts my brain to think about it.

So why am I telling you this? You don’t have to read too many blog posts from me to know that much of what goes on in this culture ruffles my feathers a bit. I freak out when I watch the news and the treasonous way in which the media portrays world events. I writhe in anger over the falsehoods so easily spouted by our leaders. And as I wrote two blog posts ago, the injustices aimed at innocent people is enough to make me crazy!

I get angry over a lot of things, most of which I won’t go to war over. As much as I love the Constitution and will be eternally indebted to those who wrote it and those who fought to keep it, I will not worship it. It is not my god. However, the things that have to do with the innocent and the lost, that’s where my passion turns to action. What I’m talking about is anti-Semitism. That insidious disease snaking through our world at rocket speed. I can’t take it. My heart races with anxiety. It’s on our college campuses, Jewish students afraid to wear their yarmulkes for fear of being ridiculed, a tragic reality. College cafeterias refusing to sell hummus because it’s made in Israel. And “at the UN, forces are aligned against Israel and erroneously regard the Jewish state as an oppressive, apartheid regime” (Israel My Glory magazine, p. 10, May/June 2013). In some places around the world, the Jews are compared to Nazi Germany, a concept that defies all logic.

In the world of business, despite Israel’s small size and limited resources, the people are savvy entrepreneurs. Of course, they meet obstacles on this front as well. The BDS, or Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement was started by a group of Palestinians urging the boycott of any products made in Israel. Well, two can play that game.

So what can we do about it? It’s really quite simple. I will do what I do best: shop. Don’t freak! I’m not going in to debt over this, nor am I buying unnecessary products. What I will do, however, is buy honey, olive oil, preserves and other products from http://www.gitfood.com. I use it anyway so why not support our Jewish friends in the process?

G.I.T. USA Inc. is an extension of Galilee International Trade Company which sells and distributes food products here in the US for small businesses in Israel. If you live around Wegman’s, Whole Foods Markets, Zabar’s, and Foodtown, you can find their products on the store shelf. If not, you will have to beg the local stores in your town to start selling their products and/or order online which means shipping costs and the BLESSED internet sales tax our illustrious leaders have inflicted upon us! But it’s for a good cause so I will get over this last frustration.

You’ve heard of SodaStream, right? That magical machine that turns water into carbonated water. My kids really wanted one of those to which I quickly retorted with “What on earth for?” until I learned that this company is an Israeli company. It actually employs more Arabs than Jews. Despite this fact, many of the stores selling it have been under pressure to cease and desist by the BDS. All of a sudden, I really want a SodaStream. Who wouldn’t?

Seriously, I may not be in a position to use my body as a human shield for one of my Jewish friends (God help us if it comes to that). I can’t really change policy at the U.N. What I can do is, first and foremost, pray for the Jewish people, those who’ve come to Jesus as their Messiah and those who have yet to. I can pray that God will frustrate the plans of the wicked. Honestly, do these people really know Who they’re up against? And finally, I can do the one thing that in the past has gotten me into so much trouble: shop. It’s just like God to take shopping (of all things!) and redeem it for a higher purpose. One of the many reasons I love Him so much!

So let’s do something to help our Jewish friends.  Get shopping people!

P.S. You should know I get no kickbacks from any of these companies or resources I mention. These people have no idea that I or my little blog even exist!

Raising World-Changers, Part 8

So here we are at the end of our series on raising world-changers. This last instruction, if you will, spans three verses.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (vs. 10-12).

It is fitting that these verses would tie up the passage that started with “blessed are the poor in spirit,” those who have come to the realization that they are nothing apart from God. To go from that to rejoicing in persecution is quite the journey.

If Matthew 5:3-12 was piece of classical music, it would be Handel’s Messiah without a doubt. Every year as a college student I would go to my school’s performance of this great masterpiece and listen. At times, different parts of it would become arduous, and in my mind, not terribly melodic (not a fan of the Baroque style!). But then the Hallelujah chorus would start, the crowd would rise, and the three hours of listening to music I didn’t really relate to, suddenly became completely worth it.

If you’re familiar with the ending of that piece you know that the story goes that King George II was so moved by the Hallelujah chorus that he stood and required everyone else to do so also. Matthew 5 reminds me of this in that we live in this world, hopefully at some point recognizing our need for Christ, continue on our journey becoming more like Him the more we take on his character, as outlined in the text. Finally, the crescendo of the passage and of our relationship to Him culminates in the one thing we are all afraid will happen but that God sees as the ultimate test of our commitment: persecution.

I don’t relish the idea of persecution. My kids and I talk about it frequently. We talk about what’s happening to Christians in our military and around the world. We talk about the strength of our faith as compared to the fervor of a jihadist who will give his/her life for something they believe in hoping that what they are dying for delivers on the promises they’ve bought into. I wonder sometimes if I have the faith of a jihadist. Would I send my 7-year-old to the training grounds of this faith knowing that once trained they would give their life for a cause?

How much more willing and submitted to the idea we should be given that we know the truth and the Truth-teller. Not only do we know this Person we’ve submitted to, we have a relationship with Him. We’ve talked to Him, daily, hopefully. Christianity, is the only “religion” whose followers have an intimate relationship with the One whom they serve. I just find it interesting that people all over the world will give their lives for so much less with no guarantees. Striking, isn’t it?

The verses immediately following could have started with after all. We have a list of guidelines that we are to follow if we are to be different than the rest of the world with the goal of offering hope. Following are the verses that explain, after all, we are the light of the world, we are the salt of the earth. We lose our saltiness by letting our faith grow stale. We hide our light to avoid standing out from the crowd because of what that could mean. Yet, we want people to come to Christ. Why would they when we look no different than anyone else?

This is a tricky concept to teach teenagers who want nothing more than to be included, accepted and able to fit in. When I tell them we are not here to fit in because this is not our final destination, they understand it, but I don’t know if they buy it. Don’t get me wrong. I have great kids in whom I do see a spark of defiance aimed at the world’s system, but then there are other times when the choices aren’t as good. The same could be said about me. Some days I’m all in. Some days I struggle.

I’ve decided that none of the commands of Scripture are attainable apart from the help of the Holy Spirit and having the mind of Christ, that is, an eternal perspective. So what I’ve learned from this study as I attempt to maneuver two teens through a broken culture is if I teach them nothing else, I want them to learn from me that an eternal perspective is what gives life. If we could grasp the concept of delayed gratification and apply it to what we’re saving up for eternally, I think the cost would make more sense. Not only that, but to have the King stand and say “well done” would be worth the sometimes difficult task of living here on earth.

How about you? What have you learned about parenting in light of Matthew 5? I’d love to hear from you.