The modern nation of Israel has deep Biblical and historical roots in ancient Israel. One never knows when or where the next amazing archaeological discovery will be.
Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered a Roman amphitheater in Hippos. This ancient city has been unearthed on the salt route to Damascus. It was on this road when Pau, the persecuto, was blinded by a heavenly light that caused him to fall off of his horse. Being the religious Jew that he was, he used an achronym for the unpronouncable name of God, always spelling with capitals. Wonderingly Paul inquired:
“Who are you LORD?”
The answer came back… “I am Jesus!”
He was stunned! That was the beginning of his transformation.
What is the question each living person needs to ask?
“Who are you LORD?”
What was the unexpected answer heard by a blind and bewildered, Saul, later called Paul, set on his course to murder ‘believers of The Way’ in Damascus?:
“I am Jesus!” was the answer.
This was the begining of a transformation that made Paul perhaps the greatest Apostle in history.
Today our world is bankrupt. Manipulative government leaders seem powerless to stop the wars, which create havoc in millions of lives. People of faith believe that the only hope is the coming of the Prince of Peace, The Messiah.
Many people are sold on “inter-faith” groups. On the surface it sounds like a great way to bring people together, and in many instances there have been positive results.
But~What happens when this “sharing” turns into one group trying to “take over”. Sadly, in these days, the answer is “not much”. All over the Middle East, Christians are persecuted by Muslims~Where is the Outcry? When Christians are discriminated against in Europe, North America or Australia~Why do people remain silent?
One woman, living in Germany decided she must take a stand! She felt that it was just wrong to have an imam give the Muslim Call to Prayer (proclaiming their god as the only true god) in a German church. When the imam began his call to prayer, this brave woman, who was seated in the balcony stood up proclaiming that “Jesus Christ alone is Lord of Germany,” and shouting, “I break this curse.” She also warned the audience that what was happening was “a lie.” Watch this brave woman and learn!
Where is the Christian World? One woman stood up for the Truth~Where Are the Rest??
You will find Christians of every stripe in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. The more “traditional” such as Greek Orthodox and Catholic have become more aware of their historical and religious connections to the Jews in Israel and increasing numbers of young people are voluntarily joining the Israeli army.
In October we posted a heartwarming video of Christian Arabs from Nazareth who stated “We Are Israeli and Deserve to Serve Our Country Proudly”, as they mounted a bus to begin their service in the IDF. As an aside, it should be noted that everyone in Israel who signs up for service is given the choice to swear their oath on a Torah, a Bible, or a Koran.
Now there is a new twist in the plot. Near the center of Nazareth a very large billboard has gone up~a “Warning” so to speak, from local Muslims. The sign is a warning that Christians must not try to overstep their “dhimmi” (second class) status. The message was also directed at the Jews, however, in Nazareth the majority of the population is Christian and Muslim.
Featuring a large stop sign, the billboard bears a quote from the koran cautioning Christians (and Jews) and makes the claim that Jesus was “only a messenger”, and of course “allah” is the one and only god. The text of the sign contains a quote from Koran 4:171 and states: (Emphasis Mine)
“O people of the Scripture (Christians)! Do not exceed the limits of your religion. Say nothing but the truth about Allah (The One True God). The Christ Jesus, Son of Mary, was only a Messenger of God and His word conveyed to Mary and a spirit created by Him. So believe in God and His messengers and do not say: ‘Three gods (trinity)’. Cease! It will be better for you. Indeed, Allah is the One and the Only God. His Holiness is far above having a son.”
Please be aware of the continued and growing persecution of Christians in the Middle East by the Muslim population.
Please Pray for Safety of the Nazareth Christian Population in These Troubled Times
Christmas is almost upon us. In some areas, this time of year is purely spiritual while in others it is only commercial. We see people fight and trample over one another to get “that gift or item” that suddenly they discover that they can’t live without !??
Through it all, there are some who relish the time with family and friends, and those who actually remember why there is Christmas at all. At Jerusalem Vistas, we like to search for interesting and inspiring hymns and carols for the season~to remind people of why we celebrate.
In that vein, we found a unique contribution from a Canadian Musician and Actor, Tom Jackson. The carol was so inspiring we have included a few other clips that provide a feeling of “Christmas Spirit”. They tell the story of a man who is known not only for his acting and concerts, but for his Humanitarian work. Each year he raises money for the community homeless shelters and those who are “down and out”. He claims that his parents taught him that being generous was a gift, and that he was “blessed with his upbringing”. Tom Jackson admits that he was on the bottom of the ladder~living on the streets~and that it “opened his eyes”. Over more than twenty years his concerts have raised in excess of $ 200 million for community shelters and the needy.
The Huron Christmas Carol, was taught to the Indians by priests when they arrived in the country. Listen to the words~it is the “Christmas Story” put in a way that those (who could not imagine where or what Bethlehem was) could understand the holiness.
Do take the time to listen to the interviews as well as the song. This is the story of a believing Christian who does what he can to help others~and while you watch, think about how we can all do something small in our own community, for those who will be without this year, and every year…
The Huron Carol by Canadian Tom Jackson
Tom Jackson Speaks of His 2013 Christmas Concert Tour
2011 Interview With Tom Jackson
An Interview With Tom Jackson at His Home in Calgary
“In the birthplace of Christianity, we have seen over the years that the Christmas holiday has been reduced to snowmen and bells…The essential message of the holiday season has been taken away for fear of what the dominant religious factors in Bethlehem would say.”
In answer to this conundrum, Pastor Khoury decided to take action and erected a large Christmas billboard at the main street entrance to Manger Square that declares in English and Arabic:
Jesus born to die and rose again. Invite him into your heart so you might live~Merry Christmas
By 20 December, the electric cable around the sign had been cut by vandals to ensure that it would not be lit up during the night. Nobody in the area of the billboard will sell access to electricity for fear of repercussions. The municipality has informed Pastor Khoury of the outcry and campaign by the (Majority Muslim) community to have the sign removed.
Jesus and his message have been lost
in the city that God chose for him to come into this world…Pastor Steven Khoury
Once a mainly Christian city, Bethlehem is now Muslim and the dwindling Christian community has been reduced to an estimated 3% of the total population. Tourists (and the money they bring)are welcome but Jesus is not.
Bethlehem is controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Israel does Not restrict tourists and in fact, this Christmas, the Jerusalem Municipality provided free transportation to tourists going to Bethlehem (Jews Not Allowed). In the Old City of Jerusalem, like in past years, free Christmas Trees were handed out.
Pastor Khoury has been going out with a portable generator and several high beam spotlights and lighting the sign up himself. Anticipating that the sign might be coming down any time, Khoury quickly put together this film next to the billboard sign. Have any major media outlets, anywhere in the world even mentioned this??
During this Holy season, please pray for Pastor Steven Khoury and the Christians of Bethlehem…
Tourists (and their Money) are Welcome~Jesus, Not so Much…
This is Pastor Khoury’s Video from the Beginning of the Month
There was a story that began around 2009, that the White House had designated that Christmas Trees would be renamed as “Holiday Trees”~and~in response, Ben Stein, gave this talk on CBS Morning Commentary. Emails have abounded…
Some parts did originate from Ben Stein~beginning in 2005~but they were liberally added to in various emails over the years. Nevertheless, much of what is written below can be attributed to him (over a period of time). I was only able to find one video of the Ben Stein commentary on Christmas Trees (see below). As it was from 2011, the “email commentary” is missing. Still and all, the “email” reprinted here is worth a read. Do take a few minutes to reflect and consider what our world has become…
I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are, Christmas trees.
It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, “Merry Christmas” to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrting this happy time of year.
I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed round for being Christians. I think people who believe in G-d are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period.
It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.
I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.
Or maybe I can put it another way: Where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship G-d? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.
In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking. Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her: “How could G-d let something like this happen?” (regarding Hurricane Katrina). Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said:“I believe G-d is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling G-d to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect G-d to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?”
In light of recent events…terrorists attacks, school shootings, etc. I think it started when atheist Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered~her body found in 2001) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools. And we said OK…Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school (The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbour as yourself)And we said OK…
Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem. We said an expert should know what he’s talking about. And we said OK…
Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.
Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with “We Reap What We Sow.”
Funny how simple it is for people to trash G-d and then wonder why the world’s going to hell.
Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says.
Funny how you can send “jokes” through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the L-rd, people think twice about sharing.
Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of G-d is suppressed in the school and workplace.
Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what G-d thinks of us…
My best regards, honestly and respectfully…Ben Stein (Well, Partially…)