- A Diaper Bag for the End-Times?!
- Bite your Tongue?
- Challenges and Opportunities
- Download February Newsletter
A Diaper Bag for the End-Times?!
By Hannah Tekle
“I charge youtherefore before God and Messiah Yeshua, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season.” (2 Timothy 4:1-2)Our firstborn daughter is about to be inducted into the Israeli army.
It is surreal to think that we have come so quickly to this stage of her life – of our lives. It feels like just yesterday that I myself was anxiously, even ignorantly, joining the IDF as a fresh immigrant. Granted, things were done quite differently then. Today, many of her interactions in the induction process have been digital. There is an app. There is a website. She has had online forms to fill out and Zoom interviews to hurdle. In my day, we had snail mail and huge paper forms to fill out. And a lot of other unknown things. The process has become more streamlined in the almost 30 years since I served in the army. Regardless, the core experience is the same.
While she knows so much more than I did, and has the advantages of being fluent and native, there is still no way for her to be completely ready for everything she will face in this new season of her life. In the next few weeks, we will buy supplies and prepare her “duffle bag” for basic training. Somehow that meagre bag will attempt to hold all she will need for those auspicious first days and weeks. It reminds me of the first important bag we used to prepare for her…a diaper bag.
As first-time parents, we wanted to feel confident, wanted to cover all our bases and BE READY for every possible scenario. Hence, every time we went anywhere, we took this huge, fully equipped diaper bag with us. It had about a million pockets, and it held EVERYTHING. Yet, even with our good intentions, there were still many times when we somehow didn’t have what we needed. Sometimes we had used the last diaper or she had already dirtied all three changes of clothes we had brought that day. We became more flexible and less “panicky” about expecting the unexpected.
As we matured and had more children, that huge diaper bag shrank dramatically. When our last baby came along, we would often take just one or two diapers and a small pack of wipes. With time, and even with fewer supplies, we felt more ready and did not need the backup safety of an every-eventuality diaper bag.
The Bible talks a lot about seasons. It is one of the most obvious elements of nature – the cyclical pattern of the weather and of the year. Watching the seasons and knowing the seasons can bring us a great deal of security. But in Acts 1:7 we read, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.” It goes without saying that we are now living in times and in a season which is unlike any before it. Life is confusing and complicated and uncertain. Suddenly, we are thrust into new realities that we probably were not prepared for, just like parents having their first baby, or an army inductee just before basic training – realities for which we probably could not have ever fully prepared.
Today we held a very intimate funeral for an elderly woman from our congregation. We have not had a corporate congregational meeting for almost a year, and we are currently in another national lockdown. These two circumstances created an unusual atmosphere for a funeral – joy and excitement to see one another – and emphasized to all of us the sweetness of face-to-face fellowship. Sophia was 94 when she died. Orphaned at age 14, she was a Polish-born Holocaust survivor who had guarded belief in God in the depths of her heart for decades as she served in professional capacities in the Soviet Union as a loyal Communist. Nine years ago she prayed a salvation prayer with her daughter, a long-time member of our congregation. She made Aliyah to her Israeli “homeland” where she was blessed to live out her final years – until a few days ago when she told her daughter, grandson and son-in-law that she was “going to sleep, not to wake her!” And indeed she fell asleep and passed into the arms of her Heavenly Father. Her grandson testified at the funeral that despite her life circumstances, she always held on to optimism and did her best to meet evil with good all the days of her life.
We will not soon forget Sofia Bleicher, who met her Maker gladly with no suitcase, no duffel bag, no kit bag, and no diaper bag. We, on the other hand, can learn from her example. She literally took a train into the unknown and met seasons in her life that could never have been anticipated.
None of us can fully know the season we are stepping into. From day to day, we walk into the unknown. BUT – today is the day. Now is the time. The hour is upon us. I believe that we need not be surprised by anything. That we need to have our spiritual “diaper bags” ready and our spiritual “new-recruit-duffle-bags” packed. What must be in those bags? Character traits and spiritual tools that will enable us to get through the unknown challenges that await us. Some of those tools must be: humility, forgiveness, long-suffering, a heart of service, and of course – faith, hope, and love.
“But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand;”(Psalm 31:14-15)
Bite your Tongue?
by Guy CohenThere is much in the Word of God relating to the tongue. From James 3:1-12, we see how the tongue, as small as it is, has such a profound effect. It is like a bit in a horse’s mouth, like the rudder of a ship and like the flame of a single match that is able to set a forest ablaze.
It is amazing how easily words, which we later regret, tend to come out of our mouths! For that matter, it is not only the spoken but also the written words which fall under this category – particularly in this age of texting and posting. All of these forms of communication, for our purposes, can be considered the tongue.
Are we hearing indications of what is in our heart?
One way to know is to notice what comes out of our mouth when we are under pressure or when we are experiencing inner turmoil.
According to James (Ya’akov), the possibility for total destruction is great. He writes the following in verse six: “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the members of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”
Once again, what is it that controls the tongue? If our heart dwells in the peace of God, His favor and wisdom will come out of our mouth. We will not speak words meant to simply please man. We will operate in the times and seasons set before us for God’s purposes in our lives and the lives of others!
If we are in conflict or turmoil, not filled with the Spirit of God, we may find ourselves slowly looking and acting more and more like those in the world. Has the Body of Messiah drifted into this pattern? Are we seeing only defects? Do we only see other people’s weaknesses? Do we gather together in fellowship, only for what we will get for ourselves, or are we there to offer worship to the Lord in Spirit, in truth, and in unity? What is the true motivation of our heart?
As James 3:11-12 says, let us be aware of the power of the tongue for evil and for good, so we will not find ourselves becoming a spring that brings forth salt water and not fresh water.
When you are thirsty, do you want someone to give you a cup of salty ocean water? Have you ever accidentally tasted ocean water while swimming in the waves? Only fresh water can satisfy thirst. As God used His words to create new and beautiful things, may we also use our words to bring forth good.
Challenges and Opportunities
Shalom, dear friend of Israel,
I want to thank you for standing with us during 2020 in prayers and donations to support Return to Zion Ministry. Without your help, especially during these difficult times, it would not have been possible to continue carrying out our ministry.
2020 was an unusual year, which not only introduced griefs and fears, but also made it possible to re-evaluate, adjust, take note, strengthen and develop. Someone said: “Problems in life can open up new opportunities.”
We can see this in the life of Joseph, the son of Jacob. He is a brilliant example of how difficulties, confusion and betrayal can be turned into purity, revelation, and service with God’s power. The main thing is not to grumble!
Joseph said, “…But now do not grieve or regret that you sold me here, because God sent me before you to preserve your life” (Genesis 45: 5-28).
“Moreover, we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His will” (Romans 8:28).
Return to Zion Ministry is more active than ever with humanitarian projects, the extent of which has increased significantly. We are privileged to serve the poor as well as the new immigrants returning from the Diaspora to the Promised Land. Helping the needy is one of the most important commandments of the Scriptures. Praise the Lord, through this ministry we are able to reach out to the heart of man with the Light of God and renew their faith in the GOOD. The Music School is also active. The number of lessons has doubled, even as lessons in groups have been postponed due to COVID-19. The goal is to encourage the students who study with us, along with their parents, to overcome fear.
The home groups of our congregation are meeting in person when we are not in lockdown, and we see new people opening their hearts to Yeshua the Messiah. Only my home group is online, with more than 100 participants attending every Wednesday.
My heart is filled with gratitude to the Lord our God for His faithfulness and guidance! I thank God for you, for your families and for your desire to stand with Israel! We pray that 2021 would be a year of restoration and a time of intimacy with the Creator. We pray revelation of the essence of Messiah for you and your loved ones, and a year of knowing His will and His ways in serving Him!
I ask you to stand with us in 2021. Your prayers and your contributions strengthen our hands and help us to shine the Light of Yeshua to Israel!
Leon and Nina Mazin