World WReligion Wednesday: Jews: religious group, people, or race?

My students in both Introduction to the Bible and Christianity and World Religions often feel confused about what makes someone Jewish. They understand there is an ethnic identity, but they also see there is a religious component. Not all people who identify themselves as “Jewish” practice Judaism. This is much of where the confusion comes from.

A great article on this can be found HERE.

“When God speaks, it is as a nail in a sure place.”

Being clearly pursued is humbling. I am in awe of the Father’s resolute pursuit of us. Like a cat after an unravelling ball of string, the Lord zips to catch us.

After my slamming encounter with my neighbor, as a result of my going outside to pick up a screw as God said to do, a life is being transformed. Friday morning I awakened an hour and a half before my alarm. Frustrated, I laid in bed and asked God to help me fall back asleep. The Holy Spirit stirred. “There is a reason you are awake.” Ah, okay, so I got up and began to spend my morning with the Lord. Hours later, around 9:30 my new friend invited me over for breakfast. At first, I turned to God and said, “Lord, I’m not sure what to do. I know I am supposed to protect my morning time with you and I want to honor that.” Then the clarity came, “This is why you woke up early. This is timing. She needs you now.” So, as lovers do, in a small act for big love, I put my shoes on and went outside.

I walked into her apartment and she gestured at an open notebook on the table and said, “I want you to write in there whatever you hear God saying to me so, I can keep it and read it when I feel like crying endlessly.” WOW. Such openness. Well, I didn’t write in the notebook immediately, but expressed a desire to talk first. First, she asked if I mind if she drink a beer – the beer she hid under her bed when I arrived because she was embarassed. I told her, “you can do whatever you like.” And so she gave me a tour of her apartment and retrieved the can from below her bed. Then we sat at the kitchen table.

God said to me, “ask her when she feels like she became broken.” And when I asked the question, out came a rough and tumble story, like a shoe in a dryer – unsettling simply to listen to – of some of the hardest experiences imaginable. Extreme pain, extreme abandonment, extreme self-destruction. Then she abruptly stopped and blurted, “Did you know all of that when you saw me on the street?” “No, I didn’t know all of the story, but God did show me a few pictures. Sometimes he shows me pictures from someone’s life.” I answered. She suddenly thought to call her ex-boyfriend who was supposed to return to Bethlehem from Germany that week. She had not seen him for three years. Lo and behold! he arrived late the night before. She was ecstatic! She apologized and said she’d like to go see him in an hour. She still loves him. I was feeling more and more like a stage manager for a great production starring the Holy Spirit. What timing! So, she was readying to leave and I took the opportunity to write a letter from God to her in the notebook.

When she reappeared I asked if I could pray with her before she left. She liked that idea. And the Holy Spirit won an Academy Award for the starring role. I listened to God and I prayed a few key things. And when I prayed about God knowing her favorite things, her favorite song began to play on the stereo. And when I commanded her ears to be open to hear God’s voice, she heard him say, “It’s okay, it’s okay.” And when I told her she would feel the wind and be reminded of the breath of God, she explained that anxiety gave her trouble breathing, but she could feel the wind coming in the apartment and she knew God was going to be reminding her to relax and breathe. THEN, since I continuously heard God say, “Ann . . . Roosevelt” I asked her if she knows an Ann Roosevelt. “No.” “Does the name Roosevelt mean anything to you?” I questioned. “Roosevelt High School,” she stated. “IN FRESNO!?” I exclaimed – she did not know I am from Fresno. “Yeah, my best friend graduated from there” she explained. “What’s her name?” I asked. “Annette.” “Oooh, that’s why I was hearing Ann,” I realized. “So, tell me about her.” “Well, she’s one of my closest friends, we’ve had a lot of crazy adventures. Hey, I’ll call her now.” Annette didn’t answer the phone, so my friend left a message detailing her meeting of me and the fact that I’m from Fresno.

We then moved into the other room so she could show me videos of her and Annette. Wow. It’s incredible how the Holy Spirit unearths things to display the love of God and to pull content and revelation from our lives.

Eventually, we parted ways, but as we parted I heard God say, “call her Princess _______” So, I did while we hugged. She froze. “That’s what my dad always called me, but mainly when he thought I was spoiled.” “Well, God calls you Princess and He wants you to know that He is going to spoil you” was my instant reply.

Tears in her eyes, she hopped in the cab.

Later that day she called to tell me two things: 1. She read what I wrote and she couldn’t believe how I could see inside her. “It’s God,” I explained. 2. She and her ex-boyfriend got back together and she bought a ticket to return to Germany with him on April 23.

That night I invited her to join my neighbors and I for dinner and a movie. Delighted, she came. Drunk, but delighted. My friends welcomed her and loved on her – watching her homemade movies on the internet and attending to her needs. Sweet. Unfortunately, she left early on account of wanting to see a friend she thought was leaving for the USA the next day.

That night she made the mistake of having two male friends stay the night in her apartment, which got her kicked out the next morning. By the time I saw her later in the day she was a mess. Yet, she did join us for the engagement of friends. (In Bethlehem, “engagement” is an official ceremony at a church.) Thereafter, she came along for coffee. And a few friends and I went to hear her sing at a club in Bethlehem that night.

As the night rolled on, and her need for a place to stay became urgent, she informed me she would stay with a guy friend in Jerusalem. “I want you to stay with me,” I said. She said I was the person she really wanted to stay with. “Well, I need you to agree to no alcohol in my place, no smoking inside, and no one else can come over.” “Yeah, sure. Of course. I understand,” she replied.

I went home and some time after 3am, my phone rang. She was outside the building. And in a tottery, loud stumble she came into my apartment. Being manic depressive, she claimed she couldn’t sleep. So, we talked until nearly 6am: in the family room while she uploaded videos, on the balcony as she smoked, in the spare bedroom as she ate cereal from our last big red bowl. Eventually, I went to bed. And at 7:30 I woke up so I went out to check on her — sound asleep on the floor in the family room in the midst of an online chat with a friend (last comment around 6, so she did get some sleep). I picked up the laptop, turned it off, and went back to bed. Less than an hour later she was knocking on my door, panicked, and saying that she had to go get her stuff from her old place. I convinced her to wait and stay. She made coffee then went outside to smoke.

A few hours later she left. After several dramatic phone calls from her throughout the day, she came with me to church that evening. Upon arrival she got a call from her neighbors, worked herself into a tizzy, and implored that she had to leave immediately. Thankfully, she permitted us to pray for her first. And we did. Ahhh… what a blessed calm, love, and redemption was blossoming in that room.

As I was praying for her earlier Sunday on my own, I was reminded of a pastor in Germany that I met at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in February. I realized he might have connections in the city she is headed to – people who can parent her, love her, and walk her through deliverance and restoration. And maybe even someone she can live with! Well, I emailed him and explained the situation. Sure enough! He has a great friend, a woman, in that city who is part of a church plant. He emailed her and she should email me soon.

Now, my friend is staying with someone in Jerusalem, but I expect she will come to church with me Wednesday, Passover dinner in Jerusalem Thursday, and back at church on Sunday.

She refers to me as either “my savior” or “the girl God sent to me.” She thanks me for showing her Jesus, and I say, “it’s Jesus who showed me you. It’s Jesus who is pursuing you. He loves you more than you can imagine.” Every time I tell her I love her she gets choked up. And she hugs me so hard I get choked up (literally). God is doing something radical. Bondage and lies are being broken off of her. I see it. And I know she feels it.

I am humbled beyond words. God told me to pick up a screw off of the ground and what I found is a treasure of a woman who God is passionately, creatively, resolutely pursuing. What LOVE this is!  What beautiful LOVE! How wonderfully he stakes out each of us. How masterfully He shows us His love! The Pursuer is going to sweep my friend off her feet. He is showing her a love beyond compare! A purpose full and eternal!

This month I am reading a 30 day devotional of Smith Wigglesworth’s writings. Wigglesworth was an English plumber who became a forerunner of healing ministry in the early 1900’s. Today’s Healing Principle is, “When God speaks, it is as a nail in a sure place.” I laughed when I read that. haha! How about a screw in a sure place?! I love His voice!

AMEN! His words are %100 sure.

<Jesus, thank you for being our intercessor. Thank you for loving my friend so profoundly. I am thrilled and toe-tapping excited for what you will do in her life this month! I LOVE YOU!>