Something Fishy (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Any of this sound familiar? “He’s a good catch”; “That story had me hooked from the very first sentence”; “She’s not the only fish in the ocean”; “I’ll let you off the hook.” There are numerous expressions that liken people to fish. It’s a good analogy because we have a lot in common with our finny friends. Think about some of the people you know: there are “pufferfish” who like to boast, “eels” who are downright slimy, and even the occasional “shark” we have to watch out for. Some of us may feel like we’ve reached the big ocean, while some of us feel like we’re “living in a fishbowl.” And some of us benefit every day from life in a “freshwater” environment, while some of us may be floundering in a dirty pool.

Jesus Christ was the first to liken people to fish. He told His disciples, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19 NASB) His use of the analogy demonstrates how well the Lord understands us: fish tend to do their own thing, and catching one can be very difficult. That describes us all.

Furthermore, a good fisherman must hook or net a fish just as he finds it — slippery and scaly, thrashing and splashing; It’s only after he lands it that he begins to clean it. And he definitely needs to clean it, because fish, left the way they naturally exist, are always a little smelly. The process perfectly describes what Christ does: He receives each of us just as we are, but because of His Love for us, because of His desire that each of us becomes the best we can be, He “cleans” everyone He catches. And, you guessed it, cleaning us is not much different from cleaning a fish!

Here’s the first step in the process necessary to prepare a “fish” for the table of life.

A good cook does several things to make a fish appealing, appetizing and flavorful, but first, the fish needs to be washed. The Bible teaches us that we “fish” can be washed by the Blood of the Lamb. (Hebrews 10:22 NLT; Revelation 7:14) This is the blood Christ shed when He was crucified. The blood, once we accept Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, cleanses us of all unrighteousness, including our past mistakes, and the guilt that often accompanies those mistakes — all that pond scum that makes us smell and holds us back in life. “But if we walk in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, His son, cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7 NLT)

Smelling a bit fishy today? Have you been floundering in a dirty tank? Are you swimming wherever the currents carry you? Tomorrow we’ll discuss the next step in preparing a fish, but today we would like to invite you to swim into the net of Jesus Christ; to stop treading water and jump into the boat. (We promise that no one will try to serve you up for dinner!)

If you want to swim with the rest of us, then read Romans 10:9 and follow the directions. Or click here.

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The Impossible Dream! (Diet for Dreamers)

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A dream of redemption, of rebuilding, of returning HOME:

Modern Israel, roughly located on the lands of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah, is tiny — about the size of Wales or New Jersey. It’s the birthplace of the Hebrew language and of Judaism and Christianity. Although the region welcomed a variety of ethnicities, and weathered the influence and interference of several empires,  the region remained predominantly Jewish until the 3rd century. Afterwards, the Israeli people endured hundreds of years of religious and cultural persecution that led them to flee their homeland, scattering throughout the world — where they remained as strangers in strange lands, further persecuted and alienated. Many Jews dreamed of a place they could call their own … a home, a haven. But after centuries of being harassed, uprooted, dispersed — and even murdered — their dream seemed like an impossible one.

Theodor Herzl shared their “impossible dream.” He was an Austro-Hungarian journalist, political activist, and writer. More importantly, he became one of the fathers of modern Zionism, forming the World Zionist Organization and promoting Jewish migration back to the region renamed Palestine, in an effort to recreate the Jewish nation of Israel. Herzl (May 2, 1860 – July 3, 1904) was born in Budapest, Hungary, to a family of secular, German-speaking, assimilated Jews. His father was a successful German businessman who tried to blend in.

Theodor Herzl, who considered himself an atheist, had a passion for poetry and the humanities, which led to a successful career in journalism. But despite having no religious affiliation with Jews, despite being a successful writer, and the son of a successful businessman, despite being assimilated (blending in), Herzl nonetheless felt the sting of antisemitism. Bottom Line? Herzl was a Jew.

Herzl believed that antisemitism could not be defeated or cured, only avoided. In his acclaimed 1896 book The Jewish State, he outlined reasons for Jews to leave Europe, should they desire, preferably to return to their historic homeland. Herzl believed the Jewish people already possessed a nationality and all they lacked was a nation. He fervently believed the only way to avoid antisemitism was for the Jewish people to have their own state, where they’d be free to practice their unique culture and religion. Little could Herzl imagine the greatest time of persecution, the Holocaust, was only four decades away — less than a lifetime; and if the modern State of Israel had been established prior to the Holocaust, the massacre of 6 million Jews could have been avoided.

Herzl’s ideas quickly spread and, although embraced by many, were largely criticized and rejected — ironically, by many Jews settled in many countries. These critical Jews, who at the time were attempting to blend in and gain acceptance by the gentile population, felt Herzl’s ideas would only fan the flames of antisemitism. But think about it: should any person or people group have to deny their origins, beliefs, culture, identity, and individuality to gain acceptance? What’s this blog about? ACCEPTANCE.

Undeterred by his detractors, Herzl enthusiastically pursued his impossible dream. He gained influential and powerful supporters in several countries, and with each passing year, his impossible dream advanced into the realm of the possible. Although Herzl wouldn’t see it realized before his death, his work had laid the foundation to make his dream a reality.

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations recommended a new Jewish state. On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, who became Israel’s first Prime Minister, declared “the establishment of a Jewish state … to be known as the State of Israel”! On the same day, the United States, in the person of President Harry Truman, officially recognized the new Jewish nation.

Today, more than 42% of the world’s Jews reside in the State of Israel, making it the largest Jewish community in the world. Israel is their home, their freedom, and their vindication. April 19th will mark the nation’s 72nd Birthday, a time of celebration and thanksgiving … a time to acknowledge that dreams, even impossible ones, can come true!

“Listen to this message from the LORD, you nations of the world; proclaim it in distant coastlands: The LORD, who scattered His people, will gather them and watch over them as a shepherd does His flock.” (Jeremiah 31:10 NLT)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ISRAEL!

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