Israel 2018

Just returned from another absolutely amazing trip to Israel. I’m still blown away that we were able to take 35 people from Calvary Chapel El Monte!  I am so blessed that we have a body who loves Israel and whose heart is set on pilgrimage (Psalm 84:5).

Some people wonder why we go to Israel. Let me give you six reasons off the top of my head.

1. It adds another dimension to your Bible. You will now read about cities, mountains, valleys, and places that you’ve actually seen with your own eyes, touched with your own hands, walked with you own feet, and even kissed with your own lips (I couldn’t help but kiss the southern steps where Jesus walked and taught). When you actually walk where Jesus walked, you read those portions of Scripture with a deeper dimension, a connection to the illumination, that you can only have by having been there. Have you ever heard that saying, “You had to be there?” It’s true!

2. The fellowship with others on the same pilgrimage is indescribable! Discovering it together, seeing the looks on people’s faces when they see Jerusalem for the first time. The Sea of Galilee, Joppa Port, the Dead Sea, the rock at Caesarea Philippi, or the cave they believed that led to Hell, as well as the caves of En Gedi. The Garden of Gethsemane, the view from the Mount of Olives, Calvary, and the Garden Tomb (it’s still empty). Experiencing all this with other believers creates the bond of a lifetime. There’s an inherent fun and fellowship you cannot find, literally, anywhere else in the world.

3. We learn so much about Israel and Judaism. We’re always blessed with excellent tour guides who teach us all along the way. If you think about it, in one sense, Christianity is building upon the foundation of Judaism. It’s the fulfillment of the promises, it’s the substance of the shadows, it’s the completion of the covenant. It really is beneficial to our Christian lives to know as much as we can about Jewish life. The Tanach, the Mishnah, the Talmud, the Mizveh, the Phylacteries, the teachings of the Rabbis provide a wealth of symbolism that benefits our walk as Christians when we take the time to discover them. I believe that in one sense, God still speaks to us through the Jews.

4. We learn about history. As we visit ancient buildings, ruins, excavations, and engage in discussions we will be blessed and challenged by the rich history we have as a church and even the bigger picture of the history of mankind.

5. There’s something about those tangible expressions of faith. Or perhaps a better way to say it is that sometimes “touching it” brings out our faith. In my corresponding picture I’m at the Western Wall. Every time I touch the wall God touches me – and the tears begin to flow followed by prayers that seem to come from the heart in ways that I can’t express anywhere else. Oftentimes in the Bible we see people “touching” in order to stimulate their faith (Matthew 9:20-21; 14:36; Mark 6:56) for Christians today, a trip to Israel embodies that “touch.”

6. God blesses those who bless His people (Genesis 12:3). A pilgrimage to Israel is one way of supporting the Jews, and God’s promise is true, He will bless those who take the time and invest their resources to bless Israel.

Pray about coming with us next time. As Pastor Chuck Smith used to say, “A trip to Israel is the equivalent to two years of seminary.” Amen! Papa Chuck was so right!

Psalm 48:8 (NLT) “We had heard of the city’s glory, but now we have seen it ourselves— the city of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. It is the city of our God; He will make it safe forever.”

Your brother in Christ,

  • Manny

The Most Asked Questions in America

Question

Okay, so I just read an article that covered the most googled questions for all 50 states in the USA. Wow, what a wide spectrum of questions we have from sea to shining sea, and like the sea, they’re deep – big time!

Here’s a sample:

Alabama: “What is love?”

Florida: “What is my life purpose?”

Idaho: “What is the relationship between religion and science?”

Illinois: “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

Indiana: “When will the world end?”

Louisiana: “Is masturbation a sin?”

These are some deep questions, far beyond what we might typically suspect people are asking nowadays. Love, life, purpose, religion, science and sin? Hmmm, maybe people aren’t as superficial as we thought, at least not deep down inside, or in the privacy of their own keyboards and computer screens. Perhaps people really are looking for answers to the big questions of life.

As I was reading, I noticed, many of those winning questions had to do with death. For example in Montana and New Hampshire the top question asked was, “What happens when you die?” Massachusetts was similar, “Is there life after death?” Here in California they asked, “Why do we have to die?” And then my heart just sank when I read the most asked questions in the state of Maine: “Why do I want to die?” and New Mexico, “How to commit suicide.”

Maybe you have some of those same questions. If you do, I just want you to know that there is a God who loves you and has a lot of life for you to live. Please, don’t give up. I know, I know…it’s so hard sometimes, and it’s harder to believe when you’ve gone through those epic tragedies that rock our world. But I know a mom who lost her little boy to cancer, I know a woman who was raped, I know a young mommy whose child was molested, I know a grip of sons who have never met their dads, and all of them are living their lives with purpose, not necessarily understanding everything, but finding a supernatural healing for their hearts from the God of the universe. You need to know that God is able to take even the tragedies and calamities of life, and somehow, someway, turn them into victories. I’m not saying that the event itself was good, not at all, but it can be used for good as we trust over time (Romans 8:28). Remember, we’re not home yet, “we’re fish out of water,” and keep in mind that pure and perpetual good will only be found in our homes in heaven.

Maybe your mind is messing with you; if so, you’re not alone, it could be drugs, demons, or flat out depression; all I can tell you is that there is power in the Name of Jesus. He died for you on a cross, they put Him in a grave, but He rose from the dead 3 days later. If you put your trust in Him you will be saved and set free; you’ll find hope and healing for your heart. Jesus is real, He’s alive, and He’s right here for you.

Its not just you, your keyboard, and your computer screen…God is there, God is here.

Acts 2:21 “And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

Whoever you are, I want you to know the reason I write is because I love you, and the God who made you is right here just waiting for you to come to Him, because He loves you with a perfect love.

– Manny

Let’s live it to give it.

Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

I love what one dear brother said, “Jesus didn’t come to live His life, He came to give His life.” And although His was the best life ever lived, the perfect life, the sinless life, the model life, exemplary in all ways – at the end of the day it wasn’t His life that ransomed us, it was His death. The Son of God was born to die for every person who’s ever lived, He gave His life “a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6).

What a contrast to the mentality most men have nowadays, even Christians. People throwing themselves pity parties because things aren’t going according to their script; cry-baby-Christians who refuse to follow the Lord – they won’t take up their cross and die to self.

It’s imperative to know that we will be tested as Christians, the question is, will we pass those tests? Will we deny ourselves as disciples of Christ, willing to follow the One who gave His life a ransom? Or will we merely be men who “ran some,” but didn’t give it all? Men who didn’t really finish the race we were called to run.

The Ransom was ultimately delivered when Mount Calvary was stained red with buckets of God’s blood, poured out as payment on our behalf (Acts 20:28; Revelation 1:5). We who had been taken captive by Satan, and were without a sliver of hope (Ephesians 2:2-4) were rescued, redeemed, liberated, and loved. Praise God – as Christians, we now belong to Him!

But now…what will we do?

The context of Mark 10:45 is Jesus calling His men to a mission of service – that we’d conform our will to His and be willing to suffer, and sacrifice, for the sake of the Gospel. Although we aren’t called to die meritoriously, we are called to live sacrificially – the question is, will we answer that call?

In all honesty I’ve been blessed with a good life, but I’ve come to realize that the best way to live it, is to give it – ALL – to my Lord.

“O Father please help me…please help us all, to answer Your call.

~ Manny

 

True Courage

winston-churchill

Good word on this side of time by Winston Churchill, “Success is never final, failure is never fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Paul the Apostle summed this up in Philippians 3:12-14.

Even though Paul had done so much in the ministry and he loved the Lord passionately, he didn’t allow his success to slow him down – he kept going and growing.

Not only did Paul refuse to look back in order to see how many hurdles he cleared, he also refused to look back to see how many hurdles he knocked down, and I’m sure he did – we all do. We all fail and fall short from time to time – but our failures do not have to define us. There are countless characters in the Bible (like Peter), and throughout church history who exemplify the fact that we serve the God of the second-chance.

It takes courage, but my prayer is that none of us would ever give up.

Get up, keep going, put one foot in front of the other while keeping both eyes on Jesus Christ. Get back to church, to consistent prayer and Bible study, and watch what God does.

Winston Churchill was used mightily to lead the allied forces to victory in WWII. God wants to use your life to win an even greater war – so I pray we’d yield to His awesome love.

Your brother in Christ, Manny

Some thoughts on Prayer

prayer

Mark 14:35-38, “He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” Then He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

We learn so much about prayer and submission through the wonderful example of Jesus.

Just the very fact that He earnestly brought His burden to the Father is a lesson in-and-of itself. How much toil and needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry all to God in prayer!

As Jesus prayed He brought His request (that the cup would pass), but He also brought a heart that was bound to do His Father’s will (such a beautiful balance between James 4:2b and 1 John 5:14 – look it up later). After 27 years of Christian life, this is finally beginning to sink in – God’s will is infinitely better than mine. We should always tag our prayer with that genuine request to God, “…nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”

And then there are those guys we identify all to well with, the motley crew of disciples. Sleeping when they should have been praying. Have you ever done that? Jesus tells us why, “…the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” The inner man longs to pray, even loves to pray, but the sinful nature within us, despises prayer, even hates to pray.

Let me encourage you to go to the “Garden,” stay awake and spend time in prayer; the devil is on his way, and trust me, you will need the help of no one less than God Almighty.

Presidential Election 2016

american-flag

So, we’re 2 days away from electing the 45th President of the United States of America. This is monumental in many ways. We say things like the very survival of our nation, the future of our nation, it’s the world our children will live in. I’ve spoken to many people who have different reasons for the candidate of their choice. For some it’s economics, and different opinions on how the poor and middle class might benefit. For others it has to do with refugees and their cries for safety within our states. Many have told me that it has to do with the demeanor of the candidates, the presentation of the president – they say it reveals deeper concerns, and in all honesty, I understand the sincerity of these citizens, and I am so blessed that when we go vote this Tuesday (and we should all vote), that we can vote having prayed first, and with clear consciences before God. I thoroughly value and respect our freedom as Americans.

For me, however, it usually boils down to other issues, especially the right to life. Since abortion was legalized, we have killed over 58 million babies.

I have a hunch that if Jeremiah, Ezekiel, or Isaiah were around today, they’d be preaching, crying out, and warning the USA that if we don’t stop killing our children, and offering them to the god of Molech, then the judgment of God cannot be averted. If we don’t grant them their right to life, then neither will He grant us our right to life. The only exception should be if the life of the mother is at stake, which is understandable, just as one would choose people out of a burning car one person at a time. But most children who are aborted are killed for convenience, and God sees that.  We must not approve of politicians, lawmakers, or laws that end the life of 1 out of every 5 children. Our next president will select at least 2 Supreme Court Justices, and this has the potential to end the murder of innocent children…so in the fear of God, I will vote for the 1 who vows to place conservative and moral judges in power…for the man who will fight for their right to live.

We need to protect the first and second amendments; guns don’t kill people, people kill people; and if God allows us to suffer persecution as Christians, and to lay down our lives, so be it, but to voluntarily relinquish the freedom of Religion and the right to preach and practice the full counsel of God, would be a failure on our parts.

So church, go and vote; vote on capital punishment according to Romans 13:4; consider the epic laws that hang in the balance including the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana; select and elect leaders as God would lead you, personally.

In our church we have an American flag on display; it’s not for show, or simply because other churches have flags, it’s because I love this country, I believe God has blessed the United States of America in so many ways, I stand and salute and wholeheartedly believe we must do everything we can to return to One Nation under God.

I believe God can use politicians, but at the end of the day, the responsibility is primarily given to the Christians. God help us to take to heart that most appropriate passage in, 2 Chronicles 7:14 where God says, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

I want to know Christ more, and make Him known…