Hope in the Bread and Water

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From the River Jordan in the Middle East to the waterways beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, along the eastern shore and anywhere else where Orthodox Jews might be gathered, you can expect to find plenty of bread crumbs floating down-stream or riding salty waves out to sea.

On this special day, each morsel of bread represents sins and the casting into the water is a symbol of atonement.  It is the “washing away” on the Day of Judgment known as “Tashlich”.

imagesjew2Tashlich (תשליך) is a ritual that many Jews observe during Rosh Hashanah. “Tashlich” means “casting off” in Hebrew and it involves symbolically casting off the sins of the previous year by tossing pieces of bread or another food into a body of flowing water. Just as the water carries away the bits of bread, so too are sins symbolically carried away. In this way the participant hopes to start the New Year with a clean slate.

Tashlich originated during the Middle Ages and was inspired by a verse uttered by the prophet Micah:

God will take us back in love;
God will cover up our iniquites,
You [God] will hurl all our sins
Into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:19)

Tashlich is traditionally performed on the first day of the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), but if this day falls on Shabbat then tashlich isn’t observed until the second day of Rosh HaShanah. If it is not performed on the first day, it can be done anytime up until the last day of Sukkot, which is thought to be the last day of the New Year’s “judgment” period.

In order to perform tashlich you must take pieces of bread or another food and go to a flowing body of water such as a river, stream, sea or ocean. Lakes or ponds that have fish are also a good place, because the animals will eat the food and fish are believed by folklore to be immune to the evil eye.

Some traditions say that fish are also significant because they can be trapped in nets just as we can be trapped in sin. In some communities people will also pull out their pockets and shake them to make sure any lingering sins are cast off.

Tashlich has traditionally been a solemn ceremony but in recent years it has become a very social occasion. People often gather at the same body of water to perform the ritual.  In New York, for example, it is popular to perform tashlich by tossing pieces of bread off the Brooklyn or Manhattan bridges.

imagesCAWIKMJWI find it interesting how this ritual so closely matches my own Christian baptism with Jesus as the ultimate “atonement” for my sins.  Just as the Jewish people long to wash away the sins of the past year so they can enter into the future with a “clean slate”, the act of baptism represents a “washing away” of the past before coming to the cross and accepting Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice for my own sins.

The Ten Day focus of Rosh Hashanah takes the sin, cleansing and renewal theme even further with a deliberate Old Testament style repentance. It is a radical, fervent, harsh and hard-core approach frequently neglected in modern synagogues and churches.

Call it extreme but the world needs this kind of feasting and fasting, an sharp and critical soul searching and a solemn soaking experience.  America needs a deep intense soul cleansing–an inner intricate finding and binding; a shattering, shaking, wide awakening.

I need it too.  I need God to prune me to the core.

We all need a reviving and life-saving experience like that of the Ninehvites when Jonah finally reached them.  We need a no escape, sack-cloth, shaved heads and ashes, fist-clenching, gut-wrenching and heart rendering face on the floor multi-day prayer summit.   We need an unscheduled revival.

Its not too late but how many of us are Orthodox, thirsty or determined enough to comply–just for 10 days?  Throw the clock out the window and get rug burns on our knees.  Disregard the agenda.  Shut off the computer.  Forget facebook.  Hold the phone.

I dare you.

This summerimagesCA93BQAK I set out to spend 40 days writing, fasting and praying.  I set my goal too high.  Yes, I got a good start but too soon I let everything slip.  Everything I set out to do got put on the back burner and suddenly I found myself hopelessly back in my rut.  Going nowhere.  Two steps forward and three steps back.  My spiritual growth on hold.

Brothers and sisters we are in times that are too critical for the normal routine of comfortable Christianity.  The two step dance leads nowhere.  Now is the time to break the routine and get out of the rut.  Whatever hindrances have you bound, now is the time to break free.

10402840_260456007480773_1268100802070448145_nI preach change and revival to myself realizing now might be a good time to go down to the river to pray with my own bag of bread crumbs and a renewed desire to repent, get closer to God and to seek His perfect will for my life.

Will you join me?

Hope on the Horizon: Trumpets and Fireballs

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Last night fire bombs flew through the sky.  Natural ones–at least four of them–large enough to be seen by several thousand people in various locations around the U.S.

The American Meteor Society reports that four large fireballs were seen in the sky over the eastern half of the United States.

imagesCAJ0VO2TThe first could be seen in Florida and Georgia.  Three of the four events occurred within 90 minutes of each other.  At least 77 witnesses from Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana reported a bright fireball over Michigan around 9 p.m.

“It is rare that multiple significant fireball events occur and are reported to the AMS in the same evening. After analysis of the time, proximity of witnesses and pointing data gathered, it was determined that each event was unique,” the AMS wrote on its website.

The recent increase in fireball sightings is a widely under-reported phenomena that apparently has been going on for weeks.

Every night, a network of Nasa all sky cameras scan the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. On Sep. 13, 2014, the network reported 253 fireballs.

That’s just in one night.

imagesCAT9NGQ1End times prophets and sign-watchers are reeling at the implications.  Could God be sending us signs?  On October 8, 2014 a second blood red moon is expected.  It seems no coincidence that tonight also marks the Jewish Feast of Trumpets.

Rosh Hashanah or Jewish New Year is called the Feast of Trumpets in the Bible because it begins the Jewish High Holy Days and Ten Days of Repentance with the blowing of the ram’s horn, the shofar, calling God’s people together to repent from their sins. During Rosh Hashanah synagogue services, the trumpet traditionally sounds 100 notes.

Rosh Hashanah also is a solemn day of soul-searching, forgiveness, repentance and remembering God’s judgment, as well as a joyful day of celebration, looking forward to God’s goodness and mercy in the New Year.

Hope Without Shoes

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IMG_5028I love going barefoot.  I also love the fact that I get to choose.  Many don’t.

On October 10, 2014 I will choose to wear no shoes.  I will join hundreds or thousands of other barefoot activists who join a Soles4Souls initiative to go shoe-less to create awareness about poverty in America and around the world.

Founded in 2006 and based in Nashville, Tennessee, Soles4Souls is a global not-for-profit institution dedicated to fighting poverty through the distribution of shoes and clothing. 

Soles4Souls distributes shoes and clothing in two ways. First it passes on new items donated by corporations and retailers who provide new but non-marketable overstocks, returns and discontinued items.  At the same time, Soles4Souls receives used shoes and clothing collected by individuals, schools, churches, faith-based institutions, civic organizations and corporate partners.  After sorting items in its national warehouse, Soles4Souls typically sells the used shoes and clothing to carefully selected micro-enterprise organizations in countries like Haiti where there are virtually no jobs to generate personal income.

While Soles4Souls is making a difference worldwide, much of its work begins and ends right here in America. 

Soles4Souls was born out of a critical need to respond to natural disasters both domestically and internationally. While disaster relief continues to be a primary focus, other stateside initiatives include:

Appalachia Mountains Region
From Lynch, Kentucky to Bluefield, West Virginia the need for basic items is staggering. The request for new and gently worn footwear is always in high demand. This is one region where children do not have even one adequate pair of shoes for school. Shoes are designated for this region approximately once each quarter.

Summer Camps for Disadvantaged Children
Soles4Souls also provides two pairs of shoes for up to 6,000 children who attend one of 140 camps in the U.S. that focus on abused and neglected children. The children do not pay for camp as all their funding is raised by volunteers. Most of these children also do not have a pair of shoes in adequate condition or that fit properly.

Navajo/Hopi Indian Reservations
Soles4Souls currently is focused on Native Americans residing in the Winslow/Holbrook, Arizona region where footwear for all age groups remains in high demand.

Women Domestic Abuse Shelters
Soles4Souls continues to expand its network of supporting Women Domestic Abuse Shelters across the U.S. These women (and their children) usually begin to rebuild their lives from nothing. Low heel shoes in black, brown, and navy provide conservative footwear needed for women in transition during their job search.

Soles4Souls also organizes disaster response and short-term mission teams to travel the world and hand-deliver clothing and shoes.

In October, the Barefoot4Them initiative is looking for participants to help raise awareness.  On 10.10.14, we can make a choice to live one day without shoes. Go barefoot to represent someone who has been affected by wearing inadequate footwear, and be the voice of those in need.

To get involved is simple:

  • Sign up!
  • Take a photo of your bare feet and share it on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Include something like this: 

Will you go Barefoot4Them with @soles4souls on 10.10.14 to help the millions of kids w/o shoes? #b4t 

On October 10th, 

  • Go barefoot to raise awareness.
  • Share posts and photos with the #B4T hashtag.

To learn more visit http://soles4souls.org/barefoot4them

Wailing Women and Hope

cindicourbat:

Some random thoughts on the mysterious woman dressed in black . . .

Originally posted on The HOPE Report:

BtrohIiIQAAg2yLThe solitary figure of a woman dressed in black became the focus of feverish social media speculation after she was spotted silently walking the highways of several southern states. By the time her journey ended she was said to have spent an entire month walking and to have covered over 1,000 miles.

Who was the strange woman and why was she wearing an ancient costume from biblical times? The media, spectators, social media followers–even her own family couldn’t quite figure it out–and she made no efforts to explain.

Her relatives surmised she might have lost her mind due to post traumatic stress (PTSD) acquired during her military career. Or maybe it was her involvement with the church?

Interesting enough our passion is our greatest calling–and who better than a distraught military woman of strong faith willing to walk the highways demonstrating her silent strength–a powerful presence that would inevitably gain…

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Hope on Yasgur’s Farm

cindicourbat:

It has been 45 years since Woodstock . . .

Originally posted on The HOPE Report:

     
 

I’m a farmer, I don’t know how to speak to twenty people at one time, let alone a crowd like this. But I think you people have proven something to the world — not only to the Town of Bethel, or Sullivan County or New York State; you’ve proven something to the world. This is the largest group of people ever assembled in one place. We have had no idea that there would be this size group, and because of that you’ve had quite a few inconveniences as far as water, food, and so forth. Your producers have done a mammoth job to see that you’re taken care of… they’d enjoy a vote of thanks. But above that, the important thing that you’ve proven to the world is that a half a million kids — and I call you kids because I have children that…

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Hope on Yasgur’s Farm

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I’m a farmer, I don’t know how to speak to twenty people at one time, let alone a crowd like this. But I think you people have proven something to the world — not only to the Town of Bethel, or Sullivan County or New York State; you’ve proven something to the world. This is the largest group of people ever assembled in one place. We have had no idea that there would be this size group, and because of that you’ve had quite a few inconveniences as far as water, food, and so forth. Your producers have done a mammoth job to see that you’re taken care of… they’d enjoy a vote of thanks. But above that, the important thing that you’ve proven to the world is that a half a million kids — and I call you kids because I have children that are older than you are — a half million young people can get together and have three days of fun and music and have nothing but fun and music, and I God Bless You for it!

Max Yazgur addressing the crowd at Woodstock on August 17, 1969

woodstock1I didn’t make it to Yasgur’s farm this week, but I did watch the CNN news documentary on the 1960s.

It wasn’t the same . . . of course.  You can’t go back and revisit that era in history and ever expect to capture what it really was.  You had to have lived it yourself–just as I’m certain the 45th Anniversary Woodstock Celebration can’t hold a torch to what happened in upstate New York in the summer of 1969. 

Nothing can touch that . . . no music, no gathering, no collective consensus of hope. 

Never again.

woodstock3For about a week in the middle of August, the idea of utopia became reality for a half a million people who made their way to an old dairy farm in Bethel, New York.  The premise was to simply share a few days of music, freedom and love.  No one anticipated the magnitude of the event, the impact it would have on society or the profound imprint it would leave on all those who participated.  It was astounding–a mind-blowing spectacle that words cannot do justice. 

I wasn’t there, so I can only imagine.

As I watched the CNN documentary it all seemed so surreal.  The monotone news anchors, the black and white images, the shaky camera work trying to capture and make sense out of a Movement that appeared to be spinning out of control.  How do you describe the mixed emotions or the fear of a shaking so powerful it totally disrupted the status quo? 

A new fire was burning and no one knew how to contain it.  Beneath the surface was a clashing of cultures and an electrifying energy that drove an entire generation further and further from its roots into a mesmerizing idealistic trance–a utopian dream world. 

And yet, as wild or dreamy as it seemed, it did have its glory moments.  It ignited a passion for life and a revival of hope that die-hard hippies still cling to and new generations embrace.  It created a paradigm shift with changes that remain for good and for bad.  Remnants of those positive vibes and humanitarian ideals still remain.

What was once extreme is now mainstream.

The CNN documentary featured a seemingly conservative and almost matronly-looking woman who spoke eloquently and shared an inside view of Woodstock and the ideals of that generation.  Who could she be?  Probably some historian–a university professor, I falsely assumed.   Her white hair was neatly tied back and her eyes lit up as she recalled those days gone by.  And then, her name suddenly appeared at the lower edge of the TV screen. 

GRACE SLICK.  Say what?

I’m not sure what happened to the wild woman clad in leather and spike-heeled boots who once strutted across the stages of America wailing out haunting rock songs and permeating the drug culture with her eerie adventures of Alice in Wonderland.

Seeing her today made me question what has happened to all of those Woodstock-era icons who didn’t die young.  Where are they today?  Did they ever do anything to keep their utopian dream alive or was it just one short trip to the Garden?  Was it really the end and not the beginning of something new and revolutionary, something sacred and unrepeatable.

imagesCAZ1SPULThroughout history man has tried and failed to create heaven on earth or to get back to the Garden but these efforts have failed repeatedly because we are imperfect beings living in a fallen and imperfect world. 

And still, our hope is not lost in these efforts but strengthened in the promise of a new world and an after-life that is far more amazing than anything we could imagine or create on our own.

Keep hoping.  Faith is believing in what we do not see—yet.

Hope for Nazarenes

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NI am not ashamed of the gospel and I am not afraid to bear the mark.  I will wear it as a badge of honor.

Even under persecution or as the end draws near, my faith can not be shaken by fear.  I am a Christian and that will never change.

This is the mark ISIS militants in Iraq have been using to identify Christians and to condemn their homes,  It is the symbol of madness, mayhem and doom, the identifier used to perpetuate horrific violence against humans at risk.

Sadness overwhelms me when I think on this. My eyes run dry as I consider the persecution Christians have endured throughout history–starting with the apostles.

There is a non-Biblical document called the “Martyrdom of Bartholomew,” which claims that Bartholomew was martyred by King Astyages in Armedia:

“And when he had thus spoken, the king was informed that this god Baldad and all the other idols had fallen down, and were broken in pieces. Then the king rent the purple in which he was clothed, and ordered the holy apostle Bartholomew to be beaten with rods; and after having been thus scourged, to be beheaded.” – Martyrdom of Bartholomew.

Bartholomew was one of the Twelve Apostles and is mentioned in the Bible’s New Testament, in Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; and Acts 1:13.

James son of Alphaeus, according to was beaten, stoned and clubbed to death. Andrew might have been martyred in Achaia or Patrae, both of which are places in the western part of Greece. It is believed that Peter was crucified upside down in Rome. Thomas was killed with a spear. The martyrdom of James son of Zebedee is recorded in the New Testament of the Bible, in Acts 12:1-2. He was executed, with a sword, by order of King Herod Agrippa I in the year 44 AD.

Philip was crucified. Matthew was killed with a spear.  Jude was crucified.  Simon was crucified. Only John may have died a natural death.  Judas hung himself from a tree after betraying Jesus who was falsely accused by local religious leaders and crucified by the Romans. He was resurrected, meaning he returned to life.

Today, Christians are the most persecuted religious group worldwide with an average of at least 180 Christians around the world are killed each month for their faith. (Source: Open Doors USA).  In more than 60 countries Christians face persecution from their own governments or from surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in Christ. (Source: U.S. Department of State).

One of the worst countries in the world for the persecution of Christians is North Korea. With the exception of four official state-controlled churches in Pyongyang, Christians in North Korea face the risk of detention in the prison camps, severe torture and, in some cases, execution for practicing their religious beliefs. North Koreans suspected of having contact with South Korean or other foreign missionaries in China, and those caught in possession of a Bible, have been known to be executed. (Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide)

In 41 of the 50 worst nations for persecution, Christians are being persecuted by Islamic extremists. (Source: Open Doors).

So with all of this persecution–where is the hope?  Hope resides in the heart of true believers.  Hope is in the promise of an everlasting peace.

Hope also exists through organizations like Open Doors.

Open Doors is an international non-profit ministry that supports and strengthens persecuted Christians.  Their goal is to connect and strengthen believers worldwide, empowering them to reach out in love to their neighbors.  By informing, inspiring and involving believers in the US, they hope to build deep and lasting connections within the body of Christ to meet the ongoing needs of persecuted Christians.

Open Doors was founded in 1955 by Brother Andrew from Holland.  Moved with compassion for those isolated in the Soviet Union, Brother Andrew’s first mission was to smuggle Bibles behind the Iron Curtain.  This story is found in the book, “God’s Smuggler,” which has sold over 10 million copies in 36 languages.  Open Doors has carried on Brother Andrew’s legacy by distributing millions of Bibles worldwide each year.

One of the greatest challenges to Christians living under tyranny and oppression is isolation – from God’s word and from the body of Christ.  Where other Christian organizations cannot enter or have been forced to flee by oppressive governments or cultures, Open Doors can be found working for and with persecuted Christians.

Brother Andrew put it this way: “Our very mission is called ‘Open Doors’ because we believe that any door is open, anytime and anywhere….to proclaim Christ.”

The mission of Open Doors extends far beyond helping the persecuted church. Their vision is for all to experience the love of Jesus, whether in receiving urgently needed food and medical supplies, or in participating in education and rebuilding communities for long-term recovery. When persecuted Christians are strengthened, they reach out and benefit those around them.

In 2012, Open Doors delivered more than 2.4 million Bibles, study Bibles, children’s Bibles, training materials and other Christian materials to persecuted believers in 50 countries. Open Doors trained 265,300 people from theological courses to shorter seminars. Also in 2012, Open Doors served 207,000 through community development projects.

To learn more, visit https://www.opendoorsusa.org/about-us. You can also call our Frontline Care Center 888-5-BIBLE-5 ( 888-524-2535 ).

 

 

 

 

Last Hope on Mount Sinjar

cindicourbat:

It appears that the original draft of this first Mount Sinjar blog was removed from my facebook pages so I am reposting to see what happens. If you read this be sure to read the second one because the hope that seemed lost has been found in renewed faith and practical help with rescues that began on Saturday

Originally posted on The HOPE Report:

sinjarFrom a high hill or a mountaintop, hope should be at its greatest potential.  From that perspective a person can see what is behind, what is ahead, what is down and what is up.  From a mountaintop one can almost touch the clouds and one can nearly kiss the sky.  The air is fresh and pure.  Heaven seems real and reachable.

Not so on the mountain top of  Sinjar in Northern Iraq where people are dying of starvation and dehydration . . .  Not there where parents are facing the worse decisions imaginable.

With the angel of death in plain sight, faith succumbs to fear.

What parent can prevent the slow and painful suffering on the mountaintop or the savage massacre below?  Under these conditions–what would you do?

I am aghast at the news today.  The horrific images circulating the internet make me want to vomit, scream, cry, run, hide or write.  I simply must…

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Mount Sinjar Revisited: Hope for Today

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mt. sinjarAs I head to church this morning I am reminded that hope is not meant only for the future–hope is for today.  Yesterday I lost sight of that.  With all the horrific photos and end times sirens screaming, my gut was wrenching and I had to let it out.  In the process I lost sight of hope.  My heart went numb.

The bleakness and the horror overrode my intent–the intent to find hope even in what seemed to be the most hopeless place on earth.

I apologize.

I realize I perpetuated doom and gloom.  I failed to see with the gift God gave me.  I did not lift the veil and pierce through the darkness into the light.  I allowed my faith to wane and the horror to cloud my thinking.  I spit sad words from my keyboard.

Today I return to the promise of hope.  I cling to the optimism no one can steal.  My trust in God is renewed.

Today I am reminded that peace begins within.  I breathe deep and remember that God sits on the throne and He is always in control even when wickedness abounds.

The battle between good and evil has always been over our souls.  Evil lurks and roams the earth seeking to devour but do not let it steal your hope.  God’s glory still wins in the end.

Until then we must hang onto whatever threads we can find.  Cling to the vine.  We must not let discouragement or fear cloud our mind.  Dwell not on evil–perpetuate whatever is hopeful and good.

The future will take care of itself.  Become the vessel of hope that is needed today.

Speak of hope in the midst of our trials.  Speak of hope that casts out fear.  Speak of hope that rises up from your belly.  Speak of hope that tramples on snakes and casts mountains into the sea.

Speak of the unshakable, relevant and viable hope that emerges from even the tiniest mustard seed.

Revisit Mount Sinjar with me.  I dare you to come along.

Focus your prayers back on those villages and valleys.  This time see them with the eyes and heart of hope.  In doing so, you will eventually see some signs–signs of hope however faint.  Fast frame forward and ignore the haunting images of death and destruction and force your mind to find the hope.  Its hard but work on it.  Search and you will see it.

I am convinced that hope still lives in the silent prayers of the persecuted people and in those brave humanitarians who are reaching out to help.

mt sinjar2Yesterday the United States began dropping food and water on the mountain and bombs on the militant armies below.  Four hours ago news reports began circulating showing mountaintop refuges being rescued.

“To date, in coordination with the government of Iraq, US military aircraft have delivered 52,000 meals and 10,600 gallons of fresh drinking water, providing much-needed aid to Iraqis who urgently require emergency assistance,” the Pentagon said.

Britain and France have also begun airdropping food and water to thousands of civilians stranded on a mountain in northern Iraq after fleeing jihadist militants a week ago, officials said Sunday.

According to numerous reports, at least 20,000 civilians besieged by jihadists on a mountain in northern Iraq have safely escaped to Syria and have been escorted by Kurdish forces back into Iraq.

If this is true and the efforts continue–there is tangible hope that more rescues will follow.

Time is of essence and help is needed once the refuges are brought down from the mountain to safety.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Hope on Mount Sinjar

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sinjarFrom a high hill or a mountaintop, hope should be at its greatest potential.  From that perspective a person can see what is behind, what is ahead, what is down and what is up.  From a mountaintop one can almost touch the clouds and one can nearly kiss the sky.  The air is fresh and pure.  Heaven seems real and reachable.

Not so on the mountain top of  Sinjar in Northern Iraq where people are dying of starvation and dehydration . . .  Not there where parents are facing the worse decisions imaginable.

With the angel of death in plain sight, faith succumbs to fear.

What parent can prevent the slow and painful suffering on the mountaintop or the savage massacre below?  Under these conditions–what would you do?

I am aghast at the news today.  The horrific images circulating the internet make me want to vomit, scream, cry, run, hide or write.  I simply must write.  I can’t sit still and not react.  I can’t be complacent and silent when from high on that hill there is no hope.

All hope seems lost.  Can it ever be found again?

Just a few weeks go the homes of Christians were marked with the letter “N” for Nazareth.  Then the militants came insisting that all valuables–money, jewelry, provisions–be turned over to the Islamic state.  Then came the raids–the pilfering, the violence, the beatings, the rapes.  Christians were told to convert or leave.  So they headed for the hills in droves.

As it was with Hitler and the Jews . . . But worse.

If worse could ever be–it is surely now.  The hangings.  The be-headings. The agony and the screams.  The madness.  The mayhem.  The nightmares,  Reality, not dreams.

sinjar2Hope has disintegrated from high on the mountain. They went there for safety and refuge.  They went hoping for hope but too soon it disappeared. And it looks as if there is no hope on high and none down below.

Where oh where is the hope?

Where is hope when live children are buried in shallow graves?  When it seems like nothing but an echo so far in the distance that it can barely be heard.  When hope is a memory quickly fading . . .  When hope is waning from hunger and thirst?  Where is the hope?

10410534_10203536540646044_3437063906001447478_nWhen hope is but a dwindling fiber of a slowly shredding faith–where is it then?  Can it ever be found again?

Did hope die today?  Has it fallen from the mountain top?  In the midst of all this is there hope for humanity–or have we gone too far?

Or maybe it is there.  Maybe that mountaintop is the exact spot where hope is at its highest. Maybe hope is all that exists.

What if the essence of hope is born at the point of no return?  Maybe hope is all people have left as they face death.  When the end is so near, maybe that’s when maximized hope appears.

Can hope exist in the midst of all this?  In a dying child or a mother’s last kiss?  I don’t know.  I just can’t fathom it.  I try but my heart says quit–its too horrid.

Clearly hope is something no one can take.  Could this kind of last hope be the ultimate sacrifice needed to bring our faith into full fruition?

Reports say hundreds of children are being tossed from this mountaintop by parents so distraught, so fearful, so desperate they would rather send their children to death by their own means than to see them suffer at the hands of evil.  Oh my God help them.

Is this an act of fear or of faith?

I don’t want to think on these things.  This is not the kind of hope I want to write about.  But the events of today forced my hand–and my heart.

The prophet loosens his tongue because the Good and Terrible Day of the Lord has come.

We must ready ourselves.  Now.

Read from the Book of Zephaniah verses 1:14-18:

“That terrible day of the LORD is near. Swiftly it comes — a day when strong men will cry bitterly. It is a day when the LORD’s anger will be poured out. It is a day of terrible distress and anguish, a day of ruin and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, of clouds, blackness,  trumpet calls, and battle cries. Down go the walled cities and strongest battlements!   “Because you have sinned against the LORD, I will make you as helpless as a blind man searching for a path. Your blood will be poured out into the dust, and your bodies will lie there rotting on the ground.”  Your silver and gold will be of no use to you on that day of the LORD’s anger. For the whole land will be devoured by the fire of his jealousy. He will make a terrifying end of all the people on earth.”

If that doesn’t make you shudder, consider the warning given by the Minor Prophet Amos who declared:  “Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! Why do you long for the day of the LORD? That day will be darkness, not light” (Amos 5:18,NIV).

Perhaps you might recall the story of the wayward prophet Jonah who was sent to warn the people of Nineveh to repent or be destroyed.  We know the story ends with the evil city being saved because of Jonah’s obedience and more so, because of God’s mercy and grace.  But skip a few chapters in the Good Book and come upon the Book of Nahum.  Nahum is the end of the story.  It is the part no one seems to talk about.  Nahum tells what happened when Nineveh’s revival waned and the people went back to business as usual.

The Book of Nahum is all about the destruction.  It is what happened when God said “Enough!”  I can’t help but think of America when I read the Book of Jonah and the Book of Nahum together.  Was 9-11 our warning?  If so, where are we today?  Has the sequel begun?

Doom and gloom!  Ugh!

Missiles flying over Israel and the Gaza strip. Ugh!!

Christians hanging on crosses outside villages in Iraq.  Ugh!!!

Children dying on mountaintops.  Enough!

Could it happen in America?  Don’t think twice.

Enough!!!  Enough!!  Enough.

Where is the hope in all of this?

Come Lord Jesus, come.  Quickly, is our only hope.

We are all sitting on that mountain and facing our final hope.

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