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When Cynthia’s Dream Came True

Have you ever passed by the homeless on the street and assumed that what brought them to that place was a series of poor decisions? Or have you ever thought that a single mother was single because she wanted her freedom and wasn’t willing to make things work with the man she married? Perhaps what comes to mind when you meet a house cleaner is that they have no education or motivation to progress in life?

Unfortunately, too many times we assume we know the story just by what we see. But the truth is, not everyone’s story is according to our assumptions. Take the nation of Israel for example. This country is made up of people groups from around the world. Immigrants from Ethiopia, Ukraine, the Americas and the like all come to Israel in search of a home. But these immigrants face incredible challenges, one of which is learning the Hebrew language. Parents who make Aliyah with their children come with very little and need to find work immediately or they will not be able to eat or rent an apartment. Many of these immigrants make Aliyah with skills, knowledge and degrees from their homelands. But without the ability to communicate in Israel’s national language, their degrees and skill-sets are entirely unusable. They must choose to either learn the language and face a mound of debt, or to work jobs such as house cleaning in order to feed themselves and their families. 

*Cynthia, like many other single mothers, shared this exact predicament with the staff of CBN Israel. She had made Aliyah nearly two decades ago, but being abandoned by her husband, she had no choice but to find menial jobs to cover hers and her children’s basic needs. With determination, Cynthia managed to teach herself the Hebrew language over time and even began helping others who were struggling in their Hebrew courses. She dreamed of the day that she too could take courses in Hebrew, specifically the study for tour guiding. It was no longer the Hebrew that was holding her back, but the finances. The expense for such a course was well beyond her small, monthly income. 

When the staff saw the obstacle that was keeping Cynthia in this holding pattern of poverty, they worked on gathering the funds needed to pay her way through her studies. The funds came through and Cynthia was told the great news. “Thank you so much!”, she enthusiastically exclaimed. Presently, Cynthia is enrolled in her studies towards her dream come true. 

*Name altered for privacy.

It is because of those who give to CBN Israel that immigrants, both new and old, are finding help and hope in their times of need. Would you consider partnering with CBN Israel and helping us make a very real impact on the lives of real people? On behalf of our staff and the many lives we have touched through your support we say, “Thank you!”

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The Value of Reflection

When we look into a mirror we are able to see what we normally cannot see which is a good look at ourselves. If you have ever had your spouse or a friend tell you that you have something stuck in your teeth when you smile, it illustrates why having a mirror can be valuable. We desire people to value us, and a mirror enables us to check ourselves and see us the way others see us.

One of the reasons we observe traditions in Israel is that it reminds us to ‘reflect’ and look back at what happened in the past. As with Passover, observing these festivals are opportunities to reflect and remember the joyful occasions of God’s deliverance. However, there are also times of remembrance of God’s correction in our lives. The 9th day of Av in the Jewish calendar is one of these observances where the Jewish people remember the tragedies of history and take time to reflect.

The 9th of Av is associated with multiple tragedies in Jewish history, the most important being the destruction of both the 1st and 2nd Temples in Jerusalem. In reflection on these tragedies, there is a value in knowing what led up to such severe acts of national judgement and destruction. When we apply this concept to our personal lives, it may be unpleasant to reflect back on these times because it forces us to revisit the places of our failures. But the value in times of reflection is not for the purpose of condemnation, but education. Remembering helps reinforce the lessons that were learned through the pain, and keeps us from repeating those failures.

The Bible teaches that we are to:

“Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:22-25, NASU)

The value of what we hear and learn through God’s word is only as good as we are willing to walk it out. Like the story of creation in Genesis, God’s word brings order out of chaos, and our lives will gradually have a decline in chaos as we align ourselves with the statues of His word. 

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Loving Leadership

There are many different forms of leadership, and there are many motivations for wanting to become a leader. As I was driving through the Jordan valley, I looked at the mountains on the other side of the Jordan River, and I thought about Moses standing with the Lord on one of those mountains. The Lord had taken him up to Mt. Nebo so that he could look into the Promised Land that he would never enter. I thought about how loving and humble a man he had to be in order to lead the people of Israel for forty years, knowing that he himself would never enter into the promise.

Earlier in their journey in the wilderness there was a place where the complaints of the people with Moses brought him to a point of frustration. He was instructed to speak to a rock in the sight of Israel and bring water out of it. But in anger, he struck the rock and water came out. For this, God told Moses that he would not enter into the land of Canaan as promised.

When I think of this situation, wouldn’t it be so easy for Moses to blame the people for why he disobeyed God and hense received such a punishment? It is safe to say that most of us would probably have chosen to pick up and leave and wash our hands of these ungrateful, stiff necked people. Moses could have wrapped himself up in bitterness, but instead he chose to continue leading God’s people. What an amazing man to be able to see past where the people were at and to believe in the promises of God to transform them into what He was calling them to be. Moses continued in the wilderness to partner with God in the slow process, to intercede and teach this rough band of former slaves because he believed in the God who was able to complete what He had started.

It is very possible that Moses was aware of the transforming power of God in the life of a person because he had spent so many years of his own life in that same wilderness before anyone was following him. He had seen in his own life what God can do and it enabled him to continue to love and serve people who were very difficult to be with. Walking with others may not be an easy thing to do, but when you recognize how gracious God has been in His dealings with you, it may help to make it easier to see beyond where they are now and concentrate on what God has called them to become. This is the godly calling of leadership. It is not a place of authority and power so that others can serve you. It’s a place of allowing God to use you to serve others so that they come into their inheritance.

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Come Out of the Shadows

Jesus said we are the bride, but what does it mean to be His bride? A bride means first of all that we are the most beloved in His eyes- pure. Jesus sees us as pure although we know that we are not apart from His blood. The issue is that we look at ourselves in the mirror and see all the spots- the dark parts. Often, we lean either towards being very judgmental about ourselves or towards narcissism and in that case, we really don’t see. The truth is that we all have those areas that are unlovely and cause us to feel ashamed. Sometimes we get to a place where we see everything that is wrong with us and we don’t see ourselves in the mirror that He placed in front of us.

In the book of Song of Solomon 1:6, the woman that Solomon loves is feeling ashamed of who she is and unworthy of his love for her. She says, “Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has looked upon me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept!” This woman was not with prestige and servants. She was working in her father’s fields. Her skin was not flawless like a daughter of a king, but instead she bore the scars from the harshness of the sun. Essentially she is asking the question, “what do I have that you would choose to love ME?”

But her lover repeatedly responds with kindness and affirmation- “Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful!”- Song of Solomon 1:15. This lover is like our God. He does not see the scars that we see. He sees us with the eyes of love and He sees who we will become because of His love. Later in the second chapter verse 14, Solomon says to the woman, “My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hidden places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” Is this not an incredible picture of God’s amazing love? This woman, like us, is hiding because of her shame and lack of self worth. But the lover, like God, desires to hear her voice, to see her face and to openly, unashamedly, reveal that this is the one he loves! 

Beloved, God is saying to you, “Come out of the shadows! I see you for who you are. Do not be ashamed of your scars for you are beautiful in My eyes!

Psalm 45:10-11 says, “Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention: Forget your people and your father’s house. Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.” Further in verses 14 and 15 it says, “In embroidered garments she is led to the king; her virgin companions follow her— those brought to be with her. Led in with joy and gladness, they enter the palace of the king.” You see, when we receive God’s love for us and walk in our identity as His bride, we are changed and in turn, that change provokes others to want to know Him. Imagine it! Wouldn’t you want to meet the One who loves the unlovely, beautifies the broken and turns the shamed into the glorious? 

That my friends is exactly the work of God in our lives…at least it is for those who are willing to receive His love and come out from hiding in the shadows. 

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Establishing the Kingdom

In 2nd Samuel chapter five,  we see the establishment of David as king over all of Israel. This didn’t happen all at once. There was a long process between the time David was anointed by Samuel to be king as a young man and when David becomes the king of all Israel in Jerusalem. The process was a time of preparation, where both David and the children of Israel come to a place where they were ready to receive David as king.

The David who is anointed by Samuel is not the mighty man of war that we read about later.  He is an insignificant lad who is tending the sheep of his father. He is not even considered by his own family as anything special and is forgotten when the rest of the family attended the special sacrificial feast that the prophet Samuel showed up at. David had no accomplishments to put on a ‘resume’ in order to become the king of Israel.

God, however, sees the heart. He examined this boy and found something that He did not find in any of his brothers. We do not know the details about his battles with the lion and bear that he fought to protect his sheep. But we know that these hidden battles early on in life gave him a testimony that he carried with him into battle with the giant later on. He struggled against a strong adversary where no one could witness his bravery, and he experienced first-hand a God who gave him the victories. God saw the heart of a boy who cared so much for the dumb sheep entrusted into his care, he could be trusted to care for His people also.

The foundation of David’s life which was laid in this lonely time is where he found God to be a special companion. He may have become familiar with the stories that he had heard about God’s dealings with the Patriarchs and his ancestors. He may have even been like others who revered and worshiped this God of his fathers. But in the lonely place where David is of little significance, he experienced God in a way others didn’t. His extraordinary confidence in his personal relationship with a great God is why David’s courage stands out. When everyone else retreats in fear, David runs towards the challenge of the giant:

“You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.” (1 Sam 17:45-47, NKJV)

God desires us to know him in the same way that David did. His call is not to just hear stories about Him from others, or even participate in distant worship and reverence. Not that these are bad things, but we miss out if we do not seek out more. It is in experiencing God in your own circumstances, and seeing His hand at work in your own life that enables you to become all that He has called you to be.

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For Your Glory, Lord

No one wants to suffer. In this day and age, we have so many luxuries that we think, “well, why should we have to suffer”? As believers, we have personal access to the God of the universe who can speak one word and heal us instantaneously, provide for us miraculously or create a universe for that matter. So, when we begin to suffer, we cry out to Him for help and if our circumstances don’t change, we think, “what just happened here? Doesn’t He see what I’m going through? Doesn’t He care?”

But what if God is allowing that suffering to do a work inside of us that could not be done through any other means? Or what if God has a greater purpose of salvation through our suffering? After all, wasn’t that what Yeshua went through for us? Yeshua never sinned and never deserved the suffering He endured when He walked the earth. Yet the Bible says that He was well acquainted with sorrow and grief (Isaiah 53:3) and was even separated from His Father when He bore the sins of the world on Himself. Did not Satan himself question Jesus concerning this matter of suffering? 

Jesus didn’t need to fast, but He did and He experienced hunger. It was when Jesus was hungry that Satan encouraged Him to use His power to turn the stones into bread. Why suffer if you have the power to change it? Satan then took him to a high place and showed him all the kingdoms and their splendor. “You can have it all, Jesus, and not have to suffer if You will bow and worship me”, Satan said in paraphrase. (See Matthew 4). But this was not the way the Father planned to bring the world salvation. Salvation for all men, women and children would come through Yeshua’s suffering. Remember, Yeshua left His throne to become a human like you and me and He chose this humility and suffering for your freedom and mine. There was a purpose to His suffering. 

Many times, this is what happens when we suffer also. Yes, God has all power and all authority over all the principalities and kingdoms of heaven and earth. He can speak one word and alter the course of history. He can heal us instantaneously and there are many times He does! He can open doors to our financial breakthroughs and can rescue us out of horrible relationships and the list of things He can do is literally infinate. Nothing is impossible for Him. But the truth is, His ways are not like our ways. And there is no formula. The only thing we know for sure is that He is good and His ways are perfect. So even when we don’t get what we want, the way we want, and when we want it- it does not mean that He is not hearing our prayers and at work in our situation. It’s just that there are times He chooses to walk through our suffering with us, giving us grace instead of deliverance, perseverance instead of rescue and revelation of who He is instead of the easy way out. When we experience suffering, we can trust the Lord to use it for His glory while we humble ourselves like Yeshua and pray – “Father, not my will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). 

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Once Served, Now Serving Others

Come one, come all! Anyone who has a heart to serve and is looking for an outlet, look no further. The need is all around you!

For the past six years, the staff of CBN Israel have worked with Holocaust Survivors, widows, single mothers, new immigrants, families in financial crisis and many more who are struggling in the Land of Israel. Many of these in need are surrounded by communities of people, but on the day to day basis they are lonely, feeling hopeless and unsure of who they can turn to for help. Their struggles are real, urgent and overwhelming. But for a lack of knowledge they silently drown in their sea of burdens alone. 

Our example, Yeshua the Messiah, instructed His disciples to go out and make disciples so that the kingdom of God would expand and more souls could be healed, delivered and saved. Yeshua’s example was the inspiration that birthed CBN Israel’s new “Heart to Serve” seminars. 

Without any advertisements, word got out about the upcoming seminars as if God Himself whispered the news to the ears of those He wanted to be a part of it. In the first meeting, over thirty people arrived who truly had a heart to serve those in need around them. As an introduction, the staff laid a foundation discussing topics such as the importance of listening with compassion, becoming a person of trust and the need for education in practical ways to help the hurting. 

One of the women who were present shared with the group how she had once received help from CBN Israel in her own time of need. “What I needed the most was for someone to come and show me they cared”, she began. “I was on the edge- full of discouragement due to my circumstances. Honestly, I would have taken my life from the heaviness of my situation if it had not been for the timely encouragement and the gentle push in the right direction”. 

As the first session came to a close, the staff received a flood of positive feedback from the attendees. “This was so good, I am going to invite my friends to come to the next one”, one attendee shared. “Thank you for putting this together”, said another attendee. “It was easy to understand and very practical”. 

In the upcoming seminars, guest speakers such as lawyers and psychologists will come to discuss practical matters including how to deal with debts and bankruptcy, helping people heal through forgiveness, and much more. 

Meeting the needs of the hurting is made possible through those who give generously to the work of CBN Israel. Now, when you become a monthly partner, you not only make a very real difference in very real lives, but you will also receive three of CBN’s most current and popular documentaries about Israel. Click to find out more! 

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Residents from Sderot De-stress in Israel’s “Healing Waters”

With the recent security situation at the Israel-Gaza border, the elderly residents of Sderot have been experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety. The south-west city of Sderot is only eight miles (or 13 kilometers) away from all the “action” at the gaza border. The continual sound of gun fire crosses the distance and is a constant reminder to the Sderot residents that they must live on alert. One can imagine the toll that takes on the mind and body over time. 

Thanks to those who give generously to the work of CBN Israel, our partners in Sderot were able to relieve some of this tension by taking a group of fifty resident Holocaust Survivors to the rehabilitating resort of Hamei Yoav. This resort located just twenty minutes north of the city is known for it’s thermal mineral pools. The heat in these thermal waters helps reduce blood pressure and bring relaxation to the muscles. These waters are also full of sulfur and minerals that are absorbed into the skin and are an effective treatment for those who struggle with mobility or are suffering from stress and anxiety.

 

After a great time of relaxation, everyone enjoyed a sit down meal on site. The group was filled with joy and thankfulness to have had this opportunity to be refreshed and to forget, if only for a short while, about the constant struggles they live with every day.

At the end of the trip one of the leaders who himself is a Survivor, spoke on behalf of the group; “Thank you so very much for such a wonderful day”! The group agreed with cheers and applauds.  Every person present also received a Bible to remind them that the God of Israel is on their side and He is faithful to keep His covenant with Israel.

We at CBN Israel want to thank those who help us bring healing, love and care to over fifteen hundred Holocaust Survivors throughout Israel through your generous donations. For those who have a heart for Holocaust Survivors and desire to partner with us, we invite you to visit our website to learn what you can receive by becoming a monthly partner today!

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The Source of Reaction

People are wired to respond to their environment. This trait is natural and has benefits for our preservation. But as we grow up, we discover that there are also ways that we react that are not beneficial and that we need to learn to control those reactions. Our reaction is our response to an event; it can be at a thought level, emotional level or a physical level. We will also react at various levels of intensity based on how close our connection is to an event. When I watch a sporting event and the team I like loses, I will be a little disappointed, but move on quickly because I’m not very connected (I do realize that some of us are more intense than others in this example). If my daughter were to have a medical emergency, I would react by immediately dropping everything else in order to get to a doctor because I’m very connected. If we take some time to think about it, our reactions and the intensity of the reactions can tell us a lot about our own priorities.

When we drive we use gauges on our dashboard to let us know if there is anything wrong with the way the car is running. It helps us to know when to stop for gas, or if the engine is overheating and need more coolant. Similarly, our priorities are the engine that keeps us moving down the road and our reactions can function like a gauge letting us know if something is wrong. If you wanted to control someone, all you would have to do is learn what they will react to, and then manipulate events to cause the desired reaction.

If we want to learn to react in a way that honors God, we will be forced to adjust our priorities and resemble His. When Jesus came, His concern and priority was the Kingdom of Heaven. That was His primary motivator. In the temptations in the wilderness, Satan’s first attempt to cause Jesus to react was out of hunger.

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matt 4:1-4)

Jesus’ response placed His priorities with that of knowing that He relied on God for his sustenance, and wouldn’t react out of His genuine earthly need for food. What this did was take away Satan’s ability to use physical need for food as a tool of manipulation.

Another point of leverage that Satan tries to use is what we feel close to. Here is a passage that goes with little notice: “While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”
But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” (Matt 12:46-50)

In the society that Jesus was raised in, clan and family were the top priority. Even today, many loyalties are ‘clan’ based. The family or clan is the inner circle of intimacy, and the expected response is that family takes priority over outsiders. Jesus’ doesn’t respond based on society’s values, His response creates a circle of intimacy that is deeper than blood relations; it is the ‘family of faith’ that takes priority. He points to His disciples, the ones who follow Him day to day, and says: “Here are My mother and My brothers!” Jesus is showing us by example what our priorities need to adjust to.

Today we hear many calling out for ‘Justice.’ Just like our other examples, like eating in response to hunger or intimacy of family, ‘justice’ is not a bad thing, but as events happen- let us closely examine whether we are just reacting to manipulation. When Jesus was judged by those who sentenced Him to death, He knew that He was in the center of God’s will, and that God is sovereign. Even though those who were judging Him were being unjust, Jesus is not interested in justice in His circumstance; He is wholly submissive to the will of His Father. His priority was the Kingdom of Heaven, and that seeking justice from the kingdoms of men was futile.

Jesus gives us an example that forces us to examine our priorities. It is our reaction and the intensity of our response that will tell us where our priorities lie. As we allow ourselves to examine our responses, we may discover that much of our peace is taken away in areas where our priorities don’t line up with that of the Kingdom of Heaven.

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War at the Border, Love in the Home

Thanks to those who give generously to the work of CBN Israel, the staff were recently able to gain an additional partner to serve the locals in an area nearby the Israel/Gaza border. These new partners are excited for the opportunity to expand their services to the local Holocaust Survivors as well as to those who are suffering from fear and trauma. In the short time they have been working together with us, we have already seen much fruit! Here are just a few stories of those who have have received love, care and hope. 

*Andreas, a sixty-five year old widower has a son who works in a secret unit in the Israeli forces. He is alone and not able to connect much with his son. But now, he looks forward to a routine visit from our partners who offer him encouragement and support. He appreciates the opportunity to discuss his difficulties in life and loneliness without his wife. This month, he had a birthday and we went to visit him, pray with him and gave him a present for his birthday. He was so very thankful. 

Yelena, age seventy-nine, is a Holocaust Survivor who lives alone. Her two sons and their families live many miles away in the center of the country. The partners of CBN Israel accompanies, supports and assists Yelena in whatever way she needs. Recently, Yelena underwent surgery on her knee. After the surgery, we visited her in the hospital in a rehabilitation unit at Tel Hashomer. When she returned home, she asked for our help in receiving approval for assistance through the organization Yad Sarah. We continue to support Yelena through home visits, prayer and encouragement along with the gift of food vouchers and toiletries.

Tamara, age eighty-seven, is lonely and without a family in Israel. But now, she looks forward to our home visits which are an emotional experience every time. She says, “It is good that I have you. You are my family”. We support Tamara with encouragement, prayer and an opportunity to express herself while we take the time to listen with a sympathetic ear. Recently, Tamara was taken to the hospital after her health care nurse found her unconscious. Because her caregiver knows she can turn to us whenever she needs, we were updated on the state of her condition. When the good news came that she could return home, we picked her up from the hospital and assisted her back to her house. The therapist said in amazement, “Tamara lives in a miracle. It is so good that you are always here to help”. 

It is because of your generous support that CBN Israel is able to reach out to the hurting, the lonely and the needy. Now, if you become a monthly partner you will receive the free gift of three of our documentaries about Israel! Become a monthly partner today! 

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