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On Wednesday and Thursday, the modern state of Israeli celebrated the 70th anniversary of its Declaration of Independence. Here are nine things you should know about the creation of the modern Israeli state.

1. In AD 138, the ancient nation of Israel ceased to exist when the Roman emperor Hadrian crushed the Bar Kochba revolt and banned all Jews from Palestine (i.e., the biblical regions known as the Land of Israel). The land was conquered by various nations until 1517, when it was controlled by the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans retained control until 1917, when the British captured Jerusalem during World War I.

2. By 1850, only about 14,000 Jews remained in Palestine. But in 1881, in reaction to growing anti-Semitism in Europe and Russia, a number of Hovevei Zion (Lovers of Zion) organizations were established with the aim of furthering Jewish settlement in the area. The Hovevei Zion groups were the forerunners of modern Zionism, the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel.

3. Theodore Herzl—officially referred to in the Declaration of Establishment of State of Israel as “the spiritual father of the Jewish State“—launched the modern Zionist movement in 1896. In his pamphlet Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State), Herzl considers the “Jewish Question”:

Everything tends, in fact, to one and the same conclusion, which is clearly enunciated in that classic Berlin phrase: “Juden Raus!” (Out with the Jews!)

I shall now put the Question in the briefest possible form: Are we to “get out” now and where to?

Or, may we yet remain? And, how long?

Herzl answered that question by proposing a Jewish homeland:

The whole plan is in its essence perfectly simple, as it must necessarily be if it is to come within the comprehension of all.

Let the sovereignty be granted us over a portion of the globe large enough to satisfy the rightful requirements of a nation; the rest we shall manage for ourselves.

Herzl also proposed two possible locations for the homeland—Palestine and Argentinia. “We shall take what is given us, and what is selected by Jewish public opinion,” he said.

4. In 1897, Herzl began to put his plan into action by convening the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland. At this symbolic congress—which was referred to as the Basel Congress—the group adopted the Basel Program with this stated goal: “Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Palestine secured under public law.” A few weeks after the event, Herzl wrote in his diary, “Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in a word—which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly—it would be this: At Basel I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today l would be greeted by universal laughter. In five years perhaps, and certainly in fifty years, everyone will perceive it.”

5. During World War I, the Allies drove the Turks out of Ottoman Syria. In 1917, the British government announced its support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in the 67-word statement know as the Balfour Declaration:

His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

After the war the British controlled the area of Palestine and was given a mandate by the League of Nations to administer the territory. Under British rule, the land was sometimes referred to as Mandatory Palestine.

6. The Jewish population in Palestine grew between 1919 and 1923 as Jews began to flee persecution in Russia and Ukraine. This influx of Jews, along with the Balfour Declaration, led the Arab inhabitants of the land to develop their own political movement, known as Palestinian nationalism. A nationalist uprising by Palestinian Arabs led to the “Great Revolt” of 1936-1939. This insurrection led the British to propose a partition of the land into Jewish and Arab states. The Arabs rejected the proposal.

7. In 1939, the British began limiting Jewish immigration into Palestine. Even after the Holocaust began creating Jewish refugees in Europe, the UK refused to lift the immigration cap. Thousands of Jews died trying to flee to Palestine in small boats, and thousands more were caught and turned away. The American government supported a move to allow 100,000 new immigrants into the region, which prompted the British to abandon the Palestine Mandate and leave the issue to be resolved by the United Nations.

8. On May 15, 1947, the United Nations created UNSCOP (the UN Special Committee on Palestine), with representatives from 11 “neutral” countries: Australia, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, India, Iran, Netherlands, Peru, Sweden, Uruguay, and Yugoslavia. UNSCOP offered two proposals to solve the “Palestine Question.”

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Years ago, I heard a speaker say at men’s retreat that every man who follows Jesus can fall into sin. Hopefully, these allegations are false. May we all avoid sexual immorality by God’s grace. Bryan

April 11, 2018 at 2:03 PM

Prominent pastor Bill Hybels announced April 10 he is stepping down from his Chicago-area megachurch Willow Creek, saying an investigation that cleared him of sexual misconduct had taken its toll. (Reuters)

Prominent pastor Bill Hybels announced Tuesday he is stepping down from his Chicago-area megachurch Willow Creek, just weeks after the Chicago Tribune published allegations of misconduct from several women. Hybels, who with his wife co-founded one of the nation’s largest churches in 1975, was a spiritual adviser to President Bill Clinton around the time of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

He told the church publicly last year that he was planning to step down in October, but he resigned Tuesday, saying he would be a distraction to the church’s ministry. Some members of his congregation shouted “No!” in response to his decision, and the crowd gave him a standing ovation following his address.

The stories surrounding Hybels have been part of a series of recent high-profile allegations of sexual misconduct among some evangelical leaders.

In March, the Chicago Tribune published allegations that Hybels made suggestive comments, extended hugs, an unwanted kiss and invitations to a staff member to hotel rooms. The newspaper also reported allegations of a consensual affair with a married woman, and the woman who said she had an affair later retracted her allegations. Hybels has denied all the allegations and said on Tuesday again that the church’s investigations found no evidence of misconduct.

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He Gave His Life to Change the World

Article by John Piper

The racial world I grew up in, and the one we live in today, are amazingly different. Racism remains in many forms in America and around the world. In fact, the last two years have brought a disheartening setback, as advocates of white supremacy have been emboldened to be overt.

But in the days of my youth in South Carolina, it was worse. So much worse. The segregation was almost absolute, its manifestations utterly degrading, and the defense of it rang not only from street mobs, but also from the halls of political power — without shame.

  • In 1954, seventeen states required segregated public schools (America in Black and White, 99);
  • In 1956, 85% of all white southerners rejected the statement, “White students and Negro students should go to the same schools”;
  • 73% said that there should be “separate sections for Negros on streetcars and buses”;
  • 62% did not want a Negro “with the same income and education” as them to move into their neighborhood (144);
  • In 1963, 82% of all white southerners opposed a federal law that would give “all persons, Negros as well as white, the right to be served in public places such as hotels, restaurants, and similar establishments” (139);
  • And in 1952 (when I was six years old), only 20% of southern blacks of voting age were registered to vote.

The upshot of those statistics was an unjust, unsafe, condescending, unwelcoming, demeaning, and humiliating world for blacks. Have you ever paused to ask yourself what separate water fountains and separate restrooms could possibly mean except, You are unclean — like lepers? It was an appalling world.

Enter MLK

Between that racially appalling world and this racially imperfect one strode Martin Luther King, Jr. We don’t know if the world would have changed without him, but we do know he was a rod in the hand of the all-ruling God. Leave aside his theology and his moral flaws. They do not nullify the massive good God wrought through this man. He was used in the mighty hand of Providence to change the world so that the most appalling, blatant, degrading, public (and usually legal) expressions of racism have gone away.

For that alone, the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King’s tragic assassination, and loss to the cause of justice, is worthy of heartfelt focus.

Martin Luther King gave his life to change the world. And toward the end, he was increasingly aware that “the Movement” would cost him his life. The night before he was assassinated by James Earl Ray outside room 306 of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968, he preached at the Bishop Charles Mason Temple. He had come to Memphis to support the badly underpaid black sanitation workers.

His message came to be called “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” He began it by surveying world history in response to a question from God, “When would you have liked to be alive?” King answered, “If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the twentieth century, I will be happy.” Why? Because “I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men in some strange way are responding. Something is happening in our world.”

What was happening? “We are determined to be men. We are determined to be people.” We are standing up. “A man can’t ride your back unless it is bent.” For a brief window of time — just long enough — MLK was able to use his voice to restrain violence and overcome hate: “We are masters in our nonviolent movement in disarming police forces. They don’t know what to do.” He kindled a kind of fire that no firehoses could put out, and a kind of courage that no dogs could defeat.

Oh yes, there was violence in the sixties. But three years before his final message, when King was asked whether the riots occurred because the leadership of his people was no longer effective, surely King was right to say, “The riots we have had are minute compared to what would have happened without their effective and restraining leadership.”

To the Promised Land

He continued on that last night: We have pursued “a dangerous kind of unselfishness.” Like the Good Samaritan. “The Levite asked, ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But the Good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’ That’s the question before you tonight.”

A dangerous unselfishness.

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“The marvel of heaven and earth, of time and eternity, is the atoning death of Jesus Christ. This is the mystery that brings more glory to God than all creation.”

C. H. Spurgeon

Charles Haddon Spurgeon by Alexander Melville.jpg

Weeping at the Foot of the Cross

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On Good Friday, we celebrate the saddest day in history.

Blood streamed down his face. Massive thorns stuck to the head of their Maker. Groans of agony came from the mouth of him who spoke the world into being. The soldiers beat him. They flogged him. They tortured him.

As he inched through the streets of Jerusalem, his cross pressing into his lacerated back, many shuddered at him. The face of God, which Moses could not look at and live, could no longer even be recognized as human (Isaiah 52:14). Women hid their children from the bloody mass of flesh before them. Men taunted him. Soldiers clubbed him. Angels shrieked in horror.

Every prophecy about his suffering was being fulfilled. By judgment and oppression, he was taken away. His sheep scattered when their enemies struck him. One of his own sold him and betrayed him with a kiss. He found no rest as they beat him, spit on him, and mocked him through the night. In the morning, he gave his back to those who struck him, his cheeks to those who plucked his beard.

He stepped forward to Calvary as a lamb to the slaughter.

His Love Was Rated-R

I remember the first time I watched The Passion of the Christ fourteen years ago. The sight of Roman ninetails sinking their claws into his back seemed to pierce my soul with Mary’s (Luke 2:35). The blood. The screams. The anguish. I could never again thoughtlessly tell others that Christ died for them. The scene forbade cliché. It was grizzly, ghastly, gruesome — rated-R.

I rarely cry, but as I watched Jesus shed his blood all over the Roman courtyard, I could not help but weep. As they held the nails over his hands and feet — his mother watching him — every swing of the hammer pierced my heart. Only the heartless could watch unfeelingly. Has there ever been a more tragic scene?

I did not consider his wounds enough. I did not weep over his suffering as often as I felt I should have. But how does Jesus respond to me, and people like me, who take Good Friday to grieve over his unbearable sufferings? Two thousand years ago he said to those weeping for him that day, “Weep not for me; weep for yourselves.”

Silence on the Set

Of the many horrors of Calvary, one that was especially acute was the shame of it all (Hebrews 12:2). His was a public execution. The condemned usually were naked. To add to this, the prophecy reads, “All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads” (Psalm 22:7). It is one thing to suffer; another to do so before a whole nation as they ridicule you.

But mockery was not the only sound made on his behalf. A host of women trailed behind him, lamenting the expiring prophet. They followed Jesus’s drops of blood — as so many of us do today — with drops of tears.

But upon hearing their sobs, Jesus, battered and broken, turned his face towards them and spoke these gracious, yet shocking words: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:28).

This part of the passion didn’t make the movie.

On that first Good Friday, Jesus turned to his loudest sympathizers — those who are not cursing him, mocking him, but wailing on his behalf — and silenced them. He commands their tears escort him no further. He opts to press into the night without their mourning.

Weep Not for Me

Jesus did not need their tears two millennia ago, and as unpopular as it may be, Jesus does not need our tears today. And this fact owes to us seeing his passion through the eyes of faith.

Weep not for me, he said. As if to say,

I am saving my people. I have prayed, tender souls, and know my Father’s will concerning this cup — shall I not drink it (John 18:11)? My hands willingly grasp this wood because my food is to do my Father’s will (John 4:32, 34). And his will is glorious: he sent me to serve and give my life as a ransom for my people. My body is broken, and my blood is spilled for you (Luke 22:19–20). Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. Do not weep over the labor pains that give birth to your salvation and unshakable joy (John 16:20–22).

Weep not for me, as if to say,

I am not a helpless victim. I am a warrior-king with thousands of angels at my beck and call (Matthew 26:53). One word from me and this horror would end. One word from me and Rome would be destroyed. One word from me and all would be eternally condemned. But I was sent to save the world, not condemn it (John 3:17). Trust that no man — or army — can steal my life from me. I lay it down of my own accord, and I will take it up again (John 10:11–18).

Weep not for me, as if to say,

I am conquering. You see my heel being bruised and you mourn — but look through the eyes of faith and see the serpent’s skull trampled (Genesis 3:15). Although I walk as the Lamb, I conquer as the Lion — the predator, not the prey, will hang on the cross (Revelation 5:5–6). I am a King who shall rule the universe from a tree. And I shall make this cross my scepter. As they lift me up, I thrust my enemies under my feet as a footstool (Psalm 110:1). My triumphal entry is followed by a triumphal exit. Why should you weep over my hour of glorification (John 12:27–28)?

Weep not for me, as if to say,

Sunday is coming

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Spiritual Heir

When, in 1792, William Carey drew up his epochal work, An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians, to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens, he gave a sketch of the history of missions. At one point, he distinguished between those missions that sought to expand the dominion of “popery,” usually “by force of arms,” and those that genuinely extended the kingdom of Christ. Among the former he listed the Roman mission of Augustine of Canterbury and Paulinus; among the latter it is the name of Patrick that receives the most attention: “The next year (435) Patrick was sent from Scotland to preach to the Irish, who before his time were totally uncivilized, and, some say, cannibals; he however, was useful, and laid the foundations of several churches in Ireland.”

This statement would appear to indicate that the evangelistic success of Patrick, and his spiritual heirs in the Celtic Church, was a source of encouragement to Carey. How much more Carey knew about the historical Patrick is not clear; but he would certainly have been thrilled and inspired by Patrick’s evangelistic zeal and God-centered spirituality.

Patrick’s World and Mission

Patrick was born around 390 AD in a place that was a part of the Roman Empire. With the way Patrick is linked to all things Irish, it is hard to believe that Patrick was not born in Ireland, but he wasn’t! He was born into a Christian home in what is now Wales, or southern Scotland, or possibly even England (to the horror of every loyal Irish patriot). When he was sixteen years of age he was taken captive by Irish pirates and, as a slave, lived in Ireland for the next six years or so. It was there in Ireland that he was converted with, in his words, “all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my abjection, and mercy on my youth and ignorance.”

When Patrick was in his twenties, he escaped from captivity in Ireland and went back to his home in what had been the Roman province of Britannia. Here he would have stayed, glad as he was to get back to his family and friends. But not long after he got back, he had a dream in which he saw the Irish coming to him, asking him to return to Ireland to presumably share with them the good news about Jesus Christ.

Patrick returned to the north of Ireland in the early 430s, where he stayed for the rest of his life. As he wrote: “I came to the people of Ireland to preach the Gospel, and to suffer insult from the unbelievers, bearing the reproach of my going abroad and many persecutions even unto bonds, and to give my free birth for the benefit of others.”

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— February 21, 2018

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., reflects on the life of Billy Graham who died today at the age of 99. The Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry at Southern Seminary is the only graduate school the famed evangelist granted permission to use his name. Establishment of the Billy Graham School was announced in 1993 at the inauguration of Mohler, at which Graham spoke.

“An epic era of evangelical history has come to an end. Billy Graham was not only a titanic figure in evangelicalism, but in world history and perhaps represents the last of a kind. He dominated 20th century American evangelicalism and remained a major figure on the world stage throughout most of the 20th century in a way that we can envision no evangelical leader in our times.

“Billy Graham was a supremely gifted man. He was a man of deep conviction whose passionate heartbeat was for the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was an evangelist, and was unashamed to be called an evangelist.

Billy Graham sitting with Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. during his inauguration ceremonies on Oct. 14, 1993.

“In many ways, Billy Graham did not pioneer mass evangelism and crusade evangelism; he perfected it. What others had done on a smaller scale and infrequent regularity, he began to do in a way I do not think can be replicated or equaled. He was one of the first to recognize the importance of the media – first in radio and in print media, then with television and even film. By the end of his life, his organization was pioneering new ways to reach people with the gospel by digital and social media.

“In addition to his role as an evangelist, Billy Graham was also the organizing center of evangelicalism in the 20th century, having played a dominant role in the formation of key evangelical institutions. Along with his Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, an entire constellation of assorted evangelical ministries were founded by Graham, perhaps most notably, Christianity Today magazine. Surveying the list of major evangelical organizations, it’s difficult to imagine what many of them would be today — if indeed they would exist today — without the human agency of Billy Graham.

“Long maintaining his Southern Baptist identity, he was for many years a member of the First Baptist Church in Dallas and counted W.A. Criswell as his friend and pastor.

“Billy Graham had a long, close relationship with Southern Seminary dating back to the 1950’s. He was a close friend of Dr. Duke McCall, who was the institution’s seventh president. During the McCall years, he was frequently a speaker in Southern Seminary chapel. In 1960, the seminary established the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, and in 1965 the Billy Graham Chair of Evangelism was established and held successively to this day by faculty members who have taught in honor of Dr. Graham.

“In 1993 when I was elected president, Dr. Graham eagerly encouraged me and the vision that brought me to Southern Seminary by speaking at my inauguration, and by allowing us to establish the Billy Graham School of Evangelism, Missions and Church Growth, as it was then known. Dr. Graham was very directly involved in helping me to begin my presidency, and throughout my presidency he was an active encourager and always a partner in prayer in this task. In 2001, I was privileged to serve as chairman of the Billy Graham Crusade held in Louisville.

“I’m so thankful that on Oct. 29, 2013, I was able to introduce Dr. Graham to Adam Greenway as the new dean of the Billy Graham School and to bring a report to him on the progress of the school.

“During that meeting at his home in Montreat, N.C., I’m so glad I asked him what message he would want to give to our students. His advice on the importance of their devotional life and to ‘study more and speak less’ takes on incredible new poignancy these days. I had the very strong awareness that would be the last time I saw Dr. Graham on this earth. Over and over again he said, ‘I’m ready to be with Jesus.’ He missed his wife, Ruth, horribly, and knew he had run his race. It was a marvelous thing to see a man who knew he had finished his task. He was not eager to die, but was eager to see his Lord. He knew, even as he was dependent on oxygen at that time, at nearly 95, he was near his earthly end.

“Billy Graham also has to go down in history as a man who protected the moral integrity of his ministry from the beginning to the end. A man against whom there was never any hint of moral scandal. And thus, he needs to be recognized for having finished the race and having run a course in a manner that should serve as an inspiration to us all.

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Billy Graham (BGEA)

Evangelist Billy Graham lived 99 years, wrote 30 books, met with 12 sitting American presidents and preached the gospel to millions. But when he is buried this Friday, March 2, in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, he will be remembered not only as a world-changing hero of faith but as a humble preacher whose personal integrity set the gold standard for every minister in this country.

Why was this man so respected? How was he able to keep his ministry free from scandal for more than 75 years?

In 1948, when Graham was just 30 years old, he and his small ministry team met for Bible study and prayer at a tiny motel in Modesto, California. The other men in that meeting including assistant evangelist Grady Wilson, singer George Beverly Shea and song leader Cliff Barrows. Graham challenged them to pray about what codes of behavior they needed to adopt in order to keep the ministry clean.

The results of that meeting were profoundly prophetic. The men outlined what would become “the Modesto Manifesto”—a list of core ministry values that became the guiding principles of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The BGEA was founded two years later, in 1950, just one year after media coverage of Graham’s eight-week gospel campaign in Los Angeles made him a household word.

Here are the four key components of the Modesto Manifesto, along with notes that Cliff Barrows jotted down in their meeting:

  1. Honesty: “It was resolved that all communications to media and to the church would not be inflated or exaggerated. The size of crowds and the number of inquirers would not be embellished for the sake of making BGEA look better.”
  1. Integrity: “It was resolved that financial matters would be submitted to a board of directors for review and facilitation of expenditures. Every local crusade would maintain a policy of ‘open books’ and publish a record of where and how monies were spent.”
  1. Purity: “It was resolved that members of the team would pay close attention to avoiding temptation—never being alone with another woman, remaining accountable to one another, etc. A practice of keeping wives informed of their activities on the road and helping them feel a part of any and all crusades they undertook would be encouraged.”
  1. Humility: “It was resolved that members of the team were never to speak badly of another Christian minister, regardless of his denominational affiliation or differing theological views and practices. The mission of evangelism includes strengthening the body of Christ as well as building it!”

Graham has always been a spiritual hero to me for this reason. Early in his ministry—in fact, before he ever became famous—he realized that his ministry was a stewardship from God and that he could not run it any way he wanted. He had to manage it according to clear biblical principles.

Graham never forgot his humble roots, and he never let popularity change him into an egotistical monster.

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