Back home, with no help from El Al or Jet Blue

If you read my post from June 23,  you got the story about how we had to make all these last minute changes to get to New York in time to catch our planes home. Well, the story was just starting!

We got to the airport in Tel Aviv and went to the El Al security. We told them we were a group and they got us all together. That started to look good, and we went through security fairly well. BUT- when we went to get the tickets and boarding passes, we were not in the system. I showed them the confirmation emails we had received when I had their customer service change the flights, but (apparently) the person sent the confirmations but never completed entering the information so there were no tickets for most of us. Well, now it was rush to the cashier, rush to get the boarding passes (with everyone else on line needing to get theirs, as well), then rush to get to the airplane in time to board it. Consequently, we did not have any time to go to the VAT (sales tax return) booth and recover all the sales tax we paid on items over $100. Not that it was a lot of money, but to some of us that would have been $30-$60 dollars back in our pocket.

Then, the plane sat on line for almost an additional hour! By the time we got off, we wouldn’t have time to make the switch to Lufthansa when we reached Frankfort. Besides having to get to the terminal, we all needed to have our boarding passes printed out because there wasn’t any time to do that in Israel.

Lufthansa held the plane (we weren’t the only ones that needed to make the switch) and we got the passes done. Finally- we are on the way to New York and we did land in time for everyone to make their flights.

That is, everyone landed in time, but not everything. For most of us, the luggage didn’t make it to the plane back in Germany. So, we thought we had time to get to our flights, but in fact we still cut it close (for some) because after we got through customs we had to go to the Lufthansa lost baggage area and file a claim. They said they would ship the bags back to us at our home- I expect mine to be here tomorrow.

To top it all off, my Jet Blue flight that was supposed to leave at 1800 was delayed until sometime around 2100, and I finally got back to Orlando the next day (officially, since it was after midnight.)

I was awake from Thursday night at about 2200 until Saturday morning around 0200, except for a couple of cat naps lasting less than half an hour, each. Somewhere in there is a 7-hour period loss to account for the time zone change, but I honestly have no idea how that works- do I add the time or subtract it?

I am home now. As soon as my clothes join me I can say the trip is complete. I have created a separate page on this site for the Israel trip, so when you look at the top of the home page, you will see it. Click on the “Israel Trip-2016” title page to get a run-down of the trip, and each day has a link to pictures of that day.

I have to confess it isn’t totally accurate- I did keep a folder of pix for each day with a run-down of the places we went to, but I was so tired and the blog site won’t let me upload folders, only individual pictures, so those of you who were with me may note some things are a little off. Please let me know and I will correct them in the next few weeks, but for everyone else, unless you are really, really familiar with Israel, these pictures will be great to view.

Now I have to figure out how to get Donna to go back with me.

That’s Not My Job

In the Gospels Yeshua tells us that if we so much as lust after someone with our eyes we have already committed adultery. That’s a tough lesson to listen to, especially in a world where we are constantly bombarded by sexual commercials and ads telling us how to be more attractive and showing off how attractive others are.

But there is a difference between looking at someone who you recognize as beautiful/handsome, and stripping them down with your eyes while imagining how the rest of it could go.

I thought I would try to do as Job said he did, i.e. make a covenant with my eyes not to look at any young girls. I asked God to help me overcome what I am as much conditioned to do as (maybe) sinfully want to do, and I asked Him again, and again, and again. I asked him to keep me from staring at beautiful women; in fact, I asked Him to take all sexual thoughts from me, completely.

Here is the answer He gave me:  “Not my job.”

HUH? Not your job? But, but, but…we are told that whatever we ask for we will receive, and that you answer prayers, and, and, and ..uh…uh…that when we ask in Yeshua’s name we will receive what we ask for. I want you to take this from me! I want to have clean thoughts only, I want to be acceptable before you always. You know, like David prayed in the Psalms: create in me a clean heart, renew a right spirit in me, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart always be acceptable before thee.  Aren’t these good things to ask of you? Isn’t this the kind of prayer you will not just acknowledge but one that you want to hear? Whassup with this, “Not my job” thing?

That’s when God answered me, again. I didn’t hear some majestic voice thundering, and it wasn’t even a still, quiet voice. It was a thought that just came into my head: one so simple, one so truthful, and one so significant and demonstrative of God’s ways that I knew it wasn’t from my brain. God made me to understand His answer.

“It doesn’t work that way. I won’t just take this from you because then when you need to learn how to call on My Spirit to help you, you won’t know how to. Spiritual strength is like any other strength- it needs to be exercised to reach it’s full potential. If I just take away sin from someone, they won’t have the spiritual strength to stand up against the enemy when he comes at them.”

It’s like the parable Yeshua tells about the man cleansed of a demon, and after the demon roamed the earth he came back into the very same man because the house had been cleaned, but it was empty. The lesson is that when the man was made clean, he didn’t do anything to fill himself with God. He was cleansed without any actions of his own, and when the demon came back he had no defence against it. Similarly, just being made pure in thought by having God “rewire” my CPU won’t help me to keep it that way.

We all, each of us, have to go through the fire of purification. We have God there to help and guide us, and His Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) to comfort us as we struggle with ourselves, but in the end, it must be us, it must be you, it must be me who overcome the sin in ourselves.

Didn’t God tell Cain that sin crouches at his door and is waiting for him? And more than just that warning, God told Cain that he-Cain- must conquer it!

Right from the start we are told that we must conquer the sinfulness in us. God will help us, God will guide us, God will provide (and already has, in Messiah Yeshua) the means for us to be acceptable when we fail to overcome our sin. But, day to day, we each must work at strengthening our spiritual muscles so that we can overcome the sin in our lives and stand up to the enemy when he comes at us.

Ask God to strengthen you, to guide you, to send His Ruach to comfort and ease your pain, and continually thank him for Messiah Yeshua, who is the ultimate Get-Out-Of-Jail card for everyone who does T’shuvah in his or her own heart, then asks forgiveness from God in Yeshua’s name.

That is how it works.  We must first want to turn from our sins, then accept the grace God gave through His Messiah (Yeshua/Jesus) so we have forgiveness despite our own failure to be sinless, then after accepting Yeshua as our Messiah we can be given the Ruach HaKodesh to comfort, guide and help us through knowledge and understanding of God’s ways so that even though the journey is difficult, we will know the way to walk.

God will answer prayers, God is always there, and God wants us all to turn from our sin and live. He is clear about that throughout the bible. With God we are able to do this, but God is not an enabler- He will always help us, but we have to do it. He will guide us, but we have to walk. He will lift us up when we fall and help direct us to the right path, but we need to keep going.

When it comes to salvation, God has provided it.

When it comes to forgiveness of sins, Yeshua has provided it.

When it comes to overcoming the sin in ourselves, that’s not His job- it’s ours.