Thursday, July 3, 2014

Catch and Release

Recently, during my trip to Israel, I had dinner with the IDF soldier who in 2001 captured Abdel Aziz Salha, the Butcher of Ramallah.  If you don’t remember the infamous animal, the picture might help jar your memory.

The Butcher of Ramalloah took part in the murder and disembowelment of two IDF soldiers who took a wrong turn and found themselves at a PA roadblock.  Instead of being allowed to turn around, a PA policeman took the soldiers to the police station in Ramallah, an Arab town in the heartland of Israel just a few miles north of Jerusalem.  It was there, at an Arab police station, that a mob of Arabs lynched and killed the soldiers while 1000 Arabs stood outside and cheered.  (Incidentally, U.S. tax dollars are used to buy weapons for and to train PA policemen.)
This friend, who captured the Butcher of Ramallah, is hands-down the toughest man I know.  At the same time, he is one of the kindest men I know.  And funniest.
I had the privilege of meeting his wife on this trip.  I tried my best not to stare at her the entire evening.  She was that beautiful.  The kind of beauty that, well, one just wants to stare at.  I was later told that she was a survivor of a terrorist attack.  When she was a student, the playground at her school was attacked.  Boys playing basketball were shot and killed by Arabs who hate Jews. She fell on the ground, played dead, and survived. 
This couple is a picture of all of Israel.  Tough.  A toughness that you and I will most likely never have to know.  Maybe.  They are kind.  A deep kindness, not just a sugarcoated kindness, but an authentic kindness that one could rely on with his or her life.  And they are survivors.  In so many ways.  Just like Israel.
By the way, the Butcher of Ramallah, who my friend risked his life to capture, was released in 2011 in a prisoner release deal along with 1026 other prisoners.  The insanity of politics.
Kerry continues to push Israel to release even more terrorists from prison in exchange for peace.  For some insane reason, Israel listened to Kerry and let more prisoners go free.  And of course, everyone knew exactly what would happen when killers are allowed to walk free and indeed it did.  On Passover eve, in Israel, a Jewish family was shot at by one of the terrorist who had been released from jail, killing the father. 
The IDF continues to search for the Arab men who recently killed the three Jewish teenagers.  My prayers are with the soldiers.  Not just to be strong and to be protected.  But to survive the insanity of their government.  As I’m sure they, and sane people in Israel wonder, if the terrorists are captured, how soon will they be released? 

Monday, May 26, 2014

My Grandmother Was an Amalek Slayer

My grandmother, Sue Campbell, was the epitome of a southern lady.  If she wasn’t wearing something pink, she was decorating something in her house pink, she had a propensity to wear gold lame house slippers, and it was worth calling her just to hear her pick up the phone and say “hello” in her southern accent.  She was one of the sweetest ladies to ever walk the planet.  She was also an Amalek slayer.

You’ve most likely read the Bible story of how Amalek attacked the Israelites soon after they had escaped Egypt.  The Israelites fought back, and as long as Moses had his arms lifted during the battle the Israelites won.  After the battle with Amalek, God gave a perpetual command to His people – in every generation kill Amalek.  As with all stories in the Bible, besides the literal interpretation, there are deeper meanings.  If we dig deeper in this story, via the Hebrew alphabet, we will discover that one of the meanings of the word “Amalek” is doubt.  So in other words, God gave the perpetual commandment to kill doubt.

Easier said than done.  Doubt usually shows up like an uninvited guest, sometimes not even having the courtesy to knock, but barging in like it owns the place.  Doubt is rude.  It kicks us when we are already down and tired, like it did to the Israelites just after they left Egypt.  They were beginning a new life.  They were experiencing their first taste of freedom.  They were literally walking in the promises of God - from bondage to freedom.  And doubt stopped them in their tracks. 

Doubt doesn’t play nice.  It preys on our fears.  It likes to parade our past failures before us.  It likes to highlight our shortcomings and weaknesses.  Whether whispering in our ears, or screaming in our faces, it likes to taunt us by saying, “Who do you think you are?  You can’t do that.  You can’t overcome.  You can’t succeed.  You. Can’t. Do. Anything. Right.”  Sound familiar?  And even if we don’t invite doubt to sit down at our table with us, sometimes we don’t feel like we have the strength to kick it out our door.  So it stays, following us around, as we try not to listen to its voice.  If doubt is anything, it is persisitent.  That’s why God said to kill it. 

My grandmother had a secret to killing Amalek/doubt.  The sweet pink-clad Southerner could instantly morph into a superhero Amalek slayer.  All someone had to do to activate this metamorphisis was ask her to pray. 

Hundreds of people throughout her lifetime, did just that.  They asked her to pray.  If someone was experiencing a problem, was going through a hard time, or needed a miracle of some sort, my grandmother was the go-to prayer warrior.  She was known as the woman who called upon God and got results.

She always began her prayers the same way.  “Now, Father,” she would say in an authoritative tone, and then she would pause.  And during that pause one could almost swear a sword could be heard coming out of its sheath.  It was about to get good. 

“Now, Father . . . Your Word says,” and then she would commence to tell God exactly what He had promised in His word.  She was not arrogant in her telling.  She was confident.   A master at swinging the double-edged sword of the Word of God, she knew how to fight.  With each swing of the sword, Amalek/doubt was reduced to nothingness.  The giants of fear, doubt, and impossibility were reduced to the mirage they really were.  Amalek was literally vaporized as faith took its place.  It was truly something to behold.

My children don’t hear the sound of my sword being unsheathed enough.  I myself don’t hear it enough.  I’m sad to admit that I don’t use the double-edged sword of the Word of God nearly enough when I pray.  How could I so often forget the precious, powerful, beautiful weapon that has been passed down to me?    

When doubt reduces my faith, confidence, and moxie to almost nothingness, I need to immediately reach for the sword my grandmother used with such skill and accuracy.  I need to remember my legacy.  Sword yielding should be automatic.  When I can't find my own words, I need to remember His Word.  When doubt shows up at my door and insists on staying, I need to say, "Fine!  But if you stay, you are going to get an earful.  And it is going to hurt," and then commence giving a good old-fashioned slaying, just like any proper Southern Bible-yielding woman would do.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New Book

"Life and death are in the power of the tongue." My new book, Think Before You Speak, is short and to the point. It is a simple, yet powerful reminder how we can transform our lives when we guard our mouths.