My dear friends,
I greet you in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.
I have just returned from one of the most amazing trips of my life. I have been going to Israel for many years since 2003, but this was the first time that I was asked to take a tour of pilgrims to the Holy Land. There were 140 of us who spent a mere week together, and words escape me to try and describe to you how precious it was.
I listened to a talk given by a lecturer from Harvard University. They had done a survey of people from a young age right into their 90s and asked what it was that made them so happy at such an old age? Was it fame, or money or good relationships? To which they replied, “Good relationships!” The Harvard professors had worked out that good relationships keep us happier and healthier. On the other hand, loneliness kills and is toxic. It makes us physically sick. Something even worse than loneliness is bad relationships. Where two people just cannot get on together and continually hurt each other. It is disastrous. Conflict in a marriage is very bad for our health and makes one extremely depressed.
When Peter denied His master three time (Matthew 26:75), he went out and wept bitterly. It was only after the restored relationship that Peter went on to be the cornerstone and the leader of the early church. It is because his relationship was restored. We cannot keep bad relationships. Why? because it is vital for us Christians to follow in the steps of Jesus. When Jesus was suffering the most excruciating agony, He still took time out to look down from the cross and say to his mother Mary, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple (John), “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. John 19:26-27.”
Relationships are absolutely vital in order for us to have successful lives. The great American Western writer, Mark Twain, said:
I would encourage you to really work on your relationships.
The trip to Israel was life changing, not only for those who went with me, but indeed for myself. The baptism that took place in the River Jordan, at the very spot where John the Baptist baptised Jesus, will be something I will take to Heaven with me. To see families being baptised together was amazing. It was amazing to re-establish our respect and love for women at the church in Magdala (the place where Mary Magdalene came from). She was a woman in whom seven demons were cast out and a woman of evil repute. Yet, she remained faithful to Jesus and her relationship to Him stood right to the very end. Even the very disciples themselves deserted the Lord, but she never deserted Him. We thank God for our womenfolk and we need to honour and respect them a lot more than we do at the moment.
Our group was filled with the Holy Spirit after their visit to the upper room where the Holy Spirit visited the early church. They spoke in beautiful languages and then we went down to Peter’s landing, which is my favourite place in Israel. This is where Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him, then He said feed My sheep. (John 21:13-19). After we had sat and contemplated on the shores of Galilee, and this huge commission given to Peter by the Lord Jesus Christ, I had the privilege of anointing each pilgrim with oil and praying over them. They anointed me with oil as well and we recommitted our lives, and promised that we would take care of God's people. It was a very special time. Then at the end I had the privilege of speaking at the opening night of the Feast of Tabernacles. We saw between 6000 - 8000 pilgrims from 86 Nations coming together at EnGedi, the place where David hid from Saul when Saul was trying to kill him. I spoke about the fact that nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:37).
When we made the alter call it was wonderful to see multiple Nations running forward and recommitting their lives, and repenting before God. People were weeping and asking God to undertake. God gave me a particular heart that night for mainland China when I saw young Chinese men and women crying out for revival for their beloved Country.
Like never before, my dear friend, there is such a need for the undiluted truth to be spoken into a dying world. May God continue to bless you, as you make Jesus a reality in your life.
Yours in Christ
Angus, Jill and the Shalom team