Portrait of a large group of business people.In the past few years¬†I had the privilege to help launch a new initiative, called “Firstfruits.” The vision is to inspire and equip¬†entrepreneurs in Israel who will use biblical principles, prosper in the marketplace, and be a credible witness.

This week we are holding our first ever “Business and Investment Forum.” We invited successful business entrepreneurs from around the world to Israel to meet local Jewish and Arab believers who sense a call to launch new business ventures. Exciting stuff!

In Judaism there has traditionally been a high regard for the marketplace. Even a rabbi learned a trade.

The greatest rabbi of all time, Jesus of Nazareth, worked in his father’s building business. And it was this same marketplace professional who announced the Great Commission to people with mostly business or civil service backgrounds.

Throughout the Scriptures we find business people whom God chooses to carry out his mission. Some were shepherds, some farmers, some soldiers, and some merchants.

If anyone had the right to get his entire financial support from “ministry,” it was the apostle Paul. He says, however, ¬†in 1 Corinthians 9:12:¬†“If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.”¬†

So if Paul didn’t exercise his right to receive full support as a “minister,” how did he supplement his living? Read the rest of this entry »

Forest Fire with new GrowthXSmallA GUEST BLOG POST by Ann Hilsden (my wife!). A powerful piece I’ve just got to share….

On the first Sunday in July 1995, something unthinkable happened in Israel. A raging fire consumed an estimated two million trees. Hand planted trees!

About 2,500 acres of land were left charred and barren. Several communities were evacuated while hundreds of firefighters bravely battled the flames in high summer temperatures, and planes and military helicopters sprayed chemicals from the air.

The ashes were landing on my balcony that day, though our home was at least 25 kilometers away from the forest. Roads into Jerusalem were closed and our speaker for that evening service at King of Kings Community Jerusalem was not able to arrive. We all prayed.

Only weeks earlier I had traveled past that forest, headed west in the afternoon, and marveled at the beauty of the trees through the sunlight. This was a heartbreaking day for a land that treasures its trees.

I now know that many of the pines that burned that day had been among the earliest planted. They had been fast to grow but had a short life span, and had probably lived it out by then.

Researchers are now saying that fires are not necessarily bad, Read the rest of this entry »

Paint splash

Historically, ¬†“holiness” streams have had deep-seated suspicions of the Creative Arts; the Arts are¬†distractions or diversions at best, and sinful pursuits, at worst.

To some degree this was a reaction to cases of idolatrous fixations on icons and statutes in the ancient churches. Too often we see the tendency to worship creation more than the Creator (Romans 1:18-20). And more recently, these suspicious are confirmed by examples of exceptionally talented believers who sell their souls to Hollywood and Nashville.

But the abuse of something doesn’t automatically make it ¬†evil. Many marriages fall apart, yet God still ordains the marriage bond. And just because some abuse the arts, Read the rest of this entry »

The arts are close to my heart. In my childhood I played trumpet, baritone, and french horn. As I neared the end of high school I moved to guitar, keyboards, flute, and saxophone. In my early twenties I travelled full-time with a band.

I was never a prodigy, but I’ve always had a love for music.

Before we moved to Israel, Ann was music director at Canada’s main Christian TV network. I did a stint as an actor in a TV show.¬†All four of our sons are musicians and involved in media.

Six years ago our ministry launched Kings School of Media. Three years ago we partnered with two other Israeli ministries to start Yuval School of Music and the Arts.

Our involvement with the arts puts us out of sync with a certain segment of the Evangelical world. ¬†This segment tends to cast a suspicious eye at the ‘artsy types’ being given a larger platform in the Church today. That segment thinks (but rarely verbalizes) that the artistic‚Ķ.

  • tend to indulge in self-gratification instead of fully investing their talents to reach the lost.
  • too easily compromise their values Read the rest of this entry »

Map of Middle EastGod’s plan was not only to get the children of Israel OUT of Egypt, but PLANT them in their Promised Land.

Following their deliverance through the Red Sea, Moses and the children of Israel sang to the LORD….

“You will bring them in and plant them
In the mountain of Your inheritance,

In the place, O LORD, which You have made‚Ķ.”
(Exodus 15:17)

And once He planted them in their Land, God’s perfect will was that His people never leave. “Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more….” (2 Samuel 7:10; Amos 9:15)

Their eventual replanting in the Land is not a side interest, but at the very heart of God’s purposes. “…. I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul.”¬† (Jeremiah 32:41)

Just as God’s whole heart is devoted to Israel’s planting in the Land, eventually their whole hearts will turn back to Him.¬† “‘For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. ‘Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.” (Jeremiah 24:6, 7)

By the way, what is this territory called in the NEW TESTAMENT? “The Land of Israel.” (Matthew 2:19-20)

I’d love to hear your perspective. Drop me a line.¬†

GossipXSmallIn my last two posts I talked about the destructive powers of the tongue — to others and to ourselves.

Now a few tips on how to TAME that tongue.

Tip #1 ¬†When it’s time to speak, seek to build up, not¬†tear down

Paul gave this command in Ephesians 4:29:¬†“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

When you get inside information does it get buried in the cemetery of your mind or is it just a matter of time before it leaks out. When the grapevine climbs along your wall, do you cut it down or encourage its growth with a little fertilizer of your own?

Here’s helpful rule shared by Henry Van Dyke: “Never believe anything bad about anything unless you positively know it to be true; never tell even that,¬† unless you feel that it is absolutely necessary‚ÄĎ‚ÄĎand that God is listening while you tell it.”

Here are some ways to help others whose tongues tend to tear down and not build up:

  1. If they are slandering or gossiping, ask them to name their sources.
  2. Tell them you will not listen to hearsay Read the rest of this entry »

Boomerang Effect XSmallIn the last post I talked about the damage inflicted on OTHERS through slander, gossip and harsh criticism. Now let’s talk about the BOOMERANG EFFECT on those with their tongue out of control.

The Loss of Relationships

Proverbs 18:6 says,¬†“A fool’s lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating.”¬†Those foolish enough to let their tongue get out of control are asking for trouble. If they ever had friends, they’ll soon lose them. Whoever gossips to you will probably gossip about you.¬†That’s why Proverbs 20:19 gives us the following advice: “He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, Therefore do not associate with a gossip.”

The philosopher, Blaise Pascal, once said, “I hold it to be a fact, that if all persons knew what each said of the other, there would not be four friends in Read the rest of this entry »