At Ann Voskamp’s A Holy Experience blog today:

Nursing our little girl through recovery from open heart surgery, it’s kinda clear: Time is a gift that we sometimes forget we’ve been given. Time is an opportunity to experience eternity in the everyday. Michelle Van Loon is our guide through the major events of the Jewish and Christian calendars. She grew up in a Jewish home and came to know Christ in her teens. The colorful but disconnected puzzle pieces of the faith she’d experienced as a child began to be placed into a Jesus-shaped framework. They fit perfectly. Michelle invites us to discover our spiritual roots and the rhythms of our days. It’s a grace to welcome Michelle to the farm’s front porch today..

guest post by Michelle Van Loon

29026268020_3087c75619_bFor 85 percent of each week, modern Jerusalem is a noisy place.

One and a half million camera-wielding pilgrims jostle for space with the city’s eight hundred thousand permanent residents each year.

Mix fervent prayer, the chatter of mothers walking their children to the market in strollers, the dialed-to-eleven volume of debate in cafes and at bus stops, car and taxi horns honking, sirens blaring, and feral cats fighting, and you have a mad symphony of sound. [Click here to read the rest of the post and see the gorgeous pictures Ann chose to accompany this post]

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Aug

29

2016

My Place At The Table

The resolution affirmed by 82% of those voting at the recent triennial gathering of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) calling for an end of all American aid to Israel reminded me once again that to be a Jewish follower of Jesus sometimes requires thick skin.

Writer Elliott Abrams sums up the language in the resolution:

A time bound agreement– so facts on the ground, for example the strength of Hamas or even ISIS in the Palestinian territories would be irrelevant. Stop all construction in East Jerusalem–well, not really; just construction by Jews. “Enable” an independent Palestinian state, as if the only worry about such a state, and its only problems, come from Israel–not poverty, terrorism, corruption, and repression, for example. End military aid to Israel, regardless of the threats it faces from Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, Iran, and other enemies of Israel’s and ours.

And of course, these standards and these requirements apply to one single country: Israel. In a world awash in repression and human rights violations, only Israel.

This latest resolution joins a cluster of Christian denominations that have linked arms with the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement. The BDS movement seeks to apply economic pressure on the State of Israel via boycotts of Israeli-made products, divestiture of any financial holdings that could benefit the country, and branding the country as a rogue, human-rights violating state. While the United Methodist Church recently voted to distance itself from this movement, other BDS-supporting denominations have made it their mission to censure Israel in hopes of pushing the country toward their vision for justice in the region.

In my forty-plus years of following Jesus the Jewish Messiah, I’ve run into people from denominations like ELCA who insist Israel is a rogue state. “We like Jewish people,” they’ll tell me. “We just don’t like modern Israel’s politics, and our ears are tuned to the suffering of the Palestinian people.” At best, they’re telling me they may like the idea of Jewish people (“Some of my best friends are Jewish”), but they don’t particularly want Jewish people to live in Israel in any of the bounded land areas on the map since 1948. [Read more]

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Aug

29

2016

What’s In The Stack?

Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life. — Mark Twain

Even as I’ve been in book release mode these last weeks, excited to launch my own book into the world, I’ve been savoring the words of others. During the last few weeks, I’ve been spending time with the books pictured at right, as well as a couple of more works of fiction not in the shot. Here’s a quick review of each:

Saints: A Year in Faith and Art by Rosa Giorgi (Abrams 2005) – This gorgeous volume offers a thumbnail sketch of a Catholic saint whose life is commemorated on each day of the year, along with a beautiful reproduction of a piece of artwork featuring the saint. The images and stories are part history lesson and part school of discipleship. Though these are all human beings, the best of what their lives are have put a beautifully-human face on some of whom might be in that great cloud of witnesses to which Hebrews 12:1 refers.

Soul Bare: Stories of Redemption, edited by Cara Sexton (IVP 2016) – This book of essays penned by 31 thoughtful authors who remind us that victory in the Christian life relies more on telling the truth than it does about buffing up a false image of success. [Read more]

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Aug

22

2016

Living Eternity Everyday

From my recent e-newsletter – read to the bottom and check out the contest: 

Are you rushing through life

When you think of Jesus’ call to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), what practices come to mind? Evangelism? Prayer? Service? Study?

We speak of the importance of everyday discipleship mostly in terms of making sure we slot time for individual spiritual disciplines like worship, Bible reading, and fellowship. But have you ever considered the way in which our calendar shapes our days or informs our discipleship practices?

I began asking questions about the calendars we use several years ago. Those questions led me on a journey through time as I dug into the richness of the calendar God gave to the Jewish people in the Old Testament and observed in its fullness by Jesus. At the same time, I pondered the profound story the liturgical Christian calendar told me about the life and mission of my Savior.

Moments & Days: How Our Holy Celebrations Shape Our Faith is an engaging historical, devotional look at each key holiday/holy season in each calendar, as well as an invitation to a more intentional way of living.

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To learn more about the book, visit MomentsAndDays.org

If you head to the MomentsAndDays.org website, you’ll find some pretty wonderful recommendations for the book from respected writers and teachers including Leonard Sweet, Scot McKnight, Jen Pollock Michel and Dale Hanson Bourke. You’ll also discover a link to a free downloadable side-by-side 2017 calendar with dates for Jewish and Christian holy days. And of course, there’s a link you can use to order the book from NavPress. (You can also order from your favorite online retailer!)

Can We Talk?

It would be my honor to come speak to your church, Bible study, book club, or small group about Moments & Days – or work with you to craft a message or retreat that will minister to the unique needs of your group.

I’m booking fall and winter dates now. Click here to check out my upcoming schedule and some of my speaking topics; click here to contact me for more information or to slate a date.

Hey, are you still reading? (Yay, you!)

As a thank you, I’ll gift one person with a copy of Moments & Days and my last book,If Only: Letting Go Of Regret. Keep both for yourself, or gift one to a friend! To enter this drawing, click here to fill out my contact form with your name and your snail mail address before midnight Central time Friday, September 2nd.

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Aug

19

2016

9360 Home Circle

It was the first house I remember, but I still wonder if it was ever really home. And yet nowhere else I’ve lived has ever fully been my home either.

The duplex was a cookie-cutter match for the dozens of other houses in the neighborhood. My parents were the first owners of the house, built in 1963. My sister was nearly two and I was four when we moved out to what was then the edge of civilization. Cheap housing sprung up in a cornfield near a brand-new mall just beyond the commuter suburbs ringing Chicago, and my parents inked a mortgage on their slice of the American Dream.

We lived on one of the three triplet cul-de- sacs directly off of Home Avenue, named Home Circle, Home Court, and Home Terrace. (The subdivision’s developers appeared to be a little short on creativity when it came to street names, understandable considering the speed at which they were building houses in this neighborhood crawling with young Boomers.) Every house two parents in it; dads drove to the city to work, moms manned the home fires, and free-range kids roamed from yard to yard in a pack.

We lived an apple-pie existence. One of the perks of living on a cul-de- sac was the endless baseball game that went on all summer long. During the school year, we walked to Mark Twain Elementary, then home at lunch for the standard meal of PBJs on Wonder Bread, a side of Fritos and a Flinstones-imprinted glass of orange Hi-C. [Read more]

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