The Spirit of Stupid
Illustration by Elhanan ben-Avraham
Yeshua, when he saw that his disciples could not cast out a certain demon, told them, “This kind comes out only by prayer and fasting.” Unfortunately, there is one that cannot be pried out even with those strong tools: the Spirit of Stupid.
Today such ignoble and failed ideas as the materialist Communist philosophy is swallowed unexamined by many of our new Millennials, proving the adage that “he who does not know history is doomed to repeat it” and, “The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” They honor that old demon who would destroy the past in order to create a new future, as they angrily tear down old statues of Confederate generals in order to eliminate the racism of 160 years ago that they represented. Yet they only succeed in desecrating those 600,000 Americans who fell so tragically in a war of brothers against brothers, changing nothing more than ISIS did by doing the very same thing. It is stupid. President Lincoln, in his wisdom, said of binding up the wounds of that war, “With malice toward none, with charity for all.” Lincoln was not stupid.
And now a nation that has recently had a Black president, a Black secretary of state, a Black secretary of housing development, a Black national security advisor, black generals and very wealthy athletes and actors and a plethora of cities with Black mayors, still whines about racism. What more?
The freest and most prosperous women on the planet continue to wail hysterically about oppression and inequality, sexism and general discontent with the way things are, while at the same time winning the almost complete freedom to practice every form of sexuality imaginable, including gender blending themselves and their children, while free to legally dispose of the reproductive product of male-female sexual union for their own convenience. What more?
The great sages of science in our time have spread a fog of blindness over a generation by announcing that, ‘Nothing is the creator of everything, which has all come from nothing,’ introducing a new God of Nothing to a new and hopeless generation that is stacked higher with conflicting information than any Tower of Babel, in a confusion of tongues unprecedented. And with that chaos they would flip all on its head for the sake of Change, calling “evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (the Prophet Isaiah 5:20). Scientists Dawkins with his ‘The God Delusion’, and Hawking with his most recent ‘There is No God’, have joined Nietzsche in the dark chant of “God is Dead.” But the ancient wisdom continues to survive all the onslaughts of every age, reminding us that “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm of David 14:1). But Fools are firmly endowed with the Spirit of Stupid, a hard condition to cure, even with much prayer and fasting.
Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published two illustrated books of poetry, and painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.
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Passionately pursuing our purpose
I have just completed walking through the 30-day devotional ‘Dreaming’ which was released in March of this year. Following the completion of the ‘Dare to Ask’ book, I was led on this crazy adventure of God, of not only making the music that the book is about, but also on a journey of understanding that this journey of ‘Daring to Ask’ is comprised of a journey within itself.
I started reading the ‘Dreaming’ devotional again, and posting each day on my Insta stories, because I felt like I was floundering about in sinking sand and I needed to get back to the sure ground of what I knew God had spoken to me about. It’s also part of my journey, and sometimes it’s good to pull out the ‘pictures’ from our adventures and remember where we’ve come from.
During this experience of taking a fair number of people with me through these 30 days, I had a deep reconnection with the basics of who I am, and what God has spoken to me.
Dreaming is not about wishing ourselves into another life. It’s about thinking outside, and bigger than the constraints of our little world. It’s about finding God in places that are outside of ourselves and our tiny perspective.
When we dream, we are positioning ourselves to be willing to move.
Without dreaming, we are static, stagnant, and we become bitter. We are not designed to wear blinkers and to never move.
Dreaming gives us something to move towards. God may shift our direction, or alter our dream along the way, but He can work with a moving child. He cannot work with a statue. That is not a malleable, workable piece of clay in His hands.
Having things which we dream of means we haven’t given up on growing, changing and being moulded by the Master Potter. We are still hoping for more adventures with Him.
But here’s the key. Our dreams are never for the greatness of us. Dreams from God are never selfish. God isn’t interested in promoting us, He’s interested in us promoting Him. When He makes people ‘great’, it’s because He can trust that that greatness will always point to Him, and not to the person.
It’s always a good test we can do on the dreams we hold dear – what is the point of this dream?
I’ve been challenged about this concept of investing in gifts, talents and passions in the hidden place, and being content with an audience of One. I absolutely stand by this principle.
BUT – what if God seems to indicate that your call and gift is intended for more than just an audience of One? How do I reconcile that?
I think it’s all about identity and security and value. I cannot find any of those things in my audience numbers. Maybe I am destined to have an audience of more than one, but it shouldn’t define me or become my goal. It’s a difficult balance to maintain, as it’s so easy for us to suddenly draw our identity and value from the number of likes, followers, engagements and comments!
What I love about God is that nothing in His kingdom is selfish. He may pour out blessings and favour upon an individual, but it will be both a test on their character as to how they respond to such blessing, and a responsibility on them to be unselfish with it. So while we may ask and pray for more blessing and for the things we dream about, are we really ready to respond correctly to those prayers being answered?
Dreaming should come with a warning. “Warning – don’t get comfortable”! When we dream we are thinking of things that are outside of what we can manufacture in our own strength. We are seeing possibilities that God can make real, and we are essentially asking God to intervene in the trajectory of our lives. And He will, when we’re ready.
But the important thing is to commit to a posture of movement, the willingness to change direction, to move, to think outside of our mundane tiny walls, and to allow God to break in. That is daring to dream, that is pursing our purpose.
Often we settle for so much less than is possible! Through Christian martyrdom we beat ourselves humble into thinking that we are never supposed to amount to anything, so we shouldn’t dream of anything. But I don’t see this reflecting the heart of God! He wants to partner with surrendered lives, who are willing to do anything and are able to think big and expect much from the God who created the universe! He put the passions that we carry in our hearts, on purpose. When we don’t invest in the passions he’s given us, we aren’t stewarding well what He has given us to nurture. This doesn’t mean we fight to grab an audience, it means we invest in our passions in the secret place, so we are ready to be released into the very purpose we were created for.
A passion wasted, is an unfulfilled purpose.
Maybe it’s time that we started to dream again, to use that incredible tool of imagination that God gave us, which children never have a problem using! Maybe it’s time to start expecting God to be able to do things that are outside of our worlds, and bigger than our abilities. Maybe that’s what we need in order to move, to grow, and to be moulded into what He’s always wanted of us.
Maybe it’s time passionately pursue our purpose?
This article originally appeared on Simcha Natan’s blog, October 26, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Simcha emigrated to Israel from the UK, with her husband and three children. Having studied theology and music and worship in London, and trained as a worship leader and song writer, she went on to teach music and be involved in worship teams in several congregations in the UK, and now in Israel as part of Sarah Liberman's team. Simcha is the author of the “Dare to Ask” project, comprising of the book 'Dare to Ask', and 3 CD's, Dreaming', 'Awakened' and 'Soar (To come) which each have a counterpart 30 day devotional study guide to accompany them. She is passionate about enabling people to engage with God in the way which they were made to, and is committed to multi sensory expressions. Simcha is also an artist, and paints her songs and messages to accompany the music and books. She is also the coordinator Ascend Carmel Programs.
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I’m Jewish, or maybe we’re really not
An interesting thing happened while I fell in line recently and did what so many others are doing in Israel and abroad. I agreed to have my DNA swab the cheek test done. Although I am recognized in Israel as a Jew, I was not prepared for the journey and information which came in my results 4 weeks later. I am sure most of those in Israel who have taken the test were also very surprised. I could not get my test results given to me because “in Israel the computers are locked”. So in other words tech has it so that when they see an Israeli address you are automatically locked out for your results! Fancy that, and we are a democratic country so we must delve deeper into this strange phenomenon going on daily in Israel under our noses. I do however understand the reason for Israel being locked out of such information. We really did bring it on ourselves.
I had first tried a large DNA company and the results were fascinating. I am Middle Eastern, Spanish and Portuguese with much English, Irish, welsh Eastern European, North European, West Asia (Turkey Iran and Kurdish caucuses) Finish, Russian and Israeli, by blood. My mind raced as I tried to place my ancestors in a mental box and think of their journeys in history. Was I part of the Portugal during the Spanish inquisition of Jews I wondered? Was Turkey the place they migrated after they were expelled from Spain as it was the preferred destination if one had money?
Were my Iranian roots before or after the Babylonian exile of Jews in Israel? So many questions began to fill my head and heart. I therefore decided to take another test, at another company. It turns out that one company is based in Israel (no names please). It is a large company and I was so disappointed to learn I could not get my results because I live in Israel. For Israelis the results are locked out. I was so surprised and I did call them. I explained I had paid and I took it (the spit test) overseas and I happen to live here. They accepted another email address and I was able to get my results but not on my Israel email. I really began to ponder this deep in thought and researched the whys on how something like that could be so. I searched the web and began to have deep understanding why Israel wants this information blocked.
I researched many articles online and spoke with the different companies. I saw very much information on the subject.
Now I having made Aliya about 30 years ago to Israel and being married to a Kurdish Jew I have seen a lot here in Israel. I am not talking about everyday things but deep life styles and ways and truths about being an Israeli as I am. Allow me to share some of what I have learned in my 30 years living here. My husband’s family are several generation back in the land and speak no English. They came over the mountains of Kurdistan after 2000 years clanned together in the Nashdidan Tribe of Jews in Kurdistan, Turkey and Iraq.
In Israel it is important that your mother alone be Jewish in order to be considered Jewish. Many here have had to undergo conversion if only their father is Jewish. The state of Israel will allow you to return to Israel under “the law of return” for Jews if your father however is Jewish. However when married in Israel and for your children to be “Jewish” that means with no exceptions that your mother must be Jewish. That’s the way it works here. You may ask where in the world do we have such laws and thinking as it is not biblical really.
Fast forward to DNA testing being done everywhere in the world. People want to know their long lost past of the ancestors. As for my DNA results I am Kurdish too just as my husband is. I was very surprised about that fact. My ancestors were the first in America from Ireland and England (via Portugal it now seems). Just imagine how many surprises the Israelis themselves began to have, so many too having tested with the DNA now available.
Yeshua Messiah (Jesus) does not look at our DNA but he is looking if we are following the DNA of his life and ways. Many peasants lived and pagan ways were the norm in His time and Abraham’s time, however the God of Israel was a better way. The DNA now explains to experts many people converted to Judaism and many who claim to be Jewish, well it is NOT in their DNA. Many find that hard to swallow in Israel!
DNA however for Jews is very controversial. Scholars argue they are mostly going by a people group fact in which Jews lived in a certain area. Many say Jewish is only a followed religion. The proof is in the pudding as we say. The DNA staff explains many had converted and so they have not this DNA cluster group area similarity if you will. Also an interesting fact is that after six generations it can be very hard to have DNA which shows in a given child anymore from an ancestor.
Of those down through the millenniums who had converted to Judaism the markers (professional DNA word) of Jewish roots were NOT in them. Those converts had however opted to not steal, to honor their parents and not kill etc. Thus following the Jewish way and being “Jewish”.
As being Jewish is so important in Israel one can imagine how shocked many were to see their Jewishness is in fact in question through DNA tests.
If perhaps 25-45 % of the population carries Middle Eastern Genes and no Eastern Europe Genes what would that mean for say a Rabbi high in status? It would mean he may be finished to say the least. That would be if it were measured by modern thinking today as to requirements. What if it turned out his mother was Egyptian or Turkish but not Jewish? Again, he would be finished. It may be better to just lock the computer, lock the truth for some.
We have made our own law in Israel and many are rabbinic laws and not biblical in the state. For years many have complained it is a duo system. How can I be Jewish and become a citizen yet only be considered Jewish through my mother? It drives us all crazy. The law must be looked at again and again, especially in light of DNA results in Israel for her people, my people, and God’s people.
Jesus will not say to his people come good and faithful DNA results, be with me in eternity. He will say come to all those who loves and served him and believed him. Perhaps Israel will soften their hearts to him if they know our Messiah does not look at their pure Jewishness or not but at their hearts. He still receives us if we are Ashkenazi Sephardic or gentile. Perhaps they will be comforted to know He accepts them thru faith in him, not DNA.
The Messiah of Israel loves all DNA but they must acknowledge him.
Only His DNA will bring us into the kingdom, not our Jewishness or lack of. However we have chosen for now to shut out the DNA results for Israel. I understand all hell will break loose when true findings are told and probably already has. That’s why there is a clamp on the results in Israel, the truth is too hard to swallow. DNA reveals the truth of our family line, for good or bad. We in Israel do not want to hear it, and why? If we were all pure Jews as we thought we would not have this problem, but we are not can only be the conclusion. We are mixed. We are finding we are mixed with undesirables often and much gentile blood as well. Fact be it as well DNA shows we may have a brother from another mother, pardon the expression. Some very undesirable things DNA has revealed to a state which spins its own reality conveniently on the subject.
I have always tried to wrap my understanding around the fact that the mother has to be Jewish in Israel to be a real Jew rabbis teach us. I can see that Hagar was not Jewish and that is why the mother’s side has to be Jewish but I have heard many self-appointed ideas from many. We may soon have to change that rabbinic law in Israel and here is why as I explain below.
If one of your parents was not 50% Jewish your Jewish DNA may not show up. Many argue there is no Jewish DNA as stated earlier another might say rightly so when you study and break it all down. It is to date decided by clusters of a people at a time in history who lived in a certain area or areas.
Jews are defined from Ethiopia, Eastern Europe, Yemen etc. Iran however is “not a friendly co-operating nation on the subject so we cannot yet know who lines up with any matching ancestors from there as of now”.
One thousand years ago is 25 generations back. That Jewish DNA may never show up in yours. Again 50 percent of one of your parents must be Jewish to have that cluster connection. By the time your grandparents are looked at for your DNA it diminished and each generation after it diminishes more. Your Jewish cluster compatibility connection for that area of Jews may show in your sibling but not you. DNA is random. A great fourth generation grandmother who was declared Jewish may show up in your test results too or it may not. It is no wonder we are called the lost tribes of Israel!
We in Israel should acknowledge the truth in findings and come together in truth. Ashkenazi many contend (scholars) was originally a Turkish place, not German for example. We hold Ashkenazi above Sephardi often, treating Sephardic Jews as second class. The truth however according to these men is that Ashkenazi was a Turkish or Sephardi beginning for Jews. The Sephardi are called the black Jews, Yehudi shachor. It is very likely many “Eastern European Jews who pride themselves on that are really Sephardic Jews. Many Israelis and Jews do not like that notion.
In conclusion I have given food for thought. Jesus will determine us by who He is and our relationship to him.
God can use this wakeup call of DNA of Israel’s true roots on her people.
That is a humbling for our people to acknowledge the truth that fleshly skin and bones do not and should not dictate our love for God. It should not define us as a people. After all the first Jew was from Mesopotamia, when there were no Jews there. Abrahams DNA was Mesopotamian, near Babylon. Two of the 12 tribes were of an Egyptian mother’s DNA and well King David’s mother Ruth came from a heathen Moabite land. It’s all in the DNA folks.
The Holy Spirit must come upon the Jewish people and they must cry Abba and confess their Messiah in Christ. They will willingly come to Him when they understand only He was the perfect Jew and all the law is fulfilled in Him. They will weep to know He loves the Sephardi and the Europeans as well as all others who’ll acknowledge Him. That would include our great grandmother the Moabite and maybe some of the mothers and grandmothers of Israelis today who were and are today still far from Jewish in their DNA. There are reasons for DNA not showing even if they are present in a family line however. This is important to note and understand.
Why would the results be in lock down and computers for the Israeli public on DNA results? It’s because the results are in and they are so different from how we understood who we are! We are not who we thought in short according to our DNA. We will therefore have to convert perhaps as much as 25 -69 % of our people if the results are shown (as did a recent senator show hers lately in the USA.)
We are not going to let that happen in Israel. We’d rather die than see those DNA truths it seems let alone share them with other Israelis!
Yes, an easier solution is to hide the truth, hide the results, and it’s cheaper and well good for politics as well. Upon searching one can find many uninviting facts which tell a great story, but it is a DNA factual story, not a grandmother’s tall tale.
I am the truth, I am the way and I am the life says the Lord. No man comes to the Father except by me. There is no perfect Jewish DNA except the Lord’s and He is willing to share all of it with us, His children who believe.
His blood stain and DNA is on this land and will pour forth again when we see the pierced hands upon His retuning to us. We will mourn then as for an only Bechor, son. There is a sorrow which leads to repentance, I believe this will be that kind of sorrow for my Israeli people. We will acknowledge his perfectness for our atonement.
His DNA is enough for the family tree of all mankind, He says come. Eat of my flesh, drink of my blood and receive my life.
Who is my mother and who is my brother (and my DNA), but the one who does the will of the Father who sent me. The good news is there still is a remnant! Shalom
Miriam Abramov is Israeli and resides in Israel. She has published and written 2 books, "Shalom At Last" (co-authored with her husband Shlomy) and also her biography titled "Married to Israel". She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Theology from Israel College of the Bible and pursued an M.A. degree in Jewish Missions. She sponsors tours in Hebrew for Israelis to teach about the Bible. She co-leads a fellowship with her husband and teaches on Israel’s feasts internationally. She is recognized with International Journalism status and enjoys writing free-lance about Israel from an informed citizen’s perspective on a variety of subjects connected to the Holy Land.
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Pray for the mayor of Jerusalem. And Haifa, Tel Aviv, etc.
Aaron Casts a Ballot in the Jerusalem Municipal Elections
We had municipal elections here in Israel on Tuesday, October 30, and the polls opened at 7 AM. When we woke up the next morning to see the results of the voting, several incumbents who had been serving as mayors of large cities and small towns for years (in some cases for decades) found out they were out of a job as an apparent wave of dissatisfaction with the status quo swept new names and faces into city halls across the country.
In Jerusalem, we’ve had a fantastic mayor in Nir Barkat for the last ten years, but he wasn’t running for re-election this time around because he wants to run for the Knesset in the next national elections (which everyone is anticipating will be called in the very near future.) There were six candidates running to be the next mayor of Israel’s capital city and none of them received the 40% of the votes needed to win the race outright. So the two candidates who got the most votes in the first round will go head to head in a run-off election on 13 November.
So, why am I telling you all this?
Well, 1 Timothy 2: 1-2 says;
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
Now, I’m sure many if not most of the people who follow Kehilah News Israel and are otherwise supporters of the Jewish State probably make a regular habit of praying for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Maybe you also pray for some of the other senior officials in the government of this country whose names appear regularly in the news. But have any of you ever prayed for the mayors of Israeli cities and the members of the municipal councils, school boards, etc.?
I wouldn’t blame you if you hadn’t, but I’m asking you to make it a priority to start doing so. Because to be very frank, the ability of Israeli Believers to “lead a tranquil and quiet life” is VERY dependent on the policy and attitude adopted by these local officials and their staffs. The same goes for the work being done by Christian ministries in Israel. Local officials like mayors can make life really difficult for our Believing brothers and sisters, or they can do the opposite.
For that matter, the same is true for others “in authority” including the principals of the schools our children attend, the commanders of the IDF units we and/or our children serve in, etc. There are many people “in authority” over different areas of our lives and they all have the power to grant or withhold tranquility from our lives.
Public statements by the Prime Minister about how much Israel appreciates Christian support of Israel, about how Israel protects the rights of Christians, etc. is all well and good. But the fact is, on a day to day basis, from one town to the next, these matters are largely up to local municipal officials, and some are better than others.
So, with all that in mind, please pray for the new mayor of Jerusalem, and Haifa, and Tel Aviv, and Ashkelon, Ashdod, Rehovot, Tiberius, Rishon Letzion, etc. and all the members of the city councils in these places. Pray for the chief of staff of the IDF and all his subordinates. Pray for school superintendents and principals and teachers.
Don’t forget to also pray for the pastors and elders of the congregations in Israel.
Pray for their physical health and safety. Pray for them to have wisdom, vision and courage to be good leaders and stewards of what God has put under their care and authority. Pray for them to draw closer to their Creator and King, so that their decisions and directives will be more in sync with His.
Pray for your own leaders too. Much depends on it.
Aaron is a member of Jerusalem Assembly, House of Redemption.
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Rose of the Galilee
Farming. Horses. People. Personal attachments usually grow slowly but Marcia and I connected with Vered HaGalil, a beyond-unique guest farm in northern Israel, in love-at-first-sight fashion. Situated upon a high terrace of the Dead Sea Transform overlooking the Sea of Galilee, Vered HaGalil was the brainchild of a self-described “itinerant dreamer.” The popular restaurant-farm-vacation spot lies near Korazim (also, Chorazin), an ancient village which, along with Bethsaida and Capernaum, was cited in the gospels of Matthew and Luke as places at which Yeshua (Jesus) performed “mighty works” but, because the people there rejected them, they were cursed. (Matthew 11:20-24; Luke 10:13-15)
That dreamer was Yehuda Avni, who immigrated as a youth to Israel from Chicago, Illinois in 1949. Once in the Land, Avni married a young lady named Yona with whom he settled in Moshav Orot in southern Israel, about six miles east of Ashdod. There, they began farming and raising a family.
However, Yehuda … had aspirations for creating something that at that time, would be a new concept for Israel, something not just for farming and not just for tourism, but rather a bringing together of the things that he loved most: farming, horses and people. Thus began his search for the perfect spot for creating a guest farm. After many long months of searching, Yehuda stood on a hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee, a barren landscape strewn with boulders and thistles, but with a beautiful view of the lake, and declared to his children that this was where they would lay down the foundations for their new venture.
…slowly, steadily, year by year, as boulders were moved, trees planted, roses cultivated, cottages constructed, horses sought out, a restaurant established; as people were gathered from around Israel and around the world to help in the creation of the vision, Yehuda saw his dream fulfilled, as the transformation of barren boulder strewn hillside to idyllic resort was accomplished. (Vered Hagalil Guest Farm)
Marcia discovered Yehuda’s life’s work in routine fashion while browsing Booking.com, attracted by its enticing photos and numerous plus reviews. After asking around in Jerusalem, it seemed that everyone we knew had either already visited and loved the place or had heard great things about it. So, soon after, only a little dismayed by our ignorance, we headed north and found, along with goats, cattle, horses, a great restaurant, superb vistas and wonderful hosts, a lot of ancient history and a hidden bit of romance.
First, the history. The ruins of Roman/Byzantine Korazim, now the site of a beautifully maintained National Archaeological Park, lie less than a mile from the Vered HaGalil entrance down Israel’s Highway 8277. The surviving icons and structures there, some partially restored, are made of black basalt stones and include the remains of a 4th Century AD synagogue where, in 1926, archaeologists discovered the “Seat of Moses,” carved from a basalt block at the site. The ruins are spread over 25 acres, The images below are from our first visit to the park.
Now for the romance. Marcia and I had learned from the guest farm’s website that founder Yehuda Avni, “accomplished dreamer, a valued businessman, and esteemed countryman,” had passed away in February of 2012. Yona, his wife, “always a vital figure throughout the establishment and running of the farm, is still around doing her chores, greeting guests and recommending choice places to visit in Galilee.”
Our discovery came on our second visit to the farm. After an afternoon beside Vered HaGalil’s immaculate swimming pool, then dinner at Tibi’s, the onsite restaurant (in its own right worth the two-hour drive from Jerusalem), we stopped to pet the goats (kind of, they eat shirts) housed in a small pen beside the stables. When we turned to head back to our cabin, we noticed a small inscription traced in the stable’s concrete footer.
Back in 1978.
Imagine our thoughts (and imaginings) upon seeing scrawled there the names of the founders, pioneers and dreamers, Yehuda and Yoni Avni. No doubt on that important, work-filled day four decades earlier, they had stolen a bit of time to charm each other and celebrate, as their stable began to take shape, their shared dream’s becoming a bit more real, their arriving another step closer to turning that overgrown, boulder-strewn hillside into the Rose of the Galilee.
This article originally appeared on Cliff’s blog, Standing by the Gate, October 30, 2018, and is reposted with permission.
Cliff Keller lives in Jerusalem, Israel with his wife, Marcia after making Aliyah in the spring of 2011 from the United States. His most recent novel is a work of historical biblical fiction entitled The Lion or The Lamb: Samson Ruth and Salvation. Cliff also blogs at Standing by the Gate and has a writing website, goodStories.