October, 2016

MindSets

The way a man thinks in his heart projects into his worldview. His deepest heartfelt beliefs become integrated into his actions. Information, religion, and cultural values can eventually affect a man’s actions in daily life. I grew up steeped in the political mindset my family taught me. When I got saved it took less than a month to change my mind and adopt a biblical mindset that reflected my newfound religious values. New knowledge about Christian culture grabbed my heart and changed my worldview.

Lunch Outing:
After I returned from Israel I had the privilege of taking a group of elderly people to lunch in Colorado Springs. I chose a Middle-Eastern restaurant because they advertised their “authentic” Jerusalem menu. It turned out they made American dishes that looked like Israeli food. Not very authentic. But I was more interested in picking the owner’s brain.

I started the conversation. I told him I had recently returned from Israel and that I visited Bethlehem. He quickly responded with the injustices perpetrated on the Arabs by Israel. “Have you seen how my people live over there?” he asked incredulously. “They live in such poverty. It is unbelievable that Jews who were subject to Hitler would turn around and do the same things to innocent Palestinians!” He is here in the U.S. to “evangelize” Americans… to convert them to his mindset. He has no idea that half my family was exterminated by the Nazis, and that poverty in the Arab sectors does NOT represent the horrors of a concentration camp. I’ve heard Arab business owners send money to help the government. Government means Hamas. The vast majority of those funds buy concrete for terror tunnels and to purchase missiles that are aimed at Israel.

I fed poor Jews and Arabs when I was in Israel. I saw the squalor of poor people. Every nation has them. But do you know most of Gaza is a bustling metropolitan area? Hamas now has a TV commercial running in Gaza for their coming elections. It shows beautiful buildings – shopping malls, the coast, amusement parks, water fountains, and castles fit for kings! With those backdrops, well-to-do smiling Gazans are holding signs that read, “Thank you Hamas.” You’d never know it watching the news. Why not? The networks want to promote a political agenda against the “occupation” – Israel – in an attempt to change your western mindset.

The Galilee Beggar:
While doing some last minute shopping in Tiberius I was approached by a young woman holding a printed paper. Written in Hebrew, Arabic, and English, it explained she was deaf and needed money. So I handed her a couple of dollars. She looked back at me and her disappointment clearly spoke, “I cannot believe that is all you’re giving me!” I softly told her that’s all I could give. She must have understood, directing a forced insincere smile towards me, accepting a little rather than nothing. Maybe her cultural mindset told her a tourist could afford more.

Charity:
Israelis are very generous. The ministry we visited after our tour of the Holy Land gets food and clothing donated from merchants all over Jerusalem. The grocery stores don’t give them items that are about to go out of date (like here in the U.S.) They take food right off the shelves. Those vegetables are fresh! At least that’s the way it was a couple of years ago.

These days there is a subtle shift. Merchants sometimes want to know who the ministry is feeding. Are they Jewish, or are they Muslim? It didn’t used to matter. But it does today. You see, Israelis have grown weary of enduring rocket attacks, pedestrian car deaths, knife attacks, and shootings. They blame the Arabs, and understandably so. They used to believe if you are nice to your enemy he will discover you aren’t the devil Hamas says you are. But they are becoming embittered and some of them don’t want to help Arabs any more.

On the other side of the coin, Arab beggars have changed their look. They remain silent while begging in case their accent gives them away; and the person ready to give money changes his mind. Sometimes they will also dress in Israeli clothing and wear a Jewish head covering in an open disguise to fool those who would give them money. Tensions have erased trust. Their cultural mindset is changing.

The Devil at Work:
The deception is working evil in both groups. Even though Jews don’t know New Covenant principles, they used to give abundantly and forgive easily. Many Arabs live peaceably in Jerusalem. But it seems the devil is getting a more solid stronghold in the culture of Middle-Eastern mindsets. Even though they have been at war, Israelis gave every man the benefit of the doubt. He was judged as an individual. But prejudice against all Arabs is beginning to gain traction. If you see someone draw a knife, shoot first; ask questions later. They have to in order to protect themselves. But does that mean they profile every Arab on the street? That person may be someone God will choose for His kingdom!

God’s Plan:
Where is your mindset? Would you stretch your comfort zone to reach an enemy of God’s chosen people? Jesus traveled away from His sheep and landed up feeding crumbs to the little dogs. Paul ministered to the Jew and also to the Greek. Are we willing to minister to the unlovable with the hope of bringing them to the Savior? They may be the people who bring one of God’s chosen people to Himself. Wouldn’t that be just like God?

For His Glory,

Mark Flaxman