Stained glass window created by F. Zettler  1878-1911  at the German Church  St. Gertrude s church  in Gamla Stan in Stockholm, depicting a Nativity Scene. In the public domain.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
The Lamb's Land
Greetings Everyone!
 A few weeks ago I returned from my first trip to Israel thanks in large part to a generous, anonymous donor who underwrote a goodly part of the expense. It fulfilled a lifelong dream I had to go to the Holy Land. The tour was led by Brian Simmons, translator of The Passion Translation Bible - one of the newest additions to the  biblical library. Brian's exuberance, scholarly knowledge and revelatory insights into the land (together with those of our fine Israeli tour guide) made for an amazing experience and an overwhelming amount of knowledge to take in!

Our agenda was intense and, as anyone who's been there knows, Israel is literally packed with symbolic significance: the geography, what occurred where, as well as the names of towns and their relationship to the ministry of Jesus in them. One thing is clear when traveling the country, Jesus did a LOT of walking during His 3 ½ years of ministry! The distances he covered is nothing short of astounding.

There were many sites along the tour that moved me, deeply. However, being that Christmas was just weeks away, Bethlehem, and Brian's accompanying description of its significance was extra special. I have included below some of Brian's translation and footnotes of Luke 2 which speak of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem and the angel's announcement to the shepherds in the fields nearby. Please take a moment to read his translation and the footnotes. It's worth the time.

Luke 2: 8-12:
That night, in a field near Bethlehem, there were Shepherds watching over their flocks. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared in radiant splendor before them, lighting up the field with the blazing glory of God, and the shepherds were terrified! But the angel reassured them, saying, "Don't be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! And it is for everyone everywhere! For today in Bethlehem a rescuer was born for you. He is the Lord Yahweh, the Messiah. You will recognize him by this miracle sign: you will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough!"
Then all at once, a vast number of glorious angels appeared, the very armies of heaven! And they all praised God, singing:
"Glory to God in the highest realms of heaven! For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons of men."
Many scholars believe that these could be the same fields where sacrificial flocks were kept for temple worship. How fitting that these shepherds would hear the announcement of the birth of the Lamb of God. Others believe these fields could have been near the field of Boaz, or the fields where David once watched over the flocks of his father, Jesse.
A baby lying in a feeding trough where animals were kept nearby, wrapped in strips of cloths, became a sign of the Man-Savior's life on earth... The shepherds that night were possibly near Bethlehem at Migdal Eder, "the (watch) tower of the flock.) This would fulfill both the prophesies of Micah 5:2 and Micah 4:8, which say, "to you it (he) will come, your dominion (kingdom) from old will arrive." It was the lower floor of the watchtower that the birthing of the Passover lambs would take place... After the birth of the lambs, the priestly shepherds would wrap the lambs in cloth and lay them in a manger lined with soft hay to prevent them from hurting themselves, for Passover lambs must be unblemished with no bruise or broken bone. The miracle sign for these priestly shepherds would be a baby boy lying where the Passover lamb should be- in a manger, wrapped in strips of cloth. It was at the cradle of Jesus Christ that the kingdom from ancient times arrived on earth. [italics, mine]
As I read that again and again, I am  amazed at how present the Lord is in the details of His creation. There is good reason Israel is called the Holy Land; God's Word and salvation plan speak forth from the very geography itself!

I return from my trip renewed in my love of the story of Christmas and the birth of the Lamb of God, our Savior Jesus Christ. It's a good story...astonishing really!

Luke 2: 17,18: "Upon seeing this miraculous sign, the shepherds recounted what had just happened. Everyone who heard the shepherds' story was astonished by what they were told."
We hope you will consider sharing this email with friends and loved ones whom you think would benefit from the ministry of Embracing Life. This is a good way to introduce the material and we would appreciate your passing it along. Thanks!

His Grace & Peace to you,
Jonathan's Signature
Jonathan Hunter
Director, Embracing Life Ministries

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Highlights from 2017

On Saturday, July 29, 2017 we held our first, of what we hope to be many, powerful More Hope! Panel Discussion 
on breast cancer in 
Laguna Niguel  at 
Vineyard Community Church.
We wish to express our deep appreciation to the panel of women who shared their strength  and courage with us: Beth Webb, Patti Yung, Cathy Morrill and DeBorrah Carter. Also, our gratitude to the brave participants who attended and shared their stories of loss and hope. Below are two of the testimonies from the panel. 

Beth Webb

Sharing at our 
More Hope! Panel Discussion Seminar 
Beth Webb, co-author of the booklet, talks about diagnosis and treatments and the impact on her faith. 
Click on Picture

Also sharing from that day is Patti Yung, contributor, on how her identity in Christ was challenged with a breast cancer diagnosis, not one but two times.
Click on Picture
More Power!
New Booklet 
in the Works 

In May of this year, Neil and I had the privilege of facilitating a pilot group for the next book in the
MORE! Series; 
More Power!
Understanding and Experiencing the Power of the Cross
The participants were a blend of well-seasoned and new believers. All of us grew deeper in our understanding of the work accomplished on the cross by Jesus. The cross is a symbolic reminder that "Jesus Christ crucified" is at the core of the Christian faith. If the meaning of the cross is unclear or troublesome to us it loses much of its true significance and power. The intent of More Power! is to clarify and illuminate the power of the cross in the life of the believer and to others. Believers then discover their true identity in relationship with the Living God, which only comes by way of the cross of Jesus Christ.
In More Power!, through confession, forgiveness, communion, taking up our cross, and more we are actively participating in the Cross. The Cross is more to us as believers than simply knowing about it. We are meant to have God's understanding and see its purpose activated in our lives.
At the conclusion, Jeana, one of our participants, expressed to me her new understanding and the changes she experienced in the group, commenting: "...since the class the Cross means 'more'; it means forgiveness, I am forgiven... it connected the reading about what He did to the reality of what He did...the reality went from my head to my heart and that's where peace comes the discipline (of sitting with Him daily) isn't a negative anymore, it's a good thing because I KNOW I am forgiven every day!"
With such a positive response to the pilot of More Power!, we realized this should be the next book in the pipeline.  We are looking forward to publishing this "POWER"-filled book and are working to that end. Thank you to our participants and their comments about the material.

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