20 May 2013
12 May 2013
I shot this photo in November in Israel, fascinated by the 'hands full' nature of motherhood anywhere, but certainly in the middle of Tel Aviv. And today is a big day for mothers everywhere, as the universal holiday of "Mother's Day" is celebrated and at least noticed across the planet.
Not everyone's mother is still alive and in this blended-family world not everyone even knows their birth or adopted mother. Some have two mothers. Some have none. I get that.
The Jewish religion after the time of Messiah Jesus has made the lineage of the child, the actual genealogical tribal linkage, to be maternal, that is, from the mother. So if your mother is Jewish, then you are. That's what they taught me in synagogue, although both of my parents were Jewish, so my lineage was never in doubt.
I don't think that's the way it was in Judaism before Jesus, but that's the general rule today.
At least that way Jesus was Jewish. His mother was. His grandparents were Jewish. All his original followers were Jewish. OK< that's sorted.
A strange phrase is found in the Newer Testament which you might have missed before. Galatians chapter 4 records, "But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother." (verse 26)
Wow, the community of faith, made up of Jews and non-Jews, who love the Risen Messiah Y'shua, this together is the mother of us all. Source of nourishment, and comfort, provision and love...all in the community of faith.
See you this morning at church.
See you in heavenly Jerusalem.
See you with Mom.
She knows what to do.
10 May 2013
That makes sense to me. A Jewish event, begun in the days of Moses, about 1500 BCE, takes on universal significance as the Ruach Hakodesh falls on 120 Jews in an upper room in Jerusalem a few weeks after the death of Y'shua, the Messiah. As a result, about 3,000 Jewish people find eternal life in repenting and receiving Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.
And the message spread from one country to another, from one language group to another. Even Swiss and Hungarian folks. And American Jews like me. Sweet.
The anointing of the Holy Spirit fell on Y'shua as a dove, but on us, who are not so clean, He fell as flames of fire, to cleanse us. And those flames carry us on in passion and zeal to proclaim His majesty and love.
Next week we will celebrate Shavuot (Pentecost) in both Jewish and Christian communities. Some will eat blintzes and stay up all night, reading the book of Ruth and learning from holy books. Others will rejoice that God has gifted them to speak in tongues and proclaim His message to the world.
No matter what, it's a great time to remember God, who preserved us in the wilderness, and who gave us His Word (Torah) 3,500 years ago. And by His Spirit He plants His word in our hearts in these days. Tablets of flesh vs tablets of stone. I like that.
06 May 2013
We Jewish people are part of God's family. It started with Abraham, the first Jew, back about 2,000 BCE. He was called the 'friend of God' and walked with the Almighty. His son Isaac, not his servant Eliezer, would be the one who continued the godly line, later titled "The Jewish people." The people are family-based. No wonder we care to keep family and family relationships so close to our hearts.
Last week, my neighbor and her daughter were outside and the daughter, about 9 years old, was playing in the mud. In fact, the other neighbors had their sprinkler system going and Alicia found the water/mud-making-machine too tempting. She kept putting her feet in and coming out with laughter and glee as her feet were mudified.
Imagine with me, if her mother were upstairs, cooking dinner at the time. And the mother was busy with so many things, had cleaned the house earlier that day, and was on to final preparations for the dinner in only 10 more minutes.
So she calls, "Alicia. Time for dinner." And Alicia comes running up the steps, only to be met by her mother at the door, with a look of refusal. Her palms facing her daughter and the Russian word for "Not now" coming out her lips.
"What!" moaned the indignant child. "I belong here. This is my home. You called me, and now I want to come inside."
"Nope, not until you clean those dirty feet."
"But I belong. I'm a member of the family. You cannot prevent me!" as Alicia tries to turn sideways and enter by CIA-sneakiness.
The scene did not happen, but I was imagining it. I wondered if Alicia's mother would cave to the pressure. What if she had just mopped and waxed the floor? What if the new white berber carpet was recently shampooed? Would Alicia still have been welcomed or prevented?
I hear this often from my Jewish mates. God loves us Jews, and we are part of his family. So when I die, of course, I'll go to heaven, if there is one. But I wonder if God isn't like the mother with the tidy floors and we are more like the muddied Alicia than we care to admit.
No wonder we read in Leviticus 10.10 and again in 11.47 ("to make a distinction between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean"). Ritual purity was significant in Torah and included spitting and leprosy, touching dead animals and so many other things. The list was not comprehensive, but indicated how seriously God takes impurity. Like Alicia's mother.
Job felt the weight of God's judgment and cried, "Who can make the clean out of the unclean? No one!" (14.4)
Our heart deceives us too often. Jeremiah the prophet said so (17.7), and the Proverbs teaches, "All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives." (16.2)
But King David got it right, when caught out in sin, and repenting, he declared, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (Psalm 51.10)
The answer is in being born again. Ezekiel the prophet declared, "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols." (36.10)
Y'shua made it clear that there is an order to tidying which works. "first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also" (Matthew 23.26)
Being born again, trusting Y'shua as Saviour and Lord of your life, that's faith, and that belief will take you into cleansing which works on your heart, so that you can be welcomed into the heavenly moment of eternity.
Then your part in the family will be unquestioned. And your welcome into the community room of faith will ever be extended.
Hebrews 10.22 finishes this thought very well: "Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."
Welcome home. "Come on in!"
04 April 2013
By Bob Mendelsohn
Given at Greenlane Christian Centre
Auckland, New Zealand
4 April 2013
As a missionary among the Jewish people for 34 years I’m keen to make sense of the Bible and sense of the messianic hope found in Y’shua for all people, both to the Jewish people and for all churches. So today as I lead us in some biblical consideration, I hope you will find meaning and relationship with the Almighty, who ever-is, and ever-was, and ever-will be. May the Eternal One give you revelation as we hear this message.
Let me ask you anytime during this talk to fill out that involvement card you received as you came in, and you can be involved with us down the proverbial road.
Reporting time sheets
Asking a pastor to fill out reports seems a funny thing for religious people. After all, taking what looks like something from school or the business sector and imposing it into a religious worldview seems odd. Ask your rabbi or pastor to account for his work time with a clock in/ clock out timesheet—unusual, right? Or ask him “How many visits with congregants did you conduct?” or “How many funerals did you lead last week?” seems almost morose or odd anyway.
But in 2013, in many arenas of life, we want bang for our buck, we want good value from our investments, and as such we often think in these terms from those whom we hire to lead us.
Does he perform enough to warrant his salary? And why do these guys get so many days off?
The converse is there, isn’t it? “Why should I donate to the synagogue? Why should I give that no-good, lazy rabbi money to do what anyone else could do given his especially easy time constraints?” Or we think that the rabbi or pastor at the church only works one day a week, and they should find other employment if they want more remuneration. Most of you, to be fair, don’t think that way, but some in the world do just that.
Last week of course, was Passover. We celebrated in Sydney together, you somewhere else, and I’m glad we were able to remember the blessed season celebrating the Redemption God provided us in our exiting Egypt some 3,500 years ago.
Four cups of wine
In the Seder on first night, we drank four cups of wine. And the tradition about that revolves around four verbs in the book of Sh’mot (Exodus chapter 6). God will 1) bring us out, 2) deliver us, 3) redeem us, and 4) bring us to the Land of Israel. Celebrating God’s actions in the time of Moses makes sense.
But in 2013, many people think God is less involved, not concerned about us, not concerned about the planet. They think that if there is a God, that he is incompetent or without interest in the messes on our planet. They almost demand to see His timesheet, and ask to see His log of activity in these days. Or as the moderns say, “What have you done for me lately?”
In light of this, let me read from the Bible, in this Passover section, and see if it has anything to say to us as 21st century people.
Let’s read that section in Exodus 6, where those verbs are found, and I want to show you what ELSE God did. “Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the LORD and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. ‘Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the LORD.” (Exodus 6.6-8)
Looks like God did a lot more than those four drinking verbs.
Other verbs of God’s actions
Verse 6 begins with a “therefore.”When you see a therefore, see what it’s there for, let’s look at chapter 6.1-5 to see the context.
“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand (under compulsion) he will let them go, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.” God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty (El Shaddai) but by My name, LORD, (Yahweh) I did not make Myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojourn in which they sojourned. Furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered my covenant.” (Exodus 6.1-5)
Look how active God is in this chapter. And honestly if you can, look in the rest of the Bible, and you will see a God who although you might think Him distant, uninterested, and busy, He is very involved in His people’s lives and concerns. Listen to these verbs:
Verse 1: I will do
Verse 3: I appeared
Verse 4: I established covenant
Verse 5: I heard and finally…
I remembered my covenant
There is not a time in our relationship with the Almighty where He is uninvolved. He listens. He watches. He acts. He accomplishes. Look at the Passover verbs in Exodus 6 and see the brackets that frame His other active verbs. Verse 6 says “I am the Lord” and verse 8 says “I am the Lord.” In fact 164 times in the Tenach we read that phrase. There by the way, is no verb in that sentence. It’s God who is Being. It’s God who is always. He was. He is. He will be. There is not a time when God wasn’t and there will never be a time when God isn’t. The God who was, is. The God who is, was and will be. Get it? The Hebrew word “Yahweh” has in it all three tenses of the verb “to be.” No wonder some call Him “The Eternal God.”
And it’s because God is, that we can look to Him. He is always on the clock. He is ever working.
But you say, I didn’t find Him when my dad died. My sister had cancer and I asked Him to help and He didn’t. He didn’t fix my situations. He didn’t resolve things as I wished.
This may be a tough one for you to hear, but God is not your servant. God has His own agenda, His own will, His own purposes, and those will be fulfilled.
Isa. 14.27 reads, “For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?” There’s that Exodus phrase of the Yad Netuya, the outstretched hand of God reaching to do what He wills. Nothing can stop it. Not even you. Not even your prayers or plans. He will do what He wills.
Most of us have problem with God when He waits too long. We expect His participation; we demand it. Then He seems silent, even aloof, and a father who has gone walkabout, and we are unhappy. Where is the God with outstretched arm and mighty hand?
This is a common criticism of those agnostics and atheists who knock back our beliefs. They say if God does exist and if He really is powerful, then He must not care about us, because so much evil happens in this dark world. Their argument is that if God does exist and SINCE HE DOES NOT ACT, then he must be impotent or not exist at all.
Their problem is the same as ours, when we don’t really process this well. We don’t see the God behind the actions. We don’t see God because we are too focused on ourselves and our situations. What is God up to anyway? And how shall we respond?
What God is up to? He created the world. He evicted our First Parents after instructing them clearly and they failed. He initiated a method of Redemption, which allows us to get back into relationship with Him, through the blood of lambs back in the Exodus and through the Blood of the Lamb of God in Jerusalem some 1500 years later. All of these things are designed for one reason: God is about the business of making His name and reputation big. And anything that gets in the way of that has to be removed. He wants His glory to be known. One of my favorite authors and thinkers is American John Piper. Piper’s most famous quote is “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” So the author was asked, “What is God's glory? ‘ He answered,
“Wow. That's a good question, because we talk about it endlessly, don't we? And we should know what we're talking about. And yet it is very difficult to define. I'll make a stab at it.
The reason it is so important is because in the Bible I don't know of any truth that is more fundamentally pervasive than God's zeal to be glorified, which means his zeal for us so to think, so to feel, and so to act as to make him look as glorious as he is. We don't add to his glory.
So we want to make God's glory shine. We want to make it visible. "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). So the goal of my life should be to so live that when people know me well enough, they would say, "God is glorious!" Not "John is glorious," but "God is glorious!”
What is it? I believe the glory of God is the going public of his infinite worth. I define the holiness of God as the infinite value of God, the infinite intrinsic worth of God. And when that goes public in creation, the heavens are telling the glory of God, and human beings are manifesting his glory, because we're created in his image, and we trust his promises so that we make him look gloriously trustworthy.
The public display of the infinite beauty and worth of God is what I mean by 'glory,' " (End of quote)
Friends in Auckland, God is glorified in us when we are satisfied in Him, Piper says, and that means when you are resting in His capacity and in His accomplishments.
King David and King Solomon wrote a lot about satisfaction. Solomon said it this negative way in Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied.” (Prov. 27.20) A longing, and a compulsion, and never satisfied. How unhappy are all those who ever hunger and never eat. And again in “The leech has two daughters, “Give,” “Give.” There are three things that will not be satisfied, Four that will not say, “Enough”: Sheol, and the barren womb, Earth that is never satisfied with water, and fire that never says, “Enough.” (Prov. 30.15-16) There is a craving and it is unyielding. Always wanting more.
In his day, John D. Rockefeller was one of the richest men in the world. For all practical purposes, his money was virtually limitless, a sort of Bill Gates in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Once, an interviewer asked him, “How much money is enough?”
Rockefeller replied, “Just a little bit more!”
King David had already given us the comfort of what is titled satisfaction but is really the more biblical idea of contentment with these words, “How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You To dwell in Your courts. We will be satisfied with the goodness of your house, your holy temple.” (Psa. 65.4) And again “My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.” (Psa. 63.5) But my favorite is the comment in Psalm 17: “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied when I awake with your likeness.” (Psa. 17.15)
We shall be satisfied when we wake up and look like Messiah. Anything less than that is …less than that. We long to change; we long to have a new life. We are not going to be smug about how far we’ve come. Contentment is another thing. We should be content with our lot in life, with our God, and with our lives, as He has assigned us. But satisfied? Only when we get to be complete. The problem comes when we take what we have as enough, as Hosea the prophet warned, “As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, and being satisfied, their heart became proud; therefore they forgot Me.” (Hos. 13.6)
End of the day, the goal of God in our lives is to love Him and love others with whole hearts. And the only way that’s going to happen is if we remember God, the God who acts and never fails.
His greatest act of all was 2,000 years ago. It was then that God sent His son to earth, and Y’shua lived, taught, died, was buried and rose again, to give us eternal life. No greater love has anyone than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
King David’s words in Psalm 65 are still ringing in my ears, ““How blessed is the one whom you choose and bring near to you to dwell in your courts. We will be satisfied with the goodness of your house,”
How did David do this? He saw God as ever-being. He was struck by the Presence of God, in Hebrew, the panim Adonai (the face of the Lord), and he remembered the Almighty.
We do it today in gatherings like here at Greenlane tonight. We remember the Lord. We do it in Passover like we did last night, or last week, in Seders worldwide, in remembering what God did. We read it in the Bible; we hear it sung and watch the movies of God’s actions in history and we rejoice. And we are content. We are never satisfied because we know we are not done. Not yet. But we will be. We remember in communion, proclaiming the Lord’s death until He comes back.
And we will be, because He ever is. Because of God’s presence and because of His promises, we will be changed into His likeness and we will be like Him one day. Hallelujah!
And the goal of our gathering tonight, is to continue to live for His glory, to bring others to that glory, and to make the world a more glorious place.
Maybe that’s why I do what I do for a living, in sharing the good news of Messiah Y’shua with our Jewish people. The ever-Is God has come to us, and we must hear, we must believe, we must live in the name of Y’shua, the Eternal one.
If you are a believer in Y’shua, you are here and I need you to join me in evangelism. That is, in bringing the good message of messiah to our Jewish people, by giving financially and by praying with us. If you are not yet a believer, I hope you will fill out this card and extend to us the privilege to speak to you again.
Everyone fill out this card and sent it to us using this email Bob email Please pray for us in Sydney and New York, in Israel and South Africa. All around the globe, to make a difference in the lives and hopes of Jewish people. They will be satisfied when they wake up in the likeness, the image of the Son of God. That’s our hope, amen? That’s our work, amen? It’s His presence, which brings this all about.
God took on flesh, emptied Himself, and died for our sins. His presence in Y’shua was enough. It is still enough. And our rejoicing is being in His presence which gives us eternity, today and when He comes, and into the ages of the ages.
01 April 2013
Winding down the road from Melbourne's eastern suburbs through the Dandenongs on Saturday, we stopped in Sassafras for some lunch and old stuff shopping. It was great.
I was reminded as we wove our way through the forest of Ferntree Gully about my love for the Heidelberg school of artists from Australia. These folks were trained in Impressionism about the same time (late 19th century) and included men like Charles Conder, Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton. I have always found their paintings fresh, and frontier, with natural beauty and perhaps a single horsemen or a lonely bush scene. See HJ Johnstone's Backwater of the Murray or Condor's 'Holiday in Mentone' ( Mentone) both are in Adelaide Art Gallery.
But when I drove through this area of the country, I flashed on Eugene Von Guerard's painting of the same name: See it here: Ferntree Gully I did not take that photo.
But I did see the beauty that Von Guerard did, and this was over 120 years later! What God has made is awesome. I'm pleased to be able to see His handiwork and give Him thanks. I recommend you do the same. Even today. With a big building next to you or wrapped around you. Or if you are in hospital or on the beach.
Wherever you are, give thanks to God. He is worthy!
22 March 2013
Yesterday I was driving with my neighbour on an errand to inner city Sydney. Out of the blue she quoted this Bible idea that if you don't ask, you won't receive. Biblical formation aside, it was fascinating to hear her share this bit of truth as we rode along. She has made it in an industry (hair salon) where the competition is fierce and she is only a young woman. I'm pleased to count her a friend, and proud of her at the same time.
Still the quote, from Y'shua, "ask and you shall receive" is ringing in my ears today. And, if we don't ask, we won't receive. That's so obvious, isn't it? God wants us to ask Him for blessings, for help, for life considerations. And like a good father, He loves to pour out such on us.
So, the question is begged, why don't all our askings result in such benefits? James, the half-brother of Y'shua, asked that same question in the First Century. First his concern was for wisdom. I told a Jewish woman last week in Wichita, a lovely lady I met at a Bat Mitzvah, that Hashem would send her wisdom if she asked.
James said this, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." (Chapter 1.5-8)
OK< a bit of a caveat is there.
But that's not all he says on the matter. Later on in his very short letter, James says, "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures." (chapter 4.1-3)
So asking is not the only consideration, is it? BUT that said, without asking you won't receive. So ask God today. Ask Him to help you in your life. Ask Him for wisdom. Ask Him for help in your circumstances, your family, your hopes and dreams. And be honest about your heart. Lay it before God also, with all your demands and expectations. Let Him change you from the inside. He loves you and wants you to share in that life with Him today.
Nu? Ask already.