23 October 2014

Terrorism: How shall we respond?

We awoke this morning to the news of another apparently terrorist attack in Ottawa, Canada, near the Parliament House and War Memorial. That follows the news from this week of the 17-year-old Bankstown native (pictured) who joined ISIS and is their new poster boy in a unison mob of hostility against all things Western. Forget grease--terrorism is the word.

And it’s a new word in terms of the dictionary, but not in terms of history. Throughout the ages, people have tried to traumatize their enemies and make them cringe at their sight or even the possibility of encounter.

Last night at our OneNewMan gathering in Sydney, we discussed terrorism and how we should respond and how we should live without fear. Or is that possible?

Here were some highlights:
1)   Behind this terrorist attack lurks the one described in the Bible as "the Evil One"—Hasatan, (Satan), the one whose ministry is to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10.10) The devil and the hosts of hell are ultimately behind all terrorist attacks. Paul wrote, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6.12) and "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God for the tearing down of strongholds...raised up against the knowledge of God." (2 Corinthians 10.4) Therefore we ought to be people of prayer.
2)   Paul the apostle said this:  “in no way alarmed (terrorized) by your opponents — which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.” (Philippians 1.28) In other words, our not being terrified is a sign of our enemies' destruction or non-salvation.  God's calm in our lives is evidence of our salvation and evidence of their perdition.
3)   King David said in the psalms: “From the end of the earth I call to Thee, when my heart is faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For Thou hast been a refuge for me, a tower of strength against the enemy. Let me dwell in Thy tent forever; let me take refuge in the shelter of Thy wings." (Psalm 61:2-4) So for the believer, when terror comes, our first port-of-call needs to be the shelter of the Almighty and run to Him. Solomon said the same with “The name of the Lord is like a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe.” (Proverbs 19.10) We pray, we hide, we eavesdrop on the plans and words of God. We turn to the Scripture for assurance and life abundant.
4)   “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.” (Psalm 46.1-3). Thus, no matter what troubles there are, in natural circumstances like tsunamis or earthquakes, or whatever the terrorists throw at us, we draw close to God, who is very present and the help in time of all trouble.
5)   Faith is the real and foremost response of a believer. We trust God. That doesn’t mean we will not experience pain or beheading or ebola or other assaults. (‘in time of trouble.’) What it does mean is that no matter what we experience, that God Himself is the One whom we approach and from whom we draw great comfort, no matter what. Mark 11.22 says, “Have faith in God.” Yeshua said, “You believe in God; believe also in me.” (John 14.1) The writer of Hebrews said, “without faith it’s impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11.6)

22 October 2014

Enjoying the moment

I suppose it's a carpe diem thought. It's about living the moment, not capturing it on a video on my phone. I watched this video video and hope you spend 3+ minutes to watch, to listen, to consider, and to be impacted by the movie by Prince Ea, whoever he is.

Then you have to process it, and process how much time, literally you consume or are consumed by what he call (anti-)social networks. I applaud the reality of Facebook and the chance to reconnect in person with real people since I joined back years ago. I found Marva, the lady who prayed with me to receive Yeshua as Lord. I found many members of my high school graduation class and as a result have attended in person the 40th and 45th reunions. I am able to see my kids and grandson and what they (want me to know they)  are doing. And I'm ok with that. It's like a letter but with pictures and comments. And speed.

Did you watch the video yet? Click video

But I understand what the rapper is saying in the video. I am often distracted from real life by having a virtual one. I often say, "If you have a real life, you don't need a virtual one." Apparently I forget that too often and am very grateful for this reminder. And thanks to Laura Barron, my Canadian friend, who posted this on FB so I could be reminded. And so I could write this. And so I could get back to the office or the book I'm reading (too slowly) and make a couple phone calls and ready for the meeting tonight. Real life awaits.

I'm sure my thoughts will continue to swirl on this matter.

Hopefully yours are as well.

Did you watch the video yet? Click video

06 October 2014

Bible Quiz ANSWERS Quiz 2

Bible Quiz #2
By Bob Mendelsohn
October 2014

1)   What is the name of the Egyptian leader in the Bible?  Pharaoh
2)   In the NT, God told Paul that he was to “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at ___Jerusalem_____, so you must witness at __Rome_____ also.”
3)   What was Moses’ mother’s name? Yocheved
4)   Name four of the 7 churches in Revelation.  Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea
5)   Which Gospel includes women in the genealogy of Yeshua?  Matthew
6)   What was Amos’ profession before he was a prophet?  Shepherd
7)   What is ‘good medicine’ (Proverbs 17)? Merry (cheerful) heart
8)   Rather than Nineveh as he was told, where did Jonah (try to)go? Tarshish
9)   Who was the father of Gershon, Kohath and Merari?  Levi
10)                  How many priests went into the Holy of Holies each year on Yom Kippur? 1 (Leviticus 16)
11)                  During the seven-year cycle, which is the ‘year of the tithe?’  3rd  (Deut. 26.12)
12)                  In what city was Saul confirmed as king?  Gilgal
13)                  How many kings ruled over undivided Israel?   3 (Saul, David, Solomon)
14)                  Name Saul’s most famous grandson.   Mephibosheth
15)                  Which prophet was Jesus quoting when he spoke of a ‘mother in law being against daughter-in-law’ and a ‘man’s enemies being of his own household?’ For son treats father contemptuously, Daughter rises up against her mother, Daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; A man’s enemies are the men of his own household. (Mic. 7.6)
16)                  What casts out fear? Perfect love  (1 John 4.18)
17)                  How old was Aaron was he began as Israel’s first high priest? 83
18)                  The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but three things in the Holy Spirit…what are they? Righteousness, peace, joy (Romans 14.17)
19)                  Name the two sons of Lot with his daughters.  Ammon, Moab
20)                  What body part is ‘lovely’ of those who bring good news to others?  Feet (Isaiah 52.7)
21)                  Which leader said, “What is truth?” Pontius Pilate (John 18.38)
22)                  How many ‘nations’ were in the land of Canaan when the Jewish people exited Egypt and were told to go in and possess it? 7 “When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations--the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you.” (Deut. 7.1)
23)                  Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will remember what? The name of the Lord our God (Psalm 20.7)
24)                  Who is known as the Counselor in the NT?  Either God ( Romans 11.34  ) or the Holy Spirit “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Counselor), that He may be with you forever.” (John 14.16-17)
25)                   Which king of the Philistines saw Isaac with his wife Rebekah? Abimelech (Genesis 26.8)

04 October 2014

Bible Quiz 2 (October 2014)

Such good response to my last quiz, I thought I'd write a new one, so here you go. See how you do. Remember 4 points each.

Bible Quiz #2
By Bob Mendelsohn
October 2014

1)   What is the name of the Egyptian leader in the Bible?
2)   In the NT, God told Paul that he was to “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at ________, so you must witness at _______ also.”
3)   What was Moses’ mother’s name?
4)   Name four of the 7 churches in Revelation.
5)   Which Gospel includes women in the genealogy of Yeshua?
6)   What was Amos’ profession before he was a prophet?
7)   What is ‘good medicine’ (Proverbs 17)?
8)   Rather than Nineveh as he was told, where did Jonah (try to)go?
9)   Who was the father of Gershon, Kohath and Merari?
10)                  How many priests went into the Holy of Holies each year on Yom Kippur?
11)                  During the seven-year cycle, which is the ‘year of the tithe?’
12)                  In what city was Saul confirmed as king?
13)                  How many kings ruled over undivided Israel?
14)                  Name Saul’s most famous grandson.
15)                  Which prophet was Jesus quoting when he spoke of a ‘mother in law being against daughter-in-law’ and a ‘man’s enemies being of his own household?’
16)                  What casts out fear?
17)                  How old was Aaron was he began as Israel’s first high priest?
18)                  The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but three things in the Holy Spirit…what are they?
19)                  Name the two sons of Lot with his daughters.
20)                  What body part is ‘lovely’ of those who bring good news to others?
21)                  Which leader said, “What is truth?”
22)                  How many ‘nations’ were in the land of Canaan when the Jewish people exited Egypt and were told to go in and possess it?
23)                  Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will remember what?
24)                  Who is known as the Counselor in the NT?
25)                  Which king of the Philistines saw Isaac with his wife Rebekah?

27 September 2014

KC Royals, 1985, and history

In the US, there are four major leagues in sport: baseball, football (sorry, that's gridiron), basketball and (ice) hockey. The longest streak of losing has just terminated. The team which had not made its way into the finals' (playoffs) series in 29 years just became a contender today. By beating the Chicago White Sox 3-1, the Kansas City Royals earned a playoff spot for the first time since 1985.

To put that in perspective, this is what happened in 1986..
 1) Duran Duran begin their career as a three piece with the release of "Notorious"
 2) John Farnham released the album "Whispering Jack", which becomes the highest selling album in Australia’s history, featuring the single from the previous year, "You're the Voice".
3) The Beastie Boys release their first studio album 'Licensed To Ill', which goes onto become the first Hip Hop album to reach number one in the U.S.A. It eventually goes onto become one of the most influential and important Hip Hop albums of all time.
4) The Goo Goo Dolls formed.
 5) NYC transit fare rose from 90 cents to $1.00
6) Last day in Test cricket for Bob Holland
7) Spain recognized Israel
8) 25th Space Shuttle (51L)-Challenger 10 exploded 73 seconds after liftoff
9) Chunnel announced (railroad tunnel under Canal)
10) Martina Navratilova is 1st tennis player to earn $10 million
11) Geffen records signs Guns & Roses
12) World oil prices dip below $10 a barrel
13) 4 US passengers killed by bomb at TWA counter Athens Airport Greece
14) South African Pres P W Botha sent Coetsee to visit Mandela
15) Barry Bonds made his MLB debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates
16) Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia release from hospital after 3 week coma
17) Madonna's "True Blue" album went #1 for 5 weeks
18) John Tesh's 1st appearance on Entertainment Tonight
19) A's Mark McGwire hit his 1st major league home run and
20) The 'Oprah Winfrey Show' was first broadcast nationally.

That's a lot of history of people who have been long settled into our minds for at least 3 decades. So when the Royals won today and lodged their place in baseball's post-season, a lot of things had to change, most specifically in Kansas City. Tickets will have to be printed for games played there. Sports and newscasters will be working up story after story to lodge about this player or that season or this event. They will have increased work. And the town will be celebrating, not only tonight, but long into October.

Then the team will meet up with other contenders and eventually either win it all in the World Series, or be sent home without final triumph. Only one team will win; it might be the Royals. They certainly have the talent and the drive to win. But so do many other teams. We'll see.

I make no other point other than to say 'congratulations' to my team. I've had Royals gear in my closet and worn the clothes since they began in 1969 with Joe Foy and Lou Piniella, Dick Howser and company. I rode their train in the mid-80s when they beat the St Louis Cardinals in the I-70 series. I was sad for them in the loss in Philly in 1980 with Tug McGraw et. al. and I'm still on their side today. Regional loyalty, you know? Go Royals!

26 September 2014

Reunions and Rosh Hashanah: Appointments

I had never attended a reunion of my high school until the 40th which took place in 2009. Many people seemed to know each other; I'd been gone so long. Would anyone remember me? Of course, I'm a fairly social creature, evidenced in continual internet blogs and photo journal on Flickr and Facebook, twitter and such. But those are merely evidence of who I am in person as well. I rather enjoy being with people and meeting new folks and keeping up with former friends.

So it seemed natural to want to gather with the people from 40 years ago. I was not disappointed. And the great thing about being so many decades away from high school was that most of the memories from then were foggy at best. That means that people didn't remember what they wrote about me in my yearbook, or that they didn't even remember if we took a class together at all. Excellent! As a result of attending, I found some 'new' friendships or renewed ones, and have kept those going for the last five years.

Then when our 45th was announced a year or so ago, I was happy to go along, even though it's 9,000 miles away. Many said, "You win the prize for coming the furthest.' That's always a nice feature of living in Australia. But when I queried, "What is the prize?" no one seemed to have anything in mind. Maybe on the 50th, I'll ask for one to be made. Watch, that year, someone will come from further.

So what is it about reunions that either make people want to attend or to have no interest? What is it about remembering or reuning or ... that makes us withdraw or convene? This is a sociological question to be sure. And that's the point of this blog. I really would like some answers. And maybe you have been pondering that one as well.

Of course, personality types pop up immediately into the conversation. ESFP (The performer)or ESTP (The dynamo) ENFP (the champion) INFJ (the counselor) come to mind. And there are others, too.

One of my favorite personality descriptions is not from Myers-Briggs (as above), but by Gary Smalley and John Trent, both psychologists in the US. They wrote about this back in the early 1990s in their book The Blessing. Here's a quick overview Blessing   I can see each person at the reunions.The otter (backslapper) and the golden retriever (who sits with one or two people all night) carry on differently, but they carry on and attend. What is it that prevents some people from attending?

I spoke with two of my mates in KC, both of whom are very personable and affable. Neither has any interest in joining in. One said, "I've lived in KC the whole time since we left school, and I have no relationship with any of those people. Maybe if X came or Y came, I would go, but really no one there would know me." I told him that's a great advantage. They won't remember what they don't or didn't like about you, but he didn't hear that. The other man said he would try to attend, but didn't make it. It certainly was not on his priority list. Both of these men are single. Both have had relationships in the past, but are alone now.

 I'm hoping to get a big response from people on this one. 

What causes you to want to attend? What causes you to want to stay away? What do you think about those who do?

I'm writing this blog on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. Surprisingly, it's never called that in the Bible. In Torah, the 5th of 7 Jewish appointments with the Almighty is entitled, "Day of Blowing of shofars." In Hebrew Yom Teruah. By custom and convention it has taken on different meanings than what was defined in the book of Leviticus. The new year is actually supposed to be in Northern springtime, just before Passover. Most people call these Jewish 'festivals' or 'feasts.' And many of the holidays certainly fit that category. But Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) doesn't seem festive at all. The biblical term is 'mo'ed' and really means 'appointment.' It's a time of reunion with the Lord and with His people. It's an expectation from the mandate in Scripture for us to convene. Not that we are to convene with each other, but to gather to Him.

Most imagine that to mean 'attend synagogue' but it doesn't always imply that. The issue though for me is that whatever it is that draws some people to attend reunions probably also draws some people to synagogue (or church for that matter).

Someone should write a survey, and maybe I'll do that, but I'm hoping that many of my old classmates will weigh in on this and their answers will help us write a survey which might actually help us draw even more people to our 50th. We only have 5 years to plan that one. What do you think? Why did you go? Why would you never go? What is it about reunions which are compelling or offputting? Can you sort it out just now for us? Will you? Thanks!

25 September 2014

What's new in the new year: A study in newness and trumpets

By Bob Mendelsohn
Given in Bondi Junction, Sydney
1 Tishri 5775 (26 September 2014)

For the audio mp3, click here

L’shana tova to each of you gathered here today in Bondi Junction as we share together in the feast of trumpets, the blowing of the shofars and the consideration of things new.
When I was a kid, we started the school year about now, so we had new clothing or at least one item which was new, and certainly some new #2 pencils and a new notepad or such. By the way notepad was a stack of papers stitched together, nothing electronic.
So I went to synagogue and it felt new, even though I had been going the entire year before, there was a ‘new beginning’ feel to the whole experience. At least for awhile. Then the sameness crept in and I began remembering why I found it a bit of a drudgery.
Now here I am 5 decades on and wondering if you have something similar going on. You might be thinking, ‘Wait, I already sang that song last year,’ or ‘Two years ago I prayed that same prayer’ or ‘When do we get to the lunch already?’
But if you will allow me, I believe Rosh Hashanah is the time in our calendar when we hope to find answers to life’s bigger questions. The questions of forgiveness and repair, of a world gone mad and gone bad, and we wonder at times aloud, and more often under our breath, if God even cares about our situations and if He can see us and see to us in 2014 or 5775. It’s a Jewish question. It’s a universal question.
We wonder if God notices the killings and beheadings. We wonder if God watches the news as much as we do with horrors in Syria and Iraq. And we worry that which is overseas and came to us one week ago in a major raid by federal police on soon-to-be terrorists might cause God to notice.
Beyond the governmental difficulties, we wonder if we will find a new or better job this year. Will we find satisfaction in relationships? There are concerns to sort out in the difficulties of life with others, with whom we are not reconciled or finding a place to live which we can actually afford.
Life gives us questions and not many answers, and then when the answers do come, they don’t seem to satisfy, so we long for something restful, something conclusive, something that will long matter into the long night.
That’s the hopelessness of the king in Ecclesiastes. Those words we read are painful to read. “All things are wearisome; Man is not able to tell it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing.”
Into that situation, Yeshua does speak, and His words found in Matthew chapter 11 ring loudly today and every day.
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”(Matthew 11.28-30)
Here we see Yeshua teaching us that if we want conclusion, or rest, or satisfaction, we won’t find it in buying the latest iTunes Lady Gaga hit or by joining the club at the RSL. We won’t find it by purchasing the best outfit in the Fashion Festival or if our footy side wins this weekend (Go the Swans).
The activities of God and the plans of God bring conclusions; everything else brings more questions.
I speak often with people who want to philosophize, some who actually work in that field at uni. Last night over dinner, I was speaking with a long-time friend about the considerations of life. He asked, “Why do people kill each other?” The context was Iraq and ISIS. We spoke about ideology and money. It seems as though many people who don’t have much money think that money is the answer to their woes. To be fair, if you have more money, you are able to purchase more answers to life, in a courtroom or in a doctor’s surgery, or in a restaurant queue. However, money, when you have plenty doesn’t actually satisfy the longing of a soul. They talk about people who win the lottery here and there who still are unhappy and eventually divorce their mate. Some of the richest people in the world are the ones who live in depression. We don’t have to look further than Hollywood celebrities who are found in hotel rooms, having committed suicide and yet they had all the popularity and the wealth that people without, so often long.  
King Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes and he wrote on this particularly: “a man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor so that his soul lacks nothing of all that he desires; yet God has not empowered him to eat from them, for a foreigner enjoys them. This is vanity and a severe affliction.” (Eccl. 6.2) Earlier in Proverbs Solomon wrote something equally frustrating about gaining wealth, “Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, Cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. for wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.” (Prov 23.4-5)
So it’s not really money that flies away, but the satisfaction that we think will come when we gain it all.
My friend and I last night decided that money didn’t satisfy. He gave me an example of a mafia don who lives in Sicily and who has millions, and probably billions of dollars, but who lives like a peasant. He’s over 70 years old and rakes his own leaves. He is seeking to find meaning in life, and cannot find it – not with power that he wields and not in money… The powerful man is lonely though he can have any woman and any junior respond to him in any way. The answer he seeks is not found in power or fame or riches. He’s looking for something new, and maybe you are as well. The don is looking for peace. Where might it really be?
We spoke about ISIS and they have plenty of money, but they are seeking satisfaction in conquest, and in making the world an Islamic state. You know they will not be satisfied with Syria and Iraq. They want to dominate worldwide. But that ideology is long shown as dead and their methods of conquest are so savage that even the most ardent Muslim would have a hard time agreeing with their tactics and methodology in the 21st Century. Ideology will not bring us closer to our peace we seek. Where is that to be found?
The answer might be as close as our shofar and the blasts we heard today.
The major symbol of Rosh Hashana is more than just a primitive trumpet. During the blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashana, notice there are three distinct sounds:
1.              Tekiah ― one long, straight blast
2.              Shevarim ― three medium, wailing sounds
3.              Teruah ― 9 quick blasts in short succession
I borrow some from a meditation from Rabbi Shraga Simmons of Aish and from Rabbi Paul Sall of Congregation Shuvah Yisrael, Bloomfield, Connecticut, a messianic rabbi. Simmons says,
The Tekiah Sound
“Rosh Hashana is the day of appreciating who God is. God is all-powerful, the Creator, the Supervisor. In short, God is King of the Universe.
But for many of us, the idea of a "king" conjures up images of a greedy and power-hungry despot who wants to subjugate the masses for his selfish aims.
In Jewish tradition, a king is first and foremost a servant of the people. His only concern is that the people live in happiness and harmony. His decrees and laws are only for the good of the people, not for himself. (see Maimonides, Laws of Kings 2:6)
The object of Rosh Hashana is to crown God as our King. Tekiah ― the long, straight shofar blast ― is the sound of the King's coronation.”
In the Garden of Eden, the rabbis teach that Adam's first act was to proclaim God as King. We eat a round challah today to remind ourselves of the crowning of the king as well.
Rabbi Sall a US messianic rabbi, says, “ The tekia reminds us that when we remember that the Holy One who himself laid out the heavens and the earth is sovereign over creation, we can be kept from idolatry, fear, and self-centeredness. The awareness that he sits upon the throne of the world means that we don’t have to bear the weight of that world on our own shoulders. “
Maimonides adds one important qualification: It isn't enough that God is MY King alone. If ALL humanity doesn't recognize God as King, then there is something lacking in my own relationship with God. Part of my love for the Almighty is to help guide all people to an appreciation of Him. Of course this is largely an expression of my deep caring for others. But it also affects my own sense of God's all-encompassing Kingship.
In other words, a selfish man hears the shofar and says, in a post-Enlightenment fashion, “I’m related to God the Creator.” But a biblical person always wants to bring others along to hear the shofar, to meet the Almighty, to know God. Evangelism then is a very Jewish concept and a proper response to knowing who God is and being under His lordship.
The Shevarim Sound
Rabbi Simmons says of the shevarim: When we think about the year gone by, we know deep down that we've failed to live up to our full potential. In the coming year, we yearn not to waste that opportunity ever again. The Kabbalists say that Shevarim ― three medium, wailing blasts ― is the sobbing cry of a Jewish heart ― yearning to connect, to grow, to achieve.
Rabbi Sall of Connecticut says, “The modulated wail of the shevarim sounds almost like the bleat of a suffering animal. It serves as a reminder of the suffering in the world. The world is in a state of disrepair. Despite our best efforts there is a potentially disheartening reality that the present state of the world does not seem to be improving.   Our hope therefore is not in our own efforts and abilities alone, but rather in the faithfulness of the Sovereign. “
You might be wondering why we remind ourselves of this. We know suffering. We see suffering each day. We try to dull ourselves of that suffering with drinking, with entertainment, with noise of the music in our ears and our iPads. Please don’t make me listen to suffering. Please let me escape, we cry. But the shevarim keeps us hearing. The world is broken. The world needs repair. Where is the answer? Where is there rest and peace and comfort?
The Teruah Sound
Simmons says, “On Rosh Hashana, we need to wake up and be honest and objective about our lives: Who we are, where we've been, and which direction we're headed. The Teruah sound ― 9 quick blasts in short succession ― resembles an alarm clock, arousing us from our spiritual slumber. The shofar brings clarity, alertness, and focus.”
I agree, we have to hear that alarm and repent and come clean with God. The shofar sound pierces us with sharpness and like a machine gun which doesn’t allow us to get out of the way from the next bullet, the sounds, at least one of them, will certainly affect us. Lord, you have my attention. Lord, you got me. I was wrong. I repent. I’m sorry. I apologize. Please forgive me.
But now, besides all this about my own situation, we mustn’t get away from the alarm we are to sound to the world as well. Hey, world, wake up, the Messiah has come. Hey, world, wake up, you are lost in your trespasses and sins. You are broken. The fix is nearby.
We have battles each day. Will another government official knife the prime minister Tony Abbott, like happened under Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd? Whom should we trust? There is a battle to get onto the trains. There is a battle to survive the city. There is a battle with the media. We want the truth, and they only tell their side of the story to sell more papers. This was certainly true in the Israel/Gaza conflict recently. We wonder when the battle will end.
Into all these situations Yeshua’s voice which said, “Come to me” and he would give us rest, shouts all the louder. When we don’t know where to go, Yeshua gives us a clear location in Himself. If we don’t have rest, if we are travel weary and exhausted in trying to find the meaning of life, Yeshua says, “Come to me.”
Not only a rest as in a weekend in Bali or a couple weeks in a Fijian island. He says, “I’ll give you rest for your souls.” That’s deeper than a massage can ever touch. Rest for our souls is the satisfaction of knowing Him personally.
Andrew Murray, the South African / Scottish preacher from 100 years ago, wrote many little books with devotional content, and one of my favorites was “Abide in Christ.” In that book he talks about being drawn to Yeshua and being in Him. Only in Him is there human satisfaction. He was right then, and we know that because Yeshua is right, for Murray and for you and all who are far off.
Yeshua said, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” We have to admit we are worn out trying. We are done trying to be the best person in our family. We are done trying to make everyone happy at work. We are done trying to make sense of a senseless world. We need answers, and we need them now, and we want real rest. Where is that found? Yeshua says, “come to Me.”
But that’s not where it stops. Yeshua goes on to say, “Take my yoke and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble.” There is a learning process, and we have more rest to gain as we learn about Him and as Murray says, “Abide in Him.” Getting saved is great, and the greatest decision a person ever makes in life, and then we have to remain, to stick with it, to learn and to grow, and to bear fruit which remains. How do we do that? Learn together, pray together, grow together, and take Yeshua’s council, His instructions, His life in you. And what do we gain then? “You will find rest for your souls.”[1] This same point was drawn from the prophet Jeremiah but that’s for another study.
For now, let’s listen and learn. The shofar blasts away and it’s more than a tune. It’s more than a decoration to our Rosh Hashanah services. It’s life if we listen. It’s fulfillment if we have ears to hear. It’s our resting place, if we are headed in the right direction. Yeshua said, “Come to me.” That’s where our souls can honestly find rest. And there we find newness of life. There we find meaning. There in 5775 and every year we can have purpose and meaning and life abundant.
Will you come to him now?

[1]       From the Word Biblical Commentary: Matthew 11.29
The meaning of the preceding verse is now made more precise. The invitation to come to Jesus is an invitation to discipleship, that is, to follow him and his teaching. “Yoke” is a common metaphor for the law, both in Judaism (m Abot 3:5; m Ber 2:2; cf IQH 6:19) and in the NT (Acts 15:10; Gal 5:1). When Jesus invites people with the words “take my yoke upon you,” he invites them to follow his own teaching as the definitive interpretation of the law (see on 5:17–20.). The same point is stressed in the next clause, “learn from me.” As Wisdom calls to obedience of Torah (cf Sir 24:23; 6:37), so Jesus similarly calls to a discipleship of obedience to Torah but, as always in Matthew, the Torah as mediated through his teaching—hence, “my yoke” (cf 23:8, 10). The cognate verb occurs in 28:19 together with the emphasis on keeping true to the teaching of Jesus. A dimension of personal commitment to Jesus is clearly implied (Maher, 103). The reason people should take Jesus’ yoke and learn from him—note again, “from me”—is articulated in the (“because”) clause that follows: “because I am meek and humble in heart.” The words “meek,” and “humble,” are found together in Jer 26:6 and Zeph 3:2. Jesus is referred to as “meek” elsewhere in Matthew (and in the NT) only indirectly in the quotation of Zech 9:9 in 21:5, although the cognate noun “meekness” is applied to Jesus in 2 Cor 10:1. Being “meek,” Jesus is also similar to Moses (Num 12:3). (Jesus describes his disciples as “the meek” in 5:5.) The word “humble” is also applied to Jesus in the NT only here. The word “meek” and the phrase “humble in heart” appear to be essentially synonymous. The contrast here, as in the preceding and following verses, appears to be between Jesus and his primary rivals, the Pharisees. Many of the latter exhibited an extraordinary pride, loving places of honor, special titles, and in general the authority they exercised over others (see 23:5–12). This demeanor had the effect of disqualifying them as true interpreters of Torah. In contrast, despite the overwhelming significance of his person and his mission, Jesus comes meekly and humbly as a servant (cf the Servant of the Lord in Isa 42:2–3; 53:1–12) and thus shows himself to be more worthy of trust than are the Pharisees. The final clause offering rest is couched in OT language identical in wording to Jer 6:16 (except for Matthew’s aÓna¿pausin to agree with v 28, where Jeremiah has aJgnismo/n, “purification”; the MT of Jer 6:16 has margo®a{, “rest”) and close to Sir 6:28 (which, however, lacks “for yourselves”). What Yahweh promised in the Jeremiah passage, Jesus now promises to those who come to him and follow him in discipleship: he will give them rest for their souls, ie, a realization of a deep existential peace, a shalom, or sense of ultimate well-being with regard to one’s relationship to God and his commandments (cf the “rest,” of Heb 4:3–10). In light of the rejection of Jesus, it is worth noting that following the invitation in Jeremiah are the words: “But they said: ‘We will not walk in it.’” This promise of rest relates directly to what is elsewhere in the NT called “salvation."