31 July 2010

Kate and Jewish re-connection

It's all very premature. The Sydney Morning Herald today says that Kate has returned to Judaism. But wait, she's the daughter of Pru Goward, the little Anglican lady at the podium from Goulburn pictured here at the installation of the bishop Stuart Robinson last year. Ah, Kate's grandmother is Jewish, and her Hebrew (or probably Yiddish) name was Zipporah. So Kate's new name is Tsiporah Malka.

Wait, isn't that the Hebrew name of Tsipi Livni, the head of the Israeli government Kadimah party?

It's confusing. Just wait!

The Herald reports this morning, "The 36-year-old daughter of the NSW Liberal member for Goulburn Pru Goward has told friends she has converted to Orthodox Judaism." The former model, actress and Sydney socialite who once stepped out with actor Ben Mendelsohn (not to be confused with this Blogger Bob Mendelsohn) and was engaged to James Packer, has been missing from public view for some time now.

From Wikipedia: Kate Fischer, aka Katie Fischer, (born on 30 November 1973 in Adelaide, South Australia) is an Australian model and actress. She attended the Canberra Girls' Grammar School.

So how does she turn into Tsiporah?

Or is this even true? Some folks in the media love to report things as if they were so, before they are. But this could be, after all, we are quoting the Sydney Morning Herald, you know?

"Although raised a Christian, Fischer has Jewish ancestry and her new name is clearly modeled on what appears to be her Jewish grandma, Zipporah. Her Facebook page is filled with loads of Yiddish expressions like ''vent my kvetch'' ''oy vey!'' and her enthusiasm for studying the Torah."

I cannot find her Facebook page, although the Herald cites from it throughout the article.

The Herald says, "She posts photos from her modeling days in Sydney, which her American Jewish friends who know her only as T'ziporah, comment on seemingly unaware of her previous identity. She lists her political views as conservative and proclaims things like: ''Being a Republican is nerdy-cool & fun! (far more exciting being on this side now!)'' and condemns media coverage of Lindsay Lohan with ''I can't believe the news coverage being given to a spoiled 20-something yr old.'' And again of her memories of Australia, "applauds the interview by 2UE radio announcer Alan Jones of the Prime Minister Julia Gillard, during which she stumbled on the show with a ''Go Jonesy!''"

My favourite part is "Her friend and former Surry Hills flatmate, Toby Osmond - who once ran Will and Toby's bar at Taylor Square - is in contact with her and says he hopes she sticks to this latest enthusiasm. ''She's done AA, transcendental meditation, the Hillsong thing and now this - she is always searching for meaning,'' he told the Herald"

Toby, and Kate, Tsipi or Tsiporah or Zipporah or T'siporah Malka, whoever is listening...
There is meaning out there. There is relevance in the relationship we can have with the Almighty. And it's not in a kabbalah bracelet or a hamsa or any other amulet. It's found in the forgiveness of our sins, in the redemption that comes from the Saviour of the World, Y'shua, the Jewish messiah. Some call him Jesus Christ. Some Isa. However you call him, please, ... call him. Whoever calls on the Lord will be saved. That's his promise.

That's recorded in the prophet Joel. Joel 2.32 “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD will be delivered."

30 July 2010

Where is your end?

The small Jewish cemetery in Eudora, Kansas, near Lawrence, and just outside Kansas City, is pictured here. And the story in the Lawrence Daily Journal World says, "The modest burial ground was established in the 1850s, shortly after the first Jewish settlers arrived in the area." It's not very populated, as most Jewish people in the area choose to buy plots in Kansas City, but due to its being run by Reform Jews, and that it allows interfaith couples to be buried there, it might have appeal to the many messianic Jews who abound in the Midwest.

The Journal World reports, "The cemetery is meant for people who were members of the Lawrence Jewish Community Center at the time of their death. The cemetery operates under reform practices, meaning that people of other faiths who have a Jewish member in their families have also been buried there. If a Jewish person wishes to be buried there, but he or she is not a member of the Community Center at the time of death, the person’s family is required to pay $720, a sum equal to a year’s worth of dues."

Not a bad ending.

Of course, it's not really the ending, is it?

The Bible says each of us will die, "and then after this comes the judgment." (Hebrews 9.27) So the ending will be the judgment. And then, of course, that's not the end either. Going through justice leads us to the final resting place. So in a way, the cemetery is really a triage, a waiting area, for the next place. The lobby is important, though, isn't it? It's the last place most folks will have to attend to you. Only a few relatives will ever visit your grave after the activities of the final days of a person. If the person is ill, especially after an extended illness, death for many sounds like a wish.

Even so, the illness, then the death, and then the rush to bury. OK< burial, and a bit of shiva or shloshim or even an 11-month headstone laying. But after that, who really remembers people?

Here's a real hope.

In Psalm 42 and 43 (probably originally a single psalm): Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.

And again:
Psa. 130.7 O Israel, hope in the LORD; For with the LORD there is lovingkindness, And with Him is abundant redemption.

And Jeremiah said, "O LORD, the hope of Israel, All who forsake Thee will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, Because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, even the LORD." (chapter 17.13)

And it's all summed up in Y'shua, God's eternal son, as we read, "God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Messiah Jesus in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1.27)

He brings hope.
He's worth all the hope we place in him.
Everyone who trusts in him will not be disappointed.

Does that include you?

29 July 2010

Inception, a review

July 23, 2010

Inception Review by Rachel Friedlander

Filmmakers have found a new way to get rich without bumping ticket prices. Instead, they’ve created a movie that is so densely crammed with information and complexity that moviegoers need two screenings just to fully grasp the plot.

The story follows Dom Cobb, a master in his profession of extraction. To perform his job, Cobb delves into the subconscious of others as they sleep in order to learn of their hidden secrets. But when his mind tricks turn him into a suspected criminal, Cobb must perform one final job: inception. This seemingly impossible task involves planting, not stealing, an idea deep within the recesses of one’s mind. In order to accomplish this, Cobb must recruit an eccentric team of subconscious soldiers before the line between reality and fantasy disappears.

Inception, directed by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight), has employed quite the motley cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, Lukas Haas, Michael Caine, Tom Berenger, and Marion Cotillard. With these names, all the bases are covered. Whether cerebral, emotional, artistic, foreign or thriller film lover, young and old alike will each find a face they recognize, a reason to watch.

If none of these were a draw, Christopher Nolan’s reputation precedes him. But this time, instead of capes and Batmobiles, Nolan attempts to attract by combining Oceans 11 or Italian Job with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Unfortunately, despite its lengthy cast list, Inception lacks the group chemistry that was evident in both Oceans 11 and Italian Job, and much of the emotion that was portrayed in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

But what it failed to do in comparison with others is balanced by how it managed to stand out. The complexity of the concept matched with well-executed effects produced impressive results. If your head isn’t reeling by the time the credits roll, it certainly will during the ensuing discussions the film produces. But the intricacy is executed skillfully—Nolan expects much of his audience, but when we follow faithfully, everything makes sense by the end.

Yet even if one grasps the concept, Inception provides no hard and fast answers. It simply raises questions. At one point in the film, Cobb says, “What's the most resilient parasite? An idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules.” Yet this very concept, though it may sound impressively dramatic in a movie trailer, proposes that human minds are swayed by any thought that enters their brains. What a pathetic view of our generation.

Everyday, each human on this planet is barraged by things we would rather not hear, or things we shouldn’t see. This world is perpetually attempting to influence us in one way or another, and thoughts, both positive and negative, continuously enter our brains. Yet we are able, and even more, responsible, to maintain our filter, to shut out what doesn’t belong.

Rabbi Ben Zoma said in the Talmud, “Who is mighty? He who subdues his passions.” True, it is not always easy to tame the beast of temptation, but it is this control that separates us from the animals. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, another Jewish teacher understood this struggle. Paul says: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” He, like any of us, was constantly coaxed by the ways of those around him.

Jesus was no exception. When He walked on this earth in human form, He endured every form of temptation. And, as Hebrews 2:18 states, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Through Him, we have the strength to battle unsavory ideas, to prevent them from infecting our mind.

But because there is no perfect human, sometimes these thoughts take seed in our minds, growing into full-fledged sin. Even then, there is hope. Because Jesus died for our many mistakes, He paid the penalty for when our mind becomes intoxicated with deadly, fruitless ideas. And that is no dream—it’s reality.

27 July 2010

Crocodile feeding

Psa. 147.9 He gives to the beast its food

Let's see if I can put these stills into order. My wife and I were in Darwin, at Crocodylus Park, and the tour guide gave her the rod, like a fishing rod, to which he tied the chicken on the end, and she got to feed the 5 metre long croc. Too cool.

Feeding animals reminds me of the care that all the zookeepers and others who work at the park have for all the animals. I put a lot of the photos of the animals on my Flickr site. Emus and ostriches, tiger and lions, monkeys, you get it. The dingo was so domesticated that he preferred a tummy rub by the zookeep to a chase in the wild.

Even though there are 10,000 crocodiles in the park, and most are raised for products like belts and boots and handbags, I enjoyed being there and seeing them. They are ferocious though, and warnings abound about extending your body over the wrong edge.

Each croc can jump high out of the water. Amazing creatures. They can run at 30 kph, and dart out of the water to consume photogs and others standing on the side of a pond or creek. I was glad for the cage. I like safety.

So there you have it, I like safety and I like animals. And the zookeepers at Crocodylus Park and the rangers have great care for the animals.

When I listened to them, I wondered, what does this say about mankind and about God? I suppose as a demonstration of the love He has for us all, He tells us to tend the garden, keep it, subdue the earth, make it a good place. God made the animals on the last day, the same day as He made man. When man ruined the world, and God had to punish the world, He made sure that animals would abound on the other side of the deluvian world as He told Noah to take animals onto the ark. (Psalm 36.6)

He wanted man to regard species in their place, hence no bestiality (Lev. 18.23), and if someone wrongly killed an animal, he was fiscally responsible. (Lev. 24.18).
Giving drink to a thirsty animal is praised (Psalm 104.11)

My favorite is
"A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast, But the compassion of the wicked is cruel." (Proverbs 12.10)

If God so loved the world, and that includes you, loved you so much that He sent Y'shua to die for you and give you eternal life, ought you not also have compassion on others, share love and life? And if that means your neighbour's dog or your friend's budgee, great. A bit of kindness goes a long way, amen?

23 July 2010

1 in 14 on FB

Is it true, is it really true that one of 14 people in the world is registered and is using Facebook? That would include all the poor people who don't even have electricity, those in Haiti, who lost so much, those in old folks' homes who are happy when someone brings either a book or a face to them, and everyone in between. Is it really true, 1 in 14?

So reported RTE Travel yesterday (http://www.rte.ie/business/2010/0722/facebook.html) that Facebook has now registered 500 million users, which would mean 1 in 14.

'The number of people using Facebook has hit the 500 million mark, meaning one in every 14 people on the planet has now signed up to the online social-networking service. As of this morning, 500 million people all around the world are actively using Facebook to stay connected with their friends and the people around them,' founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a blog post. To celebrate, the California firm introduced an application that lets members of the online community 'tell the incredible stories of the moving and interesting ways they've used Facebook'.

Of course, some may have multiple accounts, like we do. JewsforJesus AustralAsia and Bob Mendelsohn are both me. OK< so maybe there will be some like me, but still one in 20 is an awesome number to imagine. 5% to 7% of the world looking at the same silly photos and updates and conversations and YouTube data,... all uploaded to Facebook in nanoseconds of one another.

Community. Isn't that what this 'social utility' is? The RTE site said, "Examples given by Zuckerberg included NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen jogging with Facebook fans during his term as Danish prime minister and a US woman using the service to battle breast cancer."

People are looking for social networking. They are looking for a social utility. Honestly, they are looking for relationships. I heard a woman on TV yesterday who said that although all her friends are on FB, she is not. It sounded like she had an active life, an active social life, and as such, I admire and applaud her. She doesn't need a virtual life when she has a real one.

Maybe that's why so many are joining. They don't have a real life. (Please, don't misread me, if you are on FB, I'm not saying you have no real life. Otherwise I twice condemn myself) But people are longing for community. They want connection. We want to be known and loved and get updates from people who show pictures of people we know or knew. Especially people we knew 'back in the day' when we knew them last. When we experienced community with them. When we were in school together or in the army or in the first job or... when life was real, not virtual.

Jeremy Brent and Alison Gilchrist studied for their Ph D at Bristol at the same time. She writes about Jeremy's latest book, Searching for community: representation, power and action on an urban estate, based on his Ph. D. dissertation, "He is critical of romantic, homogeneous notions of community, and talks knowledgeably about the complex dynamics of community politics and passions. Like me, he is interested in the networks of relationships that form the ecology of local life and at one point he writes: “the more connections, the more exciting the territory” (p145). Even at its most challenging, Jeremy clearly relished his long-term ‘inside-outsider’ role, illustrating this through a bricolage of anecdote and diary notes, that describe critical episodes and accounts of his work to support different community initiatives.

The book is based on his PhD thesis and as such can be heavy-going in places, ...and his commitment to the young people and the people of Southmead is clear throughout. His untimely death in 2006 has been a loss to us all."

So some sociologists agree that community is what we want. What life do you want? Will it be virtual or real? Will it be a connection electronically to those with whom you continue to share good life, or will it be a wishful dream, vanishing as quickly as yesterday's updates? Or maybe you don't even have time for this blog, as you are full in adventure, full in society where you live. If so, goodonya, matey. Enjoy the day. There are 13 out of 14 who are not on Facebook, 93% of the world. So maybe we 7%ers are way off base.

Either way, in real or virtual life, enjoy the day. Enjoy the Lord of All Days, Lord of Eternity, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He sent His only Son to the world so we could have eternal life, abundant, rich, electronic and real.

21 July 2010

Even Gold Coast Girls read our flyers

The week in Brisbane was marked with fellowship meetings and outreach events in the Gold Coast and throughout Brisbane. Churches welcomed us to preach on Sunday, we conducted a Jewish evangelism seminar and a pastors' breakfast, but for some reason, this photo has gotten the most notice of all we did. That is, on the Flickr site where all our photos are, the radio interviews, the advertisement, the Shabbat gathering...everything we did in a week, including some fun and rest at Noosa on Saturday... nothing has gotten the hits as much as these Meter Maids at Surfers Paradise.

Go figure.

The meter maids are receiving and reading our Gospel tract that we distributed at the University of Queensland, at the CBD in Brisbane and here in Surfers.

Our question to them was "Who do you think Jesus is?" Our question to you is..."who do you think Jesus is?"

20 July 2010


Originally uploaded by Sir Mervs
I'm writing from the Brisbane Airport at the end of a week-long effort of evangelism, recruitment, public relations, fun, and discipleship. And at the end, I think I've seen a dark side of something to which I've always given myself. It's something which is so deep in the craw of most people, that if I title it "a sin", or even error or wrong in the slightest, I will incur wrath from many, no doubt. And if that is so, for that wrath I apologize if for any undue reason I cause it.

However, if you can see what I saw, if you can see what God wants out of our relationships, if for any reason this makes sense to you, I hope that you will write/comment me.

This swimming photo is one I found on Flickr; I did not take this photo. But it's so innocent. It's a race, one with a youngster learning to keep her head in the water and her arms extended. And her family, no doubt, was cheering and enthusiastic and maybe even proud of her, if only for getting into the water.

This week in Brisbane I saw an unhealthy competition, in fact, what I could title "the spirit of competition." I've seen some references to the word "competition" in the Bible; here are a few verses of proximate thinking:

Jer. 12.5 ¶ “If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out, Then how can you compete with horses? If you fall down in a land of peace, How will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?
Jer. 22.15 “Do you become a king because you are competing in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink, And do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him.
1Cor. 9.25 And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
2Tim. 2.5 And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.

But what I saw in Brisbane was not healthy; it was downright hostile. And sadly it happened in the Jewish believing community as well as the rest of the church. My conclusion is not the result of an exhaustive survey, but rather the continuous and haunting thought which has prompted my praying all week.

We conducted a Shabbat gathering at our rental house in Kangaroo Point. Some Jewish folks turned up. Great! We ate and fellowshipped and then I taught from the Scriptures and we enjoyed the glow of the Shabbat candles, and the sweetness of the challah.

Then on Sunday morning I spoke at a nearby Christian church and afterwards two different couples approached me. Innocently and pleasantly they approached. Both with their own agendas. Both to tell me of their interest in Jewish things, and that they have a Friday night Shabbat gathering. And ...would I come next time I'm in town?

Wow, where were these folks two nights earlier? Seems they both had found out about the meeting in time to attend. And since Sunday I've heard of a couple more meetings of Jewish people on Friday nights. Wow, Brisbane is very busy with Jewish gatherings by church folks. But they don't co-operate; they in fact, compete.

I think of territory, of turf war. And the image I get is one of an elbow. Everyone elbowing each other, to try to get up front, to get the supremacy. It's true that 'only one wins the prize' (1 Cor. 9.24 *) but the reality is that ALL OF US are that ONE. We are not competing with each other but with principalities and powers, the evil forces that are ever trying to knock us back and take Y'shua down another rung.

Friends, and colleagues, I've been involved in so many levels of cooperative efforts over the years that I sometimes forget the blessings we have who share such. In the LCJE, and even in Jews for Jesus, we are all not the same, but we have formed a union, a confederacy, of like minded folks, who subjugate their differences to make a larger statement and a cooperative one, larger than we ever could by ourselves.

So when I bump up against the sad reality of antagonism, in the name of "come to our thing, it's better" it's shocking and disappointing. Oh, of course, there is room for another meeting. Of course, we can have more than one gathering place in a city, especially a large city like Brisbane. I'm not saying that should not happen. But what I'm saying is that our arms should stop elbowing each other for territory and reach out to embrace one another. We should welcome each other. We should cheer each other on.

We all are going to win the prize.
We all are going to find eternity with Y'shua.

In the meantime, let's speak (as) well (as we can) of each other.

Competition? I'm not at all against this 9-year-old swimming hard. I love keeping score in tennis on the weekends when I play or squash or golf or anything...and that scoring often pushes me hard to do my best. But guard your heart, dear friends, from scoring at another(believer)'s expense. We will all win. Let's bring each other along to the victory line.

* 1Cor. 9.24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.

09 July 2010

K.D. Lang, Leonard Cohen, and "Hallelujah"

[A little longer than usual, apologies, but you will see it's worth it]
I listened again to KD Lang's version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. (Lyrics at the end). You might remember Lang performed the song for a live audience of 60,000-plus and some three billion television viewers worldwide at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. The Vancouver Sun reported k.d. "reminded the world that she is one of the best in the business, with a stirring, spiritual rendition of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' that literally hushed the crowd."

What is it about those lyrics, about that song which makes the world listen? At my squash club the other night, several guys were talking about Lang and her mesmerizing effect on them, especially "Hallelujah."

Maybe it's her soulful voice. Maybe it's Cohen's lyrics.

So I read them again. And again. And I hear references to the Older Testament. I hear references to modernism. I hear an aching and a pain in Cohen. I'm no LC expert, by any means. I'm a latecomer to his fan club. Some were around when he began in the 1950s. He was dark and Greenwich Village to me then. Now he's almost a guru to some. Some disavow his Jewishness because of his strange philosophies, to which he replied in 1997, "Anyone who says I'm not a Jew is not a Jew I'm very sorry but this is final so says: Eliezar, son of Nissan, priest of Israel;a.k.a Nightingale of the Sinai, Yom Kippur 1973; a.k.a Jikan the Unconvincing, zen monk; a.k.a Leonard Cohen"

After his Sydney concert in 2009, first in 24 years here, a woman/disciple named Irene wrote on his official page, "There were about a dozen full standing ovations through the show. At least. From tears to rapture to deep gratitude - all I am and belived and knew and lived was found manifest tonight. To say I love him just doesnt do it. THis isnt Love. Not as we usually know it. The G_D I KNOW , not one of religions, not one that was historical , biblical, causal, etc etc . HE was there in us around us in the music in each sound , in the Presence and in the story of life through all facets of being a human and Divine That Leonard brings as the Gift."

I think Irene was being poetic. And that's ok, although I prefer Cohen's poetry. He wrote in 1998 in classic Zen commitment, "But please do not follow, I've nothing to teach: except that the goal falls short of the reach."

But let's think about the song of conversation, though, "Hallelujah." The story begins with a praise to another song/hymn/psalm writer, King David. He lived about 1000 BCE in Israel and was originally a shepherd boy. He was the youngest of 8 brothers. (Found in the Bible in 1 Samuel chapter 16) And our introduction to him in the Bible is replete with a 'gee, shucks' kind of humility. Maybe that's why Cohen starts this poem with David. Although later on David is the sweet singer of Israel and known to play his kinnor, his harp, to soothe the king's troubled heart (King Saul), his beginnings are inauspicious. I think Cohen is projecting his own humility. And not badly at all. Maybe the capacity David/Cohen had/have to make people enjoy the music and to be calmed in their difficulties brings the word "baffled" to bear.

OK, next stanza.

The reference is to the sunbathing beauty on the roof, next door to the king's palace in Jerusalem. (Found in the Bible in 2 Samuel chapter 11) David has now become king and is at home in springtime. That's the usual time when kings go to war. David is not at war that year, that is, he's not leading the troops out. So he's on his roof and checking out the Israeli scenery and sees Bathsheba lying on the roof next door, and he's very attracted to her beauty. Long story short, David commits murder and adultery and practices lying...all to a very bad end. Not something you want recorded for yourself or about yourself in the Book of Books. But it's there. Stark, clear, detailed.

The details about tied up in a chair, though, that's poetry and not in the text. The cutting of the hair is a synthesis with another 'wrong woman' activity by another Bible hero, Samson. This one is found in the Bible in Judges chapter 16. Samson is the Jewish hero of the day, a judge he's called. And he falls in love with Delilah and she's from the wrong side of the tracks. She gets him to reveal his secret of his strength, in his long hair, and she cuts it and he loses everything he ever had. It's a sad tale, and stands equally stark in the Bible.

Even so, in David's case as well as in Samson's, they still gave thanks to God, and prayed to the last. The Hebrew word, Hallelujah means "Praise the Lord." It's an affirmation of His goodness, not ours. Samson's last prayer is “O Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.” (Judges 16.28) David ended the penitential psalm, Psalm 51, after the repentance over Bathsheba, with "Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation; Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Thy righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Thy praise." (Psalm 51.14-15)

So Cohen's "from your lips she drew Hallelujah" makes sense.

I skip to the final stanza.

Maybe there's a God above. Yes, Leonard, and yes Virginia, there is a God above. Whether you or I or Donald Berwick or Julia Gillard or anyone says yes or no. But that's for another blog.

But the cold and harsh sounds of the final stanza are inconsistent with God-fearers. "But all i've ever learnt from love,
Is how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya,
It's not a cry that you hear at night,
It's not someone who's seen the light,
It's a cold and broken hallelujah"

OK, so if we take it at face-value, the cold is based on people's antagonism to each other. People shooting each other, people living in darkness, silent. That's cold, that's broken.

In other words, the only way to really sing an unbroken Hallelujah is to be a believer. I think I agree with Cohen yet one more time.

Do you enjoy the singing of KD Lang? Do you enjoy the praise word "Hallelujah?" God certainly does. He loves to hear us praise Him. He loves to have us live in light and live in the pleasure of good music and His good company.

Why would we go anywhere else? He loves us. He wants us to enjoy life today and each day. I think KD's singing of Hallelujah rang a chord in our hearts too. Let's sing it loudly. Praise the Lord!

I heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
You don't really care for music, do ya?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah (repeat)

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya
She tied you
To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew Hallelujah

Hallelujah (repeat)

Baby i've been here before,
I've seen this room and ive walked the floor,
I used to live alone before i knew ya
But i've seen your flag on the marble arch,
Our love is not a victory march,
It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

Hallelujah (repeat)

Maybe there's a God above,
But all i've ever learnt from love,
Is how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya,
It's not a cry that you hear at night,
It's not someone who's seen the light,
It's a cold and broken hallelujah

Hallelujah (repeat)
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

08 July 2010

Bob New Orleans Benediction

In 1987, some 23 years ago now this month, I stood with arms outstretched and blessed people whom I didn't know. Oh, I knew Vinson and Bill and many on the committee. I knew many in the Jewish stream, but hey, there were tens of thousands of people in the SuperDome that night. And no, I didn't know them. But I was convinced that God wanted to bless them and that I could act as a priest and bless them. The crowd was hushed.

I chanted the benediction (From the Bible, Book of Numbers chapter 6, verses 24 and 25). And then I translated it into English. And then all heaven broke loose. The crowd was released. The band struck up some Hebrew sounding, Jewish minor-key songs of praise and the people and the leaders on the platform and folks all over the place acted blessed. They shouted 'Glory!' and God was glorified. That sounds like blessing fulfilled.

Now it's 23 years later. I'm living in Sydney, Australia. I read a book by Vinson Synan the other day. I don't keep up with Bill. And some of the Jewish folks from that Congress on the Holy Spirit and World Evangelization in New Orleans and I keep up, mostly on Facebook. And today I'm pondering blessing again. What is it when someone sneezes and folks around issue the command, "God bless you?"

Wikipedia says a blessing "(also used to refer to bestowing of such) is the infusion of something with holiness, divine will, or one's hope or approval." Hmmm, is that what you think of?

All up, I want to live a blessed life, and for you to experience that as well. Some soccer (futbol) players feel blessed when they in Spain beat Germany or Netherlands took out Uruguay. "I"d like to thank God who blessed us with victory..." Hmmm, not sure on that one.

When someone comes through for you, you might say, "What a blessing!" And I'm with you there.

So how to live a blessed life, and to pass that on. That's a key question and one I'd like you to answer, if you can take a minute to do so. Or ten minutes. That would seriously bless me.

The 10 most pressing issues for evangelical theology today | Culture analysis | Sydneyanglicans.net

The 10 most pressing issues for evangelical theology today | Culture analysis | Sydneyanglicans.net

The 10 most pressing issues for evangelical theology today
Michael Jensen
June 29th, 2010

With a dash of hubris (why not, it’s a Monday morning) - here are the issues on which I think evangelicals have some work to do. Not that individual evangelicals don’t hold strongly to some of these - it is just that either the ‘traditional’ view is under challenge, or that there is a lack of consensus among evangelicals. This list is, like all lists, meant to provoke and challenge of course - it is meant (and I hope will be received!) in that spirit.

1 - scripture
How is inerrancy best to be understood and expressed - if indeed it is the most appropriate and useful word to express and uphold the highest possible commitment of the authority of scripture? Can we move beyond the use of the word as line in the sand and actually articulate what we mean by it in the midst of a post-biblical culture? Can evangelicals actually have a mature discussion about this - the word itself has become a shibboleth of US evangelicalism?

2 - God
Now that the ‘openness of God’ distraction has been (in my opinion!) overcome, there still seems to be a tension between the position known as ‘classical theism’ and the more ‘biblical personalist’ position. How are the attributes of God to be addressed, then, by the biblical Christian? Does classical theism help or hinder?

3 - election
Election is always a tough one. Double or single? Have new readings of Paul made a difference to what needs to be said about Israel? What is the purpose of the doctrine of election, dogmatically speaking?

4 - the atonement
Classic evangelicalism has always stood firm on the centrality of the atoning blood of Jesus Christ for the propitiation of our sins. But even between those who would agree that penal substitution is an indispensable part of the Bible’s teaching on the atonement - what place does it have within the whole scope of the Bible’s teaching? How does it relate to other descriptions of the atonement in Scripture?

5 - justification
The debate between NT Wright and John Piper over imputation reveals some fault lines. Imputation seems a necessary corollary of an evangelical testimony to justification by faith. But what are its exegetical foundations? And will ‘union with Christ’ prove to be a more fruitful model to explain this teaching? (with much good work to come from Moore’s own Con Campell)

6 - anthropology
I think theological anthropology is right at the missional cutting edge, and the more thinking evangelicals can do about it the better. That is not to fall prey to the temptation to collapse theology into anthropology, or to get distracted by all kinds of anthropologically interesting byways, but to give a full and rich account of the meaning and purpose of human life lived under the hand of the God who is mindful of man (to steal from Psalm 8).

7 - sin
Sin is a corollary of the doctrine of man… Once again it is a missionally urgent task to give an articulation of sin that is as full-orbed as we can make it. This is one instance where ‘biblically faithful’ and ‘culturally aware’ are not necessarily mutually exclusive. The mute incomprehension of our contemporaries as they hear contemporary preachers talk about sin highlights the problem… The answer is not in their hearts of course. The word of God is better than we think it is.

8 - philosophy & theology
Evangelicals seem genuinely undecided about this as a group. Is philosophy good, bad, or indifferent? A friend, or a foe? Is a philosophy-less theology simply naive? or is a philosophy in addition to theology a blasphemy? What have we to say about thinking?

9 - apologetics
A connected issue, then, is that of apologetics. Ought we to do apologetics at all? Many evangelicals have invested very heavily in apologetics. But to what end? Are the models of apologetics - evidentialist, presuppositionalist (does anyone actually understand what presuppositionalist apologists are saying?) - enough for the needs of the day?

10 - church
Evangelicals have always prided themselves on being ecclesiology-lite. They have achieved far more in terms of ecumenical co-operation than other forms of Christianity as a result. Ecclesiology is secondary. However, there are numerous settings where this needs to be revisited, given the rapid realignment of denominations and the retreat of Christendom. So you see some pretty heavy church-speak from evangelicals these days: the Nine Marks ministry says some pretty particular things ecclesiology-wise. The Federal Vision movement is likewise (though very different) heavy on sacraments and covenant/church talk. This is not an isolated trend.

11 - hermeneutics
I don’t mean hermeneutics in the sense of perspectival readings etc, but in the sense of asking the question: what makes the bible a unity? In what does a richly theological reading of Scripture consist? There are some very exciting developments on this front, building on the work of a previous generation - biblical scholars now collaborating with theologians on the matter of scriptural interpretation.