31 August 2010

Another testimony

Long ago I had a neighbour in the university town of Lawrence, Kansas, in the middle of the US. For some reasons we had a burden to pray for him amidst all the other neighbours surrounding our "Jesus House" which we titled, "The Mustard Seed."

This came from Randy yesterday. It makes sense to share with you. Enjoy what our God can and does do.

"Bob, I read your testimony and thought about where I fit into your time line. Summer 1974. I'm at the Bierstube with a beer in hand. You're at a table, yarmulke on head, open Bible on the table, in deep discussion with someone. I didn't know at that time we were neighbors. But the sight had a deep impact on me, and still does.

After I responded to Jesus the following year, I met two girls at the [Mustard] Seed. They were excited to see me there. They told me they had seen me in the hall at LHS the first day of school, 1974. They thought I was you and were approaching me when they realized I wasn't you. Then they committed themselves to pray for my salvation every day that school year. It was a fairly miserable, sort of Hound of Heaven year for me, but ultimately I came to Christ almost exactly one year later. God uses us far beyond our awareness."

Randy's story highlights for me that when we are about our Father's business, submitting to His commands, and living it out as we ought, that God leads us and others around us to His purposes. What could be simpler?

23 August 2010

Fear and faith... another view

A little girl walked to and from school daily.

Though the weather that morning was questionable and clouds were forming, she made her daily trek to school.

As the afternoon progressed, the winds whipped up, along with lightning.

The mother of the little girl felt concerned that her daughter would be frightened as she walked home from school. She also feared the electrical storm might harm her child.

Full of concern, the mother got into her car and quickly drove along the route to her child's school.

As she did, she saw her little girl walking along.

At each flash of lightning, the child would stop, look up, and smile.

More lighting followed quickly and with each, the little girl would look at the streak of light and smile.

When the mother drew up beside the child, she lowered the window and called, "What are you doing?"

The child answered, "I am trying to look pretty because God keeps taking my picture."

22 August 2010

Just another sermon

Out of the shadows
Originally uploaded by bobmendo
All over Singapore, an island rich in vegetation and multiculturalism, I'm preaching the Gospel of Y'shua. Most of the people in the churches are Singaporean Chinese Christians, but the other night I was amazed at the response of one particular church, the Church of Singapore, in Bukit Timah. A delightful mix of Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Sri Lankan...(and the list goes on) peoples who love the real Jesus.

The pastor was from the UK, Tim Gibson, who along with his wife Shendy, lead the fellowship. They sang Jewish songs. They worshipped the Jewish Messiah. It was humbling and full of life. They gave generously to the work of Jews for Jesus. They believe and they want to help reach Jewish people for the Lord.

The Church of Singapore is one of 4 branches of the main church which is a 3 iron shot from my hotel in Katong. I can't wait to preach at that one, or the other branches, if Bukit Timah is any indication of the love of God in each of the others.

They wanted to learn. They wanted to hear about what God's plan for the Jewish people is/was. And I taught that, from Romans 11. I think within a few days the church will have my sermon on line... keep checking here. Church of Singapore

This is not the only place with enthusiasm for the message of Y'shua. Today I'm going to a couple other places, and hope for similar results. And earlier in the week I spoke and was well received by East Asia School of Theology (EAST) and Trinity Theological College. And this is not my first time in country. The photo is one from three years ago at a Presbyterian church which also was enthusiastic True Way

I guess all this to say, thanks Singapore. Thanks Singaporeans. Thanks Lord for such people from all over the globe, who love the Gospel and love the Saviour and the people from whom He came. They don't hear 'just another sermon.' They take this on board. God, bless them, each one, and me as I keep coming back to share and learn and live with these good folks.

21 August 2010

Taqiyya - Lying For Islam?

The controversy at Ground Zero continues, as the legal issue now is coming to the fore. I'm shocked. There is nothing illegal about a community center or even a mosque being built on property in the US, especially on private property. That's a constitutional right. And yet according to CNN this morning, 25% of the people they interviewed (probably in NYC, although I didn't catch exactly where) believed that the constitution did not give the private company the right to build such a place.

My problem continues to be the sensitivity to the area, to the victims, to the families of the victims. Charles Krauthammer wrote sensibly and lovingly about it last week. See Mosque story

But this video about Taqiyya, may well be in the backdrop somewhere of all the conditioning of the American public. I'm not saying it is, but there seems to be an increasing influence of 'rights' and 'anti-racism' and such.. Where will this all end? Buckle your seat belt.

14 August 2010

Peace in Jerusalem

In June this year, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, "JERUSALEM: The Israeli President, Shimon Peres, has said his nation's policy towards the Gaza Strip has not yielded the results the government expected, and he criticised municipal plans to tear down 22 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem to make way for redevelopment.

The Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, attacked the timing of the plans to raze the Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem as prejudicial to hopes for continuing peace talks.

The national security adviser of the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, suggested the outlook for the peace talks mediated by the US was bleak."

Today’s London Telegraph reports, “Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, is expected to drop his long-standing objection to direct peace talks with Israel within days, according to leaked letter written by Baroness Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief. Raising hopes for a breakthrough after months of stalemate, Lady Ashton's letter came amid a flurry of international diplomatic activity designed to push both sides into face-to-face negotiations for the first time in over 18 months.

Any climb down by the Palestinian leader, who has long demanded a freeze on all Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a condition for direct talks, would represent a much-needed foreign policy success for President Barack Obama ahead of midterm elections in November.”

So how will peace ever come? Is it in negotiations and leaked memos? Is it in bravado or in strong-arm tactics?

The Bible makes it clear, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem." That's a mandate. It's a requirement for peace-loving people. It's incumbent on those who want peace to make peace with God about His plans for the place. So before we start (or continue) to tell everyone how to make the political situation calmer or more righteous (depending on your religious verbiage), we have to pray. And we have to pray specifically for the peace of Jerusalem.

Over in New York City, energy is being spent by a lot of serious folks about a mosque to be built near Ground Zero, the site of the bombing of the World Trade Center nearly 9 years ago. Families of those killed in the attacks have mounted an emotional campaign to block the mosque, saying it would be a betrayal of the memory of the victims.

Conservative US politicians like former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, a Republican former Speaker of the House of Representatives, have also called for the project to be scrapped.

But who weighed in? President Barack Hussein Obama is in favor! Reuters reports, "U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday backed construction of a proposed mosque and Muslim cultural center near the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York - a project opposed by U.S. conservatives and many New Yorkers.

"As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country," Obama said at an event attended by diplomats from Islamic countries and members of the U.S. Muslim community."

Is this a distraction from my topic of peace in Jerusalem? I don't think so. For many, peace in Israel and peace in their neighbourhood are linked. And it's about Jews and Moslems. It's about religious freedom. Or is it?

But wait, is that all there is in Israel, and in Jerusalem itself? Are the only people in the Land of Israel so binary that this global us vs. them thinking is warranted? Not at all.

Wikipedia say, "The State of Israel had population of approximately 7,503,800 inhabitants as of December 2009.[1] 75.4% of them were Jewish (about 5,660,700 individuals), 20.3% were Arabs (About 1,523,900 inhabitants), while the remaining 4.3% (about 319,200 individuals) were defined as "others" (family members of Jewish immigrants who were not registered at the Interior Ministry as Jews, non-Arab Christians, non-Arab Muslims and residents who do not have a religious classification)." And again, "About 82.6% of the Arab population in Israel is Sunni Muslim (with a very small minority of Shia), another 9% is Druze, and around 9% is Christian (mostly Eastern Orthodox and Catholic denominations)." They don't even count on Wikipedia the thousands and thousands of Jewish people who believe in Jesus as our Messiah.

Here's my point.

The people of Israel are not only Jewish or Muslim. There are people of all backgrounds and all religions in the Land. And if we want peace in the Land, we have to pray for peace in Jerusalem. We have to trust God to bring His purposes to bear in the Land. To bring Y'shua the Messiah as Saviour to a war-torn situation. He wants peace, but not at any cost (sorry Mr Chamberlain).

Peace between peoples who are at war costs the blood of a Martyr, not of martyrs. It costs the blood of Yeshua the messiah to fulfill biblical 'completion' in the sense of a sacrifice.

We were (and are) far from God. And God didn't move; it's we who have failed, and have walked away from His plans. The only way to real peace, between us on a human level, is not politics or treaties. It's about relationship with God first and foremost. The answer to peace is not in Washington. As Obama confirms.

Listen to what Charles Krauthammer said today, "That’s why Disney’s early ’90s proposal to build an American history theme park near Manassas Battlefield was defeated by a broad coalition fearing vulgarization of the Civil War (and wiser than me; at the time I obtusely saw little harm in the venture). It’s why the commercial viewing tower built right on the border of Gettysburg was taken down by the Park Service. It’s why, while no one objects to Japanese cultural centers, the idea of putting one up at Pearl Harbor would be offensive.

"And why Pope John Paul II ordered the Carmelite nuns to leave the convent they had established at Auschwitz. He was in no way devaluing their heartfelt mission to pray for the souls of the dead. He was teaching them a lesson in respect: This is not your place, it belongs to others. However pure your voice, better to let silence reign.

"Even New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who denounced opponents of the proposed 15-story mosque and Islamic center near Ground Zero as tramplers on religious freedom, asked the mosque organizers “to show some special sensitivity to the situation.” Yet, as Rich Lowry pointedly noted, the government has no business telling churches how to conduct their business, shape their message, or show “special sensitivity” to anyone about anything. Bloomberg was thereby inadvertently conceding the claim of those he excoriates for opposing the mosque, namely, thatGround Zero is indeed unlike any other place and, therefore, unique criteria govern what can be done there.

"Bloomberg’s implication is clear: If the proposed mosque were controlled by “insensitive” Islamist radicals either excusing or celebrating 9/11, he would not support its construction." "

Where is peace in Jerusalem? It's in the Founder of Jerusalem. It's in the City whose builder and maker is God. That's why we need to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Let's let God have His way in the Land which is His land. And let's do things His way at His timing. Fair enough? And let's let silence be the way of conversation at Ground Zero, too. That makes sense to me.

11 August 2010

Abandoning the Faith

From the Associated Press, "Novelist Anne Rice says she's leaving Christianity

Photo credit: In this April 25, 2006 file photo, writer Anne Rice arrives to the opening night of the new Broadway musical "Lestat," in New York. (AP Photo/Dima Gavrysh, file) (Dima Gavrysh - AP)

The Associated Press
Thursday, July 29, 2010

NEW YORK -- Anne Rice has had a religious conversion: She's no longer a Christian.

"In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control," the author wrote Wednesday on her Facebook page. "In the name of ... Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen."

Rice, 68, is best known for "Interview With a Vampire" and other gothic novels. Raised as a Catholic, she had rejected the church early in her life but renewed her faith in recent years and in 2008 released the memoir "Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession."

In a telephone interview Thursday, Rice said she had been having doubts for the past two to three years. She was troubled by the child abuse scandals in the church, and the church's defensive reaction, and by the ex-communication of Sister Margaret McBride, a nun and hospital administrator who had approved an abortion for a woman whose life was in danger.

"I believed for a long time that the differences, the quarrels among Christians didn't matter a lot for the individual, that you live your life and stay out of it. But then I began to realize that it wasn't an easy thing to do," said Rice, speaking from her home near Palm Springs, Calif. "I came to the conclusion that if I didn't make this declaration, I was going to lose my mind."

Rice said she is a Democrat who supports the health care legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama and believes gay marriage inevitably will be permitted throughout the country. Although no longer part of any denomination, she remains a believer and continues to read theology and post Biblical passages on her Facebook page. She has no immediate plans to write about her leaving the church and will continue with her metaphysical fiction series, "Songs of the Seraphim."

Rice will not be taking up vampires again, but she said she is a big fan of the HBO series "True Blood," enjoyed the first two "Twilight" movies (she has yet to read any of the Stephenie Meyer novels) and is interested in seeing her most famous character, the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt, return to the screen.

"We're in talks about it," she said. "But then we've always been in talks about it. Hope springs eternal in California.""

All that to say, friends, I'm not afraid of hearing this kind of "testimony." There are people who join and people who abandon the faith.

Look, people get it right, and people get it wrong. And maybe Anne Rice is wrong, certainly if she is giving up faith in Jesus, as our Saviour. But she has a right to her opinions, doesn't she? It's just not enough for me to abandon the faith that she is abandoning, since what is true is based on the Bible and what God has said.

And whether Madonna or Barack Obama or Anne Rice or Anne Coulter or Jerry Rice, or anyone says that it's true or says it's not true, honestly, that doesn't make it true or false.

09 August 2010

Every style

My (re)new(ed) friend Rick posted this old slip of paper (from 1969) on his facebook page today. It was a weekly ritual for me, to read and know the Top 40. The radio station WHB, the rock and roll station in Kansas City, published the list each Friday and by Saturday morning I wanted/ had to know. Where would the Beatles be listed, or the Monkees, or Simon and Garfunkel or Steppenwolf, etc.

I remember one Saturday, during the 3+ hours Orthodox Jewish services at Kehilath Israel Synagogue, where I attended each week, leaving during the rabbi's sermon. Actually we ordinarily left during the sermon. And we had just enough time to walk over to The Landing, the nearby shopping center, to go to the Toon Shop (or whatever it was called)to retrieve the sacred Top 40 Survey. It was about 1964 or 1965. The Beatles #1 song, "She loves you" was the song whose lyrics were printed on the back of the survey.

On return to my family home in Prairie Village, I emptied my pockets and was reading the list at the family lunch. My father picked up the Survey and looked it over. Then he turned it over to read the poetry of the lyrics. If you can call it poetry.

She says she loves you
And you know that can't be bad.
Yes, she loves you
And you know you should be glad. Ooh!

She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah
She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah
And with a love like that
You know you should be glad.

Hmmm, not exactly Keats or Burns or even Cummings. A little embarrassing without the melody and drums.

But the point of my memory today, and the point of posting thie blog is the 'every style' that is represented in this list.

Look at the styles and the singers in this Top 40. Tommy Roe and Elvis, Credence Clearwater Revival, and the Fifth Dimension. Glen Campbell, Steppenwolf, and Neil Diamond. Jay and the Americans, Beach Boys, the Zombies and Donovan. Cream, Classics IV, Aretha Franklin and Brenda Lee. The Cowsills and Hermans Hermits. Wow, what a wide, wide range of singers and genres and styles.

People ask me about the 60s. Especially I like to remember the music and the breadth of what people enjoyed. Nowadays some are into hiphop or into classical or country. But mostly only those styles. Back in my day, we liked a wide range. And that was the day.

The hippies musically were most noticed, worldwide, at Woodstock. For the list of who came, what they sang, who didn't make it, and who declined invitations, read this URL. Woodstock

What's clear from this Top 40 Survey and from that list is the same people who loved Hendrix also loved Joan Baez. We loved Joe Cocker, Grateful Dead and Sly and the Family Stone.

There was not a monolith of music. There was breadth. I think music was better as a result. I think we were better. Or am I just filled with braggadocios.

I think as a believer, and as a blended guy in so many ways. I grew up an Orthodox Jew. At 19 years old I found Y'shua as my Messiah. That blended a lot of my life. And I've been part of congregations in various cities in the USA and in Australia. That's been a blend of styles. Baptist, charismatic, independent, Anglican, Episcopal. New York City, Sydney, Bethesda/Potomac Maryland, Winnetka, Illinois, San Francisco. Blends.

God has been kind to me to show me the Body of Messiah. The Jewish apostle Paul wrote of the imagery in several places, recorded in the Bible. This one is clarifying. In Romans chapter 7 verse 4 "Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Messiah, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God." Somehow in our relationship with each other, we make Y'shua that much more known and we bear more fruit among people, live godlier lives. That's what 'every style' says to me today. We need one another, even as a finger or an arm cannot say 'I have no need of you' to the leg or the stomach. One body, many parts.

You might even need me. "yeah, yeah, yeah."

06 August 2010

Good art?

Now some will say that this woman Tamara is doing a good thing. And I approve of it and applaud her effort. I think her lyrics are terrific and her desire to lift up Y'shua is clear and good.

Then the question comes, is this good art?

One re-poster said of her, "Tamara Lowe - White Girl Greatest Rapper Ever - Tamara Lowe raps on TBN.wmv" Wow, that's like Ray's pizza in New York. The greatest and the best pizza in NY. Of course there are dozens of Ray's competing with each other. Or in Sydney there are coffee places that have 'the best coffee' in Sydney. Who voted? Who has the authority to decide?

OK< that's culinary. This is art. And art has its own measure, doesn't it?

JC Jaress said in an article on evaluating art<
"1. Hold Your Opinion(s)
You may like or dislike the subject matter, application, composition, colors, theme, etc. - this is fine and understandable and inevitable - but if you wish to evaluate the work, set your emotional responses aside momentarily."

Jaress then cites History and Craft as judges 2 and 3. Of history, "2. History
To evaluate a particular work of art, or artist(s) for that matter, we need to place the work within its historical context: When was the work produced? And where? By whom? Man? Woman? Collaborative? What were/are the historical implications of this particular work? How does it compare to other works produced in that time and place? How does it compare to other works by this artist? And other artists of that time?" and of craft, "The "intention of craft" must be understood to place the work within a context that we can begin to understand and talk, relevantly, about the work."

Frances Schaeffer wrote the famous essay, "Art and the Bible." I read that in the 1970s and found it rich and helpful in evaluating things that I find distasteful. I don't have to like something, say Modern Art, to find it excellent. I don't have to like rap music to find some very well produced and excellent rap music. I don't have to like classical music, although I do, and sometimes it's the 'liking' of a thing which makes the evaluation that much harder. I might be swayed by the pleasure of the theme or the content if I'm trying to decide if a thing is good or bad art.

That's where I am with this woman rapper.

She says the right things, although apparently bagging the very medium on which she is sending out the information is a bit disingenuous.

Even so, the 'amen' that rises up within me as Tamara raps this poem should not influence my decision about the art being good or bad.

I think her rapping is pretty ordinary. I think if a real rapper had been given the poetry she wrote, I would much prefer it.

What do you think?

05 August 2010

One way mirror and absolutes

MensToilet OneWayMirror
Originally uploaded by bobmendo
It's a little off putting, and then it's funny. After you check it out, of course. Patty and I went to Darwin in the Northern Territory last weekend, and it was hot. But that's Darwin. We went to a cafe, with some friends in Cullen Bay's restaurant area. And here inside the Buzz Cafe is the men's restroom. The photo is from the inside of the men's, looking at the urinal, but it certainly doesn't look like a urinal. It looks like a window. And that's what is off putting.

After you go back outside the rest room and make sure that no one can see you there from the outside, you go back inside and things are back to normal.

Perceptions are funny things. Odd maybe.

At dinner last night we talked about cultural anthropology. Some areas of the world have beliefs that so seriously differ from ours, it's hard to let them have their views without argument. Polygamy is standard in many. In one culture (probably more) a child is not 'human' until the child turns one year old. Thus if you don't want your baby, you take it to the woods and leave it to die. That's not wrong in that society. Mortal infant diseases clean the group of un-human things. That just seems so wrong, is it because I'm Western?

This from a fellow SME69er (my high school) Chuck Miller "what we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning." (He's quoting physicist Werner Heisenberg)

Consider these topics. When I was born, very few mothers would have even considered working outside the home. Euthanasia was beyond shocking; it was horrible and wrong. Gay marriage was not marriage at all. Marriage was between a man and a woman and was normal. No one lived with 'partners.' And yet just moments ago in California, from the New York Times website, "SAN FRANCISCO — Saying that it unfairly targets gay men and women, a federal judge in San Francisco struck down California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage on Wednesday, handing supporters of such unions a temporary victory in a legal battle that seems all but certain to be settled by the Supreme Court."

Seeing things from one side of the mirror or one side of the window...well, it gives you a different view, almost a wrong view!

All that and you might think that morality or religion or philosophy is a matter of one's own views only, as if there were no absolutes.

"Absolute truth" is defined as inflexible reality: fixed, invariable, unalterable facts. For example, it is a fixed, invariable, unalterable fact that there are absolutely no square circles and there are absolutely no round squares. Whatever is true at one time and at one place is true at all times and at all places. What is true for one person is true for all persons. Truth is true whether we believe it or not. Truth is discovered or it is revealed, it is not invented by a culture or by religious men.

The Greek philosopher Protagoras said "man is the measure of all things." This means each person can decide there own standard for right and wrong living. What is morally right for me, may be wrong for another. this is the essence of relativism. John Dewey (1859-1952), co-author and signer of the Humanist Manifesto 1 (1933), declared, "There is no God and there is no soul. Hence, there are no needs for the props of traditional religion. With dogma and creed excluded, then immutable truth is also dead and buried. There is no room for fixed, natural law or moral absolutes." Humanists believe one should do, as one feels is right.

You cannot argue against absolute truth unless an absolute truth is the basis of your argument. Consider a few of the classic arguments and declarations made by those who seek to argue against the existence of absolute truth.

1) "There are no absolutes." First of all, the relativist is declaring there are no absolutes. That is an absolute statement. The statement is logically contradictory. If the statement is true, there is, in fact, an absolute - there are absolutely no absolutes.

2) "Truth is relative." Again, this is an absolute statement implying truth is absolutely relative. Besides positing an absolute, suppose the statement was true and "truth is relative." Everything including that statement would be relative. If a statement is relative, it is not always true

3) "Who knows what the truth is, right?" In the same sentence the speaker declares that no one knows what the truth is, then he turns around and asks those who are listening to affirm the truth of his statement.

"No one knows what the truth is." The speaker obviously believes his statement is true.

All that to say... friend, reading my blog, I believe in the Truth of the Scriptures. I believe in the Truth that there is a God, and He loves us, you and me. He demonstrated His love toward us in sending Y'shua, His only son to us, to live and teach, to die for us and to bring us back into relationship with Him. What love!

The Bible is absolutely true. It's reliable. It's useful if we believe it. Are you openminded to the possibility that the Book is True and that it can say something to you? Don't be so absolutely resistant. OK?