27 May 2011

Where will you be buried?

I read this reply today. A reform rabbi is answering a question online about a Jewish person being buried in a Christian cemetery. He says, "Jewish tradition does not permit the burial of Jews and non-Jews together, as in a common cemetery. However, Jewish law is concerned with the sanctity of individual graves, not the sanctity of cemeteries (which are really just a collection of individual graves, as far as Jewish law is concerned). Therefore, a Jew could be buried in a non-Jewish cemetery according to Jewish law if there was sufficient space -- one grave width -- separating the Jewish grave from those of non-Jews. In this case, the Jewish grave legally could be considered a separate cemetery, even if it contained only one grave." The entire article is here, Burial

Of course, Moishe Rosen's yahrtzeit is this weekend, which prompted a lot of my thinking. Moishe Rosen's headstone

I worked on my funeral service, may it be decades away, this morning. And then I began reading more about the composer Felix Mendelssohn. His uncle was a banker, as was his father. Turns out that Joseph, the uncle, founded the powerful Mendelssohn Bank. He abandoned Judaism, but was still boycotted by the Nazis decades after his passing in 1848. And yet, Joseph was buried in Berlin at the famous J├╝discher Friedhof Prenzlauer Berg (Jewish cemetery). The Nazis also boycotted Felix's music and issued laws against listening or performing any Mendelssohn music.

Where will you be buried? Where will I be buried? I'd like to be buried in a Jewish place. I'd like this symbol to be put on my grave/headstone.

And yet, I want to be buried with my wife and children. Not in a crematorium. Jews died in such in the Holocaust; we shouldn't choose that for ourselves. A proper burial; a proper funeral. Where will that be?

I urge the leaders of the messianic world to join together in each continent, and find a suitable venue for the creation of a Jewish believer burial location. We need our own cemeteries.

What do you think?

24 May 2011

Oops: A 4-letter word God has never used

Just when you thought it was safe to listen to family radio again, today Harold Camping has done it again. The Australian reported this arvo, "The US preacher who predicted the end of the world would occur on Saturday says he was off by five months - Judgment Day will now come in October.

Camping said the apocalypse or the so-called global "Rapture" will come five months after May 21, the original date he predicted. Camping says he felt so terrible when his doomsday prediction did not come true on Saturday that he left home and took refuge in a motel with his wife.

The 89-year-old retired civil engineer appeared publicly on Monday night. Rather than give his normal daily broadcast, Camping made a special statement before the press at the Oakland headquarters of the media empire that has broadcast his message.

Last week he had predicted the global "Rapture" would begin with powerful earthquakes at 6pm local time in each of the world's regions, after which the good would be taken into Heaven." Australian

Oops. I made a mistake. I was wrong. Tough words, to be sure. And we have each said them. Or have we? Camping needs to say them. He was wrong. And one more thing...he needs to stop saying when Jesus is returning. Come on, someone, someone who lives near Camping or who can speak into his life. Tell him to preach what IS clear in the Bible, and to quit announcing (wrongly) when the Rapture or the Final Judgment will take place. Jesus clearly said, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone."(Matthew 24.36)

Oops. That's a word God has never used. Why? He never made a mistake. Remember William Shakespeare, "to err is human, to forgive divine." It's a human reality-- we are going to make mistakes. We shouldn't excuse ourselves with "I'm only human," but we need to know others will disappoint us and fail us and say wrong things.

But God won't disappoint us. He won't lie to us. He will never leave us or forsake us. "The Lord our God will not abandon us, He will never forsake His people."(Psalm 94) He does not lie. "the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.” (1 Sam 15.29) He will not say, 'oops.' Thanks be to God. He is faithful and reliable and believable.

23 May 2011

0 for 2: A rapture predicter's record

Now that wasn't even close. 21 May, Judgment Day came and left, not with a bang but a fairly energetic whisper. The 89-year-old former civil engineer Harold Camping made his predictions based on mathematical calculations and they were wrong. This wasn't the first time he erred. In 1994 he said something similar, although I don't know if he took out as many billboards then. A former colleague of his wrote last week on the blogosphere, "In 1994 he wrote a book claiming that the Rapture would take place on September 6, 1994. It did not, and neither did he repent of his false teaching nor apologize to the masses that he deceived." Now the end blog

In reply to the original:
The Christian Science Monitor (one day I'll write about how Christian Science is neither Science nor Christian) reported in a whimsical manner under the banner of "Apocalypse Not: Harold Camping wrong – again – about 'The Rapture" CS Monitor

In baseball terms Camping is 0 for 2, a whopping .000 percentage batting average. Not exactly the kind of record you want for a prophet, even one who works for a non-profit organization like Family Radio.

Now it's easy to pick on him after the (non) event. But that's not the point of this blog. The point is that he was right about something. Wrong about date and time, to be sure, but right about the reality ...Jesus is returning!

One of the things my Orthodox Jewish rabbi (Maurice D. Solomon of @KehilathIsraelSynagogue in @KansasCity) taught me back in 1971 was that the Tenach, the Jewish Bible, pictures two messiahs. One is the Messiah son of Joseph, and the other is named Messiah son of David. He told me that we as Jews have a choice. We can live godlessly and when the time comes God would have to send Messiah as a suffering one to die for us (humble riding on a donkey, Zechariah 9) or we could live godly and the Messiah would come on the clouds, and bring his kingdom to earth (Zechariah 9!).

Rabbi Solomon's ideas, which are historically very Jewish, helped me understand how Jesus could be the Messiah. The reality of Israel's sinfulness is something which most every prophet, real ones, like Bible prophets, taught. 19 times in the books of 1 and 2 Kings we read phrases like, "Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all his heart; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel sin." The prophet Micah said, "On the other hand I am filled with power — With the Spirit of the LORD — And with justice and courage to make known to Jacob his rebellious act, even to Israel his sin." (3.8) Even King Solomon admitted to God, "When they sin against Thee (afor there is no man who does not sin) and Thou art angry with them and dost deliver them to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to a land far off or near..." (2 Chr. 6.36)

In other words, there is not an Israel that isn't sinful and doesn't need repair. Therefore, the humble, donkey-rider Messiah is not only an option, but God's only option to help us.

That's one of the many reasons why I believe Y'shua is the #Messiah of Israel, and our only Saviour. But that's not the end of the story.

What Rabbi Solomon missed was that Messiah would not be one OR the other, but he would come twice. And it's the 2nd coming, the apocalypse that Camping and so many address.

The Bible IS true, and Messiah would come on a donkey to save us, by dying on the Roman cross and healing our souls. Then he would come again, after time, to restore all things as he desired. To vanquish, to do final repairs, to make the world the place he originally designed.

So although H Camping got the date wrong, the real story is that there will be a final date, the return of Jesus, when all wrong is righted, and when all the believers will live with God forever. On that you can bet. I'll get 1 for 1 on that one. 1.000-- nice batting average.

When? I have no clue. But the issue is to be ready. My long-time friend @ErnieGruen used to say, "Jesus didn't say, 'Occupy about when I'm coming.' He said, 'Occupy until I come.'(Luke 19.13)" God wants us to believe in Him, to trust Him with our lives, to share His love with others, and help others find peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, until Jesus returns.

It's already 23 May here in Sydney. It could be today. Or tomorrow. Or in 90 years. I really don't know. But I DO know that Jesus will return. That's worth bannering and putting up a billboard, to be sure.

21 May 2011

Judgment Day...before the time

Is this really the end of the world? Is the rapture upon us? What in the world are those things anyway? And...what's wrong with Harold Camping? What's right with Harold Camping? Quick, there are only a few hours left before his prophecy is to come to pass. And the internet is abuzz, my goodness, even Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon mentioned the end of the world in their PTI program earlier. So let's unpack it for now, and then tomorrow or the next day I'll write further about this.

"In the last week, variations of “End of the World May 21st” and “Harold Camping” have remained among the top search terms on Google. On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control released a mock guide to the “Zombie Apocalypse” on its web site that quickly went viral.

But "it’s no laughing matter," Camping told The Huffington Post. “It is not something where it's a tiny, tiny, tiny chance it may happen. It is going to happen.”

He and his fringe group of churchless followers believe that at 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, a massive earthquake will make its way around the earth, beginning in Fiji and New Zealand. Graves will open and two hundred million 'saved' individuals will float up to heaven. The doomed remainder will live on an unruly earth for five months before God annihilates it five months later." Huffington Post article

Is that the way the world will end? And what did Y'shua say about that day? Recorded in the Bible, in the biography written by Luke, a physician, we read, “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”(chapter 18, verse 8) Wow, the thing, the #1 thing the Messiah Y'shua will be hunting when he does return, whether on 21 May or any other date, is faith. Not faith in Harold Camping. Not faith in the church, not faith in one's own religion and religious observances. But faith in Y'shua. Believe in Jesus; that's what He wants.

Another time Jesus was teaching about the last days, about His return, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." (recorded in Matthew 24, verse 36) That's fantastic. The Messiah then didn't know when he was scheduled to return. How then would Camping know if Jesus didn't know?

It's late here in Sydney. Almost midnight. Almost 22 May. I know, it's only 941 a.m. in the East Coast of the USA. So you might have a few more hours to ponder your life and get yourself right with God if this prophecy is true. Or you might have days or weeks or months or decades. I don't know.

But what I do know is that Jesus will return.
And when he returns, he will establish his kingdom. Kings do that, you know?
So humble yourself before Y'shua, the real Jesus, the one who died for you and who was raised from the dead on your behalf. OK?

20 May 2011

Peace, peace, when there is no peace

President Barack Obama has weighed in again in the Middle East. It's not enough that he sent war planes into Libya, and continues the war against terror in Afghanistan and Iraq. Today's video speech about capitalism and democracy again highlights the American's views on his involvement in that troubled region. Watch the speech here If that takes too long, here's the full speech here.

I'm glad people are weighing in on the issue of peace and the Middle East. Last Sunday the Muslim terrorists vowed a 3rd intifada. Elior Levy reported last week (13 May) on YNet news, "The Palestinians are preparing for "Nakba Day" – text messages were sent to tens of thousands of cellular subscribers in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, calling them to take part in the events marking the Palestinian day of mourning over Israel's inception and to ignite a third Intifada.

Police intelligence suggests that the Palestinians intend on holding several prequel events on Friday and Saturday; and though the police believe chances of events escalating into riots are low, reinforced police and Border Guard forces will deploy in east Jerusalem, the Old City and Temple Mount plaza, to maintain order.

Security forces on high alert ahead of 'Nakba Day' / Omri Efraim
Defense establishment reinforces troops deployment in Jerusalem, West Bank ahead of weekend preceding Palestinian day of mourning over Israel's inception.
The main concern is that local protests will prompt violent clashes and mass rioting. As part of security measures ahead of Sunday the police announced that it will restrict the entrance to Temple Mount on Friday to male worshippers over the age of 45, carrying Israeli IDs." Full story here.

Our own Aussie media covered this stirring by Palestinian 'fans' of the intifada movement, which we should call intifadism. The full article came out at the end of March this year. Read it here Good on Facebook for trying to be peace makers. The article said,"Attempts by Facebook to shut down a "Third Intifada" page backfired on Tuesday. More than 7,000 Palestinians immediately signed up for three new copycat pages.

The original "Third Intifada" page, which had acquired almost half a million "fans", was closed down earlier on Tuesday just days after Israel contacted Facebook to complain over comments on it which it said called for "the killing of Israelis and Jews"."

On 17 May, we read on JPost written by Khaled Abu Toameh, "The great majority of Palestinians expect a third intifada to erupt if Israeli- Palestinian peace talks reach an impasse, according to a poll published on Tuesday.

The survey also showed that nearly 80 percent of Palestinians supported the recent reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah." Whole article

Abu Toameh also said, "With regards to peace with Israel, respondents seemed to be equally divided.

Asked, “Do you think that Israelis are interested in making peace with Palestinians?” 44% said no, while 45% replied yes, to a degree. The poll also showed that 40% of Palestinians support the resumption of peace talks with Israel, as opposed to 32% who have a mixed feeling and 25% who are opposed.
Only a tiny minority of 5% is for “military operations” as a way to end Israeli occupation."

So is there hope for peace in the Middle East?

Not if Wikipedia continues its kind of nonsense. Note this page so far still on their site, "The third intifada (May 15 2011) is the third Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation in the Palestinian territories. The uprising began after failed negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel which ended with the Israeli refusal to halt the construction of settlements in the West bank. This intifada was organized by a Facebook group which was banned for advocating violence after attracting 350,000 followers. The intifada was launched during Nakba day, which commemorates the founding of Israel in 1948. Refugees from the Arab World gather around Israels borders in Lebanon and at the Golan Heights in Syria." Wiki page

But there is no intifada. The people of peace seem to have gained some sense for a while. I'm sure some terrorist and evil-inspired person will jump in with both arms waving and flag media attention by suiciding himself and maybe homiciding a few others.

The Jewish Chronicle reported today, "The three "days of rage" planned by various Palestinian groups failed to materialise in the largest Palestinian concentration, the West Bank. In Hebron and Ramallah, Palestinian police prevented thousands of marchers from leaving the city centres and taking on Israeli forces. Despite the unity agreement signed three weeks ago between Fatah and Hamas, the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority's policemen beat up Hamas supporters in Hebron when they refused to disperse.

"The co-ordination with the Palestinians is going as smoothly as before the agreement," said one IDF officer with satisfaction on Sunday. A handful of demonstrations at smaller villages took place with little violence, a few ended in stone-throwing but were dispersed by tear-gas with only light casualties."
See whole article here

Real people with real hearts of passion and compassion want peace. And yet, we have to know what peace we are addressing. Listen to these words from the prophet of Israel.

"From the prophet even to the priest everyone practices deceit...saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace." (so said the prophet Jeremiah in chapter 8, verse 11)

Real peace comes from knowing the Prince of Peace. Real peace is deep within a person; it's rarely the result of a bullet. Remember Mahatma Gandhi's teaching, "What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?"

I remember the words of Messiah, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (quoted in the biography of Jesus written by his follower John 14:27) Knowing Messiah Y'shua gives us peace, inside, and that's where it all begins.

I have watched and re-watched the DVD named "Forbidden Peace." It's a series of stories, real stories between real people, Palestinians and Israelis, who have found peace in the midst of terror and in the midst of trouble. You can order a copy online here

But even if you don't order it, know that real peace CAN happen, if we know the Messiah Y'shua, have repented of our own abundant sins, and lay them all at his feet. He trades those in for his righteousness and peace.

And that's worth making a speech about!

14 May 2011

Chaplaincy: When the news is not new at all

News this week comes from Washington DC and from Melbourne. And both carry stories about chaplains on active duty. In DC it is a military story, and historic, and in Victoria it’s about schools and conversions. But they are both relevant.

The DC story is actually a revelation of 13 Jewish chaplains who served with other chaplains and with military units over the decades and who died on active service. The story from CNN Religion Blogger Eric Marrapodi, tells about 4 chaplains who died together, giving their lives so their charges could live.

The sentiment is thick as thieves in this section of Marrapodi’s article. “On February 2, 1943, the USS Dorchester was transporting 902 U.S. servicemen to war. Only one torpedo hit, but it struck a deathblow - killing scores instantly and resetting the ship's course to the bottom of the ocean.

Amid the chaos four U.S. Army chaplains fought to bring calm and comfort, praying for the dead and encouraging the living to fight for survival. They helped frightened servicemen find life jackets and head to rescue craft. Each of the four chaplains gave up his life jacket to save the life of another.

All four stayed on the ship's new course to the bottom of the ocean and gave their lives so others might live. The last thing survivors saw of the four chaplains, they were huddled together praying.”

One of those was a Jewish rabbi, Lt. Alexander D. Goode. He has not been ceremonially honored as yet. The others were given burial in Arlington National Cemetery, in either the Catholic or the Protestant sections. There is (as yet) no Jewish section there. Some folks are trying to make that happen. Hence the story.

The other story comes from the Melbourne Age today. Seems the authorities have discovered something at the bottom of their piles. It’s not really news, and is more historic than the sinking of the Dorchester. It’s about Christianity.

The Age reported about chaplains considering their work a mission. Yes, that’s the word: mission. Like missionary. Like the Blues Brothers “on a mission.” On 24 April Michael Bachelard reported “The Christian organisation that provides chaplains and religious instruction teachers in state schools has advertised its services as a ''mission'' in an area of Melbourne with a large Muslim population.

An Access Ministries advertising feature shows a Christian chaplain at multicultural Glenroy Primary School talking to two Muslim children wearing hijabs. The headline is: ''Your Community Our Mission''.

In the accompanying article, published last year, Access Ministries' chief executive Evonne Paddison wrote that: ''My prayer is that each child in Victoria, with your help will experience the transforming love of God and his son Jesus.''
More of this story in Age on Mission

Then today Jewel Topsfield reported in The Age, that there are some who want the schools chaplaincy program, begun under the (John) Howard government, scrapped. [“Australian Education Union president Angelo Gavrielatos said the comments highlighted the dangers of the program, which should be scrapped.”]
Why? Seems a 2008 audio recording of Ms Paddison, demonstrated the chief executive telling a conference: ''We need to go and make disciples.''

The remarks appear to breach guidelines governing school religious programs, which ban trying to convert students to any one religion.

This story is here in today’s Age

Here’s my surprise. Did the government just now find out that the Christian church has a mission? Did the words of Jesus quoted by Ms Paddison in 2008, “Go and make disciples” just come up on Google for the Age reporters? Or for the government? The church has always been about going and always about helping and always about making disciples. That’s a natural and supernatural result of the real discipleship of believers in Jesus.

After all, He was on a mission. The Bible says “God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3.16). The Apostle Paul, a rabbi named Saul of Tarsus said this of the mission of Jesus, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” (recorded in Paul’s first letter to Timothy, chapter 1, verse 15)

No hidden agenda. No surprise revelation after the fact. The angel Gabriel told the stepfather Joseph to “call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.” Yes, He taught. Yes, He did miracles. And yet, the reason He came was to restore us to relationship with the Father, to whom we had turned our back. That’s what sin does. And how was Jesus going to restore us? By dying for us, and thus saving us from our sins.

The Church has for 2 millenia been about doing good, healing, helping, and proclaiming this Good News message.

How fitting that this should come into the news as Billy Graham, the 92-year-old American evangelist, is fighting for his life suffering pneumonia. It was when Rev Graham came to Australia that the Melbourne Cricket Ground saw its largest crowd ever. This from Wikipedia, “Until the 1970s, more than 120,000 people sometimes crammed into the venue – the record crowd standing at around 130,000 for a Billy Graham evangelistic crusade in 1959, followed by 121,696 for the 1970 VFL Grand Final. Redevelopments have now limited the maximum seating capacity to just over 100,000. This makes it the tenth largest stadium in the world.”

If anything is clear from Rev Graham both in 1959 and to this day, he is on a mission. He wants everyone everywhere to believe in Jesus. And the Melbourne crowds were well aware of that. No one should be surprised at that.

And an evangelical Protestant mission like Access Ministries or Billy Graham Evangelistic Association or the Anglican church or the Hillsong folks…everyone wants people to find the joy and peace and life and eternal life that’s found in Jesus. This is not new news, but it is Good News.

Even for Peter Garrett. Even for Julia Gillard. And even for you.

11 May 2011

Baby it's cold outside

The top temperature today in Sydney didn't even reach 20 C (68F). It was chilly to the bone. The wind was up, the clouds were thick, the sky grey. It really felt wintry, even though we're only barely into autumn. I wore a jumper, hat and jacket. And still felt the chill.
Chill is in the air after last night's Budget 2011 was announced by Treasurer Wayne Swan of the Labor Party. The Liberal/ Coalition opposition was quick to deride the programs nixed by Labor and to label as wrong so many of the benefits extended, mostly to rural Australia. The cold reception by Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey and others was not a surprise, however.

Also in the air is the chilly revelation that another Qantas aircraft was forced to turn back after being struck by lightning near Auckland today. The incident comes less than 48 hours after one of the airline's Boeing 747s experienced engine problems in the air near Singapore.

Trouble in the air, and no one to bring relief.

Pictured is the famous painting by Thomas Blackshear who also designed illustrations for numerous postage stamps issued by the United States Postal Service (USPS), including four in the Black Heritage stamp series. Blackshear is an African-American. The painting is named 'Forgiven' and depicts a man, caught in trouble, caught by regret, and full of doubt and pain. It shows Y'shua, behind and strong, able and powerful. The title says it all. It's in being forgiven that we find grace and help in time of need. It's being forgiven that allows us to face the results of our sins and face the music. Chill might be in the air, but Y'shua brings us the warmth of his grace and love.

When I read online the many many many views on the painting, I'm struck by how many are struck by the painting. The impact is great. People, as with all good art, see different things in the characters. They see different results and different situations. But everyone who writes sees something. And that's something to be sure, to commend Blackshear.

And maybe you will have a perspective as well. Maybe you are in the kind of pain that this man in the purple shirt is in. Maybe you have done some damage with the hammer like he did. Maybe you are guilty, racked with the reality of that guilt. Maybe you see the holes in the hands of Y'shua and imagine that you were the one who nailed him to the cross. After all, someone did that. And what would be this man's response? What is your response to the awareness that you have, that you are responsible for the death of Y'shua?

After all, the crowd was agitated.
Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Messiah?” They all said, “Let Him be crucified!” And he said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they kept shouting all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!” (Matthew 27.22-23)

The Roman soldiers after weaving a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they kneeled down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. And after they had mocked Him, they took His robe off and put His garments on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him (Matt. 27.29-31)

It was a chilly reality when the sky overhead turned dark for 3 hours. "Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour."(Matthew 27.45)
A Nisan day, and yet chill in the air. Distrust, mistrust, pain, suffering, anxiety. It was like a day at the Kentucky Derby races, with everything on the line. But it was a real day, like no other. Everything was on the line.

And just before Y'shua gave up his spirit (B'yado afkid ruchi), we read in Luke 23.34 Y'shua was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Wow, forgiveness. The missing ingredient in our lives. The reality most required. That which the purple shirt man needed. That which you and I need. Forgiveness. It's found in one place, and extended by One Person-- Y'shua.

Warms your heart, doesn't it? Gives you strength and courage, you know?

10 May 2011

Swimwear and Multiculturalism. A study

This is an age of multiculturalism and sensitivity. It’s not always so easy. That’s what Lisa Burke found out over the last few days. She is an Aussie, living in Byron Bay. She is also a swimsuit designer. She is not on Project Runway.
Seems Ms Burke is the focus of protests by both the Indian government and people. Why? She designed a swimming costume with the likeness of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, which was shown at Australian Fashion Week last week.

Georgina Robinson wrote the article in today’s (Melbourne) Age: “Demonstrators in Amritsar burned the Australian flag and waved placards on Sunday in protest at a skimpy swimsuit... shows Lakshmi - the goddess of wealth and beauty - on the front and back of the cutaway design.”

Australia already had a weakened relationship with India after the cricket World Cup last summer where the sub-continent eventual winners India, took out the formerly unbeaten Aussie side with relative ease.

Ms Burke issued an apology on Facebook and Twitter, even mentioning the people, "We apologize to the Hindu community and take this matter very seriously."

Now the latest news may only aggravate the relationship. We may need our PM, Julia Gillard to help. Seems during the weekend the Bharatiya Janata Partya party called for an apology from the Australian government, according to London's Telegraph newspaper.

Sensitivity. Relationships. Not easy in this multi-cultural world and especially with commercialism and marketing to various other cultures within each country. Globalization makes us want to get our goods to others, but being sensitive is required.

The wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William had us all over the world watching the ceremony, the pomp, and the dress. Yes, clothing can be multi-national to be sure. Consider the Nike swoosh and the impact of Michael Jordan’s Air Nike label.

And Ms Burke was hoping to make her label available and visible to the Hindu market. I guess making a Hindu goddess available may not have made the swimsuit marketable. Let’s hope Ms Gillard can weigh in and help.

Read more: The Age

08 May 2011

Taxes and charities

The Brisbane Times reported today that the new Federal Budget to be reported by Wayne Swan on Tuesday night this week will feature a change in the taxation of churches and specifically of charities. I read the report about this after seeing a tweat by Pastor Brian Houston from Hillsong Church in Sydney.

He wrote in three tweats on Twitter today, "I hope a charities commission protects Hillsong from agenda driven journalism, such as on page 4 of Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald! All activities of Hillsong Church contribute to our non profit objectives. The Sydney Morning Herald HAVE all the info needed to know that! Phillip Coorey & Peter Hartcher know or should know that the only link between Hillsong & Gloria Jeans, is the owners belong to the church!"

Authors Phillip Coorey and Peter Hartcher reported, "The federal budget will put a lid on the practice of so-called charities using their tax-free status to generate business income for no charitable purpose whatsoever. In changes to be announced in the federal budget on Tuesday, not-for-profit organisations will have to pay tax on profits that are kept for commercial purposes and not redirected towards the organisation's altruistic purpose.

The government and the charity sector have grown concerned at the proliferation of groups which qualify as a not-for-profit entity and then launch profitable businesses."

Did Coorey and Hartcher ring Hillsong to verify the relationship with Gloria Jeans? Did they ring Gloria Jeans owners Nabi Saleh and Peter Irvine? Yes, they are members of Hillsong church. Wikipedia says "in mid-2009, Gloria Jean's Coffees International formed a charity, the GJCI "With Heart" Foundation, to support various international charities, including Compassion and Opportunity International."

This new report from Brisbane combined with Swan's budget will have little impact on groups like Jews for Jesus. Here in Australia we operate a book shop in Bondi Junction, the recognized centre of the Jewish community. The report says, "The changes will not affect simple activities such as cake stalls or lamington drives, nor such ventures as op-shops or church hall hire, where the profits are put back into the charity. But not-for-profit entities will have to pay income tax on profits that are not directed towards their altruistic purpose and they will not be able to use input tax concessions, such as fringe benefits tax and GST, for the unrelated commercial activities."

All profits from our book shop go back into the ministry/ organization. So we will not be hampered from our use of profits back into the organization, at least this year.

Feel free to buy things from our catalog (or not), but the products are all useful to understand more about Y'shua, more about the Jewish people, more about the love of God. Catalog

We hope that all churches, all organizations, live within the laws of our country, and that all courts and tax departments live within their requirements and laws as well. No witch-hunting, no 'agenda-driven journalism' as Pastor Brian said. Large churches are often targets of some 'tall poppy' haters. May our Labor Government not be party to such. Let's live honestly and fairly. That's what God would want. Don't you agree?

07 May 2011

Holy man or fraud. Whom can we trust?

Reported in the UK Telegraph by Bonnie Malkin, Sydney
A self-styled Greek Orthodox "holy man" was jailed in Australia for 15 years after he was found guilty of tricking two women into having sex with him by claiming it would lift black magic curses placed on their families. Tony Golossian went to trial last year in Sydney. The court heard that he used his respected position in the Greek community to "brainwash" two women, repeatedly raping them during "prayer sessions" over the course of seven years and telling them that if they resisted one of their family members would fall ill or die.

During the rapes, which his co-accused Arthur Psichogios also took part, he would blindfold the women and tell them that they were dreaming.

Despite maintaining his innocence throughout the trial, Golossian, 63, was found guilty of 24 charges relating to rape of the two women in December and was yesterday sentenced to a minimum of 15 years. Psichogios, 41, was jailed for at least 12 years and his wife Frances Psichogios, 38, who was convicted over the drugging and assault of one victim, was sent to prison for five years.

Judge Penelope Hock said the men had carried out a calculated plan to take advantage of the women's vulnerability, causing them both "substantial" harm, the Australian Associated Press reported.

VICTIMS reported: "I am continually haunted by what has happened and what seems like a never-ending nightmare," one of the women said in her victim impact statement.
Another said: "Bit by bit, day by day, month by month, year by year, they chipped away at my soul and broke me down."

Wow, shame upon shame. Shame because of the hoax. Shame because it was done in the name of religion and an alleged Christian situation. You have to look back at the original version, at the Founder of the religion, to see how it was done.

This from the Apostle Paul, a Turkish born Jew, from Tarsus, who studied under a famous rabbi Gamaliel, and became a follower of Y’shua: “Messiah redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” in order that in Y’shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (in his letter to the Galatians chapter 3, verses 13 and 14)

This matches the activities of the Messiah in his public ministry. “A woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak; for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I shall get well.” But Y’shua turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” And at once the woman was made well.” (recorded by the biographer Matthew, a former tax collector, and follower of Y’shua, in his book, chapter 9, verses 20-22)

This sounds like Y’shua cares about people, wants to break the curse for them and didn’t need drugs to coax them into a brainwash, no need for false prayers, no need for trickery and lies.

Whom can we trust? A phony holy man (Golossian) and his accomplices or a former carpenter (Y’shua) turned preacher who ended up dying for our sins and rising from the dead. The choice is ever yours.

03 May 2011

Philadelphia freedom

A Jewish mate here in Sydney sent me a link to this report from Philadelphia Pennsylvania in the USA. David Rusin wrote this amazing article (titled "May Christians Preach Outside a Philadelphia Mosque?") about an event from 2010 and the commensurate trial. "Yes, the First Amendment still protects Christians preaching to Muslims. But as the Philadelphia case and recent controversies prove, exercising free speech rights amid hypersensitivity toward Islam does not come without costs."

Rusin is director of Islamist Watch, a part of Middle East forum

The case and another one [a month earlier in 2010] in Dearborn, Michigan, highlight the dangers of practicing free speech in relation to Muslims. At least in the changing United States. Where various forms of Christianity are still the state religion in many states, the new state religion may be multiculturalism. Or more specifically a variant form of it.

I enjoy good choral music. Part of what I like is the combination of melody, harmony, countermelodies-- the drama of who is singing what at any particular time. When multiculturalism goes mad, and the courts and police want peace at any cost, then choral music goes thin...it becomes unison singing. Don't get me wrong; I like unison singing, too, but it's not as good, not as thick, not as meaningful to me. I think the world of music improved when Gregorian Chants gave way to Bach and Mozart.

What I mean, if you missed it, is this. If we are really going to practice multiculturalism, then that must include your culture and my culture. It must include the Christians and it must include the Jews and it must include the Muslim, etc. Harmony is the word for it in music, and unison is not what we need.

Governments have to allow Christians to preach in a civil manner in public fora. Offense is not chargeable. Being stupid is not chargeable. No one should prevent someone else from believing what he wants or trying to spread that message to others. Conversations between people on university campuses should not be monitored by the Thought Police to see if the speech is acceptable. Or offensive.

I hope you are not offended by this commentary.

02 May 2011

Ding, dong the wicked witch is dead

I knew how to respond when Dorothy threw the water onto the Wicked Witch, and she melted. After all, she was pure evil. She was green, and Hollywood has told us that if someone is green, they are evil. Life was simpler then. No Kermit. No Incredible Hulk. Just the evil, wicked witch of the west. And now Oz would be a happy place. And Dorothy and Toto, too would make it back to Kansas.

I don't know how to react today. The wicked man, Osama bin Laden, of the axis of evil, master of Al Qaeda, is dead. That's what CNN and President Barack Obama said from The White House today. It must be true. And now the US will be a happy place. And all the military munchkins will rejoice.

Joel Pollak, a blogger and Facebook 'friend' said, "In Israel, it was Holocaust Memorial Day as Osama bin Laden was prevented from perpetrating another one." That's significant. I remember 10 years ago when those young high school boys in Columbine, Colorado, killed so many of their fellow students. The date? 20 April. Why do I remember? It was Hitler's birthday and Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold wanted to 'honor' him in some wicked way.

So today is Yom Hashoah, the day when many remember the Holocaust, the wicked 'final solution' of Adolph Hitler, and his scheme to rid the world of all Jewish people. He failed, thankfully, or I couldn't be writing this blog, Pollak couldn't be updating his status, and Holocaust survivor Simha Applebaum could not be lighting one of the six torches at the ceremony at Yad Vashem in Israel today, 2 May.

I know how to react when it's Holocaust Memorial Day, Yom Hashoah. I ache for my mishpochah who were killed by Nazis. I bemoan the reality of hatred without a cause. I wish along with all other Jewish people that the world would live in peace and harmony.

I know how to react when my football team loses or my candidate doesn't win in an election. I know how to react in so many circumstances.

But how do I react when I hear that Osama bin Laden is dead?

He was wicked, to be sure. He valued evil and longed for terrorism to prevail. That's clear. His nature was tarnished, and his purposes were not civil.

But God does not delight in the death of anyone, does he? On Passover we are taught to diminish our 2nd cup, before we drink, to remember the suffering, even of our enemies. We are cautioned to limit our rejoicing in light of Egyptian pain and death.

So here we see Osama. We know he is gone. There is jubilation on the streets of many cities.

But in my heart, I'm sad. Sad at the loss of another life. He could have done so much better. He could have repented and found eternity and eternal life in Jesus. He needed to be born again and find hope for himself and for Israel and for all people.

But he didn't. As far as we know, he didn't find Jesus as his Savior and thus I'm even a bit sadder. His eternity is going to be worse than his earthly life.

How shall we react when someone passes or is killed? Look, I don't mean to demean the deaths of those thousands bin Laden killed or ordered murdered. In August 1996 Bin Laden issued a fatwa, or religious decree, that U.S. military personnel should be killed. I don't know what the families of those who have died are saying just now.

But for me, terrorism is not going to be destroyed by killing a person. No wonder the US State department is warning US citizens outside the country to be on super-guard. US citizens are “strongly urged” to limit travel outside of their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations in areas of known unrest.

American diplomatic facilities around the world are on high alert, with the potential for violence expected to last for many months.
Travel Warning

This isn't Hollywood, and Osama isn't the wicked witch. But he is dead and the wars continue. Maybe we will see peace soon. Even in our lifetime. For that I'm praying. Even on Yom Hashoah. Amen.