19 December 2012

Truth telling and chicken...a joke for the end of the school term

From my friend Martin Nyberg in the USA: 

My Favorite Animal

Our teacher asked what my favorite animal was, and I said, "Fried chicken."  She said I wasn't funny, but she couldn't have been right, because everyone else laughed.

My parents told me to always tell the truth. I did. Fried chicken is my favorite animal.

I told my dad what happened, and he said my teacher was probably a member of PETA. He said they love animals very much. I do, too. Especially chicken, pork and beef. Anyway, my teacher sent me to the principal's office. I told him what happened, and he laughed, too. Then he told me not to do it again.

The next day in class my teacher asked me what my favorite live animal was. I told her it was chicken. She asked me why, so I told her it was because you could make them into fried chicken.

 She sent me back to the principal's office. He laughed, and told me not to do it again. I don't understand. My parents taught me to be honest, but my teacher doesn't like it when I am.

Today, my teacher asked me to tell her what famous person I admired most.  I told her, "Colonel Sanders." Guess where I am now...

26 September 2012

Getting it right, again

This message was written and preached in 2007 but the message seems to still fill the bill. Even today.

Yom Kippur 5768
21 September 2007
Given at Jews for Jesus
Bondi Junction NSW AUSTRALIA

For those who are with us for the first time tonight, a hearty Shana Tova and a welcome to our public gathering. May your fast be easy tonight and tomorrow. We don’t have many of these gatherings a year, so each one is very special to our staff and to many of our constituency. Each time we gather we take a section or sections of the Bible and see if this Book has anything to say to us, as 21st century people.
Last week we began to consider again this New Year, 5768 and the desire of God to be in relationship with us. That in itself is an awesome point to consider.

Now tonight, we will look at the idea of getting it right…again. Some may grow weary of New Year talks. I never do. For many reasons the Holidays were always a time of good feelings for me. Maybe it was because I enjoyed getting new clothing and attending the synagogue with my parents. I enjoyed starting school again at this time of year, after a long season as we have in the US, of 3 months off from official learning. The weather often began to change at this time, with the leaves turning colours and a crispness in the air in the early morning or evening. The world was going to be different for me, so maybe it would be different for everyone. And I wanted to get it right.

If there was ever a theme in my upbringing it was ‘get it right.’ The words may not have been put in that phrase. The idea of the Jewish understanding of ‘tikkun olam’ was the backdrop, but I never heard that phrase. God wanted his people the Jewish people, to make the world better. He wanted us to ‘repair the world’ as the phrase translates. And although it wasn’t until I was a teenager when I officially learned and appropriated that phrase, the more secular ‘getting it right’ seemed to be a watchword for me and for my family and perhaps for a whole generation.

Let me read to you from the Bible for a moment, and then I’ll come back to this theme.

"Now when John in prison heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples, and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. “And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me.” (Matthew 11.2-6)

Once again we start over, as 5768 is in full swing. Last week Jewish people listened to the sounds of the shofar, blown 100 times each day, to remind us of the sovereignty of the Kingship of the Lord God. The shofar reminds us to repent, to get it right with God, and with one another.

But maybe you are weary of the same old same old. Maybe this idea of annual holidays is wearying. Maybe it’s the idea of fasting, which can be wearying. True story: The other night, I caught a bit of the TV show Entourage, and the setting of this particular episode was Yom Kippur. The Jewish star of the show, Jeremy Pivin and his wife were having quite a row over the holiness of the day, and she was upset that he was conducting his Hollywood business on that sacred day. One of his business associates was equally troubled by his family similarly upset. As if it were really such a hardship, the associate cried out “I’ve been fasting for 10 hours already, what do you want from me?”

Weariness can set in and some stop fasting and others give the public gatherings a miss. You, however, are not among those.

But even though you are present with us tonight, perhaps you are weary.

DOUBT PREVENTS OUR GETTING IT RIGHT…OR DOES IT?

The number one wearying factor is doubt.

Isaac Bashevis Singer said, “Doubt is part of all religion. All the religious thinkers were doubters.”
-New York Times, December 3, 1978

Alfred Korzybski, the great semanticist and scientist, wrote,
“There are two ways to slide easily through life: to believe everything or to doubt everything; both ways save us from thinking.”

One of my favourite thinkers is Blaise Pascal who said, “We must learn our limits. We are all something, but none of us are everything.”

So in the Bible section we read, we see a famous Bible character coming to grips with his doubts. That in itself might encourage some of you. Did you know Bible heroes doubted at times?

So when I say, we’re going to get it right, tonight on Yom Kippur, what is your response?
Doubt…getting it right, can I really do this again? What if this isn’t right? What if I’m totally wrong on this faith stuff?
John the Doubter


Perhaps the story I read of the famous John the Baptist might help you.
John was in prison after working for years in preaching repentance to our Jewish people. He was the last great prophet, and introduced Y’shua, Jesus to the world a few chapters, and maybe a couple years earlier.

Now he’s in prison for his faith, as so many great heroes of the Bible and beyond have been. Men like Joseph and Daniel, people like Corrie Ten Boom and her sister and Richard Wurmbrand and Brother Wu, all imprisoned for their faith.

While in prison John begins to rethink his commitments. He wonders aloud if he’s made the right choice. Sure, it was exciting in the beginning. Yes, God was real and then John actually saw a dove land on the head of his first cousin.

But now there has been testing. Now there has been persecution. Now the king threatened him. And John is rethinking his commitments.

And so would you.

Or at least I would.

But look at what John did with his doubts. Maybe it’s better to say, let’s see what he did NOT do with his doubts. John did not send a message to Richard Dawkins, to be reminded of his laughable faith. John did not send an email to John Shelby Spong, that he would be ridiculed for such silly simplicity.
No, in fact, John sent a message to Y’shua.

John went to a man of faith in times of crisis and in times of doubt.

And what was the reply? What would Y’shua say to someone who had doubts? Like so many encouragers in these days, perhaps he would say, “Hang in there, John, it’s been tough before, but you’ll make it.” Or maybe he would say in the way of identification, “Yes, John, I’ve been where you are many times, and God helped me, so I’m sure he’ll help you.”

Or maybe Y’shua would upbraid John by saying, “John, you announced me to the world, and now you doubt? Ha. What kind of disciple are you anyway?” Or finally Jesus might have simply said, “Trust me John” and sounded like a used car salesman. [With apologies to those of you who do sell used cars for a living.]

These are all valid possibilities, and certainly validated more by the haunting sounds of my own echoes of wrong responses over the years.

No, Y’shua said, “Go and report to John what you hear and see.” Y’shua is telling the friends of John to take back a bundle of CSI evidence. He’s saying that the proof is in the pudding and the pudding is real. Don’t believe because it’s simpler that way. Don’t believe because you were raised that way. Don’t believe as some say, without evidence. Jesus is saying the evidence is in and it’s weighty.

In fact, the quote is from Isaiah, the Older Testament prophet. In chapter 35 we read “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness and streams in the Arabah.” (Isa 35.5-6)

Jesus is saying, John, believe the signs. The evidence is in, and I’m the Messiah, for when Messiah comes, healings will take place and blind will see, and deaf will hear and lame will walk. And John, you’ve seen and heard that. So trust me because I’m to be trusted!

John did the right thing with his doubt. He went to the man and the source of all faith.

When you have doubt, you should do no less.


MESSIAH OUR ATONEMENT

On Yom Kippur, this Day of Atonement, we see a portrait of the perfect atonement that we have in the death and resurrection of the Messiah Jesus. For just as the ancient high priest had to re-emerge alive from the Holy of Holies on this day, as a signal that his sacrifice on our behalf had been sufficient and acceptable to God, so Jesus, our eternal High Priest and perfect Lamb of God, had to re-emerge alive from the grave as proof that what He’d said was true: “It is finished.”
Doubts are quelled and faith is the strengthener.

It’s not some blind faith; it’s resultant faith. It’s caused faith. Faith that came from taking God at his word. What he said he would perform, he did perform. What he accomplished, we can see and hear. And as a result, we can believe him about some propositional truths and about our very life!

The rabbis to this day believe that if all Israel were to celebrate Shabbat at least once, Messiah would come. Combine that with the holiness of this special day, Yom Kippur, also titled “Sabbath of Sabbaths” and you have a double gamble. It’s as if we are doubling down and calling God’s bet. If we can get everyone to observe the day, Messiah will come.

But the rabbis don’t even agree with one another about what is ‘observing the Sabbath.’ How can we all possibly do what they want, when they don’t know what they want? If our Messiah’s coming was contingent on our good works, well we and he would certainly fail.

Friends here in Bondi Junction tonight, I believe Messiah has come. I believe the holiness of this night is unmatched anywhere. He alone is our redeemer. He alone is our Saviour. Jesus alone is our Messiah. And he came to ransom the world from sin and from self-consumption and from selfishness. He’s our only hope, amen?

ATONEMENTS IN OUR LIVES

Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. Actually in the biblical book of Leviticus, the day is named "the day of 'atonements.'" Plural. We say the same in the Kol Nidre. From this Yom Kippur to the next. Interesting. Why plural? Perhaps because it means that many parts of our lives need fixing, not just our life, but our lives. In light of that, what areas might need atoning? What parts of our lives do we need to get right…again?

Let's consider our economic life. God wants to be Lord of our money, our wallet, our giving, and our charity en toto. He cares if we care for others. He gave so we can give to make the world a better place. And when you think about your life of money, you may need to repent of using your money wrongly. Let's get it right. That’s why we said what we did in the Al Khet.

How about our social life? God wants to be Lord of our relationships, of our families, of our daily linkages with others. Do you have someone you need to get right with? Do you relate to others in the way you want them to relate to you? You get the idea.

The same can be accomplished in your dietary life or in your political life or in your devotional life. Get it? Get it right… today for the rest of your life. The way to get it right is to admit you got it wrong, ask God in Y’shua’s name to forgive you, and live in the rightness he brings.

This day, Yom Kippur, is the day of making things right. How about it...for you... will you do that this Friday night/ Saturday? Will you get it right with God and with each other? Will your lives be atoned? Will you be able to smile on Saturday night having completed your repair work?

The Bible says, “So Messiah Jesus was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”-- Heb 9.28

And again we read this in the history of the early Jewish believers, in Acts 3.19
“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord”
Getting it right is about acknowledging how badly we got it wrong. And then not being content about wrong. Not settling for 2nd best. Let’s get with the program. Let’s get it right, now, tonight and from now on.

The way to get it right is simple, but hard. Simple because it’s not about you. Hard because it’s not about you. It’s about Y’shua and his dying for our sins and receiving in himself all of God’s justice. He died suffering our shame and rose from the dead to give us eternal life.

And what is my role? To believe in him and trust him with your life. Not only one segment of it, but the lot. That’s simple and that’s hard. I understand.
Lisa had to do that in the DVD we watched.

Most of us in the sanctuary had to do that one day in our past.
Tonight is your night if you’ve never said ‘Yes” to Y’shua before. Do it tonight. Get it right and then next week, get it right…again.

Invitation

So… let me ask you. Have you met the Lord of the Yom Kippur? Have you ever been born again? Do you have rest for your soul? If not, pray this prayer and receive His love and grace. Father, forgive me in the name of Y’shua for all my sins. He was the Saviour and the fulfilment of all prophecies about Messiah. He is the one and the only one who can save me from my selfishness, from my sin. I acknowledge Y’shua as that one who wants to free me, and who alone can free me. I repent of my sin and accept Y’shua as my deliverer. By faith I am now born again by the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

If you prayed that prayer, please talk to me after the service is over, so we can talk about growing in this knowledge and this relationship with God. For those online please email me

17 September 2012

Israel, homosexuality and freedom of speech

This is from some messianic believers in Israel today.  I'm sure they would welcome some comment and some public outcry. What do you think?

"Dear friends in the Lord,  
This is the third time I write a letter to all of you regarding the lesbian law suit against Yad Hashmona, and this time with a heavy heart over our loss in this case.
The judge ruled against us, claiming that our refusal to allow gay marriage in the Yad Hashmona guest-house is against the law. We were fined 80,000 shekels and together with our expenses in this case, its very heavy on us.

This is a quote from the ruling: "“Every person who opens a public business in Israel should know that they must serve the whole public equally, without discrimination... which covers sexual orientation as well. As soon as the defendants opened their doors to all, they cannot close them for those who they believe do not meet the requirements found in the Bible or New Testament."

Needless to say, we do not close our doors to anyone who comes to Yad Hashmona, on the contrary, we are a living testimony of good news of the Messiah to many Israelis that pass through us. This is what I am here for.- to be a testimony but to hold a marriage ceremony of a lesbian couple in Yad Hashmona is to violate God's requirement over this place that we claim to be a Messianic village, and we could not do that.

The Lesbian couple's lawyer, claims that the verdict is a precedent in the sense that "the court decided that the principal of equality trumps the argument for freedom of religion and beliefs”.

So when it came to our right for freedom of faith, and their right to wed at our village, they won.

What happened yesterday was a shock to me. I know how biased the media is, but the extent of the blindness and aggressive responses, took me by surprise. Immediately upon advertising the verdict as a lesbian victory in the main page of YNET, the Israeli on-line news page, and Ha'aretz, tens of responses appeared praising the couple and calling us many names. No one even considers the small community in this village and its rights, the right to hold on to scriptural principles, the right to be respected and not violated in your own home.

No one approached us for responses or wanted to hear our side, because the media is not interested in our "primitive stand". When I tried to write a comment to the article, like hundreds of others, it was not posted! They rejected again and again my comment and other friends comments who tried to stand with us. Talk about freedom of speech. [Israelprayer: This was also the case at the Israeli newspapers in the Beer Sheva congregation lawsuit]

Letters of mockery were sent to our reception and this morning we received phone calls by angry Israelis attacking our place, saying they did not know we "believe this foolishness" or are "so old-fashioned". Two people called to say they are thinking to cancel their events here.

In Haaretz, it was quoted that the couple "... expressed hope that the owners of the hall wouldn’t refuse to hold gay or lesbian events. Everyone needs to choose where they celebrate. I would be interested to know if they (Yad Hashmona) accept or reject same-sex couples in the future..."

So this morning more phone calls were made by guys asking about wedding details, and the receptionist was afraid it is a trap done on purpose, and asked for guidance what to say to avoid another law suit.

But also good came of it: I received phone calls by religious people, praising our courage to stand on God's word, some even said they wished they had a stage to respond to this gay issue abuse of society. I had a chance to share with some that I believe God sees and hears and He will bring blessing from this.

I always felt that God's verse for our place is from Mathew 5: "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden." Being a group of believers on this hill, a known Messianic village, we cannot hide, even if we wanted to. We cannot hide who we are and that is why we are attacked, it is not us but God on the stand.

I may be offended (which I am today, believe me), but God isn't. He was not surprised when His son was crucified and He is not surprised when people are mocking His principles. He will have the final word and we should not lose heart.

Very soon major decisions will have to be made now in regard to our small little hotel's future. We need to redefine what it is that we serve and what is the name of our business. And if this case means to close the hotel and make it something else..a Bible campus, or a Messianic retreat place... I don't know what, but we will have to do it.

We are carried in Yad Hashmona on wings of grace, I know that. I pray for guidance, clarity of direction and much peace in the process for the people who live here.

Continue to pray for our nation who is so much in the dark, continue to pray for the light to shine in Israel, continue to pray for the "messenger of good news" to do their work.

I usually don't say this, but please DO pass this e-mail around, to other believers, other churches or friends of Israel, we need all the prayer we can have to lift this case up before our father for great testimony!

Thank you for standing with me in prayer,
I appreciate it with all my heart, Ayelet"
If you want to see more, or comment to Yad Hashmonah, use their website link here:  http://www.yad8.com

16 September 2012

Protest and violence

Eight people were held in police custody after violent clashes between hundreds of police and protesters erupted in Sydney's CBD at Town Hall yesterday afternoon. Six police were injured and 17 others were treated for the effects of capsicum spray when a demonstration against an anti-Islamic video turned violent. Police charges include a range of offenses, including affray, assaulting police, resisting arrest and throwing a missile.
 Police said the group began walking along George Street towards Martin Place, where they attempted to enter the US consulate, located in the MLC Centre.

"They were aggressive and violent at times and came into contact with police."
Waving banners with slogans such as "Behead all those who insult the Prophet", protesters listened as one protester told the crowd: "We will never accept the assault on our prophet."
The rally was the latest in a spate of demonstrations at US embassies and consulates in the Middle East, Africa, even Britain and Germany against the film, 'Innocence of Muslims.'
Protester Abdullah Sary, who said he wanted a peaceful protest, told AAP that although he had not seen the film, he was offended because it ridiculed the Prophet Mohammed. "The prophet is more beloved then my family, my wife, my mother and myself. So if someone says this, you can see how upsetting it is."

After the men - with more than 100 police standing in a ring around them - formed lines, fell to their knees and began to pray, what followed was yelling, with the male-dominated group punching their fists in the air and chanting "Down, down USA."

Sticks and bottles were hurled, before police surged up the stairs, restraining some protesters and chasing others.

All levels and sides of politics were quick to condemn the protest with Prime Minister Julia Gillard issuing a statement saying: "Violent protest is never acceptable - not today, not ever."
"The right to protest comes with an equal responsibility to do so peacefully," NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell said.
"That responsibility has been comprehensively ignored today."
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott told the Seven Network it was "completely, utterly and absolutely unacceptable", adding those responsible for the violence should be prosecuted.

When I am angry and want to protest I apparently have that right.
So do the anti-USA people.
I do not have the right to be violent to fellow Australians and certainly not against police.
Neither do the Muslims and others who oppose our connections to the USA or Israel.

The police seem to have done right in this situation, acting quickly and effectively.  Good-on-'em.

What's surprising is that an unseen movie, from the internet, produced by private persons, is a cause to defame a country. And these protesters aver that a country which freely allows its citizens such production and distribution is worthy of defamation and violence, in the name of protection of a dead prophet from 1400 years ago.

Prophets don't need protecting.
Prophets need to be listened to.

Violence to defend a prophet, in this case, allegedly a prophet of peace, is inherently counterproductive and insulting to the prophet.

Beheading all those who insult the prophet would leave a lot of headless Muslims in the trail.

I remember the words of Gandhi (even if no one can find the exact quote) in his comments (although a misunderstanding of the words of Y'shua, "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth") An eye-for-eye and tooth-for-tooth would lead to a world of the blind and toothless.

Here's the downside of freedom of speech. Some people may say things you don't like. They may say things that you oppose. They may say things which hurt your feelings. That's freedom. They MAY DO SO.
And protest is legal and in a free country like Australia, even spoken protest is legal. But violence is not.

Filling out the issue of prophet-defending and judging a film without seeing it are matters for another blog.

For now, my freedom of speech allows me this blog. And allows me to wish all my Jewish mates and colleagues and contacts a very happy 5773. L'shana tovah!

12 September 2012

Jhan the creative (3rd in a series)

hicksvillesunrise by bobmendo
hicksvillesunrise, a photo by bobmendo on Flickr.
It's been a week since my dear friend Jhan Moskowitz went suddenly into eternity. And the last week I've been pondering so many aspects of his life, and photos of our being together and songs he enjoyed and comments he made... you get it, I've been thinking and grieving. Shiva is a worthwhile and meaningful time for such.

If anyone knew Jhan, they would have known him to be a creative man. He and I used to give ourselves to writing projects. We would choose a topic and try our hand at writing some flyer or pamphlet which would take topics secular and move them to topics sacred. We rarely succeeded in our collaboration, but we gave it a go regularly. And the creative juices flowed.

One day Jhan and our friend Baruch Goldstein and I were doing this creative writing project and Goldstein said, "If this missionary thing doesn't work out, we can always move to Madison Avenue." Advertising was what we were doing, but I'm glad we stayed advertising in the missionary world.

Jhan was part of the New Jerusalem Players back in the early days of the 1970s. That drama team traveled the US (see this shot from Kansas where I was living in 1975: NJP 1975 and made scenes that depicted biblical truths. His most famous was the "Moses" skit where the exaggeration of the lisp of Moses continues to make me smile to this day. His creativity showed then, and to the end.

This photo of the railroad station in Hicksville, Long Island, New York, reminded me of Jhan. Some of you will see the movie project (about 30 minutes long, from about 1984 entitled "Still not ashamed") where Jhan opens the project with himself overlooking Chicago, Illinois, and proclaiming that "to you the city might look like a lot of glass and concrete, but it's really people, millions of people..." (To see this part, visit the YouTube here: Memorial video

This photo which I shot in 2006 says the same thing. And it says even more. And that's why I'm (also) thinking of Jhan in it. The photo says train traffic and millions of commuters in and around New York City. The photos says that man is creative in building projects and maneuvering his way in and around the abundance of traffic problems that characterize NYC, even if he has to build a pathway above ground to do so.

But the photo was shot early in the morning that summer day, July 2006. I saw behind the human building project another building project. I saw the Creator painting an awesome sunrise for me and for the millions who awoke that early. And God's creativity is behind a lot of human scenes. Maybe that's what I appreciate about so many who are creative themselves.

I see design in art and in drama, in dance and in poetry. I see God's hand leading my son in his hiphop dance moves and in my daughter's choice of ingredients when she makes a wonderfully impressive dinner.

Behind the scenes of human history is the God whose story we continue to tell. Sometimes we use drama as in 'Moses'; sometimes we use poetry and song, but all the while our being creative is a reflection of something and Someone far greater. We were, after all, created in His image.

If God is Creator and if He is by nature creative, then it makes sense to me that we should be creative as well.

Jhan knew His Creator.
Jhan reflected His Creator.

And now together they are making advertisements and dramatic pieces that will be even better because Jhan went home last week.

Shalom, my friend.

Via Flickr:
Hicksville Long Island and the Long Island Rail Road are not what you would ordinarily think of in a 'nature' section. But the Creator makes His paintings seen... no matter what else is in the photo.

06 September 2012

Jhan the thinker

LCJE Question Queue by bobmendo
LCJE Question Queue, a photo by bobmendo on Flickr.
Auguste Rodin has an entire museum in Paris dedicated to the many replicas of Le Penseur, The Thinker. If Jews for Jesus creates such a museum in San Francisco or wherever we end up moving our headquarters, I'll hope there is a thoughtful mannequin (a la Madame Tussaud's) that somehow shows Jhan Moskowitz, who died on Tuesday at 63 years of age, as a thinker of modern times.

We don't know how well read he really was, but what we do know is that whatever he read, he was able to consolidate and appreciate. He was able to think and process his thinking in a way so few of us even imagine doing.

Maybe some will remember his malapropisms. He was often known for saying thoughtful comments but then dropping in a wrong word. Dictionary.com says this is "an act or habit of misusing words ridiculously, especially by the confusion of words that are similar in sound." That said, what I appreciated was that although Jhan often made mincemeat out of the English language, he had a depth of understanding that was well worth hearing.

I'll miss both his misuse and his thoughtfulness.

You might remember Einstein's famous, "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."

Jhan was ever concerned to get people to synthesize, to take information that people gave, be they reports, or stories, and make the transfer into their own lives. He and Lon Solomon, pastor of McLean Bible Church (McLean, Virginia) argue about which of them started the use of the phrase "So what?" after delivering a Bible class or sermon. Maybe it was Mortimer Adler. He said, "Is it too much to expect from the schools that they train their students not only to interpret but to criticize; that is, to discriminate what is sound from error and falsehood, to suspend judgment if they are not convinced, or to judge with reason if they agree or disagree?”
― How to Read a Book

The most important book to process was the Bible, and in it Jhan found depth and meaning, he found forgiveness and salvation. As did Mortimer Adler, another Jew who found peace in Jesus.

This is blog #2 in the series on the things about Jhan, the things I'll miss about Jhan, the prayers I'm offering for Melissa (whom I will continue to call "Maloo") and their daughters Kayla and Jessie.

Appealing (In memory of Jhan Moskowitz)

Frivolity by bobmendo
Frivolity, a photo by bobmendo on Flickr.
This morning I'm gutted. My friend and colleague Jhan Moskowitz died yesterday and the news is riveting me to the realities of life and death. Jhan was born Alan Moskowitz and during his teenage years changed his first name to something quirky and it stuck. And quirky he ever was. And changing he ever was. He loved change and sought to keep things fresh and alive and renewed as often as he could. No doubt he had some things in mind about changing his situation when the doctors were working on him to the last.

The random fall in the New York City subway yesterday that caused his head to hit the stairs and his death seems so misfortunate. Yet, it's so terminal and so informing.

Death does inform us. Dying makes us ponder what is beyond the grave. Jhan's death will teach many how to live their lives in these days.

This photo was taken a little over two years ago at a memorial service for Moishe Rosen, Jhan's mentor and friend for nearly 40 years. After the painful and joyful memories were shared, after the meal was eaten, after the conversations died down, there was Jhan, along with Stephen Katz and Josh Sofaer sharing some good times, and finding frivolity consistent with the occasion and the one who was being honored.

Moishe would have been happy to know that others were enjoying each other.

Even in this photo Jhan is appealing (hands open and palms upward) to Josh. I liked that about Jhan. Ever negotiating, ever considering, ever pondering. He never lost sight of the greater goal, but he always wanted to ponder and wonder.

Emotions are not my usual state of choice. I prefer the ease of emotionlessness. But today I have no choice. I'm riding the roller coaster of personal thoughts and better wishes for Jhan's wife of 35 years Melissa, and his adult daughters Kayla and Jessie. I'm considering all the moments of history we shared and rejoicing, saddened, even wanting to change things with the Almighty if I could.

I'll share more memories over the next little while about the man Jhan Moskowitz. God has welcomed him into his loving arms and appealing hands.

PS. (More photos on my Flickr site:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/bobmendo/sets/72157631427179570/)

29 August 2012

Empty space

One of the themes I see in my photos is 'emptiness.' Living in a suburb gives me time to ponder and space to do so as well. But city living crashes all around and the signage and the noise and the busy-ness continue to take away time to ponder. So the easy thing to say is that it's never empty space or empty time in the city. That's not true, but it's easy to say.

What is clear is that people tend to try to fill up what is lacking. There is an apparent need in humanity to fill space. Consider government access that the local councils or state have set aside for future roads or public parks. As I look at newer suburbs, the roads grab more and more area, the parks less and less.

In Seoul the river Han is the only real green space that I generally see. The crowded nature of city living and the multi-level office/ residence towers abound with advertising and people and noise all day and night. Empty space is a treasure and a longing.

Maybe that's why I like this shot. I took it in Kurrajong, up the side of the Blue Mountains outside Sydney. The cemetery gives natural emptiness in so many ways. The back of the block is empty. The view of the valley/ city of Sydney puts all the busy-ness of city living in perspective. The mad rushing appears like a calm sea from above.

When we take time apart, we don't come apart. Our lives are calmed. Our God can speak to us.

Have a nice day.

28 August 2012

Blog collections

This week I attended the Sydney Jewish Writers Festival and thought about the next book I need to write. I write regularly, of course, on the Blog, and in emails, and in Flickr, and articles for many sources. But writing a book, that's another story. I wrote my own testimony of faith into the booklet "Who ever heard of a Jewish missionary?" It was published in 1999 and I sell heaps of them annually.

Compiling a book from former writings seems easy, but also sounds disjointed and thus quickly uncomfortable for the reader. So, I'm pondering how to compile blog collections into an easy format. Perhaps if someone looked back through the years of blogging here, they would find a few themes which I regularly re-visit.  Then those would become chapters in this collection. But that sounds like a lot of work for someone.

I'm ever able to be inspired to put thoughts to paper. But what would a reader read, and keep reading, and what would make the reader ask for more?

Then I ponder the Bible, a series of apparently disjoint random thoughts from 40 authors into 66 books which makes the Bible a book of books. OK, maybe the 66 are really chapters. Maybe they each carry a steady theme and thought. Maybe each of the authors from Moses to Amos to King David to Paul and John have one major thought as they write their ideas. What would their blogs have looked like back in the day?

I'll ponder that one, and maybe that will be part of the intro to the book, "Lessons from the Rearview Mirror." Coming to a book shop near you...give me time.

27 August 2012

Austen Tayshus and me

Austen Tayshus and me by bobmendo
Austen Tayshus and me, a photo by bobmendo on Flickr.
[At Sydney Jewish Writers Festival] Another comedian and I shared a moment yesterday. During his comedy act, Austen (probably not his real name), noticed my name tag, called me out and told me, "Mendelssohn converted." I was sure he meant Felix, the classical Romantic musician and composer. Still, what did Austen know?

The conversation from the stage continued, "Bob? What kind of Jewish name is Bob?" Of course, I didn't comment that Austen was not very Jewish, nor were half the Jewish names Jewish at the Sydney Jewish Writers Festival at which we were in Kensington.

Still, I was fascinated by his conversion comment to me. It was a bit incorrect, as neither Felix nor I ever left our Jewish roots. But both did and do believe in Jesus. We'll have to work on AT.

His Catholic friend Steve took the photo on my camera. Neither AT nor I are photoshopped in, but it looks like we both were.

26 August 2012

Choose one or the other

Wesley Mission by bobmendo
Wesley Mission, a photo by bobmendo on Flickr.

I'm writing at 7 in the morning on a Sunday in Sydney. It's sunny outside and the winter weather has been mild to say the least in the last 3 days. I'm going to play tennis with my daughter when she arises, and then will be off to church as is my custom, the last 3+ decades. What will you do? What will most Sydneysiders do this morning?

This thought comes from this photo taken last Monday in Perth, out west. I had preached 6 times in the 48 hours from Friday night. Not at the Wesley (pictured), but my hotel was just next door to the Wesley. I passed it often in the weekend. I liked both the building and the starkness of it. What I mean by the building's starkness is that it was free-standing. Nothing blocked the site. Back when it was built, I imagined that it stood that much more alone, but the city developers have allowed it to be quite visible. Good for them, eh?

Historically in Europe and probably when Australia was young, the church in the village or the hamlet or the town was to be the tallest structure. At times this was an imposition of culture. At other times it was an expression by the town of its comprehensive wish. Either way, no tower, no house, no landmark could be taller than the church.

This is obviously not so, in Australia, as the photo depicts. No trick photography here, that's the St George Bank tower overwhelming the little church. As I shot the photo I thought of the words of Y'shua, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?"

(recorded by St Matthew in his biography of Y'shua (Jesus) commonly titled The Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6, verses 20-25)

Are these words still true?
What will you be doing this morning?

24 August 2012

Emptiness

Emptiness by bobmendo
Emptiness, a photo by bobmendo on Flickr.

I was going to take a photo of a glass which was half full. But this lone tree seemed that much more stark, much leaner, much more empty.

In fact, no one would possibly confuse this with a half-full type of tree. This is an empty tree. Not even a possum nest or the beginnings of any (other) life form is visible. It's an empty tree.

On this golf course, Joondalup Golf Club and Resort, outside Perth, Western Australia, where so many beautiful bushes and flowers and trees abound, you have to wonder why the course designers and the course managers don't remove such an eye-sore.

But perhaps they don't consider this tree an eye-sore. Even as many people evaluate the 'not-yet' nature of so many others as yet undeveloped folks. I'm glad someone looked at me, in the beginning of my faith journey and didn't say, 'cut it down. It's no good." People saw good and goodness in me, and decided to be patient. They saw the work of God going on in me, and knew God was bigger than all my shenanigans.

Maybe that's going on in the course in Perth as well. Maybe they know that this winter will be over soon, and that they will see green buds and green leaves growing in abundance here. I'd like that. I'll keep you posted!

Reality bites

Master of Camden Lakeside by bobmendo
Master of Camden Lakeside, a photo by bobmendo on Flickr.

My friend, Ian Baker, played one of those rounds of golf about which we all dream and then with one blast of the alarm clock find that we have been dreaming. But last week at Camden Lakeside in Sydney's southwest, he had a spotless round of 18 holes ending with 50 stableford points. Usually a very good round would be a total of 36 points. But that day, he bettered par by more than 14 points, qualifying him for this award plaque that our Captain Rod Bailie made for him. Well done, mate!

Then he was presented with the award and some serious cheering at the Monash Golf Club where we played yesterday. 145 other guys played yesterday also, and many were there when Ian received his well-deserved praises.

One of the axioms by which I live on the links is "Golf has a way of reminding you who you are not." To be fair, this was an axiom I invented but which is duly informed by one of those Bible quotes, "Pride comes before a fall."

I'm not saying Ian was proud. I'm not saying Ian is a proud man, or that hubris identifies him, in fact, the exact opposite is true. He seems a lovely and humble guy. But the axiom holds true.

So today I read the scores for yesterday.

B - 47 BAKER, Ian HC: 18 Total Points:19

That means he finished 47th in the B grade competition, and only had 19 points. Sorry to all those non-golfers. Let me explain. He didn't do very well yesterday. And my axiom holds its salt.

Now I'm not picking on Ian. He had one of those golden rounds. And I hope he has another one sooner than later.

The title of this blog is "Reality bites" because even when we are on top of our game, or doing well, or feeling the best, there will come some situation or problem or person who will remind us that we are just ordinary folks. And that we are all about the same as each other.

This fact might make you uncomfortable, but really it's meant to be a relief.

Paul the Jewish rabbi-turned-apostle wrote the following: "For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Messiah Y'shua (Jesus), who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.” (1 Corinthians 1.26-31, Jeremiah 9.24)

We all are in the same boat.
We all are normal folks.
The one about whom to boast is Y'shua.

I wish this for Ian and for you and for all who read this blog.

20 August 2012

Is this necessary?

222/366 Was there a doubt? by bobmendo
222/366 Was there a doubt?, a photo by bobmendo on Flickr.

You've heard the phrase, "Stating the obvious" and this should be the poster for it. This shot, taken in Subiaco on Sunday startled me. Its simplicity was one thing, but it's waste was quite another. I wondered what the 'author' was thinking when he stenciled the letters onto the top layer of bricks. Maybe you have an idea?

But stating the obvious is something I hear often in radio and television interviews. Often it's the result of bad questions tossed up by the interviewers. They ask the pop star, "Are you proud of your latest recording?" What's the singer to say? They state the obvious, and someone thinks that's good television.

Or the opposition in a political debate is asked, "Do you believe that the government idea for (fill in the blank) is good for the country?" This is asked AFTER the opposition has made it clear that the exact opposite is true and useful and helpful to the people. What is the politician to say? They state the obvious.

I work as a missionary in Australia and have lived here for 14 years. Last year I became a citizen. Even so, people ask me, "Do you like it here?" What do they expect me to reply? "No, I can't stand the climate." or "The people are shocking." I must like it at least a little or I wouldn't be settling for now in this fair country.

As a missionary, then let me state the obvious.

Y'shua ( Jesus ) is the Jewish Messiah, slain by violent sinners under a Roman occupation in the First Century, and God raised Him from the dead on the First Day of the week to fulfill prophecy and to grant all who believe in Him to have eternal life.

That's obvious to all who already believe.
That's an obvious statement for those who don't believe but anticipated the words.
That's NOT obvious to those who are new to this concept or who have misheard it in the past.

I suppose that's why I say it again and again.
That's why I still hand out leaflets and share what I believe on websites and blogs like this one.

May you hear these words of eternity and embrace them.

May you then state what becomes obvious to you, to those who need to hear it in your sphere of influence.

Let us exalt His name together forever.

18 August 2012

Jews, still Jews, in Messiah

A dear Christian friend wrote me today, "How much time can a messianic Jew stay on the other side of the cross, when so much is shadow and all fulfilled in Jesus? a sincere question, Bob"

What is striking about this, is the 'other side' comment. I wrote some years ago about a diorama I saw in Tel Aviv, entitled "Bearing the Cross" which in visual actually asked the same question. (Here it is:  Bearing )

It's a worthy question. The obvious retort by a Messianic Jew is ...what makes you think that fulfillment means dismissal? That is, why is Passover to be relegated to 'back then' when Y'shua practiced it? When Paul said, "Christ our Passover" ... and not "Christ our Easter" or "Christ our Anzac..." In other words, the conversation in the 1st century would have been "Gentiles for Jesus? Crazy!" and now we are knocking around the idea of Jews not being Jews any more. Strange, eh?
 
He replied, "I am all for contextualing the Gospel to fit the situation eg. Christian muslims, as long as the reality is not lost in the shadow"
 
And I think the writer of Hebrews would agree with that.  Shadow is not a worthy reality. "For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near." (Hebrews 10.1) That's why so many Jewish believers in the First Century withdrew from Temple worship. The issue for the writer of Hebrews was some of their colleagues who were withdrawing into Messiah-less Judaism. The warnings are clear and continual that the withdrawing will not help anyone.  
 
That said, Jewish life and practice is not shadow. Not in and of itself. Jewish life and practice which follows Torah and the words of the Older Testament are not wrong. Are they? Consider these: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image"Ex. 20.4   (wrong? I think not!)  More covenant teaching: "Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. "(Ex. 20.14-15)  (Wrong? Not on your life!)
 
OK! So you say, those are merely decalogue and thus sacrosanct. I get it. How about these then:
"Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me." (Exodus 22.29)  or "Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness." (Ex 23.1) or "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." Lev. 18.22   Do you still have a problem with Torah? Or do you think homosexuality is inconsistent with God's plans?
 
More commands are here: "And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God. And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD. Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning. Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the LORD.  Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.  Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD. Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee. " (Lev. 19.9-19)
 
Get it! Torah is not shadow. Torah is the constitution of the Lord for the slaves who were recently freed from Egypt who didn't know how to get along in life. We STILL don't know how to get along in life, and thus this was God's wisdom for mankind. It's good news!
 
What is shadow is the missing of the Son of Man who came to fulfill the whole lot and bring man back to relationship with God. And (here's the essence of shadow) thinking that if we fulfill biblical commands that somehow we are accepted and acceptable to the Almighty. Shadow is so much less. Reality is that Y'shua is all God ever wanted us to be and to do. He is our joy and our righteousness and our wisdom from above. Faith in Jesus gives us eternal welcome by the Lord to us all.  Anything less than that is ...less than that.
 
So Jewish life and practice when informed by Torah is enriching. Passover makes sense in the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Shavuot (Pentecost) makes sense in fulfillment in the readings of the Newer Testament spirit pouring, and the abundance of power to fulfill the Law God gave us so much earlier. Wait until Tabernacles (SUkkot) is fulfilled in Zechariah 14's anticipation in the future...what a day of rejoicing that will be.  Being Jewish is not a sin from which a Jew has to repent. Being a sinner who doesn't accept the Messiah of Israel ...that's a shame and a waste. That will leave us only in shadow, longing for something better. And that's found in faith in Jesus. 
 
 

14 August 2012

BDS, boycott Israel. Really?

A few years ago, Iran's Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khomenei urged the Muslim World to boycott anything and everything that originates with the Jewish people.

In response, Meyer M. Treinkman, a pharmacist, out of the kindness of his heart, offered to assist them in their boycott as follows:

"Any Muslim who has Syphilis must not be cured by Salvarsan discovered by a Jew, Dr. Ehrlich. He should not even try to find out whether he has Syphilis, because the Wasserman Test is the discovery of a Jew. If a Muslim suspects that he has Gonorrhea, he must not seek diagnosis, Because he will be using the method of a Jew named Neissner.

"A Muslim who has heart disease must not use Digitalis, a discovery by a Jew, Ludwig Traube.

Should he suffer with a toothache, he must not use Novocaine, a discovery of the Jews, Widal and Weil.

If a Muslim has Diabetes, he must not use Insulin, the result of research by Minkowsky, a Jew. If one has a headache, he must shun Pyramidon and Antypyrin, due to the Jews, Spiro and Ellege.

Muslims with convulsions must put up with them because it was a Jew, Oscar Leibreich, who proposed the use of Chloral Hydrate.

Arabs must do likewise with their psychic ailments because Freud, father of psychoanalysis, was a Jew.
Should a Muslim child get Diphtheria, he must refrain from the "Schick" reaction which was invented by the Jew, Bella Schick.

"Muslims should be ready to die in great numbers and must not permit treatment of ear and brain damage, work of Jewish Nobel Prize winner,
Robert Baram.

They should continue to die or remain crippled by Infantile Paralysis because the discoverer of the anti-polio vaccine is a Jew, Jonas Salk.

"Muslims must refuse to use Streptomycin and continue to die of Tuberculosis because a Jew, Zalman Waxman, invented the wonder drug against this killing disease.

Muslim doctors must discard all discoveries and improvements by dermatologist Judas Sehn Benedict, or the lung specialist, Frawnkel, and of many other world renowned Jewish scientists and medical experts.

"In short, good and loyal Muslims properly and fittingly should remain afflicted with Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Heart Disease, Headaches, Typhus, Diabetes, Mental Disorders, Polio Convulsions and Tuberculosis and be proud to obey the Islamic boycott."

Oh, and by the way, don't call for a doctor on your cell phone because the cell phone was invented in Israel by a Jewish engineer.

Meanwhile I ask, what medical contributions to the world have the Muslims made?"

The Global Islamic population is approximately 1,200,000,000; that is ONE BILLION TWO HUNDRED MILLION or 20% of the world's population.

They have received the following Nobel Prizes:

Literature:
1988 - Najib Mahfooz

Peace:
1978 - Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat
1990 - Elias James Corey
1994 - Yaser Arafat:
1999 - Ahmed Zewai

Economics:
(zero)

Physics:
(zero)

Medicine:
1960 - Peter Brian Medawar
1998 - Ferid Mourad

TOTAL: 7 SEVEN

The Global Jewish population is approximately 14,000,000; that is FOURTEEN MILLION or about 0.02% of the world's population.

They have received the following Nobel Prizes:

Literature:
1910 - Paul Heyse
1927 - Henri Bergson
1958 - Boris Pasternak
1966 - Shmuel Yosef Agnon
1966 - Nelly Sachs
1976 - Saul Bellow
1978 - Isaac Bashevis Singer
1981 - Elias Canetti
1987 - Joseph Brodsky
1991 - Nadine Gordimer World

Peace:
1911 - Alfred Fried
1911 - Tobias Michael Carel Asser
1968 - Rene Cassin
1973 - Henry Kissinger
1978 - Menachem Begin
1986 - Elie Wiesel
1994 - Shimon Peres
1994 - Yitzhak Rabin

Physics:
1905 - Adolph Von Baeyer
1906 - Henri Moissan
1907 - Albert Abraham Michelson
1908 - Gabriel Lippmann
1910 - Otto Wallach
1915 - Richard Willstaetter
1918 - Fritz Haber
1921 - Albert Einstein
1922 - Niels Bohr
1925 - James Franck
1925 - Gustav Hertz
1943 - Gustav Stern
1943 - George Charles de Hevesy
1944 - Isidor Issac Rabi
1952 - Felix Bloch
1954 - Max Born
1958 - Igor Tamm
1959 - Emilio Segre
1960 - Donald A. Glaser
1961 - Robert Hofstadter
1961 - Melvin Calvin
1962 - Lev Davidovich Landau
1962 - Max Ferdinand Perutz
1965 - Richard Phillips Feynman
1965 - Julian Schwinger
1969 - Murray Gell-Mann
1971 - Dennis Gabor
1972 - William Howard Stein
1973 - Brian David Josephson
1975 - Benjamin Mottleson
1976 - Burton Richter
1977 - Ilya Prigogine
1978 - Arno Allan Penzias
1978 - Peter L Kapitza
1979 - Stephen Weinberg
1979 - Sheldon Glashow
1979 - Herbert Charles Brown
1980 - Paul Berg
1980 - Walter Gilbert
1981 - Roald Hoffmann
1982 - Aaron Klug
1985 - Albert A. Hauptman
1985 - Jerome Karle
1986 - Dudley R. Herschbach
1988 - Robert Huber
1988 - Leon Lederman
1988 - Melvin Schwartz
1988 - Jack Steinberger
1989 - Sidney Altman
1990 - Jerome Friedman
1992 - Rudolph Marcus
1995 - Martin Perl
2000 - Alan J. Heeger

Economics:
1970 - Paul Anthony Samuelson
1971 - Simon Kuznets
1972 - Kenneth Joseph Arrow
1975 - Leonid Kantorovich
1976 - Milton Friedman
1978 - Herbert A. Simon
1980 - Lawrence Robert Klein
1985 - Franco Modigliani
1987 - Robert M. Solow
1990 - Harry Markowitz
1990 - Merton Miller
1992 - Gary Becker
1993 - Robert Fogel

Medicine:
1908 - Elie Metchnikoff
1908 - Paul Erlich
1914 - Robert Barany
1922 - Otto Meyerhof
1930 - Karl Landsteiner
1931 - Otto Warburg
1936 - Otto Loewi
1944 - Joseph Erlanger
1944 - Herbert Spencer Gasser
1945 - Ernst Boris Chain
1946 - Hermann Joseph Muller
1950 - Tadeus Reichstein
1952 - Selman Abraham Waksman
1953 - Hans Krebs
1953 - Fritz Albert Lipmann
1958 - Joshua Lederberg
1959 - Arthur Kornberg
1964 - Konrad Bloch
1965 - Francois Jacob
1965 - Andre Lwoff
1967 - George Wald
1968 - Marshall W. Nirenberg
1969 - Salvador Luria
1970 - Julius Axelrod
1970 - Sir Bernard Katz
1972 - Gerald Maurice Edelman
1975 - Howard Martin Temin
1976 - Baruch S. Blumberg
1977 - Roselyn Sussman Yalow
1978 - Daniel Nathans
1980 - Baruj Benacerraf
1984 - Cesar Milstein
1985 - Michael Stuart Brown
1985 - Joseph L. Goldstein
1986 - Stanley Cohen [& Rita Levi-Montalcini]
1988 - Gertrude Elion
1989 - Harold Varmus
1991 - Erwin Neher
1991 - Bert Sakmann
1993 - Richard J. Roberts
1993 - Phillip Sharp
1994 - Alfred Gilman
1995 - Edward B. Lewis
1996- Lu RoseIacovino

TOTAL: 129!

The Jews are NOT promoting brainwashing children in military training camps, teaching them how to blow themselves up and cause maximum deaths of Jews and other non-Muslims.

The Jews don't hijack planes, nor kill athletes at the Olympics, or blow themselves up in German restaurants.

There is NOT one single Jew who has destroyed a church.

There is NOT a single Jew who protests by killing people. The Jews don't traffic slaves, nor have leaders calling for Jihad and death to all the Infidels.

Perhaps the world's Muslims should consider investing more in standard education and less in blaming the Jews for all their problems.

Muslims must ask 'what can they do for humankind' before they demand that humankind respects them.

Regardless of your feelings about the crisis between Israel and the Palestinians and Arab neighbors, even if you believe there is more
culpability on Israel 's part, the following two sentences really say it all:

'If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel."

Benjamin Netanyahu: General Eisenhower warned us. It is a matter of history that when the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Dwight Eisenhower, found the victims of the death camps he ordered all possible photographs to be taken, and for the German people from surrounding villages to be ushered through the camps and even made to bury the dead.

He did this because he said in words to this effect: 'Get it all on record now - get the films - get the witnesses - because somewhere down the road of history some bastard will get up and say that this never happened'

Recently, the UK debated whether to remove The Holocaust from its school curriculum because it 'offends' the Muslim population which claims it never occurred.

It is not removed as yet. However, this is a frightening portent of the fear that is gripping the world and how easily each country is giving into it.

It is now more than 65 years after the Second World War in Europe ended.

Now, more than ever, with Iran, among others, claiming the Holocaust to be 'a myth,' it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets.

This e-mail is intended to reach 400 million people. Be a link in the memorial chain and help distribute this around the world.

How many years will it be before the attack on the World Trade Center 'NEVER HAPPENED' because it offends some Muslim in the United States?
They may or may not be the "chosen race"  but thank God so many chose to help the human race.

13 August 2012

Basketball coaching

I watched the men's final game at the Olympics late last night. It was on from about 11 pm until the Americans came through with 7 to spare for Gold medal honors. It was anyone's game throughout the contest, as 11 points was the maximum spread. And that not until the 4th quarter.

All through the game I kept shouting at the television, for Coach Krzyzewski to hear, "Get those boys moving!" I saw so much standing around, it looked like a Grade 8 Junior High School dance with boys on one side, staring at the other side of the hall.

To be fair, the "Dream Team" didn't really need much coaching. They are superstars, each of them, from LeBron James and Kobe Bryant to James Harden and Anthony Davis, who played the last minute or so. But what I noticed was that when they did play as a team, and moved a bit, even without the ball, they were unstoppable. Most of the game, they stood flatfooted, and it was a one-on-one game of 3 pointers or driving layups for the USA, while the Spanish moved the ball around in a normal 'team' effort. I think that's why they were so close after all. Pau Gasol got layup after layup, driving without the ball, while the Yanks stood watching.

I'm not disappointed in the result, but only in the (lack of) action. Who didn't love the alley-oop to James, but those US pass/assist/buckets were few and far between. We ended with 13 assists, and to be fair, most of those were just passes to open 3-balls. Spain had 22 assists, and looked better. But we shot well enough, especially from the outside, and squeaked by.


I noted something similar when watching Coach Hugh McCutcheon not coaching the US women in their loss to Brazil in the finals of women's indoor volleyball. No playbook; no pad; just a bit of 'go get 'em, ladies,' 'get the next side out' and "USA!" Teams, no matter how well made up, need a coach.

Why am I telling you this? Because my wife was tired of hearing me coaching during the games. And this is possibly something you might want to work on in your life and when it's time to coach, go ahead and do so.

After all, God doesn't just send us a playbook, tell us to read it, cheer us from afar, and hope we do all right. He made a new covenant (Jeremiah 31) and put it in our heart, so we can do it in his strength. He is with us, to the end. Even now.

26 July 2012

If you see something, say something

Anyone who lives in New York City and has ridden a bus or train in the last 10 years has heard this announcement. They have read it on signs and advertisements. If you see something, say something. It makes sense. It's about neighbours and neighbourhoods.

This may be why Voula Papachristou has been expelled from the Greek Olympic Team for a racist twitter comment, according to the Associated Press. The website Keep Talking Greece translated the offensive tweet by Papachristou (@papaxristoutj): “With so many Africans in Greece… At least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat home made food!!!”

Papachristou tweeted an apology in English on Wednesday, but it was too late. She's gone.

So is the statue of Penn State icon Joe Paterno. Why? He didn't say anything. He had done no crime in terms of pedophilia, but he had turned a blind eye to the activities of his offsider. Joe Paterno was recently found guilty of concealing information. Wow, guilty for not saying something.

This calls to mind the classic finale of TV's Seinfeld, with all four characters found guilty of not intercepting a crime in progress. They broke the "Good Samaritan" law, not helping a neighbour in need.

Last week we were shocked by James Holmes, the Denver (Aurora) Colorado shooter who planned the shooting for months, to the point where he was receiving packages regularly ahead of the shooting at both his work and home. His home was booby trapped and strewn with trip wires. Yesterday we learned that Holmes sent his notebook to the University of Colorado, where Holmes had been a student until dropping out last month, ABC News reported.
Fox News reported that the notebook was mailed to a specific psychiatrist at the university and that it contained "full details about how he was going to kill people, drawings of what he was going to do in it, and drawings and illustrations of the massacre."

No doctor reported anything. We are scandalized.

So what are you to do? If you have something to say, for goodness' sake, please say something. If you know someone is on their way to oblivion or to what we religionists call a "Christless eternity" how dare we say nothing. We owe them, we owe the world, we owe our Messiah to say something.

The world is scandalized when murders happen in a movie theatre. And rightfully so. I hope you are scandalized when death happens to a neighbour to whom you have not shared the truths of God's love and kindness. Let's tell the world.

The Bible says, "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!" (Psalm 107.2) and the prophet Ezekiel said it this way, "Hear a word from My mouth (says God) and give them warning from Me. If you give them no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand." (3.17-18) Ezekiel goes on to say, "Yet if you warn the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your soul." (3.19) The point however, is not to save your own life, but to save your friend.

Let's be about the saving of people. No statues. No scandals. Just healthy, see something, say something.

18 July 2012

What is a "new" testament?


From the Jerusalem Post today: "Many MKs opened their mailboxes on Monday morning and were appalled to find a New Testament inside, sent to them by a messianic organization. The Bible Society in Israel, a messianic Judaism institution for research, publication and dissemination of holy books, sent a “Book of Testaments,” which combines the Tanach and New Testament in one, leather-bound volume, published with references in Hebrew for the first time."

David Stern translated the New Testament into English in his Jewish New Testament a couple decades ago and still is the most popular of the Jewish views of the "New Testament" that is out there. It's English, though and the Hebrew version was sent to the parliamentary members.

Some Knesset members were not happy, but it's freedom of speech which allows such, isn't it?

Again from the Post: "MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) sent a letter of complaint to Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, writing that “it cannot be that missionary materials can be distributed in the Knesset.” "Texts that were used to persecute and harass [Jews] cannot be distributed through the front door of the State of Israel,” Hotovely fumed."

The book was accompanied by a letter from Bible Society head Victor Kalisher, stating that he is proud to present the new publication featuring 90,000 annotations, which resulted from cooperation between researchers in Israel and abroad “that love the holy texts.” Kalisher wrote, “Many of the Torah’s prophecies come true in the New Testament.” Kalisher told The Jerusalem Post that some MKs already received books, and he plans to eventually send them to all 120 legislators, including ministers and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

When asked if he would send New Testaments to haredi politicians, Kalisher said: “Every enlightened man expects others to respect the Torah, and should show respect for other religions.” At the same time, the Bible Society head said he did not mean to offend anyone by sending the books.

“This is a tool to promote communication and understanding for the People of the Book,” Kalisher stated."

The "Jewish Annotated New Testament" by Amy-Jill Levine published last year is also gaining traction and as such is also filling a void in academic circles for those Jewish and non-Jewish people who want to investigate, academically or otherwise, the orientation of the Bible in ancient times among the Jewish followers of Jesus. It makes sense.

Jewish people were the first to follow Y'shua. Jewish people were the framers of the New Testament. They wrote the book, and it's a matter of cultural understanding of the New Testament (what some call the New Testimony) that is required to get it right.

If you have a copy, open it. If you don't have one, we have both Stern's and Levine's in our shop in Bondi. Or online. It's worth a read. It couldn't hurt. Or can it?

12 July 2012

Did Jesus exist?

by Craig S. Keener
Professor, Asbury Theological Seminary, and author

Jesus Existed
Contrary to some circles on the Internet, very few scholars doubt that Jesus existed, preached and led a movement. Scholars' confidence has nothing to do with theology but much to do with historiographic common sense. What movement would make up a recent leader, executed by a Roman governor for treason, and then declare, "We're his followers"? If they wanted to commit suicide, there were simpler ways to do it. One popular objection is that only Christians wrote anything about Jesus. This objection is neither entirely true nor does it reckon with the nature of ancient sources. It usually comes from people who have not worked much with ancient history. Only a small proportion of information from antiquity survives, yet it is often sufficient.

We recognize that most people write only about what they care about. The only substantive early works about Socrates derive from his followers. The Dead Sea Scrolls extol their community's founder, but no other reports of him survive. The Jewish historian Josephus claims to be a Pharisee, yet never mentions Hillel, who is famous in Pharisees' traditions. Israeli scholar David Flusser correctly observes that it is usually followers who preserve what is most meaningful about their teachers, whether the leaders were Buddha, Muhammad, Mormon leader Joseph Smith or African prophet Simon Kimbangu.

Interestingly, however, once ancient writers had reasons to care about Jesus, they did mention him.
Josephus, the only extant first-century historian focused on Judea, mentions both Jesus and John the Baptist as major prophetic figures, as well as subsequently noting Jesus' brother, James. Later scribes added to the Jesus passage, but the majority of specialists agree on the basic substance of the original, a substance now confirmed by a manuscript that apparently reflects the pre-tampering reading. Josephus describes Jesus as a sage and worker of wonders, and notes that the Roman governor Pilate had him crucified. On the cause of crucifixion Josephus remains discreet, but mass leaders were often executed for sedition -- especially for being potential kings. Perhaps not coincidentally, Jesus' followers also insisted, even after his death, that he was a king. Josephus was not a Christian and does not elaborate, but his summary matches other sources.

Writing even earlier than Josephus, Syrian philosopher Mara bar Sarapion claimed that Jesus was a wise Jewish king. Tacitus later reports on events from 31-34 years after Jesus' ministry, associating Roman Christians with him and noting that he was executed under Pontius Pilate. These and other sources provide only snippets, but they address what these sources cared about. By comparison, Tacitus mentions only in passing a Jewish king on whom Josephus focused (Agrippa I); nor was Tacitus interested even in Judea's Roman governors. Tacitus's mention of Pilate in connection with Jesus' crucifixion is Roman literature's only mention of Pilate (though Pilate appears in Josephus and an inscription).

From Jesus' followers, who were interested, we naturally learn much more. Fifteen to 30 years after Jesus' ministry, Paul wrote much about Jesus, including an encounter that Paul believed he had with the risen Jesus probably within a few years of Jesus' execution. Rightly or wrongly, Paul staked the rest of his life on this experience. Other early Christians also preserved information; some 30-40 years after Jesus' ministry, Mark's Gospel circulated. Luke reports that "many" had already written accounts by the time Luke writes. Luke shares with Matthew some common material that most scholars think is even earlier than Mark. Only a small minority of figures in antiquity had surviving works written about them so soon after their deaths. What can the first-century Gospels tell us? Certainly at the least they indicate that Jesus was a historical figure. Myths and even legends normally involved characters placed centuries in the distant past. People wrote novels, but not novels claiming that a fictitious character actually lived a generation or two before they wrote. Ancient readers would most likely approach the Gospels as biographies, as a majority of scholars today suggest. Biographies of recent figures were not only about real figures, but they typically preserved much information. One can demonstrate this preservation by simply comparing the works of biographers and historians about then-recent figures, say Tacitus and Suetonius writing about Otho.

What was true of biographies in general could be even more true of biographies about sages. Members of sages' schools in this period typically preserved their masters' teachings, which became foundational for their communities. Memorization and passing on teachings were central. Oral societies were much better at this than most of us in the West today imagine; indeed, even illiterate bards could often recite all of Homer from heart. None of this means that the Gospels preserve Jesus' teaching verbatim, but by normal standards for ancient history, we should assume that at the least many key themes (e.g., God's "kingdom") were preserved. Indeed, many of the eyewitnesses (such as Peter) remained in key leadership positions in the movement's earliest decades. One significant feature of these first-century Gospels is the amount of material in them that fits a first-century Galilean setting. That setting differs from the Gospel writers' own setting. The Gospel writers updated language to apply it to their own audiences, but they also preserved a vast amount of information. This is merely a sample; specialists devote their lives to the details.

Yet, valuable as examining such historical evidence is, we must return to where we started. Logically, why would Jesus' followers make up a Jesus to live and die for? Why not glorify real founders (as movements normally did)? Why make up a leader and have him executed on a Roman cross? To follow one executed for treason was itself treason. To follow a crucified leader was to court persecution. Some people do give their lives for their beliefs, but for beliefs, not normally for what they know to be fabricated. Jesus' first movement would not have made up his execution or his existence. How much they actually remembered about him is a subject for a future post.

From the web: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/craig-s-keener/jesus-existed_b_1652435.html

04 July 2012

On national holidays like Memorial Day, Flag Day and the Fourth of July, patriotic Americans like to fly the flag. If my Manhattan apartment had a yard instead of a fire escape, I too would participate in this custom. (This article was originally written in June 1985)

Our flag—any flag—is more than just a brightly colored piece of cloth. It represents someone or something, and demands a choice from those who see it: whether they will give or withhold their allegiance from what that flag represents.

Although I love my country, the star-spangled banner is not the only flag I choose to fly. As a believer in Y'shua, I am also under his banner. As a staff evangelist here in New York I'm part of a team that is always flying Y'shua's banner before the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel.

During Summer Witnessing Campaign many must be curious about us Jews for Jesus as they see us in our T-shirts of witness, distributing gospel literature and proclaiming our street testimonies to the passing crowds. Surely on many occasions as they note our fatigue caused by oppressive heat, sore feet, and aching backs and as they hear some of the unkind responses we receive, they must wonder why we're out there and what we hope to accomplish.

It's simple. By our presence we're raising the banner of God's love. At Campaign time we raise that banner higher than ever. We must raise it high enough and long enough so that all people, Jews and Gentiles, can see it. They must be made aware of it so they can decide for themselves whether or not they will follow the One it represents.

A case in point is a girl named Nancy. She had seen us before—probably every day—and had regularly rejected each offer of a broadside as she thought how disgusted her Jewish parents would be if she ever brought one of those things" into the house. But one balmy summer day she thought differently about it. She took one.

I answered the telephone at our New York branch office to hear Nancy's voice. "Is this Jews for Jesus?"

"Yes," I responded. "May I help you?"

"I was just handed one of your pamphlets. Now don't get me wrong. I don't believe this stuff; I just find it interesting."

As our conversation continued, Nancy told me of her Jewish background, then began asking about our group. "How many of you are there? You seem to be everywhere!"

"Enough of us to raise the issue that Jews can believe in Jesus and still be Jewish," I answered.

She left no address or telephone number, but she promised to continue reading our daily tracts. Our persistent presence on the streets of New York had pricked the consciousness of that young executive-in-training. As through our presence the banner of King Messiah continues to fly over New York, we pray that many will find the courage to give him their allegiance.

If you want to contact our office in NYC, please ring 212.683.7077. Shalom!

02 July 2012

Messianic Jewish Community (Part 2 in a series)

In this continuing series about the development of the messianic communities, I want to consider two problems (there are many) we have in such development. One of the preventions to community is the stain of bad relationships. A believer in the US wrote me on Facebook yesterday, “It seems here in (city) to be too many communities starting their own small groups, and no one wanting to reach out to the other groups because they have been offended or taken a grudge about someone or something. I hope yours is successful!” We might call these problems Offended Brothers and New Works. We’ll look at the first one today and the second tomorrow.


Offended Brothers
The Bible says, “a brother offended is harder to be won than a strong (fortified) city.” (Prov 18.19). And the verse continues, “And contentions are like the bars of a castle.” A castle is a fortress, usually high on a hill, and the bars make the castle that much more impenetrable. So Solomon is saying that an offended brother is doubly difficult (think exponential, not arithmetic) to conquer, to win, to impress, to sit with. Contentiousness is defined in many arenas. In the IT world, we have three types (there could be more). First, the contention ratio which is competition that applies specifically to the number of people connected to an ISP who share a set amount of bandwidth. There is also lock contention which is a computer science term, in which a mutual exclusion lock reduces the throughput by hindering the concurrency of a program. Finally, in design, there is bus contention, where multiple devices on a computer bus attempt to use it at the same time. All up, there is one clear meaning, that is, there is a limited space and a limited access, and sometimes things vie for the use along with others. Those competitive battles are the bars of a castle.

Applying those outside IT to our real world, contention is a deep feeling. Consider the phrase “Bone of contention.” I think it’s likely first used by Homer in The Iliad in a conversation between Jove and Juno. There “the gods were sitting with Jove in council.” Then the son of Saturn stirred Juno saying, “shall we set them fighting anew or make peace between them? If you will agree to this last Menelaus can take back Helen and the city of Priam may remain still inhabited."

Homer records, “Minerva and Juno muttered their discontent as they sat side by side hatching mischief for the Trojans.” Finally Juno was really angry and replied, “Will nothing do for you but you must within their walls and eat Priam raw, with his sons and all the other Trojans to boot? Have it your own way then; for I would not have this matter become a bone of contention between us. I say further,…” The bone of contention was what some call the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” This is the final annoyance. This is the ultimate. It may not even be the biggest bother, but it’s a bother, and it’s the last one I’m going to take.

That sounds to me like what makes someone walk away from brothers. Contention is the word that describes the ‘battle’ between Abraham’s workers and Lot’s workers. It’s recorded in Genesis 13. They both had much livestock and plenty of room, but they wanted similar turf, so Abraham said, “Please let there be no strife (Meribah) between us.”.. You choose one direction, and I’ll go the other. Seemed fair. Abraham wanted peace and relationships in the family, not strife. That’s healthy and cost Abraham the First choice. And that’s the way it’s going to have to be if we are going to have peace in the Messianic Family also.

Do a search on ‘strife’ in the Bible concordance and you will find verses that remind you of your own sin. Or at least of my sins.

For instance, there “are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him.” So right away if you are serious about following God, you don’t want to do any of these, and the summary (the 7th) is the worst of all. Here they are: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers. (Prov. 6.16-19). The final is the summary of the rest. The apostle of strife is the worst, the one that God hates. Get it?

So, a person says, “I would join your community, but don’t you know I’ve had bad experiences in the past?” A brother offended is harder to be won that a barred castle. They have copped strife. They have been talked about and ridiculed behind their back. Some who probably are not even alive or certainly are not walking with the Lord are guilty of the bad-mouthing, yet the offended brother is not willing to try again.

This is a mistake and must be avoided.

I know; it’s hard to tell yourself that ‘next time will be different’ when you know the nature of man. But God wants us together and that means it will cost you. Again. I’m sorry. You have to keep trying. I have to keep trying. We need offended brothers and sisters as much as the ones who have not found out about that yet.

My Facebook friend said, “they have been offended or taken a grudge about someone or something.” The choice of being offended is yours. The choice of harboring a grudge is yours. The people against whom you held the grudge may be long gone. “Never harbor grudges; they sour your stomach and do no harm to anyone else.” (a quote by Robertson Davies.

Whoever Robertson Davies is I’m glad for his quote from the internet. It’s wisdom, to be sure. The grudge holder is the only one who really gets harm from this. Leviticus 19.18 (the year WW1 ended) says, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.”

Who’s with me?
Who’s with Moses?
Who’s with God on that one? More tomorrow...