28 July 2013

St Paul and the Jews: A study on Romans 11

St Paul by bobmendo
St Paul, a photo by bobmendo on Flickr.
This message given today at Rivers of Life church in Singapore. A study on Paul the apostle and his teaching about Jewish people, from Romans chapter 11.

"Shalom friends at Rivers of Life Church.

I’m privileged to speak with you again today and to be part of your family of faith. I was with you 18 months ago and you were generous to me and financially supportive of our work among the Jewish people. I don’t take that lightly and appreciate your belief in the Gospel of Jesus going to all people, including the ancient people of the Covenants. As I share with you this morning, about a very problematic biblical passage, and see what God has to say about Israel from Romans chapter 11, perhaps this will clarify some theological sticking points and may give you cause to rejoice, or so I hope, that God is ever looking after us, ever challenging us, ever calling us to Himself. I believe as a result of this sermon today that you will trust God all the more, and isn’t faith what it’s all about?
By the way, you have received a white card this morning from Jews for Jesus, and I hope that while I’m speaking you will fill that out and turn it in at the book table or in an offering to us, and we can continue to send you (or begin sending you) our newsletter which we prefer sending to you via email. Thanks.

Preamble: Romans 9-10
To put this in context, Paul the Apostle is teaching the Roman church in his letter to the Romans about God’s Sovereignty and about His choices, so that the believers can be comforted, when challenged by their own lack, their own insufficiency, their own sinfulness. In light of all that, and the assurance that Paul wants for the Roman believers, the Apostle then turns his attention on the obvious question, ‘What about the Jewish people?’ If God chooses the believers, and they have nothing to worry about, what about the Jewish people, who were also chosen by God. Are they still in God’s consideration? Does He notice them?
And what about Jews who don’t believe in anything at all? Are they still chosen? And what about an eternal plan for them and for Israel?

Paul deals with the problem of Israel from two standpoints. In chapter 9 he teaches the sovereignty of God; how God chose my people for himself back in Abraham’s day. In chapter 10 he deals with Israel’s failure to respond to God’s righteousness, ending with the announcement that they are “a disobedient and obstinate people” (10:21). Ouch.

If this were so, then how does Paul resolve the obvious tension? Will Israel’s disobedience win in the battle with God, or will God find a way to deal with the situation so as to safeguard his purpose? This is where chapter 11 comes in. Paul will answer this by looking into Israel’s past, present, and future, which actually brings us into today’s message and our world today in a clear and visible manner.


. Paul is the example today

Paul’s answer is no, and he uses his own life as evidence of this. God is not done with the Jewish people because God saved Paul. If God were done with Jews, then Paul, a Hebrew of the Hebrews would be dismissed and not saved either. So in answer to the question, did God reject all the Jewish people, the apostolic answer is NO!

b. Elijah is the example back in the day

Then Paul continues with the evidence from back when. Against the backdrop of serious whinging by the prophet Elijah, the Bible (1 Kings 19) says that there were 7,000 people who stayed faithful, at the time of Elijah the prophet. In the same way, God has preserved from within Israel, a remnant of people who love Jesus. Some get this mixed up, and think the term remnant applies to the Church, that is, that the Church of Jesus has replaced the Jewish people. But that’s exactly not what the apostle is saying. The evidence of God not rejecting the Jewish people is Jewish people in the Church. So the remnant is the believing Jews, or what we call Jews for Jesus. That the church believes, well and good, but that’s not a fulfillment of the promises of God to Abraham. See what I mean? (Online folks, Paul may have been thinking of
Psalm 94.14

c. There is a remnant (5-10)

Then Paul asks, since Jewish people are mostly rejecters of the Messiah Jesus, have they fallen too far? Did their rejection of the Messiahship of Jesus cause them to fall irreparably? Absolutely not, he shouts. He quotes from Isaiah 44 (They do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so that they cannot comprehend. Verse 18) and Psalm 69 (May their table before them become a snare; and when they are in peace, may it become a trap. May their eyes grow dim so that they cannot see, and make their loins shake continually. Verses 22-23) He says that the majority of Israel’s rejection of her messiah was predicted and it should not surprise us. God uses parables to prevent hearing and He uses the Truth of Scripture to hide truth from those who are hardened against it. So that most Jewish people then (and dare I say, today) continue in unbelief is actually a testimony of God to choose a remnant.


Then in verse 11 and following Paul says that God’s purposes for you Gentiles were helped along by most of Israel saying ‘no’ to the Gospel message. Without Israel knocking back Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah, Gentiles would never have had a chance to hear and believe. You are welcome.

a. Chosen by grace

He has already made a case for the choice of the remnant being made on the basis of grace and not by works. And now he emphasizes that yet again. (5-6) And he makes sure that the Gentiles who are not the remnant, and yet brought near, understand that they are also ‘in by grace.’ He uses two images, one of the lump of dough and the other of wild olive branches.
Verse 21 makes his point so clear, “for if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you.”

“For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience.” (Verse 30)

b. Gentiles have a ministry to make Jews jealous

Paul says the Gentiles in the community of faith, nicknamed the Church, have a role to play and that’s to make Israel jealous. Listen, your new car won’t make a Jew jealous. He already has two in his garage. Your money and glamour are irrelevant to a person with more wealth. They know science. They lead the way in technology and movies. There is one thing the Gentile believer in Jesus has that would make the ordinary Jew jealous… your faith. You have a relationship with the Almighty. You know the Living God. (John 17.2) And that, and that alone is what I hope you share with Jewish mates and work colleagues. When you see them and they are in turmoil, offer to pray with or for them. Attend to their home when they have lost a loved one. Sit with them. Comfort them. Demonstrate the peace of God, which passes all understanding. When you can attend their son’s Bar Mitzvah or wedding, let them see your calm and your patience. Let them know you know the God of peace. That will help make them jealous!

c. Don’t be conceited but fear

In verse 18 we read that Gentiles should “not be arrogant toward the branches.” I guess that would be a natural thing to do. You might think, “aha, those Jews had their chance, and they knocked back the Messiah Jesus, so now it’s my turn.” In a way you are right, but the attitude of arrogance will come back to bite us if you are not careful.

One of my favorite and least favorite verses in the Bible is verse 22. “Behold therefore the Kindness and severity of God.” The two poles of His hands, or if you will, the two hands of God. The right hand is the hand of mercy; the left is the hand of judgment. He is not a one-handed deity. He offers mercy in His first coming; judgment in His 2nd coming. The warning: don’t be conceited but fear.


a. What time is it? Jews en masse coming to faith

The apostle says that this hardening condition on the Jewish people is temporary. That’s good news for the Jews. We read, “a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (.25) so there also seems to be a time frame which ends for Gentiles. Whatever fullness might mean, it’s clear that whatever that is, that this fullness will trigger the end of the time of the hardening. In other words, Jewish people will soften again to the Gospel of Grace and will receive Yeshua en masse.
But Paul has already indicated that in the key passage earlier in verse 15: “For if their rejection be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?”

Let me see if I can unpack that one. Paul says that it was necessary for Jewish people to say ‘no’ to Yeshua so that Gentiles could have opportunity to experience eternal life. But then God will open our eyes, remove the stupor from our blindness, and cause us to see Him, whom we had pierced, and we will accept Him. That’s not only a theory; that’s a promise from heaven. And when that happens, Paul says, buckle your seatbelt, the end is nigh. The phrase, “resurrection from the dead” implies that very culmination of global history.

b. Redeemer comes to Zion: (Isa 59:20-21)
When Jewish people en masse receive Jesus as Saviour and Lord, when Jews for Jesus are abundant throughout the world in cities and countryside alike, when every tribe and kindred and family and tongue includes Jewish people who have become believers in and followers of Jesus, then buckle your seatbelt. The end is near. That’s when the Redeemer will come (in verse 26) In fact, people ask me all the time about signs of the times. About blue moons and about earthquakes and famines and about Israel becoming a nation again after 1900 years away. Look, there’s one sign that is clearer than any other sign in the Newer Testament. That sign is the sign of Jewish people saying ‘yes’ to Yeshua and that’s exactly what is happening across the world today. In the 19th century, over 200,000 Jews joined the church. Since 1967 another 200,000 have been grafted back into the olive branch. To be fair, there are 13 million Jews worldwide and 6 million of those in the Land of Israel, so there is much work to do, and we are doing that work, but a significant threshold of Jewish numbers has been reached. Is it enough? I’m not going to announce anything except that the sign is visible. Reach for your seat belt; the end is near.

c. Who is “All Israel?” (v. 26)
Verse 26 is a sticky one. Paul writes, “All Israel will be saved.” So who is “all Israel?” Some say this is the Church. Although I appreciate that the church is certainly saved and will be saved, the text in front of us doesn’t allow us to switch from Jews to something else without warrant. The apostle has been speaking for 3 chapters about Jewish people and to be consistent he must be continuing to do so. Thus, the Church is not in view.

Nor is this all Jewish people alive throughout history or even at the time of Messiah’s return. That would mitigate against evangelism and would take away free choice… both of which are inconsistent with biblical history. Being Jewish has never been enough to save us; it’s merely a calling and a dramatic one at that, but it was never salvific.

The key is again the use of the term ‘remnant.’ A remnant of carpet is part of the original that is still in place after the rest of the carpet has been dislodged and replaced. When I think of this imagery, there is only one meaning for the remnant and that’s Jewish believers in Jesus. In that way, with God being faithful to the remnant, He is faithful to the original covenant and faithful to His promises, all the while still consistent with His call to include others in the ‘new carpet.’

When you read about the remnant (Isa 28.5), think of Jewish believers in Jesus like me, like Jews for Jesus, like others in Israel or New York City. And know that God keeps His promises.

Verse 33: “the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” When you see God’s hand, can you do anything else? Praise and doxology, that’s what should come out of our being. He is the God of wonders and He has called and kept Israel, even in our times of disobedience. He will call us again, and maybe now is that time. And He has reserved 7,000 in the time of Elijah, and 100,000 in these days, and how many more are yet unknown to you and to me. He is the God who calls, keeps and saves to the uttermost. All we can do is praise Him. He is worthy of all praise, amen?

Final thoughts:
Let me end my talk this morning highlighting the work of Jews for Jesus in a couple places. I was in New York City a fortnight ago and our teams there handed out over a quarter million gospel tracts and over 100 unsaved Jewish people gave us contact information, wanting to hear more from us about Yeshua. That’s awesome.
We have teams in Berlin and Budapest just now preparing for something very similar and in Moscow in September to do the same. Also in Israel in the very dangerous south, our teams are preparing to minister on the streets and on buses and radio and anywhere we can during the month of October. I’m so proud of our volunteers and staff worldwide. I’m humbled to be part of our outreaches, even in Sydney where I’ve lived for 15 years. Your support keeps us out there. Your prayers strengthen us and don’t miss this; they open the hearts of Jewish people to hear us. Thanks for being part of our teams. Every Jew who hears us owes you great thanks as well. "

26 July 2013

Mick Jagger turns 70

Can you find 40 Rolling Stones titles in the following story?

I don’t want to go around and around but everybody needs somebody to love.  This is no luxury. I’m talking about eternity. I might have mixed emotions but we need a connection to the God who made us.

Some to be sure are preachers of doom and gloom. They want to talk about darkness and paint it black. Don’t have your nineteenth nervous breakdown. It’s a good story.  Let’s go back to zero.

Listen, the story began 2000 Light years from home. As another land was in view. God looked down from heaven on all those who had an empty heart. And worse, a heart of stone.  Because of our sin, we were a slave to darkness. We were pretty beat up. Sad, sad, sad.

The Bible says God would replace our stony heart and give us a heart of flesh. (Jeremiah 31)

This is the dirty work. He died for your sins. Any way you look at it, that’s an awesome thing to do.  I can almost hear you sigh. You readily admit, ”I can’t get no satisfaction.” And yet you have far away eyes. You should cry, “Mercy mercy!” Don’t have any sympathy for the devil.
Why are you always suffering? As your tears go by you always say to yourself “I wanna be loved.”  We all have a hole in our hearts that only God can fill; there is no use in crying, no longer a need to carry the beast of burden, God wants to come into your life and make you blinded by love! Y’shua is Lord and wants you to know him. Repent and receive Him as your Savior.

Disregarding this offer might be your biggest mistake. This flyer might be your one more shot. Y’shua, the Jewish messiah, says, “Can’t you hear me knocking?” He’s aching for you to please go home.
Y’shua is returning. He’s coming down again. You won’t always be happy, but you would be a fool to cry.  This could be the last time we tell you this story.

Flip the switch. It’s more than an emotional rescue.

God wants to give you life. For real answers. And real quotable quotes for your life, write me
Bob Mendelsohn
Jews for Jesus
PO Box 925
Sydney 2001
Phone:  +61.2.9388.0559

23 July 2013

Royal Son in hand: Victory for UK

The summer in the UK is full of joy and gladness. So they say. William and Kate have announced the birth of the Royal Son. For cricket tragics, the Ashes are sure to stay in England as the Brits thrashed the Aussies for a 2-0 lead at Lords. Andy Murray finally won and is king of Wimbledon, if they allow a separate sovereign there. Joie de vivre is sure to characterize life this Northern Summer. Add to that the 81 million pounds from May when a Briton won the EuroMillions jackpot. The mystery winner's haul is not the largest ever won on the lottery but puts the ticket-holder sixth on the National Lottery rich list.

The Guardian reported, "A National Lottery spokesman said: "We've been giving the rest of Europe a chance to win big this year but lady luck is clearly shining back down on the UK once again.' "

Didn't you love the ceremony at the Tour de France? This from the Melbourne Age newspaper: "After claiming his first Tour de France victory on Sunday, Kenyan-born Briton Chris Froome labelled the historic evening finish as near "perfection"...Shortly before Froome was presented with the yellow jersey, the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe were illuminated as a tribute to this 100th Tour.

Darkness then fell as the presentations began, with German Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) the first to step up to the podium for winning the final 133.5km stage from Versailles to Paris in a sprint from German Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) and Briton Mark Cavendish (Omega-Pharma-Lotto).

Then came the presentation for the winning team - the Saxo-Tinkoff line-up of former Tour winner Alberto Contador and Australian Michael Rogers, followed by Slovakian Peter Sagan (Cannondale) to receive the green jersey as winner of the points competition, and then the revelation of the Tour, Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar) who won the red and white polka dot jersey as King of the Mountains and white jersey as best young rider.Finally came Froome's ultimate moment of glory, just as the Arc de Triomphe was again lit up in the yellow representative of the race winner's jersey.

After receiving one of world sport's most prestigious winner's garments, Froome, 28, was then joined by Quintana and Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) who finished second and third overall to him at 4mins 20secs and 5mins 04 secs respectively for the playing of God Save the Queen."

Here's the entire article from The Age

Clearly the King of the Kings of England is looking down and shining on the UK. Or so they would think. But it's also about the reality of God saving the queen. And God saving the new royal son. And God saving you and me. It's not Lady Luck, it's the powerful God of the planets. It's not the Man of Steel who will save England. It's not the Duke of Cambridge. It's the King of Kings.

Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah who was the original Royal Son, born of the Father.  That's the One I mean.

The writer of the book of Hebrews said it this way, "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." (Hebrews chapter 1. verses 1-3)

The Royal Son, announced twice by His Father, is still sitting and longing for us from His throne, at a palace much more glorious than Buckingham Palace. The Father said at Yeshua's mikveh, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (Matthew 3.17) Later on after the miracles and teachings and public ministry of Yeshua in Israel 2,000 years ago, the Father again said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” (Matthew 17.5)

I urge you, Britons and non-Brits alike. Let's all listen to Him. Yeshua is the Way to the Father. Care to discuss this?

Royal child on the way

I just watched another interview. The baby is coming. The news media is interviewing themselves. The Royal watchers are more active than Queensland during State of Origin. When will the baby arrive? And will it be a he or a she? We await the queen's posting, not on a twitter tweat but on an easel inside the gates at Buckingham Palace! The queen announced the baby would be a Leo, not a Cancer, so she got her wish apparently. And the queen hopes to meet the new great grandbaby before Friday when she is off to Balmoral. By the way, the easel is the same as the one used 31 years ago when William was born.

The royal baby is on its way with the Duchess of Cambridge in labour in a London hospital, the palace has announced. And we will know things after the encrypted phone call goes from Paddington's St Mary's hospital to the Queen, then the notice on the easel, then the 64-gun salute and a three-hour ringing of the bells throughout London. No one will miss it. No one will be left out. News will travel and people will know.

Or will they? It seems unlikely that anyone will be ignorant, but my guess is that some will be clueless. Even though the information will be everywhere, some will refuse to know or will decline to care. That's fascinating in itself.

363 kilometres from London is Brussels, Belgium. There they swore in Philippe as its new king on Sunday after his father Albert II abdicated, subduing for a day questions about his ability to bring a divided country together and the power of the monarchy.

Philippe, 53, took his oath in Belgium's three official languages - Dutch, French and German - two-and-a-half weeks after King Albert, 79, announced that he would abdicate after 20 years on the throne.

Kings and queens, royalty in Europe. The news about the news about the breaking news.

It reminds me of the birth of another royal baby. And would people believe the news about the news of that royal birth? Miriam was the mother and Yeshua was the royal baby, but it was so out-of-the-ordinary that it seemed too far-fetched. It was unusual. It was miraculous.

Since that time, nearly two thousand years ago, the story about the birth seems to be so foreign it is as if it is in another language, and not an official language at that. Imagine a Jewish person in Israel hearing this. The carol says it this way, "Once in royal Davids city stood a lowly cattle shed, where a mother laid her Baby in a manger for His bed: Mary was that mother mild, Jesus Christ, her little Child.

He came down to earth from heaven, who is God and Lord of all, and His shelter was a stable, and His cradle was a stall: with the poor, and mean, and lowly, lived on earth our Saviour holy."

Doesn't that sound foreign? Doesn't that sound non-Jewish?

But what if we read it in this language? "The Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel." (Isaiah the prophet wrote that one) That sounds a bit more Jewish but still, the whole virgin/baby thing is right there.

In fact, Isaiah (who wrote about 700 BCE) also said this two chapters later, "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called, 'Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.' " George Frideric Handel certainly used both citations for his famous oratorio 'Messiah.' Some who are familiar with that major work will hear these lyrics and his music and imagine this being sung in a church or concert hall at Christmas. But it's originally sung in Judah, the southern section of what we now title the State of Israel.

Isaiah received his visions in the days of "Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah." It is generally thought the vision of the throne scene which occurred "in the year Uzziah died" (Isa 6:1) was the beginning point of his ministry as a prophet (739 BCE). According to Jewish tradition, Isaiah was executed by Manasseh only a few years after he ascended the throne and that Isaiah was sawn in half with a wooden saw (see Hebrews 11:37). This would mean Isaiah prophesied during a period of approximately fifty years (c739-690 BCE).

But our story is not about Isaiah, but the message of the Royal Child on the way. "He is coming!" the prophet might have shouted. "When?" the people might have asked, and he never acknowledged the answer to that. But his famous, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord" was what to do while you wait. (Yes, Handel used that one also, as did Stephen Schwartz in Godspell (This clip from the movie and the baptism of John). Prepare for His coming. Make straight in the deserts a highway for our God!

So the problem might seem one of language, but it's more than that.

Israel, the nation, had abdicated her right as a missionary nation, choosing rather to live either godlessly among the nations around her, or as a 'holy' people separate from and without instructing those same nations. The Almighty had to send another, her Messiah and Deliverer, to chasten, to teach, to prophesy, to correct Israel. Not everyone liked that message. Not everyone accepted Yeshua as the Messiah.

Not everyone rejected that message either. Many Jewish people said, "Yes" to the Royal Son. Yeshua was born of Miriam, in a stable in Bethlehem in Judah (Israel). No 64-gun salute, only some wandering shepherds who were watching their flocks at night came. Oh and some magi (wise men) from some eastern nations (perhaps modern Iraq or Iran)came over to pay respects as well. Kings honoring a king. That makes sense. We'll see that one in the UK soon enough.

Well-wishers, royal-watchers, uncommitted observers... everyone will hear about William and Kate and their baby. The newborn of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. For most of us, this will have no meaning and even less bearing.

For all of us, what we do with Yeshua, son of Miriam, Saviour of the World and Messiah of Israel, has eternal meaning and bearing.

Who is this Yeshua? Did He really die for our sins and rise from the dead? That's what I believe and a topic for another blog.

21 July 2013

Jew denied entry to Great Britain

Jewish man With all the joy of the birth of the Royal Son, with the Ashes squarely in hand for the Brits against the Aussies, and with Andy Murray king of Wimbledon, you'd think that England would have nothing but glee to celebrate and Joie de vivre to characterize it this Northern Summer. But this report from the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle and others is shocking and worrisome. It's about anti-semitism at the border, and a Jewish university student detained and exiled to the US. Read and comment.

"A Jewish student from Kansas was denied entry into Britain for a summer job several weeks ago – apparently due to a customs agent's anti-Semitism.
After being detained for more than nine hours, he was put back on a plane to the United States by customs officials. During that time he was never told why he was being denied entry.
According to the the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, the British man who had offered Louis “Chip” Cantor summer work experience, Kevin Shilling, said the British border agent he spoke to in his attempt to get Cantor admitted into Britian made more than one anti-Semitic comment to him during the telephone conversation they had.
Chip Cantor told his story to two local television stations last month. On June 4, he told KMBC he was traveling to Britain to visit and gain summer work experience, and to participate in a fundraiser for a child who has cancer. He left Kansas City on Wednesday, May 29, landed in Britain after 10 p.m. London time and waited in line to go through customs.
When he got to the front of the line, a female customs agent began looking at his passport. Chip’s father, Chuck Cantor, said his son told him the customs agent was very pleasant toward him until she saw the Israel stamps in his passport. Then she simply walked away with his passport without speaking a word to him. Chip told his father he estimates she was gone 45 minutes to an hour. He never saw her again.
“He has a lot of Israel stamps,” Chuck said. Chip has been to Israel several times including two programs sponsored by Young Judea — the six-week Machon program and a gap-year program. Chip Cantor graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School in 2009 and will be a senior in the fall at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Finally, according to Chuck, a different, uniformed customs agent came to see him and told him the agents would be taking his bags and detaining him for questioning. He was not told why.
Once in the interview room Chip told his father that he was told if he changed any of his answers to any questions, he was going to go to prison.
“He said, ‘Why would I change my answers? I told you the truth,’ ” Chuck said.
According to the Chronicle, Chip wasn’t allowed to be in sight of his luggage and eventually was put into what he described to his father as a detention cell.
“At some point a woman who was wearing a burka came to the cell to photograph him,” Chuck said. At that point he was fingerprinted as well.
As she was doing this, she said to him, “We’re putting your name and fingerprints and photos into a database. From now on it is going to be very difficult for you to ever travel in the United Kingdom or anywhere in the E.U. It will be up to each individual country to decide if they want to admit you.”
Chuck said Chip kept telling the customs agents he had not committed any crimes or done anything wrong. Eventually another agent came to tell Chip he was being deported.
Now several hours after he was detained, Chip was given the opportunity to call his father. Chuck asked to speak directly to the customs agent involved and was connected with Philip G. Yeomans.
After Chuck spoke to Yeomans, he contacted Kevin Shilling, his managing director and owner of Shilling Communications, the British company where Chip was supposed to be employed for the summer. It was about 3 a.m., London time. Shilling, who is not Jewish, called Yeomans.
Shilling noted that while the conversation didn’t accomplish anything, Yeomans made several anti-Semitic comments. At one point, Shilling recounted, when Shilling was explaining the reason Chip was in the country, the customs agent told Shilling that Chip should have lied to the customs agent, adding, “A Jewish kid would find that easy.”
Yeomans, the custom agent, also told Shilling any additional attempts to aid Cantor would be useless and “the little Jew will be on his way back to his rich daddy,” in a matter of hours.
Chip said he was given only a half of a sandwich and very little water throughout the nine hours of detention. In the morning, Chip was escorted to the plane by another customs agent for a flight back to the United States. “The guy walks him onto the plane and in front of everyone, like a prisoner, he says here is this man’s passport. Do not give him his passport until you land in the United States,” Chuck said he was told. The American Airlines purser told Chip that, in 17 years flying internationally, he had never seen anything like it.
When contacted by the Chronicle, Shilling said, “I’m really so sorry for Chip and the way he was treated. I want to reassure all your readers that if they plan a visit to the U.K., once they get past the U.K. Border Agency they will find friendly, welcoming people, without prejudice.”

This report from Israel news
Also this video from KMBC Television in Kansas City.

18 July 2013

Public Lecture

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

Some folks want to watch rather than read. Fair enough. Enjoy this 40 minutes. The Q and A session continued but apparently that part was not recorded. Shame.

So enjoy the video: Yesterday's Guilt... Tomorrow's Fear given in New York City, July 2013

12 July 2013

Yesterday's Guilt, Tomorrow's Fears: The Time is Now

Yesterday's Guilt...Tomorrow’s Fear:
The time is now!

By Bob Mendelsohn
Given in New York City
Public Lecture Series
Jews for Jesus
9 July 2013

Thank you Sarah for inviting me to give tonight’s public lecture on the subject “The Time is now.” And thank you to each of you who has come tonight and those watching online to listen. Who even has time for coming out to hear such a lecture? Who has time to do only one thing at a time, just now? Many here will attempt to multi-task, keeping their cell phones on, writing notes about this talk and about their shopping list at the same time. We are a time-strapped city in a time-poor country, with less time to do only one thing. Please, that said, please try to stay with me for the next hour. I believe it will be worth your while. And let the cell phone vibrate all it wants. Let it be. By the way, if you haven’t turned your phone off or to silent, please do so now. Thanks.
Back in the 1960s Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel sang, “Time, time, time, see what’s become of me, while I looked around for my possibilities. I was so hard to please but look around, leaves are brown and the sky is a hazy shade of winter.” Simon’s lyrics told me back then to make the most of my life, both when I was a travelling hippie and later when I lived in New York City and throughout my days. Time is a-wasting, they said in the South.
John Kennedy said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." And I appreciate Kennedy’s forward thinking. I’m a man of hope as well. And I’m grateful that almost 50 years after President Kennedy was shot, I’m still alive to carry on bringing hope to many.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
There are some things that stop us. If ‘the time is now’ then what gets in the way of our living there?
I believe we can miss ‘now living’ by three things: 1) crippling guilt from the past, 2) tormenting fears about the future, and 3) wrong living for today in a self-consumptive way. Let’s see if we can unpack these and to assist us, I want to tell you the story of a Jewish woman who met a rabbi in a fairly ugly situation and see if that encounter will assist us all to ‘live in the now’ here in 2013.

Guilt that cripples us
First the past. Depending on your self-image you may think of your past as either a glorious memory or as one that is full of regrets. Some will not attend any of their high school reunions because they don’t esteem their current status as significant; they say they have no life. Others can’t wait to sign up to the reunion to show off their university degrees, their blue ribbon spouse and children, their loss of the high school overweight poundage, whatever shows their significance. But most of us are not so trophied; most of us are not so epes as my grandfather would say. Our significance pales compared to the latest celebrity or the best sportsman in the All Star Game. We think we are something, but we are not so epes. And the thing that knocks us back so often is regret and failure from the past.
I know I’m going against the grain here in a Jewish setting. How can we think of a Jewish mother and not hear the episodes of guilt-sharing, which seem so endemic to her role? For instance, consider this case. The woman is very hungry and answers the phone from her distant son with a “So glad to hear from you.” “How are you?” he asks. “Fine, a little hungry,” his mother replies. “Nu, have you eaten today?” the son asks. “No, not in days,” his mother answers. “What! Why not? What’s wrong?” The mother’s guilt-filled answer rips to his heart, “I didn’t want to have my mouth full of food if you would ever call.”
Ruth Whippman writes for many locations, here in the US, from her native UK. This February she wrote a great blog in the NY Times Opinion pages on guilt. I cite the entire page below, but tonight, let me quote only a single paragraph:
The specifics cut deeper. I feel guilty that I almost certainly hurt my mother-in-law’s feelings when I said that thing on the phone to her the other day. I feel guilty that it has taken me three weeks to respond to my best friend’s supportive and lovely e-mail. I feel guilty that I throw my recycling in the regular trash when no one is looking and that one of my son’s earliest two-word speech combinations was “Mommy’s wine.” Most of all, I feel a crippling self-loathing that I am wasting time worrying about any of this self-indulgent nonsense when right now there are children starving in Africa.”
Description: uth Whippman Ruth Whippman is a writer and documentary filmmaker. Her work has appeared in The Guardian and The Huffington Post, and she is a regular blogger for The Independent. Follow her on Twitter at @ruthwhippman. )
Guilt can be a form of manipulation as the telephone story evidences or a real help to correct things we actually do wrong. But either way, thinking and living in the past, with its commensurate regrets and pains, with wishes that didn’t work out and with a massive inability to repair anything, will only serve to prevent your living in the now, and not help it along at all.

“The Negro needs the white man to free him from his fears. The white man needs the Negro to free him from his guilt.” (Martin Luther King)
Guilt actually cripples an otherwise-able walker. It’s near-to-impossible to walk forward if you are always looking backwards. The nearby building or the approaching pedestrian will be your landing pad and no one will find peace. Living in the now is substantially weakened by backwards pondering. The regrets of not taking that position when the boss offered it, or of taking that little pill at university can be equally damaging to healthy living in the now. I feel so badly, you might be thinking, about some event, some excessive drinking party, an abortion, a divorce, typing an email on someone else’s email account… you get it. All probably bad. It’s probably that each of these memories brings you pain. We have to find a way out of the unrelenting tyranny of the haunting past.
That said, this group of people here tonight in the Frydland Chapel believes that guilt can be overcome. And we will see that in the story of the rabbi and the traumatized woman in just a few minutes.

Teddy Roosevelt, our 26th president, said, “The only time you really live fully is from thirty to sixty. The young are slaves to dreams; the old servants of regrets. Only the middle-aged have all their five senses in the keeping of their wits.” Now I’m outside Roosevelt’s consummate years, so I’m on the downward spiral of non-living, but I do understand his chronological layout. Let’s therefore move our thoughts to what some call the futurists; often as President Roosevelt say, ‘the young’ or at least those who are hoping for a better tomorrow.
Actually if I understand his imagery, the dreamers are enslaved. They are never quite able to make it to the goal. They are ‘on the outskirts’ of the destination. They need to eat at certain restaurants only three more times to reach the Diners Club silver level status, or 125 more points to reach a level where the boss will notice them for recognition. Dreams unrealized can be slavery.

Terrorism and tomorrow: Tormenting fear
And I want to take that idea and expand it to include you and to many watching us on the Internet.  Not only do we have yesterday’s guilt crippling us, but also tomorrow’s fears. I’m not talking about plans, but about the inordinate worries and anxieties, which cause us to stop in those very plans. Fears, which torment us and prevent our living in the now. Add on personal trauma, and most comprehensively that which those nineteen hijackers wanted to do on 9/11, to bring terror to many. Thus terrorism has been a fact of life for 12 years here in New York City and around the globe in measure.
Consider fear of the unknown, so marvelously underscored in Hollywood B-grade horror movies and in books that pre-dated them by hundreds of years. This continues to be the major preventative of growth and now-living in these days. HP Lovecraft wrote, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”
Supernatural Horror in Literature . His major influence was Edgar Allen Poe and who in turn influenced the likes of Stephen King.
In fact, I found list after list of hundreds of fears, including Triskadekaphobia. (Fear of the number 13)
. (Fear of the number 666) and what this entire visit to the Jews for Jesus Manhattan Center might be for some of you, Neophobia, the fear of anything new.
“A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears.” (Michel de Montaigne)
The Bible uses the term “Fear” 295 times, with 52 of those in the writings of King David in the Psalms. It is akin to our word ‘apprehension’ but can thwart any kind of living in the now with its anxiety. I was speaking to a man last night in the East Village who wanted more information from us, but couldn’t quite figure out how to get it since he neither gave out his email nor his home address. His fears whether warranted or not prevented his receiving what he might have really wanted. I remember a woman in Australia who was afraid to give her credit card details to me to purchase a book from me on the phone because people were listening to her conversations on her phone she said.
Either living in the past and being tripped up by guilt or living in the future with its commensurate terror and worries… neither is where God wants us to live. Haz’man achshav. The time is now.

The rabbi who brings a woman to the now
But I told you I would introduce you to a woman who encountered a rabbi. The story is found in the Bible also, in Yochanan, Perek Sh’monah. The woman is caught in adultery and the angry mob wants to send her to an early grave. After all the Torah is clear, both in the Aseret hadivrot and in next week’s parasha of Vaetchanan as well, “You shall not commit adultery. (Exodus 20.14) and
‘If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.”  (Leviticus 20.10)
The rabbi in question is approached. The men of the village have caught this woman and want her punished. What would he say?
The Bible records a strange thing.  We read, “Y’shua stooped down and with his finger wrote on the ground.” Was he stalling? Was he doodling? Why didn’t he simply quote the sources like most rabbis or answer their queries agreeing with Torah?
Yochanan tells us that the angry men were misogynists, and were using the adulteress to test the rabbi. They were not interested in her.
Consider her. Her past, filled with guilt and shame, she is then dragged in all her shame and bed linens to the holy man who was otherwise conducting Torah classes. Scandal and shame… from there, and from guilt, not a good place to look at life.
And her future was pretty well defined. She had trauma and fears based on the biblical commands. She was to be stoned. Standing on a pedestal double her height, the two witnesses were to push her off, into a quarry, breaking her neck, and then they were to be the first to throw stones onto her dying body.
Yesterday’s guilt; tomorrow’s fear, all crashed into her now living in a horror-filled moment. She had no escape. Where is her salvation? Where is her deliverance? Where is her hope?
I believe Rabbi Y’shua was elevating Torah out of their meager reach. He was making all their activities and religion to be so much less than what Hashem wanted from the very beginning. R. Y’shua had to teach them that their desire for ruining this woman’s future needed some attention and that they also were guilty. For instance, weren’t two people caught in adultery? Where is the man? Perhaps he was part of the sting. Why didn’t they convene a court and listen to the woman’s story? Setting up courts is one of the 7 laws of the sons of Noah, surely that would have been proper for Jewish people in the First Century, no?
So he begins to write things down. I believe he is writing down sins and their names. He was doing the match the columns test we often used to do in exams in primary school. How do I know that? Two bible verses help inform me here: Exodus chapters 31, and Jeremiah the prophet chapter 17.  Jeremiah prophesied this, “O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.”
Exodus records the giving of the 10 commandments (Aseret hadivrot) God  “gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tablets of testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.” Ex. 31.18.
Put those ideas together. God gave the world the commandments, written by his finger and those who depart from God will be written in the earth. Commandment in one column; sinner in the next.
No wonder Y’shua declared, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Now it’s not enough to have witnessed the sin. But to enter into the judicial system and execution system is to say, “I’m better than you” or “Your judgment system won’t catch me in my injustice.” So Y’shua is elevating the Torah beyond their grasp and beyond their practice and into a realm where they have to cry Abba, and they have to ask for mercy and they have to acknowledge that without Him, they would have no future, they would have no hope from their guilt and shame. They like King David in the Psalms would declare, “If Thou, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou may be feared."(Psalm 130.3-4)

The men leave the scene one by one, beginning with the oldest. Why them? They know their own sins and they admit sins faster than Usain Bolt runs a 100-metre dash. They drop their rocks. They walk away. Then the young men drop their rocks and depart. Good ending. No trial. Court dismissed. 

But what about the woman? She’s unnamed. Just another lady in the crowd.
Guilt. Yesterday. Check.
Fear. Tomorrow. Check.
What happens to her? The Bible in Yochanan records it this way, Straightening up, Y’shua said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Y’shua said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
She well knew her sin. She well knew her guilt. She had no hope of God’s favor.
She well knew the justice of the One who was running the courtroom. He could have sentenced her to death. Easily. Righteously. He did not. Her fears were quelled.
But what about today? Can she live in the now?

Back to our lives today, we could be full of self-consumption and pompous assurance that things will be fine all day, or as we say in Australia, ‘she’ll be right, mate.’  But that may be ill-informed. 2008 a global financial crisis crashed onto our lives, our wallets, our 401-Ks and many have still not recovered. My brother is 67 and was living just fine, thank you very much. But three weeks ago was diagnosed with stage four liver cancer and may not survive the year. We think we are untouchable. We think we are in the now, but honestly, without the presence of Rabbi Y’shua, whom some call Jesus, without Him, the Messiah of Israel and the Savior of that adulteress, without him, our lives would be empty and worrisome. 

With him, we can live in the now.
With him, we can be forgiven of our guilt and our sin.
With him we can be assured of a bright tomorrow without fear, because perfect love casts out all fear and those who know Him, who walk with him, who have received Y’shua as the Truth and the Way to the Father, know the truth, and the truth has set us free from worry and fears. 

Dear friend, if you are cowering from possible terror tomorrow or crippled by the guilt of our ever-present sins in the past, then may I ask you to consider Y’shua, the Messiah of Israel, and hope of the world?
His dying on the cross looked like hopelessness for the waiting world, but in his rising from the dead on the 3rd day, Y’shua brought us eternal life. It can begin today. It can begin for you today. I invite you to confess him Lord and Savior not only of the world, but also of your world. You will never be the same again.

Actual story:
 But Y’shua went to the Mount of Olives.
John 8.2 Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them.
John 8.3 The scribes and the Pharisees *brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court,
John 8.4 they *said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act.
John 8.5 “Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?”
John 8.6 They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Y’shua stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground.
John 8.7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
John 8.8 Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.
John 8.9 When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court.
John 8.10 Straightening up, Y’shua said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?”
John 8.11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

Hazy Shade of Winter
By Paul Simon

Time, time, time, see what's become of me
While I looked around
For my possibilities
I was so hard to please
But look around, leaves are brown
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter

Hear the salvation army band
Down by the riverside, it's bound to be a better ride
Than what you've got planned
Carry your cup in your hand
And look around, leaves are brown now
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter

Hang on to your hopes, my friend
That's an easy thing to say, but if your hope should pass away
It's simply pretend

That you can build them again

Look around, the grass is high
The fields are ripe, it's the springtime of my life

Ah, seasons change with the scenery
Weaving time in a tapestry
Won't you stop and remember me
At any convenient time
Funny how my memory slips while looking over manuscripts
Of unpublished rhyme
Drinking my vodka and lime” (end of lyrics)