22 December 2013

Loss and found

I have just returned a few minutes ago from the Domain in Sydney. A great night of singing Christmas carols with tens of thousands of Sydneysiders from every continent of earth. Only I didn't stay to the end. I had to look around for something I lost. Actually it was stolen. My camera bag was taken from right next to me while I was handing out tracts in front of the Department of Lands Building as thousands passed by me on their way to the Domain.

I spoke with Darren and Belinda, with Siobhan and Daniel and all their friends and family, with young Matthews, and a few others. A Muslim man wanted to discuss the flyer and the resurrection of Jesus. Another Christian said, "Good on you, mate!" It was a good hour and a half. I had already handed out 1400 flyers.

Then two young Jewish teens came by. Jasmine and her cousin Carmen spoke with me for a moment. I told them to read our website. They live in Randwick and attend high school. Just then I turned back to my bag, and IT WAS GONE!

Less than two metres away from my feet, next to my bag of tracts, which remained, my camera bag was gone. I looked around quickly and saw a couple young boys running, but they had no bag. Still I gave chase. But they had nothing. I found a policeman and quickly told my story. He said "I've seen nothing."

Two ladies, one named Bernadette offered to help. But there was nothing to do. I found another policeman who was helpful. She told me to go to Lost and Found which I did in a moment. They took my details. So did Lost and Found. But there's little hope of someone from the cleaner crew or some other noble person like Bernadette finding the bag and turning it in to the police.

I'm at a loss. I'm out thousands of dollars of camera equipment. I'm sad. And it's not the first time I've had a camera bag pinched, but it feels so wrong. I feel so stupid, and it was 'just there' and then it wasn't. Loss.

My loss however pales compared to that of Jeff and Janet whose 21 year old son was found dead last week in Pennsylvania. They had a $100,000 reward out for any information about him, but that was too little too late. He was taken from a bad area of town and was never seen again. The Bernstein loss must be immeasurable. As is the loss of 22-year-old Daniel to Phil and Sue up in Michigan. I only met the son briefly in October and he was a treasure to everyone he met. But he too was found dead and his parents' grief was extreme. Phil is a pastor and spoke on Moving Forward a couple weeks ago, and about 6 weeks after his loss here: Moving Forward

My loss of a camera and some lenses and the bother is not even worthy to be discussed much less compared to the loss of baby #5 of Ben and Joelle in Sydney. Ben described it after the baby's birth and passing on Facebook: "After a non-eventful labour where everyone was in perfect health with perfect vitals we decided to transfer to hospital as Joelle was not progressing. Our baby showed no signs of distress and we decided to leave while baby and Mum were still healthy before any signs of deterioration showed. Unfortunately on arrival a heart beat could not be found. It was revealed in surgery that Joelle had suffered the beginnings of a catastrophic uterine rupture which is around 1 in 100 chance of happening with multiple c-sections. It could not have been predicted and there were no signs in the car that it had happened. Joelle was in perfect health though tired. It had only just happened and baby was fine when we left. If it had been longer Joelle would have bled out and lost her uterus or even worse, died. The timing was both incredibly unlucky and lucky. Please pray for us and show compassion in our loss. We are both devastated."

Another pastor in Queensland here tweeted about Tosh & Vicky Sturgess who lost their 3-hour old child. Loss multiplied.

I read a website about 'getting help' in times of trauma and loss. It might help you help others today. Emotional trauma

I suppose I'm writing to show myself the perspective of losses and how mine pales. And I'm remembering this photo which I shot on the M4 freeway in Sydney's west. One man's photo is another man's disaster. We just don't 'get it' when we are not the person suffering the loss of a thing or the loss of a son or the loss of a coin.

If you can, pray today for a bit more peace for the parents of the lost children. Pray for me for the recovery of the lost camera/ bag. Pray for the person who stole it from me for his heart to be caught out and shame to be real.

May you know the joy of finding lost things. And if you don't know Messiah, the One who died for our sins and rose from the dead, and the One about whom all these Christmas carols are sung... if you don't know Messiah Yeshua, then the Bible calls you 'lost' and you need to be found.

That may be a bit harsh, but reality bites. And being found is something you can do. It's about putting your faith in Him, and not in you. Faith in Him and not in humanity. Faith in the Savior who died for all your sins. May my loss today help you to be found.

Merry Messiah-mas!

07 December 2013

Change or die

My first cell phone by bobmendo
My first cell phone, a photo by bobmendo on Flickr.

I remember carrying the cell (mobile, hand) phone around Washington DC. The year was 1993 and I was busy traveling from one appointment to another to visit Jewish people, and had to have my phone with me in the new 'reachable' world. After all, the office was not my only haunt; when I was out people had to be able to reach me.

The phone was jacketed by a leather pouch, and the phone itself was nothing different than what I had at home. It was portable only in that I carried it around, but otherwise it looked like a regular desk phone.

Then they brought out the brick and the pouch was gone. The new mobiles from flip phones and sliders to iPhones etc were ushered in. All that is left of those early days are old movies and sentiments and fading memories.

Which today make me think about all kinds of 'old' things. (Hard to call something 20 years old old: compare a university student). Kurt Cobain has been dead for 19 years, Seinfeld has been off the air for 14 years, that is, no new shows since 1998. Is that old?

Sometimes I play sports with older folks and they call me "the young lad." Or they say, "When I was your age..." Age is always relative. My kids think I'm the old guy, and I'm going to guess my grandson will say that with more clarity and conviction. [maybe he already does, but I don't speak toddlerspeak]

All this thinking about age and changing to remind myself, and anyone else who is listening, that reality requires us to change as we age. The cell phone which was only a phone changed and we have smart phones and apps and all things at our fingertips anytime and anywhere. The TV no longer is black and white and analog is gone. My bellbottoms and afro haircut were supplanted by other looks.

This from Alan Deutchman in his book "Change or die" and a review from last year in California. They aver that people will not change and can prove it scientifically. "You want odds? Here are the odds, the scientifically studied odds: nine to one. That's nine to one against you. How do you like those odds?

This revelation unnerved many people in the audience last November at IBM's "Global Innovation Outlook" conference. The company's top executives had invited the most farsighted thinkers they knew from around the world to come together in New York and propose solutions to some really big problems. They started with the crisis in health care, an industry that consumes an astonishing $1.8 trillion a year in the United States alone, or 15% of gross domestic product. A dream team of experts took the stage, and you might have expected them to proclaim that breathtaking advances in science and technology -- mapping the human genome and all that -- held the long-awaited answers. That's not what they said. They said that the root cause of the health crisis hasn't changed for decades, and the medical establishment still couldn't figure out what to do about it."

This makes it that much more significant that people actually do change. The best change ever of course, is to go from darkness to light. From living for yourself to living for God. From sin to salvation in Yeshua. Holy people know that change on a personal level is a function of our relationship with the Almighty.

Change is not something we conjure or create. We are responsive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. That's where real change happens-- inside our hearts. Then the externals are much easier.

Listen, change is never easy, but it's a lot easier to change in belief or in behavior when we belong to the Lord, and live to represent Him.

Let's see how that works out for you.

06 December 2013

Neither Jew nor Gentile?


A believing friend wrote me last week, taking me to task on something I said about Jews and non-Jews. She didn't like it that I titled her a non-Jew, based on an understanding about the New Testament views of the redeemed.

Here is what I began to write her back... enter into the discussion if you like.

You are right, the Bible is clear "there is neither Jew nor Greek," and then proceeds to tell us that there is "neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Messiah Jesus." So let's unpack that a bit. The same apostle who says that, told wives to submit to their own husbands (Eph 5.22) and "let a woman learn in silence with all submission, and I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man..." (1 Tim. 2.11-12). That same apostle told men "older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience" (Titus 2.2) and that the "younger men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works..." (Titus 2.6-7) Paul also taught about women and head coverings in 1 Corinthians 11, which he did not require of men. So what I'm saying is that although "there is neither male nor female" that there clearly are roles and distinctives for men and women. I'm glad there are facilities for men and for women both at arenas and stadia and in theatres.

Same thing goes for "neither slave nor free." Onesimus was the slave of Philemon (see letter of Paul to Philemon verses 10-18) whom Paul sent back to Philemon to get back to work. His slavery was not removed just because Paul led him to faith in Messiah. And Philemon was free, but also has certain rules applied. Paul told masters to "give up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven" (Eph. 6.9) Slaves in fact are to "be obeidnet to those who are your masters according to the flesh.." (Eph. 6.5). In other words, although "there is neither slave nor free" clearly there are distinctions and rules that apply to one or the other.

So how do we understand the "neither...nor" statements of Paul? It has to do with inheritance and access. God has given everyone access to Him by faith. No one is better. No one is worse. No one is 'outside' and thus an outsider. We all can approach the living God. The distinctions in the Temple area which prevented slaves or women or handicapped people or... are not able to prevent us in these days from following Messiah. Awesome, eh?

What do you say?

05 December 2013

Wendy Zukerman from the ABC radio

Interviews are funny things. You think you know what you want to say, then someone puts a microphone in front of you, and ...um... er.... what I meant was .... seem to rise up in my mind.

But I've been trained and know that ums and ers don't work on radio, especially national radio, so those were not there. And the clanging of the dishes was apparent and the clatter of chatter abundant as the people at our Hanukkah gathering shared joy and fellowship with one another.

The question remains though, did I say what I wanted to say, and will the editor or the journo (shown) allow me to say what I want, or will they cut and paste and make me sound, ... less than what I wanted.

The verdict is out until probably a month or more from now.

May God give Wendy clarity of mind as she works on this article/ radio piece for the ABC. May she find eternity in Yeshua also. May the people of Australia find joy in finding Messiah's love.

If you are a praying person, please join me in these significant prayers. Thanks. (PS, don't you like my Hanukkah tie?)