27 December 2014

#Ill Ride With You

According to new reports, the hashtag and the story of #IllRideWithYou was all made up by Rachael Jacobs. A clever and good thought, but not a real story that inspired her to invent the hashtag. As if Muslim women were the victims of the siege in Sydney last Monday. They were not the victims; innocent people in a cafe, and subsequent lockdown-causing-1st-world-problems... they were the real victims of the LoneWolf Muslim terrorist, Man Haron Monis.
Then a Kiwi woman has come up with "I'll walk" with you on New Brighton, New Zealand. Story here to help elderly and worried women not to feel isolated as they walk the beach. Again, another 1st-world problem. I pondered if Comanche or Wild Oats in the Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race would have a flag that also parroted "I'll ride with you." I haven't seen it yet, though.

 So that got me thinking, as often happens, about the Lord of Heaven, who calls us to walk with Him. "Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless.” (Genesis 17) OK, not a walk together, but a walk in front of Me, He said. So who walked with God? Enoch also from Genesis "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." (Yikes, that sounds permanent). Then there was Noah "Noah walked with God." (Gen. 6.9) Walking with God sounds like a 'walk in the park' or an evening stroll and I have lived only 63 years, but I find this aspect of my relationship with the Almighty one of the most comforting and appealing. He loves me and wants to be in relationship with me. This is one of the best ways to describe that desire. IllWalkWithYou.

And even in the last book of the Bible, Revelation, we read, "But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy." (The words of Messiah Jesus). #IllWalkWithYou ... that sounds like a commitment we should have, but what else does the Almighty say He will do with us?

 #IllTeachYou. God promises to teach us His ways. That's excellent and needful in these days. We don't know how to get along in Pakistan schools or in Martin Place cafes, or in Boxing Day sales. The psalmist records God's words to us, "If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore." (Psalm 132.12) Sweet! Even in the story recorded in the Ridley Scott movie "Exodus", we read in the original screenplay "And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do." (Exodus 4.15) I get that when I see Yeshua, the master teacher of the Jewish people, of whom we read, "Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David?" (Mark 12.35) "These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum." (John 6.59) "These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come." (John 8.20) Yeshua clearly could have written #IllTeachYou  

#IllDieForYou. "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. but God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5.7-8) Taking the place of another in justice, that's almost unheard of. Taking the death penalty we deserved for our sinning against God...who would do that? Only Yeshua died for us, the just for the unjust. "Messiah also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but made alive by the Spirit." (1 Peter 3.18)

 #IllRiseFromTheDeadForYou Wait, who rises from the dead? Have you ever heard of such a thing? But that's the story the 500 told and for which they died themselves. Listen to this testimony: "He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee." (Luke 24.6) "The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon." (Spoken by Cleopas on First Fruits Sunday in 30 AD) (Luke 24.34) "Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead" (Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2.8) "Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils...Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen." (Mark 16.9, 14)

 #IllPrayForYou. Yeshua promises to intercede for us as he did for Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane. He continues to function as the High Priest as recorded in Romans 8.27-28 "And he that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God...Who is he that condemns? It is Messiah who died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us." And the writer of Hebrews says of Yeshua, "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them." (Heb 7.25)

 #IllReturnForYou. The best day ever will be the day when Yeshua returns. He will fulfill all the rest of the biblical prophecies for Messiah. He will bring justice. He will usher in the future and final Kingdom. He will restore all things and put all things under the feet of the Almighty. "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14.3) Rest assured. He walks with us; He rides with us; He prays for us and on the evidence of His dying and rising from the dead, He will come again and bring in the final consummation of all things. That sounds like a New Year's Resolution to await. It's a promise He will keep. Praise Yeshua!

25 December 2014

Hope, beyond today

The burnt-out world is so clearly in view-- the troubles of today, the situations which drive us mad-- all front and centre, like this broken pair of trees. Is there any hope for what's ahead? Is there really any reason to be optimistic?

Consider the Sydney Siege less than two weeks ago where two innocents were murdered, or the Pakistani village trying to sort out 140 murders (most of whom were children), and the 8 dead children in Cairns killed by a crazed mother. Is there really hope on Christmas?

According to my friend David Mistzal in Lane Cove, hope to be real and valid has to have an object, benefits, and a means. He said that all three are in view in the story of Simeon, the Bible character. Simeon, according to the story, is an old Jewish man, who was visiting or maybe even took up much time in the Temple in Jerusalem. When he was there one day, about 30 days after the birth of Jesus (which many celebrate today on Christmas), he said his famous "nunc dimitis." It's recorded in Luke chapter 2 in the Bible.

David said that hope is found in an object, often in getting extra cash or finding a problem solver, but the real hope of the world, according to Simeon was Jesus. The Bible says, "Behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him and it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah." (Luke 2.25-26)

That consolation, that comfort, rescue, relief, was found in a person, not in winning a lottery. Hope was in the person of Jesus.

Similarly the benefits are there in the same passage.

"Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel." (Luke 2.29-32)

The great benefits and ministry of the baby would be the bringing of hope and light to a fallen world, and although the boy was only an infant at the time, the old man saw in him the salvation of the world. After all, the boy's name Jesus is in Hebrew Yeshua which means 'salvation!'

Finally, the hope has to come in a certain way, and that hope was given us in the cross of Jesus. Although the birth is required so that a life can be lived, and a man cannot die unless he's first been born, we rarely think of the death of Jesus at this season of the year. His birth is so fun and cute and carol-filled. But in the text we read

Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." (Luke 2.34-35)

The old man was predicting that later on, a sword would pierce Mary's soul, as she watched the spear slice open Jesus' side, as they pierced his hands and feet (see Psalm 22.16) and stabbed him in the head with a crown of thorns.

So hope is in view, even in the picture above. The trees have little hope of restoration, but the mountains declare something more.
The Psalmist said, "Unto the hills I will lift up mine eyes, from where does my help come?" (121.1) Many only look to nature for their hope and thrills. But the Psalmist continued, "My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth." (verse 2)

Simeon understood that. He waiting in the Temple. His wait was worthwhile. He saw the salvation of the Lord in Yeshua. You can do that also.

The baby in a manger sweet and cute, wrapped in cloths will give way to the living Saviour, if you call on Him, born is the King of Israel. A light to lighten Gentiles and the glory of His people Israel.

Merry Messiahmas!

23 December 2014


What's just around the corner for you? The sun is rising; the day is beginning; the hopes for the future, even though most of us think 'the future' at this point is only going to last 8 hours or so... it's all in view.

Alfred Hitchcock was the master of suspense and thrillers. He said, " There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it."

Aristotle said, "Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil."

So sometimes anticipation is good and other times, not so good.

What do you anticipate today? On what do you base that anticipation?

I look forward to meeting with Jewish people in the shop. I look forward to being used by God to bring peace and joy to others because of His love for them and His desire to meet them in ordinary life. I anticipate people scurrying to find gifts and to hurry to get to a break from work. I imagine that the world will be better because I'm still alive. This is, for me, "hope."

What do you anticipate today?

22 December 2014

Purpose of the candles

We are writing today on day 5 of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Some wonder if Hanukkah is the Jewish Christmas or Advent since there are candles and gift giving. Also they share the same time period most always falling in December. Also in public squares there are both Christmas trees and Hanukkah menorahs. There are 12 days of Christmas they sing, and 8 days of Hanukkah. Certainly there are similarities, right?

Quick history lesson: The Jewish people were suffering in the land of Israel back in 168 BC under the Syrian Greek King Antiochus. He made life difficult for them. He issued a series of decrees forbidding circumcision, the keeping of Shabbat, and the study of Torah. One day his people set up statues/ idols of Zeus throughout the land of Israel and made the people, including the Jews, bow down to them. He even went so far as to sacrifice a pig in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Not good for public relations with Jewish people. (Jews don't eat pig products and spilling wrong blood in the sacred place would have desecrated the place.)

A Jewish family named the Maccabees rose up and withstood the status quo, raised a small militia to fight against Antiochus and after three years pushed them out of the Temple area. The revolutionaries dedicated the Temple back to the Lord God and that's the end of the story. The Hebrew word for 'dedicate' is "Hanukkah" so the holiday (Dedication) is a reminder every year that sometimes the little guy can beat up the bad guy (Compare David and Goliath) and God can win victories for His people who trust Him.

Then the questions arise about candles and 7 or 8 or 9 of them at that.

According to the legend, the priests found a bit of oil, only enough to light the menorah (7-branched candelabrum) for one day, but after 8 days the lights still flickered. By then the priests were able to consecrate new oil and normalcy returned to the Temple. So since the oil lasted for 8 days, we celebrate the holiday for 8 days. Also since oil was so 'central' to the holiday then, we eat foods fried in oil like potato pancakes (latkes) and doughnuts (sufganiyot).

So why 9 candles or 7 or 8?

The eight days of the 'miracle' are noted by lighting 8 candles. The bonus candle is titled the 'shamash' or servant candle. The candles are normally allowed to burn out on their own after a minimum of 1/2 hour, but if necessary they can be blown out at any time after that 1/2 hour.

Why the shamash candle? The Hanukkah candles are for pleasure only; we are not allowed to use them for any productive purpose. We keep an extra one around (the shammus), so that if we need to do something useful with a candle, we don't accidentally use the Hanukkah candles. The extra candle is at a different height so that it is easily identified as the shamash.

Hope that helps!

16 December 2014

Hanukkah - Dreidel - music video by Jewish a cappella group Shir Soul - ...

Hanukkah medley and sung a cappella by a great all-men quartet, with fun dreidel spinning to boot. 

Happy Hanukkah tonight everyone. Celebrate Light in the Darkness.

15 December 2014

When is trauma 'terror?'

"A gunman is holding up to 50 people hostage at a cafe in Martin Place in Sydney. At least one offender took hostages at the popular Lindt chocolate cafe, which has several entrances, just before 10am. Some members of staff could be seen wearing their shop aprons and standing with their hands up at the windows. There is also a black and white flag being held up in a window. It is [believed to be] the Black Standard, a jihadist flag. The incident has not been branded a terrorist attack yet, but police have confirmed they have “moved to a footing consistent with a terrorism event” in their response.
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione told reporters this afternoon it remained a hostage situation “but we are ready to escalate if we need to”. They did not have “direct contact” with the hostage-taker." (news.com.au)

This took place on the morning when further terrorist activities and raids happened in Beecroft in Sydney's northwest. This morning a Sydney man was taken into custody on suspicion of terrorism-related offences after a morning raid from counter-terrorism units of the Australian Federal Police and NSW Police. AFP confirmed a 25-year-old Beecroft man was arrested by the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) as part of continuing investigations into the planning of a terrorist attack on Australian soil and the facilitation of travel of Australian citizens to Syria to engage in armed combat.

Are these two episodes related? We will soon find out. So when is a terrorist action titled 'terrorism?'

Certainly there is plenty of trauma happening in the CBD just now and for the last 8 hours. And people who think "Lindt chocolates" will remember the episode of this morning for years to come. So with the Islamic flag and the hostility, why are we afraid or reluctant to title this 'terror?'
Time will tell, but I think the counter-terror squad ought to be brought in. We are praying for the government, the mayor, the prime minister, the police, and all in authority. We also are watching our back in Bondi. You never know.

11 December 2014

To tell the truth

When I was a kid in the US, black and white game shows filled the afternoon and early evening time slots on the television. One of my favorites was a 'solve the mystery' game of choosing between two imposters and an honest person in a show called "To tell the truth." Bud Collier was the host, and sometimes (as in this episode) Merv Griffin sat in for him.Within 7 minutes the truth was revealed.

See the episode and guess who is the Aussie Reg Evans who saved President John F Kennedy back in World War 2.  To tell episode 1961 (Also in this episode is a set of twins who are bat boys for the new Minnesota Twins baseball team and a cattle photographer). Regular panelists during the 14-year run of the show were Don Ameche, Orson Bean, Johnny Carson, Ralph Bellamy, Polly Bergen, Kitty Carlisle, Peggy Cass, Bert Convy, Hy Gardner, Phyllis Newman and Tom Poston.

The great thing about this fact-finding game is that within 7 minutes you discover truth, the crowd applauds, prize money (up to $1,000) is awarded along with a carton of cigarettes, and it's all nice and neat.

If only finding out the truth could happen in the world today, some 53 years later, with such ease and in such a time frame. Do I dream or is this a delusion?

Today I read a report from Israel. Actually just mention the word "Israel" and immediately lines in the sand are drawn, sides taken, and opinions delivered. How is someone supposed to have a reasonable conversation with another when 'truth' has already either been stated or withheld?

So today I read this about photography. And journalistic honesty. Photo truth from the Jewish Forward newspaper. The photographer is questioned and answers about staging pictures. I think about this often when I'm trying to capture a moment on a golf course, or in a concert, with a baby or family, a wedding...you get it. The tough thing about photojournalism is readiness and patience. And if you miss a moment, be honest-- you missed the moment.

Here's the real photo story about the two Israeli boys. True story The whole episode came to the fore in the Gaza conflict last August. What is the truth about what's going on, or was going on, or will be going on in Israel?

I hear that a lot lately in the US news which I often monitor from here in Sydney. Michael Brown is the black man in Ferguson, Missouri who was killed last August. The 'hands up' commentary by the Rev Al Sharpton and repeated by thousands country-wide is supposed to replicate a scene from last summer, but it's also not the truth. The Grand Jury sorted that out well, and the testimony and evidence is all available. Or is it? Even today more evidence is yet to be revealed. And each of us who wonders wants to know, did the Grand Jury get it right? We actually set ourselves up to be the jury ourselves. Dear CNN and BBS, please send all data to me. I will be deciding and will reveal my decision in due course. Thank you.

BBC has a bit on Grand Jury here

And even as I was driving to work today, I heard on the news about a Palestinian leader, Ziad Abu Ein, who was killed today in the West Bank. The story from the Arab side is  published here.

Who is this man? This from the Israeli side of things today. JPost report

Ziad Abu Ein was sentenced to life in prison by an Israeli court in 1982 for his role in a bombing that murdered two Israeli teenagers in Tiberias in 1979. He was released in 1985 in prisoner swap.

Just for fun: a joke

Reunion Lunch
A group of chaps, all aged 40, discussed where they should meet for a reunion lunch. Finally it was agreed that they would meet at the Scottish Arms Hotel because the waitresses had big breasts and wore mini-skirts.
Ten years later, at age 50, the friends once again discussed where they should meet for lunch. Finally it was agreed that they would meet at the Scottish Arms because the food and service were  good, and the beer selection was excellent.
Ten years later, at age 60, the friends again discussed where they should meet for lunch. Finally it was agreed that they would meet at the Scottish Arms because there was plenty of parking; they could dine in peace and quiet, and it was good value for money.
Ten years later, at age 70, the friends discussed where they should meet for lunch. Finally it was agreed that they would meet at the Scottish Arms because the restaurant was wheelchair accessible and had a toilet for the disabled.
Ten years later, at age 80, the friends discussed where they should meet for lunch. Finally it was agreed that they would meet at the Scottish Arms because they'd never been there before.

Too true...


09 December 2014

Democracy vs religion: Hand in hand or face off?

Clay Christensen has been on staff for 20 years at the Harvard (Boston USA) Business School and has conducted a TED talk, but nothing is as important as this 90-second message about a Chinese student and US, and how it all works.


 I hope you ponder the message, especially as religious conversation intensifies as if often the case in December with Hanukkah and Christmas among other events.

 For more info about Christensen, read below:
Before joining the faculty of Harvard Business School (HBS) in 1992, Christensen worked for the Boston Consulting Group and then served as chairman and president of Ceramics Process Systems Corporation (now CPS Holdings), a firm he co-founded with several MIT professors in 1984. In 2000, he founded Innosight LLC, a consulting and training firm which describes itself as "focusing on idea generation, strategy development, commercialization, and innovative process development." In 2005, together with his colleagues at Innosight, he launched Innosight Ventures, a venture firm focused on investing in India. In 2007, after incubating the processes for six years, Christensen co-founded Rose Park Advisors LLC (named after the neighborhood in Salt Lake City where he was raised), an investment company which applies his research as an investment strategy.

He serves on the board of directors of Tata Consultancy Services (NSE: TCS), Franklin Covey (NYSE: FC), and Vanu, Inc.

He worked as a consultant and project leader with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) (1979–1984) and was instrumental in founding the firm's manufacturing strategy consulting practice. He took a leave of absence from BCG to serve as a White House Fellow (1982–1983) as an assistant to U.S. Transportation Secretaries, Drew Lewis and Elizabeth Dole.

At the HBS, he currently teaches an elective course he designed called "Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise", which teaches managers how to build and manage an enduring, successful company or transform an existing organization. Christensen received an Extraordinary Teaching Award by the MBA class of 2010. He also teaches in many HBS executive education programs. Christensen was awarded a full professorship with tenure in 1998, and currently holds five honorary doctorates and an honorary chaired professorship at the National Tsinghua University in Taiwan.

Christensen is the best-selling author of five books, including his seminal work The Innovator's Dilemma (1997), which received the Global Business Book Award for the best business book of the year, The Innovator's Solution (2003), and Seeing What's Next (2004). Recently, Christensen has focused the lens of disruptive innovation on social issues such as education and health care. Disrupting Class (2008) looks at the root causes of why schools struggle and offers solutions, while The Innovator's Prescription (2009) examines how to fix the American healthcare system. The latter two books have received numerous awards as the best books on education and health care in their respective years of publication. The Innovator's Prescription was also awarded the 2010 James A. Hamilton Award, by the College of Healthcare Executives.

01 December 2014

Identity confusion (Michael Brown, Baruch Goldstein, and you)

Michael Brown was the black man shot in Ferguson, Missouri. Some sorted out who he was just by the color of his skin. Racism works to no one's advantage or credit. He is not to be confused with Dr Michael L. Brown, the Jewish believer in Jesus whose website is here . I wonder if people have confused one Michael Brown with the other?

I remember back in 1994, when an American-born Israeli physician and religious extremist, Baruch Goldstein killed 29 Arab Muslim worshipers and wounding another 125. This was called the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in the city of Hebron. At that time I had a former colleague whose English name was Bruce, but for 15 years he had gone by his Hebrew name, Baruch Goldstein. Was that the same? Nope...identity disparity. I'm sure my friend, who passed away a couple years ago, used to hear bad things about the other Goldstein who was killed by the rampaging crowd into which he was shooting.

Identity theft...it's a big deal in the world and a major cause of frustration and expense at checkout counters and on the phone with marketers. Whom should I trust when I give out my PIN or my credit card information? With whom should I be secret or from whom should I hide my punching data? It's a worry, and so many are frustrated by the lack of trust in the world today and those who caused us to be so distrustful.

My Welsh friend Bennett earns a bit of a living helping people whose lives were lost by identity theft. At least I hope he does. This info from the Australian government:

Definition of identity confusions
A set of standard definitions were developed by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre's Proof of Identity Steering Committee for use by law enforcement throughout Australia (ACPR 2006:15):
  • The term identity encompasses the identity of natural persons (living or deceased) and the identity of bodies corporate
  • Identity fabrication to be used to describe the creation of a fictitious identity
  • Identity manipulation to be used to describe the alteration of one's own identity
  • Identity theft to be used to describe the theft or assumption of a pre-existing identity (or significant part thereof), with or without consent and whether, in the case of an individual, the person is living or deceased
  • Identity crime to be used as a generic term to describe activities/offences in which a perpetrator uses a fabricated identity; a manipulated identity; or a stolen/assumed identity to facilitate the commission of a crime(s).
What does identity crime cost in Australia?
Recent estimates by the Attorney-General’s Department indicate that identity crime costs Australia upwards of $1.6 billion each year, with the majority (around $900m) lost by individuals through credit card fraud, identity theft and scams.
More alarmingly, identity crime continues to be a key enabler of serious and organised crime, which in turn costs Australia around $15 billion annually.

So when I hear another Baruch Goldstein or Michael Brown is doing something, it means one thing, but identity theft is quite another for the federal police.

And what does it mean to you? Or to the Almighty?
I think about the identity of God, you know, the Creator of heaven and earth. And how some people get that right, and others, well, less right, or downright wrong. When someone says, "The death of that cricket star just wasn't fair" they are saying that the fairness or justice by the which the Lord of all evaluates things is wrong. And what does that say about themselves? That they are taking the identity of the Almighty for themselves. When someone says, "That person should live" or "That person should not live" and the reality is otherwise, they are assuming command of the issue of justice and determining that God doesn't have it quite right, thus making themselves God. Identity Theft!

Often we use the term 'fair' or "justice' to mean, "I want this to happen", therefore anything less than that is unacceptable. That's assuming the character of Justice for ourselves and thus making ourselves to be God. See how that works? I do not mean to demean the aching for justice which is both inherent in humanity and certainly should be a fruit of the Spirit of God working in those who love Him. But I mean the telling of God that He is wrong.

Let's get this right. Yeshua is God's Son, born in a manger in Bethlehem. No other person comes close to being His Messiah. No other person comes close to fulfilling all the prophecies listed in the record of the Tenach.  And once we get His identity correct, everything else falls into place. Or at least it begins to do so.  Have you sorted out that question.... "Who is Yeshua?" Keep looking and you will find Him. I believe that.

Happy December.