30 July 2015

The Shema and that one!

You would have to be sleeping or texting for a long way to miss this signage. The arrows make it clear that the right lane is closed. Which lane? THAT one!

My mother and aunt used to tell a story about a baby mix-up some 60 years ago. They both married brothers, and both fell pregnant in the same town within days of each other. 9 months later, my mother had me, and 3 days later my Aunt Sarah had my first cousin Joyce. In those days, Jewish women stayed in hospital until the bris (Circumcision) on the 8th day, so my relatives and I remained at Menorah Hospital for over a week.  Good times.

One day while there, the nursing staff brought my mother a baby to breastfeed, and she began, but noticed right away, that it wasn't me. Sure enough, she checked below and found my cousin Joyce! When the nurse returned, my mother told her to "bring me my son...the other one!"

Getting it right about particular people or lanes of traffic or situations often requires us to announce this one as opposed to that one. We order food or choose putters at Putt-Putt courses by selecting one, and pointing it out to the proprietor. That one, we announce, and receive the benefits.
--> That's the thinking I have when I read the Shema lately. In the Bible, Deuteronomy chapter 6, we read, "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead, and you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (verses 4-9)

Moses and God are saying to us, even us in 2015, "You want to talk about gods...and any particular god? I'm telling you the Lord, our God, Yahweh, the One who delivered us from Egypt, the One who called Abram, and who is a covenant-keeping god... He's THAT ONE! Go ahead and put all your tribal deities in a row, in a lineup, and let's see who is the one. I tell you, He's THAT One!

It's not a numerical 'one' but rather a pointing "one" that I read in Deuteronomy. And maybe you have wondered if the God of the Bible is the real god of the universe, or if they all have a role to play. Is any god ok? Or no god at all?

The Bible answers that. My life answers that. People throughout history have answered that. Yeshua is God's Messiah and the lover of our souls. And He will give you eternal life if you trust in Him.  Don't choose the wrong lane. Don't choose the wrong putter. Don't choose the wrong dessert and certainly do not choose the wrong deity. There is ONLY ONE, and He's THAT ONE!

18 July 2015

Farewell Jean Rixon

Jean Rixon died in June and again in July. Sounds bizarre? Actually the one pictured lived in Sydney's northern suburbs and was my friend for 15 years or so. The other lived in Canada, and I never knew her.

The Canadian one died "peacefully on Saturday June 27, 2015 at the age of 83. Beloved wife of Raymond, married for 58 years. Loving mother of Mark (Elisa Udle), Carrie (Ross Raymond), Glenn (Lynne Bowler), and Garth (Lynn Demers). Cherished grandmother of Matthew, Kalen, Adam, Duncan, Sara, Lauren, and Erik. Proud great-grandmother of Brooke. Dear sister of Allan Farmer (Mauretta Velcoff), the late Murray (Kaye) Farmer, the late Beryl Farmer and the late Ian Farmer."

The Aussie one, my friend, "Only child of Henry and Mary Rixon, born Gulargambone, NSW, 12th August 1927, departed to be with Christ on the morning of 16th July 2015. Tireless Chatswood pharmacist; beloved Pastoral Worker at St Andrews Roseville."

So in the one case, a Jean Rixon died with family abundant and generations to follow her. In the other, closer to me, she apparently left with no one even to notice.

But that's not at all true. Our tennis group was saddened to learn today of this. The people in Jean's life at the church are sad. The people whom she served in her neighbourhood are already missing her. The doctors and fellow pharmacists feel the pain of her departure. Her 'generations' are not so biological as spiritual. She touched lives and she brought joy to many.

I personally miss Jean. She always had a question for me. "How is it going?" or "How is the ministry working lately?" She would say, "Did you receive my latest cheque?" and it wasn't designed to receive praise-- she actually cared. About me; about my work; about the work of the Lord. Her compassion for the lost was evident as she would visit many in hospital and take them communion. She would pray for people early in the morning and late in the day. Little escaped her notice.

Each week we played tennis and she would always participate in both the athletic part of the games and the social part of conversation. She also was a keen trivia woman, answering questions in our weekly Quiz with aplomb and cleverness. She rarely missed anything to do with science and almost never anything to do with chemistry. That gave us great confidence in her. 

More than anything, to each of us Jean was a friend. A listening ear. A caring heart. And a servant of the Jesus who came to be a servant to us all. She made sure we understood that all her love was God's love. She lived for Him and wanted everyone to know Him personally. And when someone she knew, in the neighborhood or at tennis or in her pharmacy, didn't know Jesus as a personal Lord, she was disappointed, but that never let her stop loving that person. A woman of charity and a woman of faith. What a great combo.

Our loss; heaven's gain. Thanks Lord, for loaning her to us for so many years. We who outlive her are the generations that carry her name and her passion to the many.

Only child of Henry and Mary Rixon, born Gulargambone, NSW, 12th August 1927, departed to be with Christ on the morning of 16th July 2015. Tireless Chatswood pharmacist; beloved Pastoral Worker at St Andrews Roseville. - See more at: http://tributes.smh.com.au/obituaries/smh-au/obituary.aspx?pid=175308984#sthash.Y2hquk33.dpuf
Only child of Henry and Mary Rixon, born Gulargambone, NSW, 12th August 1927, departed to be with Christ on the morning of 16th July 2015. Tireless Chatswood pharmacist; beloved Pastoral Worker at St Andrews Roseville. - See more at: http://tributes.smh.com.au/obituaries/smh-au/obituary.aspx?pid=175308984#sthash.Y2hquk33.dpuf
Only child of Henry and Mary Rixon, born Gulargambone, NSW, 12th August 1927, departed to be with Christ on the morning of 16th July 2015. Tireless Chatswood pharmacist; beloved Pastoral Worker at St Andrews Roseville. - See more at: http://tributes.smh.com.au/obituaries/smh-au/obituary.aspx?pid=175308984#sthash.Y2hquk33.dpuf

There's a place for us

This week's parsha (the weekly portion of Torah which is read in synagogues worldwide) speaks to me of finding a place.

The tribes of Reuben and Gad (later joined by half of the tribe of Manasseh) ask for the lands east of the Jordan as their portion in the Promised Land. Why do they do this? They have a lot of cattle and the property on the 'wrong' side looks very good to the leadership.  Moses is initially angered by the request, but subsequently agrees on the condition that they first join, and lead, in Israel’s conquest of the lands west of the Jordan. And they do so, as we read later in the Bible. For a video of the parsha, see Mattot.

The forty-two journeys and encampments of Israel are listed, from the Exodus to their encampment on the plains of Moab across the river from the land of Canaan. The boundaries of the Promised Land are given, and cities of refuge are designated as havens and places of exile for inadvertent murderers. The daughters of Zelophehad marry within their own tribe of Manasseh, so that the estate which they inherit from their father should not pass to the province of another tribe. In an earlier episode, the daughters had requested their own possession of land even though they have no brothers. Moses took their request to the Almighty and He allowed their inheritance. (actual passage below)

For me the story is about going home or finding home or longing for a home. I remember ET wanted to phone home.  In Homer's Iliad, Odysseus wanted to get home. Even in the movie with George Clooney, "O Brother where art thou?" the synopsis says, "Ulysses Everett McGill (George Clooney) is having difficulty adjusting to his hard-labor sentence in Mississippi. He scams his way off the chain gang with simple Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) and maladjusted Pete (John Turturro), then the trio sets out to pursue freedom and the promise of a fortune in buried treasure. With nothing to lose and still in shackles, their hasty run takes them on an incredible journey of awesome experiences and colorful characters."

There is something within us that longs to go home.

I believe God wants us to be encouraged that whether it's where we imagine ourselves to be, or somewhere else altogether, He has a place for us.

Of course the Bible makes it clear "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Saviour, the Lord Yeshua, the Messiah;  (Philippians 3.20). Home is where we long to be. Home is where Messiah rules. Home is where we will live eternally.

"The daughters of Zelophehad stood before Moses and before Eleazar the priest and before the leaders and all the congregation, at the doorway of the tent of meeting, saying, “Our father died in the wilderness, yet he was not among the company of those who gathered themselves together against the LORD in the company of Korah; but he died in his own sin, and he had no sons. Why should the name of our father be withdrawn from among his family because he had no son? Give us a possession among our father’s brothers.” So Moses brought their case before the LORD.

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “The daughters of Zelophehad are right in their statements. You shall surely give them a hereditary possession among their father’s brothers, and you shall transfer the inheritance of their father to them. Further, you shall speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘If a man dies and has no son, then you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter.  (Numbers 27.1-8)

14 July 2015

Stories of real Jews who really find the real Jesus

In Paris
Perry is one of our co laborers in Messiah and was at St Lazare (Paris) when Roxanne, a young woman, 23 years old, asked, ‘What IS Jews for Jesus?’ I replied, ‘We are Jews who believe Jesus is the Messiah and Savior of the world.’ Roxanne has a Jewish father and Catholic mother.

She was interested in her Jewish origins and had observed the Jewish holidays since childhood.  ‘My grandmother was the first to talk to me about the Passover lamb.’ she told me. Her grandmother had even told her once in Hebrew, ‘The Passover lamb is Yeshua, for the Lord saves.’

We had quite a good conversation then I said. ‘Have you ever asked Yeshua to forgive you your sins?’ Roxanne understood what it meant and prayed with me to receive Jesus as her personal Messiah. She finished by saying, ‘My grandmother is right: Yeshua saves!’”

Michael also was working with us in Paris last month. He reports, "I was at the market next to the Charenton Schools metro with one of the members of the Church of Charenton. There were not many people there, but I handed a tract to a man my age (in his 60s) named David. ‘Are you a Jew?’ he asked. ‘Yes,’ I replied. ‘Do you believe in Jesus?’ he asked me.  ‘Yes,’ I responded.

David accepted with an open heart all that I told him. ‘Have you already received the Lord?’ I asked. ‘No,’ he replied. ‘Is  there a reason you cannot now pray to receive forgiveness for your sins? We can do it now.’ He agreed to pray, and we did.  I was so surprised he agreed to pray in the street with me that I almost forgot to get his contact information! He did leave his address and number phone to keep in touch with us.”

Sydney and Kansas
Linda and I grew up in the same schools in the middle of the US. We both moved away decades ago and found each other again on Facebook last year. She and I, both Jews, have both been on a journey of spiritual discovery. I came to faith in Jesus 40 years ago. She, only a month ago now. And her story is filled with longing and wonder and pain.  God is so kind to give us friends and contacts to help discover the reality of Yeshua. She wrote "You have helped me grow and discover the joy and blessing of Christ."  

I asked her if she noticed any changes since she received Yeshua as Savior and Lord.  "I have not been such a complainer. I'm pretty content these days. Peaceful? I think the changes I've been looking for are right under my nose and I did not even notice." She also wrote, "I guess the Holy Spirit is indeed in me! I don't know what I expected, but now I have chills. It is so cool!" 

Linda said, "If I want to proclaim Him as my Savior, I can do it aloud at home, alone, if I want, right? I don't mind in front of others, but I see this as very personal between Him and me." And she has already been telling many of her new faith.

In the USA
Mark grew up in New York and lives in the US South now with his wife of over 40 years. He's about my age and came to believe and profess faith in Yeshua in April this year. We met the Friday before that and maybe I was part of his story.  He is a professional man and came from a lecture in the afternoon to hear me speak that night. He engaged with my teaching and approached me after the meeting. "I am going to go forward in the Baptist church on Sunday." That's when people accept Jesus, receiving Him as Lord and Savior personally. And he did that. With his mother, sister and daughter watching (he had invited them specifically to be there.) What a significant time in their lives.

For you
And it can be significant in your life as well. Have you ever received Jesus as your personal messiah? Have you been considering this for a very long time? Maybe right now, right where you are, you can also say "yes" to Him. You don't have to close your eyes. You don't have to kneel. But you may. 

Say this prayer out loud, "Father in the name of Jesus, I ask you to forgive me of my sins. Dear Lord, I know you love me and you care about me and want me to know you and to know about life. I have messed up pretty badly, sinning in all kinds of ways in my youthful ignorance, and even lately. And yet, you love me. And you want to be in relationship with me. I'm so sorry for the sins that separate us.

And I understand, although it's a big concept, that Jesus died for my sins and offers me eternal life. I receive His love and forgivenss. I accept Yeshua as my Messiah and savior. I choose to follow you with my heart and with all my life. 

Help me to live for you. In Yeshua's name. Amen."

 Here is my story, Bob's story       
And here are a series of testimonies which you might enjoy seeing/ hearing. Another story

Let me know, won't you?