25 September 2015

Racism abundant...shocking!

The video and its story is splashing over the news and internet in Australia as much as the pope is filling US news outlets. And the video of a raging Israeli woman on a Sydney bus in Willoughby is shocking and embarrassing and horrible. The police arrested the woman of the video; the Chinese woman, Ms Lindsay Li will have a hard time believing that this woman is an anomaly. We can only hope.

Here's the Online story

NSW Police said the woman was arrested on Friday and taken to Merrylands police station with reports suggesting she was hurling abuse at yet another individual. The arrest comes after Lindsay Li, 29, filmed a prolonged verbal attack which started while she was waiting in Willoughby for the citybound 273 bus at lunchtime on Wednesday. Ms Li says the woman approached her and 'spat on her' before unleashing a prolonged verbal attack.

The woman, who referred to herself as a "Jew from Israel" then struck Ms Li with her shopping trolley and pushed in front of her when the bus pulled up.

The story above is only one of many in recent times of racial attacks and slurs and embarrassing commentary by patrons on public transportation around Sydney. What should anyone do; what should you do if you are sitting nearby this the next time it occurs?

The Bible in chapter 22 of Deuteronomy gives us significant help in knowing what to do. “You shall not see your countryman’s ox or his sheep straying away, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly bring them back to your countryman." (verse 1) and again,
"If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor’s wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you." (verses 23-24)

The assumption is that the girl would scream and since she did not, then no one came to help. But if she is in the field and no one is around who can help her, then only the man is responsible.(verse 25) In other words, we are (in the words of Cain after he struck and killed his brother) "our brother's keeper."

Maybe that's part of what informs Hillary Rodham Clinton in her "it takes a village" thinking. Maybe this helps us understand the subway echo in New York City where the mantra sounds, "If you see something, say something." That would help us understand the word "neighbourhood" itself. We have to acknowledge that we are neighbours before we can join together in a global village.

So what would you have done on that 273 bus? What would I have done?

22 September 2015

Shift of venue: Yom Kippur

This is a quick announcement to notify everyone of the shifting of venue for our Yom Kippur service. Only 100 metres from the Waverley hall where we usually meet, this time on Bronte Road, 213 Bronte Road at the building called "Legion Club" We are in the function room from 11 am to midday. It's a one-hour service. Don't come at 11:30. Don't come at 11:45. Come by 11 for the full benefit. Come to pray. Come to listen. Come to ponder the Almighty again.
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the modern Jewish calendar. It's a day to get right (atone) with God. It's a day to honour God. It's a day to believe and drink in the life-giving nature of God. Don't miss this one.

21 September 2015

Muslims and Jesus

I was one of many speakers at the Sons of Abraham Conference on Sunday afternoon. The conference continues until Tuesday. I'm speaking again at 11:15 am on Tuesday morning.

After the Sunday sessions ended a group of us went out to Lakemba for a lovely Lebanese dinner. Here we were pictured.
After a wonderful conversation about Israel and the Church and what God is doing on the planet, we said our farewells.

I bought some groceries at the local IGA and came out to my car. A Muslim man was there right near me and asked me if I needed help. His name: Abdul. His heart: clean and kind. We began chatting about Jesus and what Muslims believe. I knew some things, but when my new friend Adel Moussa joined the conversation, the amount of Arabic and the sound level increased abundantly. It was terrific. We are pictured on the outside of the four-people photo at the top.

At times up to 8 of us were in conversation, mostly cordial, and at times pretty loud. One young Muslim came up and asked me if I were a Zionist. I queried what he meant by the term and he began almost to shout. The others in the group actually told him off and chased him away. It was awesome to watch.

The reality of the differences in the two religions (actually three religions) was abundant. The grace of God is clear in the faith of people in Yeshua, and in a way, working one's way to heaven was clear in the other two. One simply cannot believe in Islam and either of the other two religions since Islam avers that the Bible and the Torah are both corrupt. That is, they cannot be trusted. For instance, the Bible says Jesus died for our sins. The Muslims affirm Judas took Jesus' place on the cross and God took Jesus up to heaven. Muslims do not believe Jesus died, but rather than he was spared by Allah from suffering.
More to come soon.

17 September 2015

New year, new prime minister

The news media source, Haaretz published this report on Malcolm Turnbull, the newly-sworn-in 26th prime minister of Australia. Turnbull . They cite the Australian Jewish News report from a few years ago which indicated that Turnbull's “mother always used to say that her mother’s family was Jewish.” He did grow up in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, the hotbed of Jewish life in town, and went to prestigious schools before becoming a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. He is a self-made multi-millionaire, so some would say he has all the right stuff.

And how fitting that he became prime minister on Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish new year. We at Jews for Jesus add our best wishes to him as he tries to govern our great country and lead us through the troubles in Syria/Turkey/Hungary, in Bendigo with mosque building, on the footy pitch as September finals are the mainstay of the Back Page just now, and his own party experiences the new boon in his taking over. It's never easy to start over, and especially when the train has already left the station.

So God help our Prime Minister to lead well and to look after his own household and all of ours.

16 September 2015

Reflections on Rosh Hashanah and Bessie Wolf

The whole story was printed here Reflections and is reprinted in its entirety from 1995.

The sun is a power ball radiating energy of hydrogen and helium and who knows what other elements. So awesome is its power that we depend on its light though it is 93 million miles from Earth. The sun's rays are so powerful that when they beat against the surface of the moon that orbits the Earth, the moon reflects the light and we can see that reflected light all the way back on Earth.
A few weeks ago I rose just before the sun and was walking in my neighborhood. A few blocks away stood the new grand hotel. Its concrete steel and glass stand as a monument that bespeaks comfort, ease and luxury, but that isn't what I saw. I saw an enormous bright red ball shining in the glass. I immediately turned and saw the brilliance of the sun. Then I turned back to see the sun's reflection upon the hotel. I did not see the glass; I did not see the building; I did not see the monument to the national chain with which it is affiliated. I saw only the brightness of the sun reflected.

My grandmother, Bessie, is one hundred one years old. She never wanted to have anything to do with the person of Jesus for as long as I could remember. Whenever I would try to broach the subject of God's love in Y'shua, she would flick the back of her hand in the air to indicate her disinterest and make the nonverbal statement, I don't want to hear about…him." She wouldn't even bring honor to Him by repeating His name. Even the name "Jesus" was a painful memory to her. She and so many other Jews sustained pain, humiliation, rejection and even death from those who named Jesus as their God and motivator.

When Grandma was put in a nursing care facility it had nothing to do with her wits but rather the frailty of her aging body. One October morning I went there for an early visit. (I was on a speaking tour for a few days in my old hometown of Kansas City.) Rarely would I bring my Bible to visit her because she had indicated so clearly and so often that she was not interested in hearing anything from the Bible. Nevertheless, I brought it in that day.

I began speaking to the charge nurse assigned to Bessie's floor. She wanted to know what I did for a living, and I told her I was a missionary with Jews for Jesus. She was thrilled, since she too was a believer. We began to talk about the great things that God had done in her life, and we were speaking specifically about eternal things as I approached Bessie's room.

I said farewell to the nurse and Grandma greeted me with, "What was it you were talking about just now?"

Matter-of-factly I answered, "We were speaking about the forgiveness of sins that Jesus can offer and eternal life that He brings."

"I would like to hear more about that," she announced. My jaw nearly hit the ground. Surely someone had been reflecting the light of Christ to her.

I wonder if you can imagine my surprise and delight as I opened the Bible and began reading to her about God's plan of salvation from the pages of both Testaments. I told her about God's love in Jesus. I explained the forgiveness of sins that was only available through His shed blood. We read John 3:16, and I could almost see something going on in her heart and mind. There was a heavenly transaction taking place. After thirty minutes of conversation, I asked Grandma, "Would you like to accept God's forgiveness through Jesus now?" And she did! Prior to that morning, I don't recall ever hearing her say the name of Jesus. Certainly not since I had given my life to Him. He was a dismissed castaway and a nonentity for our Jewish people. Yet there she was lying on her bed, eyes open looking up toward heaven as she uttered the words, "Lord Jesus." The angels rejoiced; my heart leaped.

Bessie was ninety-six when she came to believe that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah foretold by the Jewish prophets in the Jewish Scriptures. The peace and joy that flooded her soul were clear. Her eyes lit up and her face shone. In one moment the darkness that had engulfed her was turned to the brightness of the glory of Lord Jesus. It wasn't so much Bessie's brightness. Once again, I was seeing a sunrise, or perhaps I should say Sonrise. I looked at my aging grandmother and I saw an awe-inspiring reflection-the reflection of the love of God in Jesus.

Pray for my grandmother as she continues to reflect the Lord Jesus. Even Willard Scott (American newsman, famous for honouring centenarians) put her on his show gallery in March of 1995. Pray for the impact her testimony will continue to have.

Post script: Bessie passed away on erev Rosh Hashanah 1996. She was 101 years old. I thought of that moment as bittersweet. Sweet because she was being welcomed into heaven, greeted by the Son of God, who rose off his throne to greet her. Bitter because I would never again eat her runny banana cream pie, never again get a wet grandma kiss on my cheek, I wouldn't be able to fellowship with her about the things of eternity and of Messiah. At least, not on earth.

15 September 2015

Where are the refugees? An ugly cocktail

I'm shocked. This week this photo and the conversations at water coolers and in pubs have been circulating. What is the deal with Saudi Arabia? They have these purpose-built tents, and kitchens and community quarters and mosques for the annual Hajj pilgrimage for the 100s of thousands of pilgrims who travel through the city of Mina. This 'tent city' could easily house 100,000 refugees escaping ISIS and terrorism.

But the Saudi government is not taking any of the 100s of thousands of refugees from neighbouring Syria. Saudi has even offered to build 200 mosques in Germany for the traveling pilgrim/ refugees which might number 500,000 this year alone, but has not offered to take in even one refugee into Saudi Arabia. What's going on?

Read more here: Saudi reluctance

I'm not privy to the characters of the refugees. There are many in the blogosphere who are alleging that the escapees are actually part of a bigger plot of Muslims to infiltrate the West and dominate. I appreciate the zeal of those authors, but unless they have actually monitored the checkpoints and are reading intelligence reports from intake centres, I doubt their conclusions are anything but conjecture. And suspicion stirred with non-critical evaluation makes for an ugly cocktail.

That said, I think everyone should demonstrate compassion to the refugees. Nearby states including Arab-speaking ones, should stand up and receive those displaced persons. It doesn't make too much financial sense to send them globally to India, Australia or South Africa and such, but the Arab League should definitely put up their hands to welcome their Muslim brothers and sisters. Isn't that what the Muslim idea of Ummah is about?

A Muslim writes on a q/a board about Islam the following: "Ummah means a group of people believing in the same basics, but the way every/any one one acts or behaves may be different or even hostile to one another but basics remain same that's to say we all sects Believe in oneness of Allah, messengers, Holy books, angels and here in after life and practice Namaz with different ways but skeleton is same that's why we can say we are one Ummah with 4 to 7% difference that can be ignored. First thing is to think about primary things that all sects with a little difference believe in..... When we start to practice primary/ basic things like Roza, zakat, namaz, haj etc and husne ikhlaque we will have no time to think about 4 to 7% difference. Practically we Muslims must try to become one Ummah and we are Alhammadulillah. Thanks"

So umma or ummah is basically 'community' and no matter the differences in matters of theology and practice, Muslims ought to welcome each other, even into those air-conditioned tents and countries nearby. That's what community means, mustn't it?

But it isn't only Saudi Arabia. This map shows the number of refugees welcomed in the 5 richest nearby governments. Total: 0. To me, this is not umma; this is shame.
For more on the story: CNN story

14 September 2015

Service of worship

Here is the PowerPoint of the service of worship at our Rosh Hashanah gathering this morning in Sydney.
Here is the actual sermon: Sermon

New Year thoughts 5776

New Year thoughts
Given in Waverley
1 Tishri 5776
14 September 2015
Shana tovah to each of you today. I trust the calendar’s reminder of our holiday today will bring you what you long for in life, in purpose and in knowing the Almighty that much more. Asylum seekers from Syria, Jarryd Hayne, Shemitah and starting a new life…that’s what we are talking about today. You see, it’s both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Teruah, a day of blowing of shofars, a day to begin the holiest and most significant 10 days in the modern Jewish calendar. And the moderns aren’t too far from the spirit of the Bible in this case.

A bit of biblical history and perspective
You see, the Bible lists 7 times, really three seasons of dates, in which He has set up an appointment to meet with the Jewish people. Those are Passover with three dates then, Pentecost 7 weeks later, and finally this season, which moderns title the High Holidays, which culminate in the festival of Tabernacles or Sukkot. Those 7 appointments or appointed times (moedim in Hebrew) were so important that God spends much ink and time with those in the record of Torah and throughout Jewish history.

Of course, we usually gather with family and friends during Passover for a Seder or two, and we might notice the Shavuot celebration with a blintz or piece of cheesecake, but Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur? They get very special attention. Even Sukkot takes a back seat to these two appointments. Why is that? I suppose it is all about the next holiday Yom Kippur and the requisite honor, respect, and fear, which it honestly engenders. If we don’t get it right; if we fail to repent well or fail to live in just the right way, then we are not guaranteed another year in the system. If that be so (and I’m not so sure this hypothesis is true, that it’s all up to us at all anyway), then we must get this holiday today, Rosh Hashanah, right. In other words, starting well gets us to a good ending. Starting poorly leads…well, to places we don’t want to go.

Asylum seekers
So what do asylum seekers and refugees have to do with Rosh Hashanah? The Salvos report, “There are an estimated 42.5 million people displaced by persecution and conflict in the world. This breaks down to 15.2 million refugees, 26.4 million internally displaced persons (people who remain displaced by conflict within their own homelands) and 895,000 asylum seekers.” The UN lists higher statistics.

UN stats England’s The Guardian reports, “There are currently more than 250,000 unprocessed asylum applications. ... Germany has an ageing population and one of the lowest birthrates in the world.”
Syria, Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan…the numbers are staggering. “During the year (end in June), conflict and persecution forced an average of 42,500 persons per day to leave their homes and seek protection elsewhere, either within the borders of their countries or in other countries.

Developing countries host over 86% of the world’s refugees, compared to 70% ten years ago.”
What do these people want? When do they want it? They want freedom. They want a new life. They want the bombs and the machine guns and the terror to stop. And they have heard that this is available in America or Germany or Turkey (which hosts more of these displaced people than any other country worldwide), and they uproot their families to get this freedom. They walk miles and days. They suffer loss. We only have to remember the final scene of “Fiddler on the Roof” and we will have heartache on their behalf. As Tevye and the rabbi say final farewells, and the question is posed to the rabbi, “Wouldn’t this be a good time for the Messiah to come?” The rabbi answers with “We’ll have to wait for Him, somewhere else.”

If you have been reading or watching the news of late, hear the plight, see the photos, imagine the smells and pains of each scene ‘over there’ and don’t have a tinge of compassion and aching in your heart, you need to check in with heaven and get some right there. Those people could be our people and although Australia’s promise to welcome another 12,000 beginning in December is wonderful, amidst the millions, what are 12,000?

Jarryd Hayne and the Jews
This morning is Monday in Australia and concurrent with our service is the playing of American gridiron. It’s the first weekend of the season over there in the professional ranks. Fortunately for new Aussie fans of the sport, Jarryd’s team, the San Francisco 49ers, will be playing in the US on Monday night (tomorrow morning for us here) and thus we have no conflict at all. Jarryd, as some of you will know, is an Aussie, and the former Origin and Parramatta Eels star fullback, is giving a US gridiron career a shot this year. We don’t know if he will play in the season opener against the Minnesota Vikings, but his first appearance will have commensurate hype and hopes for all Aussie sports fans. His Twitter feed has been active with well-wishers and his own comments about this new career step he is taking. We only wish him the best.

A couple months ago, Jarryd got in trouble with the Jewish community over some comments he made on Twitter during the Hillsong conference which he attended. [ Accusation here, [ Apology here ] and My blog about it all then ]

Jarryd made it clear that he intended no harm and his clarification was way faster than Hillary Rodham Clinton’s apology about her email scandal. I think Jarryd would use today, Yom Teruah, as a day to make things right with all people, and as a believer himself, to make things right with God, too. We wish him only the best in his new career, although New South Wales could have really used his skills in Origin three this year.

Maybe you heard the entire buzz about this shemitah business. Maybe you have bought books, sent out email and tweet warnings about selling off your stocks and bonds investments, as the world is about to experience another 7-year cycle downturn. There is much Internet noise about the year of Jubilee and although some are very sure, and filled with prophetic heraldry, not everyone is on board with their conclusions.

For instance, Chabad, the keepers (by their own raised hands) of all things Jewish say this, “As mentioned above (not all the Jewish tribes represented), though, today the Jubilee year is neither designated nor observed.

And now for the answer to your question: “When is the next Jubilee year?”
We eagerly await the day when G‑d will bring our entire nation back to our homeland—including the ten “lost” tribes—and we will again resume observing the Jubilee year, as well as so many other mitzvot which we are incapable of performing until that awaited day.
Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson “
[Davidson's comments ]

How are you going to start/ resolution?
With those three issues in the news in mind, and with our own clothing, tunes and prayers today reminding us that we are making today special, what is it about new life that we really want today? I performed a Google search online to find out how others are recommending starting new lives. That included quotes from Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism, (“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”) and JK Rowling (Another quoted her “When J.K. Rowling said, ‘Rock bottom is the solid foundation on which I built my life,’ she hit the nail on the head. Sometimes you gotta sink down to the depths to find the energy to skyrocket back up.”) and about 500 unnamed or unknown others who have other recommendations on starting over. Funny to me was how many references there are online to forging a new identity altogether, and basically going walk-about with papers.

But this idea of starting over is a huge concern in relationships and in botany and in the birth cycle and such. How do we actually begin new life?

Religion tells us many things, and our prayers this morning highlight some of those. For instance, “Avinu malkeinu Chaneinu va’aneinu, Ki ein banu ma’asim. Asei imanu Ts’daka vachesed V’hoshienu.”
We have no good works in ourselves. Save us.

What about this confessional prayer from today’s liturgy “Master of all worlds! It is not on account of our own righteousness that we offer our supplications before Thee, but on account of thy great compassion. … What is our goodness? What is our virtue? What our help? What our strength? …What can we say to you, Lord our God and God of our fathers? Indeed all the heroes are as nothing in thy sight, the men of renown as though they never existed. The wise as though they were without knowledge, the intelligent as though they lacked insight. Most of their actions are worthless in thy sight. Their entire life is a fleeting breath. Man is not far above beast, for all is vanity.”

That doesn’t sound like a start over, does it?

Did you hear how many of our prayers today highlighted the royal King of Kings? So many began with the word Melech or King in English. Why? Because during these 10 days we call on Him who is above all to make things right, to judge righteously, and to cause to bring on the earth His will, even in our feeble lives.

We remind ourselves of His sovereignty in prayers and song, and in the round challahs we eat. In the cycle of life in the apples and honey. Much of what we eat is round today, as the challah which tells us of the crown of the King. God will be judge and we will be found wanting.

“Wait, wait just one minute,” you say. “How is that going to help us start over and get new life?”

How does this work?
The Bible makes it clear that in order to start over, we have to end the previous section. We have to die in order to be born again. We have to bury a seed before it can die and break forth to bring up a new plant. Starting over actually requires the death of the previous thing.

Note how the Apostle Paul records this in his letter to the believers in Rome. “We were buried with Yeshua by baptism into death, in order that, just as messiah was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)

The Apostle Rabbi Shaul says that in order for the believers there to experience newness of life, they have to undergo a burial of sorts. He uses the image of the baptism or mikveh. That makes sense to me.

Each Friday when I was practicing Orthodox Judaism in my late teenage years, I would attend to the mikveh, the ceremonial pool in the synagogue, where I would ritually bathe. I would ready each week to meet my Sabbath queen, and be clean. I remember the rabbi telling me once that I had to remove all the filth of the week from me so that I could start over with a clean slate. I really liked that imagery.

I guess it’s the removal of dirt in the mikveh, and in the expanded version, removal of sin and its commensurate death in the waters of baptism, that Rabbi Shaul had in mind when he calls the Romans to walk in newness of life. Once the old is removed, the new is free to live. And we are free to experience the newness of life when sin is removed. So how does that work for you? You have to admit your sins and your sin nature. You have to agree with God that you are a sinner, that you need His grace and forgiveness. Then you can be ushered into His kingdom and grace.

Sometimes people are prevented from experiencing this reality. Even the best of people fail in this sometimes. Let me explain a couple ways we miss it.

As a Jewish person, we often consider three things to be religiously valid at this time of year: repentance, prayer and good works or charity. T’shuvah, t’filah and ts’daka. Fair enough. Those are all good things and I call us to practice them faithfully. But that said, when we call on God, and ask Him to forgive us on the basis of our good works, we are not really asking for grace at all. We are actually asking Him to reward us with our paycheck in heavenly terms of forgiveness. We earn things. We merit salvation that way. It’s as if God is not a Forgiver or a Generous One, but rather that He is seen as a formal heavenly accountant who counts our good efforts over against our bad efforts and says, “Yup, column A exceeds column B and thus you can be forgiven.”

But that’s not even close to the biblical understanding of forgiveness and grace. Grace is favor extended to us without merit. It is not to be taken lightly, to be sure, but it’s not a reward for good behavior. It’s favor. It’s unearned. It’s not a benefit you deserve. It’s God’s kindness based on His love and the mercy He shows those who believe in Him. And in His Son Yeshua.

Because of what Yeshua did, in dying for us on the cross, as a korban, as a sacrifice, all our sins are washed away. His blood accomplishes what no human effort ever could, the forgiveness of all humanity, one by one, whoever believes in the Divine Sacrifice of Yeshua Hamashiach. What an awesome gift! What a sacrifice! What love!

So what prevents our new life living? One of two things. 1) Trusting in our own righteousness as if it can merit and earn God’s favor or 2) dismissing the whole thing as irrelevant and treating God as if He didn’t exist at all. Good luck with that one. If you dismiss God, don’t be surprised when He dismisses you. And that’s not going to leave you in new life at all, but rather in same-old-same-old. I don’t wish that on anyone.

Final thoughts
God is good and awesome and King and worthy of all our love and attention today and every day. One of my favorite authors and Bible thinkers is a Scottish man from 100 years ago. His name is Oswald Chambers. In his book, My Utmost for His Highest, in the page labeled 13 September I read this yesterday:
“Surrender is not the surrender of the external life, but of the will; when that is done, all is done. There are very few crises in life; the great crisis is the surrender of the will. God never crushes a man's will into surrender; He never beseeches him, He waits until the man yields up his will to Him. That battle never needs to be re-fought. Surrender for Deliverance. "Come unto Me and I will give you rest." It is after we have begun to experience what salvation means that we surrender our wills to Yeshua for rest. Whatever is perplexing heart or mind is a call to the will - "Come unto Me." It is a voluntary coming.

Surrender for Devotion. "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself." The surrender here is of my self to Messiah Yeshua, my self with His rest at the heart of it. "If you would be My disciple, give up your right to yourself to Me." Then the remainder of the life is nothing but the manifestation of this surrender. When once the surrender has taken place we never need "suppose" anything. We do not need to care what our circumstances are, Yeshua is amply sufficient.

Surrender for Death. John 21:18-19. ". . . another shall gird thee." Have you learned what it means to be bound for death? Beware of a surrender which you make to God in an ecstasy; you are apt to take it back again. It is a question of being united with Yeshua in His death until nothing ever appeals to you that did not appeal to Him.

After surrender - what? The whole of the life after surrender is an aspiration for unbroken communion with God.” Do those thoughts bring you to Him?

Do you choose to surrender to Him just now?

If so, please write me online or here in the sanctuary, let me know that. Raise your hand or talk to me in a few moments and say, “I’ve just surrendered to Messiah. Now what do I do?” And we will find a group with whom you can walk this out.

You are like those refugees seeking new life. You are like Jarryd Hayne trying to find a new team with whom to share victory. You are nearing a culmination of emptiness in the 7-past-years. But now you are making it right. You are not alone. This can be a real new year for you. With challot and t’filot and with songs a-plenty, and with eternal newness of life in your heart.

What joy! What strength! What victory! Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift. Amen!

11 September 2015

5776, but for you 5195

The new year is approaching. On 13 September, as the sun sets, Jewish people worldwide will begin the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. There are many styles and many family traditions which are maintained, and even some resist the establishment of same, as a tradition. How will we make it happen? What will we do? What will you do to honour/ celebrate/ notice the Jewish new year as it begins Sunday night?
On this email from an ultra-Orthodox community in Safed Israel, they highlight three things to guarantee a good mark from the schoolmaster in heaven. The three are repentance, prayer and good works of charity. This triad was established in 90 CE by the Jewish leadership in Yavneh (Jamnia) at the Council there. 20 years before that historic gathering, the Jewish Temple was destroyed by the Romans under Titus. The leadership had to determine what we would do to secure forgiveness of sins which for a millennium had been assured in the Temple rites and ceremonies. So under Bohanan ben Zaikai, the leaders determined that three things were necessary: t'shuva, t'filah, and ts'daka.

But are those really enough to guarantee anyone of the forgiveness that the Almighty wants to give us? Why do we have to perform anything at all, since it's His will to cleanse us from sin?

Do we really need a discount (...but for you 5195)? Reading Leviticus in Torah helps us understand the machinery of the Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) realities. There was a great cost. Jewish people sinning wasn't God's plan. We had to make things right. And to accomplish that 'right' setting, we had to bring offerings, we needed a mediator, we needed to pass our sins into a goat or two and get right with the Almighty.

All that to say that in Yeshua, we are now able to have such forgiveness. All that is written in many other blogs before this one, but I want to use this blog to wish all my Jewish friends, family and enemies a very sweet New Year 5776, and to find eternity in Him before it's too late. He loves us. He wants us to know Him. Personally.

May your fast be easy and may you know assuredly that your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life.