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Starting well; ending well

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The biblical book of Judges ends with this sentence: "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes." (21.25) You could read that everyone did the right thing, but that's not the language of the Book. It's actually a description of waywardness, that people were setting up their own morality in direct contradiction to the morality of the Almighty. It certainly sounds like our days.

Michael Youssef wrote this last year, "Life in that society was not so different from life in our own postmodern, post-Christian, anything-goes society. These days, people avoid words like sin or disobedience. They prefer to justify their actions with phrases like, "Everybody does it," or, "The old rules don't apply anymore," or, "Times have changed." It's true that times have changed, and not for the better. But God hasn't changed. He still says to us, "You cannot receive blessings from Me while you…

Has Allianz settled the score?

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Get ready for some serious head shaking.
Allianz is a German-based insurance company with offices worldwide.
During World War II, the company insured Auschwitz for the perpetrators of evil who ran the Holocaust. Yes, you read that right, Allianz insured the Nazis. 
But wait, there's much more.
The company also insured tens of thousands of German Jewish citizens.

In 2014, this article appeared during a golf tournament in South Florida. In it, Randall Lieberman, Staff Writer, quotes a White House number cruncher who says, "I figured out the worth of all the portfolios held by the European insurance companies. In today's value, Allianz's share of the Jewish claims would be about $2.5 billion, yet they've paid out only about $50 million."  Is that accurate? Who can make such claims and what is the company doing about those outstanding claims?  

Similarly in 2013, again as a result of the same golf tournament, this article was published. The life insurance policie…

The Scandal of Silence

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I was asked recently if I had a 'word' for the church where I was going to speak. The pastor didn't use phrases like "prophecy" lightly, but that's what he wanted. I hadn't really prepared for such, but in a heartbeat, God gave me some words for that congregation, and I wonder if what I offered might not be useful for others globally. Thus I share some of those thoughts here.

Three times in the last year Australian Christians have been given a chance to speak. The plebiscite about same-sex marriage, the general national election in which Liberals won convincingly over Labor and the many other lesser parties, and the issue of Israel Folau and his being sacked by Rugby Australia over comments about certain people going to hell.

In each case, and with great fanfare and public notice, individual Christians were asked to speak out. I read it online; I saw it in the newspaper. I overheard it in church after church that individuals were charged to speak out. 

My fr…

Bible Quiz Answers

Short answer:
1)Who is Hammedatha the Agagite? Father of Haman 2)How many children did Jacob the patriarch have? 13 (12 sons and Dinah) 3)What is the other name for the Hebrew month Nisan? (Aviv/ Abib) 4)The term “Rosh Hashanah” is used how many times in the Bible? (0) 5)What three Hebrew letters are the root of the word “atonement” (IN Hebrew) (Kaf, Pey, Reish).. 2 points if you wrote K,P,R 6)What is the name of the town witch in the story of Philip and the town of Samaria in Acts 8? (Simeon/Simon) 7)Four women approached Moses one day about land rights. What was the name of their father? (Zelophehad) 8)How many goats were killed on the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16 (the first one described in the Bible)? (1, the other was let go into the wilderness) 9)How many provinces were in Ahaseurus’s realm? (127) 10)Name the two conspirators in the Purim story: Bigthan and Teresh 11)Who was Ruth’s sister-in-law? Orpah. That was the name Oprah Winfrey’s mother was trying to give Oprah. She …

Bible Quiz

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Originally published in 2014...









Short answer:
1)Who was Hammedatha the Agagite? 2)How many children did Jacob the Hebrew patriarch have? 3)What is the other name for the Hebrew month Nisan? 4)The term “Rosh Hashanah” is used how many times in the Bible? 5)What three Hebrew letters are the root of the word “atonement” (In Hebrew) 6)What is the name of the town witch in the story of Philip and the town of Samaria in Acts 8? 7)Four women approached Moses one day about land rights. What was the name of their father? 8)How many goats were killed on the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16 (the first one described in the Bible)? 9)How many provinces were in Ahaseurus’s realm? 10)Name the two conspirators in the Purim story: B__________ and T_________ 11)Who was Ruth’s sister-in-law? 12)Goliath came out to taunt Israel for how many days before David stood up against him? 13)What do old men do in the prophecy of Joel about the last days? 14)How many days did God work in the creation story? 15)Wh…

"The Lion King: Called for What?" by Guest Writer, Rebekah B.

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I love Disney. I think I've watched pretty much all of the old cartoons and am now one of the many adults who is eagerly going to the cinema to view the remakes. The Lion King has long been one of my favourites and when I watched it at the cinema yesterday, it didn't disappoint. The visuals as expected were stunning, and I was interested to note that the story was barely changed from the 1994 classic. I guess Disney knew they already had a masterpiece with a massive fan base on their hands, so they played it quite safe with the remake.
That being said, the majesty of the amazingly lifelike lions made for gorgeous viewing and the familiar musical score certainly gave me all the feelings I was hoping for. I was drawn in right from the opening bar of the Circle of Life, felt Simba’s anguish as his father fell to his death, laughed with the rest of the audience at the antics of the beloved Timon and Puma, and felt the jubilant triumph as Simba, at last, took his rightful place as …

The worst kind of replacement

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My friend Frank came into the shop today and we were talking. Talking about some believers here in Sydney who are missing the point of the Gospel and Torah. Seems we know some folks who are caught up in the Galatian heresy, which may be a new term to some of you. The letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Galatia (a region in Asia Minor in the First Century) contained these famous words,  "You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?  This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?  Did you suffer so many things in vain — if indeed it was in vain? So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?" (chapter 3, verses 1-5)

The rhetorical questio…

Australia and Freedom of Speech

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Who can and who cannot? It's all over the Jewish news this week, and the results may be very long lasting. Is there a content-test for freedom of speech? Should there be a muzzle on sportspeople who want to talk about what they believe or don't believe? 

From the get-go, let me say forthrightly, NOT! Freedom of speech must allow for speech with which I seriously disagree. 

Case in point: A visiting professor at University of Sydney

Peter Kohn writes in the AJN this week, "Jewish communal leaders are concerned about plans for Richard Falk, a US academic who has endorsed conspiracy theories and who is widely accused of antisemitism, to visit Australia to speak at the NSW Parliament and at the University of Sydney." Their concerns have to do with the content of his speech and the effect he might have on the conversation.

Lesli Berger is the president of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies. She says Falk's judgments on the Jewish people "make this function offensive in…

If I could speak with Troye Sivan

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Troye Sivan Mellet is a major player in the music industry whose roots are significant for us in Oz. He describes them in this way in an interview with of the Forward newspaper which follows his interview in the New Yorker earlier this month.

He's 24, and Jewish, and gay, and an Australian! He grew up in Perth, in an Orthodox Jewish home and attended the only Jewish school there. For years he had a YouTube following much like a garage band back in the 60s, simple, beautiful sounds. He played "the shul circuit" and then burst much further since he came out 9 years ago. He now lives in Hollywood with his partner of 3 years.

He's a fascinating and complex young man with high energy, great creativity and depth.

Troye was born in Johannesburg, but moved to Perth when he was only two. He has three siblings, and his major musical influence was Amy Winehouse, another Jewish pop star, with whom I would have liked to have had a conversation. Troye co-…