Showing posts from 2008

Two things in view and a baby born of a virgin

Pamplona baluarte
Originally uploaded by al_loromanchego Sometimes two people can be looking at different things and making comments in contrast, and sometimes one person can be looking at two different things at the same time and making comments. This could be confusing. Let me explain.

For the first, the story is told of two ladies sitting on the porch on a Wednesday evening in Tennessee. One is listening to the church choir practicing and the other is listening to the sounds of the crickets. The first, "Don't they make beautiful music?" Replied the second, "Yes, and I hear they do it by rubbing their legs together."

For the 2nd, and more timely to the season is the story told by Isaiah the Jewish prophet some 700 years before the birth of Jesus. Isaiah is writing his prophecy to encourage two different sets of folks. One living in his time, much like the wall and bridge we see in the photo, and the other group of people who are living 7 centuries later, much lik…

Australia: The movie

An Epic story: Australia

I’m from Kansas. I grew up there in what has become known as the “Land of Oz.” The themes from “Wizard of Oz” and even the Judy Garland song “Somewhere over the rainbow” feature sharply in “Australia” the movie.

Baz Luhrmann directs the movie. Giant actors like Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman make this story of our country bigger than life, or at least bigger than Errol Flynn! There are cattle driving scenes which could be found in ‘epic’ movies, but too many zooms for such a grand adjective. It’s just not big enough for me.

Ever-good as an actor, Bryan Brown brings the king into our movie houses, and when he waltzes with Nicole, we are transported to another era and another place.

Many other Aussie actors like Tony Barry are well chosen. The film shows the harsh life in the 1940s in our country, and an epic love story, it all goes to bring us to another place.

The trailer features the twice-said line, “Just because it is, doesn’t mean [that’s the way] it should be.…

A mother's love?

Mothers gone mad

The mother of a two-year-old boy whose body was found in a suitcase appeared in the NSW Supreme Court today for the first time since she was charged with his murder. Rachel Pfitzner is accused of killing her son, Dean Shillingsworth, and dumping his body in a suitcase lined with a plastic bag at a pond in Ambarvale, near Campbelltown.

According to court documents, she picked him up by the cord of his jumper and shook him until he went limp and started to gurgle and froth at the mouth. She allegedly told police she had tried to resuscitate him by tilting back his head and breathing into his mouth.

Over in the UK, here's another insane mother story.

A British mother was found guilty on Thursday of kidnapping her own nine-year-old daughter, probably to scoop the reward money when the girl was found.

The disappearance of Shannon Matthews prompted one of the biggest searches in British history, costing over £3 million ($6.83 million), but she was found safely 24 days later …

Jewish Puerto Rican Christmas Hanukkah?

Originally uploaded by bobmendo Shalom Blog readers.

Usually I write the story and the commentary here. But today I received an email from ISSUES magazine, from Matt Sieger, who wrote about my friend Shaun, and the seasonal nature of the story, and the reality of Shaun's life is too good to miss. So here you go, enjoy!

“A Not-so-Typical Holiday Story”

by Matt Sieger

As Shaun Buchhalter notes, being a Jewish Puerto Rican is probably more common in New York City than elsewhere. But that didn’t make it any easier. Especially during the December holidays.

Born to a Jewish father and Puerto Rican Catholic mother, 30-year-old Shaun grew up in what was then the very Jewish neighborhood of West Brighton Beach in Brooklyn. He and his immediate family, his paternal grandparents and his dad’s brother all lived within a block of each other in three separate high-rise apartment buildings. Although Shaun’s father was not religious, Shaun’s grandmother, Rita, was. Grandma Rita was determin…

Trumpets...what's that about?

A Rosh Hashanah message.

I love holidays. Maybe you do, also. And tonight is the beginning of a seriously long holiday season. I’m not talking about wandering through David Jones and seeing how much holiday cheer is already up. The green and red of Christmas abounds …and if I remember right, it’s only September. So for the merchants of Bondi Junction, this is a seriously long holiday season. At least they hope so. And maybe for them, that makes their holidays worthwhile and bright.

No, when I mention holidays, and tonight’s beginning, I’m talking about the season of The High Holidays. It begins with Tishri. This Hebrew month is filled with strange and unusual holiday celebrations and includes tonight, 3 days from now, 10 days from now, fifteen days from now and then lasting 8 or 9 more days. There are seven holidays all up in the biblical record of Leviticus 23, and seven is the number of completion.
The holidays have odd names, too. Feast of Trumpets, Fast of Gedaliah, Day of Ato…

Berlin Declaration

The Berlin Declaration on the Uniqueness of Christ and Jewish Evangelism in Europe Today

An international task force of the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) met on the issue of the uniqueness of Christ and Jewish evangelism in Berlin, Germany, from August 18-22, 2008 to consider how the Christian community might express genuine love for the Jewish people, especially in Europe. Participants included Christians from Germany and Messianic Jews. The result was the following “Berlin Declaration.”

1. Love is not Silent: The Need for Repentance

We deeply regret the all too frequent persecution of Jewish people in Jesus’ name. We do not for a second deny the evil it represents. During the genocide of the Holocaust, when the Jewish people were in their greatest peril, most Christian believers were silent. Many, such as The Stuttgart Confession of Guilt right after World War II, have apologized for the failure to speak out and for not doing more to demonstrate genuine…

Brickner on Palin and Israel and such...

The Jewish News in Australia reported last Friday that David Brickner, head of Jews for Jesus, living in USA, spoke at the church Sarah Palin attends. That is true. The headline of the short article said that Palin disagrees with what Brickner said. That's probably not true.

Find out for yourself...

From Brickner:
There is much media furor over my remarks at Wasilla Bible Church on August 17th. The comments attributed to me were taken out of context. The notion that the terrorist, bulldozer attack in Jerusalem this summer was God’s judgment on Israel for not believing in Jesus, is absolutely not what I believe. In retrospect, I can see how my rhetoric might be misunderstood and I truly regret that.

Of course I never expected the kind of magnifying glass scrutiny on a message where I was speaking extemporaneously. Let me be clear. I don’t believe that any one event whether a terrorist attack or a natural disaster is a specific fulfillment of or manifestation of a Biblical predict…


An essay on sometimes competing strands of ministry in the body of Messiah.

I'm going to be speaking at Christian City Church School of Ministry in Oxford Falls tomorrow and Harvest Bible College in Dandenong next Tuesday. Each of these colleges affords good opportunities for their students to experience many dimensions of the life of the church, including academics and spirituality and prayer and such. Then next Thursday I will speak to the Reformed Theological Seminary near Geelong. There I expect things will be a bit more academic and a bit different in style to that of these previous two.

This makes me think about what we produce at colleges and seminaries and such. What about what I'm reproducing in my ministry?

Sheep create sheep; pastors produce pastors; academicians self-duplicate and so do missionaries.

Now here's how this usually plays out. A pastor-driven church models pastoral care for the parishioners and thus home groups abound, and the maintenance and preservati…


A year ago people in Australia kept asking me who would win the US election. I kept insisting we wouldn't know anything until a year on (August 2008). The two factors would be the war in Iraq and the economy. Nothing else really matters. Eventually everything is subjugated by those factors. External security and internal wallets.

Now the two slates are filled in with McCain/Palin (who?) and Obama (who?)/Biden.

But the factors that remain are Iraq and money.

The reports are coming in well in the Republican column. We are winning in Iraq. The surge is working. Iraqis have a lot of extra money and are growing in peaceful and democratic life. That says a lot for the Repubs.

Economic news will be spun and respun over the next 60 days, but if petrol prices drop or remain steady, if the grocery bill drops even a bit, and if people have a bit more money in their wallet (not in comparison to 2002, but in comparison to last year or even January), they will stay the course.

Follow the money. That…


The Beijing Olympics came and went. 16 days of gold, silver, bronze. 2 weeks of tennis and swimming and diving and ping pong. Nations at war actually hugged after each race and contest. Nice to see. But unfortunately, it's over. Terminated. All done.

Down in Sydney, Colin is a memory now, the lost baby whale who found its way to Pittwater last week, and eventually was put down. The Australian newspaper reported, "The decision was made at a meeting of NSW Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) workers, scientists and representatives of other agencies after the calf's deteriorating health took a drastic turn for the worse.

Rescuers opted against making another attempt to shepherd the starving 4.5 metre whale calf into open water, the NPWS said.

The calf unexpectedly appeared on Sunday at The Basin, inside Sydney's Pittwater, and returned on Tuesday after being towed out to sea."

The country mourned the loss of the baby whale.

Meanwhile in Victoria "MPs will have a con…

It's almost 8 in the morning on the 8th of August. There is nothing significant about the timing of today. But some sign-watching community may say otherwise.

It is Friday, so oh, maybe "TGIF, Thank God it's Friday" is a good thought. But 08.08.08... is that significant? I suppose if your birthday is today, it's a fun day. If you are living near Beijing today, the Olympics begin today. And that's probably why the Chinese chose the date for the Summer Olympics to begin.

On this date in history:

In 1945, the Soviet Union declared war against Japan during World War II.

In 1963, Britain’s “Great Train Robbery” took place as thieves made off with 2.6 million pounds in banknotes.

In 1968, Richard M. Nixon was nominated for US president at the Republican national convention in Miami Beach, Fla.

In 1973, US Vice-President Spiro T. Agnew branded as “damned lies” reports he had taken kickbacks from government contracts in Maryland, and vowed not to resign — which he ended …

Iguanas the Truth and Do you know who I am?

Today in the lower house in Sydney, NSW Liberal MP Ray Williams was ejected from state parliament after bringing a stuffed-toy iguana into the lower house. Mr Williams produced the toy as Premier Morris Iemma rose to answer a question from Nationals Leader Andrew Stoner relating to the incident at Iguana's Waterfront Bar at Gosford, involving John Della Bosca and his wife, federal Labor MP Belinda Neal.

Speaker Richard Torbay ordered Mr Williams, the MP for Hawkesbury, be removed from the house.

The row at the nightclub is now the subject of a police investigation after conflicting statutory declarations were made about the incident. Staff at Iguana's say Mr Della Bosca and Ms Neal, threatened and abused them.

Ms Neal and Mr Della Bosca, who has been stood down as education minister pending the inquiry, have denied any wrong doing.

Look, some sense is there in the Lower House in Sydney. If a public official acts up and does wrong, he should be reproved. Shame is a bad thing, but i…

Another Jewish story

I found this story today and was so blessed, I hope you will be also.

The author is a Jew from the US,a clinical psychologist, who certainly knows how to weave a story.

It begins with...

In my youth I spent every afternoon studying the Hebrew Scriptures, five days a week, and on Friday night and Saturday I worshiped. As I grew older I worshiped for a time each day in the synagogue morning and evening. I would rise before dawn and before going to the morning service, in obedience to rabbinic tradition, I would put on tefillin—the boxes containing God’s law—on my forehead and arm.

Then one cold, clear midwinter night my life was shattered.

The whole story is here

Shame on the Libs

Shame in the Camp

According to the Australian newspaper just a few hours ago, and their writer, Rick Wallace, Victorian political reporter

"ANOTHER senior Victorian Liberal has quit after being caught sending anti-Semitic emails as the crisis in the state opposition deepens.

Wallace reports, "Liberal campaign director Susan Chandler apologised for referring to a federal Liberal candidate as a “greedy jew” but has left her job at the party's Melbourne headquarters.

State president David Kemp said today she had the option of quitting or being sacked.

In an email to Liberal staffer John Osborn, Ms Chandler referred to candidate Adam Held as a “greedy Jew” after he asked for more campaign material during last year's federal election. Ms Chandler released a statement this afternoon saying she had many Jewish friends and was not anti-Semitic. “My comments were completely out of character and were made on the spur of the moment in an email during a difficult per…

Will they let her play?

Will they let her play?Tomorrow is the finals of the Bible Quiz in Israel. The JTA from Jerusalem reports, "Should Bat El Levy be asked at Israel's international youth Bible quiz next week about the messiah's coming, she may find herself in a bind.The 17-year-old Jerusalem girl is a world-class scriptural scholar who, as it happens, believes in Jesus."So who cares what she believes? She was Jewish before she believed anything and she'll be Jewish long after this quiz is even a faint memory. Today's Jerusalem Post says,
"Both chief rabbis of Israel called on Tuesday to cancel the International Bible Quiz slated for the capital on Independence Day in protest against the participation of a 16-year-old girl who believes Jesus is the messiah.

"Choosing her as a finalist in the International Bible Quiz for Jewish Youth is a transgression of Halacha and is a distortion of the goal and essence of the quiz," wrote Chief Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yona Metzger…

Road rage

Yesterday was a bad day for my new friend Ed. He hurried to his doctor appointment in the morning and as a result was late for work. He wanted to tell me that, but he lost his mobile phone. And he couldn't hear it ring, as it has a flat battery, so he can't even help himself to find it. Oy.

So he comes to work at the shop and parks behind me. No problem there. I get ready to leave a little early because I have to speak last night at a church meeting. So Ed comes down with me to move his car. Simple, right? Except he has left his lights on and now his car battery is dead. Double oy!

OK, so he puts his car into neutral, eases back down the slight hill of a driveway we have. I back out next to him and park, so I can use my jumper cables. This won't take long.

We put the cables onto each car, and the jump start is successful, but Ed's car doesn't want to hold the charge, nor keep running unless he keeps his foot on the accelerator. Oy, oy, oy.

We are making a quick determ…

Passover 2008

It's Shabbat, a day of rest and tonight is Pesach, a day to remember the deliverance, the lambs, and our exodus from Egypt. What a great weekend. The Ten Commandments tell us to remember the Sabbath day (for two reasons). First, in Exodus chapter 20, we read to keep Shabbat “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. " OK, so every week we remember the Creation of the World and we remember The Creator.

And we rest and don't do the ordinary things.

But in Deuteronomy we read the reiteration of the Ten Commandments and are told, in chapter 5, "the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servan…

KU winning was not a miracle

I so enjoy the newscasters here in the US, especially here from where I'm writing in Kansas City. They inserted an entire section into the Kansas City Star this morning about the Jayhawks, as they should. The KU basketball team won the men's national championship in an overtime victory last night in San Antonio. It was a great game, with the best two teams in the tournament performing well, and giving the crowd, both there in the Alamodome and around the globe watching on television, a series of thrills.

Unfortunately, the Star's headlines editors entitled the insert section, "Miracle II." Throughout the articles writers sprinkled the reports with "miracle three-pointer" and KU was "in need of several miracles."

Now I'm a die-hard fan. And proud of it. I still have the 1988 final game between KU and Oklahoma, the game that never stopped, on video tape at home in Sydney. But let's get our terms right. The last shot by Mario Chalmers with …


I'd never heard this word before. On the radio the other morning, they commented on this. My first guess was 'fear of the law.' And that would make sense in that I often take my foot off the accelerator when I see a policeman. But that's not what they meant.

They described this new phobia as "Fear of Being Out of Range on your cell (Mobile) phone." (No Mobile Phobia) No doubt this word is not American as US people title their mobile phones, "cell phones." Maybe it's an Aussie word. We'll see.

And I've certainly experienced this phenomenon. What if, when I'm driving here in the US, or between Tamworth and Armidale, someone tries to ring me and they get a 'out of range' commentary from the telecom provider. Oy! Oy vey! This would be so bad, as I spend a lot of time in my car or in the train or ... such.

So I immediately understood their 'new' word of the day. Nomophobia. May it not happen to you.

But what may be more signi…

Israelis and Messianic Jews

Of note today was the visit of the mayor of Ariel to young Ami Ortiz. The story follows from Jerusalem Post online edition.

Anti-missionaries suspected in attack
Yaakov Lappin , THE JERUSALEM POST Mar. 23, 2008

Police investigating the sending of a package which exploded in the home of a Christian pastor in Ariel are leaning toward the theory that a Jewish anti-missionary was behind the attack, the preacher told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

David Ortiz's 16-year-old son, Ami, sustained serious injuries in the blast, after opening the package, which was made to look like a Purim gift.

"They [the police], as far as I understand, do not suspect Palestinian terrorism. They suspect a Jewish anti-missionary motive," Ortiz told the Post by phone from his Ariel home, minutes after returning from the hospital.

"At the start of the investigation, they went in the direction of Palestinian terrorism. Now they're going in the other direction," he added.

Judea and Samaria Pol…

Threats... deal with it!

Threats and resultant damage
(Paddo Robbery, Air New Zealand hijacking, Bondi slashing)

Where will it all end? Some stories from the wires today are blood and danger. First, yesterday arvo an armed bandit held up a central Sydney post office. The man walked into the building on Oxford Street, Paddington, just before 5pm yesterday.

"(He) demanded money while threatening staff with what appeared to be a small firearm," police said in a statement today. "The staff complied with the man and he left the premises with an amount of cash.

The man is described as being of white appearance, between 163cm and 173cm tall. He has a thin build, with stubble around his mouth. At the time of the robbery he was wearing gold-framed glasses and a black and white track-suit jacket.

Across the Tasman
A woman charged with hijacking a small commuter plane in New Zealand was committed to a psychiatric hospital when she appeared in court on Saturday.

Asha Abdille, 33, a Somali immigrant, was committe…

The hourglass bridge

I’m in the basement of my rented house in Sydney’s northern suburbs and it’s 9 in the morning. Last night was another gorgeous night in Sydney with 70-degree temperatures at 1 a.m. as Patty and I along with another couple made our way home from a night on the town. We had eaten dinner at 9, and then walked down to the foreshore to see the fireworks display, which was very much worth seeing.

Now today is Patty’s and my 31st anniversary. I look older, but she doesn’t, and we have three children who still take up a lot of our time, and they are very much worth all we can give. We couldn’t be prouder of our kids.

On the bridge stretching across the harbour the designers of the New Year’s show often put a symbol. We’ve seen a coat hanger (the nickname of the bridge itself), a diamond (for the 75th anniversary of the bridge) and even the word “Eternity”. This year the designers attached an hourglass as the symbol to remember. It makes a good reminder of time running out.

A la the ball in New Y…