19 December 2007

Christmas and the Jewish People


WestfieldXMas2.jpg
Originally uploaded by bobmendo
The Jews and Jesus… Christmas concerns

Jews and Jesus seem to live in two different worlds. They appear to be representing two different religions. Melbourne’s Darren Levin, writing in last week’s Australian Jewish News, thinks this. “Jews don't believe in Jesus. How do I know this? I am one - and I can't recall any glow-in-the-dark crucifixes or fibre-optic Mother Marys in my parents' Caulfield South home...Being a Jew who doesn't believe in Jesus - I find it difficult to believe in Christmas.”

Separation of religions makes sense to Levin and to most people. Levin wants Jews who believe in Jesus to be ‘over there’ and Jews who don’t believe to be ‘over here.’ Some aver that it’s better to separate all religion from us. Keep religion over there and secular information over here. But with Christmas strewn all over our diaries and across our shopping malls, it’s increasingly difficult. The news media highlight this with cases in point this month.

First the shocking tale of the British primary school teacher in Sudan who was forced into exile for allowing her year-two students the privilege to name their stuffed teddy bear after the wrong person. Fair enough, it’s their country and they can do what they want, but fanaticism gone mad almost cost Gillian Gibbons more than a few days in jail. The word got out about her negligence and offending behaviour, and immediately the television broadcast hundreds of protestors on the streets in Khartoum screaming for her head. That must have given her pause. Why? She offended the religionists in Sudan who thought she was mocking their founder. Obviously this was an innocent mistake, and we saw a story of political correctness gone mad.

But it’s not only mad in Sudan; look at Bondi Junction in Sydney’s east. Outside Borders Books is the generous holiday display with Santa and sleigh and everyone’s digital Kodak opportunity (for $50 a shot). The glittery balls and silver decorations remind shoppers of Northern Hemispheric holidays of Dickens and Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.” The massive decorations rise from 4th to 6th floors. Along the side on the 6th floor, tucked away between a restaurant and a travel Mountain Design store (was that planned to represent the family’s travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem?) is the manger panorama including the three wise men. It might reach 5 foot high. Religion gets a hearing, barely visibly--it’s there, but it’s being pushed to the apparent side is a slur at best.

Over in the USA, Sears, a large retailer similar to our Myer, has changed the names of their Christmas trees. They say, “The reason for our use of holiday tree is due to [our being a] very diverse company, we do not want to offend any of our associates, but also our valued customers. We decided to call them holiday trees because even if Christians are the only religion that uses a Christmas tree we still do not want complaints from other customers of different religions complaining about our use of Christmas.”

Something appears to be happening in the religio-pc world today. If I understand it correctly, here in Australia, Christmas is a national holiday. Everywhere else in the globe, the green trees people decorate in December are called Christmas trees. What is the fear of the use of the proper name of the holiday?

I’m not sure why anyone would be offended because a store has a display that highlights a holiday of someone in particular. Do unattached people protest Valentine displays sold from the local Target outlet? In Indian neighbourhoods, do people who are not from India protest the display of Diwali activities? Of course not!

People who do not celebrate Christmas are not offended by its celebration by others, are they? Back in 2005, Sears did the same thing. They pulled the word Christmas from their stores, and told employees to wish customers “Happy Holidays.” Sears received so much pressure from the people that year, that it reprinted its ads to include Christmas and rushed “Merry Christmas” signs to all of its retail outlets.

Ben Stein, the American Jewish actor/comedian, wrote in his commentary, “I am a Jew, and it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit-up, be-jeweled trees, Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees.”




“It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, 'Merry Christmas' to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a crèche, it's just as fine with me.”

There are still many Jewish people who want to avoid any mention of the holiday. Some like Levin want to keep things separate. They prefer not knowing that the little boy was in fact a Jewish baby born in the Bethlehem village stable. Maybe they don't want to know that Y’shua (that’s the Jewish way to say Jesus) was born in fulfilment of biblical prophecy from previous generations. Maybe they don’t want to know that Y’shua lived his entire life in Israel and gave himself for Jewish people throughout his days. Yet he did. He even died in Jerusalem, and rose from the dead there on the third day. But that’s another season, isn’t it?

So what do we make of the pushing of the manger scene to the side of an escalator on the 6th floor in Westfields? What of political correctness? Will I be allowed to wish people Happy Anzac Day in due course, even though some fought against our troops at Gallipoli? Can’t we let others have their religion and let this truly be a multi-cultural country, not a monolith of sameness?

Here, or in your neighbourhood, or in your life, maybe the word of the Christmas carol writer should ring again: “Joy to the world! The Lord has come, let earth receive her king, let every heart prepare him room.”

On the panorama in Westfield are the words of the carol “The First Noel”-- “And by the light of that same star three wise men came from country far.” Perhaps, more important is the song’s chorus which lifts us with the repeated “Noel, noel… born is the king of Israel.” He is our King, oh Jewish people. He is our Messiah. He is our Saviour, and we would do well to give him place this year and throughout our years.

Give him proper place or pull the plug entirely. He’s not a sideshow; He’s the host!

But that’s the problem with religion and separation, isn’t it? Some want religion to be ‘over there’ and leave us alone ‘over here.’ God wants us all to know him personally and let over there come over here. Let your heart prepare him room.


___________________________
Bob Mendelsohn is the national director of Jews for Jesus Australia. He and his family moved from the US in 1998 to found the organization in Sydney. He can be reached on bob@jewsforjesus.org.au or 1.800.988.077 in Australia.

17 December 2007

Announcing...Peace in Jerusalem

Neville Chamberlain is known to many as the Western prime minister who accommodated the Nazi regime, who was willing to bend over backwards with signing the Munich Agreement in 1938. His bending in Britain’s Parliament led to back-breaking bombing and war mongering by the Germans in World War II. His famous, “Peace in our times” comments on the tarmac in Britain, and then his speech delivered to Parliament rings in the ears of many, especially Jewish people, as empty words, wishful thinking and sad misunderstanding of the situation and the devilish opponent which was Germany in 1938.

But peace is not a bad thing, is it?

In his famous speech to Parliament Chamberlain said, “It is my hope and my belief, that under the new system of guarantees, the new Czechoslovakia will find a greater security than she has ever enjoyed in the past.“

Sadly this did not happen. When the Sudetenland was annexed to the Reich without a shot, no one won, and to this day Czechoslovakia and the later-divided land of the Czech Republic and Slovakia has never recovered from this annexation.
Chamberlain’s evaluation of the situation was impoverished by his refusal to listen to Winston Churchill, a member of his own government. Churchill was noted for his warnings about the German efforts to dominate Europe and Hitler’s secret plans viz the Jews.

But that was then, and now is now, right?

Here in Australia we are readying to celebrate Christmas. And this season has a certain sentiment. Christmas is about peace on earth and good will to men. You see it in the shops, you hear it in jingles and jingoism on talkback radio and greeting cards. So what’s the difference? Did Chamberlain merely lead the way in this sentimentalism that cripples real conversation? Why is he charged with such serious indictment?

Peace, after all, is part of the fruit of the Spirit. Peace is the ministry of the Prince of Peace whose birth we celebrate at this time. Paul the Apostle says, peace is part of the Kingdom of God, along with righteousness and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14.17) Shalom, the Hebrew word for ‘peace’ can be widened to translate into ‘wholeness’ and Isaiah says God will keep him in “perfect peace whose mind is stayed on” God. (Isaiah 26.3)

So who would say anything against peace? Even though his prediction of global calm was wrong, who would dare to knock Chamberlain when true peace is such a characteristic of the man of God and of the Son of God?

Add to that the weight of the Psalmist, King David, who wrote in Psalm 122, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper who love thee.”

It sounds like God is in favour of peace, and real peace should be the desire of all true believers. After all, “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5.1)

In light of the current Middle East situation in the Land of Israel, where is peace? Over 330 times in the Bible the word ‘peace’ is used; it must matter to the Almighty.
But it all seems for naught. Turn on the news daily with this peace wish, and you will weep. The situation aggravates and escalates whenever one side takes on the other. Walls are built, homicide bombers actively pursue war, cameras flash in Jenin, stories are told and untold and retold… it’s a mess. Where is peace?

Jim Wallis is a Christian peace worker from the US. He has written and founded Sojourners Magazine back in the 1970s and is a constant voice for the underprivileged, the poor and the oppressed.

In his book God’s Politics, (2005) in his consideration of the Middle Eastern peace process, Wallis lends his support to the people in the territories, and underscores the oppression of the Palestinians. His evaluation is based on personal visits and conversations, and not necessarily on all the facts of the matter.

Wallis said, “Jesus did not say, ‘Blessed are the peace lovers.’ He rather said ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, [for they shall be called sons of the living God.’] (Matthew 5.9) which is always a much more difficult task. (page 160)

The Jewish prayer entitled the Kaddish, said at least several times daily by Orthodox Jews worldwide, contains the phrase, “He who makes peace in his high heaven, may he make peace on us and on all Israel, and let us say ‘amen.’” Again the notion of ‘making peace’ rather than simply agreeing with it, or loving it…that’s in view.

Peace for Wallis and for many means the end of conflict. He cites the previous pope who “vigorously opposed the US war in Iraq…and called upon the world ‘to unite’ in overcoming terrorism and to resist its ‘logic of death.’ Reject war, but unite to defeat terrorism. That is a message for our time.” (p. 171)

So at the same time, Wallis argues against the US-led war and against the terrorists. It’s a tough fence.

Consider the plight of the settlers, who long daily for both God’s plans in allowing their return and also peace between peoples. Why must they be mutually exclusive?


And the number one concern of them all is peace. Hands down, the public opinion polls show “peace” as the desire of Israelis, from all walks of life. It is incumbent on us as Australian Christians to consider how this will happen.

Gerald Derstine, a long-time friend of Israel and Christian pastor from the US, wrote in his book Fire over Israel, “It is important for the church to understand this message because we are being affected by the ignorance and indifference that prevents the church from carrying out its responsibility. That land contains the city from which God’s Kingdom on earth will be ruled... if we really believe that Jesus Christ is coming back again, then we should take an interest in what is happening in Jerusalem. We should be involved in getting the land ready for her king.” (page 127). Derstine was appointed by Israel’s Likud party to serve as “Peace Mediator” to dialogue with Arab Muslims and Jews from a Christian perspective.

Consider the story of the Gibeonites (Joshua 9). The land belonged to Abraham and the Jews, his covenant descendants. (Genesis 12.7) God told the Jewish people, former slaves now liberated under Moses, to enter the Promised Land. And as they were entering, they were told to conquer the land, and to remove the Girgashites and the Hittites and the Canaanites, etc. Included in that list would have been the locals named the Gibeonites. Therefore, God’s plan and God’s will was clear. Destruction of the Gibeonites was what He asked. Yet

“The sons of Israel did not ask for the counsel of the LORD. And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them. (Josh 9.14-15)

These were the tribe that came up with a clever scheme to save themselves. They pretended to have come from a long way and ended up securing a work contract with the neo-Israelites. God’s will clear-- their eradication; Joshua’s covenant of peace, however, overrode God’s will and replaced it. In itself, this is a fascinating set of thoughts.

But apply the circumstances of this Older Testament passage with the current Middle East crisis and Chamberlain’s thoughts. Peace between peoples, peace between God and man; when will it come?

Making a covenant of peace with a people who are not interested in peace is folly. The old adage is so quotable it’s almost trite. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

I believe that there is a day coming when Jesus will descend to the City of Peace and put his foot down. So says Zechariah 14, “The LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley” (14.3-4)

When the Messiah returns to Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives, like a parent who has had enough of children’s disobedience, he will put his foot down! And his rule will be established. To note: Jerusalem means “City of Peace” and the ministry title we most recognize at Christmas is “Prince of Peace.” How we long for that day of his return when he establishes peace in the City of Peace, but until that day there will not be full/ true peace.

I always prefer it when people are at peace with one another, whether in my neighbourhood or in the land of Israel. And putting down guns will help, and putting down bombs or never creating them will be of great advantage to world peace. AND YET, I don’t want to placate madmen like Ahmadinejad and others of his ilk. The Irani president says the holocaust is ‘a myth’ and calls for Israel to be moved to the US or to Europe. Let us not be guilty of doing the Chamberlain ‘peace in our time’ speech.

The adage a year ago was “If Fatah/Hamas put down their guns, there would be no more war. If Israel put down their guns, there would be no more Israel.”

Beyond sloganneering, it’s time for real peace, the kind that only comes from re-union with the Lord. There needs to be a revival in the Land towards peace and towards eternal life. Only in Jesus will real peace come, so let’s pray to that end. Let’s dream to that end. Let’s support ministries that bring about redemption in Jesus Christ. Let’s put down our ‘my side’ vs ‘your side’ thinking. What really matters in the Land of God’s Promises is the saving grace of Jesus, and anything short of that is short of that.

My conclusions:
1) Peace in Jerusalem based on governmental military action and treaties is at best ephemeral and wishful thinking.
2) Living in terror and in the culture of terror-driven policies will only aggravate the situation in the generations to come. Terrorism and those who support it must be stopped.
3) Peace in the Land is a need, for all humans, for humanity, for justice to ‘roll down like waters.’ (Amos 5)
4) All Christians should pray for God’s ministries in Israel to prosper. These include ministries to the poor, to the religionists, to the Muslims, to the Arabs, to the Jews, to everyone.
5) Giving up land to ensure peace has neither historical precedent nor realistic hope of success.
6) Peace in the Middle East is a lovely sentiment, but given the nature of man, it seems to be impossible at this time. The only real peace which will exist before the return of Jesus is individual and related to a person’s faith in Christ.

>>
The estimates claim there were about 410,000 Arab Muslims and Christians in what was wrongly labelled Palestine in 1893 while another 25,000 Jewish people lived there. Today there are 7,150,000 inhabitants – compared to 806,000 residents who lived in Israel in 1948, according Central Bureau of Statistics data. 5,415,000 are Jews (76 percent) while 1,425,000 million (20 percent) are Arabs. 310,000 (4 percent) people were classified as “others,” mostly non-Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union or those whose Jewish status is still undetermined by the Interior Ministry.
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22 September 2007

Getting it right...again

GETTING IT RIGHT…AGAIN!


Yom Kippur 5768
21 September 2007
Given at Jews for Jesus
Bondi Junction NSW AUSTRALIA

For those who are with us for the first time tonight, a hearty Shana Tova and a welcome to our public gathering. May your fast be easy tonight and tomorrow. We don’t have many of these gatherings a year, so each one is very special to our staff and to many of our constituency. Each time we gather we take a section or sections of the Bible and see if this Book has anything to say to us, as 21st century people.
Last week we began to consider again this New Year, 5768 and the desire of God to be in relationship with us. That in itself is an awesome point to consider.

Now tonight, we will look at the idea of getting it right…again. Some may grow weary of New Year talks. I never do. For many reasons the Holidays were always a time of good feelings for me. Maybe it was because I enjoyed getting new clothing and attending the synagogue with my parents. I enjoyed starting school again at this time of year, after a long season as we have in the US, of 3 months off from official learning. The weather often began to change at this time, with the leaves turning colours and a crispness in the air in the early morning or evening. The world was going to be different for me, so maybe it would be different for everyone. And I wanted to get it right.

If there was ever a theme in my upbringing it was ‘get it right.’ The words may not have been put in that phrase. The idea of the Jewish understanding of ‘tikkun olam’ was the backdrop, but I never heard that phrase. God wanted his people the Jewish people, to make the world better. He wanted us to ‘repair the world’ as the phrase translates. And although it wasn’t until I was a teenager when I officially learned and appropriated that phrase, the more secular ‘getting it right’ seemed to be a watchword for me and for my family and perhaps for a whole generation.

Let me read to you from the Bible for a moment, and then I’ll come back to this theme.

"Now when John in prison heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples, and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. “And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me.” (Matthew 11.2-6)


Once again we start over, as 5768 is in full swing. Last week Jewish people listened to the sounds of the shofar, blown 100 times each day, to remind us of the sovereignty of the Kingship of the Lord God. The shofar reminds us to repent, to get it right with God, and with one another.

But maybe you are weary of the same old same old. Maybe this idea of annual holidays is wearying. Maybe it’s the idea of fasting, which can be wearying. True story: The other night, I caught a bit of the TV show Entourage, and the setting of this particular episode was Yom Kippur. The Jewish star of the show, Jeremy Pivin and his wife were having quite a row over the holiness of the day, and she was upset that he was conducting his Hollywood business on that sacred day. One of his business associates was equally troubled by his family similarly upset. As if it were really such a hardship, the associate cried out “I’ve been fasting for 10 hours already, what do you want from me?”

Weariness can set in and some stop fasting and others give the public gatherings a miss. You, however, are not among those.

But even though you are present with us tonight, perhaps you are weary.


DOUBT PREVENTS OUR GETTING IT RIGHT…OR DOES IT?


The number one wearying factor is doubt.

Isaac Bashevis Singer said,

“Doubt is part of all religion. All the religious thinkers were doubters.”
-New York Times, December 3, 1978


Alfred Korzybski, the great semanticist and scientist, wrote,
“There are two ways to slide easily through life: to believe everything or to doubt everything; both ways save us from thinking.”

One of my favourite thinkers is Blaise Pascal who said,

“We must learn our limits. We are all something, but none of us are everything.”


So in the Bible section we read, we see a famous Bible character coming to grips with his doubts. That in itself might encourage some of you. Did you know Bible heroes doubted at times?

So when I say, we’re going to get it right, tonight on Yom Kippur, what is your response?
Doubt…getting it right, can I really do this again? What if this isn’t right? What if I’m totally wrong on this faith stuff?


John the Doubter


Perhaps the story I read of the famous John the Baptist might help you.
John was in prison after working for years in preaching repentance to our Jewish people. He was the last great prophet, and introduced Y’shua, Jesus to the world a few chapters, and maybe a couple years earlier.

Now he’s in prison for his faith, as so many great heroes of the Bible and beyond have been. Men like Joseph and Daniel, people like Corrie Ten Boom and her sister and Richard Wurmbrand and Brother Wu, all imprisoned for their faith.

While in prison John begins to rethink his commitments. He wonders aloud if he’s made the right choice. Sure, it was exciting in the beginning. Yes, God was real and then John actually saw a dove land on the head of his first cousin.

But now there has been testing. Now there has been persecution. Now the king threatened him. And John is rethinking his commitments.

And so would you.

Or at least I would.

But look at what John did with his doubts. Maybe it’s better to say, let’s see what he did NOT do with his doubts. John did not send a message to Richard Dawkins, to be reminded of his laughable faith. John did not send an email to John Shelby Spong, that he would be ridiculed for such silly simplicity.
No, in fact, John sent a message to Y’shua.


John went to a man of faith in times of crisis and in times of doubt.

And what was the reply? What would Y’shua say to someone who had doubts? Like so many encouragers in these days, perhaps he would say, “Hang in there, John, it’s been tough before, but you’ll make it.” Or maybe he would say in the way of identification, “Yes, John, I’ve been where you are many times, and God helped me, so I’m sure he’ll help you.”

Or maybe Y’shua would upbraid John by saying, “John, you announced me to the world, and now you doubt? Ha. What kind of disciple are you anyway?” Or finally Jesus might have simply said, “Trust me John” and sounded like a used car salesman. [With apologies to those of you who do sell used cars for a living.]

These are all valid possibilities, and certainly validated more by the haunting sounds of my own echoes of wrong responses over the years.

No, Y’shua said, “Go and report to John what you hear and see.” Y’shua is telling the friends of John to take back a bundle of CSI evidence. He’s saying that the proof is in the pudding and the pudding is real. Don’t believe because it’s simpler that way. Don’t believe because you were raised that way. Don’t believe as some say, without evidence. Jesus is saying the evidence is in and it’s weighty.

In fact, the quote is from Isaiah, the Older Testament prophet. In chapter 35 we read “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness and streams in the Arabah.” (Isa 35.5-6)

Jesus is saying, John, believe the signs. The evidence is in, and I’m the Messiah, for when Messiah comes, healings will take place and blind will see, and deaf will hear and lame will walk. And John, you’ve seen and heard that. So trust me because I’m to be trusted!

John did the right thing with his doubt. He went to the man and the source of all faith.

When you have doubt, you should do no less.


MESSIAH OUR ATONEMENT


On Yom Kippur, this Day of Atonement, we see a portrait of the perfect atonement that we have in the death and resurrection of the Messiah Jesus. For just as the ancient high priest had to re-emerge alive from the Holy of Holies on this day, as a signal that his sacrifice on our behalf had been sufficient and acceptable to God, so Jesus, our eternal High Priest and perfect Lamb of God, had to re-emerge alive from the grave as proof that what He’d said was true: “It is finished.”
Doubts are quelled and faith is the strengthener.

It’s not some blind faith; it’s resultant faith. It’s caused faith. Faith that came from taking God at his word. What he said he would perform, he did perform. What he accomplished, we can see and hear. And as a result, we can believe him about some propositional truths and about our very life!

The rabbis to this day believe that if all Israel were to celebrate Shabbat at least once, Messiah would come. Combine that with the holiness of this special day, Yom Kippur, also titled “Sabbath of Sabbaths” and you have a double gamble. It’s as if we are doubling down and calling God’s bet. If we can get everyone to observe the day, Messiah will come.

But the rabbis don’t even agree with one another about what is ‘observing the Sabbath.’ How can we all possibly do what they want, when they don’t know what they want? If our Messiah’s coming was contingent on our good works, well we and he would certainly fail.

Friends here in Bondi Junction tonight, I believe Messiah has come. I believe the holiness of this night is unmatched anywhere. He alone is our redeemer. He alone is our Saviour. Jesus alone is our Messiah. And he came to ransom the world from sin and from self-consumption and from selfishness. He’s our only hope, amen?


ATONEMENTS IN OUR LIVES

Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. Actually in the biblical book of Leviticus, the day is named "the day of 'atonements.'" Plural. We say the same in the Kol Nidre. From this Yom Kippur to the next. Interesting. Why plural? Perhaps because it means that many parts of our lives need fixing, not just our life, but our lives. In light of that, what areas might need atoning? What parts of our lives do we need to get right…again?

Let's consider our economic life. God wants to be Lord of our money, our wallet, our giving, and our charity en toto. He cares if we care for others. He gave so we can give to make the world a better place. And when you think about your life of money, you may need to repent of using your money wrongly. Let's get it right. That’s why we said what we did in the Al Khet.

How about our social life? God wants to be Lord of our relationships, of our families, of our daily linkages with others. Do you have someone you need to get right with? Do you relate to others in the way you want them to relate to you? You get the idea.

The same can be accomplished in your dietary life or in your political life or in your devotional life. Get it? Get it right… today for the rest of your life. The way to get it right is to admit you got it wrong, ask God in Y’shua’s name to forgive you, and live in the rightness he brings.

This day, Yom Kippur, is the day of making things right. How about it...for you... will you do that this Friday night/ Saturday? Will you get it right with God and with each other? Will your lives be atoned? Will you be able to smile on Saturday night having completed your repair work?

The Bible says, “So Messiah Jesus was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”-- Heb 9.28

And again we read this in the history of the early Jewish believers, in Acts 3.19
“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord”
Getting it right is about acknowledging how badly we got it wrong. And then not being content about wrong. Not settling for 2nd best. Let’s get with the program. Let’s get it right, now, tonight and from now on.

The way to get it right is simple, but hard. Simple because it’s not about you. Hard because it’s not about you. It’s about Y’shua and his dying for our sins and receiving in himself all of God’s justice. He died suffering our shame and rose from the dead to give us eternal life.

And what is my role? To believe in him and trust him with your life. Not only one segment of it, but the lot. That’s simple and that’s hard. I understand.
Lisa had to do that in the DVD we watched.

Most of us in the sanctuary had to do that one day in our past.
Tonight is your night if you’ve never said ‘Yes” to Y’shua before. Do it tonight. Get it right and then next week, get it right…again.

Invitation

So… let me ask you. Have you met the Lord of the Yom Kippur? Have you ever been born again? Do you have rest for your soul? If not, pray this prayer and receive His love and grace. Father, forgive me in the name of Y’shua for all my sins. He was the Saviour and the fulfilment of all prophecies about Messiah. He is the one and the only one who can save me from my selfishness, from my sin. I acknowledge Y’shua as that one who wants to free me, and who alone can free me. I repent of my sin and accept Y’shua as my deliverer. By faith I am now born again by the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

If you prayed that prayer, please talk to me after the service is over, so we can talk about growing in this knowledge and this relationship with God. For those online please email me here so we can keep in prayer for you, thanks!

18 September 2007

Yom Kippur: Getting it right

Once again we start over, as 5768 is in full swing. Last Wednesday evening Rosh Hashanah hit the world, one time zone at a time. And Jewish people listened to the sounds of the shofar, blown 100 times each day, to remind us of the sovereignty of the Kingship of the Lord God. The shofar reminds us to repent, to get it right with God, and with one another.

Now we take aim at Yom Kippur and Sukkot, the 6th and 7th holidays (of 7) of the biblical diary. What will those days bring us? Alternatively, what will we bring to those days?

Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. Actually in the biblical book of Leviticus, the day is named "the day of 'atonements.'" Plural. Interesting. Why plural? Perhaps because it means that many parts of our lives need fixing, not just our life, but our lives. In light of that, what areas might need atoning?

Let's start with our economic life. God wants to be Lord of our money, our wallet, our giving and our charity en toto. He cares if we care for others. He gave so we can give to make the world a better place. And when you think about your life of money, you may need to repent of using your money wrongly. Let's get it right.

How about our social life. God wants to be Lord of our relationships, of our families, of our daily linkages with others. Do you have someone you need to get right with? Do you relate to others in the way you want them to relate to you? You get the idea.

This day, Yom Kippur, is the day of making things right. How about it...for you... will you do that this Friday night/ Saturday? Will you get it right with God and with each other? Will your lives be atoned? Will you be able to smile on Saturday night having completed your repair work?

Let's comment/talk about this, OK?

09 September 2007

The Great Escape

The great escape (Cooks in the river, Hawthorn Hawks reach Preliminary Final, More on Madeline)



Police last night charged 41-year-old Cameron Cook with attempted murder, kidnapping, false imprisonment and other associated offences. It seems he and his wife, 34-year-old Sonia Cook were not getting along well lately. They planned to divorce. But Cook, a policeman in Melbourne, couldn't wait for that kind of separation. He shackled his wife inside their Magna, gagged her and drove them both into the bay at the mouth of the Mordialloc Creek.



The two escaped, although Sonia's was very dramatic. She crawled out with chains around her ankles and swam to safety, finally standing on the Nepean Highway until a car stopped-- a policeman.



Within an hour the police had found her husband, also chained, still in the submerged car. His head was above water.

This was a shocking story and no doubt, will give us more information than we ever wanted about people we otherwise would know little about.



The Australian Football League (AFL) is otherwise titled Aussie Rules Football, or simply footy. And it's time for Footy Finals Fever and it's a great time in Australia to cheer for your side to win. Next week Hawthorn will play the Kangaroos or Geelong (my prediction is Geelong will win it all), but they got through yesterday because of a 20-year-old kicking the final goal with 7 seconds left.



The young Hawks looked out of it last week when the Sydney Swans had them down 92 points to 10 at half time. The last time the Crows played the Hawks, the Hawks were thumped, but this week at Telstra Dome was different. The "Buddy Show" finished off the Crows in the final seconds, with Lance Franklin, the future superstar full forward, kicking his 7th goal at almost full time.



In fact it was Buddy who turned the game around halfway through the 2nd period when Adelaide looked like they would run away with the contest, but Lance hit three straight goals to save the day at that point.



In the continuing saga in Portugal, and the missing girl Madeleine, Mrs McCann, who was the first to be given "arguida" status, has been warned by police that she could be charged with the "accidental" killing of her four-year-old daughter.

Mr McCann was later given the same status in the course of a separate interview with police. He left the headquarters of the Policia Judiciaria (PJ) - Portugal's CID - in the town of Portimao shortly after midnight after more than eight hours of questioning.



Standing next to Mr McCann, the couple's lawyer, Carlos Pinto de Abreu, said: "Kate and Gerry have both been declared arguidos with no bail conditions, and no charges have been brought against them. The investigation continues."



The couple want to return from the Algarve to their home in Rothley, Leicestershire, with their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie.

They hope to fly back on Monday but are worried it may appear they are "running scared", according to Gerry McCann's sister Philomena.



So are they escaping from Portugal? What is the truth about the missing little girl? And what kind of escapes are yet in the hold for the Hawks or for Mrs Cook?



I believe that we all hit situations where we wish to be a Houdini and a great escape artist. We all want the situation we are in to improve and to be clearer and better and kinder and gentler and ... (you get the idea).



And there is a way to get out. There is a way to find safe footing. There is a way to get the best out of life

It's in relation to the Lord Y'shua, the Saviour and Lord of all. He's the one who chose NOT to escape the punishment of sin and chose to die in our place 2000 years ago. He went to the death for us, that we might find eternal life in believing in Him.



What will you do with Y'shua? Will you believe in Him? Today?



Shalom

29 August 2007

Telling a story


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Originally uploaded by bobmendo
It's only natural to share our thoughts with others. I do that on this blog and in my journal and even via photos, I suppose. As a result, my Flickr site (click here) is really a story-telling exercise. Via photos and text, I tell what I'm thinking, what I'm seeing, what seems to be in the public eye or in the public conversation.

My friend Richard is sharing a story or two with some new folks at the LCJE conference we all attended in Lake Ballaton, Hungary last week. And telling the story is what we are all about.

I shared from the platform the following evening the following stories:

Thank you to the ICC for including Australia in the program this week. 100,000 people registered as Jews in the census last year in Australia. Among the missionaries there and others working for our Jewish people’s salvation, most of our work is ordinary, most of our work is non-spectacular. Our joy and our job is to keep on keeping on no matter what the response. And among the arsenal that God uses to assist us in this regular working are the stories. And among all the stories that have been told in the last few years, these three, from Jews for Jesus staffers, seem to show what God can and does do. May you be encouraged and more confident in the Saviour and in his plans for all people, even as far away as the ‘ends of the earth.’

From Street corner to Special Meeting
By Rahel Landrum

Rahel was passing out gospel tracts in the main business district of Sydney when Estelle met her and responded with “Jesus was a nice Jewish boy,”(2006). Estelle was willing to continue to meet with Rahel to talk about Jesus who claimed to be the Messiah who could give her life and forgiveness of sins. While they met and discussed the Bible, Estelle suggested Rahel should come and talk to her group that meets at the humanist society. Rahel agreed. She had other unsaved Jewish people make similar suggestions regarding secular or other Jewish groups, but nothing had ever eventuated. To her surprise, Rahel got a call from the organizer, asking if she could come and speak to the group. So we got the chance to go and address a group of 14 self-defined atheists and skeptics.

Besides comments of disagreement, we didn’t know what to expect. It turned out to be a very worthwhile meeting. Even before Rahel started to speak, people came to look and buy the books we brought. The original organizer had an emergency in the family and had Fred, another leader of the group moderate the meeting instead. Rahel noticed Fred’s accent and asked him where he was from. Fred told her he was born in Germany but his family fled to Shanghai before WWII. Rahel asked, ‘You’re not Jewish, are you?’ Fred said he was. So Fred, an atheist Jew had to introduce and moderate a meeting where a Jew for Jesus was speaking. Rahel spoke about how we can’t ignore the fact that Jesus is who He says He is, told her testimony of faith, and showed how one can be Jewish and believe in Jesus. We did get what we expected, comments of disagreement but also other, more pleasant ones. One person came after the meeting and said that this was one of the most interesting and liveliest discussions they’ve had. The best response came from John, the most belligerent person who needed to be constantly asked to not interrupt Rahel’s speech. At the end he said, ‘if she believes in the Bible so passionately, maybe I should go back home and start reading it.”

Mark Landrum, Rahel’s husband has another story. He says,

It was a missionary’s dream. An Israeli rang our office wanting to talk about Y'shua. (2006) Gal was his name and he had been reading about Jewish people believing in Jesus during his recent travels in New Zealand. He had stayed with a few Christian people from the HIT (Hosting Israeli Travellers) program who lovingly shared the Gospel with him, gave him Messianic books in English & Hebrew, and showed him ‘The Passion of the Christ’ video. The movie impacted Gal so much that since then he’d rented the video and seen it five more times. After that he decided it was more economical to purchase the video.

The next stop in his travels was Sydney. By the time he got to us and we met with him, he was very close to making a decision to accept Y'shua as his Messiah. It was important for him to meet other Jewish people and, particularly an Israeli like Rahel, who believed in Jesus. Several days later, Gal prayed to accept Jesus as his Messiah and became a new creation in Him.

His baptism two weeks later was seriously eventful. One of Mark’s former neighbours, who is Jewish and not so happy about our faith, was present at the public beach where we had the event. When he found out Gal was also Jewish, he tried to interfere, hoping to stop the baptism. Upon getting out of the water, Gal had the opportunity to give an account of his faith and public commitment to follow Jesus. As our neighbour, Jonathan approached him, Gal’s words were: ‘Now that I believe in Jesus, I feel more Jewish than ever before.” Since then Gal’s growing in the faith tremendously .

Gal just finished serving on the JFJ Summer campaign this July in New York City. How good is that! Who knows what is next for this 25 year old new Jewish believer.

Of course, I have a story too.

London to Launceston to Lordship from Bob Mendelsohn

Peter is 57 and came to Tasmania, Australia, from the suburbs of London about 30 years ago. He was very committed to his Jewish family and the religion of the rabbis. He travelled a fair bit and conducted business in Sydney and Melbourne and all over Tasmania. He found pleasure in many things and people, but longed to find a real connection with God. The synagogue was empty; his own life in his own words was 'empty' as well. Peter had done some serious study on religion. He grew up in a very normal Jewish home with lots of questions and fewer answers

He went to hear Billy Graham in London 30 years ago and even went forward at the invitation, but he lived as if nothing occurred that night.

I was out on the streets of the centre of Launceston (2006) and Peter was surprised to meet me handing out Gospel tracts there. I gave him a tract I had written for a big football game that was on the next day. He stopped and read the whole thing. He asked me if I was the author. 'Yes,' I answered.

Seems Peter had visited our website and even watched a segment on the religious affairs TV show, Compass. He was captivated, that he and I should be meeting in such an unlikely location. (I find it very likely). After 20 more minutes of religious 'unpacking' and answering his questions, Peter and I sat down to pray together. 'Jesus, I accept you as my Messiah and Saviour. You died for me and rose to give me new life,' he prayed. How awesome is our God who does all things well.

We continue to meet on the phone several times a month and he’s studying his Bible and meeting up with other believers in a continued walk with Y’shua. Thanks be to God!

Brothers and sisters, other ministries in Australia and New Zealand of the LCJE have stories to tell as well. Thanks for your prayers and thanks for remembering us. Though geographically separate, may God bless us each together that we all may be one. And may we all have a story to tell today and throughout our days. Amen.

What's your story?

12 August 2007

doors open or closed


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Originally uploaded by bobmendo
Don’t let him in or keep him in! How do I get in?
By Bob Mendelsohn
August 12, 2007

Indonesia barred the entry of an Australian man connected with the conservative Islamic group Hizb ut-Tarhir (HT) ahead of a large conference today in Jakarta.

Sheikh Ismail Al Wahwah, of the group's Australian branch, was one of at least two international speakers prevented from entering Indonesia ahead of the huge conference in Jakarta today, HT Indonesia's speaker Ismail Yusanto said.

An Immigration spokesman confirmed Wahwah was prevented from entering Indonesia because he did not meet its immigration criteria on Friday.

Banned in several countries but not in Australia, HT or Islamic Liberation Party, is pushing for the creation of a caliphate, a single Islamic state across the Muslim world.

Across the ocean in Los Angeles, weary international passengers were stuck at Los Angeles International Airport for several hours, unable to set foot in the United States after a computer failure prevented customs officials from screening arrivals.

About 6,000 international passengers, both Americans and foreigners, sat in four airport terminals and in 40 planes starting about 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, when the computer system broke down, said Los Angeles World Airports spokesman Paul Haney.

The system contains names of arriving passengers and law enforcement data about them, including arrest warrants, said Mike Fleming, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman.

"That system allows our officers to make decisions on who we can allow to enter the United States," Fleming said. "You just don't know by looking at them."

Back home in Brisbane, Australian Wallabies Lote Tuqiri and Matt Dunning are to be given alcohol counselling and a blanket curfew is set to be imposed on the World Cup squad in the wake of yet another unsavoury early-morning incident involving Australian players.

Tuqiri and Dunning have been cleared by police of any involvement in an assault around 5.20am yesterday on a taxi driver that left the 52-year-old man in a serious condition in hospital.

Seems the boys stayed out at a Brisbane nightclub until it closed around 4am and then continuing to party in Dunning's room at the Sofitel Hotel, where the Wallabies were staying at the end of a boot camp in southeast Queensland.

They might not have breached any team disciplinary rules but the two Waratahs players certainly were guilty of questionable judgment in staying out so late just a month out from their first World Cup match and then in inviting people they didn't know back to Dunning's hotel room.

Getting in, or getting left out. It’s a matter of judgment, isn’t it? Sometimes the customs officials have to make quick decisions about visa nominees and sometimes decisions about keeping someone in take years to process.

One of my beliefs is that God took forever to decide about our forever. He long ago settled the issue and we now live it out. Here’s how it works.

Each of us is stuck in sin and it’s not preventable. Our condition is sometimes mild and sometimes chronic, but it’s always permanent. And God the Eternal had to decide about His eternity and welcoming us or not.

His justice precludes his allowing us in. After all, He is Holy and as such cannot stand in the presence of evil. Yet, He is Loving and as such cannot fathom our eternal separation from Him.

So in the courts of eternity it was decided that Y’shua would enter earth, more quickly and more determinedly than the Space Shuttle and with less hiccups. Y’shua would live here and die here and rise from the dead here.

As a result of Y’shua’s enterprise, the human race could be welcome into Eternity. What a privilege!

All a man or woman or boy or girl has to do is to welcome Y’shua as Lord of his life, and entry to Eternity is available and assured for him. God has open arms for each of His people.

Have you welcomed Y’shua as your messiah and saviour? Have you been born again? It’s not too late for you. Visa and ticket have already been purchased. It’s your choice now. Make a good one!

24 July 2007

Guedes


Guedes
Originally uploaded by bobmendo
Guedes reports from Rio de Janeiro

“I was handing out flyers about Y'shua on Copacabana Beach when I saw a middle aged man pushing a stroller. I gave him a flyer and after a few minutes I saw that he had turned around and was following me as I walked on the boardwalk. I stopped and as he approached me he said that he was interested in receiving more information.

I asked him what information he was looking for and he said that he was Jewish and wanted to know more about Jesus. I very plainly explained to him, by sharing some Old Testament Scriptures that Jesus, Y´shua was the Jewish Messiah and that he had come and died for our transgressions and that He had risen from the dead.

The man then very quickly replied that he wanted to know that Messiah. I went through the proposal statement a set of theses about what God does with us, how he loves us and wants to be in relationship with us. It's like a marriage proposal, where God is seeking to be united with us.

So it was with tears in his eyes and with a humble heart he prayed to receive Y’shua as his savior. Only the Lord could have brought this Jewish man from Amsterdam, that spoke Portuguese fluently, to Copacabana on a cloudy Tuesday afternoon to hear the Good News of the Gospel.”

Amazing story, no?

19 June 2007

Rescue


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Originally uploaded by bobmendo
Rescued (Tulo Tuala, Duke of Ellington Anglicans, Napean riverists, Paedophiles)

Monday 18 June 2007

Sunday was a good day for Tulo Tuala. He and a friend went fishing on Saturday, and spent the night lost and tightly holding on to the sides of their 2.5 metre boat until 9 a.m. when rescue crews saved them.

This all happened off Wellington New Zealand’s Makara coast. The air temps went down to –3 degrees overnight. In the evening on Saturday, some rescue boats passed in the distance, and even though Tuala and friend lit towels soaked in petrol to try to attract their attention, it was to no avail.

When their engine failed as they checked nets in the evening, they were out of mobile phone range and at the mercy of nature. They were found about 25 kilometres off Mana Island at 9am, transferred on to the Mana Coastguard boat Pelorus and brought to shore cold and shocked but happy to be back on land.

Mana Coastguard president Chris Seaton said it was a wet, cold rescue in choppy seas. Senior Constable Andrew Cox, of the maritime police, said the men were found with the help of Vodafone staff, who were able to determine the distance and direction of their mobile phone from the nearest tower.

Meanwhile in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney, two teachers and 12 students from Arndell Anglican College were winched to safety after their path was blocked by rising flood waters in the Megalong Valley on Saturday and they were forced to camp overnight there.

Some police and government officials have criticised them for putting their lives at risk by setting out in bad weather conditions.

John Godard is the principal of the school. He said, "We looked at the meteorological forecasts during the week and we sent detailed route maps both to the police at Katoomba and to the National Parks service. Neither of those groups advised us not to go and so we feel that we had all the preparations made."

Yesterday afternoon another four men were rescued from the Nepean River. They told police they had hung from branches after being swept from their riverbank camping spot.

One was rescued by a civilian boat, and three were retrieved by helicopter, but none sustained serious injuries.

Late tonight police in several countries revealed information about a paedophile ring operating out of the UK. 4 Australians were arrested among many others globally. None of the 41 children were Australians but all of them have been rescued out of such an evil empire.

Rescue is worth all the trauma and searching and anxiety by those who are attempting to help. It seems a human longing, something deep in the psyche of people. We long to be saved from trouble; we long to help others who are in trouble.

Maybe it’s part of our hard-wiring. Maybe we were created by God to help and to be helped. No wonder the Bible says, “Rescue me, O LORD, from evil men; Preserve me from violent men,” (King David in Psalm 140). We ache for Beaconsfield miners to be saved; we long for lost hikers to be found. We celebrate rescue workers in police and fires and hospital assistance.

And all the while God wants to rescue us from our sin and from our shame. What a great God who has given us desire and passion like His to reach out and save people. And thanks be to God who rescued us from our selves. Luke described it well by quoting Jesus who said, “the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (quoted in chapter 9 verse 56)

07 June 2007

Which direction are we going?


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Originally uploaded by bobmendo
There must be 20 signs (although tomorrow I will count them) in the Eastern Distributor, in the tunnel, under the Domain in Sydney's east. Each one is very readable (I shot this whilst travelling at 70 km per hour, so some necessary adjustments had to be made. And every 40 metres, there's another sign. "North/ South" with appropriate indicating arrow.

Now there's really no chance of going the other way, once you are in the tunnel. It's not like they want to offer us choice. It's that we are going south and, well, that's it. So what's the point of the signage? I'll have to ask someone from the Transport ministry, which is something for which a subcommittee will have to be convened, no doubt.

One sign, that might make sense. Two signs, ok, for those who missed the first. But 20 signs?

Can you change directions anyway? Outside the tunnel, there are choices, to be sure. And one of the reasons I do what I do, in telling people about Jesus, is to help them change in His direction. He has signs up in our lives.."One way" and "Yield" and such to help us find Him and to go His way.

But redundancy...that's another matter.

26 May 2007

National Day of Thanksgiving

A Thanksgiving thought or two
By Bob Mendelsohn

I was in a rush. The children needed collecting in only thirty minutes. My wife was cold. We had entered the little Chinese restaurant in a hurry and sat quickly. The owner approached us with menus in hand and I told her that 'long soup' would be a great starter, thanks. She nodded.

Four minutes later she came by to take our order. I reiterated the 'long soup' request and she now wrote it down.
Oy, I thought, what's wrong with this woman? Didn't I already order this? Doesn't she know my wife needs warming, and that we are in a hurry?

Of course, she didn't know any of this. And she was managing the front section alone. And she did a great job. And within minutes our soup was on the table. Within a minute after that our hot tea was warming our insides and then the mains came very promptly. There was no reason for anxiety about collecting the kids or about thawing out. We ate and were satisfied; the children were fine as well and it all ended well.

I felt badly about my earlier thoughts and made sure I said "thank you" to the owner several times for each visit to our table and at the end at the till. I wondered if she knew of my earlier displeasure. It was hard to tell.
On this National Day of Thanksgiving, it's right to consider what we can truly admit to being thankful for. We can glibly mouth words of thanks for our football club or our parents, for food, etc, but what is it that makes us from the inside say 'thanks?'

"I hate ingratitude more in a man
Than lying, vainness, babbling, drunkenness,
Or any taint of vice, whose strong corruption
Inhabits our frail blood." (W Shakespeare,
Twelfth Night, Act iii, Scene 4)

What about gratitude for living in a country where it's still legal to believe as we believe and to share what we believe with others? We can conduct religious services in churches and synagogues, in mosques and public theatres if we want! For that I'm very grateful.

The food we have in grocery stores is fresh and bountiful, and we have choice about brands of products. Abundant also are clothiers and labels. We have plenty!

I'm shopping for cars just now, as people have been very generous to us in a recent appeal for a new Jews for Jesus vehicle. And there are choices of vehicles and I don't have to pay 'under the counter' to secure anything in a reasonable time.

We have two sides of every argument in Parliament and although the men and women there seem to misbehave and interrupt each other incessantly, we actually can watch or listen to the proceedings whilst they happen. We can even travel to Canberra and enter the chambers as a visitor and although there is a bit of security through which we have to pass, we can be an observer.

Our media might be biased, but they give us some information about events and personages of note.
We have much freedom in this island country and we ought to shout it from the housetops that we are grateful.

There are seasons of drought and borderline famine and yet God has recently extended favour on us in plentiful rains, even in country towns where it was needed most.

God, are you listening? We are a grateful people.

And it's one thing to be grateful and it's another thing to out loud say "thank you."

Paul was one of the earliest "Jews for Jesus." He had originally been a learned rabbi, even a student of the great Gamaliel. This was one whom God called to follow, and preach about, Jesus.  He wrote much of the Newer Testament and one of my favourite quotes of his came from the letter Paul wrote to the people in Colossae:
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father." (Colossians 3:15-17)

Paul admonishes his followers to 'be thankful' and then to sing 'with thankfulness' and finally to be 'giving thanks' to God. The attitude comes first (be thankful) and it ends with conversation and praise to the Almighty out loud. Or at least however loud you choose to be. And isn't it wonderful in our country that we can be as loud as we choose to be? And we can shout cheers to our footy boys on the ground or the cricketers on the pitch or even to our God inside the churches and public gathering halls.

I'm glad to be an Australian resident and to give thanks to God on this National Day of Thanksgiving. You have the freedom here to join me as well.

Bob Mendelsohn
National Director
Jews for Jesus
www.jewsforjesus.org.au




**************************************
See what's free at http://www.aol.com.

03 May 2007

Christian vs Pharisee


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Originally uploaded by bobmendo.
I'm so impressed with this book and these two gentlemen who wrote each other. This is a series of 14 letters from Dr RT Kendall, a famous Christian author and pastor, to Rabbi David Rosen, formerly of Ireland and South Africa. Rosen is a main player in the world of Jewish-Christian dialogue .

Dr R T Kendall retired as Minister of Westminster Chapel in the centre of London in 2001. He originates from America where he was Pastor of a number of churches before moving to the UK. He and his wife Louise now live in Key Largo, Florida.

Rabbi David Rosen is the International Director of Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee. He was born and educated in Britain, continuing his advanced rabbinic studies in Israel, where he received his ordination (semichah). In addition to military service in the armored corps of the IDF, he served as Chaplain to the forces in Western Sinai.

From 1975 to 1979, he was the Senior Rabbi of the largest Jewish congregation in South Africa and rabbinic judge on the Ecclesiastical Court (Beth Din). He was also founder/chairman of the Inter-Faith Forum, the Council of Jews, Christians and Muslims.

From 1979 to 1985, Rabbi Rosen was Chief Rabbi of Ireland where he founded, together with the Christian Primates of Ireland, the Irish Council of Christians and Jews. He was a member of the Academic Council as well as lecturer at the Irish School of Ecumenics.

He returned to Israel in 1985 to take up the appointment of Dean at the Sapir Center for Jewish Education and Culture in the Old City of Jerusalem and subsequently became Professor of Jewish Studies at the Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies.

Having served concurrently as the Anti Defamation League's Director of Interfaith Relations in Israel and as the ADL's co-liaison to the Vatican, in 1997 he was appointed to the position of Director of the ADL Israel office.

Rabbi Rosen is a founder of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel that embraces more than seventy organizations in Israel involved in interfaith relations. He is a member of the Permanent Bilateral Commission of the State of Israel and the Holy See that negotiated the normalization of relations between the two; and he serves as a member of the International Jewish Committee for Inter-Religious Consultations which represents organized World Jewry in its relations with other world religious bodies.

He is President of the World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP), the all-encompassing world inter-faith body (incorporating fifteen religions in over fifty countries), and is a charter member of the International Advisory Committee of the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions (CPWR). He is Honorary President of the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ), the umbrella organization for more than thirty national bodies promoting Christian-Jewish relations. The ICCJ's Abrahamic Forum promotes dialogue between Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Author: R.T. Kendall, David Rosen
Format: Paperback
Published: January 2007
ISBN-10: 0446697346
ISBN-13: 9780446697347
Aussie price: $16 from the Jews for Jesus book shop. See it and order it online if you want at books

23 April 2007

Influences

First published
June 1, 1990 Some information may be outdated.

In my childhood my mother warned me, "Never talk to strangers." The distinctives of a stranger were not very clear at the time. I just knew that if people were not from my neighborhood or my family they were not to be talked to. Of course childhood rebellion and natural curiosity led me to converse with dozens of "forbidden ones" in my early years. I allowed them to speak to me and even to have an influence on me.

Now in my adulthood the media—television, radio, weekly journals, daily newspapers—are designed to influence me. They also sell advertising to those who claim to have a concern and a right to speak into my life. If I really want to know, I will read that certain magazine. If it's fit to print, I will read it in that particular paper. If I want the inside scoop (unless it's insider trading) it's available from that certain daily journal in New York's financial district. They all want to influence me to their position. That is the essence of advertising in our capitalistic country. Freedom of the press is a First Amendment right that allows others to speak, even when their message seems against our own opinions. Everyone has an agenda that makes them want to influence others to their opinions, but few are altruistically motivated.

As we are evangelizing on street corners, handing out tracts is our way of trying to influence others to seek after and discover the living Lord Jesus. That is our agenda, our goal. Very few individuals on the busy streets of Washington, D.C., or wherever else we happen to be, are thinking about God. Fewer still are wondering how they might get to know him. Our job and joy as missionaries is to approach people and get God into their purview. We are seeking to influence them.

Many respond with, "Later!" or "I gave at the office," or "I'm trying to quit." Such responses tell us that we're not getting through and are having no influence. Ignoring us is the principal method of resistance to our message.

Then there are others who merely say, "Thank you." We may never know about these. They take the tract and place it in their purse or pocket, and we can only hope that the tract will speak to them at a later time, maybe during their coffee break, or when they change purses or clothing later that evening.

We know we are getting through when they say, "Jews for Jesus? What's this all about?" Some really do want to know about what they have always regarded as mutually exclusive terminology. Even when they say, "Get out of my face!" or "You should be ashamed of yourself!" or use some other hostile comments that would have no place in a Christian publication, we know we are getting through.

The issue of Jesus is making its way into the mindset of the hearer. It would be self-defeating if we went out only to rouse the hearers and cause them not to listen, but apparent antagonism is always evidence of the clarity of our message. Few consider us bearers of good news. More often than not they see us as unsolicited prophets, bringing up a topic they would rather not consider. Nevertheless, we are communicating as we attempt to influence those who are committed to being disinterested in what we are saying. Resistance is natural, so it does not surprise us to hear negative reactions.

After all, did you say "yes" the first time Burger King asked "Aren't you hungry?" Did you run right out and buy the bacon double-cheeseburger? Did "Oh, what a feeling," cause you immediately to purchase a Toyota because the influencers—the advertisers—told you to? Maybe eventually you did, buy maybe you did not.

Likewise, we who proclaim the gospel are not surprised that our influence is not 100% received every time we offer it. We have a right—and a responsibility—to proclaim our message even if it is refused. But if we proclaim it often enough to enough people, some will not refuse. After all, someone influenced me, and someone influenced you if you are a believer. Maybe it was your mother, or maybe it was a perfect stranger. We keep on trying because we just might influence the very next person we approach.

09 April 2007

ZachJohnson.jpg


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Originally uploaded by bobmendo.
Zach Johnson, an unlikely winner of the Masters, uses a blade putter similar to his 'hero' Payne Stewart. In fact, when he was asked about the victory Zach similarly attributed credit to Jesus, as Stewart did in his day. Goodonya Zach for such a testimony and for such a victory over the likes of Tiger Woods and Vijah Singh.

The 'power' of one...a look into pervasive choices for singles


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Originally uploaded by bobmendo.
In 1981 I worked in New York City, home of five million single adults. Just a few years earlier I had married my wife in the middle of the US in a religious ceremony. We left our quiet university town and moved to major cities in the US over the next 17 years before leaving for Sydney in 1998. And the life of singles continues to advance and become sealed as normative for adults in the 21st century, throughout the west. In fact it is increasing at significant rates.

Increasing loneness

According to the Australian Board of Statistics, 25% of households are home to only one person, and they predict that by 2030 the statistic will rise to 33%. Raw data? There are 1.8 million households where couples are living with children. However there are more than that-- 1.96 million-- with only one person residing. This drastically up from a low of 5.5% back in 1971.

Of course we can point to divorce and a few other social factors changing society, as we know it. There is an apparent and significant esteem assigned to people who choose to live alone, all without stigma.

In my neighborhood in Sydney’s north, only one household involves people living alone. Most are still Mom and Dad houses with children of varying ages or couples who choose to stay together, sometimes even after a divorce.

You would think that most people who are alone would live in the urban areas, rather than my section of suburbia. And you would be wrong, as more than 60% of singles live in houses rather than units or flats. Also according to the ABS, upwards of 85% of singles have at least two bedrooms where they live.

Eating out can heighten the loneliness of a lonely place, as restaurant greeters say “Just one?” to the solo diner on entrance. The greeter might well rethink the use of the diminutive ‘just.’ I remember in New York in the sit-down delis the tables were long rows of merged tables for two, separated by two centimeters. People would sit opposite one another at distinct albeit very proximate tables in a criss-cross fashion and have a sense of community, although with New York loneness.
In fact most cities can heighten the loneliness people feel. Social researcher Hugh Mackay is quoted in The Bulletin (10 April 2007, page 34) as saying “lone dwellers increasingly turn to their communities to create connections. There will be ‘development of human herds to replace the domestic herds.’ “

How did we get there?

I believe two major inventions helped shape this change in herding. They both launched in the middle of the last century. Of course, computers and the automobile were major inventions as well in the 20th Century, but the two on which I see major sea change and focus are the television and the air conditioner. Before the 1940s people would seek entertainment together, in sporting venues, in theaters or in movie houses, even in public parks. With the invention of the television, entertainment moved into the family home and eventually into private rooms for one person at a time to enjoy. The Internet with its accompanying You Tube or .mp4 videos has made this feature that much more exaggerated.

When I was a young boy neighbors would sit on their porches and speak to one another during the hot evening hours each summer. A slight breeze would be all we needed to find a bit of comfort. But with the advent of air conditioning, we could go inside and find what we needed inside, without anyone else knowing, in a more private manner.

So combine those two inventions, the air conditioning and the television and as a result, people could both go inside avoiding social intercourse and be privately entertained, all alone. This privatization saw its growth through individual TV dinners and later as earlier referenced in the Internet, iPods and the like.

Longing for relationships

Now although privatization is the natural result of the Enlightenment and individual ‘rights’ in the French Revolution and deistic theology, there is at the same time a longing within private ones for relationships. Hence Mackay’s citation of herding. As a result we have the ‘relationships’ formed on mySpace and Facebook, where people who have absolutely nothing in common find one another and are placed in ‘friends’ relationships. They chat, they instant message, they share photos, songs and videos, as if they actually cared.

The more we privatize, the more we long for relationships. It’s an odd thing as reported in anti-pornography tomes that those (mostly) men who invest themselves in the industry of self-satisfying are actually looking for relationships with those objects of lust on the pages of the magazines or in the dusty parlors of sexual addiction. The ambivalence of male anonymity is mixed with a longing for knowledge of the woman who is seeking to be anonymous or at least ‘first name’ only.

What people have always wanted and what we still desire is relationship. No wonder then when God punished the first couple in the Garden of Eden, he separated them from Himself and actually from each other. They who had been partners in honour and sanctification were now going to be in a struggle, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you shall bring forth children; yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3.16)

Jane Hanson, international president of Aglow Ministries, speaks often about the last days and one of the clearest signs will be a restoration of the unity in the family, a reunion of man and woman into God’s design for healthy respect and devotion. In the same way I see Jews and Gentiles being ‘one’ in the Body of Christ as part of the signs of last days, so Jane sees men and women being ‘one’ as evidence of the end of days.

And it all boils down to relationships. God wants His people to love one another as He loved them. That after all was the ‘new commandment’ (John 13.34). When Jesus issued this new word, it wasn’t to get us to love each other as ourselves (Lev. 19.18). That would have not been new. Nor was it simply ‘love one another.’ Which would have been vague and hard to quantify and categorize. No, he told us to love each other AS HE LOVED US. In the same way that He loved, we should love. With the cross in the foreground, Jesus tells us to love each other-- to die for each other, to sacrifice ourselves, to emulate and to perform what He did…that’s the new commandment. Not only is there a model, but there is also a power to accomplish this. By His Spirit, Jesus will help us accomplish this “love one another” challenge.

Planted together

105 times in the Newer Testament (NASB) we read the phrase, “one another” and by this we learn that God is very interested in how we work out this religion in community. It’s fairly impossible to be a saint alone, although not impossible. The ordinary way God works is to give us one another with whom to walk. He makes people to grow in church, in home groups, in fellowship with one another. Yes, it’s possible to be a solo saint, but very hard. Don’t argue from the exception to the normal, rather argue the opposite.

Psalm 68.7 teaches that God camps the singles into houses.” (My translation) The entire verse in NASB says, “God makes a home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into prosperity, only the rebellious dwell in a parched land.” This seems to teach that individual religion, which is of such value here in Australia, is really a plan for a parched spiritual land. What God really wants is for people to be in families with one another.

Of course, there are exceptions and sometimes and for certain purposes God has people living alone in foreign lands, but the usual, the ordinary, the normal plan of God is to put individuals in people groups of His purpose.

As a missionary who speaks in over 100 churches each year, I find many individuals who attend my meetings who would do well to join the local church where they are visiting. There is such reluctance out there to ‘join’ due to fears or failures in the past. And yet, it’s God’s plan for the strengthening of the people of God.

What will the church look like in 2030? Will we be reflecting the society at large with 33% single households or will we be a counter-culture of fragmented people sharing God’s love together in houses. May it be that we welcome others into our lives, and they welcome us, and we all reflect God’s nature of community in these days and until He returns.

24 March 2007

Tunnelling in Melbourne, Lane Cove and to you!


tunnel.jpg
Originally uploaded by bobmendo.
Opening the Tunnel

Down in Melbourne, only a ten-metre section of road was the scene on Friday of a horrific accident. And as a result the Burnley tunnel, with a terrifying fusion of metal and fire that shattered lives and will disrupt Melbourne's roads network for days.

Overhead, four florescent lights were blown out and burned strands of cabling hung from the roof. Underfoot, the tarmac was blistered and sticky - a sobering testimony of the fierce 1,000-degree inferno that engulfed the tunnel thoroughfare.

"That being said our priority now is to get the tunnel reopened as quickly as we can." So said a spokesperson for CityLink. There were eerie shadows in the dim lighting as they worked against a soundtrack of ear-splitting generators inside what is usually a bustling city arterial.

Soon the repairs and the repairers will be gone. The tunnel will reopen and tens of thousands of vehicles will barrel through daily, like they have done for more than six years.

Up in Sydney, on Sunday, just hours after the polls closed for conquering premier Morris Iemma, the Lane Cove Tunnel will also open. Who delayed the opening until such an auspicious day...well, it's not even a guess now is it?

The costs will be free for a month, similar to drug dealers wanting us to get hooked on the need for such a 3.6 kilometre which will cost each motorcar another $2.55 each way each day. Shocking and shameful. We don't support drug dealers and we won't get hooked, you can count on it. And like the ill-fated CrossCity Tunnel, citizens will simply bypass the extra five bucks a day after the free month and stick it to the company and the government they just elected.

But don't worry, after the company defaults its loans and goes into bankruptcy, the government will bail it out. And taxpayers will pay again. Like the 3 year project wasn't long enough to pay with major inconvenience. Ah, but Mr Iemma will enjoy being driven to another hearing on the issue.

When will the Minister for Transportation listen to reason in Sydney and make the toll roads prix fixe rather than a la carte? A person living in Pennant Hills who works in Fox Studios would end up paying for use of his vehicle each day, for his petrol as well as $4.40 for the M2, $2.55 for the 5-light saving LC Tunnel, $3 for the Harbour Tunnel, parking then on his return trip, he would pay $4.50 for the Eastern Distributor, $2.55 for the LC Tunnel again and another $4.40 for the M2. All up, tolls alone will cost him an obscene $21.40. No one, and that means frequent users especially, should have to pay more than $13 each day for use of any of Sydney's toll roads. This prix fixe charge would ENCOURAGE rather than discourage people from using the roads and get the cars onto the expressways. Isn't that what government wanted?

Thinking about tunneling brings up a lot of ideas. God actually tunnels to us each day, digging through the things we put up to block Him away from us. And about 2,000 years ago God tunneled through the darkness of humanity, sending His only Son to us, to become like one of us and to die for us. Then God did something even greater...if that's possible!

Y'shua (some call him "Jesus") rose from the dead. And He lives to this day, and offers to everyone eternal life. It comes with a price, but you cannot and may not pay it. He paid it all for us in repairing our relationship with the Lord. All you have to do is to believe and enjoy being driven from darkness to light. That's a great deal. And soon the repairer will return and welcome us to Eternity with Him.

Want to go for a free ride? Not for a month, but for all time.

19 March 2007

Colma Cemetery


Colma.jpg
Originally uploaded by bobmendo.
Death and dying...true reality. One day it will bite us all. And what then?

Yesterday was the anniversary of my father's birth. He died 2 years ago. And there is not a week that goes by that I do not think about him. His wild antics, his silly jokes, his desire to make other people happy.

We had good times, not enough times, deep times and real hurtful times. But all together it was a good ride. I enjoyed my dad. He embarassed me at times and I was very proud of him at times. He drove to St Louis to see me in plays in uni days after having worked all week in and out of cars some 400 miles away. He loved Mom and that was top drawer.

But like everyone my dad passed away. And you will too. And you will end up with a gravestone like all these folks in Colma South of San Francisco.

What if they say of you that you are like this photo in Texas from a couple weeks ago

Grave Marker. Will you hope for a better signage?

What will you do with life after death? Will there be life after death for you? As Jewish believers in Jesus, we hold firm to the conviction that God has forgiven us and that we have passed from death to life. We await no further judgment. We are forgiven and enter into the presence of the Almighty.

What a great day that will be! And it can be great for you as well.

Flickr

This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

08 March 2007

In like a lion

March was always the month I enjoyed in my youth in Kansas City. It heralded Springtime. During March, my grandmother, sister, father and cousin were born. And it seemed as though the earth did as well. The school saying in the US was 'March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.'

Winter was almost over, school's ending was in sight, my life was taking a turn.

And maybe that's happening to you in the North as well. I've been in Texas and San Francisco this month and will return to Sydney on Sunday night. So I've been thinking more about March as 'in like a lion.' And 'out like a lamb.'

Lion and lamb. Sounds so biblical.
Listen to these uses of the phrase 'Like a lion'
For instance, in Job 10.16 ‘And should my head be lifted up, Thou wouldst hunt me like a lion; And again Thou wouldst show Thy power against me.
Psa. 7.2 Lest he tear my soul like a lion, Dragging me away, while there is none to deliver.
Psa. 17.12 He is like a lion that is eager to tear, And as a young lion lurking in hiding places.
Is. 38.13 “I composed my soul until morning. Like a lion — so He breaks all my bones, From day until night Thou dost make an end of me.
Jer. 12.8 “My inheritance has become to Me Like a lion in the forest; She has roared against Me; Therefore I have come to hate her.
Jer. 49.19 “Behold, one will come up like a lion from the thickets of the Jordan against a perennially watered pasture; for in an instant I shall make him run away from it, and whoever is chosen I shall appoint over it. For who is like Me, and who will summon Me into court? And who then is the shepherd who can stand against Me?”
Jer. 50.44 “Behold, one will come up like a lion from the thicket of the Jordan to a perennially watered pasture; for in an instant I shall make them run away from it, and whoever is chosen I shall appoint over it. For who is like Me, and who will summon Me into court? And who then is the shepherd who can stand before Me?”
Lam. 3.10 He is to me like a bear lying in wait, Like a lion in secret places.
Dan. 7.4 “The first was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle. I kept looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man; a human mind also was given to it.
Hos. 5.14 For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, And like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear to pieces and go away, I will carry away, and there will be none to deliver.
Hos. 11.10 They will walk after the LORD, He will roar like a lion; Indeed He will roar, And His sons will come trembling from the west.
Hos. 13.7 So I will be like a lion to them; Like a leopard I will lie in wait by the wayside.
Mic. 5.8 And the remnant of Jacob Will be among the nations, Among many peoples Like a lion among the beasts of the forest, Like a young lion among flocks of sheep, Which, if he passes through, Tramples down and tears, And there is none to rescue.
Rev. 4.7 And the first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle.

wow, what a list of creatures. leopards and eagles and bears, oh my!

Of course, Jesus is called the "Lion of the Tribe of Judah" and he is also the "Lamb led to slaughter" and the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

God is so kind to give us images to understand and to learn so we might be his kind of people.

And that will be the end of a spiritual winter, and your life will take a real turn.

27 February 2007

Lost Tomb of Jesus


I found this blog on another site and it said EXACTLY what I want to say, so with permission (and Joe Biden watching... here it is. http://wizbangblog.com/)

James Cameron is a famous movie mogul. He claims to have found the tomb of Jesus. He also claims that Jesus was married to Mary Magdelene and had a child with her. Hmmm. This sounds familiar. Oh, right. The DaVinci Code. Cameron's a little late to this party.

A Hollywood director will today unveil three coffins he claims were those of Jesus, his mother Mary and his 'wife' Mary Magdalene. Cameron says he has proof that Jesus married Mary and that she bore him a son, Judah, who was buried alongside them.

The Lost Tomb of Jesus, made for the Discovery Channel, will be shown in the U.S. this week and later in Britain by Channel 4.

Today, Cameron is holding a press conference on what he describes as 'one of the greatest archaeological finds of all time'.

Crucially, he is not denying the resurrection - as there were no bones in the caskets.

But the £2 million film still strikes at the foundation of Christianity in the same manner as the novel The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown, in claiming that Jesus married and had a family. His theory, which has already met with derision from experts, centres on a tomb found in the Talpiot suburb in 1980. Inside, archaeologists found ten coffins, or caskets for bones, and three skulls.

Six had names etched into them, which were translated as Jesus son of Joseph, Judah son of Jesus, Maria, Mariamne (thought to be Mary Magdalene's real name), Joseph and Matthew.

At the time the inscriptions provoked little interest. The Israeli Antiquities Authority said the names were common at the time.

A connection to the holy family was not made until 15 years later, when a film crew stumbled across the collection in a storeroom.

Though the bones had long since been reburied elsewhere, as was the custom, tiny traces of DNA left in the caskets were tested.

The results for the coffins labelled Jesus and Mariamne showed the two were not related by blood, leading Cameron and his team to conclude they were married.

However, the archaeologist who oversaw the work at the tomb described the theory as 'nonsense'.

Amos Kloner said the names found on the coffins had been found in tombs before, adding: 'It makes a great story for a TV film, but it's impossible.

'Jesus and his relatives were a Galilee family with no ties in Jerusalem. The Talpiot tomb belonged to a middle-class family from the first century.'

And Mr. Kloner isn't the only one dismissing Cameron's claim:

But CBS News correspondent Mark Philips reports that, although archeologists have long argued over the factual and historic accuracy of Christianity's version of history, in this case, the archeological establishment has lined up to label this claim as bunk.

But scientists have argued the names etched into the stone ossuaries which held the bones, which can be seen at left in a photo from Kloner's book, were extremely common during that time period, and in no way prove that the Jesus of the Bible was buried at the site with his family.

Another researcher whose work has focused on the Middle East, biblical anthropologist Joe Zias, has dismissed Cameron's claims as "dishonest".

"It has nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus, he was known as Jesus of Nazareth, not Jesus of Jerusalem, and if the family was wealthy enough to afford a tomb, which they probably weren't, it would have been in Nazareth, not here in Jerusalem," he said.

He said the appearance of the names proved nothing.

Mr. Kloner makes another point that warrants mentioning: how are we do determine that the bones in the tomb were actually the bones of the Biblical Jesus of Nazareth? Compare his DNA to God's? How does one get a mouth swab from God?

21 February 2007

Rabbis in the shul: A video

Rabbis in the Shul










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Description: Hassidic Rabbis surrounded by their Jewish fans on the dancefloor, shake to the beat of (Aviad Cohen) 50 Shekel's "In Da Shul," which is a parody of 50 Cent's "In Da Club." 100% Jewish music!