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April 18, 2012

Here is a blog from The Rosh Pina Project that needed to be reposted. This is wonderful evidence that our messianic organizations are taking note of the anti-Israel movement in the church today and are willing and able to speak out.


Are we getting too spiritual to deal with evil?

June 16, 2010

I attended a wonderful Bible study this evening where the leader was teaching from the Book of Daniel.  The teacher is a very gifted individual and shows great respect for the Word of God.

Too Spiritual to Notice Evil

Hear, See and Speak No Evil

The focus of the evening was on the fall of Babylon when the Medes and Persians dug their way into the city and took it by surprise (Daniel 5).  However, the discussion turned towards the meaning of the word “enemy” and how Christians are to relate to our enemies.  The leader quickly noted that Christians are called to “love and pray for their enemies.”

The response of other attendees was that believers are called to concentrate on changing themselves first and foremost. So when it comes to dealing with other enemy nations, believers should be more focused on our walk with God.  Other people questioned the validity of Christians getting too involved in politics because we are supposed to bring about change on an individual level not through political channels.

I had to speak up. I asked, “If we only focus on ourselves as individuals, how do we relate to our enemies that want to terrorize us and destroy our country? Are we only supposed to have a personal Jesus and not worry about the bigger picture of the world?  What about our military? They are a united fighting force whose purpose is to protect and defend our country. We can’t just stay on an individual level and only think about ourselves. It’s too selfish.  God didn’t save me just so I can have my needs met and tell other people about Jesus once in a while.  There’s a larger picture here that we cannot ignore.”

I thought  I was back in the ’60s when the hippie movement was espousing the idea that “there’s peace if you want it.”  Sure, if you live in your own make-believe, self focused world and never open up a newspaper, you can have a false sense of serenity. Back then I would challenge people, “Don’t you care that real people are dying in another country thousands of miles from you?  Is life only about you experiencing peace or is it about you caring about other people?”   I guess I was a radical from a different perspective.

Then in the study tonight someone noted that our real enemy is Satan and that we can’t be angry at Islamic terrorists because Satan is empowering them.  We should be mad at Satan. I thought to myself, “If that is true, and the whole world is spiritual and that means I can punch someone in the nose and they can’t hit me back because it’s Satan who is empowering me. They really need to fight against Satan; not me.   So I can beat on someone all I want and the other person should not defend themselves.  After all, the real enemy is spiritual not physical.”

Somewhere in this kind of thinking, there’s something amiss. If you read the life of King David, he was always involved in flesh and blood battles. He was a man of bloodshed.  He killed people with real swords  He didn’t spiritualize the physical reality of His enemies.  Satan filled the heart of Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus, but Judas was compliant with Satan in his decision. Should Jesus have taken him aside and excused him, “Don’t worry Judas. It was really Satan who betrayed me. It wasn’t you.”  In actuality, Judas experienced the pain of betraying the Lord and committed suicide by hanging himself.

The idea of loving your enemy, according to the Christian popular interpretation, can be taken way too far.  We are to pray for our enemies and love them enough to ask for God to save them. However, we cannot ignore their complicity with evil.  Terrorists are evil people bent on the destruction of others, and they will use children, women and mentally handicapped ot carry out their suicide bombings.  Can you love them?  Can I love the Islamic mullahs who call for the destruction of America and Israel every day in their sermons?

Rather something deep inside of me tells me that King David understood that some people have turned themselves over to evil and cannot be loved back to becoming peaceful people.  Can you say you love Hitler, Stalin or Chairman Mao, political leaders who murdered millions of human beings?  If I am honest with myself, I have to say I do not love these brutal, evil men.  If I am candid, I have to admit I do not love Islamic terrorists nor men in Islamic countries that murder women for flimsy reasons.

When God unleashes the seven seal judgments, the seven bowl judgments and the seven trumpet judgments during the tribulation period, is He showing them love?  Even Jesus told His followers to wipe the dust off their feet when they entered a village where they were not welcomed.  He said not to cast our pearls before swine.

I don’t have the last word on this subject.  Yet I know we can go too far and over-spiritualize how we view the reality of evil.  I don’t want to observe evil taking place and do nothing because I am called to “love my enemy.” If a person attempts to hurt someone I love, I will do everything in my power to stop them even if I must take their life. I believe that is the godly response to evil. To be passive towards evil is evil itself.  If love for others causes us to take an indifferent position towards evil deeds, then our “love for our enemies” has become an evil behavior.

Tell me what you think on this subject.  Do you struggle with these issues?  How have you resolved the conflict I have raised. Perhaps you see no conflict.


In Google We Trust

June 11, 2010

How much do you trust your Google map search engine?  Would you trust the results of an online search for directions over and above your own common sense?

One resident of Northridge, California Lauren Rosenberg was hit by a car while following an online route mapped for her using a Google map search.  Ms. Rosenberg had used her phone in January to download directions from one end of Park City, Utah to the other.  Rosenberg, a resident of Northridge, California was on foot when, according to her story, the directions she received from Google Maps led her to a four lane boulevard without sidewalks that was “not reasonably safe for pedestrians.”   She is claiming that Google gave her unsafe directions.

Google Maps

Google Walking Map Park City Utah

I have used Google Maps to give me directions to a certain location and after a few minutes I surmised that Google’s directions are way off.  Do I continue to follow the misinformation provided me by Google and head down a dead end?  Of course not.  I usually pull off to side of the road, dig out my trusted Thomas Guide and try to find my destination using the old-fashioned method of reading a map.

Lauren Rosenberg was smart enough to see that she was in a location where there were no sidewalks. Using her own common sense, she should have placed her cell phone in her purse and observed she was in an unsafe situation. Instead, she thought she could reach a sidewalk on the other side of Deer Valley Drive and cross the boulevard.  However, she did not even make it to the median.

Instead, Rosenberg was struck by a speeding car on a pitch-black night and suffered multiple bone fractures that required six weeks of physical therapy.  The woman claims she relied on the walking instructions she received from Google Maps and thought it was safe to cross the street. Huh?

Rosenberg is seeking compensation for her medical bills plus more for lost wages and punitive damage.  She is currently unemployed which causes me to scratch my head as to why she is seeking lost wages.  Being familiar with the unemployment form myself, there is a space that allows you to note that you were too sick to seek work.  Double duh.

A Google spokeswoman responded to the incident explaining that their maps provide no warning that walking routes may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths.  Most people who realize that there are no sidewalks either walk on the grass off the street or wait until it is safe until they can cross the street where the walkway is safer.

According to the Park City police, the walking path referred to by Ms. Rosenberg was “totally snowed packed” and of no use to pedestrians during January.

This woman’s experience leaves me speechless. She demonstrates the height of stupidity when it comes to trusting information downloaded on her cellphone that was plainly limited.

I don’t know about you but there comes a time when I no longer trust technology and common sense and rationality kicks in.  I think Laura Rosenberg has no basis upon which to sue Google. Instead, she should be suing herself for being dumb enough to not use her own brain to see that she was entering into unsafe night conditions.  If you ride a bike at night, wear black clothing and have no lights on your bike and you get slammed by a car, whose fault is it?

When we are going to wise up and stop blaming everyone else when we bear responsibility for not using our smarts to make wise decisions.


Muscular Christianity

June 9, 2010

You may not like the term Muscular Christianity but it was in vogue in the second half of the nineteenth century. The  phrase  first appeared in an 1857 English review of Charles Kingsley’s novel Two Years Ago (1857).  One year later, the same phrase was used to describe Tom Brown’s School Days, an 1856 novel about life at Rugby. The concept was most likely a response to the asceticism and effeminacy that had weakened the Anglican Church.

Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson

NY Giant Pitcher Christy Mathewson

To the ascetic spirituality was to be found in one’s ability to stay as far from the world as one could. In addition, women were largely in positions of leadership in the church while the men took the back seat in the church.  The style of worship as well as the flavor of many hymns were feminized and not attractive to the male gender. Clergy were also seen as effeminate.

In response to asceticism and the trend of effeminate in the Church, Muscular Christianity put the focus on health and manliness.  Christian men were encouraged to be healthy and involved in some athletic activity to enable them not to give in the feminine hue of the Church. Men should act like men – aggressive. adventurous and of good standing. The message was clear – Christian men don’t need to be wimps.

One sports figure who embodied muscular Christianity was hall of famer – Christy Mathewson, pitcher for the New York Giants in the early 1900s.  Matty, as he was called, was a Christian who was committed to winning. Yet he played hard, played fair and in contrast to players like Ty Cobb, he played by the rules. Mathewson was the true “Christian Gentleman.”

In Frank Deford’s book The Old Ball Game, he described what it was like to play with Mathewson “back in the day”:

There are tales that umpires would surreptitiously look to Matty on a close play, to get his opinion – a shake or a nod of the head – knowing that he would never call it dishonestly, even to the benefit of his own team.

One story about Mathewson caught my attention.  In one game Matty slid into home plate, and kicked up so much dust that the umpire was blinded and could not see the play.  He did not know if Matty was safe or out. However, the umpire had so much trust in the Christian gentleman that he turned to him and asked him to make the call at the plate.  Mathewson replied to the ump, “He got me.”  Once Matty uttered those words the umpire felt relieved enough to cry, “Out!”

The catcher was bewildered and asked Mathewson why he called himself out.  “Because I am a church elder” was Mathewson’s reply.

Don’t get the idea that Christy Mathewson was a goody-two-shoes.  He was not a prude, according to his wife.  Yet he was consistent between his beliefs and his behavior.  This is the kind of muscular Christianity I’m talking about.

Christy Mathewson was called the “Christian gentleman” because of the way he treated his fellow-man and women. He was the kind of man you would want on your team and the sort of man you would want in a foxhole next to you especially if you needed help.

A Christian man plays hard, works harder and can be trusted to speak the truth even when it places him at a disadvantage.  Such godly manliness does not come easy.  With the power of the Lord, such a lifestyle should be something we yearn for as we seek the power of the Lord to become a godly man.


Trust God and Run Like Hell

May 26, 2010

King David of biblical fame is my kind of guy.  He’s chosen by God to be the next king of Israel but spends several years of his life on the run before he can occupy the throne of the Jewish nation.  In I and II Samuel there’s no transition where David and his wives move into the White House after being welcomed by the outgoing administration, Saul and his wives.  Instead, King Saul does everything in his power to kill David and knock him out of the royal picture.

David Worshipping God

Still Worshipping After All These Years

Saul tries to ambush David, throws a spear at him and sends his armies to attack David while he’s fighting Israel’s enemies-the Philistines.

How would you like it if you were promoted to a managerial position at work and your predecessor does everything in her power to keep you out of moving your desk into your new office. She locks you out, gossips about you with the other workers and blocks your way into the executive bathroom.  Behind your back she’s posting scandalous things about you in Facebook and Twitter.  She does everything she can to ruin your reputation and keep you from occupying your new position in the company. Each morning you come to work, you are met with snarls and dirty looks.

King David amazes me because he refuses to take a swing at King Saul. He will not touch the Lord’s anointed.  He even catches Saul taking a leak in a cave, sneaks up behind him with ample opportunity to finish him off, but instead he cuts off a sliver from the hem of Saul’s garment. Later David shows Saul the piece of material, revealing to the king that David had every chance to kill him, but he didn’t.  Saul shows some false gratitude because in the next scene the lowlife King of Israel is seeking David’s life again.

How did David do it?  I couldn’t.  If I caught Saul pissing in a cave, knowing he wants to take my life, that would be the last whiz of his life!  I might even really circumcise him if you know what I mean.  A treasure on the mantlepiece of the royal palace.

The secret to David? He had incredible trust in the Lord.  The future king was able to show confidence that Saul’s demise was in the hands of the Lord.  That’s not easy. I want to take everything into my hands and show the Lord what I did hoping He’s pleased.  Eventually Saul did commit suicide by falling on his own sword in a battle he and his men lost. Saul fell into the hands of an angry God. David was avenged.

I want to learn to trust the Lord like David. I ‘d like to be able to leave my anger at people and circumstances in God’s hands,  but not be passive.

Another lesson from David. He was a man on the move.  The future king was running from Saul, but he still kept to his commitment to protect Israel from their enemies-the Philistines.  He did not allow Saul to throw him off course.

If life is catching up to you, keeping you from moving ahead and throwing spears at you, beware of spending all your time trying to stop the crap in your  life from happening. Instead, try to keep your focus on what’s ahead.  Concentrate on your responsibilities and the tasks God has called you to do . . . just like David. Why?  Because the junk that keeps falling on you never stops. If you haven’t figured that one out, let me be the first to let you in on the truth.

However, David was no fool. He wasn’t a softie.  On his deathbed he asked his soldiers to whack his enemy Shimei who mocked David when he was down.  David also made sure the people who were good to him were well taken care of.  David is a man’s man.  He’s real.  He knows who his enemies are.  He is aware of what is keeping him from reaching his goals.  But he doesn’t give up, and he doesn’t spend all his time trying to stop negative circumstances from getting him down.

If David absorbed himself in stopping Saul from his evil antics, the future king would never have kept his eyes on Israel’s enemies.  There are enemies and there are enemies.  You can’t fight all your enemies. Some of them need to be left in God’s hands or else you will suck up all your time putting out fires and not do what the Lord has called you to do – confront the bigger enemies that hold you back and inflict serious damage on you and your loved ones.

David trusted God but never stayed still long enough for Saul to do him in and keep him from the throne.

The lesson for us?   Always know that trusting God doesn’t mean you’ll be given a life without enemies in the form of people, finances, health, employment or really bad circumstances. Trust God and run like hell. But run towards the battles that will make a positive difference in your life.


Is college always the right step after high school?

May 11, 2010

The 2009-2010 school year is almost over. High school sophomores and juniors are contemplating the completion of high school, and asking the question “Where will I go to college?”

College representatives, scholarship services and a deluge of mail continually poke at the graduate lest he forget to apply to the college of his choice.  Parents of high school students start to grapple with the potential of having their child live out-of-state and angst over how they’re going to pay for their child’s next level of education.

Challenged College Student

I graduated high school when I was eighteen years old and did not enter college until I was 23. Yes, I did apply to several art schools in New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, but none were too impressed with my art abilities.

Vietnam and the military draft were hovering over my head. My friends were all attending college in the Fall, but I wasn’t ready.  I wanted to go to art school and if they wouldn’t have me, then I wasn’t going to be a college student.

I worked with my father for a year  as his apprentice in the auto parts business, and at night I attended a trade school to learn auto mechanics.  I figured if I was drafted, then at least I would have a useful craft that could keep me out of the jungles of Vietnam.

Looking back at the five-year span between high school and college, I’ve often evaluated the wisdom of my decision to not pursue further education.

Here’s how those five years unfolded.

At 19 years of age I was drafted into the U.S. Army and served one year in Vietnam as a marine diesel engineer.  I am a proud veteran.  After the military I worked as an assembly line worker for a manufacturer nearby Philadelphia.  Then I relocated to Los Angeles and was employed as a graphic arts photographer during the day and attended  L.A. Arts Center as a photography major at night.

However, I still  had not enrolled as a full-time college student.  Instead, I spent five years crafting my work ethic. my character and financial independence from my parents.

The lessons I learned about taking care of myself, purchasing my own car and medical insurance and handling my finances were invaluable. Mom and Dad were truly free of having to take care of their son. I was on my own.

I eventually decided to attend college to major in religious studies.  To be accepted, I studied for almost a year preparing for the ACT exams. I passed,  and off I went with my wife to attend college in Dallas, Texas.

Apart from all the information I culled from books and lectures, what did I learn in college?

After nine years of undergraduate and postgraduate school, I can tell you what I didn’t learn. With a B.A. and two Master degrees, I never took a class that taught me any life skills.  No academic seminar taught me how to buy a car,  how to be a good husband and father, shop for insurance, balance a checkbook, change a flat tire, make airline reservations, open up a bank account, prepare for a job interview or how to get along with my fellow workers.  I picked up all these abilities on my own during the five years I was not enrolled at a university.

The message is clear for many college students:  the only responsibility you have is to get good grades.  Everything else will be taken care of my your parents, a scholarship or a federal student loan. It’s educational welfare.

Rather, students need to learn the lessons of life and how to fend for themselves. English 101, Advanced Algebra or Historical Literature will never take you by the hand and give you life skills.

So is it really so bad if a high school students decides to take a year or so off before they attend college?  If they use the time to obtain a job, live on their own and become financially responsible, the time away from further education can be transformational.

In early April President Obama spoke at Glenside, PA to an audience composed of college students. Obama was explaining his healthcare plan.  The students listened politely, but when the President mention that students will be entitled to free health care paid for by their parents until age 26, the auditorium erupted in loud applause.

Once again, the government has found a way to keep our growing children in a dependent state on their parents.  By age 26 a young man or woman should be able to find an inexpensive health care plan without needing Mommy and Daddy to foot the bill.

So if you’re contemplating a year off from college to travel to Europe or take a job, such a choice won’t kill you. It may be the best decision you’ve ever made. The maturity and sense of responsibility you’ll gain during your time away from continuing education may what you truly need to prepare you for life.

When I did enter college at age 23, I was married, was holding down two ministerial jobs while my wife worked fulltime and was receiving help with my tuition from the G.I. Bill.

Should every high school grad go immediately into college? Not necessarily. Some young people need additional years to mature, hold down a job and become financially independent.  The five years I was not in college, I learned more useful life skills than all the data stuffed into my brain while earning a B.A. and two Master degrees.


Watts Up with the Watts Riots?

May 7, 2010

Where were you in August 1965?

I had recently  graduated Columbia High School in New Jersey.  College was not an option for me at that time.  I chose to work with my father learning the auto parts business.

August of 1965 was probably a typical hot, sweltering New Jersey summer.  The only relief came on the weekends swimming and surfing at the New Jersey shore. But across the United States on the West Coast it was even hotter.

I didn’t know much about the Watts riots.  I was not caught up in the news when I was eighteen.  I was only concerned about the daily footage of the war in Vietnam since I was very draftable.

The Watts riots lasted seven days.  According to the late Chief Daryl F. Gates, in his book Chief 10,000 black people participated in the riots. However, Gates is quick to point out that 400,000 black people lived in the area where the riots occurred. So a small percentage was actually involved.

Here’s how it started.

Watts Riot

Watts Riot Life Magazine Cover

According to Gates, he had followed a call to a gas station off Imperial Blvd in Watts where a police command post had been set up. An hour before the call came in, CHP officer Lee Minikus was alerted by a Watts’s resident that someone was driving a vehicle in a reckless manner. This person was concerned about the safety of the driver and pedestrians.  Twenty-one-year-old Marquette Frye was the driver of the vehicle. Frye’s older brother Ronald was also in the car.

Officer Minikus who was on a motorcycle, gave Frye the standard sobriety test and the suspect failed.  The officer radioed for a patrol car to take Frye to jail and for a tow truck to pick up Marquette’s car.

Frye’s brother Ronald, seeing that he was only two blocks from home, went to get their mother  so she could claim the car before it was hauled off to the pound.  When Ronald returned to the scene with his mother, the tow truck had arrived along with a patrol car and a second motorcycle patrolman.  By now the original crowd of  25-30 people had grown to a mass of spectators numbering from 250-300. It was a hot night in Los Angeles and a lot of people were on the streets to get some relief from the heat.  The arrest of Marquette Frye was the evening’s entertainment. The sound of the sirens most likely brought attention to the growing incident.

Once on the scene, Frye’s mother scolded him for drinking and driving.  He pushed her away and started to become more belligerent with the officers, resisting arrest. He claimed they would have to kill him before he would allow them to haul him off to jail.

One news source described the next set of circumstances:

The watching crowd became hostile, and one of the patrolmen radioed for more help. Within minutes, three more highway patrolmen arrived. Minikus and his partner were now struggling with both Frye brothers. Mrs. Frye, now belligerent, jumped on the back of one of the officers and ripped his shirt. In an attempt to subdue Marquette, one officer swung at his shoulder with a night stick, missed, and struck him on the forehead, inflicting a minor cut. By 7:23 p.m., all three of the Fryes were under arrest, and other California Highway Patrolmen and, for the first time, Los Angeles police officers had arrived in response to the call for help.

After the Frye’s were driven away from the scene, a woman in the crowd spit on one of the officers. Another arrest was made.   After the arrest, the last patrol car drove away as different objects were hurled at the vehicle.

By now rumors were growing –   the cops had beat up somebody’s mother.  Small groups started roaming the streets, throwing rocks and bottles.  The presence of the police responding to these reports only fueled the growing hostility towards the police presence.  Along with the night’s hot air, the atmosphere snapped.

So why did the Watts riot start? Because people have no respect for the law.  Marquette Frye was arrested from drink driving, resisted arrest and his irate mother’s response to the police flared the situation.

Nothing has changed.  People break laws, and citizens get angry at the police for enforcing the law.

During the 60s I remember how my friends called the police “pigs.” I would always respond, “the cops are only pigs to people who are breaking the law and feel entitled to be able to get away with their behavior.”

On Saturday May 1, tens of thousands of people gathered in downtown Los Angeles to protest Arizona’s law against illegal immigration. Why were these crowds present in the streets of downtown LA?  For the same reason the Watts riots started.  A segment of our society believes in anarchy.  No rules. No laws . . . especially the ones that affect them since they are usually the ones breaking those laws.

Cops are not pigs.  Arizona’s Gov. Jan Brewer is not a racist.  And illegal immigrants are not immune to the laws of the United States.  However, if the Watts mindset continues to grow among U.S. citizens regardless of their color or ethnicity, we are heading towards anarchy – a state in which people feel entitled to be free from the law and can do anything they want.

The lesson from the Watts riot is clear:  You and I will never live in peace by asking to be free from having to obey the laws of our land.  Eventually, the Watts riot mentality will spread to all the street of America and I pray to God the infrastructure of our government – federal, state and municipal – is stable enough to support a law enforcement presence that will restore peace to our way of life.

All it takes is one Marquette Frye to set the spark that will ignite a civil war of ideas and reactions on the illegal immigration issue.