Forward: “Evangelicals Are Falling In Love With Passover — Is There Anything Wrong With That?”  With some followup thoughts from Morning Meditations.

There are good reasons and bad reasons for Gentiles engaging in Passover.  One of the worst reasons is a “fetishization” of Judaism, thinking that if a believer collects to themselves the ancient charms and incantations of Judaism it will somehow give them a higher level of Spiritual power and blessing that they feel lacking.  It’s a sufficiency problem theologically, and a “one weird trick” species of Gnosticism.

James adds the following:

There are times when I get a little tired of churches seeing “types and shadows” of Christ in every little detail of the Tanakh (what Christians call the “Old Testament”), as if Passover and many other sacred events had no intrinsic meaning to Israel in and of themselves.

To God, what is the difference between the symbol and the thing being symbolized? Since both the symbol and the thing being symbolized have the same ontological relationship to the Lord, an outcropping of his Being, it makes just as much sense, to say that Gospel doctrines reflect the Torah lifestyle–and both reflect the person of Yeshua.  Do the dimensions and decorations of the Tabernacle symbolize truths about the universe, or does the universe naturally conform to the Lord’s preferred dimensions and decoration of the throne room of God?

“Testosterone and Spiritual Thought” over a Rappahannock Mag

Installment #2 of some recently published articles over at Rappahannock Magazine

Any close reading of “Deuteronomistic” Tanach literature will show a very macho God, talking to Israel they way kings do to their vassals. The law laid out is clear-cut and non-negotiable. There are generous rewards for obedience and loyalty, but lawbreaking and “adultery” with other gods bring grave punishment. This God seems different than a Jesus who teaches mutual forgiveness and mercy, who longed to gather the children of Jerusalem together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.

Why the difference?

If you like what you read, you can show your appreciation  by writing to them and patronizing their sponsors–or for that matter, becoming one yourself.

An Article about Thankfulness That Won’t Make You Want to Throw Up

DramamineIt’s that time of year again. A time when pulpits, podcasts, newsletters, blogpost begin to wax homiletic about thankfulness and gratitude. And frankly, for the most part, they do a lousy job at it. Sermons and articles like these sound good (or at least satisfying and normative) to an audience of believers who are doing okay and not dealing with crisis or hardship, but they can be a dagger in the heart of a believer who is going through hardship. Be thankful and have ‘an attitude of gratitude’.  I’m unemployed and my family and I are going to get evicted from my house any day now? Sure preacher, I’ll just write a big Thankfulness check to the landlord.  My wife or child is dying in the hospital?  I’ll just tell the doctors to inject 50 cc’s of Thankfulness and that should cure her just fine….  Such rhetoric also reduces not being thankful to being a vice or an oversight, like speaking profanities or failing to tithe.  It fails to appreciate the true difficulty of achieving thankfulness–true existential gratitude toward the Creator of the Universe.    Continue reading

Parshah Noach: A Methuselah Sonnet (Gen 6:9 – 11:32)

This was a sonnet poem I composed a few years back on the theme of Methuselah and the flood. Enjoy.
____________________________

This too-old skin drinks in the deluged sun
Adonai casts on this blighted shadow.
End, harsh mercy, what futile blood begun
Nine-hundred three score and nine years ago.
…..
Earth now cleansed from our craft, our carnival;
Aborted genius, no wisdom imbued.
Contradict malice in sardonic call,
Its hubris’ tantrum, Eve’s nursery eschewed.
…..
Evil, from good, we’ve for Adam derived
With intemperance, misstep and attack,
And now sins’ flood I’ve reluctant imbibed
This flesh drowned, this essence’s Eden intact.
…..
And now in soaked disease I peacefully wrestle
Seeing shalom’s seed off in distant vessel.
____________________________
……

“Wine, Rituals, Symbols, and Worship” over at Rappahannock Mag

My latest Rappahannock Magazine article is available in print throughout the Fredericksburg/Stafford/Spotsy area and is available for reading online here, at their revamped and much improved website.

Yet again, my thanks goes out to Peter Willis and the staff over at Rap Mag. If you like what you read, you can show your appreciation by writing to them and patronizing their sponsors–or for that matter, becoming one yourself.

“The Incredible Shrinking God” over at Rappahannock Mag

My latest article in Rappahannock Magazine is up and can be read here.  

Once again, my deepest thanks to Peter Willis and the rest of the staff of Rap Mag.  If you like what you read, you can show your appreciation by writing to them and patronizing their sponsors–or for that matter, you can be one yourself. 

Bonus:  If you want to see a picture of me, there’s one plastered in front of the article.  They did a good job photoshopping out almost all of my double chins.

Messianic Sermon Roundup–July 12, 2015

  • A good sermon on Paul’s arrest in Acts 21-23 by Jacob Rosenberg of Adat HaTikvah (Deerfield, IN), joined by a short message by attorney Andy Norman (both download as MP3s) dealing in great part with the recent same-sex marriage decision and the emerging issue of believers interacting with a society that embraces homosexual unions.  I’m noticing a trend in church and congregations to bifurcate and have two different messages, one dealing with biblical/spiritual discipleship and the other dealing with addressing political issues and current events.  Some could find these political op-eds in worship services inappropriate.  On the other hand, it arguably shows how events and policy are steadily becoming more urgent to the North American congregations.  Believers in high-persecution countries are less likely to grow from a sermon titled “How to Deal with Life’s Rough Spots” than a sermon titled “How to Deal with the People Who Want to Throw Us in Jail.”
  • Also on the topic of SSM is Rabbi Michael Rudolph’s message “Render to Caesar the Things that Are Caesar’s”. (Download as MP3.)  He cites legal cases in Canada (which has had legalized SSM for about a decade now) as possibilities of the various ways a believer in the States could face trouble for moral objections to SSM. Citing the teaching of Yeshua on which the sermon is titled, Rudolph states that the question of how we can and can’t cooperate with the government will not longer just be academic–we will soon be facing tough questions in America on how to deal with conflicts of faith and civil authority.
  • A message by David Wein of Tikvat Israel (Richmond, VA) on ultimately Yeshua–and not any human personality or authority–being the head Rabbi of every congregation.  This message is given in light of Rabbi David Rudolph moving on from being rabbi of Tikvat Israel to take an important teaching position at The King’s University in Texas.
  • Aybars Uckun of Restoration (Seattle, WA) gives a good message on hate and love (Downloads as MP3) in 1 John in the third part of his “Haters Gonna Hate” series.  The contemporary-style teaching coming out of Restoration is a real blessing, a good example of how preaching to millennials can be causal and down-to-earth without being vacuous or errorneous.  (As far as I can tell, “Aybars Uckun” is not an anagram for anything.)

You realize, there are more prophecies in the Bible about the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel than there is about the Messiah.  There really is. And the greatest testimony of God’s faithfulness, to the world today, is the existence of the nation of Israel. And the reason why I say that is because we can all argue with one another, or other people, about whether Yeshua rose from the dead or not. We believe that of course, but you can’t really prove it. You can’t say, ‘Here he is standing in flesh and blood.’ But you can say that about the nation of Israel. And you can look at all the prophecies and say ‘Here’s the nation of Israel, and this is what scripture says, and It’s being fulfilled to a ‘T’.

  • Ari Waldman of Baruch Hashem (Dallas, TX) gives a d’rash on Parshat Pinchas as part of their Moral Compass series: Pinchas, Faithfulness, & the Moral Compass (available for download as MP3 or video)
  • Finally, a very good, passionate message by Rabbi David Rosenberg of Shuvah Israel (Plainview, NY), who makes a connection that never occurred to me, connecting the attack by Pinchas with the spear in Numbers 25, thus stopping the plague, with the piercing of Yeshua. (His message starts at around 02:37:00, preceding by the Bar Mitzvah aliyahs of two young men.)

Let us know if you have any other good messages.  Shavua Tov!