Saturday, December 25, 2010

Being Jesus

"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christs afflictions, for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from G-d that was given to me for you, to make the word of G-d fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations, but now revealed in his saints." Collosians 1:24-26

This is what what a person interacting with G-d and His word live for, and that is the passage that makes you stumble, trip and skin your brain. This is the live action wrestling match of the homemade bible interpreter.
There is a problem when I go after trying to understand scripture, and that is, when I have come to a conclusion of interpretation, I am forced to pursue the inevitable; application of the principle before me.
I must confess that this passage truly challenged my thinking and theology. Scripture does that if you are honest with it and try not to manipulate it to make it say what you want it to say, although it is easier that way.
Without going to deep into the background of the letter, I will say that Paul the apostle is making a case for the supremacy of Jesus Messiah over the elemental practices of groups swayed to asceticism, such as this group witch is kind of a combination of gnostic(which was not yet fully developed at this point) and the dead sea community, or Essene type group which really got into ritualistic observances.
Paul does this by elevating Jesus with the truths of him being "the image of the invisible G-d, the first born of all creation"...."all things were created by and through him"..."he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the first born form the him all the fullness of G-d was please to dwell....making peace by the blood of the cross.". In other words, Christ is the man!
Paul, who has never been to the city of Collossae, or even met the people except for Epaphras who was the elder or pastor as so it seemed from the letter, was encouraging this assembly to hold fast to the Savior who was all these things that Paul was describing. He then adds this sentence that has so much meaning and implication, that to miss it would be such a travesty of omission in our lives.
Let's start with the beginning of v.24;"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake..". At first glance, I almost assumed that Paul might have been talking of his imprisonment, which is where he wrote a majority of his letters, but these sufferings are from his heart for the people of concern for which he was writing. This really shows the heart of a man in love with G-ds people. His sufferings, or affliction of emotion and human passion was bubbling over towards the progress of these called out ones.
Paul then throws in this statement which is utterly amazing!!;" my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christs afflictions for the sake of His body,...". At this point, you can say with me;"WHAT!!!!!?"
My first question in this was what is lacking in Christs afflictions? Was this speaking of his death and atonement for sin on the cross? That was supposed to be a perfect and completed work, right? Jesus himself that his work was "finished". So what is lacking here?, and what is Christs afflictions?
I will take a swing at this and try to understand what needs to be understood. The lacking means or conveys the idea of that part which is like baggage lagging behind, or the failing of meeting a standard. The afflictions of is defined as a result of being squeezed or put into a narrow place, hence trouble, distress or afflictions.
Just after Paul says such an amazing statement, he goes onto to say that it is for the sake of his body, the church or assembly of believers. In v. 25 we get the clue to understanding of what is lacking;"of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from G-d which was given to me to fulfill the word."
The word stewardship in the Greek means the act of making visible that which was not readily seen. How awesome is this?!! This means that what is lacking in this world is the real physical presence of the Lord Jesus. His glorified body now in heaven, waits until the revealed time of his glorious appearing in triumph to rule the nations. Until this time comes Paul expresses the part of which we all play and that is to be and to act as Jesus' body in this dark world of chaos, dismay and unbelief. We are to fill up in our flesh, my flesh the passions of Christ. That kind of passion calls for a life devoted to serving, giving, instructing and even dying to this flesh for the sake of even just one person or to the whole body of Christ.
This flesh which we give over to the fulfilling of G-ds will.
We are to be Jesus in this world!!!! This is absolutely nuts! I ask myself,"Did I really need to know this? Did I really want to understand this?" Now however, with this interpretation I must therefore act on it, because it is G-ds stewardship that I am responsible to live out.
If we all take to this responsibility of this revelation, what great things can be done for the kingdom of G-d? Let us go forward with G-ds strength and find out.
Follow with me and let us be Jesus to this world.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Crazy Faith

I am learning what faith is all over again. Kind of a strange reality. The scriptures declare that "the just shall live by faith.".
Let me give you a hint as to what I mean. I have told my wife for months, quit your job, and get rest for yourself and the new baby which will soon be here. I told her that G-d would surely bless and take care of things.
I also mentioned to her that G-d would bless us with plenty of work for me to provide for the family.
Honestly, I do not know how I can possibly do all this!....Oh wait; G-d said to trust Him. This, this is the hard part. Trusting the unseen hand of G-d.
You know what is crazier! Not trusting in this unseen G-d!! We have tried for so long to push through this life by hard work and stupid efforts that have cost us dearly. To not trust G-d is CRAZY.
I think the normal action for us is to trust G-d, but to go about life trusting in ourselves is just STUPID.
"Seek first the kingdom of G-d and all these things shall be added unto you."
Trust in Messiah always. Amen!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Daily Moments

Psalm 90:12 "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom."
Maybe my days would be filled with more praise, thankfulness and productiveness if I truly took this to heart.
Maybe I nee to be reminded of what G-d can do instead of what I cannot do.
Every moment could and should be given as it were, the blessing that it could be the last moment and thus blessed.
Our days are not only numbered by the sovereign Lord, but they are also ordered. This order is to do that which is good and right in the sight of G-d.
The apostle Peter comments about out time and purpose on earth in 1 Peter 1:17,22-25 which says;"And if you call in him as Father who judges impartially according to each ones deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile..... Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born from above, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through living and abiding word of G-d; for all flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever."
The ultimate in this obedience is not that we have done much, but rather that in the obedience we have been establishing the ordered days of our stay which is in the "word of the Lord which remains forever.".
May I always be awakened out of a slumbered tolerance of self indulgence to the magnificent works of G-d. Although my flesh may fall limp as the flower that fades, my soul shall forever be sealed in in Jesus Messiah.
Bless His Holy Name. Bruch HaShem

Friday, November 26, 2010


I am starting this blog with a couple of questions to myself today. "How serious do I really take this G-d thing? What in the world am I doing with this "call" of mine from G-d? Do I truly believe G-d and this call to the world to come and follow Jesus The Messiah?"
Very recently, I started looking around my own little world, which includes everywhere from my own home to work and places that I stop. I have been opened to the distinct possibility that I have become comfortable in this little world of mine.
I have have been striving after the command of Jesus; "come follow me.". I have been reading and studying The Scriptures and gaining much insight for my walk with G-d. I am pushing myself in spheres of husbandry and fatherhood and trying to imitate the Savior. I concentrate hard on my conduct in the workplace and trying to exemplify a man who has been bought and redeemed by a gracious Master.
I have however missed something so crucial to this life that G-d had to show me the connecting thought of the message of completeness. Like I said, I am starting and moving closer to follow and be with Jesus, but this is only half of the life.
There is a second part, which is not really separate, but of the same whole. This was made vividly apparent about a week ago in my car going from one job to the other.
Coming down a main street in my downtown area, I was noticing some run down buildings and also some very run down people. There were on this street many large churches, about six that I can remember. I started to wonder why, if there are so many buildings with the message of hope,could there be so many faces displaying a lack of hope?
There were so many different people on the side walks, and coming out of there homes, and general business, it was almost as if I heard a cry saying, "these are My people, here is my church."
My immediate response to this idea proposed by either my own head, or from the one who created my head was to debate. "What does that have to do with me? I don't go out talking with strangers on the wide open areas of exposure! I go out to coffee shops to read and study, and people seem to come to me. NOEL DOES NOT GO OUT TO THE STREETS!" This I firmly believed was someone elses job.
As I was bantering back and forth with this invading voice in my head, which was now dripping into my heart, I looked once again while sitting at the stop light and saw more and more faces of despair.
I drove away from that spot towards where my next job was, but I could not escape the reality of this lesson. What was this lesson I am still learning? Well, this is the second half of the whole. Jesus very clearly calls people and instructs them to come, repent, follow and obey. What was this obedience I was/am missing? Very simply, it was this; "Go!". Before the ascension of Jesus back to the Father, he left the disciples with these very demanding commands;"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."(Matt.28:19-20).
As I am living this life devoted to my G-d, I am supposed to share and not spare this gospel. I am called to leave my comfort zone and reached my lost world in which I am in contact with. I really would rather not do such things as go around neighborhoods and street corners, but the voice of G-d is so loud. The voice cries out in the faces of the drug addicts, the losers in life, the social workers and prostitutes and beckon me to come, which in turn causes me to Go. After all, the blessed Son of G-d went, when he was sent. His love is so great as to enter such a violent world and enter into its pain and misery so as to shed His light and love to the lost and dying.
So kicking and screaming, uncomfortable in this new role, I will go. Only because the Master calls; and yes, He's serious. So must I be. G-d help me and may His voice ring loudly in your heart as well, so as to come, follow and go.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Sermon on the Plane

Due to the overwhelming study of the beatitudes in my group on Sunday nights, I could not help but wonder about the warning that Jesus gives in Matthew 7:15. Jesus says this;"Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheeps clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.".
I took this warning to be against all that Jesus had just taught and explained about walking out a godly life. So with that in mind I wanted to come up with an inverted version of the beatitudes that would fit more in line with our culture and our ways. This way we could definitely tell the difference between a good tree and a bad tree and to better discern the wolf hiding in lambs wool.
I have put the beatitudes in a paradoy form to convey in humor the route that a prophet of ravenous blood type might take. He/she might take a more subtle approach, but I think we'll grasp the thought.

Taken from The Gospel According to We The People.
NINV(Noels Inverted Version)

"Cursed are the poor, you should ask G-d for more.
Cursed are the mouneres, just be happy.
Cursed are the meek, you'll just get run over if
you are in my way, so just run with the crowd.
Cursed are the ones who hunger and thirst after
righteousness, you shouldn't take this G-d thing so
Mercy is for losers, only the strong survive.
Cursed are the pure in heart, everyone is truly good anyway
and there really is no evil.
Just co-exist! Unless of course someone tries to hurt
you or says you might be wrong.
Don't let others revile you, give back what they deserve
with all your heart mind and soul and strength.
Persecute the prophets like your fathers did
before you.
An eye for an eye, so let it be!!
Swear falsely if it serves your needs.
If someone slaps you on the right cheek, you have every
right to use as much force as necessary to defend
your honor.
If things aren't working out with your spouse, have a
little romance on the side or get divorced.
Lay up treasure here on earth for yourself
and just call it a nest egg.
You can not serve two masters, so serve yourself
Seek first your kingdom and may G-d bless
Help the poor and unfortunate, it will make you
feel better about yourself.
For mine is the Kingdom, the power and
the glory.
And all the congregation said; AMEN!!"
This maybe a little far fetched, but I think this could, and has happened in our thinking. It is not far from what the prophet Jeremiah recorded in Jeremiah 6:13-15:"For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain and form prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, 'peace, peace', when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed they did not know how to blush....".
You see, it's always a bad thing when a group, community or a whole race of people in general become so desensitized that they have forgotten to blush, It has been replaced with the pride of applause and compromise to that which most embodies godliness. Then, at the adherence of a beatitude that sits so low on the plane of our bane ways, the teachings of our own kingdom fly high the banner of selfishness led by false teachers caring only for themselves. We then as the sheep follow to the lovely tune they play.
Let it be true for those that are disciples of Jesus Messiah, that we follow His ways and then help each other and lift each other up so as to glorify G-d in heaven.
Let's all reach above beyond the plane to the mountaintop instead shall we?

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Constant Battle

As I take my pen to write
of all the struggles
that go on inside.
I feel so distant from you Lord,
like I've gone astray.
So different when I used to walk
with you from day to day.
These eyes that were once opened
and a heart that was so warm,
have now hazed over and my
heart has turned and embraced
in the cold.
Where are you in this hour? Do you
still care?
Please hear me pray and let me know
your love that is so fair.
What is this familiar emptiness
that's making me so cold?
I miss the newness of life
from when you first touched my soul.
It's like I'm losing my grip,
please uphold me with your grace.
I beg you Lord, turn not
from me your Holy face.
I'm counting on the love you gave
back there on Calvary.
Bring back the joy of my salvation
that was so freely given to me.
Remove all distractions that
get in my way.
Let your only begotten Son
light my darkened days.
I can no longer hide
as the lines in my face deepen.
I invite you Lord to come.
This cry I can not keep in.
Fill me up with your gladness
and all that makes me sing.
Resurrect my salvation,
the one that gave death its sting.

This was written about 10 years ago and reflects my deepest thorn in my flesh. The fact that I have suffered with what people call "major depression" for over 25 years still feels the same today as it did when I first started experiencing it.
Living with this kind of depression can take its toll on not just myself, but those around me. Someone just asked me tonight, noticing a different disposition in my features;"Is it just like being sad?", he asked. The answer is,no not really. The best way I can describe it is that it is like being in a thick black tar, inside of a dark lonesome closet with no accessible light at all.
With that said and understood, I wonder why I have never been able to over come this darkness. I ask and I plead with my most merciful Savior to please take away this darkness. This depression has never helped me, or my wife, but only adds difficulty that we all could do without.
I wonder what good this is to have such a case of melancholy that sometimes has lasted not just for a day or two, but in some cases, years. It has almost destroyed me and has had awful effects upon my loved ones.
There is such a sense of hopelessness in that hole, that it feels that I will never be able to get out or escape from its depth.
Yes, it's true that Jesus said that he would always be with me, even in the valley of the shadow of death. Honestly though I would rather not go through this anymore seeing there is no benefit to any of this. It is downright debilitating and makes me absolutely lethargic.
I plead with G-d over and over to please take this far away form me and I still get no answers. I guess I know now how the apostle Paul felt when he wrote the words in 2 Cor. 12:7-9. Paul wrote of his trials and how so often he was persecuted by evil doers and even people of the church. He recognized that it was to keep him from being conceited and thus a thorn was given in his flesh.
Paul pleaded three times to have G-d remove it from him and the answer three times over was a resounding;"NO!". G-d said to Paul that His grace was sufficient for him and that His power would be made perfect in Paul's weakness.
I can say that externally I get it, but that was Paul and not me. How can G-d get any glory out of my weakness that has never had any good outcome of showing, giving or providing any comfort to anyone or praise to His holiness?
I guess at this point I am called to get out from within myself and boast in the power of G-d through Christ Jesus. Somehow G-d will give me the strength to be content in my weakness, and somehow be strong in His Power.
Maybe it is in the thorn of my affliction that causes me not to fall back on my lack of greatness, but into the perfect strength of Jesus.
Maybe I can play the optimist here for just a moment, and give G-d the benefit of the doubt. Maybe my weakness helps me to weep a few more tears for those who are weeping now. Maybe I wouldn't be so full of sympathy for others that are hurting or in despair if I hadn't been there so often myself. Maybe I wouldn't feel so much for the lonely if I didn't experience it so often myself.
It just might be that G-d is calling me right now to get some rest, to come back and fall into the arms that have so often carried me. It just may be that I will say with the Psalmist in Ps.43:5" Why are you downcast, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in G-d; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my G-d."
Oh My G-d and Salvation, help me where I have no strength within myself and come to you knowing that you are the stronghold for the oppressed in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O L-rd, have not forsaken those who seek you.(Ps.9:9-10).
May His name be blessed in the darkness and the light, form this time and forever. Amen.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A little Imagination in Interpretation

I am once again going through the gospel of Matthew, and it is fascinating once more just as it was the last time. I have also been trying to add a little imagination along with trying to understand the bible in its most literal, historical and grammatical terms. I have always tried to go after the most precise hermeneutic as possible, and I don't think this negates this process, but rather enhances my understanding of passages.
One of the passages I was taken with is found in Matthew Chp. 9:1-8. It is another very familiar account to those who read the scriptures. It is the account of the paralytic who is brought to Jesus through the roof of a house.
Let me just type out the text and I will go on from there. "And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "take heart my son; your sins are forgiven". And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves,"this man is blaspheming." But Jesus, knowing their thoughts said,"why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier to say,'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say,'Rise and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins-"Rise, pick up your bed and go home." And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid and they glorigied G-d, who had given such authority to men.".
Alright, so there is a lot to cover here, but I just want to cover some areas of geography first and then begin with some questions. First off, Jesus is in Northern Israel, actually in his home town of Capernaum and his home town of Nazereth. This info is given in Marks gospel, Chp. 2:1-12.
Second in discovery of meaning is noticing where Jesus was ministering, and this is at a home(Mark 2:1). We don't know if this is Jesus' home or someone else s, but he is in a house and is preaching the word(Mark 2:2). Quick note here, even though Mark is the shortest and usually less detailed in info, this does not hold true for this passage, so we will end up getting a lot of info from Mark.
Third thing we notice in the scene is that this is a packed out session; standing room only. So much so that no else can get in.
Fourth is that Matthew records that some people brought to him a paralytic. Actually they tried the front door, but rather dismayed at the crowd, their urgency took them to new heights in strategics; they rip through someones roof(Mark 2:4). NICE!! They then lower the paralytic through the newly formed skylight in front of Jesus.
So in my observation here, I noticed that there was no healing service going on, and there was no apparent request to be healed from the man or his friends for anything at all. What I did pick up on was that these men, and the lame man, were serious, urgent and desperate. My question is, Why?
Remember, this is Jesus' home town, and these are most of the people he grew up with. They would have recognized him, and evidence from other portions of scripture that have him reading in the synagogues say that they were amazed at his reading skills and interpretation.
In other writings, such as the infancy gospels as they are known, have been found to be bogus and written to far after the events to be considered worth anything. But off of that premise of Jesus' early years which hardly anything is spoken of, I wonder if maybe this person suffering from a paralytic life knew Jesus. I wonder if maybe he, like children can be, was cruel to Jesus as a boy. Maybe he was a bully, spoke arrogantly and slung hurtful words at the young Jesus. This is where the imagination runs wild.
Again, the only reason I am allowed to think like this is because of the lack of details, so stay with me here.
Here is a man, for some reason we don't know is lame. We don't know if he was hurt in an accident, if it was due to a sickness or something else. What we do know is that he needed to see Jesus no matter what. He even got his friends to help him seek out the Master by way of vandalism...which Jesus called a faith that could be seen!
Jesus' response to seeing this man(childhood nemesis), was simply;"Take heart my son; your sins are forgiven.".
Jesus at this point does not ask what he wanted as he did with others, but he knew what this man needed. This man needed Jesus' forgiveness. On top of all this, because of some disgruntled folk in the audience who had serious issues with forgiveness(not a lot of room to get into the debate here), Jesus not only offers the one thing that can set this man free, but he also offers in a very tangible way, a token of his grace by giving him the power to again walk on his own two legs.
With the words from the Lord;"Rise, and go home...", there is much to learn from here for us who live 2000 years away from this scene. There are so many principles here and I just want to list a couple that tugged hard at my own heart. One of the principles I was able to glean was that I, like the paralytic, need with the same intensity to seek out forgiveness from G-d and also from others that I have hurt and even those that have hurt me to offer forgiveness unashamedly. This is something that is in our power to do through G-d who through Jesus gives us this power and humility. This forgiveness frees not only the person that has sinned, but also is freeing to the person who holds the key to this kind of release.
Forgiveness is what can heal this world; it started with Jesus, G-d wrapped in our own wounded flesh, forgiving a very tormented, cruel and unforgiving world. It then goes to us, the recipients of grace to offer the same pure act that can set someone else free from the paralyzing bondage of sin that has bound us for so long.
May we all seek out the G-d who forgives, and likewise give what we have been given, and that is grace without wanting anything in return.
B'ruch Hashem!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Curbing Hamas

Human history, our history is a history of violence. There has not been a time since our inception, except for a very brief moment in our inauguration that there has not been violence. From the first act of disobedience in paradise, to the first murder as a result of sibling rivalry, violence has plagued our existence.
I guess I am struck to my very being at how much our world is littered with such atrocities and violence. It is something I am aware of that our own country might be forgetting. I think maybe we become accustomed to, and also without realization, be involved in.
I am aware also of G-ds view on violence and the apathy towards its nature. We turn our heads as if to say;"I never saw anything, heard anything or did anything.". Such is the sin of my generation, and G-d responds loudly and clearly in the 11th Psalm verse 5:"The L-rd tests the righteous, but His soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence." To the leaders who do not justice He says in Ps. 58;"Do you indeed decree what is right, you mighty lords(gods)? Do you judge the children of men uprightly? No!, in your hearts you devise wrongs; your hands deal out violence."
One of the most frequently used words to describe violence in the Hebrew bible(O.T.) is the word 'hamas". It means wrong doing; unjust gain; cruelty; violence and injustice towards someone wrongly.
The unfortunate response of mankind has always been against the grain of G-ds plan and instruction, but G-ds mercy is good and patient and still calls out for man to bow to His desire. We have witnessed the testimony of times gone by as well as present times, the abuses of religious causes in the name of G-d and Christ to exact allegiance. We have the recorded history of non religious regimes of chaos devoted to the mass destruction of genocide for dominance. We would rightly carry the title of a planet titled "the planet of hamas."
So how can we learn to curb this insatiable thirst for blood and vengeance and greed which spells out death? Are there any established measures that would ensure proper behavior towards others?
The apostle Paul had some instruction for a young pastor living in a time similar to ours. The young man was Timothy, a disciple and companion of Pauls'. From the tone of the first letter of to Timothy, we can hear an urgency in Pauls' compulsion towards this young man. Timothy was a man on the brink of leaving his ministerial position because of pressures that surrounded him and his pastorate.
Paul however, a follower and imitator of his Messiah and Lord gave fantastic, practical and divine measures for living rightly in this world. These specific instructions which I want to concentrate on are given generally to all and then specifically to the men. "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intersessions, and thanksgivings, be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way."(1 Timothy 2:1-2)
The first key towards a peaceful life amidst the turmoil is prayer. Prayer can fee up the mid to concentrate on G-d, his people and His desire, while leaving selfish desires by the roadside. This form of active worship involves different aspect of prayer, such as petitioning, prostrating before a holy G-d; interceding on behalf of another and giving thanks. Imagine just concentrating on these aspects and the outcome of not ceasing to pray. We would only have time to fold our hands or lift them in prayer.
The second key to abdicating violent behavior among ourselves and worshiping is given in v. 8" I desire then that in very place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;....". Notice that this command is given to the men; why? Men by nature, are and have always been violent. Our hands have left a stain of blood that taints the color of our world. Paul commissions the men, who have such a strong tendency towards acting out in such ways to curb there appetite for quarreling and disputing towards the actions of men born of G-d.
Paul directs their hands away from clenching fists to hands that are "lifted up". These hands are ready for the purpose of distributing blessings, praises, and deeds of goodness.
The conduct of men born of the Spirit is only seen in lives of being in worship. This is a call to believing men to lift up in surrender, praise and adoration, reverence and recognition of G-ds holiness. These hands are empty, cleansed and ready for holy work.
Paul throws in a contrast between two different types of hands. He uses a very specific word for "holy" in connection with hands. It is the word "hoseous"; meaning that which is distinctly separated for G-ds ways from that which is either directly against G-ds ways or just the worldly ways. The opposite of "hoseous keiros"; holy hands is "keiros horgay"; hands of wrath. These hands set apart for holy work are hands that are without anger and quarreling. The normal idea of holy in the Hebrew is the word kodesh, and it is the separation of something or someone; the sacred from the mundane. Things, people and acts are set aside as holy and separate from something, but this Hoseous is a holiness set against something in contrast to something. Thus this act of hands in worship is a contrasting action, a kind of light against the darkness.
A beautiful picture of this way or practical outgrowth of a life given to The Master can be vividly seen in the morning sabbath service of the synagogue.
Toward the middle of the service men go up(if there is a minion), and open the ark in the front of the sanctuary. Once open a delegated person reaches inside to take out the scroll of the Torah. Both hands clasp the handles and rest it upon the right shoulder. Turned toward the congregation after raising it up in the air up to G-d Almighty, a blessing is spoken consecrating the moment for pure worship toward the only true G-d. Then a procession of the Torah goes around the congregation where any individual can touch the bible, or their hand and kiss it in reverence to the Holy Word of G-d.
If we can take the picture of this scene and imbue it to the instruction from Paul to Timothy, we can share in a kind of empty handed fellowship with hands not raised in rebellion but in reverence to G-d and devoted to His Shalom.
May we all be men, people, a worshiping community ready to spill out G-ds blessings upon people with hands made for peaceful worship and praise, in good standing with our Lord and with our neighbor as well.
May G-d bless the hands that bless His Holy Name and His Son Jesus the Messiah. Amen

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Missed Trains and Destinations

Minutes before boarding, the time is almost here.
To many belongings, and just to much baggage I fear.
I fumble through what I felt I needed most. So much stuff; where am I going?
Was it to see the sunset on the coast?
So confused, rather dazed; the final whistle is blowing, and I'm in a complete haze.
Hands on my head, pulling out my hair.
I'm going crazy, am I already there?
The conductor yells:"All Aboard!!". So many people trample forward, ready to go and belongings and fully adorned.
Yet here I am, alone with my packed bags.
No destination, only baggage claim tags.
What do I do?! The train starts to leave.
Everyone has gone, except my grief and me.
I fall to the ground amidst all my belongings.
All I have is heavy emotions and mismatched longings.
Just when I thought that I had been left behind.
A hand reaches down and a voice says it's all fine.
The train you were wanting was going east. It wasn't quite right for you
not to say the least.
I'll wait with you here, for the next train to arrive.
We can talk for a while and you can rest and revive.
Take comfort in my words, for my presence is near.
Now hold my hand, and let me wipe that tear.
Stand up now, and leave your bags here, you won't need them you'll see.
Don't be anxious about them, there's no fee.
Here it comes now, this train is the best!
It is not going east, this one is going west.
"All Aboard"

This is first and foremost for my beloved partner in life and then to all others
who may have thought that they had missed the train.
Jesus calls out to each of us to lay down what ever baggage we have and to come and rest in his embrace. After all, He is the Savior and the G-d of second chances.
Come now, for today is the day of salvation.

Monday, September 6, 2010

To call or not to call

This is it, this will be my last of this particular commentary on Romans 10(for now).
Looking at my notes and my explanations on this passage can be read in only a couple of minutes; kind of funny I suppose. My guess is that it might not have been this difficult for the ones it was written to to understand, but only to follow in application.
V.14-17 " How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written,"How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says,"Lord who has believed what he has heard from us?"So faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.".
There are three questions here in v.14, and the fourth comes in v.15. The first two questions laid out by Paul are really predicated off the third question;"...and how shall they hear without a preacher?". We have to tackle the identification of who "they' are. First off it's as it says in v.13 "whoever", which is the all inclusive calling. Second, it seems as though the "they" is directed back towards his concern and passion for Israel, in which he began this exhortation at the outset of chp.10. Although it is specific to Israel, I believe also the questions here can apply to the whoever as well.
Let's look at the first question posed;"How then shall they call in Him in whom they have not believed?". Paul is asking a very important question here, and it's the thought of how can Israel as a whole can "call" or attach themselves to their G-d or His messenger? Paul sees Jesus as not only the Messiah but as the voice of a prophet. So he asks, how is it that you call upon G-d when He's already answered and you did not respond, repent at the message or the messenger?
The second question deals with the idea of hearing and believing;" and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?". Is this question directed to the Jews that actually witnessed the life of Jesus and earthly existence? If so, that would make complete sense in light of what not only Jesus said in his words concerning the hearing of the prophets, but what the prophets said about hearing. (Without going into quotation overload, read Isaiah and Jeremiah to get a sense of this text and the disobedience).
How can someone in all honesty call upon one in whom they would not listen to or attach their names to? How could someone believe in someone that they did not hear?
The Hebrew word for hear is "Shamah", and it means to hear, listen, pay attention, perceive and obey. Isaiah 6:9-10 gives a negative example of this usage of the word;"He said(G-d) go and say to this people, surely you hear, but you do not understand, and surely you see, but you fail to know. This people is fattening its heart, hardening its ears, and sealing its eyes, lest they see with its eyes, hear with its ears and understand with its heart, so that it will repent and be healed.".
The people of Isaiahs day heard the words of the prophet, but refused to listen and adamantly refused to heed.
Jesus uses this same passage in Matthew 13 where he teaches in parables. These parables were clear to those who sere willing to hear, but to those who chose to not be responsive to G-ds call were left in judgment for their lack of hearing and not obeying. They seemed content in their ways and and self proclaimed religion and hypocrisies. Basically it is the lack of desire to want to change and being content in social standards that cause them(and us) to be inanimate towards this message; thus they did not hear and respond. So I think the:"they did not hear", means that although they may have witnessed Jesus life and calling they did not hear, or respond and thus not believe in whom they have heard.
The next question of "how shall they hear without a preacher?". So who's the preacher? The preacher or pro claimer is the one announcing a divine message. The importance of a pro claimer is the giving of guidance through special revelation. This revelation goes beyond natural revelation, such as creation, or even conscience, but reveals special attention to action that must be heeded. The preacher is the one announcing something that G-d has spoken and then reiterates the message. We can see from the beginning of creation, revelation comes in the form of both positive and negative commands(look at Genesis 1:28 for this example). From my observation of the scriptures is that there are varied specifics in regulations, G-d calls Jew and Gentile with varied forms of positives and negatives to adhere to. Some of these things are good and holy and somethings to have and some to abstain from. Some regulations from the divine decrees keep us from hurting each other and also to prevent damage to self.
Paul in his stated questions points out how important it is for even the Jew, who has been given the revelations of G-d, that they must also "hear" and "obey" the message by way of the messenger.
V.15 "And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written;"How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news of peace, who bring good news of good things.".
This is Pauls way of elevating the necessity of preaching truth, justice, G-ds light, and walking out G-ds ways. It's important for the message of repentance and proper walking to never cease. This is done by never negating the message or messengers of the proclamation to be sent out. The phrase, sent out comes from the Gk word, apostelo; meaning, one who was sent out, a person of merit sent as an envoy on behalf of a master in an administrative role. Paul relates this imperative of apostolic proclamation through the words of Isaiah 52:7. When Isaiah originally gave this oracle, he spoke of the beauty of the footsteps left behind when heralding G-ds promises. Even in the lovely prophecies given here by the prophet, the same mouth had called out to Israel to repent and to return.
If there was any worry on any ones mind if G-d would still send preachers, it seems clear that G-d has always sent his preachers and always will. The message was spoken, is spoken and will always be spoken, and how beautiful the feet that carry it.
V.16 "But they have not all obeyed the message. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?".
I think this is where I'm going to end this post for now, otherwise I will be here until 2011!
Just in the way of thinking back as to why I decided to post this commentary in the first place, I am coming to the conclusion that this passage gets kind of overused in the sense of missionary and evangelism to a lost world. The point Paul was making was for his concern for his people, heritage and religious background. That he was struggling with this reality as well. For any questions out there for those wondering about Israel and if G-d was still doing something through them and in them Paul went onto explain his theology and defense on behalf of the gospel and how they responded or remained despondent. He pointed out for those that wondered how they would here?, he commented on special revelation and how it had already been given. Paul spoke of natural revelation and how that also gave witness and testimony to them being without excuse.
Do I think that despite my reading of this passage and it not fitting in with the overuse of evangelism, that the world still needs missionaries and preachers? Yes of course I do, and before this was Jesus' commission to go out and reach, teach, baptize and make ready a world adorned as a bride for her husband.
With the truth of G-d in my/our hands and our lack of not doing, I fear more for G-ds messiah showing up and me/us being judged by not living up to the standard of truth that we were given.
G-d give us strength to carry this message of hope with validity. Amen.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Just what does it mean to be caught unexpected? Sometimes it like someone comes from behind and startles you. It could be a raise in your income at work. It could take many forms.
It is the unexpected moments in life that can either make us take a step back, make us run away or go into a paralysis. These are how I normally embrace the unexpected.
My question is, how would G-d want me to respond to these moments and increments of intercepted gifts from His own hand.
Mary the mother of Jesus, questioned how this she could bear a son when she had no husband. This above all would be the most unpredictable event in the life of such a young girl. What did she say, and what did she do with this newsflash? In the gospel of Luke chp. 1:47 it says this;"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in G-d my savior....". Her response goes on for 8 more verses, but the point is that she handled the unexpected news with rejoicing, praising and a liturgy that is still preached, recited and studied 2000 years later.
A very difficult application for this 41 year old man who not to long ago found out that his wife will be having their fifth child. Very unexpected, but very blessed indeed.
Lord may you take this man who is still under construction and give him strength so as to give help to his wife Lord I pray today that your name may be uplifted in all of my lifes twists and turns that never take you unexpectedly.
Bruch Hashem.

Friday, August 27, 2010

For what do the Scriptures say?

I am thinking this morning that this on going commentary should have its own blog. Until then however I'll post maybe just one more after this one.
In this continuance of this commentary I have to be as honest as I can in searching out Pauls intent in his writing. So I will always steer away from some systematic apologetic s of trying to make Paul fit my theological framework. My framework however is not quite systematic anyway.
Soooo, here we go! V.11-12 "For the scriptures say,"Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.".
Paul always point back to the prophets as the authoritative Word. I will say this before moving on, as I believe it is imperative for the usage of scripture here, that Paul purposely and wisely chose this particular quote because of the usage of the pronoun "pas'". The word "pas" from the Greek is translated as all, everyone, or whoever. It is an all inclusive word and thus a non exclusive statement leading right into the further analysis of G-d saving "Jew and Greek alike".
Paul makes a clear mark in the clay of his readers thinking;"For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek....". He use the word "diastole" which means distinction;difference;interval;space or distance. Even though there are distinct differences in ritual observation, foods to abstain from, times of months and years to be sanctified that ore obligatory for the Jew, there is no difference on how all people come before G-d. G-d is the Lord of Lords, the creator of everything that can be seen and unseen. G-d is not exclusive to any one group or religion; G-d is over ALL. We must all come the same way, and that is through repentance and acceptance of the wonderful revelation of G-d Himself. Paul is just evening up the gap for the purpose of dismantling the wall of pride and prejudice that is built up by both parties addressed.
V 13-"For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
To understand this quote, Paul uses the words from the Prophet Joel. There are two phrases to understand that I think are important here. Let's start with "For whoever calls on the name of the Lord...". It's imperative to understand the context here and to see why Paul chose the prophet Joel to make his statement of faith and confession. So as to make this quick I just broke down the chapters of Joel into a synopsis. Chapter on speaks of the invasion of the destroying locusts and a call to repentance. Chapter 2 deals with the eschatological "day of the Lord'; war and bloodshed; returning to the land and the pouring out of G-ds Spirit. Chapter 3 talks of G-ds judging the nations and the glorious future of Judah.
After a revealing look at the future era of messianic reign, when G-d had shown jealousy for the land and His people(2:18), G-d says that afterward He would do something. Biblically and prophetically speaking, this would be the end of the times of the Gentiles. That is to say that Israel would have by divine decree, their land apart from the Gentile ruler ship.
In all of these promises, Joel pronounces by way of inspiration;"I will pour out my Spirit in all flesh...". The "all flesh" is speaking of just that; "all flesh". Whether Jew or Gentile. The Spirit of G-d will inspire not just the Jew, but break the boundaries of the sexes through:"your sons and daughters"; through barriers of age:"your old men shall have dreams and your young men shall see visions.". G-d even breaks the through the walls of what we call first class and lower class;"even on the male and female slaves in those days I will pour out my Spirit.".
This is Pauls purpose in his usage of this passage, it is to demonstrate that G-d is impartial to the idea of ethnic superiority and that he is the maker of all flesh and all are welcome unequivocally to call on Him.
This is the second phrase included in the verse and that is to call in Him. Joel uses the Hebrew expression "to call" and it basically means to summons G-ds aid. To have this done is for the person calling to have come to a place of understanding of who we are and who G-d is. It is place of humility, divine sorrow for sins and a desperate cry for help that we cannot bring ourselves and thus are dependent upon the G-d of all. The Greek word used for this same expression is "epikalomeous", and it means to call upon or attach or connect to a name.
Paul has an interesting thought with the usage of words and quotes, he uses it to kind of purport an apologetic response to the superiority syndrome and states not only that the nations will call upon the G-d of creation, but will attach His name to theirs and their name to His. This proves to only slam the door on the pride of each of the hearers of the letter.
May we "all" recognize the place where we are at, that we are all the same and in need of G-ds divine favor and grace. I am no better and am in no way superior to any one, because even the faith that I have I cannot even claim as my own, seeing that even that is a grace.
May we all be humbled in His presence call upon the only one that can deliver us from ourselves, the Lord Jesus Messiah. Amen.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Confession of the repentent

The bent of my heart is to conceal,but the desire of my heart is to confess. I am a liar; deceiver; one who lashes out in anger; one who is selfish and desires my pleasure above all. I have taken what was not mine, I guess that makes me a thief. My eyes lust for what is not mine and horded what I thought I could have all to my self. With all this coming forth from my mouth(hands), what remains is an empty shell of a person wanting the breath from heaven to give real life with nothing to boast of except The King of Heaven to accept and receive this sinful man and make me clean.
In Proverbs 28:13 is is written;"He that covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes shall have mercy." This is the idea of concealing ones sins and trying to cover them up. It is for the one who confesses, that is, acknowledge in thought and in deed(repentance) toward G-d, coupled with belief in the Lord Jesus that there is salvation.
Romans 10:9-10;" ....that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that G-d raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
I must confess here as I try to get into Pauls head,that I am just trying to figure out what he meant by belief and confession. Is it the mental ascent of knowledge and just preferring some creed? Or is there more to this idea that has been lost in translation over the past 2000 years?
Paul through out the letter has been trying to get his readers to turn from pride and back to the one he preached, or to the one they had heard from someone else preaching. He appeals to the death of Jesus and his purpose, ultimately revealed in his resurrection, in hopes that it would cause the hearts of his readers to turn back in humility to their G-d. It is in the universal message that all men fall short of G-ds glory and through belief, that is, the message that pierces the heart and causes one to recognize G-ds greatness and our own falleness and thus thrusts us towards the message conveyed.
Following side by side, belief and confession clasp hands together and the relationship between G-d and man is restored. Like David relationship with G-d after his confrontation from Nathan the prophet; his joy of his salvation was restored, even though there were horrible reprocutions for his terrible actions.
Once again in Pauls' strong belief in Jesus as Messiah, the central part of his message, is putting faith into the Lord Jesus. This is his focal point, for all to turn back and to G-d though the power of the resurrection of Jesus.
I think it is important to comment on this part of Pauls' thinking here(at least it is for me). It is not just "believing in Jesus" to be saved that makes up the bulk of this letter or the gospel for that matter. The whole message, whether it is taught by the pen of Paul, James, Peter a message of explanation, proclamation, exhortation and invitation and exponentially to bow to the command of G-d himself.
"For with the heart one believes unto righteousness..."
Paul springs off of his use of Abrahams favor with G-d(chp.4) to make his point stand firm. It was Abraham believing the physically impossible to be possible with omnipotent G-d he had come to know. It is the believing in G-ds promises that this becomes a sweet smelling aroma of the sacrifice of what Abraham could not do. It is faith accompanied by the humility of confession that we place our disbelief, disillusionment, dashed dreams and hopes, our sinfulness and pride and lay them upon the alter of sacrifice to be burned. What is left after the sacrificing of these things is the wonderful gift of new life, new beliefs; perspectives; new hopes and dreams and a G-d that is pleased that you believe in Him and His Son.
This is the power of confession and the wonder of belief. It is not an easy believe-ism and it is not a belief that is prideful, but humble and willing to walk side by side with another. It the glory of faith and belief which allows us to never lift self up so as to overshadow another but step out of the way to lift up another so as to glorify the giver of all good.
Lord forgive me of my sin and accept my confession of my own pride which separates me from you who alone is worthy of boasting. Amen.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A little more Commentary

Continuing on with commenting on my views Romans 10.
Jesus' life was filled with obedience to Torah, but not with just obedience; with an applied sense of the principles of love for G-d through the Torah.
As far as my reading of the gospels, I have never found Jesus to be guilty of breaking or violating G-ds Torah. Jesus did however challenge certain views and practices. Jesus after all did not come to abolish the Torah, but to fulfill.
To expand a little on v.4 which reads;"For Christ is the goal of the Law for righteousness to everyone that believes .", is to say that Jesus exemplified, lived out and demonstrated the righteousness that G-d desired. He showed compassion for those that needed compassion; love when none else would demonstrate it; rebuke when someone needed to be corrected theologically or just in practice.
Paul uses the word "telos" for the word most often translated as the 'end' of the law. I think there is a word that conveys the thought much better here which I have already chosen to insert. Telos means full performance; perfect discharge; fulfillment; realization or goal; an end attained or a closing act.
The idea that is read through the N.T.; especially the gospels is that Jesus walked successfully the paradox of religious duty and a living faith; thus attaining the 'Telos"; the goal of full performance.
Thus if Jesus is being pointed out as the object in which one is to look to for example, he is and had become the one to reach for the goal of the righteousness for every one that believes. So Jesus being the fulfillment or goal is the blueprint for everyone. Paul wants all eyes toward his Messiah, G-ds message of salvation to prick the hears of every man and woman to come to in repentance and truly live the paradoxical life of faith and religion.
V.5-"For Moses writes about the righteousness which os of the law;"the man who does those things shall live by them."
At first glance between vv.5-6, he seems to be contrasting the Torah(law) and the idea of faith, but I suggest he is showing how they co-exist together. I want to take a look at the passage taken from Leviticus and then expound for further on the other verses Paul uses. This should greatly increase understanding for interpreting the next few verses.
Leviticus 18:5"You shall observe my decrees and my laws which man shall carry out and by which he shall live, I am the L-rd."
Now to grasp this passage is not difficult, it is to the Jewish community in observance of moral standards in intimacy. Following and observing is for the sake of life, or keeping semblance of standards in conduct. This is not unimportant in anyway, but Paul is setting up the birds eye view of what he believes is missing in the observant Jews perspective. He is saying, "Yes, you are as a Jew, obligated to the keeping of Torah, but......"
VV.6-8"But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, Do not say in your heart who will ascend into heaven?,( that is is to bring Christ down) or, who will descend into the abyss?(this is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? The word is near you, in your
mouth and in your heart"(that is, the word of faith which we preach):........".
This is probably Pauls strongest statements of devotion to Jesus as Messiah and is the missing element that he strongly holds as the missing link in all of this; it's faith.
For the best interpretation of this passage it would be best to read it from the original source from where it came; the quote is from Duet. 30:11-14. I am not going to write in the verses, because of the sake of space, but it reads differently than what Paul has written in his letter. This is what I'd like to look at and comment on.
To simply break down what was being spoken of in Duet., G-d is telling the Israelite s that all the commandments, statutes and the ways in which to walk when they go into the land is not out of reach for them. G-d says it is not hidden from them or distant; that is to say, not some esoteric or you to search after in some mystical posture of find under a rock in a distant place; its' right here. G-d then explains where it is not; it's not in heaven, where only some guru can claim that they have the secrets of G-d. Neither is ti beyond the sea for us so that only some may travel on a journey to obtain and bring back to the masses. After explaining where G-ds will is not , he simply says in v.14 ;"But the word is very near to you. It is in your mouth and in our heart, so that you can do it."
There are two categories which Paul illuminates with the reiteration of the verses with the insertion of his interpretation. In vv.6-8 Paul adds additional words to express the idea of Jesus into the equation;"who will ascend into heaven?(that is to bring Christ down) or who will descend into the abyss?( that is to bring Christ up from the dead)." Paul seems to take a little liberty here for the purpose of practicality in comprehension. Duet. 30:12-13 reads; "who shall ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear and do it? ....who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear and do it?"
The idea of the depth of the sea is here in Pauls usage of phrasing, and it is here to demonstrate that it is not neccasary for anyone to cross such depths to attain this action that G-d called them to do. Paul uses the word abusson, the abyss, meaning bottomless or the place of dead. His choice of phrasing has to be understood in light of bringing up Christ from the land of the dead. Paul has not changed the meaning of this, but has rather taken his readers to the edge of G-ds sovereignty. He is taking his audience to the pinnacle of G-ds knowledge so as to ground their arrogance and humble them in how all men and women approach the Holy.
Paul is stringing together a theological thread into which the weaves a tapestry of soteriological thought into how Jesus is Messiah not only for the Jew but also for the world. He begins to stitch the idea of covenant with "the word is near...". For this terminology is so closely tied to the Jewish faith, they would immediately adhere to and be attentive to respond.
"In your mouth..." This carries tremendous action; for it is the action of confessing. It is an action of confessing sins and an action of confessing Jesus, who is the catalyst for confession.
"and in your heart.." This is the essence of who we are and it is the souls response to something. In this case it is the response to a return to G-d and that is repentance through confession and it must be through the faculties of both mind and heart.
This is Pauls gospel message and he proclaims it loudly;"this is the word of faith which we preach.". This is where Paul and his message are most strongly felt, because he just clears the air of any esoteric meaning of attaining a relationship with G-d by using this biblical reference of reasoning. In other words there is no kind of secret, no amount of dance or ritualism that's involved and is quite simplistic yet very profound.
This keeps with the continuity of the entire letter, he again obliterates the idea of any room for boasting. The idea that someone could plumb the depths or climb into the heights more than another based on genealogy or background of sorts becomes absurd.

That is probably enough until tomorrow.
Just my final thoughts for today on these verses before I sign off. I am so grateful for the wisdom of G-d to offer me, a man of no reputable background, no sacred genealogy or works to which to boast would allow me the opportunity to confess the Savior of the world and come full circle which is inly of and by His grace. Amen and Bruch HaShem

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A little Commentary

I am doing something a little different today in my post than normal. I am more or less posting some of my own commentary on scripture. This is more or less done out of a response to hearing a message this weekend and commenting on the verses used in the message.
This is in no way an attack on the usage of the persons message, but my attempt at understanding the original rendering of the authors intent.
The passages used for the message was from Romans 10:14-15;"How then will they call in him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'".
Without going into what the spoke on or didn't speak on, I will just comment on the passage and come in with my own thoughts on the meaning. I will begin from the start of chp. 10.
"Brethren, my hearts desire and prayer to G-d for them is that they might be saved." V.1
This part of letter is of great importance in the context of understanding Pauls theology, and ideas on soteriology, Israel and the nations.
Paul goes to great lengths using texts from the prophets to make his statements authoritative. He quotes from Lev., Duet., Isaiah, Joel and Nahum. The quotations are not so much for the gentile hearers of the letter, but more for the Jewish audience, because it comes from their own writings, directed towards them.
The first question that I have to answer is, what is Pauls idea of salvation here? Based upon Pauls train of thought here, his use of scripture is the persuasive call to repentance toward G-d and away from their pride. His basis for his proclamation seems quite consistent also with the preaching of John the baptist and Jesus. It was a call for a true form of repentance, acts of righteousness, steeped in faith and trust in the G-d of Israel.
For Paul, salvation comes in the form not just of pronouncement, but comes in objectively in the person of Jesus the Messiah. In Pauls theology, Jesus was the living message that would turn all men back to G-d and making mankind righteous positionally before G-d and set them apart for fruitful work(Ephesians 2:10).
It was Pauls deepest desire to see his people turn back to G-d away from hypocrisy and what he saw as over ritualized ceremonies that kept his people complacent, distant and apathetic to G-d and also the social needs of society.
"For I bear witness to them that they have a zeal for G-d, but not according to full knowledge." V.2
Paul is more or less giving is kinsmen some credit here. He even gives them kudos for the zeal. They did have a zeal, but unfortunately, like most of us, our personal zeal can be directed wrongly, even with pure intentions. They got so caught up in the minutia of details and forgot to practice the commandment of loving our neighbor.
There is a principle soon forgotten with myself, especially when I am steeped in a diligent study, that of what I think is of so great importance, and don't feel the tug at my shirt from my own child wanting to acknowledge her new drawings. My interest in discovering truth has just been lost in the moment I miss this moment of G-d working in and through my daughter.
" For they being ignorant of G-ds righteousness and seeking to establish their own righteousness have not submitted to the righteousness of G-d."
Using the Greek of his day, Paul uses the word "agnoustes", where we get the word agnostic. Its basic meaning is without knowing, or not knowing. For the religious of Pauls day, it was because of a lack of not knowing what G-d truly desired of them. I guess it is easy to get caught up daily routines, rituals and to forget about G-ds righteousness. It is easy because for the human who is frail, forgetful and foolish a majority of the time, spends his days building systems, walls and barriers and fences to protect our self purity.
Paul knew this all to well; for he was at the time of him writing this letter until the day he was martyred, a Pharisee. This is not a negative thing however, but it can become a negative response when seeking ones own righteousness.
Religious life and faith almost seem paradoxical. We can lean so far into the essence of one and almost negate the other. Paul however, sees it the sense that "they have not submitted
to the righteousness of G-d.".
This Paul goes onto explain in V.4;"For Christ is the goal of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes.".
Paul use Jesus as the paradox of applied intertwining truth. If anything, we should let the life of Jesus as recorded in the gospels speak this truth.
This beautiful truth I will come back to tomorrow.
Until the next post, may G-d bless.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Incarnation of Light

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with G-d and the Word was G-d. He was in the beginning with G-d. All things were made through him and without him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not comprehended it." John 1:1-5

This has got to be one of my favorite expressions of G-d; the incarnation of Jesus in human flesh. However difficult this may be to understand, and the insurmountable task in comprehension should not negate the investigation of this sublime action of G-d Almighty. This certainly moves me from the shallow puddles to the deepest oceans of who G-d is and how far His glory will shine so as to deliver the souls of men.
As I was starting this I knew I had to get a clear definition of incarnation. This is one of those words that I think we can become to familiar with and maybe sidestep its fullest meaning. The basic definition of incarnation means, embodied in flesh, or taking on flesh and refers to the conception and birth of a sentient(usually human)creature, who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial.
I found it interesting that this idea plays out in different definitions from varied traditions and religious systems. The concepts can be found in the religious systems of Egyptian cults, Buddhism, Hinduism and Baha'i. However, for the purpose of this posting I would like to concentrate on the incarnation on the biblical and New Testament revelation. I think I will come back to the varied ideas in another post though.
The incarnational idea is wrapped up in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. G-ds light, truth and goodness coming into being within the barriers of time and space is rather staggering. The staggering part of this to me is that a G-d who is so beyond the scope of our small imaginations would actually want to come into our world. Why would a Holy G-d even care to want to invade the air space of our world and share the same blood soaked sod? This might be the most excellent opportunity to explore theology and find out if it is a waste of time or a worth while venture.
The statement in John chapter 1 is that the "Word was G-d", and that this "Word" contained life and this life was "the light of men.". Life and light takes on human form, wrapped in the same flesh as Its own creation. This light would shine in the darkness and ultimately the darkness of the world would not overcome it. Jesus, who humbled himself as a man although being in nature G-d, chose to step out from eternity into the imprisonment of flesh and blood. This is the mystery that everyone grapples with, because it is the mystery of the "true light" which "enlightens everyone."v.9. That is, everyone has some knowledge of the "light" of G-d simply because of the general knowledge of creation and conscience itself, but unfortunately we suppress that truth.
There is what I call one of the greatest pieces of existential lyrical pieces of the 80s performed by the artist Joan Osborn, it was called "What if G-d was one of us?" Here are some of the lyrics;" If G-d had a name what would it be? And would you call it to his face? IF you were faced with Him in all his glory what would you ask if you had one question? What if G-d was one of us?Just a slob like one of us? Just a stranger on a bus? Trying to make his way home?".
This is a person who was(is) really grappling with his/her own existence and that of G-ds. The question really is, if G-d really cares why not try this life out yourself?
I think this is the absolute beauty of the incarnating of Messiah; he did become a sojourner on this earth and was a stranger among brothers. He felt loneliness, pain and suffering. This is essential in trying to grasp hold of a reality of a G-d who cared enough to don wounded flesh and still try to speak and reason with, share and commune with a lost and hurting world.
The author of Hebrews expounded much on this, and here a couple of quotes from chp.2 of Hebrews; "For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.........Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is the devil.......Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of G-d........For he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.".
I believe that this piece of truth of the theology of light most exemplifies what light is. Jesus is light, the ever present light of G-d which is moving vibrantly in this world even today. Light is manifested through the healing touch to a crippled man, felt emotionally by families that had lost loved ones to the sting of death. The living light of G-d is demonstrated through a life touched by that of a salvation of a wonderful savior who took on all of the worst brutality, violence and slander that the world had to give. This light took on the darkness and vanquished it's power in the eternal scheme of things forever
G-d so loved the world he gave His Light!!!!!
May G-d be glorified in my body today and may His eternal Light, Jesus, be praised.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Phosforic Imagery Pt.2

"Bless the Lord O my soul! O Lord my G-d, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment." Psalm 104:1-2

To dwell on the Holy One, the G-d of all that is, can do many things to a person. It can at times be comforting, other times frightening. Sometimes to dwell on the ideas, metaphors and hyperbole's and phrases borrowed only from what the physical eye takes in, becomes frustrating, mind boggling and aggravating.
This aggravation enters into the thinking of a person trying desperately to grasp hold of an invisible entity. It doesn't help realizing this entity has no form, physicality, flesh or blood. Deep within the soul of those who crave the Holy and even for those that do not, there is a gaping hole that wants so much to be filled in.
How do we relate to such a transcendent being? Can we find even a little satisfaction in a veiled understanding through mere words describing the indescribable? I guess if we don't try we will never understand.
There is a picture given from the verse read from Ps.104 that gives us quite the illustration of G-d that may help with our comprehension and G-d and the "light" imagery which was spoken of in Pt.1. The picture given is G-ds attire such as being clothed with majesty and splendor. There is such a poetic conveyance of words that must be understood as just that; a conveyance.
Obviously G-d is not sporting a suit jacket made of majesty or a pair of trousers made from the finest spun splendor with an overcoat of light. So what does it mean?
Taken from the Hebrew language, the words that express majesty and splendor is hod and hadar. Hod means majesty, authority and splendor carries overtones of superior authority and position. Hadar can mean nobility, glory, and often related to the appearance of an object of beauty and that which instills awe from the observer.
When we read the whole of Ps. 104 we understand better what and how all of this relates to The Blessed One. This particular Psalm relates creation of earth in its glorious beginning and even now in its sustanation. It is a psalm of The Lord in action. The psalmist continually uses words like "stretching";" laying out"; "making";"rebuking"; "causes grass to grow" and "he makes". It is a fantastic picture of G-d as the maker, sustainer and creator. His very own works dress up the G-d of the universe in His "manifold works"(v.24).
The apostle Paul in the N.T. Expresses this idea of the invisible G-d, clothed in his works and can be beheld by all peoples of the earth. Romans chapter 1:20 says this:"For His invisible attributes, namely His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, even since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.".
Do you ever wonder why it is that when we are faced with the colors of a brilliant sunset, majestic mountains, a vast ocean, the height of the trees of the Redwood Forest, or a rose, and we are filled with wonder?
In think in these moments of intimate enlightenment we are seeing the clothing of G-d. Everyday we are given the opportunity look upon G-ds best duds. We are given the chance to see beauty and creativity even amongst the chaos that surrounds us, or the chaos that we ourselves produce. It is by G-ds grace that we can still witness this glory through the ashes of sin.
This leads us to the L-rd donning light as a garment. I think we can borrow again from the imagery from Gen.1:3 which represents the ethereal light(non physical) which is the righteousness of G-d. This righteousness or light represents or displays what G-d is all about and it wraps around Him like a garment. The light in which he wraps himself in, is the emanating nature of His own self sustaining being, and this is His essence which is only that of doing righteousness. The putting on of light is the metaphor for that which is the brightest light of all, and out shines that of even out sun.
The garment of light is the essence of G-ds totality seen in His creative acts which go forth as rays of sun which cultivate, sustain and display the clothing of G-d. For G-d truly wraps himself with the works of His hands.
May you L-rd wrap us in your self, into the garment of your presence.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Not so well done

This morning I have come to the revelation of my self in the light of my makers eyes. It is however the view from my point of view.
I remember a quote from a movie between two characters as they talked about G-d, and the one stated;"G-d loves crazy people!", "why do you say that?" asks the other;"because He made so many of them.".
I read over and over in scriptures and also from the lives of others of how G-d loves them so much. It is a beautiful and marvelous thing to hear of someone coming into this knowledge of The G-d of the universe loves them so much. I love the story of Jesus' love for Peter even after the three denials.
The story of the woman caught in adultery is probably one of my favorite scenes of the love of Jesus towards a very lost, confused love seeking person. I can accept this scene for the woman and am thankful for her new life received by the forgiveness of her ways.
G-ds love is amazing, rich, deep and unfathomable. How else could one explain the emptying of Jesus as it says in Philippians 2:7-8;"but made himself nothing, taking in the form of a slave, being born in the likeness if men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."?
Outside of the intellectual assent of these truths of G-d, I am finding it so difficult to accept this love for myself. I will gladly accept it for others and see, even in the worst of people how G-d could care and want to change and deliver them. I just cannot see it for myself how such a wonderful G-d can love, like or even want to be with me.
My greatest fear in this world which reaches into the next, is that I will stand before the G-d who made me and hear the fateful words to this unfaithful servant;"Not so well done, not so good and unfaithful servant." This idea absolutely is plaguing me from going forth in life other than the daily duties.
It has become my state of paralytic dysfunction. I want so much to do something beautiful for Jesus. I want to serve, teach, learn and grow, but it is my fear of disappoints that prevents me from making one more mistake. My mistakes must now stack as high to the throne of G-d.
Yes I know, everyone makes mistakes, but these are my mistakes and my mistakes have affected to many people.
So as I grapple with accepting this love gift from a benevolent G-d, the words come forth in a whisper from Psalm 103:2-5; "Bless the L-rd oh my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your(my)iniquities , who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like eagles."
Oh Lord help me accept your crazy wonderful love for me, Noel, a sinner who just wants to be with his Father in heaven and please him above all others. I hope and pray that I am one of those crazy people that G-d loves so much.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Reflecting Thomas

Just thinking this morning as going through scriptures, and how people reacted to a risen Messiah.
One in particular was the disciple named Thomas. Thomas was the thinker in the bunch chosen by Jesus.
A definite resonating in personalities between myself and Thomas. I am drawn to him more so than the other disciples because of our similarity in viewing the world and G-d.
To draw out a distinction between Thomas and another disciple would be Peter. Peter was the man of many words and outbursts(with and without thinking)and of physical action. Peter was the one on the ship seeing Jesus walking on the water and calling out, that if it was really him to bid him to come. With the welcoming call of the Master, Peter and only Peter left the safety of the ship to walk momentarily on the waves of faith.
Inside the boat were the other disciples, some with fear, unbelief and uncertainty. I can be imagine Thomas however, looking out of the boat, seeing water which will not physiologically uphold human weight. This is the mind of the scientific thinker; this should not be possible, how can water sustain a human being as the surface of ground?
His psychology is drawn out further when Jesus is explaining his departure from this earth. In John 14:1-4 Jesus explains that should trust him as they trust G-d. "Don;t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in G-d; trust also in me. In my Fathers house are many rooms; if it were not so I would have told you so. I am going there to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be with me where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.".
Thomas then says in v.5 ; ".."Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way." There was no registering of the Messiah coming and going and coming back in the disciples minds, so for Thomas, he was not getting this as a thought of having a faith to believe in some future reality, a place of physicality that Jesus was preparing to go. This is why he could he wanted desperately to understand the way.
Jesus explains in v.6: "I am the way the truth and the life...". Thus Thomas struggled even more and we see this more clearly after the resurrection.
Post resurrection appearances to the women and to other the disciples including Peter, John , confirmed Jesus' reality. Thomas however was not there for this appearing. He got the eye witness accounts from the disciples.
First of all, dead men after three days don't rise up by themselves. Yes, Thomas had witnessed Jesus raise people from the dead, but to raise oneself, that's impossible! Listen to his response to the report; "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.".
Now this is a rational mind. This is my mind and my way of thinking. This is not faith but believing on account of evidence. Thomas struggled with the idea of faith in what he could not see and even what he did see, he wanted to figure it out.
As I think of this and reflecting, I can't escape that this is who I am. I can understand the huge stumbling block of having faith. Thomas did not want to be duped into fallacies and fantasies. This is why we do not see him jumping over the side of the boat unlike Peter. He wanted something real and tangible to hang onto so as to move forward.
This is how good Jesus is, he obliges Thomas' request and meets him inside(through locked doors) the house where the disciples were meeting. "Then he said to Thomas, put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.".
Thomas resounds with a statement of complete reverence and worship;"My Lord and my G-d!".
He finally believed Jesus, not at his former promises and declarations but physical proof.
There must be something to learn in faith in the unseen promises of G-d. So much so that Jesus says that ,"Because you have seen me, you have believed, blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.".
Although I am a Thomas at heart, I truly would love to be a Peter, the one to not look at the water, but to jump out and walk on water. To be the one to rush into the tomb and see it empty only to meet the risen one.
Thomas later on according to tradition and some history took his "faith"and walked it to India to preach the word of Living Savior.
G-d is good and gracious, Lord help my unbelief and bid me come. Amen

Friday, July 16, 2010

Phosphoric Imagery

What is Light? This is the question I am working on here.
Even though, according to my family, I am rather wordy when it comes to descriptions, I would have thoroughly enjoyed a simple one sentence description of what light is. Seeing , however there are so many different uses of the word, definition becomes rather broad and wide.
This question for me originally came up in a bible study group I attend, and it was on the beatitudes of Jesus. In the gospel of Matthew chapter 5:14-16 Jesus extends the unbelievable idea to his disciples; "you are the light of the world". An astounding statement that I'm sure they would have struggled with.
What exactly did Jesus mean with this statement of poetic imagery he conveyed? What did it mean to the disciples and to me(us)? This is what I want to discover.
I want to begin this study not with a definition, but with a beginning statement that brought time into being. Genesis 1 says this; "In the beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was empty and formless, darkness was over the surface of he deep and the breath(spirit) of G-d was hovering over the waters. And G-d said let there be light. G-d saw the light was good and separated the light from the darkness. G-d called the light day and the darkness he called night; and there was evening and morning,the first day."
That is GREAT!, SUPER!! What great imagery of G-ds creativity and masterpiece if ingenuity in starting the time clock. And He does it with light. But what light is this passage talking about? If this is the first day of creation and there is no sun or moon, no stars in the sky, for they do not enter existence until the fourth day. What is this light?
Maybe G-d really did create the sun and stars on the first day and didn't flick the switch until the fourth day. After all, plants and vegetation were created on the third day and plants need sunlight and water to produce photosynthesis.
To investigate further on this idea of the first creative act of light so as not to come up with kind of grasping at straws answers.
1. G-d as light of revelation
I'm finding this idea of a theology of light a little deeper than I anticipated. If however there is anything worth investigating time into, this, at least for me is necessary and valuable.
The scriptures repeatedly use metaphors for G-d in images that we can somewhat understand. It is not a full representation of the One True G-d, but rather the language is earthly more so than spiritual terminology. It helps to describe the undefinable essence of G-d.
Light is used in varied terms for G-d, so we must uncover some passages that might reveal this luminous G-d. The first idea of light or illumination I would like to draw from is from the account of Moses arriving at the mountain of G-d in Exodus 3:1-3. After many years in the backside of the desert, Moses, who had fled from Egypt and royalty became somewhat of obsolete from society. He became a husband, father and a shepherd, and yet there remained a light from the past to shine forth towards the future.
The account in Exodus says that" an angel of the L-rd appeared to him in a blaze of fire amid the bush. He saw and behold, the bush was burning in the fire, but the bush was not consumed.".
This is a theological reality that I struggled with as I read this, and that is the idea of omnipresence. This is a word that theologians use to describe G-d in terms of being in all places at all times and that there is no place where G-d is not. With this idea given however, how does the invisible G-d illumine in one place and not elsewhere? If there is a theophany(appearance of G-d), is He no longer present elsewhere? How can this be?
Moses encountered G-d in many occasions, probably more so than others in scriptures. In this first stark meeting is in and by an angel in a blaze of fire. So many question arise in my mind with this statement, such as why a fire?; was the angel the fire?; and why a bush?
So as not to get off track, I want stay with this idea of G-d, the omniscient and omnipresent One, containing himself in the light of fire.
As a kid I remember being rather interested in fires, as young boys are. I remember taking a magnifying glass into the side yard of my house. I would get some paper or some dried grass in a pile and would try setting it on fire by the little ray of light that would be captured through the glass. I could usually only get the paper to start to smolder.
I am trying to understand this revelatory idea of an omnipresent G-d through the mind of my childhood so bear with me. Maybe G-d when He chooses, concentrates his light and radiance like a magnifying glass. He is still ever present and everywhere, but has for special purposes concentrated His light and pinpoints himself for special revelation.
This angel that is spoken of in v.2 of Ex. chapter3 could very well be the light of G-d pinpointed in the blaze. His light is in the lowly thorn bush which very well could be a picture of Israel in bondage. With the presence of G-d, the light of the fire, and thus Israel even though in bondage and exile is not consumed.Moses coming upon this wondrous occasion "saw". Moses saw and beheld this phenomenon . Because of time, distance and maybe comfort had forgotten the anguish of his brothers and sisters in suffering.Through the light of fire, he now saw and it was only because of light that anything came to his mind.
As in the beginning, the first thing to ever come into existence and invade the earth was G-d and is the light , the light of revelation. Light is the illumination of G-ds essence and expression and of his righteousness and goodness.
I believe this is what that first light was; It was the ethereal light of G-d Himself.
And G-d said let there be light.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Find yourself a Teacher

This is a famous saying from the Talmud;"Find yourself a teacher." I believe this to be a very wise saying, because although an individual may learn vast amounts of knowledge and experience, it just might be the missing link to ones life if he/she chooses to become a student again.
I wonder,if one is teaching and instructing a disciple, does the teacher abandon the role of student?
I think probably not. It is with in the sharing of the treasury of knowledge accumulated, whether intellectual or experiential that benefits the learner, but enriches the teacher as well so that he(the teacher) can see just how much he doesn't know. It is kind of like an old phrase I heard a while back; You never know how much you don't know until a child starts to ask questions.
It is the humble calling of each of us to be unprepossessing learners and even more meek and unassuming teachers.
Good night and Bruch HaShem!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Deep River

Just thought I would jot some thoughts that rumble through my mind as I sometimes get lost in the whirlpool of so many relentless brooding and ponderings of my existence.
This is a poem of my own lostness that haunts me even in my being found.

The Deepest River
Blackness surrounds me,
but your love is abounding,
Immersed in the darkness
over swept in its current.
Jesus I know you're
there, help me endure it.
So lost in my thoughts and
have cast my own nightmare.
I'm desperate and anxious,
and a place to turn I have
found no where.
I reach for your hand and I
cannot find it.
My G-d, My G-d, I'm fading and feel
I've had it.
Then the still small voice
comes and says;"Be still and cease
all your warring. For I am G-d the
wonderful and glorious. You are not alone
I'm walking beside you, still and
know, that I am G-d.".
I'm seeking you, but it feels
I've lost you.
Thought for sure you had abandoned.
Feels as though I can barely breath
or stand.
I fall back on the fact that my soul
you have fashioned.
Your ways oh G-d take me through waters deep.
Believe I am drowning, but my hands
you hold and my soul you keep.
I find this amidst the doubt and torrents,
that your promises beg me to sing even
though my spirit feels abhorrence.
In the deepest part of this river,
I find no refreshing within my soul.
Treading in ideas and speculations
so many times loosing sight of my goal.
My insides cry out from my very existence
and begs and questions who am I?
I finally relinquish with the
felt presence of deaths dark night.
I give it up to G-d, and He pulls
me up out of the rivers rush
with His love and might.
Once more the whisper blows against
my dampened brain;
"Be still and know....."

I will keep on trusting and walking faithfully to my G-d and Savior.

Have a good night and G-d bless.


Friday, July 9, 2010

First Blog for the adventure!

This is my first day on my creation on my very own blog. Not really sure what the word blog means, but I have one.
I hope for a couple of things out of this venture and that is to kind of catalog my thoughts, put forth some commentary on theology and listen for feedback(nothing to harsh please).
Don't want to get into anything too deep just yet seeing my youngest is requesting for me to help her with hunting in the fridge.
Well thanks for checking out my sight(or is it blog?).
Thanks, will be posting tomorrow with some thoughts.