Requiem for a Saint

I recently attended the memorial service for a friend.  To summarize his life, he loved people, loved to help others, and loved God’s word, and it showed throughout his life.  Even in his old age, when problems were making it difficult for him to get around, he would go help those in need; take part in Bible studies for people in trouble (drugs, etc); and simply always be available.  I didn’t know him long, but what struck me almost immediately was his attitude of accepting people as who they were, with any and all baggage they had, and his ability to connect with just about anyone.  And he thirsted for the word of God, and was not afraid to ask questions of God, and listen to various interpretations of His word.  He lived a righteous life.

I also knew some of his darkest secrets, yet those did not define the man.  ‘Righteous’ does not mean perfect, but it does mean living one’s life with God in the forefront.  And he certainly did so.  I will always have him in mind when I think about what it truly means to walk as God wanted us to, as summarized in this verse from the Bible: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart; with all your soul; and with all your strength.”

When we encounter such people, or have them in our lives, we typically do not recognize all that they are.  Perhaps that is why God tells us several times that He does not see us as we see others and ourselves.  And I’m fairly certain that people like this do not want recognition.  They live as they do as it gives them joy.

So, George is now with Yeshua (Jesus), but his family is with us, grieving his loss.  Yet I hope and pray that they will take comfort in knowing that they were privileged to know this man who knew how to enjoy life and live for God through his actions.  His fruit will live on for years to come, and it will multiply.

(And I finally learned, during the memorial service, why he had an old school bus sitting in his backyard!)

  • Yosef

Craving God

What do you crave, really?

In Psalm 42, the author writes that as a deer craves or longs for water, so his soul craves after God, even though the situation at the moment may be dire.

What does it mean to “crave after God?”  Interestingly, God gives us the answer in His word.  Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is a key, fundamental passage in Judaism, and Yeshua (Jesus) quoted from it when asked “what is the greatest commandment?”  Yeshua quoted the part that says, “Hear O Israel, The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul and strength.”  Any Jew, then or now, would recognize that verse as part of the entire passage that goes on to clarify what it means to “crave” after God.  The rest of the passage is this:

“And these words which I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates.”  (ESV)

Craving God would have us teaching our children (not just taking them to Sunday school), and talking of His ways and laws all the time, and writing reminders of His law (and grace) on our houses.

And yet when we gather or take a trip with our families or friends, what is our conversation mostly about?  Rarely do I find people who live these words.  Not even in the churches do I find a craving for God.  People would rather discuss anything but His word.   Try it.  At a ‘Christian’ gathering, try to start a discussion about the Bible or even a recent sermon.  You may be surprised at the result.

As one of many examples, the topic of having the 10 commandments displayed in public or in schools has been in the news off and on for years.  When it does hit the news, I often hear of Christians objecting to the removal of the display.  And yet, how many of those objecting have the “10 commandments” displayed in their own houses?  In their churches?  Unfortunately, very few.  We simply do not crave God.

Many crave what is seen as “outpourings of God’s spirit” as a substitute for actually craving God himself.  I refer you to Yeshua’s (Jesus’) words in Matt. 7:21-23 (see this blog post on Matt. 7:21-23, as well as the comments to it).

Many ‘modern’ Christians would call this fanaticism, yet God often calls to us in His word to remember what He has done and said.  If that is fanaticism, then this world needs more of it!

  • Yosef

Knowledge vs Thankfulness

This is the first posting after the “official” launch of the blog, so I thought I’d keep it upbeat.

In our world we are inundated with all the woes of life and our society.  It is often so much that we simply want to retreat and block it all out.  But what should our response be?  God’s answer is for us to be thankful.   Take a look at Psalm 100 or 1 Chronicles 16 or 1 Thessalonians 5:18, which are a small sampling of the places we are encouraged to give thanks.

I often run into people who are down or overwhelmed.  Actually, it happens to me quite a bit.  I remind them (and myself) to remember the things God has done and thank Him for them.  Remembering God’s deeds is even in the “10 commandments” (see Deuteronomy 4:15).  By the way, did you know that the “10 commandments” are not called “commandments” in the Bible, and that they are listed in two places with some very seemingly minor, but important differences?  (See this posting, or the blog tag, “commandments”).

But what about knowledge?  The author of the blog “Help Me Believe” makes an interesting point about knowledge (see his posting about apologetics).  Knowledge is important and of great benefit.  But knowledge alone doesn’t bridge the gap to faith.  Consider the apostle Peter and the others when they were in the boat crossing the lake and a storm came up (see Mark chapter 6).  The disciples of Yeshua (Jesus) ‘knew’ about the recent miracle of the loaves and the fish but they didn’t remember about it or, apparently, give thanks about it.  If they had, perhaps more of them would have “stepped out of the boat!”).

This blog is about knowledge and faith.  The two go together.

To sum up, here is what Jeremiah 9:23-24 says, “Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth.  For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”  (ESV – English Standard Version – emphasis mine).

  • Yosef

Blog Launching

The Perspectives (Discuss-life) blog is active (hopefully)!  One guest author is already active, and there are a few other guest authors lined up.  We’ll see their posts soon.

Some of the topics that will be coming up very soon are things such as the recent supreme court decision to allow the baker to refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple; the ongoing violence between the Palestinians and Israel; and “does God want Christians to keep kosher?”

The one guest author (at this time) is going to be doing a series on his experiences of God’s grace and love while in jail.  The first entry is already on the site, under ‘stories’ (here).  Some of the stories to come reveal some deep truths about faith and life.

Initially, only the blog, articles and stories are active.  The forum will become ‘active’ in July of this year (if I can get the registration issues cleared up).  In the mean time, if you want to join in or start a discussion, email me (use the form here).   (Note: you have to be 18 or older to join in the forums).

Shalom!

  • Yosef

Registration

My apologies to anyone that has registered in the last month.  Due to a high volume of spam registrations, I have had to delete most registrations.  If your registration got deleted, I apologize.  Registration will be back online, with appropriate filters, when the site is officially started in June.   Sorry for any inconvenience.

  • Yosef