Monthly Archives: November 2011

Thankful For Thanksgiving

I find it a pretty easy task to celebrate the majority of our holidays in the good ol’ USA. I work for a bank, so I get the opportunity to partake in just about every holiday you can think of in this country. For me, it’s not a hard sell; you give me a day off and I can make the most of it, I’ll guarantee it! Celebration runs in my blood. It must! Out of all the American Holiday’s, I do have a favorite though, one that is a cut above the rest. This particular holiday is just a tad bit more filling and sweeter in my opinion than the others. It also probably has something to do with this holiday falling within my favorite season, Autumn. The Holiday that I’m most thankful for is Thanksgiving.

My memory of Thanksgiving runs back as far as I can remember to when I was a child and every year, my Mom, Dad, Brother and I would travel about 30 minutes down the country back roads of Northeast Texas to have Thanksgiving dinner with my Grandparents in a little community called Monkstown. The atmosphere was always so warm and inviting, I can still almost smell and taste all the goodness from that old house to this very day. We did this for about 15 years, until they moved to be closer to my parents and my brother and I moved to Big D to be a little further away from everyone:-). We had other family in Monkstown as well for many of those years, Great-Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, etc, that you would very rarely, if ever see if you didn’t see them at either Thanksgiving or Christmas. Example – It’s been 10 years now since we’ve had a Thanksgiving in Monkstown and I don’t think I have seen a single one of them in person since (save maybe a funeral). This is a bit sad I know, but the majority of the family that I’m aware of just aren’t the reuniting type. I share the blame at this as well, but maybe one day this will change.

In 2005, my soon to be wife and I decided to host our first Thanksgiving together with both sides of our family. We both wanted to have family gatherings similar to what we had growing up and since we didn’t want to trade-off every other year we thought “why not bring them over to our house”. My wife is from West Texas and I’m from Northeast Texas, so being in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area it made sense to us for everyone to “meet in the middle”. This inaugural gathering of our families worked out really well as we had a dozen or more family members who are rarely at the same place, at the same time, to get a chance to fellowship together with some who had never even met each other before.

Fast forward to 2012 and we are extremely blessed to be hosting our 7th annual Thanksgiving this year (for more on the significance of the #7 check out my friend Coley’s recent post 7 onto 8). We have always had a dozen or so join us every year and that doesn’t look like its changing this year either. My family has grown by two (3 if we count the dog) since 2005 and it seems we always have a new face or two join us each year to make up for someone else who couldn’t make it this time around. We cherish these few precious hours that we get to spend in this setting once a year.

Starting back in 2008 (minus last year due to a last-minute weather change) we have made the Capital One Bank/Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot a part of our Thanksgiving Day tradition. This is a fun way to “shotgun” start the day with 40,000 of our “friends” from our “community”. In addition to the Turkey Trot, we wanted to find a way to extend this holiday a bit more and have something unique to do with whoever would be free or in town early on the night before our big day. A couple of months ago, Elizabeth and I came up with the idea to have a “Pilgrim Party” the night before Thanksgiving – a throwback party 1621 style to usher in the holiday for us. I had originally sat down to write this post about what this Pilgrim Party might “look” like and then my thoughts were taken in the direction of everything else you’ve read up to this point. The basic idea of the Pilgrim Party is to have an “original” type Thanksgiving meal somewhat similar to what we now call that first Thanksgiving. This would include a brief look at the history, type of dress, menu selections (you might be surprised what they had and didn’t have to eat), games, etc. Lord willing I will get a post out about our Pilgrim Party experience at some point.

For now though, this holiday is upon us. Take the time to reflect in the midst of the prep and business (in a day or two its only going to get crazier for the next month). Collect your thoughts and count your blessings. Be joyful and grateful. Smile big and laugh hard. Have light conversations and deep ones. See to remember, listen well and breathe in deeply your surroundings. Be thankful for others and yourself. Be thankful for someone or many and make sure they know it. Be thankful on Thanksgiving, but not only on Thanksgiving. Be thankful daily. Be thankful to Him Who makes all things according to His will for His glory!

Happy Thanksgiving 2011!

May grace and shalom be multiplied upon you in the name of Yeshua the Messiah!
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Philo-Semitic Puritans

No Christian community in history identified more with the People of the Book than did the early settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who believed their own lives to be a literal reenactment of the Biblical drama of the Hebrew nation.” Gabriel Sivan – The Bible and Civilization

“For the first time in history, Jewish ethical ideas were legally enshrined into the laws of a non-Jewish nation.”  Ken Spiro – Simple To Remember (Judaism Online)

As I wrote about in last week’s blog A Subject So Heavy, I have been reading Michael Brown’s book Our Hands Are Stained With Blood – The Tragic Story of the “Church” and the Jewish People. Chapter 3 is called A Blessed and Beautiful Stream. In this chapter, Brown highlights some of the various denominations of Christendom during the last few centuries that have had “mercy and compassion for the Lord’s brothers and sisters according to the flesh”. I wanted to focus on one group specifically during this Thanksgiving week that has had such a huge impact on our nation since its inception and continues to do so up to this very day. This religious group has impacted everything from our government and education systems, to our religious values and holidays; they are The Puritans.

The Puritans were part of a Protestant movement that became prominent in late 16th century and early 17th century England. Originally, they were called “Puritans” because they wanted to “purify” the Church of England from within, much like their early Protestant counterparts wanted to “reform” the Catholic Church from within (hence the name; reformers). Like with the Reformation though, there was a group of Puritans called “Separatists” who thought the moral guidance of the Church of England was so far off base that they would be better off forming their own brand of “true” Christianity. It is this group of Puritans who we know so well as “Pilgrims”, a name they gave themselves due to their wanderings in search of religious freedom. The majority of those who came over on the Mayflower and set up shop at Plymouth Colony in 1620 was from this group of Puritans. The next year, in the autumn of 1621 is when we have what many historians refer to today as the first “Thanksgiving”.

The rest they say is history! Well, yes and no. There are many different angles and topics to discuss around the Puritan movement and what it has meant to our nation on so many levels. For this post though, I wanted to share some of the quotes referenced by Brown in his book as it relates to the Puritans views on the Jewish People.

Consider the testimony of the Puritans. They sought to go back to the Word of God and to separate themselves from the dead traditions of men. They preached the need for individual salvation and holy living. They helped shape the American colonies. And many of them had a special love for Israel.

Consider these quotes by John Owen, who many consider to be the chief of the Puritan theologians:

“The Jews shall be gathered from all parts of the earth where they are scattered, and brought into their homeland.”

“…. of raising up a kingdom unto the Lord Jesus Christ in this world…it is either expressed, or clearly intimated, that the beginning of it must be with the Jews.”

The following is from Robert Leighton, who was another Puritan theologian and contemporary of Owen:

“Undoubtedly, that people of the Jews shall once more be commanded to arise and shine, and their return shall be the riches of the Gentiles, and that shall be a more glorious time than ever the Church of God did yet behold.”

Now we come Samuel Rutherford, who is the third and final Puritan theologian quoted by Brown. It is said of Rutherford, that he knew “the heartbeat of his Savior” intimately, and “in every way, wanted to bring joy to his Master”. Rutherford knew the Jews were still God’s Chosen People and that they “had a special place in the Kingdom of God.” None other than England’s greatest 19th century Preacher Charles Spurgeon had this to say about Samuel Rutherford:

When we are dead and gone let the world know that Spurgeon held Rutherford’s Letters to be the nearest thing to inspiration which can be found in all the writings of mere men.

In the quote below, Rutherford echos the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 9:3, in that he would be willing to be separated from the Master he loved so much if he could witness this;

“I could stay out of heaven many years to see that victorious triumphing Lord act that prophesied part of His soul conquering love, in taking into His kingdom the greater Sister, the Jews….Oh, what joy and what glory would I judge it, if my heaven should be suspended till I might have left to run on foot to be a witness of that marriage-glory, and see Christ put on the glory of His last-married bride, and His last marriage love on earth; when He shall enlarge His love-bed, and set it upon the top of the mountains, and take in the Elder Sister, the Jews, and the fulness of the Gentiles!”

Rutherford also had the following to say about Israel’s future restoration:

“O to see the sight, next to Christ’s coming in the clouds, the most joyful! Our elder brethren the Jews and Christ fall upon one another’s neck and kiss each other! They have been long asunder; they will be kind to one another when they meet. O Day! O longed for and lovely day dawn! O sweet Jesus, let me see that sight which will be as life from the dead, Thee and Thy ancient people in mutual embraces.”

What an amazing testimony from these men of the 17th century who came to the New World in search of religious liberty and freedom with a passion for Messiah, a zeal for the Word of God and a love for the Jewish People. They are some of the most influential forefathers that our nation has ever known! Undoubtedly, their love for God and His People merited His blessing and abundance showered upon this nation for centuries to come. May it be the same for us!

May grace and shalom be multiplied upon you in the name of Yeshua the Messiah!

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A Subject So Heavy

“Hatred of the Jew has been humanity’s greatest hatred. While hatred of other groups has always existed, no hatred has been as universal, as deep, or as permanent as antisemitism.” 

Quote by Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin from the book Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism

Just recently I started reading Our Hands Are Stained With Blood by Dr. Michael L. Brown. This book is part of the required reading material in the membership class, as a prerequisite to membership, at Baruch HaShem Messianic Synagogue. For starters, this book is a hard read, very hard. Not in its style, but in its content and history. The subtitle is The Tragic Story of The “Church” and the Jewish People. I’m only a few chapters in and the detail of hate, persecution, and murder along with the graphic images that come to ones mind are almost inconceivable and unbearable to even imagine the horrors that have been prevalent for centuries upon centuries between the “Church” and the Jewish People. To be sure, Brown does relate many horrors perpetrated by the “Church” against the Jews, but also broadens the spectrum and discusses Anti-Semitism around the world, in various cultures, in the media, and even reviews the claim that the New Testament itself and even Jesus himself make anti-semitic remarks.

“The challenge for the modern-day Christian reader confronting such a history is not only to absorb and own that history, but also to examine current Christian attitudes toward Jews and Judaism.”  The Rev. Phil Windsor

“The vast majority of Christians, even well-educated, are all but totally ignorant of what happened to Jews in history….and the involvement of the Church.”  Edward Flannery – Catholic Scholar

Michael Brown states emphatically that “The Church must know!” It is long over due that the Church universal, from the top down must be made aware of its history and dealings with the Jewish people. Brown states “Whether Catholic or Protestant – there is blood on our fathers’ hands.” Every last ounce of anti-semitic thought, theology and action must be dealt with, rooted out and repented from in order to bring the reconciliation that is so desperately needed between the Church and the Jewish people. Brown states “It is the Church’s tears of repentance that will wash away the stain of blood.” Brown’s primary subject is the “Church”, which is mostly placed in quotation marks to make the reader aware that the true Church, the biblical Church, wouldn’t have anything to do with anti-Semitism, at least not for the most part, for we know that sometimes whats lurking in the depths of the sub-conscience can betray its counterpart.

Many people may not think that anti-Semitism is prevalent and a part of mainstream society in the world today, at least not in the west. We might have the tendency to relegate it to the pages of history books about Hitler and the Holocaust. Others know that anti-Semitism rages in the middle east with leaders such as Iran’s Ahmadinejad and the Palestinian conflict and yet those same people might still not think that anti-semitic thought is a problem in the west, other than the outer fringes of society which includes those such as the neo-nazis and other white-supremacist groups.

Think again. In the almost seven decades since WWII and the tragedy of the Holocaust, anti-semitism hasn’t just went away or faded into the pages of history books. As maybe most would like to think, our post modern society with all of its technological advances and increased knowledge is not above those of past millenia in morality or its mutual hatred of the Jews. It seems that the past 2,500 years worth of generations seem to have at least this in common – on some level they all blame the Jews for theirs and the world’s problems. As the two articles quoted below indicate, anti-semitism is as prevalent today as its ever been and in fact appears to be on the rise at this very moment.

In a blog post at The Podium from the Boston Globe on November 7, 2011: The Resurgence of Anti-Semitism  By Abraham H. Foxman

Anti-Semitism has been resurging around the world over the last decade. The combination of anxiety over terrorism, concerns about financial stability, campaigns against Israel, and the diminution of the long felt shame after Auschwitz about exhibiting anti-Semitism have led to this resurgence. In other words, anti-Semitism is not a history lesson, it is a current event.

In a post at Communities from The Washington Times on November 5, 2011: Wall Street protest: Is the problem greed, envy, or anti-Semitism?  by Bob Siegel

Communism isn’t the only birth child of revolutions spawned by bitter envy. Hitler also used class warfare to bring about a different form of socialism, not global (as Marx preferred), but national. It was called, National Socialism. That’s NAZI for short, kids. And who were the horrible, devil-horned rich people according to the National Socialists? Jews of course!

Yes, that was the past but it was only a matter of time before such villain casting caught up with America. Once the rich are effectively demonized, sooner or later somebody “connects the dots” equating the term rich with the term Jew.

In New York, the repetitious shout, “Jews control Wall Street” can now be heard. Not to be out done by yelling, protesters’ signs say creative things such as “Google: (1) Wall Street Jews; (2) Jewish Billionaires; (3) Jews & Fed Rsrv Bank,” and  “Gaza Supports The Occupation of Wall Street,” (FRONTPAGEMAG.COM, October 26, 2011).

These two posts are just a highlight and small sample of what you can read in the mainstream news everyday in regards to this subject that is so heavy or should be so heavy on the hearts and minds of all those who put thier trust in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Israel. I plan to devote more than a few posts to some of the various subject nature found in Brown’s Our Hands Are Stained With Blood. In the meantime and going forward from now on I pray that our hearts, especially those of believers and followers of the Jewish Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) may meditate upon these verses of Scripture:

 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. (Genesis 12:3 ESV)

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May they be secure who love you! (Psalm 122:6 ESV)

For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. (Romans 9:3 ESV)

May grace and shalom be multiplied upon you in the name of Yeshua the Messiah!

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