Category Archives: Religious affairs

Megachurches poor places for formation and pastoral care


”Megachurches
“are poor places for formation and pastoral care”
and tend toward
“addictive dependence”
on their founders..”

~Tim Keller

150 West 83rd Street.jpg

150 West 83rd Street, home to Redeemer’s Upper West Side location

Redeemer Presbyterian Church (New York City) – The auditorium of the W83 ministry center

These were the words of Tim Keller in a recent Facebook post, explaining why the megachurch he founded — Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City — decided to split into three congregations when he retired in 2017.

Keller planted Redeemer back in 1989 with just 50 people, but by 2008, the church had grown to a total weekly attendance of more than 5,000 people to its services each Sunday at venues on the Upper West Side, Upper East Side and Downtown.

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For those who say Jesus words do not make sense

More than once we get questions from people wondering what Jesus meant by saying such a strange thing. We also get several remarks that Jesus said so many strange things, that we should not take them seriously.

All Gospel readers want to understand Jesus’ teachings, but it’s not always so easy! Luckily, a little ancient Jewish context can go a long way to aiding our understanding.

Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenber in his article “When Jesus Does Not Make Sense” looks at such strange remarks of Jesus, like

“Allow the dead to bury their own dead” (Luke 9:60)

which for many do not

seem to make no sense at all.

He also looks at the weird saying

“The eye is the lamp of the body….”

Then, as if this were not confusing enough, Jesus adds,

“So, if your eye is healthy (ἁπλοῦς; aplous) your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad (πονηρὸς; poneros), your whole body will be full of darkness” (Matthew 6:22-23a.)

The most popular way of dealing with texts such as these is to ignore them!

Though, we can not agree with that. We have the opinion that one should look at those sayings in the manner of speaking at the time of Jesus Christ. I am convinced that when we want to read the Old or the New Testament, we should look at those texts as Jewish texts from previous times, when certain idioms and ways of speaking were used. Therefore, one must be familiar with the techniques of Jewish literary traditions.

One should consider the thought-language of the gospels in light of Hebraisms and Aramaisms.

We must be aware that in the Hebrew and Aramaic scriptures there was (is) a lot of use of descriptions. Hebrew has many idiomatic terms that can not easily be translated to other languages; for example בארבע עיניים be’arba enayim, literally ‘with four eyes,’ means face to face without the presence of a third person, as in, ‘The two men met with four eyes.’ The expression לא דובים ולא יער lo dubim ve lo ya’ar is literally “neither bears nor forest” but means that something is completely false. The saying טמן את ידו בצלחת taman et yado batsalahat “buried his hand in the dish” means that someone idles away his time.” [ Bivin, David. “Hebrew Idioms in the Gospels,” Jerusalem Perspective Online. Archived 2007-05-26 at the Wayback Machine]

Furthermore, we should take into account that often those writers use a description instead of going for just one word or term. When reading the Holy Scriptures we should try to come into that way of thinking. We should almost make Judaic thinking our own.

Regular Bible scholars have tried to convey the view of the saying. To this end, they took the liberty of expressing that thought with simple words in the language of translation. In this respect, those who have made paraphrased translations have gone furthest, but have also sometimes taken a little too much liberty by writing things out on the basis of their doctrine.

Furthermore, we should not underestimate metaphorical language or figure of speech, and we should take it fully into account. It is true that by using such language one can have a system of thought antedating or bypassing logic. At the time of use, they might have been very originally vivid images and clear for those who listened to the texts.

Jesus for example uses the terms of the “healthy eye” versus “evil eye” metaphorically.

A man with a “single-minded eye” looks at a God-given path alone! God’s word becomes the guiding light (Psalm 119:105). But the one with “the lustful eye” gets distracted and greedy by coveting the possessions of others. As envy takes root, generosity dies. Then darkness settles in.

This is why we must remember that “the eye is the lamp of God,” so that our eye stays healthy and we always walk in God’s paths. {When Jesus Does Not Make Sense}

If one takes the time to read and reread the text carefully, while trying to put oneself in that ancient language, one will find that the words of Jesus and other prophets do have meaning and significance. In comparison with sentences spoken in the past, everything will become clearer, but then one has to be prepared to do verse and text comparison. Also, reading more than one translation can often bring more clarity.

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Learn something new

Dr. Austin Ejaife inspirit

“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” ~ Christopher McCandless …

Life is filled with a plethora of wonderful things for us to learn. Yet in spite of this truth, there are even more things that we will never know–and this is a good thing, for so much what others try to impress upon us is really not of much use to us on a personal level, and often times completely useless to us as human beings. It is therefore to our benefit to seek out new adventures that inspire the individual within us, and broaden our horizons with new encounters and experiences.

Contrary to popular belief, broadening…

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Life is but a Weaving by Corrie ten Boom

Short film based on the poem by Corrie ten Boom, which she often recited to audiences.

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.

Shot, edited and directed by Brian Reed
Additional photography by Daniel Kandel
Music by Chris Zabriskie

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Requirement of God

In the Holy Scriptures, the Old and the New Testament, God by His given Word, makes clear what He wants from mankind. All the time, God has shown what is good and what man should come to do.

“”And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,” (De 10:12 KJ21)

“He hath shown thee, O man, what is good: and what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Mic 6:8 KJ21)

Jehovah God wants us to find Him, but to do that we do have to do it with proper or good intentions.

“But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find Him, if thou seek Him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.” (De 4:29 KJ21)

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Young Christian pastors achieving superstar status through the magic of social media

Now, thanks to the wonders of social media,
many young Christian pastors are achieving superstar status through the magic of Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and the like.
Many of them are using their influence to spread (what they call)  the ‘good news’ of the Gospel
— or at least their particular spin on it.

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A boundless world with endless tasks & a path of life that feels crushed by an unending to-do list

Spiritually, Judaism has been accused over and over again as a path of life that feels crushed by an unending to-do list.The mitzvot, or God’s commandments, have been construed time and again
as an unending set of demands placed upon the world by God.In Jewish culture, the conversation around obligation created the spiritual attitude to fulfill God’s checklist for us.

The Talmud often refers to one who has performed a religious act as being yotze, or “freeing” themselves from the daily requirements of life in the covenant. The problem with this attitude is that it can boil spiritual life down to a task list.
Instead of focusing on how a mitzvah brings meaning and vitality to my life, I can become obsessed with doing it at the right time and precisely the right way.
In other words, Judaism can focus too much on time management instead of soul management.
~ Emor: Soul Management, Rabbi Noah Farkas

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The World standing on three things – according to Simeon the Just

The Jewish High Priest during the Second Temple period, Simeon the Just also termed “the Righteous” because of the piety of his life and his benevolence toward his compatriots, was deeply interested in the spiritual and material development of the nation.

As a high priest of the Great Synagogue he used to say:

“The world exists through three things: the Law, Service (Temple sacrifice, and today prayer), and acts of loving kindness.”

We live in this world and do have to live with it. To guide us through life in this world, the divine Creator has given us His Word and His Law, or Torah.

Torah signifies divine revelation; either the fact of communion between God and man, or the wisdom so imparted. Though to Israel alone the Torah was given, yet Israel in this was representative of humanity. Intercourse between God and man is fundamental, and without it human life above the merely animal stage would be impossible.

The service; this is the service in the temple, regarded as the worship of God in the manner appointed by him. If one special element in the service be intended, that may be the sacrifices, as a symbol of obedience to the divine commands, or the priesthood as the appointed agency for performing the service.

Maimonides interprets the word in the former sense, and this lends itself better to generalisation. ‘Deeds of kindness’, denote unselfish beneficence in the fullest measure, to cover any good that one person can do to another.

The ‘three things’ which are declared to be fundamental in human life are thus found to be Revelation, obedience to God, and brotherly love. It is possible however that the second term ‘the service’ was intended to symbolise worship as a fundamental in human life, including in its meaning both obedience to divine precepts, and the functions of consecrated ministers. The saying is only true when thus generalised; but it would be hard to say how much of that more general meaning was present to the mind of Simeon when he uttered it.

~ Pirke Aboth, Sayings of the Fathers, 1:2 (Herford)

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Afire — דלק

Tzedek Chicago Torah discussion tossed around a number of ideas regarding God and this burning structure:

  • Our world on metaphorical fire;
  • Climate change and a world quite literally burning up;
  • God communicating via fire (e.g., “The Torah was written in black fire on white fire” — Devarim Rabbah 3:13); and
  • God using fire to get the attention of someone(s) — including a reference to the Burning Bush story (Exodus 3), which is often compared to this one.

Tzedek Chicago Torah discussion also wondered if the fire was set — by God? by humans? — or an unintentional side effect of another action or process.

And who has the power to end it: Is God choosing to leave it in human hands? Somehow unable to put it out without human help? Or maybe just waiting until someone, like Abraham, notices? Somewhere in the discussion arose the idea of God as arsonist attempting to get humanity’s attention.

אָמַר רַבִּי יִצְחָק מָשָׁל לְאֶחָד שֶׁהָיָה עוֹבֵר מִמָּקוֹם לְמָקוֹם, וְרָאָה בִּירָה אַחַת דּוֹלֶקֶת

The root dalet-lamed-kaf — “doleket” in the story above — can carry the meaning of “to burn” or “to kindle” in a physical sense:

  • Ezekiel’s vision in Chapter 24 is pretty wild, but the words expressing it are straightforward: “…heaping on the wood, kindling [hadleik] the fire… (Ezek 24:10).
  • A common blessing says, “…l’hadlik ner shel [to kindle the lights of] Shabbat” (or Yom Tov, Hanukah).
  • In Deut 28:22, people will be punished “with fever [vadaleket].”
  • In Aramaic, as in modern Hebrew, “delek” is fuel.

In some Bible verses, dalet-lamed-kaf also carries a more emotional or psychological meaning:

  • Isaiah says woe to someone “inflamed [yidlikim] by wine.”
  • We find “ardent [dolkim] lips” in Prov 26:23.
  • Jacob was incensed [d’lakta] with Laban in Gen 31:26.
  • A meaning of “pursue eagerly” is found in Lam 4:19, 1 Sam 17:53, Ps. 10:2, and in Ps. 7:14 (King James Version) where we have “arrows against persecutors [l’dolkim].” For the latter, JPS has “sharp” arrows with one of those “Hebrew uncertain” notes, while the New Int’l Version has “flaming” and other Christian translations use “with fiery shafts.”
  • Finally, there are images in Obadiah 18 and Daniel 7:9 which seem to carry a physical meaning of flames plus a sense of burning in anger.

Jastrow’s Dictionary also includes the “light” or “illumination” aspect of fire in defining dalet-lamed-kaf. The entry, in fact, begins with a citation to the above story: “Gen R. s 39 saw a castle דּוֹלֶקֶת [doleket] lighted.” This suggests that perhaps the point — or at least one point — of Rabbi Yitzchak’z story is about illumination of the structure perceived as the individual is crossing. This reading jives with the use of Psalm 45:11-12 to explain why Abraham was told to go: It’s through the individual crossing from place to place, leaving behind what they were taught — and so perceiving this illuminated/flaming structure — that God comes to desire the beauty of their actions (following Rashi on Ps.45).

From Across and Afire

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Life🌼

We should be aware that the religious life is a particular game or contest where we have to reach the goal or finish line.
Many people prefer to hold on the earthly life where an adulterousness and pride in them avoids them to come close to Allah, the Only One True God Who is One (and not two or three).

In that earthly life some leap in the hope Minimum life is nothing but the pleasures of vanity. Few people are willing to set aside the earthly pleasures to come to know the more important pleasures of God.

Let us belong to those who chose to follow Allah’s Guidance and be aware that Life is like a rainfall whose growth charms the unbelievers but then dries out while those who believe in the Most High and count on His forgiveness and well-being do not need those worldly things but prefer heavenly things as they praise Jehovah God and want to be submissive to Him.

 

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Preceding

Be it in May or September: Run the race

Race and Grace

The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong

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Additional reading

  1. Words to inspire and to give wisdom
  2. We are redeemed; we are “bought with a price”
  3. Atonement and the race been bought
  4. Matthew 20 Are you willing to work for Jesus?
  5. Run for the Everlasting Cure
  6. A race not to swift, nor a battle to the strong
  7. Running the battle
  8. Life is like a ten-speed bike.
  9. The Month of May and Running the race
  10. Today’s Thought “A Race in the Last Days” (May 27)
  11. Today’s Thought “There is laid up for me the crown of righteousness” (May 27)

Try to get it!

Black yellow Or white
Each has a right
The right to be respected
The right to be protected
The right to live
And to peacefully survive
So.. Live
And Let live
Sohair
Allah says
Chapter 57 The Iron سورة الحديد – Al-Hadid: Verse 20
اعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ وَزِينَةٌ وَتَفَاخُرٌ بَيْنَكُمْ وَتَكَاثُرٌ فِي الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَوْلَادِ ۖ كَمَثَلِ غَيْثٍ أَعْجَبَ الْكُفَّارَ نَبَاتُهُ ثُمَّ يَهِيجُ فَتَرَاهُ مُصْفَرًّا ثُمَّ يَكُونُ حُطَامًا ۖ وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانٌ ۚ وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا مَتَاعُ الْغُرُورِ
Know ye (all), that the life of this world is but play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting and multiplying, (in rivalry) among yourselves, riches and children. Here is a similitude: How rain and the growth which it brings forth, delight (the hearts of) the tillers; soon it withers; thou wilt see it grow yellow; then it becomes dry and crumbles away. But in…

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