This song has appeared here before, but I am finally releasing the mastered studio version to the public… The story surrounding the song is basically this: my Pastor casually opined in a sermon: “Mary gets a ton of songs about her. Why doesn’t Zechariah get his own song?” I obliged.
Essentially, the song is the entirety of Luke 1:67-79, crafted to work in the structure of a song. I hope that it lifts you up during this Advent season.
A friend recently posted her frustration at a Messianic Jew who issued a press release announcing that his son was missing. She viewed this as “disgusting” and as an attempt to proselytize to Jewish people, adding: “Real Jews do not try to convert others. Messianics are a different story. They aren’t Jews, but they still have some Jewish guilt, so they are afraid to say they are Christians.”
I submit that the reason that Jews don’t proselytize is because they are not encouraged to in the Old Covenant! The Chosen People are not told to invite others in within the Old Testament.
It is a source of great frustration when, like here, I am reminded of how Christian proselytizing is so negatively viewed by many non-believers. Granted, when we Christians go into places where we are not wanted, we are inviting criticism. Still, I pray that folks like my friend, above, can see past our failures as Christians and realize what evangelism is all about.
It is not about telling someone they are wrong. It is not about making another feel badly. It is not about being in your face. It is simply about leading one who does not believe to the one person through whom salvation is guaranteed: Jesus the Messiah.
And, the greatest thing about it all (particularly how it relates to my Jewish friends and Gentile friends)? It is only in Christ where BOTH Jew and Gentile are reconciled! It is Old Testament Jewish dogma that says that only Jews are the Chosen people, but it is New Testament Jewish (yes, it is Jewish) dogma that says that Gentiles, too, can be sons and daughters of God.
So, perhaps the saddest part of this for me is seeing my friends and neighbors who are blind to the love behind Christian proselytizing because although we are called solely to point the finger to the one place where a relationship with God is not an exclusive, members-only country club, we so often fail. The message is and always has been: It is in Christianity where a relationship with God is an open door for ALL!
During this Christmas season, my prayer is that a few more of my non-believing friends can see past the world’s rhetoric and past our failures as Christians and, instead, see the real purpose… and subsequently, the reality of God’s will for all of His creation. In Jesus’ Name!
Ephesians 2:11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
After the dust had settled from the government shutdown, I decided to look into the Affordable Health Care Act myself… specifically, CoveredCA since we are California residents.
I heard the rumors about websites not functioning correctly, and sadly, I was not an exception. After seven or so attempts, where the site stalled just after I successfully signed up on the site, I did a google search and discovered that CoveredCA has a problem with Google Chrome.
Funny enough, all things Apple seem to work with the site, and I was able to use the site without problem using Safari browser on my PC.
I was incredibly pleased with the results and signed up right away.
Currently, my family pays just over $940/month for health insurance through my wife’s employer for two adults and a child (coverage for me represents the lion’s share of our payment).
After reviewing what “Obamacare” had to offer, we have decided to keep my wife and son the same; however, I will go through CoveredCA. Here is why…
The monthly cost for my coverage under the Affordable Health Care Act? Approximately $360/month. And, most importantly, this is without any need-based reduction. This is the standard for anyone who does not qualify for government assistance.
Our total for the family, including my wife/son’s coverage? $440/month.
What are the terms of my insurance? All pretty good.
Details: no deductible, 1 no cost physical per yr, primary care visit copay $20, $40 urgent care co, $5 generic med copay, $20 lab testing copay, $40 xray copay, (HMO) $250 copay outpatient surgery and $250/day hosp stay up to 5 days or PPO 10%, $15 preferred brand drug deductible, $4000 max out of pocket annually
We will be saving $6,000 in 2014. Even if there is a few hundred dollar a month increase in 2015 as was told to me by a friend, this is still a large amount of savings.
So, I say don’t knock it until you try it… and if you currently have solid insurance and have not been told it is being restructured or cancelled, I hope that your rates don’t go up too much.
Why the big savings? I suppose this could be attributed to a few things. One, it could be that we were just lazy to find a much more affordable health plan for our family. Or, two, maybe the Affordable Health Care Act is all that it has been touted to be.
I encourage you to apply and share your findings in this blog post!
The definition of “health” is “the state of being free from illness or injury.” Plenty of quotes today regarding Governor Brown’s signing of abortion bill AB 154 (allowing non-physicians to perform “suction” abortions in the first trimester) that are using the phrase “reproductive health.”
Says Kathy Kneer, CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California: Brown “has always been a champion for women’s reproductive health, and he’s proved it once again.”
Getting pregnant is not an illness. It is not an injury. Find another phrase, please. To blend the phrase “reproductive health” with abortion is downright disgusting, whatever your opinion on the subject.
From a liberal perspective, isn’t a religion that is open to all, that is easy to become a part of, and that is easy to leave behind about as liberal as it gets?
I was reminded of this thought as I was sitting behind two orthodox Jewish guys at a recent Dodger game. They were wearing their yarmulkes under their Dodger hats, and I wondered to myself: could my friend Lance, here, sitting next to me just put on a yarmulke and proclaim: “I’m Jewish!” No, he cannot.
Deuteronomy 14:2, says God:
For you [the Jews] are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
Can my friend Lance, here, were he a Muslim declare: “I’m going to leave my Muslim faith without fear of physical harm to myself and/or family?”
Qur’an (4:89) – “They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them”
Bukhari (84:57) – “[In the words of] Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.’”
What would my friend have to do to become Christian?
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
And who is eligible?
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
I wonder if the religious right realizes that they are pretty “left,” too.
The problem is that Zimmerman’s defense did not use Stand Your Ground. They used self-defense.
The Florida Statute on Stand Your Ground is this:
A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. 776.013(3).
With this spelled out – after watching the Daily Show bit – I wondered this: If Trayvon Martin, in fact, killed Zimmerman in his altercation with Zimmerman, what charges do you think would have been filed against him?
Trayvon’s situation seems to fit well with “stand your ground.” 1) Trayvon met a duty of retreat (a requirement that one must move away if able to do so) because while talking with Rachel on the phone, she testified that he noticed someone following him, but continued to retreat; 2) Trayvon would certainly be justified of meeting force with force, in my humble opinion, being as he was armed with a bag of skittles, and Zimmerman would be found with a gun.
I like to think that Stand Your Ground would have worked just fine for Trayvon. I like to think that charges would never be filed against Trayvon in such a situation. Sadly, I think I’m being terribly optimistic.
Let’s face it. This point that the Daily Show bit, above, accurately makes is this: “According to current Florida law, you can get a gun, follow an unarmed minor, call the police, have them explicitly tell you to stop following him, then choose to ignore that, keep following the minor, get into a confrontation with him, and then if at any point during that process you get scared, you can shoot the minor to death, and the State of Florida will say: ‘well, you did what you could.’”
As much as I want to say that race played no part in the decision, I am having a tough time imagining that if Zimmerman was black and Trayvon was white, that there would be any question of guilt. It’s almost as if there is an inherent, unsaid understanding in our society that a young black kid with a hoodie is reasonably suspicious.
The fact is, by all appearances, Trayvon stood his ground in this case, and he received the ultimate punishment for it when all he was doing was walking back to watch the NBA AllStar Game after buying some skittles and a soft drink. I would say, also, that Trayvon’s standing his ground was very reasonable considering the inherent differences in danger between a handgun and a bag of skittles.
Rachel Jeantel, the first witness for the prosecution in the George Zimmerman case, was on Piers Morgan last night, and I caught a brief glimpse. She was obviously – and understandably – furious at the defense attorney, Don West.
The fact of the matter is that West did his job of trying to eviscerate her testimony, making her look untrustworthy. And, he did his job well.
However, Rachel said something very striking, yesterday, that Piers Morgan didn’t follow up on.
After detailing that Rachel had earlier in the day caught a glimpse of Don West because he was near the same television studio, Piers asked her something to the effect of “How did you contain yourself when you saw him?”
Suddenly, you could hear her audibly kick against the bottom of the interview table, shuffle in her seat, and begin fuming. But, she quickly contained herself.
“He’s lucky I’m a Christian,” she said.
It was right then that I thought: I so wish that Trayvon Martin acted like a Christian. If he didn’t lash out at the stalker but simply continued to the home that was waiting for him, he’d be alive today. And, I so wish George Zimmerman acted like a Christian. If he trusted the authorities, but most importantly God, he would not have chosen to take the law into his own hands and end up mistakenly shooting and killing an unarmed teenager because of his unChristian fear that property would be stolen.
I understand how many of my friends are upset with the Texas abortion law because it infringes on a woman’s right to do what she wants with her body. What irks me is labeling the motivation of such a law as designed to “take away women’s rights” or as an example of a patriarchal society’s attempt to keep women down. The reality is that the motivation is to protect the life of a fetus. No more, no less. I don’t know what happened to the world, but in the last 40 years, we have become very black and white with no understanding of the shades of gray.
My prayer today for the world is that we can have intelligent, fair discourse on these tough issues. I wanted to add passionate to that, but I think it is the passion that gets in the way. If we fail to see the best intentions in the motivations of those who disagree with us, we are a world divided that will eventually debate and battle itself into oblivion.
There’s a scene in the great action movie “Die Hard With A Vengeance” where our hero John McClane is forced to wear an “I Hate N*ggers” sign around his body, in the middle of Harlem, so as to prevent massive casualties via a bomb set to explode somewhere in New York City.
The director didn’t need to do much by way of creating dramatic tension. We, the viewers, knew that this was bad news.
Yet, so many of us Christians volunteer to do the same thing, where we enter into a place for the purpose of spreading the Gospel, knowing of a high likelihood of confrontation with those expected to be present in that place. The difference between us and John McClane, however, is that in our case, there isn’t a terrorist hiding somewhere in New York City with his finger on a bomb’s trigger.
With the stage set, let’s rewind the tape to June 30, 2013. The location? The Seattle Gay Pride Fest. Watch this video of enmity between participants at the Gay Pride Day and a few Christian evangelists and ask yourself: is this the kind of evangelism that Jesus wants us to participate in? Is this the kind of evangelism that is without sin?
As expected, many of my Christian brethren have taken to YouTube to express indignation and outrage. Some of my Christian brethren have sadly used this video to support their hatred for the homosexual community (just take a look at the comments to the video).
In Matthew 10:14, Jesus told His disciples this, to be considered whenever they went to a location to spread the Gospel:
If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.
Notice how it doesn’t just say listen to your words…. “If anyone will not welcome you.” I submit that the minute we go into a place knowing full well that we are not welcome, we are sinning.
Before you scratch your head or start yelling loudly at your computer monitors, expressing your disagreement, I have to ask: Why would a Christian want to enter right smack into the middle of a lion’s den, knowing full well that this will lead to nothing good? When we do this, we cause dissension, discord, enmity, and anger. Guess what the Bible says about these things?
Now the works of the flesh are evident: … enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy… and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21
You see what I did there? I took away all of the portions that we could apply to homosexuals (the sexual immorality bits) so that we can focus on those bits that apply to us when we voluntarily go into these pride parades (or anywhere else, for that matter) knowing full well that we will create discord (when we have already been there, for instance, and already received a substantial amount of dissension, never helping to bring anyone to the feet of Jesus, but only satisfying our flesh).
Why do I say satisfying the flesh? Who was filming here? Those who were with the folks evangelizing. How many street preachers do we see on YouTube who film their preaching? Granted, you might say that they film because they want evidence to protect themselves in the event that they are attacked.
But, this leads me to two thoughts: (1) If you start your evangelism with a camera because you know of a high likelihood of attack/dissension, you are proving foreknowledge of the sin; and (2) why do I see so many videos from street preachers on YouTube that are uploaded when they did not receive physical attack? Satisfaction of the flesh.
God, in Galatians 5, above, itemizes the works of the flesh for us – those works of the flesh that will prevent us from inheriting the Kingdom of God. Only 20 or so lines earlier, God’s Word says:
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13
I submit that if we really intend on showing Christ’s love to folks like those that attacked these Christians in this video of the Seattle Pride Fest, we should do something loving. How about setting up a chair, sitting silently, and setting up a sign that – rather than saying something like “Repent, gays go to hell!” – instead says: “How can I pray for you?” Or, “Free bottled water.” Or, better yet, “God loves you so much that He died for you. He died for me, too. How about a hug?”
Certainly, I think such a Christian is still, potentially, going to cause another person to stumble, and this is sinful. However, I believe that this is more an expression of the kind of love that God has for all of us… the kind of love God showed to us when He led us to repentance and to His feet. After all, Jesus is our model of conduct, and there is not one time in the Bible that he put pen to papayrus and entered into a lion’s den believing that this would convert people to the Way.
Jesus knows best. We should know better. We should love better.
Los Angeles Attorney Rob Reed had life all figured out until he was asked (numerous times) by a neighbor to play guitar in a Christian worship band at LIFEhouse. His friend wouldn't take "But, I'm Jewish" as an excuse, so Rob relented. Eleven months later, Rob was a baptised Christian. Six years later, he is writing songs for God, and now leads the worship band that he was originally invited to play in as a non-believer.
God is cool like that.
"Rob is a lawyer. Maybe he should think about singing his opening arguments." - Carlos Whittaker, Blogger and Christian Musician
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