Review of Loving God When You Don’t Love the Church, Part Two

Why is it that people who have been wounded in church will still be talking about their wounds years later? Why can people forgive a betraying friend or experience a business meltdown and move on with their life, but if it is a church that fails them, it is nearly impossible to let it go? Have you ever seen this dynamic in others? Have you ever lived it yourself?

-Pastor Chris Jackson
from Chapter 3: Church Wounds
Loving God When You Don’t Love the Church: Opening the Door to Healing (Kindle Edition)

Reviewing Pastor Jackson’s book (Here’s the link to Part One) is my way of attempting to respond to what I am calling a pesky challenge to find fellowship and community (or something) with like-minded believers. I’m not sure such a thing is possible for reasons I outlined yesterday, but since a friend asked me to consider it, I suppose I should.

A couple of days ago, Derek Leman wrote the blog post Gentiles Who Feel Left Out which sort of addresses my current situation but not really.

But first things first. To answer Pastor Jackson’s question, a great many Christians who have left the Church and affiliated with Messianic Judaism and/or the Hebrew Roots movements have lived out the dynamic he describes above. And seemingly in response, Leman wrote in the aforementioned blog post:

I also say to disenfranchised non-Jews not to give up on churches. Many have not tried really looking. Some came from churches with certain labels and assume they can only return to those places. Be more open minded. There are churches, often outside of evangelicalism, whose clergy are better educated (evangelicalism is heir to revivalist Christianity and tends to squash intellectual growth).

That may well be true for some Christians and some churches. After all, I’ve read that First Fruits of Zion‘s (FFOZ) HaYesod and Torah Club materials are being taught in churches. I’ve heard that episodes of FFOZ’s television program A Promise of What is to Come are viewed and then discussed in Sunday School classes in some churches. So it’s apparent that there are some Christian churches that are open to this perspective and to “Messianic Gentile” worshipers.

But I’m reviewing Pastor Jackson’s book through the lens of my own experience, so finding “the right church” and fitting in isn’t the entire solution. In fact, it really isn’t a solution at all.

I feel like I’m participating in Pastor Jackson’s statement of talking about my “hurt” months and even years later, but again, I’m only revisiting all this because I was asked. Also, everything has been resolved between me and the church I used to attend to the extent possible. That doesn’t mean there’s going to be reconciliation and return and, relative to my home life, even if I did return, it wouldn’t be helpful.

unworthyPastor Jackson, answering his own question, says “We don’t expect to get hurt in church.” That’s true. At least in an ideal sense, we expect “church” to be a safe place, maybe the safest of places, given how many Christians see secular society as unfriendly or even dangerous to religious people.

I only perceive church as “hazardous” to the degree that, at least in my own recent experience, what I believe is incompatible with how they define “sound doctrine.” Granted, it was only one church, but I do live in a pretty conservative part of the country and religious views in many local churches are also “fundamental”.

Pastor Jackson says one of the problems is that those hurt in churches are never heard. That is, they never get the opportunity to express their side of the story. That’s not the case with me. I had abundant opportunities to be heard by the Head Pastor and he listened to me at length. Jackson asked how there can be healing without closure. I have closure. I made a very definite decision on what to do in leaving church and why I was doing it. The door is closed. It’s over.

The end of chapter questions have to do with being accepting of differences, carrying around anger, and coming to the realization that some of your hurts may be your own doing.

I don’t think I understand the last question:

Do you know that God believes you can make it?

I’m not sure if Jackson means “make it” in life or “make it” in church.

In Chapter 4: The Other Life, Jackson makes an interesting statement:

Religion has left me parched and dry and wondering if it was really what God intended for me when He drew me into the other life.

By “other life,” Jackson means a life of faith and a personal journey with Christ. I find myself closer to God when I’m reading and studying the Bible (or writing this blog), so my “other life” is lived, for the most part, outside of any immediate fellowship. Although I don’t observe a proper Shabbat, I’m usually able to carve out a few hours to study the weekly Torah portion which often is the most rewarding part of my day and week. It’s the closest I come to the “other life”.

I read this next statement of Jackson’s and realized we conceptualize prayer in different ways:

A few weeks ago, I felt like the Lord spoke to me in one of my morning prayer times. I was journaling my thoughts to the Lord and then recording what I felt He was speaking to me in response.

Is that normal? Oh, I get the part about writing my thoughts down. I do that all the time. But writing down what I imagine God is saying back to me? Isn’t that substituting my personality for God?

prayerI’ve never heard audible voices from Heaven but on those occasions when I thought God was trying to tell me something, it was usually through an unusual set of circumstances. That’s what led me to attend that little Baptist church a few miles from my house for two years. I won’t go into the story, but an unlikely set of events occurred that led me to call the Pastor of that church, set up a meeting, and then decide to go to Sunday services. It was so unusual, I just couldn’t chalk it up to coincidence. I felt as if God wanted me to go to that church as a sort of Tent of David experience.

Either I was wrong and God didn’t want me to go to that church or God did want me to go and I blew it. But I’ll never know which one it was.

The Chapter 4 end of chapter questions address hearing the “other life” speaking to you and what it said, whether or not religious life stifled or accentuated that voice, and taking the road less traveled. Nothing that really connected to my experience.

In Chapter 5: Troubled Waters, Jackson says:

A great feeling of personal satisfaction ensures when we are fulfilling the commands of God.

Jackson surely doesn’t realize what a loaded statement that is in Messianic and Hebrew Roots circles when applied to a Christian. He did connect that to “serving our fellow man” which I felt was encouraging, because much of the Biblical message has to do with loving God by serving people. Tikkun Olam or “repairing the world” after all is the Jewish mission and the Church has inherited some of that whether they realize it or not.

Jackson was raised in a Christian home and has fond memories of church:

I know it helped me. I can’t imagine what my life would be like or what temptations I might have fallen into had I not been raised in a Christian home. Church has always been the backdrop of my earliest memories.

I periodically encounter a “life long Christian,” someone who came to faith early in life and who was raised in a Christian home. When I tell them I didn’t come to faith until I was about 40 years old or so, they are almost always astonished. From their point of view, it is inconceivable that someone could live the first half of their life as a “sinner” and then come to faith. It’s funny that Yeshua and Paul never seemed to have an age limit on repentance.

One of my earliest memories was of my parents being water baptized in a swimming pool.

Just thought I’d toss that quote in there.

Jackson includes a number of other pleasant childhood memories about church involvement. He calls it “a flowing current of life that overwhelms us.”

But a few pages later he says:

It’s happening every day, you know. People are leaving the church by the thousands. They’ve tasted what church has to offer and, still dissatisfied, they are abandoning organized Christianity in droves.

quitting churchJackson attributes this mass exodus away from local churches to people being mistreated, misunderstood, or just plain bored. He wisely states:

They’re not searching for a different gospel or a different God–they just want more of Him.

“Get to know Jesus better.” That phrase was used to promote the Torah Club a few years back. I think Jackson is right. I think a lot of Christians are reading the Bible for themselves and realizing that the Bible doesn’t say what they’ve been taught it says from the pulpit or in Sunday School.

In that sense, people may not all be leaving church because they’re hurt but because they’re “hungry”. Jackson says, “Jesus didn’t come to earth to institute a religion–He came to reveal God.” True. Jesus didn’t invent Christianity, he practiced a normative Judaism of his day, specifically Pharisaism (I know a lot of Christians who would be really upset at that statement). The invention of Christianity only came later, much later.

Jesus did come as Prophet and Messiah to reveal God, first to the Jews but ultimately, to the rest of the world.

Jackson doesn’t want that message to be contingent upon what the local church does or fails to do. But he also says:

God created us to be part of a community, and from the beginning He determined that it wasn’t good for man to be alone. We need the Church!

Well, that “not good for man to be alone” addressed Adam and having a suitable “helpmate”, not religious community as such. Also, I believe in Messianic Days the Church as most Christians conceptualize it, will cease to exist and be replaced by Messiah’s ekklesia (which does not translate into “Church” in English). Messiah will define the correct sort of community/communities for his Jewish and Gentile subjects.

At the end of this chapter, Jackson asked four questions, but only the last is relevant:

Do you think this is what Jesus wanted?

If he means the Church as it exists today, I’d have to say “yes and no”. I think he wanted communities of disciples who would obey his commandments to love God and to love others, doing good, feeding the hungry, giving hope to the hopeless, visiting the lonely, making peace in the home, which many churches do, but there’s a lot that has happened in the history of the Church he definitely didn’t and doesn’t want.

He absolutely didn’t want all of the crimes Christianity has committed against the Jewish people and Judaism. How could he? The Bible speaks of the Messiah coming (returning) to defeat Israel’s enemies and to judge those who have harmed his beloved Jewish people. Imagine Jesus judging all of the resurrected Christians across the ages who were taught to hate the Jews, who were taught that the Jews killed Jesus, who participated in burning volumes of Talmud, burning Torah scrolls, burning down synagogues, who tortured, maimed, and murdered countless Jewish people whose only crime was to faithfully cleave to the God of their fathers, and who died in pain while singing the Shema.

No, that isn’t want Jesus wanted, and in the resurrection, there are going to be a lot of shocked and dismayed Christians.

MessiahI realize this wasn’t what Pastor Jackson meant but his focus and mine are different. He’s talking to Christians who have been hurt by other Christians and who have chosen to respond by leaving community. But when you ask me what Jesus wanted out of “the Church,” I have an entirely different viewpoint.

At the end of Chapter 5, I’m still not finding much of what Jackson is writing that speaks to my own experience. If anything, as good a guy as I think Jackson is, what he has recorded in his book simply emphasizes for me how differently he and I understand God, Messiah, and the Bible.

I’ll continue my review in a few days.

25 thoughts on “Review of Loving God When You Don’t Love the Church, Part Two”

  1. Hungry not hurt. I liked that. James, two things I look forward to each morning; coffee and your blog. When I don’t feel like church I pop in a DVD by ray Vander Laan. Hope that helps. He has great teachings from a Jewish view. Also, his DVDs are produce by focus on the family so they are mainline Christianity. However he has a huge appreciation for the Talmud and Jewish thought. You will be surprised.

  2. It seems to me, James, that you missed a third possibility when, in your assessments above, you wrote: “Either I was wrong and God didn’t want me to go to that church or God did want me to go and I blew it. But I’ll never know which one it was.” An additional alternative is that you “heard” correctly, acted correctly, and responded as best you could to an encounter that demonstrated what may occur even today with a church of well-meaning modern traditional evangelical Christians who could not credit, adapt to, or accommodate someone like yourself who is dedicated to a radical first-century approach to how gentiles may serve the G-d of Israel and His anointed teacher of righteousness and redemption. In doing so you fulfilled a meaningful purpose by which you learned something significant and shared it with your blog readers. Maybe that was what HaShem had in mind for you to do all along. Jonah wasn’t exactly thrilled with HaShem’s assignment to go to Ninevah. Regrettably, your sojourn in that church community didn’t seem to turn out as well; but maybe your blogging about it has had better results.

    In the 1960s, in the USA and in some European locations there arose a number of home-based fellowships that were independent of any church or synagogue. It was a time of radical exploration in a number of matters, and religious topics were not beyond consideration. The ones of which I had any acquaintance were quite intellectually oriented, of which a notable example was the Christian community called L’Abri fellowship in Switzerland, that later included also branches in Holland and the UK, founded by Reformed minister Dr. Francis Shaffer. My own experience in the USA included personal familiarity with two such fellowships, located on opposite ends of one large east-coast city, that were loosely interlinked by means of personal friendships and acquaintances. One was constituted primarily of gentiles, while the other consisted primarily of Jews, which later evolved into one of the first HC/MJ congregations. Both “fellowships” (though neither described itself by such a term) were devoted to a holistic unitary view of the Jewish scriptures, both “old” and “new” (so-called), and the exploration by study and discussion of a first-century Jewish view of the apostolic writings. Members of the gentile group would often join with the Jewish group to participate in their celebrations of various biblical (i.e., Jewish) holidays. In those days, for better or for worse, issues of ethnic distinctiveness such as raised in the Acts 15 passage were not much in view. It was, after all, a time of laissez-faire exploration, and the Jewish group was not orthodox in its outlook or praxis (as might seem obvious by its openness to Rav Yeshua and the apostolic writings). One would not be mistaken to note also the impact that the Israeli victory in “the six-day-war” of 1967, and its implicit spiritual or eschatological ramifications, had on the subsequent formation and outlook of these fellowships. Nonetheless, regardless of their informal nature or whether one was a Jewish ‘havurah or the other a Christian home-fellowship, they fulfilled the requirements of encouragement of, and growth toward, spiritual and religious maturity as Jewish and gentile disciples of the Jewish messiah Rav Yeshua (including the gentle arts of getting his name right, and recognizing just who and what he really was as an Israeli rabbi).

    I cite the above history as an illustration of fellowship or “assembling together” that is entirely independent of any optional or possibly beneficial relationship with an organized religious community such as a church or synagogue. A “home-group” is not solely a captive entity within such an institution, though it could choose to affiliate with one. The “havurah movement” within American Judaism began around that same time, as completely independent counter-cultural communities modeled loosely on dissident Pharisaic and mystical communities of the late Second-Temple period. Somewhat later, some of these modern ‘havurot attached themselves loosely to existing synagogues, in a kind of symbiotic reinforcement of the overall Jewish community. It does appear that some of the current disaffection away from churches, reported by Pastor Jackson, may reflect another generational wave of similar discontent and “hunger” for something better.

  3. PL said:

    In doing so you fulfilled a meaningful purpose by which you learned something significant and shared it with your blog readers. Maybe that was what HaShem had in mind for you to do all along. Jonah wasn’t exactly thrilled with HaShem’s assignment to go to Ninevah. Regrettably, your sojourn in that church community didn’t seem to turn out as well; but maybe your blogging about it has had better results.

    That actually hadn’t occurred to me. I assumed that if God indeed intended me to attend that church, that I would succeed in, I dunno, convincing the Pastor or at least some of the people I interacted with that a re-examination of their traditional doctrine might be in order and a viewpoint in the direction of Messianic Judaism might be a more accurate interpretation of God’s intent toward Israel and the rest of the world.

    I suppose that was rather naive of me and who knows, maybe one or two people began down a path that ultimately will have a positive outcome.

    As you say, everything seems to come back to this blog, so maybe it is a more important component of my fellowship than I’ve previously considered.

    Actually, a small home fellowship would be ideal or a small group meeting at a public place for coffee. Barring that, maybe I should “rebrand” this blog as “The Virtual Chavurah,” although, according to Wikipedia:

    A chavurah or havurah (חבורה Hebrew: “fellowship”, plural chavurot) is a small group of like-minded Jews who assemble for the purposes of facilitating Shabbat and holiday prayer services, sharing communal experiences such as lifecycle events, or Jewish learning.

    1. @James, did you decide to become part of that church based upon the directives for Messianic Gentiles by FFOZ materials? It appeared to me that this was the case, but perhaps you were considering that anyway, and the edict of Chris Detwiler only validated it? I don’t know if you have spoken with other people who engaged in the same experiment. It is a bit different in the world of science than the world of religion, where an, “expert,” needs to have data to promote their conclusion. Was this tactic successful in other cases? I didn’t become a part of the church I was in to attempt to change its character and viewpoint, although I was open about my own thoughts and practices, and there was never a single negative response. But this might be due to Asian culture and its valuation of harmony and tranquility, and I don’t know what went on behind the scenes.

      1. Actually, there were several factors that resulted in my return to church.

        The first was just an internal yearning to be part of a group. I’ve heard of churches that are open to a more “Hebraic” interpretation of the Bible, and I felt that if I could find one, I could have community and perhaps even contribute in some positive fashion. Also, a “One Law” blogger wrote about his participation in a local church and had some positive things to say about it. At one point, he even challenged me to find a church. And yes, Boaz’s book “Tent of David” (ToD) was also an influence. I do have to say that my Mom was extremely pleased when I went back to church, so that was also incentive, if somewhat after the fact.

        I remember writing on my blog and in Facebook, asking if anyone else had “returned to church” and what their “Tent of David” experience was like. I don’t recall getting much of a response. I saw a sample video of Boaz’s tour of the U.S. when he was giving “Tent of David” seminars, essentially training willing participants in re-entering the church or continuing to participate in their home churches in a manner patterned after the Tent of David book, so I know there must be a significant population of people who were or are in churches in relation to ToD. I just have no way to communicate with them and to get some sort of idea of what their experiences were like.

        The Tent of David model, at least as I understand it, is extremely delicate to balance. On the one hand, you must be a good representative of the “Messianic” viewpoint on the Bible, God, and the Messiah, a sort of resource for anyone who is interested. On the other hand, your overall reason for being in church can’t be to change church. I probably could have gone to that church forever, even though some aspects were uncomfortable (Christmas, Easter), but the Pastor chose to directly preach against Messianic Judaism, more normative Judaism, and Seventh Day Adventism, and I chose to publicly blog my response to his sermon. Things went downhill from their.

        I want to also mention, as I have in the past, that my home life also had a significant influence on my decision to leave church. Not that my wife said a word or objected in any way, but I know that my overt Christian associations bothered herd and I suspect she’s happier on some level now that I don’t go to church anymore.

        My decision to go to church and then to leave again is multilayered and can’t be attributed to any single person, event, or publication.

  4. James, I think that I read on another one of your recent blogs that you couldn’t go to synagogue with your wife. May I ask why not? I too am exactly in the same situation as you in the fellowship department and community. I live in rural Oklahoma, away from synagogues or, to use my term, compatible churches. My wife and I have both tried. We are Jewish btw.

    1. Because she doesn’t want me to, Levi. She doesn’t really know how to integrate a “Christian” or “Messianic” husband into her Jewish life and within the local Jewish community. In the context of a group of Jews, she’s embarrassed.

      1. Some Jewish communities have been able to get away with practices that would be considered antisemitic if the tables were turned. Imagine if you felt you couldn’t bring your church friends home because your wife was Jewish. I bet it would be ok if you decided to become a Buddhist, and a Buddhist husband would be welcome at Chabad.

    1. No, not at all, Levi. One of the consequences of being intermarried. When we first wed over thirty years ago, we were both quite secular, so what happened as a result of both of us becoming religious later in life surprised us both.

  5. Another option is that sometimes a place or a relationship(s) is designed to be for a season. I find the practice of preaching at a person from the pulpit to be reprehensible. An honest person would invite an open discussion. But that is what religion is about; presenting one viewpoint and shutting out the rest, as well as creating fear about even considering an alternative viewpoint.

    If I recall correctly, @James’ pastor lived in Israel for a time and considered torah obvservance and converting to Judaism. Since he chose to remain as he was, we could understand that he is so vehemently fighting this is because we tend to valiantly defend those things we are least sure about. Once he made that choice, and because of the ministry he is in, he can’t be put in a situation that forces him to revisit and second-guess his choice. What is dishonest is that he didn’t let you know this upfront. Well, sometimes we don’t know ourselves so well, and a person in ministry has to think of himself as above such pettiness.

  6. Also, I know that certain Orthodox groups have an anti-Christian vibe, and have recently been influenced by antimissionaries, and assume that narrative is true. This is usually not the result of personally experienced antisemitism, but familial history (I heard the stories too) and a parochial mentality that doesn’t examine or explore, “the other,” but rather puts it off limits. Sadly, usually the cost of bonding to one group means viewing another group as an enemy.

  7. @Chaya: Yes, he did live in Israel for fifteen years. Not sure if he actually considered converting or perhaps just living a more mitzvot-oriented lifestyle as a believer. I can never, ever see him forsaking Yeshua.

    I don’t know if I’d call preaching dishonest let alone reprehensible, and in fact, we see sermons being given in the Bible:

    On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered together. And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking…

    Acts 20:7-9 (NASB)

    Apparently, Paul had a tendency to drone on.

    In most churches, the discussion portion of the program occurs in Sunday school, and particularly at the church I used to attend, the Sunday school class I went to directly discussed the sermon the Pastor had just given, so there was the opportunity for feedback. Pastor was never in the class, but several of the church board members always were as well as one or two of the Associate Pastors. Occasionally even the Head Pastor’s wife would be present.

  8. A question coming up for me, today, might be relatable to chapters 4 and 5 (and the whole book concept as far as Messianic thought might). I have an Audible membership, and there was a group of books offered to me at a rate of two books for one credit this month. I picked one that looked quirky (yet possibly interesting) enough. I sometimes listen to books while I’m going to sleep. This one was INSIDE THE REVOLUTION: HOW THE FOLLOWERS OF JIHAD, JEFFERSON, AND JESUS ARE BATTLING…. Sigh. There were aspects if it that were (surprisingly) very interesting to me and made me want to learn more, but then I decided to look up the author, etc. (who comes up in categories of Hal Lindsey, Glen Beck, and so on; oh LORD have mercy). I have, not infrequently, considered going oversees for some kind of work. But whenever I look into the details, it doesn’t seem right. How are we to make “disciples” within all nations when even people who sound messianic-ish are preaching about Easter, Christmas, (if I didn’t misunderstand) “the rapture” and other things I don’t believe? Don’t misunderstand that I’m obsessed with not celebrating the likes of Christmas; I am bothered that when “the passion week” events are related, they have to be conveyed as the Easter story. Of course, that’s an indicator of what the whole venue or atmosphere of the group is like too. [And, besides those more church-proper type considerations, there is the political hate (which, yes, for those of us who know the history, is also part of Church).]

    1. Marleen said:

      I am bothered that when “the passion week” events are related, they have to be conveyed as the Easter story.

      I keep forgetting Easter’s coming up…that is until I drive past a local church with signs up advertising their services. It is said that after every passion play, there’s a pogrom. While that might not be happening currently in our country. Easter has come to symbolize a season when Christians blame and persecute Jews. So while believers only register joy and celebration, not a few Jewish people experience a little anxiety.

    2. @Marleen — I’m curious about what you mean when you lump together with Christmas and Easter the notion of “the rapture” as “things [you] don’t believe”? The first two are extra-biblical inventions, but the third is a reference to Rav Shaul’s observations about resurrection in 1Cor.15 and in 1Thes.4. Do you have some alternative view about what he was describing, or are you rejecting some particular common Christian repackaging of this notion?

      1. I can tell you my take. I always try to imagine how the divine way is often the opposite of the human way. I think most of us here agree that prophecy is focused on Israel, and not, “the church,” however that is interpreted. I believe it is not, “the church,” that is taken away, but the Jewish people are going to be vomited up out of the diaspora nations, and then all Hell will break loose, as there will no longer be blessing or protection left in the diaspora, as in Egypt. At the appointed time, all who belong in Jerusalem will be given a free ride there, supernaturally. I believe i have heard others who have this sort of framework, except the part about, “the church,” not being the good guys. The remnant among the nations that are following the Holy One will, “go with you, because we know God is with you.” I believe there will also be signs and wonders, as in the Exodus. Otherwise, how would one know God is with a people?

  9. I forget about it, too. I think of Passover. And I get out certain things, like a horseradish dish, a saltwater dish, a wine fountain, a matzah tray…

    And, like you, I start seeing trappings of spring from the dominant culture. Oh, yeah — that — I think. How will we communicate?

    1. If you can find a good home fellowship, they are usually far more open and accepting than churches, as there is no pastor to take a proprietary interest, who, “owns,” the members.

  10. Shavua Tov, James — Thanks for posting my translation of Heb.10:23-25, for which you did a fine job of retaining the distinctive typography by which I tried to identify stages of transition: from the Greek text, its transliteration, its literal translation, and my colloquial interpretive rendition of it. In many ways, the ‘havurot and independent fellowships of almost a half-century ago, that I cited from personal experience above, fulfilled the same role of house fellowship that we see cited in the first-century book of Acts. While it is true that it would be more appropriate to reserve the Hebrew term for application to Jewish fellowships, the non-Jewish one that I cited above was also quite Jewishly oriented, as is your blog. In those days we referred to it as a “zoo”, because of the many strange critters (as they would be perceived from traditional religious perspectives) who found a home there. That was also rather a reflection of the prevalent counter-cultural feeling of the era. However, the notion of re-naming your blog as a virtual ‘havurah would likely be more accurate if you thought of it more as the “mailbox” for a ‘havurah.

    As regarding the disappointment you felt about an apparent lack of impact upon the church you attended faithfully though briefly (since even two years may be considered a brief period), I cited the prophetic assignment of Jonah to Ninevah about which he was not thrilled. Another example of less-than-rewarding prophetic assignment is that of Hoshea, whose challenging assignment had to have produced a rather emotionally-stressful home life, though he succeeded regardless to demonstrate faithfulness, trust, redemption, and a host of positive middot. I hesitate to suggest cautiously applying his example to your own home-situation, lest you mistakenly infer that I mean to impute its symbols too specifically to your circumstances. Nonetheless, there is much to be gleaned from his example of patience, longsuffering, and selfless love.

  11. Yes, I figured using the term “the rapture” would be taken as, to put it the way you did, “a common Christian repackaging” — like from the Left Behind series (although that writer didn’t invent that take on it). That kind of notion..

    I do believe Yeshua is the firstfruits who will raise and change others and that the faithful will be “caught up” with him

    … when he returns.

  12. I only meant to bold the word “That” — not the whole sentence — and to have one period after the sentence.

  13. PL said:

    However, the notion of re-naming your blog as a virtual ‘havurah would likely be more accurate if you thought of it more as the “mailbox” for a ‘havurah.

    My comment was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, meant more to indicate that my primary fellowship seems destined to be online for the foreseeable future.

    If you place me, even metaphorically, in the company of Jonah and Hoshea, I’m flattered at being in “prophetic company”. Who is to say what my purpose is and whether or not I’ve been successful at any level. I don’t think we ultimately get to find out until we are judged at the end of the age. Imagine how many Christians across history who thought they were serving God by opposing the Jewish people and Israel (including the modern Presbyterian Church USA) will be shocked to find they were doing the opposite. Consider Matthew 25:31-46.

  14. Chaya said:

    I can tell you my take. I always try to imagine how the divine way is often the opposite of the human way.

    Having read all of that content, I’d have to agree with your assessment. Only the remnant from among the nations cleaving to Hashem, King Messiah, and Israel will not be considered among the Goyim as hostile to the will of God. How ironic to have this conversation on Palm Sunday and knowing next Sunday is Easter.

    There are many good people in the churches who are delighted to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and who are completely unconscious of the dark history every Passion Play has wrought upon the Jewish people. Even now, that history echoes in the collective awareness of Jews all over the world.

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