Are You Hip or Hip Replacement

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A Child of the 60’s speaks out!

As a child of the 60’s, I grew up listening to the music of the great protest artists such as Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel and Barry McGuire. Later in the 70s I became a fan of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and in the 80’s the group called Kansas. Each of these groups somehow seems to reflect the collective consciousness of my generation. If you haven’t caught on yet I was a hippie, a child of the 60s, a bona fide flower child of the love generation. One of the unique things about my generation was idealism. The idea, that very powerful idea of doing something collectively wonderful drove us to protest against the war and against “the man”. In that day, “the man” was the collective culprit of self-centeredness. My generation was also the time of the Jesus movement. It was a time in which a number of young Jewish people began to seek out spirituality in order to define themselves by something greater than themselves. Some went to live in communes, while others traveled the world seeking a teacher, and for us who were poor, we had dreams of San Francisco.

 

In my 20s I was groovy. I drove a Volkswagen convertible while wearing a long robe and dark sunglasses. I wasn’t cool, I was groovy! In my search for identity and idealism, I, like many others found Yeshua. Shortly after that my first wife now of blessed memory also found her place in the universe through Yeshua. We were groovy, we were cool, and we were saved! However, far more important than being groove and counter culture we knew who we were and what we were by faith. We were Jews who believed.

 

We were a generation that wanted to do something great for the collective, to help them rise above it all. We were young idealists who were saved, and to quote the Blues Brothers “We were on a mission from God!”

 

Nonetheless, time does not stand still and for many of those young idealists of the 60’s, the reality of the real world slowly came flooding in. So the idealistic dreams of many from my generation fall on the soft ground of capitalism and narcissism and disappeared. Yet, there are a few of us who found ourselves and our purpose through faith and we have struggled and maintained our idealism and our identity by our faith.

 

Sadness comes when we realize that many of my generation became the new essence of “the man”. What happen to the idealist of my generation, where have they all gone? Does this mean that I am getting old because I am asking these questions? Have we become like that song from Kansas “Dust in the Wind”? You know the words “Same OLD SONG nothing last forever but the earth and sky”.

 

I recently was talking to my grandson and he used the phrase “back in your generation” it was so and so or it was like this or that. I thought about what he said…but not much, because what struck me was, “back in your generation” what does that mean? Does that mean that I am old and he is young or maybe he is under the impression that older people are antiquated? Now I have spent some time (but not a lot) thinking about his statement and he is partially right. When we are no longer relevant we become antiquated. When we quit being current and when we quit dreaming we cease to be that generation of idealist. A generation without idealist who are driven by faith condemns our children to become the generation of narcissism. The truth remains that many of our children who have grown up in the synagogue or in the church and have left their faith behind because of the loss of dreamers and idealist to follow thus, leaving them to fall on the fertile ground of narcissism.

 

Yet do not think all is lost because there are still young idealist and dreamers still out there, those who believe they can make a difference and change the world and all they need is for “us the believing idealist” to guide them and teach them. Understand you are only antiquated when you are not relevant. My grandson was only partially right because as long as we live and teach while maintaining our dreams, it is still OUR generation.

 

Still, the question in my mind is, do any of us remember who we are, or what we believe? Is everything in our generation today for sale, which includes our ideals, our identity and our faith? There are times I just want to yell out “WAKE UP YOU OLD FARTS, this generation needs you, they need your wisdom, your heart, your ideals to build on.” I have a daughter who says “Dad you used to be part of the hip generation and now you are part of the hip replacement generation”. She is wrong! I don’t need a hip replacement at least not yet! And I am still groovy and it is still my generation.

 

Being a congregational messianic leader for 18 years I have seen people come and go. Some were meant to be only for season and that is understood, while others declare they found themselves in Messianic Judaism. Nevertheless in time, most leave, but not all. Did you notice the part of the last sentence “but not all”, these are your young idealist. Now you Rabbi’s and teachers, you should not forget whose tzitzits these young idealists in faith hold on to…its yours!

 

In this blog, I am forced to confess my confusion concerning those who come to synagogue, a messianic synagogue and after some time leave. I am equally confused when a messianic Jewish person chooses not to live the Jewish life anymore. Can they really become non-Jews?  In both these cases I have known Rabbi after Rabbi who has had his heart broken, but because of his idealism he finds in his faith, he continues to be God’s chosen, to be the servant, to be the idealist to be the teacher for this generation. To that minority of dreamers, vision casters called idealist from whatever generation we may come may it be hippies, punkers, blue collar or suites I say, “Carry on, dream dreams, sing songs, raise hell, be the mutants of our society, but keep the faith and remember,  It’s good to be us”.

 

 

 

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Some Friendships are Eternal

Today is the first day of the year 2016, while some people are making New Year’s resolutions and the news is recounting last years’ events; I am visiting the grave of a very dear friend. It is not uncommon for Jewish people to remember a loved one or friend on the anniversary of their death. We light a candle; give charity, remembering the deceased. I say all of this so that you may have some background about this blog.

On January 1st 2012 I lost a very dear lady friend of almost 20 years who had been part of the church I led and later part of the synagogue, but even more so, a part of my life. My dear friend was unique in so many different ways. It would be hard to explain it all to you, however, let me give you a little background and insight.

Cynthia Rendon was a woman with means who practiced generosity, almost to a fault with her community and friends. Though she lived a very modest life style she had means. She enjoyed the good things of life. To her, good wine and good chocolate was a mainstay for good fellowship and became the tools by which she created fellowship.

My friend was a student of a true Rebbetzin. Even though this Rebbetzin taught many people, she only had two real disciples; this friend was one of them. The Rebbetzin taught her about Jewish life and purpose. She taught many women how to find their inner strength, but only this dear friend learned to harness that inner strength for the sake of heaven. In time, many would fade away and forget their teaching but Cynthia would carry them to the grave. Though many other women where taught the same lessons only my friend held them close and did not depart from them. The rabbis teach that the honor of the teacher is the same as the honor of the student, because together they create a complete cycle. The teacher teaches…the students learn, those who obey become “the teacher”.

Most people would not understand why I choose to celebrate the life of my friend on the anniversary of her death. I’m sure to some in the outside world it seems morbid and that it just opens us up to more pain by remembering. Yes, that’s a possibility, however, today that’s not true. In remembering my friend, I find myself reliving acts of kindness and mercy and love as well as times in which I laugh my ass off at her humor.

So today I will light a candle. I will pledge to give charity.  I will remember and celebrate the life of my friend Cynthia Rendon and today I shall mention her name.  Remembering her is like a fresh drop of kindness that comes from G-d. Today my dear friend’s memory is a single drop of kindness falling into an ocean (world) full of bitterness and for a moment…just a moment the world becomes a little sweeter once again.

 

Yizkor the lost Jewel of Yom Kippur

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With the High Holy Days upon us it is so easy to become distracted with the preparation concerning the brisket and building the sukkah that we can forget the smaller jewels (traditions) that are in the crown of the High Holy Days.  In our ever so modern messianic congregations, most of our people busy themselves with finding just the right dress for Rosh Hashanah or how they will survive the fast of Yom Kippur or how grand their Sukkah will be as well as who will read from the Torah on Simcha Torah. All of this is important yet at the expense of small traditions which may seem less important or at least not as important as the days of celebration. Such lost traditions among messianic’s is Yizkor a time of remembrance of our deceased.

The High Holy Days is all about remembering God’s commandments as well as what He has done for us, that is why we fast on Yom Kippur that is why we build Sukkahs to dine in but it is also about remembering that we have stories to tell about our mothers, our fathers, our zaydah’s and our bubbies, our wives and husbands, the stories of those who touched our lives. These are the ones who made a difference to us who helped to bring us to this season of celebration.  Yizkor says we remember. When done, this normally takes place in the synagogue during one of the High Holy Day services where the names are read aloud.

This year will be the first time in my congregation we will actually keep Yizkor and charity will be given in the name of those who are being remembered. During the Yom Kippur service we will read aloud the names of our loved ones, our mentors (of blessed memory) those that made a difference, we will remember. However, the reading of names is not just a list to be mourned over, no, it’s a declaration of who our fathers, mothers, teachers, our spiritual mentors are. It is a list of names of those who made a difference to me, to us.

In performing Yizkor there are several things which you may wish to do. The first is to ask your Rabbi if there will be a time of Yizkor during Yom Kippur service, if so, give him the name(s) which are to be remembered and secondly you must make a gift of charity in the name of the departed. I personally will give charity to those who promote life and make a difference. My choice will be to support Rabbi Michael Schiffman’s work with Ukrainian Jews (this is only a suggestion if you need one). Now lastly, light your memorial candle and speak the name in your home before the fast begins on Yom Kippur

Allow me to pronounce the names that I remember and give charity on behalf of:

Gabriel Wilson, Marsha Schmitt, Rebbitzen Winifred Marks, Cynthia Rendon, Anna Mae Treadway, Joanna Williams

The True Confession of a Rabbi or How I Won At Yom Kippur

Over the past year and a half I have taken a liking to going to the theater as some of the plays were major productions others were small local theater groups.  In many ways it is fun to go to the theater to see a live production, however, not all the players are real actors in a professional fashion, in fact, some are quite amateurish yet they strive to give their best to put on a good show.

Several months ago I attended a play put on by a small community theater group in Colorado Springs. One of the better actors in this production was a young lady from my synagogue who by nature is a very sweet girl. However, in the play her role was to play a snooty American traveling abroad in the late 1930s but in reality she was a German saboteur who was on the ship to steal secrets and if necessary, sink the ship. There were two things that were interesting to me, the first was Kate (the young lady from the synagogue) was completely outside of her real life character and the second was that she was so very good at being snooty. Needless to say she played her part well and we were very proud of her performance.

Sometimes I think Yom Kippur and the synagogue is like a play put on by a local community theater group where everyone dresses up to play the part. You know… everyone in white and in their Kittles, no makeup and so on. The only difference is a community theater group knows it’s just a play.  I believe that many messianic’s may be working too hard to obtain the right appearance for the sake of the production and yet miss the essence of Yom Kippur itself.  Thus, the drama in our personal lives may go on year after year or play after play unchecked.

I know this to be true because in past years I have seen actors, good and bad, become more concerned about the deliverance of their performance than in their deep personal spiritual change and healing. I am sure you have heard it said, “The whole world is a stage and we are just actors playing a part”.  Yom Kippur is not about the production but about change; old things passing away and all things becoming new, in other words, a fresh start through forgiveness and being forgiven. Though our traditions are important the essence of Yom Kippur is healing and renewal, now that’s what really matters.

It’s not supposed to be a “local theatrical production”, but a real life change at Yom Kippur with the giving and receiving of mercy. This became real for me last year when at Yom Kippur I found my synagogue and my heart in a divided state. There was so many hurt and wounded people from the undercurrent that was created by a few.

At that time, a real friend came to me with concerns.  When a parishioner tells you they have concerns it really means, in most cases, it is time to tell you off, nevertheless, not so in this case.  This friend came to me because he was concerned not so much about the undercurrents as he was about my soul.  He saw the toll the bellagan (turmoil) was taking on me.  It had been so long since someone was concerned about my spiritual well-being that it caught me off guard and forced me into a state of honesty. That moment of honesty threw me into a season of introspection that brought about some life-changing events. The people that had been at the heart of the conflict no longer matters as much as the state of my own soul. Like the teachings of Yeshua, what good is it to gain the whole world and yet lose my own soul.  Three days later, I set out to do what was right simply because it was right and not because I wanted someone else to change but because I needed to change, to let go of my anger and the sense of betrayal.

In 2010, several months before my first wife passed away, one evening she turned the television off looked me in the face and said “I want you to know that I forgive you for everything you have ever done and for everything I thought you had done”. Later, after her death this phrase would come to mind and liberate me from all those haunting after-thoughts of failure and the “woulda, shoulda, coulda’s”, that went through my mind after such loss. What I learned from her would be the answer and the pattern for me in keeping Yom Kippur.

So, 10 days before Yom Kippur I started out going to people whom I thought I may have offended and those I knew I had offended. This of course meant going to Roxane first.  Why is it that the biggest pile of crap always ends up on the person we love the most?  Now my approach to making things right would be different than any Yom Kippur before. I started out telling people that I was not asking to be forgiven because that would mean I wanted something from them. Instead, I told them they deserved a proper repentance. So I apologized for everything and anything that I had done and for everything and anything they may have thought I had done. Secondly, I forgave them for everything they had done and for everything I thought they may have done.

Unfortunately, on Yom Kippur, too many people make apologies not repentance in order to unload their burden off their shoulders and heart on to someone else. Yet in reality it comes across as if you are giving excuses for your bad behavior.  In essence, when we give apologies but not repent we may really be dumping our burdens on others.  Somehow I don’t think that is what the Master of the Universe had in mind.

 

True repentance requires only three things; first, is to acknowledge the historical event of the offense, secondly, properly grovel without excuse and third give restitution when required.  Before you think this is one of those “happy ever after stories” let me tell you it is and is not.  Some of those I went to, viewed my approach with great suspicion, in fact, one woman after receiving my repentance actually said “I don’t know, we’ll see”.  In truth, about half of those I spoke to were thrown off by the nontheatrical no-excuse approach and latter would play their part at Yom Kippur and yet latter leave the synagogue.

 

There is, however, a good and proper ending to my story, when Yom Kippur was over I was free, no longer bent over by the burden of those who had made my life difficult, no longer enslaved to playing a role in a cheap theater production. I had found on my Yom Kippur that year what G-d really meant for his people.  So allow me to give a little advice about this year’s Day of Atonement, whatever you do, do for the sake of your own soul, do what is right because it right despite the outcome. Then walk away knowing that you have done something right and good and the results do not belong to you but to G-d only.

Sometimes You Need To Go Home!

20150619_203159_resized_1Have you ever heard it said, “You can never go back home”…well that is true and yet not true. I recently went back to Nashville Tennessee for a family reunion primarily due to events within the last year with my brothers who both had a brush with death along with my own world being turned upside down; not to mention two marriages in the last couple of years which suggested that we needed a “Family Reunion” to reconnect.

When we were just kids we had an annual family reunion at a park in Lebanon Tennessee it was always a great time for us kids. We would get together, eat like fools then go to the pool to swim all day and each year us kids would get sunburned and somebody always threw-up at the pool. Like I said, it was a great time for us kids. However, what I remembered about the adult part of the reunion was just so so…it seemed to me that someone always had a few to many, somebody would get mad at somebody else and so on. That was not to say that the event wasn’t pleasant enough however, someone always got their feelings hurt.

Like most modern-day families, we grew apart over time and the “Family Reunion” ceased to be. In fact, this was the first time in nineteen years all of my sisters and brothers (the five of us) where together at one time in one place. Now there was more than just the five of us there. We had grandchildren, nieces and nephews, great grandnieces and great nephews most of whom I had never meet. In total, about twenty people showed up for the big gathering.

At the family reunion we did what people always do…we talk (brag) about our kids, we spoke well of the dead and revealed our plans for the future. We even shared what we thought were family secrets that in fact everybody already knew. In essences, we tried to make up for all that lost time.

Now I had planned in my own mind I was not going to get on a soapbox and do the preacher thing. I would get up early and do my prayers before everyone else was up. It does not always go as you may plan. There were many occasions by invitation for Roxane and I to discuss Bible, faith and Jesus (that is what they call him in the South). So what do you do when people hand you a soapbox? You honor the Lord our God for such opportunities and speak as clear and gently as possible.

It is true you can never go back “Home” because “Home” can only exists in the present. When we remember our “Home” of yesterday it is with such fond affection, yet we cannot return to it or re-live it. In fact, sometimes even the memory of “Home” can become a stumbling block that stops us from living in the present. It can even rob us of happiness. When we live in the past it is at the expense of today and all the wonder the present has to offer.

So what is the solution? Take those wonderful memories of “Home” and build on them in the present, because “Home” can only exist in the present. Pick up all the scattered pieces and make your idea of “Home”. If need be, start with a reunion of those scattered pieces and build in the present, a “HOME”. If you do this, you will have a “Home” today and your children will have their sweet memories and know who they are and where they came from.

 

Shark Fever

It has been raining on and off here for the last three weeks, the sky is grey, the weather is cold and to me that equals miserable. Now this morning I woke up earlier than usual feeling depressed; there are so many things that seem out of balance in my world. Do you know as stupid as it seems I laid there just making myself even more miserable thinking about all those things that are outside my control?

Later on this morning I realized quite profoundly that I am not like most people. I am, in fact, by comparison an oddball, a dreamer…I don’t fit into the norm.  It’s not that I am superior; I luckily don’t fit the traditional mold. You see, most people are like the great white sharks. Sharks devour everything in their path. They, by nature, are never satisfied even after feeding. Did you know that a great white shark cannot stop moving, they never rest. When does a shark ever pat its belly and say “That was good” or “I am content”? Sad to say, even in our Messianic religious circles most people resemble sharks. Always devouring, and with the smell of blood always moving on and never being satisfied.

So what does the shark story, a rainy days and waking up feeling depressed have to do with anything. You see when I woke up I was depressed because everything was so gloomy and then I started digging the hole even deeper which is so easy to do because all that was required of me was to ignore the good things in my life.

I have two theories on what I am calling “Shark Fever” and why this happens even to people of faith; the first is that we live in a world that supports the mindset that there are only two types of people, the conquerors and the conquered or probably best said as the winners and the losers. Understand the conquerors see the prize, they takes it and move on to the next challenge without ever taking pleasure in what was accomplished. Like the great white shark, they devour and then move on and are never satisfied…they cannot rest. In fact, sharks will even turn and feed on each other in times of distress. The second theory is even sadder; simply put religious narcissism. It’s not about God’s goodness; it’s all about me; as if the plan of salvation was meant to be a contract for my happiness in which God is indebted for.

So what is the cure for “Shark Fever”? It is a basic two steps process, first step: shut the hell up and quit whining about what you don’t have or because the sky is grey. Misery loves company and when you dwell on the things that vex you then you are just feeding the fire of self-destruction.  Second step: open your eyes to what you have large or small, whatever God has given to you celebrate it.  For me, it was realizing that I have a great wife who loves me, two good dogs, a Harley, a new man space (renovated part of the garage) and people who believe in me.

For me, this weekend is a special time of affirmation. It starts with Erev Shabbat dinner where my wife and my daughter are putting on a dinner in order to honor me. On Shabbat I will receive smicha at the hands of a good friend in the presents and company of my friends and community.

Now I am looking outside and the sky is still grey, I could quote Rebbe Nachman of Brelov just to look smart but instead…Little Orphan Annie who would say, “The sun will come out tomorrow, tomorrow…it’s only a day away”.

Life and The Shoes You Wear

Shoes

I was looking in my closet the other day and thought that I must be getting old or…I have become rich. You might ask how I come to this strange arrangement of thought by looking into my closet. It’s the shoes…I have more shoes now than at any other time in my life. I have two pairs of boots, one pair of half boots (you know how it is when you ride a Harley), two pairs of dress shoes, two pairs of sandals, and two pair of house shoes. I must be rich and did not know it! For a man, that is a lot of shoes! Now I know some women measurer their wealth by how many pairs of shoes they have. Several years ago I lost a dear friend to cancer who willed 60 pairs of high heels to a friend of hers. I guess they must have been worth a fortune.

Now I have come to realize that having shoes and wearing shoes are to different things. When you have lots of shoes you can wear them as you please because you have options. When you are poor as I have been most of my life, you have shoes you wear till worn out and then you get new pair.

I remember my first set of sneakers, “Red Ball”. I thought they would actually make me run faster; at least that’s what the poster said. So I put more into my running…and FLASH “Red Ball” did not let me down. When I was a teenager I had a pair of The Beatles boots just like John, Paul, George and Ringo, black velvet that zipped up on the side. My father thought they were gay just like my haircut or lack thereof. When I got married I got my first pair of work boots and I wore them from job to job. In those days I had to become a man having responsibilities and a family. You see, the shoes are a part of the uniform they go with your station and place in life. As I grew older I got a pair of high quality sandals just for my days off. I had discovered “creature comforts”…not everything was about work. I wore them so sparingly that they lasted 12 years! Just a note on worthless shoes “Flip Flops” made no sense to me.

Later, I began my ministry career so I bought “Dress Shoes” it was part of the uniform of the day, because no one wants the preacher or rabbi showing up in a suit with sneakers on…although it was a fashion statement for a while. Moreover, when your kids grow up and leave home, things change and so do your shoes.

Here is a fact of life; most men hate shoe shopping while most women see it as a recreational activity. Ladies start buying shoes and heals later in life. Some believe it makes their legs look slimmer and some believe it is an expression of sophistication. Whatever the reason, men should nod “yes” and get out of the way because their collection has begun.

In life you wear the shoes you have been given, of course I am now speaking metaphorically. You see, shoes tell the story of your life and all its changes. Some shoes are accompanied with trophies while others relate to sweat, tears and hard work. You have heard it said, “You cannot understand a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes”. There is some truth to that. However, the problem is that when the mile is over and you can give those shoes back. No one can completely understand if they have never “owned” or were forced to wear those shoes because they are yours. You can’t just take them off and give them a way. They are yours and become part of the “closet” of your life.

I recently went to Dallas to console a friend who lost his wife to cancer. I looked into his eyes and could tell the shoes he now wore, all new and shiny and yet painfully uncomfortable. Such shoes are so hard and unforgiving they create agonizing blisters. The worst part is that they become a distraction to everything else. You see, I know…I own a pair of those shoes. Understanding the road he must now walk in those new shoes, my heart cries out to the Master of the Universe for him.

Having worn those shoes, I also know and trust the Giver of the Road who comforts the traveler along his. Having traveled along that way, I can tell you what makes a difference…whom you travel with. Some who travel with you are family, some are friends and along the way you also meet fellow travelers struggling with their own “shoes”. They comfort you in your walk and you comfort them. In time, those new painful shoes will give way to the road and to your resolve to continue. They will, in time, break down and someday; yes…someday they too will take their place in the back of the closet. You will never get rid of them because of what they cost you… they are your shoes and they will come back out to be worn on days of remembrance and in time, you will cherish their memory.

Are You Hip or Hip Replacement

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A Child of the 60’s speaks out!

As a child of the 60’s, I grew up listening to the music of the great protest artists such as Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel and Barry McGuire. Later in the 70s I became a fan of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and in the 80’s the group called Kansas. Each of these groups somehow seems to reflect the collective consciousness of my generation. If you haven’t caught on yet I was a hippie, a child of the 60s, a bona fide flower child of the love generation. One of the unique things about my generation was idealism. The idea, that very powerful idea of doing something collectively wonderful drove us to protest against the war and against “the man”. In that day, “the man” was the collective culprit of self-centeredness. My generation was also the time of the Jesus movement. It was a time in which a number of young Jewish people began to seek out spirituality in order to define themselves by something greater than themselves. Some went to live in communes, while others traveled the world seeking a teacher, and for us who were poor, we had dreams of San Francisco.

 

In my 20s I was groovy. I drove a Volkswagen convertible while wearing a long robe and dark sunglasses. I wasn’t cool, I was groovy! In my search for identity and idealism, I, like many others found Yeshua. Shortly after that my first wife now of blessed memory also found her place in the universe through Yeshua. We were groovy, we were cool, and we were saved! However, far more important than being groove and counter culture we knew who we were and what we were by faith. We were Jews who believed.

 

We were a generation that wanted to do something great for the collective, to help them rise above it all. We were young idealists who were saved, and to quote the Blues Brothers “We were on a mission from God!”

 

Nonetheless, time does not stand still and for many of those young idealists of the 60’s, the reality of the real world slowly came flooding in. So the idealistic dreams of many from my generation fall on the soft ground of capitalism and narcissism and disappeared. Yet, there are a few of us who found ourselves and our purpose through faith and we have struggled and maintained our idealism and our identity by our faith.

 

Sadness comes when we realize that many of my generation became the new essence of “the man”. What happen to the idealist of my generation, where have they all gone? Does this mean that I am getting old because I am asking these questions? Have we become like that song from Kansas “Dust in the Wind”? You know the words “Same OLD SONG nothing last forever but the earth and sky”.

 

I recently was talking to my grandson and he used the phrase “back in your generation” it was so and so or it was like this or that. I thought about what he said…but not much, because what struck me was, “back in your generation” what does that mean? Does that mean that I am old and he is young or maybe he is under the impression that older people are antiquated? Now I have spent some time (but not a lot) thinking about his statement and he is partially right. When we are no longer relevant we become antiquated. When we quit being current and when we quit dreaming we cease to be that generation of idealist. A generation without idealist who are driven by faith condemns our children to become the generation of narcissism. The truth remains that many of our children who have grown up in the synagogue or in the church and have left their faith behind because of the loss of dreamers and idealist to follow thus, leaving them to fall on the fertile ground of narcissism.

 

Yet do not think all is lost because there are still young idealist and dreamers still out there, those who believe they can make a difference and change the world and all they need is for “us the believing idealist” to guide them and teach them. Understand you are only antiquated when you are not relevant. My grandson was only partially right because as long as we live and teach while maintaining our dreams, it is still OUR generation.

 

Still, the question in my mind is, do any of us remember who we are, or what we believe? Is everything in our generation today for sale, which includes our ideals, our identity and our faith? There are times I just want to yell out “WAKE UP YOU OLD FARTS, this generation needs you, they need your wisdom, your heart, your ideals to build on.” I have a daughter who says “Dad you used to be part of the hip generation and now you are part of the hip replacement generation”. She is wrong! I don’t need a hip replacement at least not yet! And I am still groovy and it is still my generation.

 

Being a congregational messianic leader for 18 years I have seen people come and go. Some were meant to be only for season and that is understood, while others declare they found themselves in Messianic Judaism. Nevertheless in time, most leave, but not all. Did you notice the part of the last sentence “but not all”, these are your young idealist. Now you Rabbi’s and teachers, you should not forget whose tzitzits these young idealists in faith hold on to…its yours!

 

In this blog, I am forced to confess my confusion concerning those who come to synagogue, a messianic synagogue and after some time leave. I am equally confused when a messianic Jewish person chooses not to live the Jewish life anymore. Can they really become non-Jews?  In both these cases I have known Rabbi after Rabbi who has had his heart broken, but because of his idealism he finds in his faith, he continues to be God’s chosen, to be the servant, to be the idealist to be the teacher for this generation. To that minority of dreamers, vision casters called idealist from whatever generation we may come may it be hippies, punkers, blue collar or suites I say, “Carry on, dream dreams, sing songs, raise hell, be the mutants of our society, but keep the faith and remember,  It’s good to be us”.

 

 

 

Not All Who Wander Are Lost!

The Road Not Taken

Over the last several years) Roxane and I have done quite a bit of traveling mostly by car or motorcycle. In fact, we have logged more than 10,000 miles just on our bikes. In the past I used to travel almost strictly by airliner, you know the routine you get up at the crack of dawn get to the airport to stand in line with hundreds of people just to get through security and then you grab an overpriced underwhelming cup of coffee and pay for it as if you were at Starbucks. I think for many of those years that I was just another drone scrabbling around the hive doing his work. That is not to say that people who use the airport are mindless drones. But it just seems to me that so many people have a cell phone stuck to their ear while trying to slam down coffee and a stale donut.

I think Robert Frost, the poet had it right in his work “The Road Not Taken” (sometimes referred to as “The Road Less Traveled”) where he states that he took the path that was less traveled, and it made all the difference. In fact having been a travel drone for such a long time I forgot just how big and how beautiful this country is and how many wondrous things there are to see and how many unique people there are to meet.

On one of our motorcycle trips to Texas we went through New Mexico. On our way down we met a man who was from Germany who wanted to take his picture with a couple of bikers (us). This guy was wearing a leather cowboy hat, he said he was traveling through the southwest to try to find some “gigs to play” in country-western bars and honky tonks. Oh did I forget to tell you that this German person went by the name of the Colorado kid! What a hoot! While on the return trip my Harley broke down and had to be towed to Roswell New Mexico 128 miles away. The tow truck driver loaded our bikes and we climbed up into the truck the driver introduced himself as Nick an I shared with Nick that I was a messianic Rabbi and within 10 minutes he was shouting, weeping and tell me his whole spiritual life story so the three of us roared down the highway to Roswell shouting and testifying about the Lord all along the way. Since that time we have visited with him on several occasions. I say all of this to let you know that if it were not for the road less traveled this wondrous adventure would have been lost.

The question is why, why would it make all the difference, it’s because of the people you meet along the way. Those fellow travelers, explorers, other anti-drones who by their very presents help to paint a colorful canvas of unique experiences and memories.

Now some times I think that maybe Robert Frost must of had a “Jesus moment” when he spoke of “The Road Not Taken”, is it not almost the same as the statement Yeshua makes in the Gospels of Matthew concerning “the narrow path that leads to life and few who find it”. When I read Robert Frost last stanza to his great work “the road not traveled” I looked back and can appreciate the grace of God that brought me to that moment where everything changed. It is as the poet said:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Second Chance

Picking Up The Pieces

 

 

What is it like to love a dying person? Imagine trying to make each day special, unique, memorable; each day you love more and more and yet each day slips through your fingers and cannot be retrieved. As your love for that special person continues to grow, the days available to you shrink, until you have no more days left. In the end, all you have left is empty hands.

 

No one that is left behind escapes being torn apart by the memories and knowing that the person you loved is truly gone. Your heart reaches a crescendo of devotion and love, and each day you try to hold onto the days that were G-d ordained. Yet in the end, He permitted them to slip through your fingers, never to return, never to be relived. All that is left are painful, bittersweet memories, yet they are memories that you would never want to forget.

 

Now you are left behind to face the turmoil of being caught in the cyclone of past and present, not even sure if you want a future. Yet the sun continues to come up every day and set every night. Even if it is subconsciously, a decision needs to be reached that will finally answer the question: “how will you live?”

 

To move forward is to begin a self assessment. Do you have anything left to give; do you have the faculties and courage to strike out on your own; or do you ever want to trust or even want to love again? The answer to these questions only brings us to the underlying root question, which is whether you will chose to live out the balance of your life in the past or will you chose to go forward into the future?

 

Will you continue to live DWELLING on the things that once were or are you willing to be brave enough to trust the King of the Universe, to step forward into a second life? That second life will begin only when you surrender to the sovereignty of G-d and re-embrace something that you lost: hope. Hope that you will one day love again, and hope that you may one day be loved in return.

 

If you choose to dwell in memories alone, to live in yesterday, then you shall surely begin to fade away. If you choose to go forward and take those blessed memories with you, then you will be able to embrace a second life.

 

Yes, there is a second life. When we came to faith, we spoke of being born again. How is this any different than when we left our old life behind and started a new journey with the one true G-d? This, too, becomes our chance at embracing a second life.

 

The person who chooses to go forward into a second life carries with them those sweet memories. You choose that the memories you have should no longer be embittered by grief. A person who chooses a second life carries within them a revelation, an appreciation of love, and the knowledge of what love costs. The price of this revelation is very high…yet what is the alternative?

 

With second life, the definition of what it means to love is no longer a foolish game which young people play. It can no longer be acts of selfishness that you lavish upon your self.  Love becomes the desire to elevate someone so they are higher than yourself, to be called a friend before you are called a lover, it is to serve and not expect to be served.

 

Blessed is the person who does not shrink back from love or from fear of investing their life again, even with the knowledge that the lessons and pain of the first life could be repeated again. The RISK of embracing a second life, as long as it is with G-d’s help and His strength, will be minimal, and will make living again worthwhile. Yes, you have permission to live again.