Category Archives: Dogtown

“How can God know?”–Ps. 73:11

12871472_776424932490172_5789234763924058942_nThe outreach season is in high gear as the weather starts to warm up.  Starting with our annual St. Patrick’s Day outreach, we have begun our regular outreach opportunities at the University City Loop, and I am so grateful for the help that our new outreach minister is giving me.

I have already introduced him to you through the newsletter, but I’ll repeat myself now…Rev. Brian Earl was a student of mine many years ago and worked as a volunteer with our ministry under our then evangelist, Rev. Brad Aldrich.  He served a parish for six years, and now has moved back to St. Louis and is serving as a chaplain with the Veterans Administration.  He has transferred to our congregation, and we have voted to call him as our Associate Pastor and Outreach Minister for our local branch here in St. Louis.  He serves, as all of us do, bi-vocationally, raising his support through his work at the V.A.  He has a wonderful wife, Christa, and they are a true blessing to our ministry.  He has already made the connections necessary with our regular volunteers and has had many substantive conversations about Jesus with people that he meets here in Dogtown and up in U. City.  Toward the end of this month we will have a booth in Forest Park for St. Louis’ Earth Day celebration.  Perhaps you’d be interested in volunteering?

Along with the connections that Brian is making, the rest of us keep doing what we do.  Because St. Patrick’s Day was a Thursday, Brian couldn’t be here, but we had 20 volunteers helping us out that day, one of whom was the pastor of a church in Illinois, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, that I met doing a Passover Seder in his congregation.  He, his son, and two of his elders came over on St. Pat’s and worked the day with us.  It is really important to have volunteers, especially on St. Pat’s, because I have to work my “civic duties” as I help pipe the parade that day.  But the place was in good hands, and one of the stories from that day will be in our next newsletter.  But I had an interesting conversation with a man who is just starting to warm up to the name of Jesus and the Christian faith.  He has begun to read his bible, and of course, that reading has lead to many questions that he continues to come to me with.  The most recent of his questions was “Where did Cain get his wife?”

A common objection by people who refuse to believe the creation account in Scripture, Bill is not asking to deny the faith, but legitimately wonders and needed an answer.  What was so fun about this particular question is that I had addressed this with my home-school students, because of the movie “Inherit the Wind” where the question was posed, and we (24 of us, including students, friends, parents and siblings) all schlepped out to Cincinnati for an overnight field trip to the Creation Museum.  They just happened to have a little booklet entitled “Where did Cain get his wife?”  I picked some of them up, and had one for Bill, as well as for others.  We had a great conversation.  I just love it when God anticipates my needs like that!  He is so good.

http://www.BurningBushLCMS.org http://www.ChaivShalom.com

(By the way, I am taking applications now for next year so if you would like more information about home-schooling or Classical Conversations, give me a call–(314) 645-4456.)

#LoveWins…does it?

rainbow-2It would be almost impossible for me to write this blog and not comment on the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding same-sex marriage.  And no, I’m not going to reiterate our church body’s stand on the issue, you can read that in President Harrison’s comments here.

The thing that strikes me is how joyous everyone is over the decision, even those who would not normally be associated with the LGBTQ community.  Here in our own little neighborhood of Dogtown, rainbow flags came out of the closet for a day and flew proudly while everyone went to social media and cited the mantra #LoveWins while they availed themselves of the rainbow overlay that Facebook conveniently offered to it’s members for their profile picture.

The Jewish community proudly got on board as the American Jewish Committee celebrated with a tweet, “For 109 years AJC has stood for liberty and human rights.  Today is a happy day for that proud tradition #LoveWins.”  The Anti-Defamation League tweeted, “This is a great day for Civil Rights!  Happy Pride!  #MarriageEquality for all.  #LoveWins.”  The irony of all of this is that Jewish groups cite the Scriptures for their motivation to support these so-called “civil rights” issues.  One such statement by the Rabbinical Assembly read, “Jewish tradition reminds us that we were all created equally in the ‘image of God’ (Genesis 1:27), and also shows us that marriage is a sacred responsibility, not only between the partners, but also between the couple and the larger community.”

Now its one thing for the Jewish community to stand with perceived “oppressed” groups because they feel that they have been oppressed too.  It’s a totally different thing to bring God into it, and then pick and choose which verses from Scripture that they want to use.  This is the problem with witnessing to Jewish people, and with any people who have even a modicum of Scriptural knowledge.  They hang their hats on texts they like, and disregard texts that don’t agree with them.

Firstly, no where does it say in Scripture that we were created equally.  That is an American constitutional construction.  In fact, the Scriptures are clear that there are many differences between us, and as those who were created, we were created man and woman, yes, in God’s image but with a clear spiritual hierarchy.  And why were they created man and woman, but to be fruitful and multiply, to increase in number…the rest of Genesis 1:27!  What were the rabbis thinking?  Furthermore, marriage is a “sacred responsibility,” as they say, but set apart by God for procreating.  Impossible in a same-sex “marriage.”  So here’s my social media mantra…#GodIsLove, #LoveGrieves.  OK, so it is now off my chest.  Thank you for putting up wth me.

http://www.ChaivShalom.com http://www.BurningBushLCMS.org

Spring Training (no it’s not baseball)

UnknownWith the Spring season behind us, and a moment to breathe before the end of May (my son’s wedding), I thought I’d try to catch you up on things.

Our St. Patrick’s Day outreach was fun, with many good conversations had.  Of course it doesn’t hurt to dress in a kilt, and play the pipes.  People want to talk to you and it’s not hard to steer the conversation to St. Patrick, to spreading the Gospel in Ireland, and to spread the Gospel to them here in Dogtown.  It’s such an easy opportunity to talk to people about Jesus.  And I always have the Jewish people come and ask if we are Irish or Jewish!  That is also a great conversation starter, because often the implication is that the Irish are Christian, and the Jews are not, so how can you be both?  Then I get to tell them that you can be Jewish and believe in Jesus.  By the way, our parade won the Readers’ Choice award for the second year in a row as the best parade in St. Louis.  And our bagpipe band, St. Louis Irish Pipes and Drums, won the award as the best bagpipe band of the parade…and yes, there were more than one.  If you are on Facebook, you can find new Facebook pages, one for St. Louis Irish Pipes and Drums, and one for Congregation Chai v’Shalom.  Come and visit?  I’m never sure what this means but “Like us on Facebook!”

https://www.facebook.com/STLIrishPipesandDrums

https://www.facebook.com/ChaivShalom/notifications/

The Passover Seder season saw me in Chicago, Central Illinois, and of course St. Louis.  Our congregation’s Seder hosted 104 people, several of whom are Jewish, and a lot of children who wouldn’t really dance with me to “Pharaoh, Pharaoh.”  I guess that’s OK, cuz I’m gettin’ too old for that!  Well, we’ll see.

One of the traditions of Passover has become deflecting comments from well-meaning Lutherans who don’t believe that Christians should celebrate Passover.  I say “well-meaning” as I try to put the best construction on it, but it is frustrating to continue to have to defend the Seder as a great opportunity to grow in our faith, and share our faith with others.  I just don’t see why they don’t get it.  One of the great blessings of the season for me was a last-minute invitation to a woman whom I met and found out was Jewish and a holocaust survivor.  She had been rounded up and imprisoned in a concentration camp when she was 8 years old.  Having survived the holocaust, she made it to the U.S., and has lived here ever since.  Her confusion was not so much that I am Jewish and am a Christian, but that I could be a Lutheran pastor.  She came and we went through the Seder and she enjoyed it, had good questions about Jesus, and wants to get together later.  So please pray for her.  We’ll call her Elisheva (Elizabeth) and hope that in her older age, the angel of the Lord would come to her with the gift of faith as we bask in the glory of the resurrection.  Christ is Risen.  Alleluia!

P.S. Go Cards! (OK, so maybe it’s about baseball a little!)

http://www.BurningBushLCMS.org http://www.ChaivShalom.com

Come on in. Coffee?

1280px-Nighthawks_by_Edward_Hopper_1942Our ministry is growing and is experiencing the blessing of growth and some growing pains too!  The congregation that I pastor just welcomed its 41st member.  Many of you have heard me teach on the significant biblical number of 40, which I always interpret as a time of preparation, so with our 41st member, I look forward to finding out what God has been preparing us for!  And our ministry is nearing 40 years old (well 33 anyway), so the years ahead are going to be exciting indeed.

The growth in our congregation has certainly challenged our building.  We have taken out two walls, upgraded the heating system, replaced the windows, and are now in the midst of replacing the worn out carpet that I installed 15 years ago.  It is so nice to have help installing the floors (shout out to my son-in-law Joshua and the rest of the congregation!).  And there has been some talk about removing the wall between the sanctuary and my office to increase that space, moving me to the back of the building into a nice cozy space that overlooks the parking lot.

And I think here’s where I draw the line… .  While as an office space that rear room would be fine, I would miss the exposure to the street that I so enjoy now, especially this time of year when it gets dark so early!

I have always been drawn to Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks.  Standing in the dark, looking into that (somewhat?) cheery lighted diner, it makes me want to go in and order a cup of coffee and a piece of pie, to kibitz with those guys sitting at the counter.  And I suspect that many outside my window see the light and are drawn to come in.  The front of our building, as I have said before, is intended to offer a little cognitive dissonance, a zap in the brain that says, “What’s going on here?”  It is clearly Jewish, with the Hebrew lettering on the window, the menorah (two of them), the Star of David (three of them), and the occasional Israeli flag that I fly outside.  But then there’s the cross (three synodical crosses outside), the mention of Y’shua on our sign, and the fish in the middle of one of the menorahs!  Huh?  Well, at least no one can accuse me of a “bait and switch!”

And twice in the last three days I’ve had great opportunities to share Jesus with those who succumb to temptation and come in.  Jason, a nurse in a nearby facility walked in to explore his own Jewish roots and discovered just how Jewish Jesus is, and today I had the opportunity to give an impromptu Hebrew lesson to Elena, a woman visiting from Mexico City with a Torah in Hebrew and Spanish.  She learned a little Hebrew, a little Rashi, and a little Jesus.  She’s going to come back to practice her pronunciation, and I look forward to helping her grow and share her faith through her Torah.

So, no move for me to the back of the building, and if you happen to pass by, see the light and wonder, come on in.  Let’s kibitz.  I do have coffee, and you never know…there might be pie!

 

http://www.BurningBushLCMS.org http://www.ChaivShalom.com

Gentle as a Dove and Wise as a Serpent

shapeimage_3I learned a little bit about myself the other day that disturbs me.  After all these years in Jewish ministry, I am still susceptible to an Ad Hominem argument.

Jewish people, and I suspect most people respond often with such an argument.  The Ad Hominem fallacy is to attack the individual in some way rather than the argument itself.  This happens so often in talking with Jewish people.

So, the other day, I was involved in a discussion with a Jewish man who was bringing up the article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from last February!  Yes, I know, you’re getting tired of hearing about that article.  Frankly, sometimes, so am I.  But so much dialogue has come out of that little front-page article.  This particular time, as he was confronted with the proclamation of the Gospel and his need for forgiveness, rather than wrestle with the Scriptures, Jesus, or even God Himself,  he chose to dismiss our ministry because we were insignificant “white bread and mayonnaise” Jews in a “small storefront in a rundown neighborhood.”

Now, to be honest with you, I know better than to get into these kinds of discussions.  They are usually fruitless, and best disengaged from so that our time is not wasted.  Usually, these kinds of arguments come from those who are “confirmed in their disbelief” and simply want to engage us so that we can’t engage others who might truly be open to a spiritual conversation.  (That’s why our Aish HaEmeth events are open to “reasonable dissenters.”)  But my pride sometimes gets in the way!  The piece that hit me below the belt was the crack about Dogtown being rundown!  How silly.  Yes, I love where I live, and at 156 years old, it has some wear to it, but it doesn’t need defending.  There’s plenty of people who would love to live here… (Argh, here I go again!).

Steve Cohen was out handing out Gospel tracts at a Monkees concert recently.  In one of his e-mail responses to the tract, the woman used the same argument.  Rather than addressing the point of the tract, she attacked the illustration and referred to the tract as litter.  Nowhere in her reply did she wrestle with the point of the tract, her need for a Savior.

Gentle as a dove and wise as a serpent.  I get it now.  In our witnessing, we need to recognize diversion tactics and be vigilant in sticking to the point.  Let the Scriptures speak for themselves and lovingly lead a person to discover their need.  Being gentle as a dove will open many opportunities for sharing our faith.  Being wise as a serpent will help us use the time we have well!

http://www.BurningBushLCMS.com http://www.ChaivShalom.com

Fifteen Minutes of Infamy

2251_60016908155_7835_nI got a phone call late in February by a religion reporter named Lilly Fowler, who writes for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  She wanted an interview for an article that she was writing about the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and its outreach efforts to reach Jewish people with the Gospel.

My first inclination was to be wary, but, under the rubric of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” I met her for coffee one afternoon.  That precipitated visits by her and two photographers to our worship services on a Sunday, and then on Ash Wednesday.  I truly didn’t think it would amount to much, because, who are we after all?  Well, while I was in Portland, Oregon, preaching and leading a Seder at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Sherwood, the article came out in the paper.  What I didn’t realize, since I hadn’t seen the paper, was that it ran on the front page with a color photograph of me applying ashes to the foreheads of my grand daughters and my wife.  It was continued to the third page with another photograph of our congregation, and it was captioned by some over-zealous copy editor as a “SPIRITUAL INCURSION.”

http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/lutheran-ministry-seeks-to-convert-jews/article_0fdd9797-166b-59ff-9c81-78bcd33b13e3.html

Now I don’t care how you slice it, the word “incursion” does not have many positive attributes!  So, needless to say, it got a lot of attention.  It got picked up and ran nationally in several papers around the country, as well as on the internet.  Apparently it appeared in papers in Toledo, OH, Broward County, FL, and even The Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/lutheran-ministry-seeks-to-convert-jews/2014/03/11/76235c9c-a925-11e3-8a7b-c1c684e2671f_story.html

The Religion News Service:

http://www.religionnews.com/2014/03/11/lutheran-ministry-seeks-convert-jews/

Media critics got involved:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/getreligion/2014/03/jews-and-jesus-a-spiritual-incursion-in-st-louis/

and I have been invited to be on the radio three times since then, two different programs on KFUO www.kfuo.org , Law and Gospel with Rev. Tom Baker and Reformation Rush Hour with Rev. Craig Donofrio, and on Dr. Michael Brown’s syndicated radio show Line of Fire lineoffireradio.com.

We were the target of much criticism, along with some who expressed their agreement with our ministry focus.  There were comments galore, and many opportunities for conversations on-line, and thankfully others got involved, because I got busy.  All this during Lent, a Purim party, and our annual St. Patrick’s Day outreach.  The anti-missionaries got involved too.   I was called several things…a bigot, anti-Semitic, deceptive, a liar, etc.  You get the point.

During this same period of time, I received an e-mail from someone that said (and I did get his permission to share this!):

I also have a question which you are uniquely positioned to answer.  As you know, Luther had a controversial side to him when it came to the Jewish people.  If you ‘google’ this you will quickly see a lot about it.  “On the Jews and Their Lies.”  I had studied Luther in college years ago…but somehow this evaded me.I find this incredibly out of step with the rest of Luther’s character and it seems quite sad.  Maybe there is a good answer out there but I am not sure what it is.  Perhaps it is a question of Luther’s time and place (being a medieval man)?  Was he suffering dementia?  Was he just a cranky old man when he wrote this stuff?  Clearly, it was ingrained in the German psyche.  I even wondered if this was actually his writing.I realize he was no saint but I expected more from him.
 
So this was my response to him…
 
I have to deal with this question all the time.  The writer of the blog you linked is wrong.  Luther did not hate the Jews.  He did, however, hate anyone who preached a false gospel or attacked his faith.  While “On the Jews and their Lies” is unconscionable for Luther to have written, I do understand it.  Everyone always wants to look at his later writings without the context of his earlier writings, so I will turn you to “That Jesus Christ was born a Jew,” written in 1523 by Luther.  You will find a very evangelical and loving approach to the Jewish people.  But by 1543 Luther was being attacked on many fronts.  One of those fronts were the Jewish anti-missionaries in Wittenburg at the time.  Luther had been faithful in proclaiming the gospel to the Jewish people there, so some rabbis got together and published tractates that called Luther a false teacher, Christianity a false religion, and Jesus a false messiah.  This infamous document of Luther’s was a response to them.  Unfortunately, he got out of control, wrote such hateful words and then, in a seeming attempt to apologize for them in a sermon three days before he died, he was less than confronting.   
 
It would have been much easier to deal with had Luther been less stubborn and more forthright in rejecting his own writings.  But it was the Middle Ages, and students were writing down and circulating every word Luther said and wrote.  None of us could stand under such a microscope!  But it is important to deal with Luther, the whole man, saint and sinner, and also in the context of all of his writings.  This is what he said on February 15, 1546 (2+ years after “On the Jews…”), “We want to act in a Christian way toward them [the Jews] and offer them first of all the Christian faith, that they might accept the Messiah, who, after all, is their kinsman and born of their flesh and blood and is of the real seed of Abraham of which they boast…  We still want to treat them with Christian love and to pray for them, so that they might become converted and would receive the Lord.”–Luther, 1546.
 
With regard to “On the Jews and their Lies,” our ministry presented Convention Resolution 3-09, St. Louis, 1983 which, among other “resolves,” stated “That while, on the one hand, we are deeply indebted to Luther for his rediscovery and enunciation of the Gospel, on the other hand [sounds very Jewish, doesn’t it?], we deplore and disassociate ourselves from Luther’s negative statements about the Jewish people, and, by the same token, we deplore the use today of such sentiments by Luther to incite anti-Christian and/or anti-Lutheran sentiment,” and “That, in that light, we personally and individually adopt Luther’s final attitude toward the Jewish people, as evidenced by his last sermon: … (Weimar edition, Vol 51, p. 195).  The St. Louis convention adopted this resolution.  So we have dealt with this issue at a synodical level too.

I think it is interesting that this is all happening during Lent, because my personal focus for Lent was to be disciplined in the fruit of the Spirit of self-control.  By no means am I comparing myself to Luther as a scholar and reformer, but as a sinner I am the same man.  With all this opportunity that I am having to respond publicly to those who would attack the Gospel, Jesus, our ministry and even me personally, my prayer is that I will not say something publicly that will undermine our ministry.  I hope you will pray that prayer with me. 

Finally, it occurs to me that the attention we are receiving for the cause of the Gospel is such that some might be scared off of witnessing to their Jewish friends and relatives.  I just want to say that while many are hard-hearted to the Gospel, let me assure you that many too are seeking God, and open to His Word.  I have had several good conversations too, so please do not fear and keep on sharing.  In the mean time, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers [and sisters], whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (James 1:2-3).

http://www.BurningBushLCMS.com http://www.ChaivShalom.com

 

Irish Jews?

Ireland-965x543As you know, our ministry is located in a community that, though historically Jewish, now claims an Irish identity.  So, to try to connect a little more with the community, I have been trying to find ways to bridge the Jewish-Irish canyon.  I’ve found, over time that the canyon is less a canyon and more a little ditch.  It just doesn’t take much to build that bridge!  Leon Uris, James Joyce, and even modern Israel’s history is rich with Irish/Jewish connections.  But I never saw the Irish language as one of those bridges.

Even so, we opened our doors on Tuesday nights to a group from the community that needed a place to teach Irish language lessons.  My bagpipe instructor (our group meets here on Monday nights) asked me if I was interested in letting another group use the space for Irish lessons, and of course I said yes.  So, now I’m taking bagpipe lessons, and Irish language lessons, and finding ways to share the Gospel in these new forums.  The teacher of the Irish language class is an Irish immigrant from Derry who was fascinated with the Jewish/Christian nature of our ministry.  He started the class with another Irish/Jewish bridge, stating that the resurgence of the Irish language is taking its model from the modern state of Israel and the recovery of Hebrew as a national language.

During the first class, everyone introduced themselves and shared their Irish background.  Most of them were of Irish descent, planning a trip to Ireland and wanted to know a little of the language.  I introduced myself as an “Irish Jewish believer in Jesus.”  Of course that got everyone’s attention, and I got to share my testimony a bit, and to share a little of the Irish/Jewish connections that I have developed in this process.  Needless to say, we had many good conversations about Jesus through that.  But I didn’t expect that class to give me an opportunity to share with any other Jewish people.

We are now in our second session.  In the first class of that session, there were several new people, and one of them introduced himself as a Scottish Jew!  He was interested in what he saw around him (our sanctuary has crosses, stars of david, a Torah scroll, a baptismal font…a little eclectic I guess).

So after that class, he asked me what kind of “Temple” this was.  I shared my background with him, and he with me.  He grew up in an observant home as well, and shared his journey from Orthodoxy to where he is now.  His reference of our building as a “Temple” belies a bit of Reform Judaism, which could mean almost anything.  We’ve had our second class, and afterwards, he sought me out again to share some of his memories growing up and he is open to my stories and my faith in Jesus.  What a strange journey!  But along the way, God continues to open doors to Jewish hearts.

http://www.lije.org http://www.chaivshalom.com

A Dogtown St. Pat’s Day, already!

ImageLuck ‘o the Irish to ye! Our home has flag poles on it that sport our U.S. Flag and a seasonal banner. Today I got to switch out our February banner for the St. Patrick’s banner that we fly in March. I bought some corned beef the other day and this Friday our movie night is “Darby O’Gill and the Little People.” This is the time of year to get excited about St. Patrick’s Day.

As you know, our congregation sits right where “the St. Patrick’s Day Parade” of St. Louis happens. This year it’s on a Saturday, and thousands of people will be on the street right in front of our church. (You can see pictures of the craziness in our photo section.  Of course, we will be out there sharing the gospel and the true meaning of St. Patrick’s Day. I’m planning on sporting a full kilt this year as I hand out the tracts, bibles, pretzels and soda, and I know of one other in our congregation who is going to be exploring the breezier aspects of his Irishness in a kilt!

It’s funny that the greeting is often “Luck ‘o the Irish to ye!” If you’ve ever studied the history of the Irish people, you know that their luck is not something that you want. It is a history of poverty, disease, and bloodshed. (If you’d like to study their history in a “novel” way – pun intended- I would turn you to Leon Uris’ Trinity trilogy.) The only thing that sustained the Irish in their long history of violence is their faith in Jesus, that was brought to them by a former slave who escaped and came back to share the gospel in the 600s. The “luck” that they have is their long history of faith. Such luck we should all have!

On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish. We have a sign in our window with the little-known facts of the Jews in Ireland, who have been there since around 1079. The Jews and the Irish have a lot in common. Leon Uris, a Jewish-American writer, embraces those similarities in his many books about Ireland and Israel and I would commend any of them to you for a good read. But the similarities fall short when it comes to faith. The Jews have been sustained by a promise, a promise that was realized in Ys’hua, Jesus, and a promise that they have (so far) rejected. But the sad fact is that the Irish, while having received the promise realized so long ago, have since often taken that for granted, and the true message of St. Patrick is lost in parades and drinking games. This is the time of year to share the truth. The only answer for our worldly troubles is Jesus. Download the St. Patrick’s Day tracts off of the earlier blog and share them with everyone who is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Shalom and Go mbeannai Dia duit (May God bless you!).

http://www.BurningBushLCMS.org http://www.ChaivShalom.com

Spring has Sprung

ImageSpring has sprung in St. Louis and the signs of Spring are everywhere!

On the sidewalk outside our offices here in Dogtown we have a couple of tables with chairs for folks to sit and enjoy the weather, and this week I’ve noticed several taking advantage of that. It gives me the opportunity to go out and visit with them and share what goes on in this crazy-looking yellow building…

I just got a fresh crop of new Seminary students to work with for the Spring quarter… We’re gearing up for our St. Patrick’s Day Outreach…

And I was invited to speak this week at the close of a winter Women’s bible study on the book of Judges! My first question, of course, was why a group of ladies wanted to study Judges, with all that death, destruction, mutilation and general mayhem. But they certainly seemed to enjoy the study and had some great questions for follow-up for me. Among the many great blessings of the time I spent with them (great fellowship & great food!) was the fact that one of the ladies there invited a friend of hers to come and hear me speak. Her friend is Jewish, and seemingly open to the Gospel.

This Jewish lady came up and introduced herself to me following my presentation and we talked very frankly and openly about Jesus. Her father is a holocaust survivor, and she grew up in an observant home, having attended Yeshiva as a girl. One of the questions that has plagued her for a while now is why there is so much anger and resentment toward the name of Jesus. I had been asked this question during the Q&A and got to speak at length on this, and that prompted her to talk to me about it. She then made sure that I had her name and phone number, and we agreed to meet over coffee to talk more at length.

Truthfully, it is not often that I get to meet a Jewish person so open to talking about Jesus. I believe that she is close to faith and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of her journey. What a wonderful, and unexpected blessing to come out of such a book as Judges.

http://www.ChaivShalom.com http://www.BurningBushLCMS.org

The Color Yellow

shapeimage_3

Now frankly, if you’ve been to our offices here in St. Louis, you know what the building looks like and you know it could use some work. It is much the same as it was when I first rented an office in the building in 1997. I suppose at some time during my tenure here as a tenant, the landlord painted the facade and put up a new awning, but our building just didn’t stand out. In fact, many people are surprised when I tell them where we are, because they drive by our building every day on the busy street that is Clayton Ave. and never notice it! This frustrated me to no end.

Well…during our Saturday clean-up day, we were cleaning up the outside, painting doors and windows white, and I was comparing paint chips for the facade, with the intent of painting it the same color! Why? I don’t know…but my wife said, “if you’re going to paint, why not change the color?” And it was a good idea, so we all settled on yellow, I went to the store and bought the paint, etc., and I set about painting the next week. There were some complaints from those in the congregation who didn’t show up the previous Saturday, but they had a chance!

While I was painting, usually early in the morning during the following week, our building started to stand out a little on the street. I got to talk to so many people who stopped by while I was working, and the general mood of the neighborhood was how cheerful the building looked! My wife potted some flowers and we put out some tables and chairs on the sidewalk, and now, people are using the space as we had hoped, as they stop by to chat, eat their lunch under the awning, and generally know now who we are and what we are doing. All for the color yellow!

shapeimage_2And apparently, while I was gone on vacation, the congregation here has embraced the color too. The guest pastor called it a “pleasant surprise” and we had some visitors in my absence that were drawn to “the cheerful church” on Clayton. A cheerful church…what a pleasant surprise! I think Jesus is smiling..I’ll put a picture on the website and I hope you smile too!

http://www.chaivshalom.com http://www.burningbushlcms.org