Finding Yeshua

searching-300x225It’s been forty years since I became a follower of Yeshua.  I did not become His follower because of someone’s brilliant argument, or because of the literature people gave me to read, or because of the many prophecies people showed me in the Bible.  When people showed me their literature, or gave me their arguments, I simply shrugged it off and said, “so what?”

What made the difference for me was seeing Yeshua in the lives of my friends.  I encountered Him as he lived His life in the lives of His people. When I saw him through their actions, and their kindness, it made me want to know Him.  Introducing people to Yeshua is not about making the best intellectual argument, or presenting irrefutable proof, because arguments and proofs are only as good as they are until the next argument comes along.  People who accept Yeshua based on argument tend to treat Him as a philosophical concept, rather than as a living person.

An argument can be compelling, but not nearly as compelling as Yeshua Himself.  When I encountered Him, I wanted to know Him.  I wanted Him in my life.  I wanted people to see Yeshua when they see me.

I have met many people who are theological hacks.  They want to be the mouth of God, preaching to people, telling them what they should and shouldn’t do.  I think we have too many of those people around.  We need more people who show the love of God through their actions more than just their words.  They need to become the hands of God, showing kindness to a hurting world, not by flapping their jaws in an already too noisy world.

When I meet people, I observe their behavior; not just how they carry themselves ritually or religiously, but their interactions with others.  I long to see Yeshua in other people.  I find it difficult to see Yeshua in people who talk about God, but treat people like crap for the sake of “truth,” or right theology.  There is no excuse for bad behavior.

It’s true that everyone can have a bad day, or even a bad season, but even so, at some point, I should be able to see kindness in people.  When people are harsh, and judgmental for the sake of heaven, they are not representing Heaven.  Yeshua was kind and caring, not just to the people who agreed with him, but to people who were hurting and in need.  I find myself searching desperately in people who present themselves as Yeshua’s people for His presence, but sometimes all I see is their anger and opinions, and not His love.

When I consider hate groups, like the “Westboro Baptist Church,” that literally hate people in “Jesus’ Name,” I can’t help but think what a profanity they are.  There is nothing of Yeshua in them.  They spread hate while claiming to represent the truth.  This gross misrepresentation of God, or at least, God’s interests, is nothing new.  Throughout history, people have hidden behind religion as an excuse to make war and murder others in the Name of Yeshua.  The long dark history of so-called, “Christian” anti-Semitism is evidence of this.  It did not reflect the love of God, or the will of God.  You can’t kill people or hate people for the Love of God.  Its like having intercourse to protect virginity.

I want people to see Yeshua in me, just as I first encountered Him in others, and still do.   That will only happen as I treat people as He would treat them; with kindness, grace, and mercy.  When he looked at people, he had compassion on them.  The only ones he got angry with, were the people with religious axes to grind.  It is my hope to be a bearer of His kindness and mercy, that people may encounter Yeshua in me, that they might be blessed.

The Role of a Rebbetzin

shabbatlightingWhen I used to take my grandmother to visit her parent’s graves, the way we knew where they were, was the graves of a rabbi and his wife.  Around the rabbi’s grave, they built a small enclosure, like a house.  His wife, the rebbetzin was buried next to him, but she was outside the house.  My grandmother used to get angry, and would say “Nebuch!  for him they made a house, but they left her out in the rain, poor thing.”  Rabbi’s wives, are often left out.

The term “Rebbetzin” is used in some circles but not others.  Traditionally, it refers to the rabbi’s wife.  In one sense, a woman acquires the title by being married to a rabbi.  Because of this, people see it as largely honorific.  In some cases, a rebbetzin is no more than an honorary title, because some rabbi’s wives don’t really do anything in regards to ministry, except for being the rabbi’s wife.

I have known many rebbetzins over the years and some were not active in their husband’s ministries, and others were.  The synagogue I grew up in had an active rebbetzin.  She taught hebrew school, and was actively involved in the life of the synagogue.  She greeted people, taught children as well as young couples.  She was a formidable woman of respect.

I have known other rabbi’s wives who kept to themselves and didn’t do more than show up at services.  I don’t feel that is wrong, because there should be no expectation placed on a woman because she happens to be married to a rabbi.  She has to tend to her own children, and her husband, and make the rabbi’s home welcoming.

There is a sense that a rebbetzin should know more, because she is married to the rabbi.  I’m not saying she has any knowledge by osmosis, but the fact that she is married to the rabbi gives her more opportunity to learn from him.  If she wishes, she can be a great help to her husband in her work.  She also represents the rabbi’s family, and can not be separated from him.  The way she is treated reflects on the rabbi. There have been some prominent women who are rebbetzins.  Esther Jungreis, and Blu Greenberg have been teachers and leaders in their own rights, functioning as rebbetzins.

My wife is a rebbetzin, not only in title, but in action.  When we first got married, the title rebbetzin seemed almost artificial, because it was the perception that it was unearned.  I understand that.  After seven years of being married to me, being a help mate in my ministry, and demonstrating her desire to serve and exercising her gifts, and counseling with wisdom, I am happy to acknowledge that she has truly earned the title.  

One of the things I appreciate about her is her desire to serve in the congregation, and greet newcomers.  She is patient and willing to explain things people don’t understand.  She is comforting and encouraging.  I consider myself blessed to have such a wife.  One of the great blessings to me was hearing a woman point to my wife and say, “Now that’s a rebbetzin!”  It’s one thing for me to recognize her gifts and service to God, and another for others to recognize and appreciate them.

All this being said, the real question is, “How should a rebbetzin be treated?”  I always show respect for any rebbetzin because she is married to a rabbi, which is not an easy job in itself.  As far as I’m concerned, I expect that my wife; my rebbetzin will be treated with the same respect that I am treated, not only because she is married to me, but because she has earned it.  It’s not a matter of title; that’s secondary.  Its respect for who she is, what she does, and our ministry together.

Religion In A Secular Society

IMG_73336421841746Over the past five decades, religion has been under attack in our society. Atheists, agnostics, and people who are just tired of religious arguments have by and large succeeded in marginalizing religion in American life with rants of “Separation of Church and State.”  The reality is that the constitution does not even use the words “separation of church and state.”  It actually  prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion.  In other words, it guarantees religious freedom while not setting up any religion as the official state religion. It does not forbid or restrain the free exercise of religion.

Anti-religious people have tried to get the courts to expunge religion from public life.  While I’m not arguing here for prayer in the schools, I don’t see any problem with public nativity scenes as long as other religions have equal right and access to set up their own displays during their holidays.

There are many other ways that I won’t go into here where religion has successfully been marginalized by people simply saying that religion is a private matter and it should be kept private.  The problem is, that in a secular society, where you shut out the voice of religion, from where do we derive our values?

Some people derive their values based upon legality.  If something is legal, they believe it is therefore moral.  The problem with this is that what is legal, and therefore moral, changes with each election.  The reality is that just because something is legal doesn’t mean its moral. Abortion is legal, but that doesn’t make it moral.  Marijuana is legal in some states, illegal in others.  Does that make it moral in some states but immoral in others?  Slavery used to be legal in the South.  Does that mean it was moral?  In short, we can not look to the legal system for what is moral.

When a society loses its moral compass, you can justify anything.  When the Nazi’s revoked the rights of its Jewish citizens and sent them to concentration camps, it was legal, but certainly not moral.

I had been watching the events of Civil war building up in Ukraine over the past few weeks.  Nationalist demonstrators wanting to be allied with the European Union, while the Government wanting to be allied with Russia.  They have had bloody, violent demonstrations erupting in Kiev.  I saw a powerful photo, which I’ve included in this post, of four priests holding a cross in the city square, standing between the demonstrators and the police.  It struck me that the picture was a graphic illustration of the role of religion in a secular society; not supported by the government, but standing in the midst of society, freely speaking into it, to give moral guidance and direction.  We have a right and responsibility to speak into our society about right and wrong.  You don’t need to be a “believer” to know that murder, stealing and violence is wrong. Being religious doesn’t mean we no longer have the right to speak our minds and viewpoints into a society that desperately needs to hear views other than those that lean toward “anything goes.”  How will people know what is good and just if we don’t speak up.  Its our right, and our responsibility. The often quoted statement of Edmund Burke is true; “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”   We need to be proactive in our speaking out for what we believe to be right, even if its unpopular.  Its our right and responsibility.  Our society needs it.

Jews and Christmas

merry xmasSo last night, I went to publix supermarket to buy a few snacks for the family. Because of my heart issues, I still need to use the electric cart to get around in the store. As I cruised up and down the aisles looking for our favorite junk food, I noticed that not many people were smiling. Even though I really don’t do Christmas, it was Christmas Eve, so as I passed people in the aisles, workers and shoppers alike, I started wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. It was amazing to me to watch people’s demeanor transform with smiles as they wished me a Merry Christmas as well. Here I was a Jewish guy with a gray beard, wearing a Happy Festivus tee-shirt riding up and down the aisles in an electric cart wishing everyone Merry Christmas! ZAYDE Claus has arrived!!!!

I really don’t understand what the big deal is.  I was at the gym and they had a sign with letters strung across the main desk that said “Merry Christmas.”  I wished the woman at the desk a Merry Christmas.  She smiled and wished me the same.  She went on to say that these days she didn’t know whether to wish people a Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays.  I told her that Jews don’t celebrate Christmas, but they don’t get offended if you wish them a Merry Christmas.  She said she agreed, and that Jews don’t seem offended by Christmas, it’s the “others.”  I asked which “others” she was talking about, and she said the atheists, as well as other religions seem to be making a big deal about it.

Jews have been living among Christians for a long time.  We have gotten used to Christmas, and have enjoyed many of the seasonal festivities.  Personally, I love the music and the lights and decorations.  Most people I know do as well.  I agree with people who don’t believe December 25th was the day of Yeshua’s birth, and in that sense, I see it as a seasonal celebration more than anything else.  Some people have given me small gifts, and I don’t mind giving them gifts as well.

I do know many people from the “anti-Christmas” crowd.  They take exception to the fact that Yeshua probably wasn’t born on December 25th, as well as to the Christmas tree being an adaptation of symbols that may have been used in pagan worship.  They tend to be stuck in roots rather than their adaptations.

Personally, I don’t believe roots of symbols matter more than how we use them.  The Scriptures teach that it is a sin to lift your heart to an idol.  The idol itself is nothing.  It’s the lifting of one’s heart to it that’s the sin.  Having a tree is not a problem as long as you aren’t worshipping it.  I don’t know any druids personally, so I don’t know anyone worshipping trees.  I wonder if reform druids worship bushes?  A tree is just a tree.  Lights and music are festive, and beautiful.

If some people want to use December 25th as a day to thank God that Yeshua came into the world, I don’t have a problem with it. It’s not my thing, but I respect people who do things in a different way than I do.  I expect and usually receive the same courtesy from them regarding my beliefs.

Where does this leave me?  I am enjoying the Christmas lights people used to decorate their homes; I am enjoying the special music on the radio and watching the specials on TV; and I’m taking my family to my parents so we can send out for Chinese food, which is our way of celebrating the day.

A gut yontiff to all, and to all a good night.

21st Century Idolatry

goldencalfWhen I was younger, I loved the holidays.  I love the music, the lights and decorations, the cookies, and celebrations.  I also like people being nicer to each other even if its for a brief time.  This really fun seasonal experience is usually ruined by “the Faithful,” the purists who decry the holidays as tainted.  They base their position on debates over whether Christmas is really Yeshua’s birthday or not; or whether Christmas trees are kosher, or of pagan origin.  They justify their wet blanket behavior by claiming they are trying to be biblical.  

The reality is, the Bible never gave Yeshua’s birthday.  Maybe its not important what day he was born.  Maybe its just a good thing that he was born, and that his coming is worth celebrating, no matter what day it was.  Maybe its just fun to enter into seasonal festivities.   Some people would “rather be right,” and claim that if you celebrate Christmas, you are somehow participating in Idolatry.  I really don’t buy it.

Idolatry is lifting your heart to worship a false god.  Scripture tells us over and over that God looks upon people’s hearts.  If in your heart you are not worshiping an idol, but lifting your heart to him, its not idolatry.  I really don’t celebrate Christmas myself, but I don’t condemn those who do.  Its a stretch to claim putting up a tree and decorating it with lights and ornaments is idolatry.

Some of the practices of idolatry in biblical times were not simply differences in theology.  Idolatry involved sex as well as murderous sacrifice of babies.  The high level of immorality associated with it added to the condemnation of it’s practices.

It could be argued that the zealous attitudes against Christmas, and fanatical desire for “purity” in holiday observance also qualifies as idolatry.  The ironic thing is that while “believers” rail against innocuous things like Christmas trees, they aren’t doing enough to speak against the real idolatry of our society: Political correctness.

Because of political correctness, we are being enslaved by protected speech.  Duck Dynasty is being brought down because their patriarch spoke how he honestly felt about gays.  Gayness is a protected subject in our society these days.  My point is not to put down gays in this discussion, but to make the point that simply making a comment could make a guy lose his job.  On the other hand, what happened to his right to speak his mind?  They were sacrificed to the Idol of correct speech.  Paula Dean had her career ruined because someone asked her if she ever in her life used the “N” word. White on black murder grabs national headlines, while black on white murder is ignored by the media and by politicians.

I’m NOT saying any of those things are good, but when we start making decisions on what is “acceptable” speech and behavior instead of on being fair and honest, we are done as a society.  Reverse bias is still bias.    I’m tired of people being overly attacked because they didn’t endorse gay lifestyle, or blacks, or Muslims, or whoever is the golden idol this year.  I’m also tired of getting a free ride because they are the golden idol this year.

The answer is not right-wing extremism.  The answer is not reverse discrimination or affirmative action. The Torah teaches we are not to favor the rich OR the poor.  Real justice is without partiality.  Real justice happens when we treat people with decency, not by being politically correct, and not by condemning holiday celebrations.  May we all make wise choices this season and throughout the year.

Optimism With Experience

realistsI recently saw a quote I liked.  It said, “I am not a pessimist.  I’m an optimist with experience.”  It struck a chord with me because I am, at heart, an optimist.  I like to believe the best of people, and hope for the best.  When I am around people who focus on the negatives, they drag me down to despair.  I need to have hope and believe the best.  Pessimists claim to be realists, yet it’s not realism to only see the darkness.  I had a friend who said, “every silver lining has a dark cloud.”  Being an optimist doesn’t mean you don’t see the dark realities of life.  We see them.  We feel them.  But we don’t let them overshadow the good things of life.

When I look back over the past year, I readily admit, that it has been a difficult year.  I watch as my parents heath continues to decline, and most of my visits with them involves taking them to doctors. I watch as my father, who was so big and strong needs my help to get up, and the trusting look on his face when I help him.  The parent has become the child, and its painful. My very close friend went through an excruciatingly painful divorce.  I watched him as he missed his children, lost his job, and even his home.  He needed to have surgery and endured a painful surgery and long recuperation period.  I watched another friend lose his 22 year old son, who was found dead.  I can’t even imagine the pain he is going through.  Life can be extremely painful beyond description.

Yet, this has also been a good year.  I became a grandfather to a healthy, happy grandson.  I have a wife and three children who love me and are a joy to my life. I have good friends in my life.  In addition, I have been able to help and bless people in my work overseas. I love helping. It’s a really good thing to be able to feed hungry people, and be a comfort and encouragement to them.

LIfe happens.  Its going to happen whether we are optimists or pessimists.  We can plan for some things, but things happen whether we plan for them or not.  It seems to me that what matters is not so much what happens, but how we deal with what happens.  We tend to brace ourselves for the bad things, and soothe ourselves with the good things. It’s as if we live our lives with knee jerk reactions.  I don’t believe this is the best way to live.  

When I give advice, I encourage people to be optimistic realists.  We can’t always change the things that happen, but we can realize that life experiences shape and change us.  We can learn from them and take away valuable wisdom.  Adopting this approach enables something positive to come from our experiences, good or bad.

Some people emerge from their pain and loss with anger and bitterness.  It poisons them and will color all their future relationships.  Other people learn from their pain and loss and become more compassionate, patient, and understanding of others.  They become better people who are happier in general, and a blessing to others.

Part of the problem is the storybook view of life we hold in America.  Our common slogan is “be happy.”   In Eastern Europe, where life is far more difficult, they say, “be strong.”  Overall, “be strong,” is far more realistic.  We do need to be strong for whatever happens.  If we can be strong, and learn from what happens, we may ultimately be happy.

In any event, we need to plan wisely for our lives; to have peace of mind for the “just in case” situations,  pamper ourselves less, and hope for the best.  In our times of ease, we need to be reaching out to those going through pain and loss.  Even if it is awkward, we do need to be there for one another.  We need to have a generosity of spirit, encouraging others, being there for people and blessing them, and focusing on the blessings we have, even if they are mixed blessings.

Dealing With Holiday Disappointment

festivusPsychologists say the most depressing time for many people is the holiday season.  I love holidays, but also find myself vulnerable during this time.  For most of my life, I have been very sensitive.  Its something I really can’t help, it’s how I’m wired.  I realize this puts a burden on the people around me, and I try to just suck it up, but I find myself getting hurt even when it may not have been people’s intent.  Art Garfunkel summed it up well in his song, “All I Know,”

I bruise you, you bruise me

We both bruise too easily

Too easily to let it show

I love you, and that’s all I know

I get bruised very easily.  The good side, is that I have learned to be compassionate towards other people’s pain.  I know that I’m not the only hyper-sensitive person out there, but what can I do?

I love the idea of Festivus, the Seinfeld inspired secular holiday where people sit around the table telling how they have disappointed one another in the past year.  While its pretty awkward to discuss disappointment, it’s probably a good thing because you get to air your grievances, which can be helpful to a relationship.  Some people may be hurting others and they don’t have a clue.  Others may have rationalized their behavior and don’t see that they are causing pain to others.  Finding a KIND way of sharing these things is good.

Nevertheless, even if you try, some people just don’t want to hear it.  They accuse you of making it all about you. There may be some truth to it, but at the same time, people can be pretty insensitive, especially our loved ones.  Relatives tend to take each other for granted.  The holidays are the worst times.

What can people do with their hurt feelings?  First, do what you can to repair a relationship if you can. If you need to apologize, do it.  If you need to forgive, do it. Don’t be too quick to write people off.   If you are invited to a party… GO.  You might be pleasantly surprised.  Sometimes people care more about us than we think they do. People will be happy to see you, because you cared to come.  When I needed surgery, and couldn’t afford it, I was shocked that my friends came through with big money to pay for it.  We may mean more to others than we realize. 

Second, it helps to recognize that being involved in toxic relationships will not be beneficial.  Avoid negative people who drag you down.  Sometimes, there is nothing you can do to fix a relationship, and continuing in it will only create more pain.

Some people go into therapy, and sometimes derive benefit.  Other people avoid people who make them feel bad and hang around with the ones who make them feel affirmed.  That’s a good thing to do.  Finding people who know and value you is positive.  I stopped trying to change the negative perceptions some people have had of me, and spend my time and energies with the ones who value being with me and build me up.

Another thing that helps is to do things to help others.  Helping others can be transforming, for them, and for you.  Rather than let people define you by their negativity, do something positive for others.  Become a blessing.

More than anything else, Forgive people for their hurtful behavior.  Think of the things you have been forgiven for, and be generous towards others in forgiveness.  Sometimes people really don’t mean what they say, and you don’t know what they are going through.  People lash out without meaning it.  Even if you have been hurt, be quick to forgive.

Dealing with Disappointment

disappointedWhy is nothing ever perfect?  I tend to be an optimist; I’m always hoping for things to get better, for things to be enjoyable and meaningful, yet sometimes it seems that every silver lining comes with a dark cloud.

I don’t know why, but it feels like every time I have something to look forward to, something that is especially important or meaningful in my life, it always has something attached that sours it for me.  Every holiday, every special event that makes life feel like its worth living for me is darkened by something sad.  Maybe it has to be that way to keep the universe in balance or some other cosmic reason I don’t understand, but in any case, I can’t seem to derive pure joy out of anything.  Usually, people close to me do or say something that ruins the moment for me.  It makes me feel trapped because if I say something, I could ruin the moment for them, and I don’t want to do that, so I usually keep quiet and let it bottle up inside me.

The real issue is how I deal with disappointment and rejection.  My first thoughts are to sit in a corner and feel sorry for myself, but that is not productive or helpful.  If I suppress my feelings, they come out in other ways.  I could demand my rights, but that doesn’t help either.  The reality is, I’m not sure what to do.

The prophet Malachi records God complaining of the same thing. In Malachi 1:6, He says,

“A son honors his father, And a servant his master.
If then I am the Father, Where is My honor?
And if I am a Master, Where is My reverence?
Says the LORD of hosts To you priests who despise My name.
Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’

It’s a hard thing when you are not respected, and the people who are not respecting you don’t even acknowledge that they are disrespecting you.  More than once I’ve confronted people, and they respond, “Who me?”    God responds by affirming who He is.  He says,

‘For from the rising of the sun, even to it’s going down,
My name shall be great among the Nations;
In every place incense shall be offered to My name, And a pure offering;
For My name shall be great among the nations,” Says the LORD of hosts.’

Following His self-affirmation, he calls the people to correct their ways.  Some did, but some did not.  He blessed those who did, but not those who did not.  Unfortunately, this is not a blueprint for me.  First of all, I’m not God.  Secondly, people who disrespect you don’t take to heart the things you have to say.  Usually, they dismiss them, saying you are being too emotional, or claim you are making it all about you.

The only thing that really can be done is to acknowledge who and what you are; basically, affirm yourself.  This happens when you remind yourself of who and what you are, in words and actions.  I try to be a good, kind person to whoever I am with.  If you only love those who love you, what good is it?

The bottom line is the way I treat others is the only real affirmation of who and what I am.  If I am treated badly, it says more about the other person than about me.  It may be hurtful, but real compassion understands and moves forward.  There is more to me than the way I am treated; it is shown in how I treat others whether they value me or not.

The Cost Of Love

love lostPeople who know me well, know I tend to be a loving person.  I am also a sensitive person, at times, too sensitive.  It’s both a blessing and a curse.  It’s a blessing in that I find it easy to show and express my love for people.  A curse, in that I get my feelings hurt too easily.

I have tried to shield myself from getting hurt by expressing lack of concern or caring, but it isn’t really true. I do care, very deeply, about the people I love, and the things that matter to me.  I have spent my life caring about people, and about doing the things I believe matter.  The result has been that I have gotten hurt many times.

I often wonder what I can do about it.  I can’t just stop caring.  It isn’t in me not to care.  It isn’t other people’s fault.  They are who and what they are.  If I stop caring, it would change who I am into a person I don’t wish to be.  I have taught that what other people do is not what matters, but how we respond to what others do or say is what matters, because, after all, that involves our actions and choices.

I have tried to not care, but that doesn’t work.  I know from long experience that arguing doesn’t work either.  What I have come to, is to accept the cost.  If I want love, I have to be willing to pay the cost of love. People I don’t care about really can’t hurt me.  You have to open yourself to people if you want to experience love.  If you don’t open yourself to them, you will never experience love.  It means the people whom you love the most have the potential for hurting you the most. It means being willing to get your feelings hurt from time to time.  Those feelings will eventually subside.  If you don’t pay the price, you cheat yourself out of relationships with the ones you love.  

Love is a risk. Not loving involves no risk, but it means loneliness.  I would rather take the risk, and have the relationships.  In my life, I’ve endured pain and disappointments. They are part of life.  Its like the old adage by Lord Alfred Tennyson, “It’s better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.”

So what can you do about your feelings? The feelings we experience come and go.  We eventually get over them if we are willing to let go of them.  Remember that your love for others is what matters.  Love is a rare commodity in the world.  People are not so quick to throw it away.  Even when they do, we have a choice about how to respond. If someone hurts my feelings, I can dwell on them and get defensive, or I can try to comply with their wishes, to make them happy, and in so doing, perform an even greater act of love for them.  Real love does not seek its own.  It comes down to forgiving them for the hurt, and continuing to love them.

Some people mistake kindness for weakness.  That is a big mistake.  It takes a strong person to ignore their own hurt and bless the ones who hurt them.  This is what it means to turn the other cheek.  It’s something we want everyone else to do, but it’s not easy to do ourselves.  Real love is blessing the other person, not seeking your own way, letting yourself be hurt for the sake of those you love.  The cost of not doing it is too high.

Behaving Badly

I post Imagehonestly what I think about.  I make no apologies for the things I consider.  I’m entitled to think about what I want, and to post those ideas for the consideration of my readers.  People read some of my posts, and most reply graciously, even if they disagree with me.  That is fair, and not a problem for me.  I find it deplorable however, that some people read my posts and respond with nasty, venomous comments, cursing me because I rocked their perceptions of reality.  I usually don’t approve these vitriolic, hateful statements because I don’t want to respond in kind, and don’t really want to grace their bad behavior with an audience.

What I don’t understand, is why people feel that rules of good behavior are somehow suspended because they are responding on the internet.  The person in particular gave an amorphous Hebrew name so he could not be identified,  and went on to criticize Rabbinic Judaism, my motives, and intentions.  While he quoted scriptures, out of context, he apparently forgot about the scriptures that admonish us to admonish in love.  I wonder if he even knows how to do it.  I genuinely feel bad for the guy because not only is he deluded, but he will probably have the horrible things he wished on me come back on himself.  

Bitterness is a horrible thing, and I have found that if you want to convince someone of the rightness of your view, cursing them is not the way to do it.  He claimed to be speaking for Yeshua, but I never saw Yeshua spoke as he did.  The Yeshua I have known and walked with does not behave as this guy did.  If he wanted to disagree with me, he could have done it with kindness.  He could have been a decent human being.  I would not have taken offense.  

So why do people feel they can behave badly if its on the internet?  Is it the sense of anonymity the internet affords us?  Is it because we don’t perceive there are human beings with feelings we are communicating with?  Or is it that, deep down, some people really don’t care about others?

The reality is, people hide behind religion to justify bad behavior.  They feel like they have a free pass to act badly for a heavenly cause, which their cause is believed to be.  When God hates the same people you do, and hates the same things you hate, you have created an idol of your own views.  Submission to the will of God means you can’t always be right, and you have to recognize God loves the people you don’t.  It means you might possibly be wrong.  If that is possible, you can’t curse others and still claim to be loving God.  This is the problem with fanaticism.  It’s not restricted to religious people.  There are political fanatics, and sports fanatics, and fanatics about almost anything.  I don’t like when people blame fanaticism on religion.  Religion is how we express faith in God.  The problem comes when people want to kill each other for the love of God.  I can’t imagine anything that would bother God more.  May God keep us all from such things.