Friday, July 29, 2005

Name a nail?

This post at Protein Wisdom did side-step one significant issue.

I've read more than one interview with a terrorist in which the terrorist claims that the US lacks the moral high ground to complain about terrorism, since the US has been responsible for the largest single attack against civilians designed to achieve a political outcome (ending WWII by dropping nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

(Apparently Osama taught his followers to make this claim.)

An American who understands history might immediately respond with, "Yes we did that, but that's different!". And we'd be right.

But America has not recently provided the international community with a well-reasoned and careful explanation as to why we'd be right. And the US needs to make a timely reply to Osama and his followers.

Part of the answer should be that America's killing of innocents was to stop aggression. This is unlike Radical Islam which seeks to be the aggressor to spread its social order.

Part of the answer should be that the number of innocents killed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was so small compared to the death toll of WWII. This is unlike the Al-Queda attack on 9/11 which was an atypically large incident in the battle between America and Radical Islam, or the terrorism against Israel which is commeasurate with Israel's military reprisals.

And part of the answer should be that much of America regrets what happened, especially with the better perspective that time provides. This is unlike the social climate of Radical Islam, in which terrorists exalt in the killing they do.

Update: Much more information here.

The Apostolic Writings in Hebrew

Every now and then people send me an e-mail asking me to translate a certain New Testment verse into Biblical Hebrew.

Well, I finally found the website you were really looking for. :-)

Two more Flash games

Remember my old comment that some games need no instructions and some games really, really do...

(For the second game, remember that timing is everything. After placing all eight items, check which need more time to grow, then try again.)


With all the comic books being made into movies... it's about time.

So, is the Watchmen next?

After Astro City, those two are my favorite comics ever.

As a kid I liked Spider-Man, whose motto was "With great power comes great responsibility." Almost as entertaining (lacking the quality of supporting cast) was Batman, whose motto became "When the world does not make sense you must force it to." The Watchmen took a different approach, and while being more serious then either its motto is "When the world does not make sense, the solutions will not make sense either."


Every now and then I think about playing one of those big online games. Then I think, nah.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Not That Nerdy

My wife's sister and her sister's husband will be visiting us later this week. We'll probably play games because we're nerdy. But we're not as nerdy as some people.


Ah, another classic game transferred to a java file.

I've only known one friend who played this game in it's older, plastic incarnation. But that was a special friend, so now it seems a special game.

On the other hand, some silly internet games are most entertaining the first time you meet them -- even without understandable instructions.

And this news story really should inspire someone to make a java/flash game, from the point of view of the parachuting teddy bears.

Like a Bable Fish

Trillian is cool.

While traveling to a conference and visiting old friends, I found out that some of my friends are doing IM (instant messaging) with software I didn't have. I tried AIM, which they were using, and it was nice once I installed the AIM Ad Hack. But having two different IM programs running seemed bothersome.

Trillian does all the IM variations. The free version is for text messaging. If you pay for the full version you can do webcam video as well. (However, Trillian only supports video in AIM and MSN Messenger when both people have webcams. The real version of those messengers are needed to provide video to someone who cannot reciprocate.)

It works really great -- the windows can even be set to have adjustable transparency if you alternate-click on the bar at the top of the window. And now I only need one IM program.

If you do instant messaging, you can reach me at:
AIM - David at Penei
MSN - penei (at)
Yahoo - dvsjunkmail (at)
with the @ symbol in the appropriate places for those e-mail addresses.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Moses's Hand and Lightning Rod

For a time of spiritual training, scripture tells us so much that we can proceed ahead unless as we are used to, listening for if God tells us to do something differently than last time. We know both "milk" and "meat" teachings to pass on.

For a time of spiritual warfare, we must be guided directly by God's Spirit. We should not move forward unless God has told us to do so.

For training, a person can have an effective ministry. It is okay to say "my ministry". It is okay to plan, "What can I do next?" It is important to meet people's intellectual needs. When we receive new revelation we can define it: categorize it and plan how to continue to use it to train others.

For spiritual warfare, no person can be effective. It is only God's ministry. We must pray, "What will you do next?" We cannot meet people's spiritual needs, but must aid God meeting these needs. We must allow God alone to define what he gives us.

In spiritual warfare, we are like Moshe's hand, or a lightning rod -- a target for God's Spirit as it descends. Often the biggest challenge is to simply get out of the way and not interfere with what God is doing.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A Looming Crisis

At the conference I have learned of something to pray about, for Messianic Judaism globally. A new "hot issue" will come to the forefront within the next few months that threatens our unity in the Body of Messiah.

The issue is not about Gentile followers of Yeshua becoming circumcised. Scripture is clear that this is not necessary, and in general, not wise. The book of Galatians is especially emphatic that we should not allow the local rabbinical community define what is "Jewish" for believers.

The issue is not about people who have Jewish lineage but were not raised in a very Jewish home. Scripture is clear that in God's eyes no one can be 1/2 or 1/16 Jewish because only one parent or one great-grandparent was Jewish: either you are Jewish or you are not; you are a participant in the Sinai Covenant or you are not. And at a Messianic Jewish congregation, one role of B'nei Mitzvah training is to help people who feel 1/16 Jewish to feel 100% Jewish.

The issue is about the children of an intermarried couple. For legal reasons, especially relating to making Aliyah to Israel, it has been suggested that the Messianic Jewish movement develop a ceremony to allow the Gentile in a mixed marriage to formally convert to Judaism for the sake of the couple's children having a legally clear Jewish identity. Naturally, this would only apply when the Gentile spouse felt called to formally participate in the Sinai Covenant, rather than enjoying the better freedom to keep which parts he or she wanted as voluntary expressions of love and dedication to God. But this Gentile spouse would still be entering an eternal covenant for no needed personal reason (instead for the sake of his or her children) and scripture seems to lack obvious guidance about if this would please God.

On one had, intermarriage was for the ancient Israelites a way for upcoming generations to be considered part of Israel. On the other hand, in that setting the Gentile spouse did not become Jewish. Ruth was still considered a Moabitess even after marrying (sequentially) two Jewish men. The laws back then were different, and this is at its core a legal issue.

Eugene a Swamp

It "just happened" that my randomly assigned roommate at the MJAA international conference was Philip Bean, who is now a traveling architect but a four decades ago was central in the establishment of Messianic Jewish ministry in Eugene.

We've been talking and praying about Eugene.

Before Eugene Skinner began the town, there was swampland between the two rivers. The south end of the valley was a place of growth but disease. And spiritual activity has since then come in waves over the area: dramatic if small-scale revivals washed over the early town, as a revival also happened in the late sixties.

And spiritual activity has been like swamp plant life. Few things endure long. In Eugene's history, God has seldom if ever sent his Spirit to reinforce or re-establish an existing work. Instead, his Spirit establishes something new among the praying people already there. And any ministry which stops growing with God will quickly move to decay.

For P'nei Adonai, this may mean that we should not hope the local rabbinical synagogue community becomes healthier before the many infants in our congregation are old enough to want a Jewish day school. Instead, perhaps we should be praying that God will establish a new, healthy, vibrant, and Spirit-filled Jewish community.

Update: more swampy analogies, after more prayer and discussion:

  • In a swamp there are no petrified plants. Either you are growing or decaying.
  • In a swamp, decay is ever-present in the background but has little power to stop growth.
  • In a swamp, what is young is usually the fastest growing.
  • In a swamp there is no fight over sunlight as in the forest. Plants do not need to compete with more than a few other plants. Energy would be wasted to fight needless battles.
  • In a swamp history loses its distinctness. Decay produces nutrients from what used to be, but this foundation has lost much of its original character and distinctiveness.
  • In a swamp, a high place would be very distinct from the lower, wetter ground, with more permanent growth.

Culture and Programs

While talking with other leaders of Messianic Jewish congregations a nifty issues has been clarified in my mind.

In Eugene, programs are seen as bad. Programs are impersonal. Programs are "stiff religion" instead of life and spirituality. And culture is seen as good. Culture values people. Culture is about life and spirituality.

Yet culture, subtly, works like many programs.

At P'nei Adonai we've been doing this without realizing it. We don't have a Membership Program, we have B'nei Mitzvah preparation. We don't have a Dance Program, we do a picnic and dancing in the park to help celebrate Shabbat. We don't have elaborate holiday programs, but a simple service and the scriptural freedom for households to use tithes to eat together throughout the holiday.

There's more we could do along these lines.

We would not want an Alef Club. But we should develop ways to make a group Erev Shabbat dinner into an evening where the focus stays on God to promote worthwhile discussion and spiritual growth.

We would not want an out-of-context prayer weekly or monthly service, but we should have one at Rosh Chodesh to pray that God provide guidance, protection, blessing, and growth in the upcoming month.

We would not want a kid's program for the kids old enough to sit through a Shabbat service. But we should have sermons with more props and stories now, for the sake of those elementary school age kids that are occasional visitors.

The issue is not that culture secretly contains programs. It is that when a program is done in ways that value people and has life and genuine spiritual health, and done this way long enough, it becomes habitual and no longer seems like a program. Culture can raise programs to a higher level. And Jewish culture is full of examples.