Stop your religious whining! (Lighten up, we live in an amazing time!)

Mumble your grievances to the Lord, all the earth
Serve the Lord with gloominess
Enter his presence with bitter cynicism
Enter his gates with lamenting

This is the day that despair has made
I will be sad and complain in it

-The psalms, according to the modern religious complainy-pants

The people of Israel complaining to MosesRemember the Biblical story of Moses and the exodus, when the people received the very best riches from God?

  • You were slaves, now you’re free.
  • Your former slaveholders sent you off with you food, livestock, jewelry, money.
  • Your enemies were trying to kill you, but they ended up dead themselves.
  • Food divinely provided, despite passing through a barren wasteland.
  • Water divinely provided, despite being in the middle of a desert.
  • You’re headed to a new, beautiful homeland. The land is free, fruitful, and an eternal inheritance for your family.
  • God’s literal and visible presence is there in your midst, miracles performed daily in front of your eyes.
  • God promises to make you a famous and holy people who will bless EVERY NATION ON EARTH.

With all these blessings, people whined and complained.

When they saw their enemies behind them, they complained they would be killed. When God sank their enemies into the sea, they complained about the enemies in front of them. They complained about food. When God provided food, they complained about that kind of food and demanded a different kind of food. They complained about their leader. When the leader stepped away for a month, they complained he was dead. They complained God abandoned them. They whined and complained for their entire generation.

They had it so good! The rich blessings of heaven, providence, God in their midst, earthly riches, wives and children and grandchildren. And they friggin’ complained about it.

Complaining is the same yesterday, today, and forever

Why are so many religious people today utterly despairing and cynical? A bunch of complainy-pants, whiny doomsday gloom bodies.

Tell me, dear lovers of the God of Israel:

  • Have you ever seen a man die of smallpox?
  • Watched a child suffocate from polio lung paralysis?
  • Witnessed routine infant or mother death during birth?
  • Seen a plague of insects destroy your food for the winter?
  • Had to walk hundreds of miles to speak with your family?
  • Watched a person die because of infection?
  • Seen a man die because he needed surgery, but could not receive it?
  • Have you had to live in a home exposed to the elements, without heater or air conditioning or electricity?

Nope. You haven’t, and I haven’t. Even though these things happened regularly in the ancient world, they don’t happen today.

Why is that?

We don’t suffer plagues, because medicine like antibiotics and vaccines and sanitation prevent infection and disease. (Some drugs even cure disease outright: as of a few months ago, Hepatitis C is now cured through a 12-week regimen – hallelu!)

imageWe’ve never seen a famine thanks to technology like farm irrigation, water reservoirs, crop rotation, motorized (and self-driving, GPS-enabled) tractors and mechanized harvesters, automated cow milkers, and crop seeds whose genes have been spliced to resist pests and produce bigger harvests.

We have all the food we need and then some.

We don’t suffer from the devastating, civilization-undoing plagues of yesteryear.

We can speak with anyone in the world with a tap of a finger.

We can safely travel across oceans in a matter of hours.

If there is something wrong with your body, we have knowledge (surgery) and professionals who can fix it.

Deaf? No problem, we can fix that:

Got an infection? We’ve got a cure for that.

Blind? We’re working on it.

Cancer? We’ve nearly got it figured out.

Need to find some information? The repository containing the SUM TOTAL KNOWLEDGE OF HUMANKIND is at your fingertips.

All of this has happened because God has given us the ability to think, reason, learn.

Today’s blessings, today’s complaints

Medicine is curing disease? Complain about medical business practices and Big Pharma.

Surgery saved your life? Complain about the etymology of the Greek word pharmakeia.

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Vaccines are saving millions of lives every year? Complain they’re not natural enough.
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Farms producing a bumper crop? Complain about the seed composition.

Antibiotics preventing infection? Complain that it disrupts your inner chi. (And start taking probiotics, goshdarnit!)

Travel long distances quickly via technology? Complain about the vehicle’s impact on global climate.

Technology providing you assorted comforts? Complain about the doomsday coming.

Got a cure for a deadly disease? Complain it costs too much.

Got more food than you need? Complain it’s not organic.

Got more organic food than you need? Complain it’s not free-range fed.

Got more organic, free-range fed food than you need? Complain it’s not gluten-free.

Got more organic, free-range fed, gluten-free food you need? Complain it’s not GMO-free.

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MY GOD, people! Please fetch your organic, free-range fed gluten-free veganoctosher trimmed granola GMO-free nut bran barfbars from your naturopathic homeopathic whole natural food store run by Dr. Hedupmetuches – I am checking out!

Me? I am honestly and truly GRATEFUL TO GOD to be alive in this fantastic age. What a time to be alive!

As a child, my life was saved because of modern medicine. I can talk to my family instantly without having to travel long distances. I have never had to suffer smallpox or polio or measles, or any other great disease that once plagued mankind. I have running water, a warm home, more food than I need.

I am grateful!

Recognize God at work and be happy about it

Instead of complaining in the desert about anything and everything, religious people should be grateful to God for this opportunity.

Religious people more so than secular people, even, because we have the riches of God.

Religious people: be glad that you are alive today. What a great honor and blessing to be alive in this age that allows us health, riches, comfort. This age that allows us to practice our faith and values with little to no persecution.

Be joyful that God cares about you enough to give you a written document showing you how to live a good and joyful life.

Consider yourself honored that God demonstrated miracles to you in this generation, including the restoration of the land of Israel and the Jewish people to that land.

Marvel at the works of God, how he has preserved us – people that once were not a people but now are called divinely adopted sons and daughters.

Look at how God has allowed you, in the fabric of time and space, to live in an age where you can read and understand and grow in knowledge. In past ages, the Bible wasn’t available in your native tongue, even if you were among the privileged few who could read! How blessed you are that the Scriptures are so easily available to you today, instantly accessible for your benefit.

Religious people, remember God’s promise and be encouraged: eternal life with God for every man who calls on Him and lives for Him.

Disciples of Yeshua, rejoice! God promised that we would have a seat at His table in the world to come.

Why worry so much? God promised even death won’t overcome the righteous. He’ll raise you up on that great and awesome day, give you a new and transformed body.

We are blessed to live in this age, blessed to know God, blessed to have the commandments, blessed to have Messiah, blessed with God’s lasting promises.

For all this, my friends, I am grateful to God. Are you?

Conspiracy theories promote anti-Semitism and hurt our credibility

Conspiracy theories often blame Jews for the world’s problems. Jews, Israel, and Zionists are at the root of many of the popular conspiracy theories. I am going to show you some recent examples in this post. I am going to persuade you, especially Messianic believers, to avoid conspiracy theories for the sake of our credibility and for the sake of the name of God.

imageConspiracy theories and anti-Jewish sentiment have a long, intertwined history. Perhaps most famously, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the handbook and guide for modern Jew-haters, first appeared in early 20th century Russia. In what was later found to be a hoax, the book purports to document a vast Jewish conspiracy to take over the world.

This book contributed to hatred of Jews in Russia and Europe and resulted to the conditions in which the German public of the 1930s readily blamed Jews for Germany’s ills, providing a fertile ground for World War II and the Holocaust.

But this isn’t merely old news; it’s happening today: this week saw 3 instances of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories I’d like to highlight.

Then, I have a word of wisdom I’d like to share with Jesus’ disciples regarding conspiracy theories.

Je suis Charlie, je ne suis pas un Juif

During the recent Charlie Hebdo shootings in France, radical Muslims murdered journalists, cartoonists, and Jews at a kosher grocer.

The popular /r/conspiracy forum buzzed with stories about false flags, cover-ups, "what really happened." Check out the top 5 posts from that day:

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Notice anything fishy here? 4 of the top 5 posts blame Jews and Israel.

How can we describe that extreme level of unrighteousness required for this predicament: not only does the Western media discourage us, in the name of Islamophobia, from describing the reality that radical Islam is once again behind an attack on Western values, but that the truth is twisted to an extreme by conspiracy theorists to blame the victims for their own murders.

Yet, according to conspiracy theorists, the Jews are responsible for the attack on a Jewish grocer. We truly live in the age of stupidity and moral cowardice.

Anti-Semitism: A common theme in the wild world of conspiracy theories

If only this were an isolated incident! But with great sadness we observe conspiracy theories routinely blame Jews, Israel, and Zionists (people who love Zion/Jerusalem) for many of the world’s problems.

The ever-popular InfoWars dotcom is filled with anti-Jewish sentiment.

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Search that popular conspiracy site for “Zion”, and you'll get these ridiculous, anti-Jewish articles:

  • An article about a "Zionist terrorist" in the Obama administration.
  • An article about the "corrupt Zionist lobby" purportedly bribing journalists.
  • An article detailing the “Zionist Matrix of Power". I would laugh at this ridiculous title if it weren’t so grievous.
  • An article claiming the recent Islamic shootings at the Canadian parliament were a “Zionist hoax

 

That was from just a single search; a mere scratching the surface of one of the web’s popular conspiracy sites. What will I find if I dig deeper? The imbecilic and ultimately unrighteous hatred of the Jewish people is entangled inseparably throughout the conspiracy theory narrative.

A growing, influential chorus of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories

Maybe you think, “Oh, those conspiracies are held only by fringe nut jobs, we don’t have to pay any attention to them.”

Photo of Stephen SizerIf that’s you, allow me to introduce you to Stephen Sizer, an influential anti-Israel activist and vicar in the Church of England who made headlines today by promoting a conspiracy theory article entitled, “9/11: Israel did it”.

The article gave support to the popular conspiracy theory that Israel was behind the Islamic terror attacks against the United States on September 11th, 2001.

A member of the British Board of Deputies describes these events truthfully:

Jonathan Arkush, Vice President of the Board of Deputies, told Jewish News: “Posting, and giving approval to, an article which in effect accuses Jews of responsibility for the 9/11 atrocity is unquestionably anti-Semitic, just as it is beyond absurd.”

The Church of England is investigating this anti-Semitic vicar; I hope and indeed pray to God that this enemy of Israel and the Jewish people is ousted from his position of influence.

Conspiracy theories exist because people desire secret knowledge

Conspiracy theories are often rooted in anti-Semitism. One of the causes for this phenomenon, I believe, is that conspiracy theorists are eager to believe secret knowledge, and because they are eager to believe, they are a fertile ground for the enemies of the Jewish people. People who are quick to sell you ugly ideas about Jews find easy customers in conspiracy theorists.

And there is not a more juicy, secret-knowledge nugget than,

You know that peculiar minority group that doesn’t believe like we do? Well, they’re trying to take over the world.”

As followers of the God of Israel, our love of knowledge must not devolve into love of secret knowledge, which is often false knowledge. Our desire for knowledge must be grounded in knowing the Lord firstly, the wisdom found in righteousness, the life of goodness described in the Scriptures. Our love for non-religious knowledge should expand through knowing and understanding nature, the sciences, technology, medicine.

After all, which man is greater in the eyes of God and man: the religious guy babbling on about the JFK cover-up, or the faithful servant of God who practices medicine and saves people’s lives?

Real knowledge – a love of science, medicine, technology – trumps the pseudo-knowledge of conspiracy theories every time. This is what drove the scientific men of faith like Isaac Newton and Michael Faraday. This is what drove the founders of early hospitals, which were founded and staffed by the devout religious who took seriously Jesus’ imperative to feed the needy and care for the sick, as if caring for Messiah himself.

Conspiracy theories are a false religion and suggest a spiritual illness

The conspiracy theory bent is ultimately a spiritual condition.

Conspiracy theories are a kind of faith, a kind of religion: you’re believing without seeing an alternate story of history, kept secret from the broad world, the sheeple are a bunch of know-nothings on the path to destruction, but you are the remnant with the hidden revelation.

You prophesy about upcoming events: next week, there will be a great government false flag. Next month there will be a significant UFO event witnessed by many. (How many of these prophecies have proven false! But it doesn’t matter, since there’s no Torah governing the false prophets of this religion.)

For the conspiracy zealot, Judgment Day will take place when the liars and thieves – i.e. the Government (controlled by Jews), international (Jewish) bankers, Zionists, the Jews, Israel, etc. – will have their crimes on public display and are held accountable by The People with a vengeance.

The Religion of Conspiracy has its own zealots, jihadists whose lives are consumed by conspiracies. The zealots are easy to spot: their everyday speech is peppered by conspiracies.

Artist rendition of the Tower of BabelI recently had lunch with a conspiracy theorist who – during the entire lunch – spoke only of conspiracy theories, as if it’s the single most important topic in the world. Literally, during the hour long lunch we (that is, he) talked about conspiracy theories. I could hardly get a word in. The conversation was memorable to me only because of the extreme foolishness, in which absurd statements, such as “The tower of Babel was a spaceport!”, were passed off as unquestionable fact.

The zealots of the conspiracy religion are offended if you question them with the same scrutiny they question official narratives. They will go on the offense and call you names if you doubt their version of the Truth. When questioning conspiracy theories, I’ve been told, “You’re just blind! You’re choosing to be ignorant!”

The life of a conspiracy zealot is characterized by his conspiracy theories. I know several religious people who are also extreme conspiracy theorists. What is sad is I know them not by their faithfulness to God, not by their good works for God or for men. I know them by their nutty, off-the-wall crazy theories which they’re always talking about.

I’d be embarrassed if any of my secular friends met these conspiracy zealots, because they would bring shame on my faith and on the name of God by their foolishness.

The pseudo-religion of conspiracy theories divines away the reality Islamic evil – in which self-proclaimed enemies of Jews and Christians and Western values maim & murder innocents – and instead blames Islam’s victims, who are usually westerners, Jews, or Christians.

In doing so, the Church of Conspiracy Theories calls evil good, and calls good evil.

I believe there will be a time when God-loving conspiracy theorists will have to choose between their alliance to the God of Israel and their love of conspiracy theories. At that time, I believe we’ll see a great apostasy, as many of these people will follow the delusions to their logical end.

Conclusions

For the faithful lovers of the Lord, our distrust of government, while perhaps rightful, need not devolve into conspiracy theories.

Believing and propagating foolish conspiracy theories hurts our credibility and our message about God and Messiah. (Why would a secular person care to listen to what you have to say about God when you’re babbling on about nonsense how Obama has a secret underground base on Mars?

Disciples of the Jewish Messiah ought to have nothing to do with conspiracy theories and their anti-Semitic baggage.

Chavah Messianic Radio: now with machine intelligence and Moshav Band

Chavah Messianic Radio has been churning out some awesomeness this past week, enough that it’s worth amplifying beyond the Chavah blog.

  • Chavah remembers you
  • Chavah demonstrates her intelligence surrounding your music tastes
  • Chavah brings on the Moshav Band!

 

Chavah Remembers You Across Devices

Many Messianic folks listen to Chavah on more than one device. For example, they might listen on a PC and a tablet. Or maybe you want to listen on your Mac and your iPhone. (Messianic hipsters?) That’s cool with Chavah, but all your song thumb-ups and thumb-downs don’t stick across devices.

That’s where the new feature comes in: Chavah lets you sign-in on any device, thus carrying your Messianic music tastes across all your devices.

To sign-in with Chavah, just click the sign-in link in the top left:

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We’re doing some cutting edge stuff with this sign-in. We’re using a technology called Mozilla Persona which lets you sign-in without having to register and without having to create a new password. Super cool!

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After you click sign-in, Persona will verify you as the owner of the account, then you’ll be shot back to Chavah, now fully signed in:

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Notice my account is now shown in the top left, indicating Chavah is playing music specifically tailored to my tastes.

Then, I might head into my car and drive to work. What about the songs of Zion I thumbed-up on my PC? Will they be thumbed-up on my phone?

Youbetcha.

I can go to my phone and all my song likes/dislikes are kept, and Chavah plays more of the stuff I like and less of the stuff I don’t.

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Chavah knows your tastes

Chavah has always known what Messiah music you like, based on your thumb-ups, thumb-downs, and song requests. She then tailors the music she plays especially for you.

But, how can you be sure Chavah knows you? Is she really so intelligent? (Please indulge my anthropomorphizing for a moment. Smile)

Yes, as it turns out, Chavah knows a lot about you, and now you can peer into her digital brains and see what she thinks about you.

To do that, sign-in, then click your email:

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Clicking your email will take you to your user profile, where Chavah tells you everything she knows about you:

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Check out that treasure trove of intelligence. Indeed, she knows me! I love me some Lamb, Micha’el Ben David, Marty Goetz, Barry & Batya Segal. And she sees I have a special love for Micha’el Ben David’s Mizmor L’Ben David and Troy Mitchell’s Light of the World.

She knows my favorite artists, my favorite albums, right down to the kind of songs I like. Then she uses all that information to tailor what she plays to my tastes.

Chavah also treats you with more respect and privileges the higher in rank you are. As you can see, Chavah deems me a level 3 sojourner גר, so my likes, dislikes, song preferences, song requests weigh more and have more influence than, say, a level 1 yelid ילד. SmileThere are several ranking levels, and by my count, just one listener among the hundreds of thousands of Chavah listeners has attained the highest level through several years of devotion to Messiah’s music.

Kind of a fun little thing to encourage you to absorb more of Messiah’s music.

Chavah brings Moshav Band to the Messianic masses

Moshav Band is coming to Chavah! Yes, the widely popular Orthodox Jewish music group has given us the thumbs up to play their music on Chavah. Hallelu!

Moshav is one of the most well-known Jewish music groups in the world. They learned music under the late Shlomo Carlebach, made a name for themselves, produced 9 albums in 3 decades. Their latest album, New Sun Rising, features Matisyahu and may be one of their finest albums yet.

Moshav has a modern sound rich in righteousness and love for goodness, for Israel, for Torah.

My interest in them was piqued when  I came across a few Chavah fans who loved Moshav. I knew Moshav was not Messianic (they’ve even been featured on those crazy Chabad telethons, LOL), but I’ve come to appreciate their music which draws from the Hebrew Scriptures that Christians and Jews share.

Still, I have long been hesitant to host non-Messianic music on Chavah, even Tenakh-focused music from the Jewish people. Why? Well, my thinking has been, “Can we or even should we learn from people who ultimately reject Israel’s Messiah?”

While Judaism is the One and Only Non Non-Christian Religion (no, that’s not a typo), I am nonetheless cautious about promoting a spiritual message from people who reject Israel’s Messiah. At least, that’s been my religion mind speaking.

Well, my thinking has changed over time. (Matured, I hope!) My thinking is this: Messiah’s disciples have much to learn from the Jewish people. Followers of Jesus can and should learn from God’s chosen people, the Jewish people.

Yes, even for the Jews that reject Yeshua as Messiah, we still have things to learn from them. Things of Torah, things of devotion, things of corporate worship. Things of inheritance, things of promise.

This view takes humility: admitting that we are not so wise after all, spiritually imperfect and prone to error, and that we can discern good and righteousness from Judaism, even the kind that rejects Jesus.

Perhaps it’s a form of repairing the great breach between Christianity and Judaism, between the believers and God’s chosen, the great divide we initiated with the persecution of the Jewish people by so-called Christians in ages past.

I believe that repair is necessary first steps towards reconciliation. It has to start somewhere. My conviction is it will culminate in the revelation of Messiah to the Jewish people.

(Please, Lord, reveal the beauty of Messiah to all Yisrael soon and even in our days!)

So, that’s my thinking to date, friends.

But aside from the spiritual aspect, I’ve also figured, “Gosh, most Jewish artists surely want nothing to do with us crazy Jesus-believers!”

Well, that’s what I thought.

I reached out to Moshav this past week. I explained who we at Chavah Messianic Radio are, and I asked if they would be willing to let Christians and Messianics learn from their music, if they would allow me to play their music on Chavah.

The response was surprising and generous.

Yehuda Solomon, the founder of Moshav, responded,

We are happy when anyone hears our music and is inspired for the good. Our music is not only for Jews. We feel and aim for our music to have a universal message and hopefully bring more unity to the world. So we'd be honored for Christians to hear our music.

And with that, I was stoked! So kind of them to be opened to the seemingly-strange proposition of the music of Orthodox Jews streaming to Messianic believers.

As I was doing research on Moshav for this post, I came across something quite beautiful. I found that Moshav actually played at Messianic Jewish congregation Ruach Israel about 5 years ago.

At the time, they received a some backlash from certain hardliners – to be expected – and so Yehuda cancelled the concert, and the Messianic congregation was understanding. But then, after discussing the issue with his rabbi, Yehuda reversed his decision, and went ahead with the concert anyways.

The end result? Well, the folks at Ruach Israel write,

“What a concert it was! Barriers were shattered. All who attended were able to feel God’s love through the amazing music of the Moshav Band that filled the room on that historic Sunday evening. The ensuing dialogue with members of the Jewish community that has been occurring since the concert has been productive beyond description.”

I am glad that Moshav reached across the aisle, even if in some small way. I am glad a Messianic Jewish congregation did the same to host them.

And now, in some small way, I am also reaching across the aisle, renegotiating an old boundary in bringing Moshav’s music to Messianics and Christians through messianicradio.com. Thank you, Yehuda and Moshav, for your willingness to reach across to us in the Messianic world and minister to us with your music.

I hope you fine Kineti readers enjoy the tunes for the Lord, including Moshav’s righteous music for God on MessianicRadio.com.