Saturday, November 29, 2008

Making sense of Messianic Judaism

In case anyone has any problem understanding Messianic Judaism, especially when trying to sort out all the different ideas and such being bandied around in the name of the said movement, here's a good post by Rabbi Derek Leman.
“Messianic Judaism” is a catch-all for a vague and general idea that attracts millions: the Jewish cultural context of the Bible virtually ignored in Christendom for millennia. Millions of Christians of all stripes and persuasions, from the Catholic and Orthodox Christian world to the Protestant, Evangelical, and Charismatic world are hungry to know more about Jesus the Rabbi. ... But many “Messianic Jewish” groups are simply Christians confused about who they are, who Israel is, and what God is doing in these times with his people Israel.

He goes on to list a few of the extremes, such as the "Two House" movement (the idea that all European Christians are probably descended from the 10 lost tribes, and therefore ought to be living kosher), those who view the traditional church as a pagan counterfit of what was meant to be the church, those who believe all believers need to be Torah observant, and more. Anyone who, like me, has tried to learn about Messianic Judaism by trying to read through the trail of web pages and chat room strings, will recognise them all.

At least I'm glad to have come across Derek's blog some time ago. Here's his own take on it, which I fully support:
Messianic Judaism at the core is about Jews and Gentiles who come alongside these Jews to be part of God’s work in the remnant of Israel. We believe that God is calling Jewish people to faith in Messiah within Judaism. ... Messianic Judaism is not an alternative to the Church. Messianic Judaism is a movement within Judaism formed by God and expressing in word and deed a Jewish faith in Yeshua.

Anyway, have a read yourself...

Political situation in Bangkok

A friend in Northern Ireland who works for a newspaper, asked me to send him a bit on what's happening here in Bangkok. The following is what I sent:

My dad left Bangkok on Tuesday, on the 13:45 Thai International Airways flight for London. I had to be at work, so I couldn't see him to the airport, but I got a phone call from him shortly before boarding time. All was well. He had taken a taxi to the airport, which is not far from our house.

My worst fear was that employees of all the state enterprises had planned to go on strike on Tuesday in support of the Democracy protest, and in retaliation for a bomb that had gone off at the government house (occupied by the protestors) killing one and injuring a few others. I didn't know if Thai International Airways was one of the enterprises that would be affected by the strike, so I had advised my dad to leave the house earlier, so as to ensure that he would be checked in, in case there were problems (long lines, etc.). There was no problem. He boarded, and they took off.

Probably while his plane was somewhere over Central Asia or someplace, I had put Abie to bed, and had actually fallen asleep, my mobile (which I use for an alarm clock) signaled that I had a text message. I use the service of one of the local English newspapers whereby they text the major headlines to my phone. I never get a text so late at night, but the text read that the airport had been closed, due to the protesters blocking the enterances. That was a bit disconserting. I was very glad my dad had left when he did, but apparently, about 10,000 other travellers weren't so fortunate.

As I said, we live close to the airport -- in fact, right under the flight path. It's cold season (Thai winter, making it feel like summer in Ireland), so the wind blows from the North, so the aeroplanes take off over our house this time of year, making it very noisy. That's been one of our major complaints about the house we're currently renting. However, for the last two days, it's been very peaceful!

However, we're not close enough to the airport to notice any activities or hear explosions or anything like that. The school where I teach (and Abie attends) is close by. Everyone just talks about it -- that's all.

Since sending the above to my friend, our school anounced that because we're in the emergency area, there would be no school the next day (Friday). At this moment (Saturday), we are down at my wife's parents' place. I hope school is back on on Monday.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Coming Soon...

Pepe has been through most of it's rounds of edits and rewrites, and I'm glad to say, is still very much the story I originally envisioned. The publisher has still to proof it one more time, and then format it to be ready for release.

In the mean time, I thought I'd spruce up this page a bit, as it will soon begin to double as an author's home page.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Case for Protestantism

I've posted comments on this blog sometime ago, casting the Catholic Church in a facourable light, in particular, quoting Alan Creech on his return to the Roman fold. It's evident that the Holy Spirit does lead some to join the mother church, in spite of some factors that Catholics such as Alan Creech willingly share which tend to be on the negative side.

I have my own reasons for not joining. First, I haven't felt the leading of the Holy Spirit to become a Roman Catholic, nor an Eastern Orthodox. Despite many of my pro-Jewish, pro-rabbinical views, I have also not felt the leading to convert to Judeaism (even as a Messianic Jew). I apply Paul's advice to remain as one is, to both issues. I'm a "goy" from my mother's womb, and I remain a non-protesting Protestant.

Some of my reasons for not joining the Catholic Church are probably the same reasons I wouldn't join the Anglecan or the Reformed churches -- nor even Baptist. For one thing, I'm not a follower of Augustine (a fine saint, a shining testamony of faith, but I don't follow him in all of his theology which has formed a basis for both Roman Catholic and Reformed doctrine). Also, my perception of what is a minister, rather inhibits me from joining a group that has such a long tradition of elevating the clergy above the laity.

I also find that some of my reasons for not being a Catholic are the same as Scot McKnight's. Here is a very well written essay as to why he isn't Roman Catholic, nor Eastern Orthodox. It's a very good testimonial on behalf of Protestantism, without being anti-Catholic (I hope it's understood that one can be critical without being 'anti-')

Anyway, here it is...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Does Grace Cancel Holiness?

Rabbi Derek Leman has a good post, actually a repost from last year's Yom Kippor.

He opens with this:
I was reading the blog of a well-respected Christian intellectual who holds a high-visibility post in Christian media. He espoused an idea I hear sometimes which troubles me greatly: that grace means we should be realistic and not expect too much holiness in Christendom as a whole. That is, we should not be surprised when we hear surveys showing that Christians are no different than non-Christians in areas like marriage, sexual sin, and so on.

I hadn't actually heard anyone in Church leadership come out and say that, but that seems to be the trend of the Western church of the 20th century. Rabbi Derek's post is deffinately worth a read.

I could only add, people mistake grace for mercy. Mercy is what's been holding back G-d's hand of judgment on the Western Church for not taking advantage of grace. Grace is there to enable us to become holy. Proper use of mercy is to seek forgiveness when we fail.

Monday, July 28, 2008

RobbyMac on Apologies

RobbyMac has put out a creative piece entitled Apology at OK Corral. He deals with the fact that:
" many people apologize, and immediately say 'forgive me'. And, maybe this will sound a little weird, but sometimes it feels like they ask for forgiveness as a way of not really dealing with the damage they've caused."
He calls this "'Apology At Gunpoint'; where if you don't 'forgive and forget' immediately, you become the problem."

He's not down on apologies -- just the fake ones that we all tend to do just a little more often than we should.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Future of Ebooks

Articles like this make me feel good about the fact that my novel is being published by an electronic media publisher. It's a rebuttal by Alexander Wolfe to a statement by Ray Bradbury that ebooks will never take off.

I found it via Website At the End of the Universe in which Capt. Zerox has more things to say on the subject:
I think both ebooks and paper books both have a future. Neither media is going to replace the other, just like movies weren't replaced by television, but I can foresee a time that people read the news or the latest bestseller on some low-cost, portable electronic reader that mimics analog books.
An earlier post of his even says, Publishers wonder whether ebooks have reached critical mass.

However, at this point, we're still making plans that fit strictly with our current income from teaching school, plus faith in the Most High. I've been burned too often by pinning my hopes on something that hasn't actually materialised yet.

Friday, May 30, 2008

to the least of these

Alan Chreech has been putting two and two together and getting something we all need to be paying attention to. There's the saying 0f Yeshua, "whoever does it to the least of these has done it to me", which we all know, but if you look at it in the light of another one, "Love one another as I have loved you...", it goes abit deeper. Here's what he says:

... What if God actually wanted us to love people for who they really were? I'm serious about this now. I believe God wants us to purely love the nasty, torn up people that we are looking at AS nasty, torn up people, not just as a mask for Jesus. ...

... better if you read the whole post...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Novella -- The Wrong Time

I've had an idea for this novel for quite a long time. I finally got around to writing it, and it turned out to be more of a novella -- too short for a novel, but too long for a short story.

It's in the Science Fiction genre, an exploration of the "Many Worlds" interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. That means it's about parallel universes.

It's hard to find a publisher for novellas, so I'll just post it on the site as a free douwnload -- yet another incentive to visit the author's page once my novel, Pepe, hits the market.

So, here it is .... The Wrong Time

Two Problems

I found this via Next Reformation. It's a pair of questions that seems to go the heart of what's wrong with Christianity today:

1. Present day Christians are not very good at accepting outsiders (sinners who do not follow Jesus).

2. Present day Christians are far too accepting of sinful behavior from insiders (Christians who have been following Jesus long enough to know better).

Shouldn’t it be just the opposite?

Any thoughts about why this is so?

Some good thoughts expressed on both blogs.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Alan Creech on (un)faithful Catholics

Alan Creech has an interesting discussion going on his blog regarding how much flexibility of opinion there is within Roman Catholic Church. There seems to be quite a good margin for what he calls "faithful dissent" although some of the more conservitave Catholics might brand you as an "unfaithful" Catholic.

Quite a few Catholic Emergent types have weighed in. I, as a "Protestant by default (believe in Yeshua but wasn't baptised Catholic)" commented that maybe the only true "Protestants" might be found inside the Catholic Church (at least there, they know what they're "protesting" about!).

This one, by a Catholic named "Tom", who got his education at a "conservative" Catholic university, had this to say:
I've often felt that the Church's insistance on infalibility--even though widely misunderstood--creates a Pandora's box of sorts. When an institution insists that it not only doesn't make mistakes, but cannot make mistakes, then the historical record becomes problematic and requires mental gymnastics.

Anyway, go there for a good read...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Call for Apostles

I found the link to this while reading Charlie Wear's blog:
Where are all the apostles?
I find myself missing them more and more lately. Which is interesting because I'm not even sure what I'm missing. What is it I want an apostle to do for me? It seems like there must be something. Is there anyone in the Church today that has the authority to say the kinds of things that Paul did? We're drowning in opinions and strategies and "movements" and "we just need to get back tos." But we don't seem to have anyone that can stand up and say, "I'm an apostle by the will of God. All this nonsense has to stop because it's divisive and it's fruitless. And whoever disagrees with me, let's just see which of us God's power stands behind!"

That was Scott Bane. It's been a while since I heard anyone talking about apostles. I believe apostles are to be a part of the latter-time landscape. I'm aware that many people who claim to be apostles, or saying that this one or that one is an apostle (and therefore you're out of order if you don't listen to him/her), but I don't believe they've fully arrived yet. If they have, they're hidden for the moment. The test of who's really an apostle may well be what Scott says above, someone with the boldness to suffix his proclamation with, "...and whoever disagrees with me, let's just see which of us God's power stands behind!"

That would only work for a true apostle.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Church and the financial crunch

There's not much I could say that isn't being said much better, but there's a conversation going on about it in blogdom. The blog post that started it appears to be this one (by Chris Marshal):

My truck is paid off but the gas prices are killing me. I don't drive that much and its over $300 per month, not including my wife's car. So what does this project to as a national economy? Recession seems inevitable, will it go way beyond that? A nation already ruled by fear and over-spending with no margins by individuals and the government, what will be the consequences?

How will this impact churches and mortgages and credit lines that can't be fed? As builders pass on who are the committed givers what is left? 1/2 of boomers are there to give and the other 1/2 are driven past their financial margins with consumerism and can't help. Gen X and Millenials have very little value in long term comittments, are all about instant gratification and consumerism is their native language. Commonly this group of up and comers are living on 125-140% of their income taking on exponential debt per year. What will be the result of these decisions having no margins when the shoe drops?

Will American churches go the way of their European counterparts? Becoming really funky coffee houses, restaraunts, art galleries and dance clubs. Just things I wonder about.

I was alerted to the subject by a post on Alan Creech's blog, but on Chris's latest post, there's a more complete list of who's talking about it and links to their blogs (including Alan's).

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

new links

It's about time I updated my site with new links, especially blogs that I've been visiting regularly.

One that I've found recently, which seems to fit right in with a lot of what I post here is, Messianic Musings, Rabbi Derek Leman's blog.

If you look at some of my earlier blogs regarding messianic/emerging hybrids, you'll know that I did a Google search about two years ago and couldn't find any blogs that were at the same time Messianic and Emerging-friendly (not that any of them were unfriendly, they just weren't into blogging -- apart from the occasional congregation that had one for posting church announcements, or those making political statements, etc.) Anyway, I did another Google recently, and one of the results had something from Messianic Musings that mentioned Scot McKnight. Anyway, have a look for yourself.

Being that I'm into Science Fiction, especially the writing of it, I also find SF Novelists a good site. It's got regular entries by a number of current authors on how they write, or what delights/peeves/affects them about writing, etc. I think I was pointed to that site by Tobias Buckell's blog, the author of Crystal Rain, and more recently, Ragamuffin. I don't know if he still has the first 10 or so chapters of Ragamuffin available for viewing. If you like reading a captivating novel half way through and putting it off indefinitely, you might want to check it out.

Anyway, that's a starter. I may add some more later.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Adventures of Eetoo

As promised, I've uploaded The Adventures of Eetoo for public viewing. This is only for a limited time. As soon as I submit my final draft to the publisher, I'll reduce it to just the first few chapters to be readable online.

I realise recently that it has something in common with Ben Hur -- except it's a science fiction narrative. Like Ben Hur it follows the history of the main character in other places, but the final part of the story takes place during Passion Week in Jerusalem, where the main character and his companion witness the climactic events of Messiah's life and death, before they return to their home on their own planet with all their questions answered.

The challenges in writing such a story fall into two cattigories: 1. Mixing Science Fiction with a Biblical scenario in a tasteful and readable way. The main character is from a primitive culture himself -- albeit on a distant planet -- so when he arrives on Earth, he doesn't dwarf all the other characters with his advanced sophistication. He neither moves nor changes history with his high tech gadgets -- though they do help him through a few problems he encounters. 2. Research. Since writing The Emissary, a fictionalised story of the apostle Paul, I've done a lot of reading into first century Jewish and Greco-Roman culture, Rabbinical Judaism, as well as a branch of research called Jesus Studies. While The Emissary probably isn't marketable yet (though I'm confident it's historically viable) I've been able to fall back on a lot of that reading and research for Eetoo. It won't confirm all the traditional ideas we have of Jesus, but I believe it captures the 'Jesus of History' in a way that brings a depth to the gospel message. It follows the Gospel account, while placing it solidly in it's first century Jewish context, correcting some of the misconceptions we've developed regarding Judaism and how Yeshua related to it.

My background in understanding culture, the nature of languages, some reading on Quantum Mechanics, and how I've come to understand the Christian message, all play a part. I've also made sure that the plot moves along and doesn't leave the reader bored. I hope you're in for an enjoyable read.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Politics a la Alan Creech

First, I'll just say, I'm grateful to be living in a country where elections don't last a whole year..!!
As for what to do with things like politics and issues like abortion, I found Alan chreech's sentiments very close to mine.

He's against abortion, believing it to be murder, but...

... As Christians, I think we'd be better off concentrating our energy on being
Christian and helping one another to facilitate our individual and collective
transformation into the Image of Christ. If that were done, I'd say the number
of abortions would seriously decrease. Abortion is bad, but it's nowhere near
the center of my faith-life.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

More Changes

Another change in preparation to being a published author. I've simply changed the URL for the blog to reflect the name that will appear on my novel, soon to be published -- my own.

I'm dumping the name 'Tishbyte'. That name was an idea I had many years ago, combining computer technology with the prophetic, namely Elijah the Tishbite (though the spelling, 'Tishbyte' wasn't compatible with the Hebrew pronounciation, Teesh-beet). It was a usefull name in the days when I was trying to run my website like an E-zine, although it never really took off. I tried to act like I was a whole editorial staff, but it really the site never was more than what I'm making it into now, an author's page.

The content probably won't change much. I'll still be writing about things that interest me, and if you want to know what that is, simply look at the archives. All my old posts will remain, even a few that started out as 'articles' when Tishbyte was an e-zine.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Allegory on PDF

I've now distilled my latest edition of the novella, Allegory, and the accompanying article, A Study on Judgement, as a PDF file. My present intention is that this remains as a free download. It's copyright in my name, but that's to insure it isn't misused. Anyone who downloads it is free to make copies to give to people, as long as they don't change it.

Anyway, here it is.

I'll post a permanent link to it later on this page, in a prominent place.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008 example of what I'm talking about:

Okay, we really haven't been talking about it on this blog, but we could just as well have been.

The reason I'm a Protestant is because I believe in Yeshua, and I didn't happen to be baptised in the Roman Catholic Church. Going strictly by the etimology, the term 'Protestant' probably doesn't apply to me because I'm not a non-Catholic out of protest. My belief is that the sign over the door neither saves nor damns, but it's the faith accompanied by its fruit. I may not agree with every point of Roman Catholic doctrine, just as I probably probably don't agree 100% with any one church's creed. But neither do I see a chruches official creed as necessarily defining every single person who happens to belong to that church.

In that light, I found Alan Creech's latest autobiographical blog entry encouraging. It's a good read.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I've just finished doing some needed editing on my novella Allegory, and its companion article, A Study on Judgement. I intend to keep links to these prominently posted on any future author's page as free downloads. Even if they get published in the future in paper format, I plan to retain the right to allow free downloading of the electronic version. The subject matter is such that I don't think I can, of good conscience, make everyone pay before they receive such an important message.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


It's about time the blog reflected a major change in my writer's identity -- to use my real name instead of a pseudonym. I guess when one is this close to being published, one begins to reconsider things like that.

Using a pseudonym is a good idea if one wants to cloak ones identity, not embarrass ones relatives or, if the title starts to compete with the likes of Harry Potter, go places without being recognised. I suppose in such a case, it would only be a matter of time before people discovered who the author really was anyway.

I'll also probably need to restructure the page to be more of an author's page. Perhaps I'll eventually need a new website. I've already changed the blurb. The facitious sounding one you see up there now may be only temporary, until I think better of it, or find a better one. The older one was descriptive of my intent for doing a blog, but it's probably better to let blog surfers judge by the content.

One positive reason for using my own name is just to give the Charters name a bit more notoriety. I don't know of any Charters (with that spelling) who have distinguished themselves. Some, using alternate spellings of the name, such as Chartres, and Charteris, have written books and such, but it's about time the name Charters got a little airing out. I think it's a Huguenot name, originally spelled Chartres, the same as the cathedral town in France, where they came from. There are possible connections with the Bourbon dynasty as well, but I don't think any of us have any claim to the French throne, or anything of that sort. Anyway, that's a bit far back, and you certainly wouldn't know it looking at the motley crew we are today. So far, though, I haven't been able to trace my direct genealogy farther than my great-grandfather, Samuel Charters, of Artnigros, who was a lock-keeper on the river Bann.

My Childhood Friend

A few weeks ago, my family and I had lunch with Beth, a childhood friend of mine. I had been in email contact with her off and on for a few years, but I hadn't seen her since we were teen-agers. Even then, it was for a brief few days. We had known eachother as play/school mates for a period of nine years, since I was five and she was three, until I was thirteen and she was eleven. Twice, during that time, her parents were my house parents, so they became like uncle and auntie to me. I was in email contact with her mother, who was supportive of some of my writing endeavours, until she passed away in 2004.

Anyway, she has opened a blog page for the purpose of telling of her trip, which she made with her two grown sons. The link takes you to the very last page, because you have to work your way forwards from there to get the story in chronological order. There's a photo of her son, Micah with my son, Abie, as well as one of my family in Lumpini Park, a favourite spot of ours when we were young.