They {Pharisees} don’t eat anything from the market until they immerse their hands in water. This is but one of many traditions they have clung to—such as their ceremonial washing of cups, pitchers, and kettles.

~Mark 7:4, NLT


Tradition is the illusion of permanence.

~Woody Allen

I love Jewish history and music. This makes FIDDLER ON THE ROOF my all time favorite musical. Most people would prefer a root canal as to have to endure the fiddler on the roof. The central figure in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF is a poor Jewish milk man [Tevye] and the opening number is called TRADITIONS. In reference to the Fiddler sitting on the roof top, Tevye says, “How do we keep our balance? I tell you in one word–TRADITION. Here in
Anatevka we have traditions for everything: how to sleep, eat and even how to wear our clothes. For example, we always keep our head covered and we wear this little prayer shawl. How did this tradition get started? [pause]I don’t know but it is a tradition.”
Someone has said, the purpose of tradition is to keep the fire burning, to fan the flames but never to worship the ashes.

The Jewish people have always been big on tradition. We flew into Tel Aviv back in 1989 and there were at least 20 orthodox Jews on board. Take my word for it, you do not want to fly with orthodox Jews; they still, to this day, do the ceremonial hand washing. It is a sight for sore eyes but you better not need the rest room because they keep them covered up doing their ritual hand washing. Traditions have a way of losing there focus. Jesus said to the Jews in Matthew 15:3, “Why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God?” Baptist, of all people, have struggled with this same problem. We allow our traditions to supersede the word of God. The Jews were giving more allegiance to their traditions than they were the commandments of God. Paul said, I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors. Paul was in a competition to see who could show more passion for the traditions of the elders. This is typical Jewish lingo. The problem with tradition is that we do things for tradition sake without understanding the true purpose of what we are doing.

It is true that God never changes. In theology, we call this immutability but God is also a CREATOR and He creates new things every day. He is an innovative Creator, He seldom does the same thing twice. In essence and nature He does not change but otherwise He loves new things. He wants to give us new hearts and He also wants us to sing Him a new song. We do not have to sit in the same pew, sing the same song, pray the same way, teach or preach the same way: God loves wondrous variety and it will do us good to think about what we are doing. Believe it or not, worship and thinking go together.

I want to say more but we will save it for another blog.

I went by to see Charlie Thompson yesterday morning and he is very low. I was surprised by Charlie’s condition. Barring a miracle, he will not be with us here in this messed-up-sin-cursed world much longer.

Vellene Tanner’s address is: Vellene Tanner C/O The Terrace at Priceville, Room 105, 200 Terrace Lane, Decatur, Alabama 35603. I called twice yesterday but she must have caller ID because she didn’t answer: just kidding. I called Steve to make sure everything was all right. I am horrible at cards. Actually I’m horrible at phone calls too. Steve called back: Vellene was out on the porch. She is a trooper! If I was going in to battle, I would want her on my side.

Remember, old Gregg has surgery today on his back. I also forgot to mention my good friend Whitey Holcolm. His real name is Wendell Holcolm. This is Kelly Sims father. He fell the other day and broke his hip and had to have surgery and is in rehab. We will get you an address so you can send Whitey a card. He is a good man. He worked with my brother John at Monsanto.

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