Welcome to the New Talmidim Podcast: Episode 1 – HAGAH

Welcome to the New Talmidim Podcast: Episode 1 – HAGAH

I’ve just launched a new podcast called Talmidim! As your guide, my goal is to take you deeply into Jesus’ 1st century context through the gospel of Luke. We’ll pursue a deeper appreciation of his humanity, a more robust perspective of His divinity, a heightened awareness of his Jewish roots as a rabbi, and a deeper understanding of his radical invitation to follow as a disciple. The Hebrew words for disciple are talmid (male) and talmidah (female). Together, we are talmidim. Here’s the first episode along with a few thoughts below. Look for more episodes both here, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor or wherever you listen to podcasts!


As you may remember from elementary school an onomatopoeia is a word that sounds like its meaning. For example, saying the word “splash” sounds like a rock landing in a pond.   In the Hebrew language there are a lot of these.  I learned one this past weekend from Ray Vander Laan at his weekend conference. The Hebrew word is “Hagah.”  Unfortunately, when the word as it is used in the Old Testament got translated into English, translators decided to go with it’s more literal meaning – “meditate.”  But this only slightly captures the original intent when written by the Hebrew writers. Let’s look at Joshua 1:8 :

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

The word “meditate” here is “hagah.”  Typically we think of meditate as a quiet reflection.  So here we get the idea that we should quietly reflect on God’s law day and night, which is of course a wonderful thing.  But the original idea was even more powerful!  So what did it mean? “Hagah” is an onomatopoeia for what a hungry lion does when he’s seeking food.  Imagine that lion in your mind and hear his roar as he passionately and even desperately seeks after something to eat – “Hagaaahhhhhhh!”  Does that sound like meditation to you, at least as we’ve defined it?  Joshua 1:9 is about focusing on God’s Word but maybe not as quietly and passively as we might think.  It’s about being HUNGRY for God’s Word day and night!  And not just a little bit hungry for a snack.  We’re to desire God’s Word like a starving lion.  “Hagaaahhhhhhh!

I would suggest that most Christians treat God’s Word more like a snack, if that.   No wonder it has “departed from our mouths” and we aren’t careful to “do everything written in it” as God declares boldly in Text.  But there’s more.  God goes on to say in Joshua 1:8 that our hunger and obedience to His Word is directly related to our “success” in life.  Obviously it’s not being implied here that if you read God’s Word that everything will always go well. But no matter what you face in life, if you have been “Hagaaahhhhhhhing” on God’s Word then you’re going to be able to follow God through that moment.  Why?  Because His Word is not only our guide, it’s the way to live life fully. Somehow we’ve reduced it to a set of rules and obligations. But God’s Word is LIFE as it’s meant to be LIVED!    The  laws and “rules” are there but not to merely restrict us – they are there to give us LIFE!  Of course there are things there about what  NOT to do.  But that’s because those things that we’re being told to avoid will DESTROY us!  We have to really believe God’s Word is life if we’re going to hunger for them.

Listen to the “Hagaaahhhhhhh!”  used again in Psalm 1:1-2

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he
meditates (hagah) day and night.

I want to wake up every morning hungry.  I want to “Hagaaahhhhhhh!” all day for God’s word so that I can be more like Him, so I can do what He does, and so I can go where He goes.

Son of a Father

Son of a Father

I originally scripted as a monologue that I performed as Barabbas. 

I didn’t think I’d see the sun rise today.  My name is Barabbas. Son of a father. Do you know what it’s like to be in the shadow of death? To look it in the eyes?  I was supposed to have died on this cross.

I’m still trying to make some kind of sense of Friday. It all still seems so hazy. Such a blur. I still think I’m about to awaken.

I stood before an angry crowd and they mocked me.  I’d stolen, killed, and led a rebellion. My time had come.

I mocked them back and even cursed them. They screamed, “Barabbas! Give him what he deserves! Let Rome know he doesn’t speak for us!”

I screamed back.  “Fools! You don’t know what you’re saying!  I killed Romans for YOU! I was leading us to the freedom we’ve all desired…for years! You would have joined this resistance if you’d known what was good for you!”

If murder was the crime, I was guilty. But those preposterous soldiers. They deserved it.  I feel no remorse. But I was guilty. Guilt of something more. I knew it. And it’s why I accepted my hopeless plight. I’d love to tell you I had truly done this for my people. I hadn’t.  I was in it for myself.  A power hungry rebel.  A freedom fighter who would stop at nothing to get what I wanted.

I couldn’t help but wonder. How? How had my life come to this?  I tried to be good. But it was never enough. It’s not what was going to set our people free. I tried to be a good son. A son of a father who loved me. A son. Of a Father. It’s what my very name meant. Son of a father. Bar. Abbas. Abba would be so ashamed of me now.

I waited to hear my death sentence.  These Roman cowards will have the last word after all.  I didn’t fear death. But to die at the hands of these…these…I don’t even have the words to describe my hatred of an empire that lorded over us as though they were gods and we were nothing than their pigs.

One doesn’t prepare for this kind of moment. Or series of moments. Punishment. Torture. Mockery. Slow. Excruciating. Execution. This was going to be prolonged. I would only be spared only by my last breath.

I would be a spectacle — a reminder of the fate of all who dare confront the empire.

Beside me was another man. He didn’t look much like a criminal.  I’m pretty sure I’ve passed him on the streets. How does a rabbi get himself arrested? Oh, he’s that rabbi. What a fool. I thought I was an insurrectionist but this guy. I heard he did the unthinkable. Even I wasn’t foolish enough to take on Caesar directly. He thinks he’s some kind of king. “King of the Jews!” Ha! I heard he even called himself God’s son. “The son of Father God!”

He just stood there. Wasn’t he even going to try? Try to defend himself?  Didn’t he care that they said he wouldn’t pay his taxes? I mean this rabbi might have been out of his mind but to say he wouldn’t give to Caesar what was Caesar’s?  This crowd was desperate.

This crowd was angry, hostile, cacophonous. They mocked this rabbi the same way they did me.

Then I heard Pilate address the crowd. “Get it over with you corrupt fool! You’re nothing but a pawn for Caesar. You think you’re going to climb the ladder and be Caesar’s boy! Ha! Caesar thinks more about his dog than you!”

What was he saying to the crowd anyway? Didn’t this imbecile know I’d already had my trial?

“As you know, it is tradition for me to release one prisoner to you today.”

The ludicrous tradition. I had no reason to remember it. Let’s get this over with.

“So today I ask you, whom shall I release to you? Jesus, ‘King of the Jews,’ your so-called Messiah, the ‘son’ of your god.”

“Or Barabbas the terrorist. Barabbas, as all the evidence demonstrates with clarity,  the convicted murderer. Barabbas the thief! Barabbas the one who represents you so well to Rome with his ignorance! Barabbas the cowardly…”

He was interrupted with one loud voice — “Give us Barabbas!”

Pilate tried to continue but soon one voice became two, and then ten. And in an instant this weak fool’s voice was drowned out by hundreds.

“Barabbas! Give us Barabbas. Barabbas. Give us Barabbas.”

“You say my name one more time and I’ll wrap these chains around your necks!” I screamed back at them. I knew they were mocking me.

Everyone hated me. I was a mockery to our religion.

“Give us Barabbas! Release to us Barabbas!”  These people are relentless!

But slowly, a reality began to settle.  I looked at them in disbelief.  And then…I locked eyes with him — the so called rebel standing beside me. Who was this rabbi who called himself a king and said Yahweh was his dad?

A son. A son of a father. A son. A son of a…Father. A son. A son of a…Father —bar abba. But…

“Barabbas! Never show your face here again!” Suddenly, the guards released my hands and feet from the shackles and shoved me violently into the crowd that had unlocked me. I was free. This can’t be. I was free.

But they didn’t care about me. I walked right through that crowd. Now who was the pawn now? Where would I go? Who would take me in?

I would have to figure all of that out later. In this moment I knew one thing. I was no longer going to die. I walked away from the chains. I walked away from punishment. I walked away from a hill I was supposed to have climbed. But this morning, I climbed it.

They call this place Golgotha – the hill of the skull.  There was death here Friday. I Could still smell it. Blood was spilled. I could still see it.

I should have died here. These nails in my hands were supposed to be mine. This cross! This was my cross.

I sit here in its shadow. A shadow that now covers me. A shadow that covers my transgressions because of who hung from it Friday.  A son of a father. A Son of the Father.

Son of the Father died. Son of a father remains. He was the Son of Father God. Messiah!

I am no longer a prisoner. But I can never escape this grace. This love. This sacrifice.

I was supposed to have died on this cross. Bar Abba set me free.

All sons! All daughters!

“Barabbas.” I looked up. I’d been discovered.

“Son of a father. You are son of Father,” he said gently.

bar Abba!

The son was rising.

Notes: The Hebrew word bar means “son of.” Abba means father.

Social Entrepreneurship

Social Entrepreneurship

A few things I’m teaching students in Business As Mission about how social enterprise has potential to create sustainable impact in the world:

Be Prophetic With Profit

It’s not only okay to create profit it’s essential for sustainability. But be prophetic. This doesn’t just mean telling the future it’s speaking truth over or into something. Create a business and earn a profit. Social enterprise prophetically speaks truth over and into that profit as you direct it to impact others for sustainable good.

Teach A Person Not Just to Fish But to Start a Fishing Business

Many people in need already have a skill. But they don’t have access to the “pond.” One of the most sustainable ways to help someone is to equip them with an entrepreneurial framework for using their skill while pointing them toward sustainable resources.

Excellence In Your Business Lends Credibility To Your Mission

Don’t just create an excellent mission that you communicate well but simultaneously design and implement an excellent product or service. Never build a social enterprise around a half-hearted effort toward a product or service that you use to tug at heart strings because of your mission. Create amazing products and services that will enable you to carry out the impact you desire to see.

Broaden Your Perspective of Stakeholders

All who interact with your business are essentially stakeholders in your mission — customers, employees, those who are part of your supply chain, suppliers, and those you are seeking to help with your mission. Love and serve all with excellence and compassion.

Invite The Consumer To Be Consumed

Customers long to use their consumer buying power to do good. Your social enterprise is inviting the customer to have their need met by a product or service you provide while empowering them to help bring change in the world through a purchase. Make them the hero of the story as they partner in the mission.

Transaction To Transformation

It’s amazing what can happen when you invite a consumer into the mission of your social enterprise. What begins as a transaction can lead to a transformational journey.

Multiplication > Addition

Donations toward a cause are good. Generating a sustainable profit that can keep giving toward that mission is better. A social enterprise has the potential to multiply dollars through sustainable business.

Compassion. Strategy. Sustainability.

Compassion is Good. Compassion + strategy is better. Compassion + strategy + sustainability is life changing.