To My Zionist Friends

To My Zionist Friends

Response to the God TV dilemma

I am deeply concerned about some of the responses regarding the recent God TV dilemma. Did the God TV brother express himself in a way that is insensitive to this whole issue? Perhaps so, but please do not let this drive any of us away from our covenant Jewish brothers and sisters in the Messiah. Imagine yourself back in the times when the New Covenant scriptures were written. Can you imagine coming against Peter or Paul who were aggressively active in bringing the gospel of Yeshua to the Jewish people?

Do we want to face eternity not having prayed for and worked toward the time when, as Hosea 3:4-5 tells us, “they (the Jewish people) will return trembling to the Lord and to His blessing in the last days?” Surely we do not want to find ourselves on the wrong side of this issue when the Jewish people begin turning en masse to their Messiah, as Isaiah 6:8-13, Ezekiel 36:24-26, Romans 11:26 all indicate! Paul was speaking of his own kinsmen when he said,  “How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” And Paul expected the return of the Jewish people to bring “greater riches” to the whole world, like “life from the dead (Romans 11:12,15).

I wholeheartedly agree that we must be sensitive to the inexpressibly wicked things that so-called “Christians” have committed against the Jewish people. As a member of the “Toward Jerusalem Council II,” I roamed the earth with a group of fellow Jewish and Gentile believers a few years back, all through Spain, including the room where Ferdinand and Isabella signed the godless decrees against God’s host people, to Rome, to Nicea, to the concentration camps of Poland and Germany, taking upon ourselves the sins of “our” people as Daniel and Ezra and Nehemiah did in the past, asking for God’s mercy and wisdom as we walk in repentance and wisdom, but also praying for the redemption of Israel.

I wholeheartedly agree, as one of you recently said, that we are called to “unconditionally loving, serving and defending them (the Jewish people) and their rights to their God-given, ancestral homeland.”

I wholeheartedly agree that we must work faithfully to turn the tide of anti-Semitism that still is rampant in the world.

But does this include an unwillingness to tell our beloved fellow Jews about their own Messiah whom we now serve? Or are we really serving their Messiah if we refuse to speak to them about Him?

Sensitivity, yes, but if Yeshua is indeed the promised Messiah, the fulfillment of the prophets who gave us the Tanakh, then we cannot cease to pray for and desire that they come to that revelation.

How is it possible to say, as another one of you posted, “The idea of bringing the “Gospel to the Jews” in their own language is actually an all-out assault against the Jew’s God-given identity?” An assault!? How is that an assault? Was it an assault to your identity to have the gospel brought to you in your own language? Have some of us drifted so far from Scripture, that we no longer believe the Jewish people need their own Messiah? Do we not remember Paul’s passionate cry: “I could wish myself were cursed and cut off from [Messiah] for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel… My heart’s desire and prayer to god for the Israelites is that they may be saved” (Romans 9:1; 10:1)? Do you feel that way?

We are not talking about “converting” the Jewish people. The Messianic brothers and sisters I walk with have not “converted.” They are still Jews, reading the Torah, believing the Tanakh, worshiping their own Messiah. They have not converted to Christianity. They have not joined another religion. Rather as Paul so ably tells his Roman hearers, we Gentiles are the ones who have “been grafted among the others and now share in the nourishing sap of the olive tree,” rather than their being grafted into a Gentile “Christian” tree. We are the former pagans who now believe in and serve the One True God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of the Jewish people.

No, we are not sent to “proselytize” the Jewish people into becoming Christians. Yes, through the centuries when the church was persecuting Jewish people so horribly, any Jewish person who came to faith in Jesus and needed fellowship, had no alternative but to become a part of the church, since both the Jewish community and the Christian community no longer considered that person to be Jewish. How absurd! As though a Japanese believer is no longer Japanese! Thankfully, since the Jesus Movement that has changed.

A few years ago, Charisma Magazine interviewed many of the Messianic leaders in Israel and highlighted their stories in one of their issues. Unfortunately the Charisma editors did not at that time understand this whole sensitivity and heralded their stories on the front page of the magazine by announcing: “These brave Christians are sharing the love of Jesus in Israel.” I was appalled when I saw it, since I knew that these Jewish believers would never have called themselves “Christians.” One of my Messianic Jewish brothers in the Land immediately wrote Charisma a response, which was gratefully included in a later issue. His response was entitled: “I Love Jesus, But Don’t Call Me Christian.”

One of you said: “Many of them (Messianic believers) have been influenced by replacement theology,” and are now “replacing the Jewish people with Christians, Jerusalem with Rome, and the Torah with Christian traditions.” I challenge any of you to name one Messianic leader, who believes “replacement theology” – that the church has replaced Israel. This is absolutely untrue.

Another accusation that one of you mentioned is that someone is trying “to prove Jewish persecution of Christians?” I have no idea to what or to whom that refers. I know of no case where Jewish people are persecuting Gentile Christians. But if you are speaking of some Hasidic Jews persecuting Messianic Jewish believers, I can tell you about multiple cases: a firebomb in a Messianic synagogue, then later tires being slashed during a Shabbat assembly at a congregation north of Haifa, a bomb placed outside a believing family’s house at Purim that exploded in the face of their 16 year old son who had to have multiple surgeries to survive, extreme harassment repeatedly, lining the entrance to the meeting place in Ashdod, sometimes spiting on the believers entering the meeting place, and much more. But in every case, my Messianic brothers and sisters are committed to loving, forgiving and praying for their persecutors. But how does this fit with your commitment to Jewish non-believers, yet turning against the Jewish believers who are being persecuted.

Yes, our God TV brother may have been insensitive in the way in which he expressed himself, but my highly esteemed brothers and sisters, please do not hold your relationship to non-believing-in-Yeshua Jewish rabbis and government officials higher than your relationship to Jesus and to the Jewish people who have received Jesus as their Messiah.

And in your relationship to your Jewish friends, remember the admonition of our brother Peter: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in [Messiah] may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:15-17). Are you prepared to give them a reason for your faith in Jesus?

If you do this carefully and kindly, I guarantee you that the Jewish people will still respect you. I know this is true because of my relationship to the Jewish community in Nashville. I was asked several years ago to be on a panel discussion at the Temple on “Was Jesus the Messiah?” I referenced Isaiah 53 and kindly declared my faith that He is indeed the Messiah of both Jews and Gentiles, but assured them that if they never agree with me, that I am committed to standing with them and loving them. They did not agree, but I am still an honored guest when I visit the Jewish community.

I remember what a very prominent not-yet-in-Jesus-believing rabbi from New York said to me, “I tell my evangelical friends that if they compromise their faith in order to be my friend, I don’t trust them. What else will they compromise in order to be loved?”

May God grant wisdom to us all!

Yours for the King and for the Kingdom!

Psalm 91 – The Coronavirus Psalm

Psalm 91 – The Coronavirus Psalm

Psalm 91 – The Coronavirus psalm

This Psalm has been a strength for many believers who turn to the Bible looking for answers during this trying and unknown time. The psalmist even foresaw times like the one in which the world is experiencing now. Twice he spoke of being protected from the pestilence – the “deadly pestilence” and “the pestilence that stalks in the darkness.” Once he speaks of the “plague that destroys at midday.”

But the opening verse is the key for our focus: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Dwelling in the LORD brings rest.

Paul tells us that “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:8). And from our perspective with God, we see Him at work in all situations. He will never allow the enemy to win the battle. Jesus has been given “all authority” not only in heaven but also “on earth” (Matthew 28:18).

Let us pray for all those who will turn to the Lord during this worldwide “pestilence/plague.” Let us become the believers who put our trust in Him, trusting that even this will be turned for our good as we trust in Him.

Plagues into Prayers

Plagues into Prayers

Turning plagues into prayers

Four scriptures from John’s Revelation stir me to turn the present plague into prayers. In Revelation 9:20, after the trumpet plagues had been sent across the earth, John mourns that “the rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands,” indicating that God can use plagues in a way of calling people to repentance.

Similar frustration is expressed following the bowls of wrath that are reported in chapters 15 and 16. “They were seared by the intense heat and cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him” (16:9). “Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heavens because of their pain and their sores, but they refused to repent for what they had done” (16:10-11).

However there can be another response. Following the two witnesses, John reports, “At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven” (11:13). Giving glory to God implies that there was repenting going on.

Let us pray that this present crisis will be used of God to turn the hearts of thousands, even millions of hearts to Jesus. Do remember the prophecy about a billion soul world revival beginning in our day.

Let us be filled with hope and with joy in Jesus. Let us turn this plague into a “good report.” To the glory of God! Through Jesus the King!

Present Concerns, Though Written 72 Years Ago

Present Concerns, Though Written 72 Years Ago

“Do not fear” Luke 12:32

This word from the very erudite C. S. Lewis is a fitting “Good Report.”

From his book, “Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays,” published in 1948.

Substitute “atomic bomb” with “coronavirus,” and you will find—though written 72 years ago—it is still very accurate and encouraging to this day.

“In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any nigaht; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

Be outrageously blessed in Jesus this and every day.

Strength for Every Occasion

Strength for Every Occasion

An interesting passage in the beginning of the book of Judges: “These are the nations the LORD left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experiences)” (3:1-2).

That does not sound like a “Good Report” to me, but it actually was. It was essential for the younger generation to learn how to fight. God’s view is often very different from our own.

I suspect that the worldwide pandemic about the coronavirus is another one of those strange things that God is allowing so that we will learn how to weather every storm that comes between now and His return. If my understanding of Scripture is close to accurate, we are headed toward the most horrific time in world history. Daniel calls it “a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then” (12:1). Jesus adds an addendum to Daniel’s prophecy, saying that it will be “great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again” (Matthew 24:21).

I have bad news. It’s going to get worse.

But I have good news. God will be with us and give us strength for every occasion.

Could it be that He is allowing the worldwide coronavirus so that, like Israel in the time of the Judges, we learn how to wage war and come through in victory at all times and in every way?

Let us lean into the Lord and have no fear. Remember that Jesus has “all authority” not only in heaven but all “on earth” (Matthew 28:18). The coronavirus did not catch Him off guard. He’s got it.

So “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory…  stand firm. Let nothing move you.” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58).

God-Identity

God-Identity

Know your identity!

I love John’s description of the night when Jesus washed all the disciples’ feet. John says, “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God, so he got up from the meal…  and began to wash his disciples’ feet” (13:3-4).

Jesus knew who He was. He knew His identity. His actions came out of his God-given confidence.

Do you know who you are? Are you confident of your God-identity? Life and actions should follow our God-identity.

I encourage everyone I know to write for themselves their God-identity, based on scriptural facts, then memorize the statement and repeatedly speak it to yourself. This rids us of demoralizing negative self-talk, and then we grow in a walk with joy and confidence. Here are some possible starters for you:

*All of my sins are forgiven in Jesus (Romans 3).

*I have become righteous in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

*I have a secure future.

*He works everything for my good – everything! (Romans 8:28)

*I refuse to walk only by what I see or feel (2 Corinthians 5:7).

*I hear when God speaks (John 8:47; John 10:27).

*I am becoming more like Jesus (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18)

*I refuse to dwell on the past (Isaiah 43:18).

You get the point. God has a different view of us than we have of ourselves. As an example of this, check out God’s view of Moses (Exodus 3:11, 13; 4:1, 10, 13), Gideon (Judges 6:11,12), or Jeremiah (1:4-8) as opposed to their view of themselves.

Know your identity in Jesus. Speak that identity to yourself repeatedly, and you will begin to believe God more than you believe yourself, and you will walk in greater joy, confidence, faith and hope into the future.

Have a blessed life.