WAYNE HILSDEN PASSING DOWN THE VISION OF ISRAEL
JONATHAN BERNIS REACHING THE JEWS
DR. MICHAEL BROWN WHY SHOULD WE CARE ABOUT ISRAEL TODAY? NOVEMBER// DECEMBER 2014
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N o v e m b e r // D e c e m b e r 2 0 1 4
In a nation largely resistant to Jesus Christ, Israel’s mistrust of Messianic Jews and Christians is slowly beginning to fade due to the benovolence and love of these ministries
18 | 12 MINISTRIES MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN ISRAEL
These ministries are meeting physical needs in the Holy Land. But more importantly, they’re spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. By Ken Walker PLUS: 4 More Ministries Impacting Israel
26 | PASSING THE TORCH OF TRUTH ABOUT ISRAEL
Wayne Hilsden has been preaching the gospel in Israel for over 30 years. He and others are meeting the challenge to prompt new generations in the Holy Land to listen. By Wayne Hilsden
36 | WHY SHOULD WE CARE ABOUT ISRAEL TODAY?
Dr. Michael Brown explores the question of what connection the modern State of Israel shares with ancient biblical prophecy By Michael Brown
42 | THE SPIRITUAL RESTORATION OF ISRAEL
Has God bestowed upon us, the end-times church, the honor of helping Israel to awaken spiritually? By Grant Berry
48 | THE MISSING LINK IN OUR MISSIOLOGY
Jewish Voice Ministries’ Jonathan Bernis explains why God is not finished with Israel and the Jews By Jonathan Bernis
58 | ISRAEL REVIVAL: A MYSTERY REVEALED
Are more and more Jews these days putting their faith in the the Messiah? By Ron Cantor
MinistryToday November // December 2014
66 | WORKING TOWARD GODLY UNITY
When Palestinian Christians understand God’s love and mercy for Israel, they will experience it for themselves at new levels By Sandra Teplinsky
70 | GAINING ACCEPTANCE
Once thought of as a major threat to Israeli life, Messianic Jewish ministries are now being recognized as Jewish-friendly By Barry Rubin
72 | ALIYAH: ORDER IN THE CHAOS Amidst the world’s antiSemitism, God is holding true to His promise to regather His people from the four corners of the earth By Gary Cristofaro
DEPARTMENTS MINISTRY LIFE
74 | MULTICULTURAL 5 ways to pray for the peace of Israel
76 | PERSONAL CHARACTER 4 ways to make your time with God count 78 | ADMINISTRATION How to avoid hiring a staff infection 80 | PREACHING 7 principles for the perfect preaching calendar
6|M INISTRY MATTERS Church website design; children’s ministry dilemma, worship as a lifestyle
12 | KINGDOM CULTURE ‘I’m here because I love you back’ By Jonathan Feldstein 14 | FROM MY VIEWPOINT Israel: From apathy to admiration By Shawn A. Akers 82 | PASTOR’S HEART How to balance family and ministry By Rob Hoskins
Ministry Today (ISSN #0891-5725) is published bi-monthly by Charisma Media, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, FL 32746. Periodicals postage paid at Lake Mary, FL 32746 and at additional entry offices. Canada Post International Publications Mail Product (Canadian Distributing) Sales Agreement Number 40037127. Subscription rate is $24.97 for six issues and $39.97 for twelve issues. Canadian subscribers add $5 per year for postage, other countries add $10 per year for postage, payable in advance in U.S. currency only. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Ministry Today, P.O. Box 6102, Harlan, IA 51593-1602. Send undeliverable Canadian mail to: 1415 Janette Avenue, Windsor, ON N8X1Z1. © 2014 by Charisma Media. For advertising information call (407) 333-0600. Nothing that appears in Ministry Today be reprinted without permission. PRINTED IN THE USA Vision for Israel | Jewish Voice Ministries International | Cover: © iStockphoto/eldadcarin
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IDEAS, INSIGHTS & INSPIRATION FOR YOUR MINISTRY
Mobile Responsive Church Website Design 101 By Jeremy Smith Website design is in a revolution that is unlike anything we have ever seen. Up until the last couple of years, all websites had a desktop screen that used a mouse and keyboard and went to a monitor. The biggest challenge with website design then was that if you should create a website bigger than 640px by 480px as monitors became bigger as well as more browsers could make displaying your website complex and frustrating.
What Is Mobile-Responsive Web Design? With the rise of the mobile device, tablets and smartphones from Android-based operating systems, Windows devices, or the giant iOS platform from Apple, we now have a new way of reaching people. Here are just a couple of the questions that mobile devices have brought up: 1) We have issues of smaller screen size with phones as well as larger and higher resolution screens with tablets. How can we make the website look good? 2) Another issue is that unlike the mouse for computers, we have fat fingers that are trying to navigate through the website. How do we make it easy to flow through the site while still looking good when someone is reading content? 3) Finally, load times across wifi are improving every day with higher bandwidth speeds, but mobile 3G and 4G speeds are still slow a majority of the time unless you are near towers or in open space. If a website takes too long to load, the user will ditch the site. How do we be visually appealing while still loading up quickly? The solution is to create a new website presentation for mobile users than desktop users, thus the term mobile-responsive web design. Now, this is not a debate for if a church should create an app or a responsive design. Instead, we want to look at how to create a mobile-responsive web design for your church’s website. 6
MinistryToday November // December 2014
Mobile-Responsive Web Design Solutions Here are several solutions that your church can take for its website. Note that we give the positives and negatives of each, but it is up to your church, the importance of a mobileresponsive web design, their dedication of resources, and the established goals that come of redoing your website. 1) Hire someone to redesign your website. This solution is the most powerful option that will reward you with the best results for your website. It’s highly customized, optimized for your use cases, all of your website will show up, and your branding can always be present. In all honesty, the programmer is simply manipulating some CSS, testing it on different platforms, and getting the most out of your website. Nearly every Fortune 500 company goes this route because it is the best. The downside is that it will cost you more to go this route than any other. 2) Purchase a new website design that is responsive. This is the solution that I chose with my personal website when I bought a WordPress theme. You will pay a little more for a responsive design, but prices have become very competitive and nearly an industry standard now. If you are looking for a new website design anyway and would like to buy a theme package, this is a perfect solution. Make sure the theme you buy is mobile responsive and, if you are not sure, ask the developer. Do not buy a new theme without ensuring it will look great on a smartphone. The problem with this approach is that you are going to be a bit limited on your branding, flexibility of design, and fully integrating your website into the design. But the cost is much lower than hiring someone. 3) Use a mobile-responsive website plugin. For some websites that run on WordPress, Joomla or Drupal, there might be plugins that help detect what device is viewing your website and automatically change it. Solutions like WPTouch are designed to take what you have and convert it for you. What you get is a great design that is perfect for all mobile solutions. Even better, there are free versions of this available. Yet, the biggest issue is that the design you get on your mobile device will most likely be completely different from your church website, and so if branding is important to you then this is a terrible solution. More so, plugins do not account for church podcasts, special ministry pages, or other specialized web pages, and can break your website. This solution should be seen as a temporary fix till you move on to solution should be seen as a temporary fix till you move on to a better solution.
This article was excerpted and adapted with permission from churchtechtoday.com. © iStockphoto/marekuliasz
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IDEAS, INSIGHTS & INSPIRATION FOR YOUR MINISTRY
How to Tell Someone They Can’t Serve in Your Children’s Ministry By Dale Hudson
I recently sat down with someone who wanted to volunteer to serve in our children’s ministry. I knew going into the conversation that he would not be able to serve at this time. While his heart was in the right place, his background check contained a worrisome element. This is an example of something you will face if you have an on-boarding process for volunteers. If you don’t have a process in place, please, please, please do so for the safety of the kids in your ministry. So when the background check or another part of the process produces a red flag, how do you lead this difficult conversation?
Affirm the person as a part of your church family. Start off by sharing with them how much you love them and that you are thankful they are part of your church family. Share with them how much you appreciate their wanting to serve. Explain that a red flag popped up while taking them through the process. Share with them what it was. (examples ... a drug-use conviction a year ago, referencecall information, application answers, etc.) Ask them to share about the circumstances surrounding the“red flag.” It’s important to allow them to explain what happened. This is not so they 8
can talk you into letting them serve, but to hear their heart and journey so you can help them move forward. Explain the “why” of the process. Share that it’s nothing personal against them, but rather a system you have in place to ensure the safety and security of the children. Share that you go the second mile to accomplish this—hence you have very high standards in place.
Be a pastor. More than likely they are going to feel either angry, hurt, sad or guilty. They may even question if you want them to be part of the church family. This is such a key time in the conversation. Again, affirm how much you love them. Share with them how thankful you are that they are part of the church family. Provide them with next steps. Don’t leave them hanging. This is one of the most critical times of the conversation. God is giving you the opportunity to help this person grow in their relationship with Him. Give them the next steps so that they can take to continue to grow spiritually. Perhaps it’s a class or program in which they can participate. Perhaps it’s another ministry in the church they can serve in that doesn’t require high-security standards. Follow up and help them get connected.
MinistryToday November // December 2014
Let them know “no” now doesn’t mean “no” indefinitely. Share with them that when the red flag is removed you’d like to have them as part of the team one day. (example—if you have a two-year wait process for someone who had a drug conviction). The exception to this would be someone who has abused a child. That would be a permanent red flag to serve in children’s ministry for us. Final Thoughts As I walked through this
process with the person this past weekend, there were tears in his eyes. He went down a rough path with some addictions but is now headed in the right direction. I was able to connect him with the recovery ministry in our church where he can be surrounded by people who will help him grow and provide him with a place to serve. And one day—a few years down the road—I look forward to seeing him become spiritually healthy so that he will be able to serve in our children’s ministry. © iStockphoto/VikramRaghuvanshi
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Ministry Matters V o l . 3 2 // N o . 6
Is Your Worship Limited, Or Is It a Lifestyle? By David Santistevan We say that worship is a lifestyle, but how many of us actually live it? Merriam Webster defines lifestyle as “a particular way of living: the way a person lives or a group of people live.” If that’s the case, this is pretty important stuff. It makes sense, right? The Bible isn’t silent on this matter:
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every part of you. It’s not just a conversation you have, a T-shirt you wear, or a conference you attend. It is … you. Consider your five senses: Are you using your eyes to constantly see more of His glory and stand more in awe? Are you using your ears to be tuned into the voice of Holy Spirit?
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“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). All. Do all. Whatever you do. I’m no theologian, but from my perspective that doesn’t leave any stone unturned. No facet of our lives is exempt from the glory of God. He is a jealous God—passionate for our full attention, admiration and affection. And He’s the only being in the universe Who can demand such loyalty. It’s right for Him to do so. All of our lives should reflect the greatness of God in Christ through the Holy Spirit. But so often this worship is reserved for the holy moments … the spiritual parts of our life such as church attendance, devotions, small groups, and when we’re listening to worship music. In the grand scheme of our week, that’s a small amount of time. What about the rest?
Make it a Lifestyle If your worship is a lifestyle, it affects 10 MinistryToday November // December 2014
Are you using your mind to comprehend the mysteries of God through the Bible? Are you tasting and seeing that God is good? Are you feeling strong affections for Christ deep in your bones? Are you reaching out and extending God’s grace to the world?
Stop Making So Many Decisions If worship is to become a lifestyle, it needs to be automated—second nature. You shouldn’t wake up in the morning and have to decide whether you’ll read your Bible or not. It needs to be automatic. You shouldn’t have to decide whether you will love Jesus today. It’s automatic. I think the problem with the practicalities of “doing all” to the glory of God is that we rely on our decision-making power as to whether it will happen or not. So, how do you make worship a habit? How can we keep ourselves from simply running to Jesus when there’s a tragedy and make it more second nature every single day? © iStockphoto/bowdenimages
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K I N G D O M
C U L T U R E
BY JONATHAN FELDSTEIN
‘I’m Here Because I Love You Back’ Here’s why an Orthodox Jew relishes his friendships with Christians
erhaps it’s no coincidence that Thanksgiving and Chanukah are in the same season. Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday. Growing up and living in the U.S., it’s part of the prism through which I still look at the world, even while living in the Judean mountains, raising my children here, and living God’s promise to Abraham, as an orthodox Jew in the Land of Israel. Americans know that Thanksgiving goes back to the early settlers of the United States as a time to be thankful for the bounty that God bestowed on them. Today, it’s still a day Jonathan Feldstein for being thankful for what we have in our lives, the things that bless us. Chanukah is the celebration of a victory by the Maccabees over ancient Greeks, re-establishing Jewish autonomy in Israel, and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. These are miracles for which we are also grateful to God. It’s a special privilege to share some of the many wonderful things for which I am thankful in my life, particularly as it relates to my calling to be a bridge between Jews and Christians and to restore a breach of a relationship thousands of years old. There are far too many individual experiences and people who are dear to me to list them all. So I have grouped these into four categories: Sharing, Prayer, Israel, Witnessing. Sharing: Writing for Charisma and Ministry Today is an unparalleled honor. In addition to this, I have had the unique privilege of being invited to attend Christian conventions, pastors’ conferences, and appear on numerous TV and radio ministries, as well as speaking in churches across the U.S. As much as I get to share about my life in Israel and my ministry, Heart to Heart, the blessings I receive from this are vastly greater. Prayer: Jews and Christians are united by worshiping and exalting the One true God. I am impressed by how much of Christian worship and scripture is so familiar, of course because Jesus was a Jew as were all the disciples. When Jews and Christians learn more about one another, including Christianity’s roots in Judaism, we see so many things that we have in common. I have prayed with Christians, and been prayed over by Christians, experiencing God through fellowship, and mutually pouring out our hearts to Him. It’s awesome having someone dig into the essence of our relationship. 12 MinistryToday November // December 2014
Israel: Many things unite Jews and Christians, but the greatest is Israel. Once, I had the privilege of fellowshipping with a renowned pastor and asked him to share his testimony of sorts by asking the question, “How did you become such a great Christian Zionist leader and role model?” His answer was vivid. He was sitting at the kitchen table with his father the day Israel was born again as a nation, and his father said, “This proves that there is a God and He keeps His promises.” There are many reasons Christians support Israel. For Jews, it’s our ancient home and modern refuge. A source of saving lives and living out prophecy. Yet, the unwavering support expressed by millions of Christians for Israel is a tremendous blessing. Witnessing: Jews come into relationships with Christians with lots of baggage. For much of the past 2,000 years, people representing “the church” committed gross horrors against us. It’s legitimate to be wary of strangers’ intentions. Because I have deep relationships with so many Christians whose love is unconditional, I get to witness to fellow Jews that this is not the Inquisition, it is not the pogroms, it is not the Holocaust, but this is a genuine love. Many still don’t get it, but some do. Because of the past, it’s understandable that Jews would think twice about engaging with Christians, albeit those who represent a very different church than in the past. However, I believe we are seeing the prophecy of Isaiah 60:14: “The children of your oppressors will come bowing before you; all who despise you will bow down at your feet and will call you the City of the LORD, Zion of the Holy One of Israel.” I’m often asked why, as an Orthodox Jew, I would attend such events, speak to Christian audiences, visit churches, etc., or why I even care. I explain that when someone loves us unconditionally and embraces us wholeheartedly, my answer is to love and embrace them back. So if you see a Jewish guy with a kippah (head covering) and the back of a shirt that says, “I’m here because I love you back,” it’s probably me. Please come give me a hug. J O N A T H A N F E L D S T E I N was born and educated in the U.S. and immigrated to Israel in 2004. He has been blessed by the calling to fellowship with Christian supporters of Israel and shares his experiences of living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel.
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F R O M
V I E W P O I N T
BY SHAWN A. AKERS
Israel: From Apathy to Admiration
Simple education can help change attitudes for the better toward the Jews
ad to say, but a little more than two years ago my interest in the State of Israel cou ld be descr ibed a s apathetic at best. Because I believe the Bible is the uncompromised Word of God—and I have ever since I got saved more than 25 years ago—I have recognized the Jews as God’s chosen people as in 2 Samuel 7:24: “You established Your people Israel as your own people forever, and You, Lord, became their God” (MEV). There are many other Scriptures to confirm this, including Exodus 19:5, Deuteronomy 7:6-8, 1 Shawn Akers Kings 10:9 and Psalms 105:8-15. It was only when I came to work for Charisma Media, however, that my eyes—and my heart—were truly opened to how special Israel really is. I began to oversee the production of our Standing With Israel section on Charismamag.com. It has expanded my horizons beyond my comprehension. Prior to coming here, I had never, in my 46 years, been acquainted with an Orthodox Jew much less befriended one. That has changed, and I now count Jonathan Feldstein, who lives in Effrat, as one of my closest friends despite the physical distance between us and the vast differences in our backgrounds and beliefs. Jonathan and I pray for and encourage each other constantly. Lord knows he and his family have needed it this past summer during the Gazan conflict with Hamas. This summer, I attended a service at the Jewish Center in Maitland, Florida, to pray for the Israeli teens who were kidnapped by Hamas. Tragically, the youth were killed shortly thereafter, but, gratefully, it allowed me to connect with the local Jewish community. They are wonderful people. Charisma also has afforded me the opportunity to learn about and appreciate the many wonderful Messianic Jewish ministries that make an impact on Israel every day and to forge relationships with the pertinent people involved. That includes many of the 12 ministries that we are honoring in this special November/December issue of Ministry Today. Earlier this year on their trip to Orlando, I had the privilege of meeting Wayne Hilsden and his wife, Ann, of King
of Kings Community Jerusalem. The Hilsdens have been spreading the gospel of Christ in Israel for over 31 years. It began as a Bible study/fellowship in a living room and is now a thriving ministry committed to proclaiming the Good News of Yeshua, expressing the heart of the Messiah toward hurting people through deeds of compassion and apostolic ministry. Many other Jewish and Messianic ministry leaders have graced us with their presence in our offices, including Barry and Batya Segal of Vision for Israel; Mel Hoelzle, Gary Cristofaro and Craig Shrum of Ezra International; and Rabbi Shmuel Bowman of Operation Lifeshield. Each of these ministries is unique in its impact on Israel, and you can read about them in full in Ken Walker’s story (page 18). Also in this issue are stories from Hilsden about passing down the vision of Israel to the next generation; a piece from Dr. Michael Brown on why we as believers should care about Israel today; and a piece from Jonathan Bernis of Jewish Voice Ministries International as to how we can reach out to the Jews in love and friendship. We at Charisma Media believe it is crucial for believers to stand with Israel, especially in the perilous times in which we live. As you know, the early church was composed almost entirely of Jews, and for three years, the gospel went through Jerusalem and Judea before it went out to the Gentiles. For those who aren’t already, I would encourage you, as ministerial leaders, to educate your congregations on Israel’s crucial role in the End Times. Preach a sermon—or a series of sermons—on it. Create a small-group Bible study on the subject. “Surely the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah ... I will put My laws into their minds and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Heb. 8:8-10, MEV).
We at Charisma Media believe it is crucial for believers to stand with Israel, especially in the perilous times in which we live.
14 MinistryToday November // December 2014
S h a w n A . A k e r s is the managing editor of Ministry Today magazine and the editor of Standing With Israel on charismamag.com.
W O R L D V I S I O N F O U N D E R B O B P I E R C E , 19 5 9
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IN THE MARGINS
W E B E L I E V E Jesus still calls His people to bring hope and transformation to the worldâ€™s hardest places. Together, we serve Him, leading the way to fullness of life for children and families living in pover ty. Join us in the margins.
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CH147318 _ 0914 ÂŠ 2014 World Vision, Inc.
MINISTRY IMPACT IN ISRAEL
CHOSEN PEOPLE MINISTRIES EZRA INTERNATIONAL INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN EMBASSY JERUSALEM JEWISH VOICE MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL THE JOSEPH PROJECT THE JOSHUA FUND KING OF KINGS COMMUNITY JERUSALEM MAOZ ISRAEL MESSIAH’S MANDATE OPERATION LIFESHIELD REVIVE ISRAEL VISION FOR ISRAEL & THE JOSEPH STOREHOUSE
12 MINISTRIES MAKING
A DIFFERENCE IN
These ministries are meeting physical needs in the Holy Land. But more importantly, they’re spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.
BY KEN WALKER
hen Canadian native Wayne Hilsden moved to Israel in 1983 to help establish a fledgling congregation in Jerusalem, little did he know that he would wind up staying for three decades, or that King of Kings Community Jerusalem would turn into a multi-faceted ministry that has helped give birth to six churches, a Bible college, a thriving prayer initiative, and various outreaches. However, most precious to the former professor at Eastern Pentecostal Bible College are the carefully built relationships that enable him to share the message that Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) is the Messiah awaited by Israelis. “There’s a greater measure of openness about one’s faith,” says the senior pastor of King of Kings. “When we came to Israel the average Jew didn’t believe it was possible to become a believer. Even those who came to Christ believed they were the only Jews in existence who had done that.” From a smattering of 15 messianic congregations around Israel when he arrived, Hilsden estimates there are 150 today. These churches have more than 15,000 Jews who consider themselves followers of Yeshua. Those numbers may seem minuscule in a nation of more than 8 million. But leaders who focus on providing humanitarian aid, social assistance, and spreading the good news in a nation largely resistant to Christ say what God is doing in Israel rivals the exodus from Egypt. The miracles are occurring “right before our eyes,” says Gary Cristofaro, director of development for Ezra International. Since 1995 the U.S.-based ministry has aided the return of more than 43,000 low-income Jews to their ancestral homeland. A similar number are waiting for help securing documents, passports and assorted immigration papers. “God is gathering His people from the four corners of the Earth,” says Cristofaro, a former Assemblies of God pastor. “The miracles are greater than when He brought them out of Egypt. Understanding this can make a difference in people’s faith. The things we worry about are pretty tame compared to this. It’s a very exciting time. A lot of people’s hearts will fail, but if more understand where they are in His economy, it will make a difference.” Ezra International’s founder, Mel Hoelzle, points to God’s promise in Jeremiah 16:16 to develop a network of fishermen and hunters to help with the return of Jews to Israel. The former business leader discovered such networks in Eastern European churches and others after the fall of communism. In a vision, God told Hoelzle He brought down the Iron Curtain, but another wall (poverty) was holding His people from returning home. » © iStockphoto/traffic_analyzer
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“That’s why we work with poor people,” Hoelzle says. “It was unbelievable how in Russia, Siberia and Ukraine, we had people coming up to tell us about dreams and visions that He would call them to help Jewish people. And now they had the opportunity to work with an organization like ours.” Among other present-day miracles is improving Christian-Jewish relations, fractured by anti-Semitism in the church for 2,000 years. The thaw has been aided by such long-standing efforts as the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, established in 1980 after 13 nations closed embassies to protest the Knesset’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital. More recently, an eight-year-old ministry that provides portable shelters to Jews, Palestinians and other residents during rocket attacks is also opening doors of understanding. Rabbi Shmuel Bowman says Operation Lifeshield has attracted support from diverse quarters. When Jews and Christians come together for a unified purpose, the program saves lives while bringing down long-standing walls, Bowman says. “The Jewish Federation in Birmingham, Alabama, now has a Christian on staff whose job is to connect to Christian communities and talk to them about Israel and why bridge building is important,” says the Torah scribe, who lives just south of Jerusalem. “If people can get together and talk about things we care passionately about, that opens doors to conversations and relationships.”
“Ministry to Israel” is a broad term, encompassing everything from church planting and humanitarian aid to helping soldiers without extended family and protecting people vulnerable to attacks—especially those in southern Israel shelled by a hail of rockets this year from Hamas forces in Gaza. In a nation prospering amid intense opposition from surrounding Middle Eastern neighbors, it may be hard to see Israel as a land of need. Indeed, during his multiple visits each year, Hoelzle 20 MinistryToday November // December 2014
finds a place vastly different from the snippets that appear via network news reports. “Israel does a good job of protecting their people,” he says. “I feel safer there than I do on the streets of Los Angeles or Chicago.” Yet, many are left behind in the country’s economic development, particularly Palestinians, Russians and Ethiopian immigrants. The latter two groups are part of the ongoing “aliyah” return aided by groups such as Ezra International. The Messianic Jewish Alliance estimates 1.7 million, or approximately 20 percent, of Israel’s residents live below the poverty line. Jonathan Bernis, president and CEO of Jewish Voice Ministries International, says those numbers reflect groups still struggling to adapt to an advanced, high-tech-style economy. In addition to lacking job skills, people such as elderly Russians and Ethiopians also run into language barriers. While many Israelis speak English, a failure to master the Hebrew language places immigrants outside the mainstream, Bernis says. Yet, such needs are also creating an opportunity for messianic churches and Christian ministries that have gained credibility in many sectors of society. “There’s still a disdain for Jewish believers among the ultra-Orthodox and a majority in political leadership,” says Bernis, who started Hear O Israel ministries in 1984 before later merging it with Jewish Voice. “But I think the messianic Jewish movement has gained a constituency. It has done a good job of providing clothing on behalf of the Christian community.” Some of the numbers are impressive. During the past 20 years, Vision for Israel & The Joseph Storehouse has assisted more than 750,000 people and 193,500 students, the latter through its Pack to School project providing school supplies to needy children. However, statistics pale in significance when co-founder Barry Segal has touching encounters like his meeting with 64 Holocaust survivors in midAugust. Barry and his wife, Batya, sang to them and provided financial vouchers
As part of Operation Lifeshield, children paint their kindergarten shelter in Nitzan, north of Gaza
Operation Lifeshield , under the direction of Rabbi Shmuel Bowman, touches many lives in Israel
Chosen People Ministries evangelizes to Jewish people through projects like food distribution Operation Lifeshield | Chosen People Ministries
Jewish Voice Ministries’ Jonathan Bernis (l) believes the Messianic Jewish movement is finally beginning to gain a foothold in Israel
“THERE’S STILL A DISDAIN FOR JEWISH BELIEVERS AMONG THE ULTRAORTHODOX AND A MAJORITY IN POLITICAL LEADERSHIP, BUT I THINK THE MESSIANIC JEWISH MOVEMENT HAS GAINED A CONSTITUENCY.” – Jonathan Bernis, Jewish Voice Ministries International in advance of the Jewish holidays (Rosh Hashanah Sept. 24-26 and Yom Kippur Oct. 3-4). This tender moment came right before the ministry distributed 8,500 backpacks and other assistance to children. Soon after, 500 members in Vision for Israel’s Lone Soldiers program received hiking bags stuffed with personal supplies. In early September, Segal’s staff also gave out thousands of dollars worth of medical kits in backpacks to first responders who deal with the fallout of attacks from Hamas and other terrorist groups. The latter has been even more challenging lately, as more than 2,000 Gazans and Israelis died in two months of fighting with Hamas before a shaky ceasefire went into effect in late summer. In addition to destruction, Segal says the collateral damage has Jewish Voice Ministries International
included victims suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder. Segal shares about projects and topics such as food, culture and the Bible on his weekly Roots & Reflections TV program, which airs in Israel and globally on Daystar. The program’s positive message about Israel and its people helps counteract the anti-Semitism that has resurfaced this year around the globe. “We are not stuffing the Good News down people’s throats,” says Segal, who grew up in the United States and discovered Yeshua as a young musician in the Midwest. “We’re introducing people to the Bible and the Great Author through a relationship with Yeshua, the Messiah. “We are not trying to convert Jews to another religion but bring them back to repentance and a love for the faith of their patriarchs. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all looked forward to this covenant relationship.”
The needs Hilsden sees around Kings of Kings’ headquarters in an old theater in the heart of Jerusalem prompted the formation of new outreaches this year. Its Anchor of Hope counseling center is based in what used to be a sex shop, while its compassion center offering various forms of aid launched last July. It plans to open a soup kitchen there in January. “What we’ve been finding is the recent Gaza-Hamas war caused a quick downturn in the economy, partially due to [lower] tourism,” Hilsden says. “There are a lot of needy people, especially in Jerusalem. I regularly see homeless people on the streets, digging through garbage cans to find food. Our hearts go out to them.” That statement can be repeated by numerous ministries that not only help those in need, but also November // December 2014 MinistryToday 21
Vision for Israel, under the direction of Barry Segal and his wife, Batya, has assisted almost 200,000 children with school supplies through its Pack to School program
continue to shine a spotlight on the land that occupies a central role in the Second Coming of the Messiah. Some examples:
The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ)
Ari (r) and Shira Sorko-Ram have been sharing the gospel in Tel Aviv for more than 35 years
Among its outreaches is hosting annual observances of Sukkot (this year observed from Oct. 8 to 15), a Jewish festival commemorating God’s faithfulness to the Jewish people during their exodus from Egypt. The ICEJ, which held the first Christian celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles in 1980, helps educate Christians worldwide about Israel’s unique calling in God’s plans. The embassy also helps combat antiSemitism, which has surged this year in places such as Germany, France, Great Britain and Eastern Europe. In September Greece strengthened its laws against anti-Semitism and other hate speech because of the rise of a neoNazi Party there. During a trip to Ukraine last January, Ezra International’s Cristofaro encountered flyers containing “Blood Libel” claims. Popular in Nazi Germany, their primary accusation is that Jews murder Christian children to use their blood during holiday rituals, including baking Passover matzahs. “It’s hard to believe this is happening in the 21st century,” Cristofaro says. “This happens in the Middle East and then is repeated by the Orthodox Church. Anti-Semitism is not just coming from neo-Nazis and Arabs but what many Jews see as the church.”
Maoz Israel Ministries
More than 35 years old, Maoz Israel marked its birth with the 1977 marriage of founders Shira Sorko-Ram and her husband, Ari, a former actor and professional football player for the Arizona Cardinals (formerly St. Louis Cardinals). Now Israeli citizens, they founded the Tifaret Yeshua (the Glory of Yeshua) congregation in downtown Tel Aviv. In addition, they manage a nonprofit publishing company that prints and distributes Bible-based books in Hebrew and a humanitarian-aid 22 MinistryToday November // December 2014
Vision for Israel
4 More Ministries Impacting Israel Here are some other ministries that are making a difference for the people of Israel: Dugit: Simply the name of this organization in Tel Aviv is intriguing. The word “dugit” is Hebrew for “fishing boat,” like the ones used by the disciples on the Sea of Galilee. Established in 1993 by Avi and Chaya Mizrachi, Dugit likes to refer to itself as “fishers of men” in the heart of Tel Aviv. The Dugit Messianic Centre has been reaching Israelis with the gospel of Jesus Christ for more than two decades, discipling them to become stronger believers and grounding them in the Word. With 20 percent of Israelis living in poverty, Dugit’s Agape Distribution Center helps to provide food and clothing to the needy. Families are sent to the center by social services, including Holocaust survivors and those unable to work for health reasons. During the major Jewish holidays, Dugit distributes “baskets of love,” and the organization hands out free Bibles and testimony books in Hebrew, Russian and Arabic to quench spiritual thirst. Succat Hallel: In the mold of the many sites of the International House of Prayer in the United States, Succat Hallel is a place where anyone can come to worship and pray 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Americans Rick and Patti Ridings were summoned by God to Jerusalem in 1999 and began worship services in their living room. In 2004, the Lord opened the door to Succat Hallel to relocate to a facility overlooking Mount Zion and the Old City of Jerusalem. In fall 2006, a second private prayer room opened in the City of David where the original Tabernacle of David stood. Since 2007, Succat Hallel has hosted a youth/adult conference known as ELAV, which means “Unto Him.” Chaya and Avi Mizrachi founded Dugit in 1993 Jerusalem Institute of Justice: This organization is dedicated to cultivating and defending the rule of law, human rights, freedom of conscience and democracy for all people in Israel and its adjacent territories. Founded by Calev Myers in 2004, JIJ was established to provide pro-bono legal assistance for those suffering from illegal religious discrimination, including Messianic Jews. Myers immigrated to Israel in 1992, graduated from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and became a licensed member of the Israeli Bar Association. Since 2007, JIJ has strived to free men, women and children trapped in the sex trade and has been working to change legislation in Israel, which currently allows both the sale and purchase of sexual services. Additionally, JIJ focuses on Palestinian human rights. The Dugit Messianic Centre has been reaching Bridges for Peace: Bridges is a Jerusalem-based Bible-believing Israelis for Jesus for nearly two decades Christian organization whose desire is to see Christians and Jews working side by side for better understanding and a more secure Israel. Founded in 1976, BFP is a ministry of hope and reconciliation, giving Christians the opportunity to actively express their biblical responsibility before God to be faithful to Israel and the Jewish community. Its many programs include bimonthly publication of pertinent and positive news from Israel; its monthly teaching letter to bring fuller meanings of biblical concepts from the Hebraic roots of the Scriptures; its Chai Night prayer and study groups, which is a monthly intercessory prayer program for those desiring to pray for the peace of Jerusalem; and Operation Ezra, including a food bank and assistance to Jewish immigrants, Israel’s elderly and its poor. Dugit Messianic Outreach Center
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organization (istandwithisrael.com) that supports widows, orphans, needy people and terrorist victims. The organization also provides scholarships to help immigrants with Hebrew studies and career training, as well as college courses for Messianic Jews.
Revive Israel Ministries
Directed by Asher and Betty Intrater, this apostolic ministry is dedicated to bringing revival to Israel by reconciling its people with Yeshua as Messiah. In addition to past involvement with several messianic churches in Israel and the U.S., the couple now helps pastor Ahavat Yeshua (Love of Jesus) in Washington, D.C. Revive Israel’s evangelistic strategy focuses on building personal relationships in the workplace, schools and neighborhoods. It also spreads the gospel through one-on-one street witnessing, broadcasts and literature distribution. The ministry distributes a third of its donations to helping the poor, widows and orphans, and assisting Israeli business owners whose faith in Yeshua prompts challenges. Based in a residential community just outside Jerusalem,
Messiah’s Mandate’s Ron Cantor makes an impact through the airwaves and online 24 MinistryToday November // December 2014
it also is cooperating on projects to develop a messianic industrial park and a residential development.
Responding originally to disruptions in northern Israel during a 2006 war with Lebanon, this year’s attacks from Gaza have shifted its emphasis to the country’s southern region. Bowman felt so strongly about the mission to protect residents from disruptions that he left his Orthodox Jewish temple to devote all his time to Operation Lifeshield. Bowman draws key inspiration from Esther 4:14 and Mordecai’s admonishment to Esther that God had placed her in a strategic location to save Israel. He recalls how he and others who helped initiate this effort mused: “Perhaps this is our time.” Since then the organization has distributed nearly 300 portable bomb shelters that can protect anywhere from a dozen to 50 people. The school, medical clinic or governmental entity requesting one agrees to provide ongoing maintenance. “We’re such a boring organization,” Bowman jokes. “We have one mission and that’s to prevent Israelis
from rocket attacks. Pastors tell me for congregants to make a donation and be able to see where that donation has gone—and connect with Israelis— won’t give to something abstract or undefined.”
While their ministries don’t have an identical emphasis, two outreaches to Israel stem from those with roots in writing and commentary. The co-pastor of Tel Aviv’s Tifaret Yeshua, Ron Cantor is the founder of Messiah’s Mandate, a teaching ministry aimed at raising up leaders for the coming Israeli revival. The active blogger and author of Identity Theft (Destiny Image, 2013), Cantor is a thorn in the side of both anti-Semites and supporters of “replacement theology.” His novel explores how Jesus has been robbed of his Jewishness, while in a weekly podcast and blogs he explores the truth about such topics as Israel’s rebirth in 1948. Through both novels and non-fiction, author Joel Rosenberg has written extensively about Middle Eastern and end-times subjects. His latest novel, The Auschwitz Escape, explores a
Earlier this year, members of Chosen People Ministries visited a church in Poland with a group of Holocaust survivors from Israel
The Joseph Project, which has distributed more than $100 million in aid to the poor of all faiths in Israel, is the humanitarian relief arm of the Messianic Jewish Alliance
Jewish prisoner relying on God’s power to escape the concentration camp and alert the world to Nazi atrocities. In 2006, Rosenberg and his wife, Lynn, set up The Joshua Fund to mobilize Christians to bless Israel. They have led numerous prayer and vision trips to Israel, organized conferences and seminars on four continents, and provided food and other supplies to the needy.
Chosen People Ministries
Founded 120 years ago in Brooklyn by a Hungarian immigrant and now directed by Dr. Mitch Glaser, this ministry seeks to evangelize, disciple and serve Jewish people. It operates in 13 nations with programs that equip churches to do Jewish evangelism, support messianic congregations, print messianic materials, and participate in benevolent distribution. Representatives of Chosen People Ministries also conduct “Messiah in Passover” presentations in churches across the U.S. The ministry hosts an annual messianic Jewish retreat in Maryland and leads tours of the Holy Land annually.
The Joseph Project
The Joseph Project is the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America’s humanitarian-relief arm. The alliance, which
will observe its centennial anniversary next year, has distributed more than $100 million in aid to the poor of all faiths in Israel. The ministry collects, ships and distributes more than 75 tons of clothing, furniture, household goods, medical supplies and other aid annually. It supplies this assistance through a network of 35 relief aid centers, more than 100 Israeli partnering organizations, and messianic congregations. Donations have increased in recent years, with the Joseph Project tripling the number of 40-foot containers it shipped to Israel between 2010 and 2013, when aid totaled more than $5 million.
A Divine Mission
Those involved in ministry to Israel cite numerous Scriptures to buttress their support, particularly Matt. 25:3140, which Segal says in context is a reference to helping Jews. They also cite Gen. 12:1-3, Job 29:11-17, Job 31:1622, Is. 11:11-12, Is. 43:5-6, Is. 49:22, Is. 61:1-3 and the 36th chapter of Ezekiel. “Ezekiel 36 speaks about how God’s Name is profaned as the Jewish people have been scattered,” Cristofaro says. “God is mocked, and people think He can’t fulfill His promises. He reveals himself to the Jewish people and the nations with this (aliyah) process. We
have a choice: to sanctify or desecrate His Name.” Hoelzle sees encouraging signs that more Christians are warming to the message of support for Israel, saying Ezra International has more churches helping finance the ministry than it did a decade ago. He thinks that stems from more awareness of ancient prophecies about Israel being fulfilled in modern times. Indeed, during his ongoing trips to Israel, Bernis senses the same kind of openness to Yeshua that he saw among American Jews during the heyday of the Jesus People in the 1970s. Bernis, whose work in recent years has broadly expanded to establishing a network of medical clinics for Jewish communities in India and some countries in Africa, says he has talked to Orthodox Jews in Israel who have embraced Yeshua after supernatural experiences. “There is a growing expectation of Messiah,” Bernis says. “We believe that ultimately the Jewish people—and particularly those in Israel—will cry out: ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’” (Matt. 23:39). K e n W a l k e r is a freelance writer, coauthor and book editor from Huntington, W. Va., and a regular contributor to Ministry Today and Charisma. November // December 2014 MinistryToday 25
VISION FOR ISRAEL
Torch of Truth About Israel
Wayne Hilsden has been preaching the gospel in Israel for over 30 years. He and others are meeting the challenge to prompt new generations in the Holy Land to listen.
26 MinistryToday November // December 2014
BY WAYNE HILSDEN few years ago I spoke at a conference plenary session at a prominent Christian university. The preceding speaker was an Arab Christian peace activist. The next day the two of us hosted a Q-and-A session on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Although my Arab Christian colleague and I differ on some critical issues, we are friends. What I wasn’t ready for was the lack of friendliness behind some of the questions in relation
to Israel. But what was most surprising? The harshest critics were attendees from the student body of this university—ironically, an institution established by one of Israel’s staunchest evangelical supporters only a few decades ago. Among the youngest adult population in North America, a negative view of Israel is becoming the new normal. A century ago, respected Christian scholars and prominent church statesmen propelled Zionism. But today, a growing anti-Zionism characterizes a younger Christian cohort, in particular, those referred to as Millennials. (Defined by Pew Research Center as those born between 1981 and 1996). As recently as a decade ago, most evangelicals regarded Israel as a modern miracle and a marker of God’s unfolding plan. But today, growing numbers of young people are expressing serious doubts about these assumptions. Why the gap between older and younger generations? Older generations of evangelicals were alive during the Holocaust and the subsequent establishment of the State of Israel—or at least close enough that the images remain imprinted on their minds. Millennials have only read about these distant events. Older evangelicals grew up watching the underdog Jewish David defeat the Arab Goliath in 1967 in only six days—a feat of such magnitude that only God Himself could have accomplished it. Millennials view Israel’s superior military prowess as a consequence of generous American aid. »
© iStockphoto/jgroup; bkindler
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“Inundated with digital news bytes, with no time or patience for reasoned commentary, many Millennials make huge leaps of judgment.” Millennials see Israel as a prosperous, high-tech-driven “Startup Nation,” while previous generations recall how poor and persecuted Jewish immigrants fled Muslim lands only to barely eke out an existence in their new Jewish homeland. Inundated with digital news bytes, with no time or patience for reasoned commentary, many Millennials make huge leaps of judgment. They read 140 character tweets about Gazan mothers and children fleeing their homes and view it as Israeli “aggression.” They don’t realize that Israel has the moral fiber to warn civilians to flee before they strike the militias who infiltrated their homes to shoot rockets that terrorize nearby Israeli civilians. The people of Israel are facing one of the greatest wars in their history. Attacks include not only the kidnappings of young soldiers and civilians,
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thousands of rockets and suicide bombings against innocent civilians, but now rapid-fire hateful tweets and Facebook posts.
As many of us discern signs that we are approaching the return of the Lord, many will believe lies and fall away from the faith (see 2 Thess. 2:1-12). So, it’s critically important to get the truth of God’s Word to young people before it’s too late. Unfair attacks against Israel and siding with her sworn enemies is risky business. God promises blessing to those who stand with Israel but a curse for those who curse God’s chosen people (see Gen. 12:3). Now is the time to pass on the torch of God’s truth about Israel to our young people. So here are some things I believe we should do:
hh Stay focused on Jesus. As pollster George Barna revealed a number of years ago, younger generations are increasingly distancing themselves from the church, at least as an institution. But Jesus is still cool. So it’s important to remind Millennials that their warm embrace of Jesus also demands that they embrace those He embraces—in particular, His own Jewish brothers whom he came to serve and to save (see Matt. 25:31-46). First Cor. 15:8 tells us that “Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers.” Who are “the circumcision,” whom Jesus came to serve? The Jews. Who are the “fathers?” They were the first Jewish recipients of God’s revelation and promises. They are Israel’s patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses, David and all the great heroes
Wayne Hilsden and his wife, Ann, have been preaching the gospel in Jerusalem for over 30 years.
“To engage Millennials, we must become active on their own digital turf.” of the faith among all the people of Israel. And what are “the promises?” There were many. But the promise that is the subject of some of the fiercest debate today is the promise of land. Yet I contend that of all the promises Jesus came “to confirm,” the land promise is one of those He clearly endorsed as still valid. God could have sent His Son to Rome, the capital of the great empire in that day. Instead He sent His Son wrapped in Jewish flesh to be crucified, resurrected and ascended from Jerusalem. If Jesus viewed His coming as having only spiritual significance and confirmed that the promise of physical land is now passé, He might have used a generic name like the “Territories.” Growing numbers of Christians call this land “Palestine,” a term that doesn’t exist in the Bible. But Jesus confirms that the land is “Judea” (Acts 1:8).
Often forgotten or overlooked by Millennials is the fact that God’s promise of a unique land for a unique people was unilateral and unconditional. God alone entered into this covenant with Abram. Covenants were “cut” in ancient times. So God commanded Abram to cut the flesh of animals and line up the pieces on two sides, forming a corridor. Gen. 15:7-21 reveals that on the momentous occasion of Abram’s receiving God’s promise of a piece of land, Abram was sound asleep! God walks the length of the corridor all alone. Thus, the promise of land is guaranteed solely on the foundation that the God of Israel is always faithful to His covenants, even if Israel finds itself in spiritual slumber. hh Get Israel back into biblical theology. Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum became concerned that Israel plays only a tiny role in systematic theology taught in today’s Bible colleges. So he wrote a
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book called, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology. Jesus declared that we must be born again. Yet, the concept of the new birth is alluded to in the New Testament only three times. Yet, in the New Testament alone, “Israel” appears over seventy times. In
“whole counsel of God;” and we see from Paul’s epistles that Israel was a key element of his teaching. Perhaps one of the reasons pastors exclude the subject of Israel is the fear that this subject may be offensive to certain congregants. How can we challenge, engage and educate the Millennials on Israel?
generations. Consequently, Millennials tend to question the legitimacy of Israel based on Israel’s imperfect record of justice. And yet, Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East, and her Arab citizens continue to affirm to the pollsters that they would prefer to remain under Israeli
“One of the reasons why so many young people have little knowledge or interest in Israel is the fact that they read the Bible on a limited basis or not at all.” the Old Testament, it is found nearly 3,000 times. Israel is no minor issue. One of the reasons why so many young people have little knowledge or interest in Israel is the fact that they read the Bible on a limited basis or not at all. Another reason is because pastors rarely teach about Israel’s key role in God’s purposes. The apostle Paul told the Ephesian elders that he taught the
Sermons, books and film series are great—but not enough—in our digitally obsessed world. Today, information is delivered in miniaturized doses through social media. To engage Millennials, we must become active on their own digital turf as well. hh Re - empha size t he gospel of grace. M illennia ls a re appa rently j u s t ic e - fo c u s e d u n l i k e pre v iou s
sovereignty even if they were given the option of living in a Palestinian state. Millennials are increasingly adopting “neo-Calvinism.” Yet, Calvin champions the concept of God’s sovereign choosing of “the elect.” Election is based on grace, not on works of righteousness (justice). To be consistent, then, Millennial evangelicals need to be careful not to point their finger at Israel’s sins, as if
David’s mission is to
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Jews are deserving of greater condemnation. Paul gives this warning to selfrighteous judges in Rom. 2:3: “And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?” Then Paul says in the next verse: “… [D]o you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (2:4) In this light, the God of grace and goodness may very well be the Prime Mover of the Jewish people’s modern return to the land with God’s ultimate purpose, to lead them to repentance. God’s gracious initiative is prophesied in Ezek. 36:22, 24, 25-26. Here, God brings unbelievers back to their Land BEFORE they return to Himself: “Therefore say to the house of Israel, “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever
Just as God has used Israel as a powerful illustration of the negative consequences for those who rebel and wander from Him, God is now using Israel as a powerful illustration of the goodness and mercy that will follow His lost sheep until they return to His fold.
Reaching Millennials for the gospel has become more of a challenge for ministries like King of Kings Community in Jerusalem
you went. For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you…”
In spite of a spiritual drift among many evangelical Millennials in the West, in other places in the world like Asia, Africa and Latin America, revival fires are burning among next generations. Young believers in these regions have a greater love for the Bible than their Western counterparts. And they are becoming fascinated with the fulfillment of ancient prophecies concerning Israel. Even without Darby’s and Scofield’s dispensational interpretations, they are recognizing the significant role of the Jewish people in God’s eternal purposes. They are seeing that Israel is not just an ancient relic buried under
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“I Will Beckon to the Gentiles… They Will Bring Your Sons in Their Arms” Isaiah 49:22
the rubble of history, but a nation with a remarkable present and future. These newer believers are reading the Bible with a “common-sense” approach. They see how many Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled literally in the life of Jesus. These include the detail of His birth in Bethlehem, His exile to Egypt, His return to Judea, His death, and Resurrection, to name just a few. These Millennials follow the simple logic that if literal fulfillment is the pattern for much of Old Testament prophecy, then the prophecies concerning Israel’s future will result in literal fulfillment as well. There are hopeful developments today: Thousands of former Muslims are suddenly seeing visions of Jesus and are joining His ranks. In tandem with this phenomenon is a mysterious new love filling their hearts—for the Jews. The story of the Jewish people is as a tapestry through which God reveals His nature and His plans. Israel may appear
Part of King of Kings Community’s target audience is young Jewish couples
today to be a tangle of threads. But that’s only from the backside of the tapestry. When we eventually get a glimpse of Israel from God’s viewpoint, we will see that He is making Israel into something stunningly beautiful, whom He calls, “Israel My glory” (Is. 46:13).
Israel is still a work in progress. So let’s not be too quick to critique His creation before He is finished. W a y n e H i l s d e n has been the senior pastor of King of Kings Community, Jerusalem, Israel, for 31 years.
Barry Segal Direct from Jerusalem
The Jerusalem News Network delivers breaking news coupled with spiritual insights. JNN is the regions leading news service to combine the best tools of modern journalism, in-depth Biblical scholarship, and a profound connection to life on the ground in Israel. Join JNN’s FREE email list to receive bi-weekly news bulletins on developments relating to Israel and the Mideast. Each newsletter comes with verses that can be used in prayer. JNN believes that informed prayer, is powerful prayer. Know the unbiased facts and where each event may fit into God’s plan. Sign up for JNN’s free news service today.
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Phone: Vision for Israel, P.O. Box 7743, Charlotte, NC 28241 Tel: (704) 583-8445, Fax: (704) 583-8308 firstname.lastname@example.org, www.visionforisrael.com
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CHRISTIAN CULTURE & THE BIBLE
Why We Should Care About Israel Today? Dr. Michael Brown explores the question of what connection the modern State of Israel shares with ancient bibical prophecy BY DR. MICHAEL BROWN
any believers today, especially in the younger generation, have serious questions about why they should stand with the people of Israel. What connection, they wonder, does the modern State of Israel have with ancient biblical prophecy? After all, didn’t Paul state in Romans 9:6 that “not all Israel is Israel”? And, why should Christians stand with Israel when Israel is allegedly guilty of committing atrocities against the Palestinians? What about standing on the side of justice? Why focus on the salvation of Jewish people as if their salvation were more important than the salvation of any other people group? To give priority to the salvation of Israel would imply favoritism (or even racial discrimination) on the part of God. These are serious questions that deserve serious answers, so let’s examine them carefully, following Paul’s discussion in Romans 9-11 in detail. When it comes to Romans 9:6, we need to remember that Paul devoted three chapters to the subject of Israel in this letter. He had not yet been to Rome to preach the gospel and he wanted to be sure that, before he arrived there, the believers clearly understood the foundations of the faith. That’s why, right up front, he declared, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for 36 MinistryToday November // December 2014
salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). And notice that he put a priority on the gospel going to the Jewish people. (As many top Bible scholars recognize, when Paul said “to the Jew first,” he was speaking of priority and not just history.) Paul next speaks of the wrath of God on sinful human beings, making plain that all people, both Jews and Gentiles, are guilty in God’s sight (Rom. 1:18-3:31). Then, in Romans 4-5, Paul lays out the extraordinary message of justification by faith, continuing with his teaching on victory over sin and life in the Spirit in chapters 6-8. These are not trivial matters. In Romans 9-11, he focuses on Israel, which was obviously as important to him as the other, foundational subjects he had just covered. As one of my colleagues at FIRE School of Ministry has said, if you don’t understand Israel, you don’t understand Paul’s gospel. Yet there are pastors who actually skip over Romans 9-11 when preaching through the book, thinking it is not relevant for believers today. Talk about a serious error! The big question for Paul was this: Did God’s Word fail? After all, the Lord had made many promises to Israel in the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament), and yet as a nation, they missed the Messiah when He came. What happened? Paul first reiterates that the covenant promises still belong to Israel, writing, “to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises” (Rom. 9:4). But there is a mystery here that Paul unfolds, explaining that there is a believing remnant within the nation, an Israel within Israel, writing, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise who are counted as Abraham’s offspring” (Rom. 9:6-8). Unfortunately, many of those who are familiar with this passage are not familiar with what comes next, and so they miss the whole point Paul was making. They also misinterpret this verse as if Paul were saying here that Gentile believers are Israel (something he never says; in fact, in Romans 11, he states the opposite). Instead, Paul was making a spiritual observation, pointing out that God’s faithfulness continued to be manifest in the remnant within Israel, like the 7,000 who didn’t bow the knee to Baal, to use imagery that Paul takes up in Romans 11:1-5. But here is what so many Bible teachers miss. Paul then speaks of Israel 10 more times, and every single
© iStockphoto/Mikhail_Levit; Danieloncarevic; eldadcarin | © Dollar Photo Club/Martin Sproul
November // December 2014 MinistryToday 37
time, he is referring to the nation as a whole, the natural children, not to the Israel within Israel, the spiritual children. (Don’t take my word for it; keep reading from Romans 9:8 to the end of Romans 11). Here is where it gets exciting. Paul explains to the Romans that while a remnant of the Jewish people embraced Jesus as Messiah, the rest of Jews fell and were hardened. But that is not the end of the story. “So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall [the NIV says, “fall beyond recovery”]? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous” (Rom. 11:11). Here we have the first part of Paul’s major answer to the question, “Why should I care about Israel’s salvation?” It is because the gospel has come to the Gentile world “so as to make Israel jealous.” And there’s more: “Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!” (Rom. 11:12) This is glorious beyond words. The “full inclusion” of Israel, which we’ll see shortly, speaks of their national turning to the Messiah, will bring about something that makes the current worldwide harvest of Gentile believers actually look small. Israel’s salvation is mega-important, with massive implications for the entire population of the world. That’s why it is so important for Gentile believers, whom Paul addresses as Gentiles rather than as spiritual Israel, to provoke the Jewish people to spiritual jealously. Trag ica lly, throug hout much of church history, professing Christians have driven Jews away from Jesus, to the point that many religious Jews today associate the Holocaust with Christianity. In fact Martin Luther, who wrote some of the most ugly, anti-Semitic words in history, has been called the John the Baptist of Adolf Hitler. As the great Old Testament and Hebrew scholar Franz Delitzsch wrote, “The church still owes the Jews the actual proof of Christianity’s truth. Is it surprising that the Jewish people are such an insensitive and barren field 38 MinistryToday November // December 2014
How strange it is that we understand grace when it comes to God’s dealing with the church—and with us as individuals—but we don’t understand when it comes to His dealings with Israel. for the gospel? The church itself has drenched it in blood and then heaped stones upon it.” (For more on this subject, see my book Our Hands Are Stained with Blood: The Tragic Story of the ‘Church’ and the Jewish People.) Before getting back to Paul’s words, as a Jewish believer in Jesus, I can say from the heart that this is another reason the church should show love and solidarity to the people of Israel: It is only tears of love and acts of love that can wipe away the stain of “Christian” anti-Semitism. Returning to Romans 11, Paul wrote, “Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them” (Rom. 11:13-14). And once again, he wants the Gentile believers in Rome to understand the implications of Israel’s salvation, writing, “For if their rejection means the
reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?” (Rom. 11:15) Did you catch that? Paul speaks of life from the dead, also known as resurrection. He is saying that Israel’s salvation is intimately tied in to the return of the Messiah, and when He returns, the righteous dead are resurrected and living believers receive their glorified bodies. You’d better believe that Israel’s salvation matters! Peter emphasized this as well, preaching to his Jewish people in Acts 3 and saying, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the [Messiah] appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago” (Acts 3:19-21). » © iStockphoto/FredFroese
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Jesus taught this as well, ending His denunciation of the hypocritical leaders in Matthew 23 with a warning and a promise: “your house [speaking of Jerusalem] is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’” (Matt. 23:38-39). In other words, Yeshua will not return until the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem recognizes Him as Messiah and says, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (see the Messianic usage of this phrase in Matthew 21:9). It is not that God shows favoritism. It is not that God is guilty of ethnic discrimination. It is that He keeps His promises, and He has promised to save the people of Israel, a people that has suffered greatly for many centuries because
believers would think that they were the new Israel and that they had replaced the old Israel (sadly, this had been taught through much of church history, resulting in much suffering for the Jewish people, not to mention much spiritual darkness in the church). He emphasized that Israel’s hardening was only partial, waiting until the full harvest of the Gentiles would come in. This clearly speaks of the climax of the Great Commission. Paul then writes, “And in this way [meaning, on the heels of the fullness of the Gentiles coming in or provoked by that fullness] all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob. And this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins’” (Rom. 11:26-27).
no one can shut it, and when He closes a door, no one can open it. In the same way, when He scatters no one can gather, and when He gathers, no one can scatter. It is He who scattered the Jewish people in His wrath, preserving us under His discipline as He promised (see Jer. 31:3537), and therefore it is only He who can regather us. The fact that we have been regathered to the Land, especially in the aftermath of the horrors of the Holocaust, can only be explained as a glorious act of God. As for Israel’s alleged atrocities against the Palestinians, the reality is actually quite the opposite, and the fact remains that if the Palestinians put down their weapons, there would be no more war. But if the Israelis put down their weapons, there would be no more Israel.
“The Lord had made many promises to Israel in the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament), and yet as a nation, they missed the Messiah when He came. What happened?” of being specially chosen and specially judged (see Amos 3:1; Rom. 2:9-11). Since the Law and the prophets and the Messiah and the apostles are all from Israel, and since the Gentile believers have been grafted into the commonwealth of Israel—into Israel’s olive tree (see also Eph. 2:11-22)—they should be humble rather than prideful. And so Paul warns, “do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you” (Rom. 11:18); in Rom. 15:27, Paul goes so far as to urge the believers in Rome to help support Jewish believers living in Israel, since they are spiritually indebted to them. Paul explains that the great bulk of the nation remains hardened and outside of the Messiah (and therefore lost), but that hardening is only “in part,” meaning, it is not for all the people (there is always a remnant that believes) and it is not for all time. As he writes, “Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Rom. 11:25). Paul was concerned that the Gentile 40 MinistryToday November // December 2014
This is what God declared through Jeremiah more than 2,500 years ago, “At that time, declares the LORD, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people” (Jer. 31:1). And this is why the Lord called for prayer for Jerusalem in Isaiah 62, urging His people to give Him no rest until Jerusalem became the praise of all the Earth (see Is. 62:1-7). To repeat: This is not a matter of divine favoritism; it is a matter of the faithfulness of God. He always keeps His promises! And so Paul concludes, “As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:25-29). How strange it is that we understand grace when it comes to God’s dealing with the church—and with us as individuals—but we don’t understand when it comes to His dealings with Israel. You might be wondering, “But how do I know if the modern state of Israel today is the fulfillment of prophecy?” The answer: When God blesses no one can curse, and when He curses no one can bless. When He opens a door,
Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East and is America’s most significant ally there, and so standing with justice means standing with Israel, which includes calling them to account when there is injustice against the Palestinians, a people loved by God as well. But most important are the larger implications. The church should stand with Israel because of its spiritual, historic debt, since salvation is from the Jews (John 4:22). The church should stand with Israel to help eradicate the horrible history of “Christian” anti-Semitism. And, the church should stand with Israel and share the gospel with the Jewish people because Israel’s salvation means life from the dead and the return of the King. I’d say that’s pretty important. M i c h a e l B r o w n is author of HyperGrace: E x posing the Da ngers of the Modern Grace Message and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience.
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THE CHURCH AND ISRAEL
42 MinistryToday November // December 2014
Has God bestowed upon us, the end-times church, the honor of helping Israel to awaken spiritually? BY GRANT BERRY
n order for us to understand that the church’s reconnection to Israel in the Spirit is also connected to the last great outpouring and harvest that is to come upon the Earth, we need to first understand that God is not finished with the physical seed of Israel and that the church has not replaced them. While the church is obviously included in the Israel of God, which the apostle Paul refers to as the commonwealth of Israel [that Gentile believers are now citizens of Israel and co-heirs (Eph. 2:12, 19, KJV, NIV; Rom. 8:17)], the family of God is not complete until Israel’s spiritual restoration takes place and our firstborn brethren are fully restored. The branch that was broken off through unbelief in Yeshua is to be grafted back into its own olive tree, in which the nations have also been grafted into through faith in the same Jesus. We should never forget that we are grafted into their covenants and promises, including the new covenant through Christ, and it is not the other way around. Scripture tells us through Paul’s dissertation to the church in Romans 11 that Israel’s hardening in part is only temporary, until we reach the fullness of the Gentiles. Whether that is a full number of souls, or a fullness of the Spirit, which also may include the full number of souls from the nations, we also know at this time that Israel’s spiritual awakening is concurrent (Rom. 11:25-27). “As it is written, the Deliverer will come from Zion; He will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my Covenant with them when I take away their sins.”
God’s Unconditional Covenants
The key word here for us to accept in the church is covenant; for Israel is not just another nation. They are a covenant people, whom God has promised to restore and redeem before the end. This switches the focus back on God to bring about the actual circumstances for this to © iStockphoto/cl2004lhy; eldadcarin
happen in light of His unconditional covenants and promises to re-establish them. God’s family is made up of Jew and Gentile, and it is not complete until Israel is properly restored into its priestly role to rule and reign the nations with the rest of His church (Is. 61:6-9; Rev. 2:26, 5:9-10). God’s final covenants must be fulfilled through Israel’s spiritual awakening and Yeshua’s return to the Earth to sit upon David’s throne (2 Sam. 7:11-16; 1 Chron. 17:10-14). In light of this, God has a plan for us in these days of transition in His family between Jew and Gentile, which is different from those who have gone before us over the past 1,900 years— those who were more focused on reaching the nations. While this is happening, it is not as if God will bring this focus to an end until everything is complete. On the contrary, as we begin to align ourselves with God’s plans to awaken Israel spiritually; to fight for David’s throne to be established on the Earth through intercession and prayer, there is an intricate link to the nations awakening to the gospel and the final outpouring of the Spirit. Nothing but greater riches and resurrection end-time power await His church as we make this family connection (Rom. 11:11-15). It is the power we so desperately need to reach a lost and dying world! So begs the question, what are we waiting for?
The Roles of Israel and the Church
Does Scripture not tell us that the holiness of our Father’s Name will be shown to the world through Israel’s spiritual awakening? (Deut. 30:46; Ezek. 36:22-28). The fulfillment of His Word, covenants and promises to restore them must take place first. But how will this happen, and who is going to do this? Will it just be between God and Israel, or does God always use an intercessor to bring His plans to pass on the Earth? From Noah to Abraham, to Moses and even to Christ Himself and the apostles, God has always designed to work through us, so why would the end be any different from the beginning, and November // December 2014 MinistryToday 43
None of us have God to ourselves. Jews and Gentiles alike will play a part in God’s plan in the end times.
“The Holy Spirit is looking to heal us from the past, from any ancestral actions toward the Jewish people that have traveled through our bloodline and that the enemy has been using to keep us apart.” how come we have been unable to see this? Yet what we are told in many of our books and DVDs is that God is just going to deal separately with Israel, and the church continues on its own path with no real spiritual connection until after the Lord returns. That theor y is highly debatable. These teachings are in need of adjustment and correction—that indeed God has chosen a plan to reveal His glory that includes all the sheep in His family, the firstborn and all of the other children that Yeshua spoke of to the Pharisees in the temple courts. His other sheep from the Gentile nations also must come into the fold, but Israel never understood this, as they had God 44 MinistryToday November // December 2014
to themselves (John 10:14-16). In turn, it is the same with us in the church who have God to ourselves. It is time to restore Israel, and we must begin to understand that there are adjustments that perhaps we need to make that can allow the Spirit of God to lead us into a reconciliation that will bring about the end-time glory plan of the living God. We need to understand that God’s covenants are in play here, and He will bring them to pass. Indeed, His children are intricately linked together to find unity at this time that the end may come. Here’s the missing piece of the puzzle, His mercy plan that will bring His Glory. Here’s the edict that was given
to us a long time ago that we must now move into: “ … for the mercy of God that we have received as a result of their disobedience, now that we would release that mercy back to them—for we are the chosen instruments” (Rom. 11:30-32; emphasis added). He has chosen and sealed off Israel that the first would be last. He has chosen them for a time at the end to be awakened. But it is only through the intercession and the cries of the other sheep coming into agreement with God’s divine plan to awaken His firstborn child that does not even want to be born, but must, because of the holy covenants of God, because of the promises of God in His holy Word to restore them. » © iStockphoto/FredFroese
From Ezekiel 37, verse 9-11, this is the second part of the prophecy relating to Israel’s spiritual restoration. The first part ties into Israel being restored to the land. But let’s focus on the second part. We are the generation; we are that endtime Ezekiel Generation that is called to stand in the gap through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so the end may come! For Israel’s spiritual awakening is the golden key to the end-time glory and power of the church. But it is also the Jewish and Gentile believers’ connection to them as family who have been reconnected through the Father’s heart to love them. For we are the chosen ones to take that key and to lay hold of it to unlock its unquenchable power! What an honor the Lord is bestowing upon us in the end-time generations to help awaken Israel spiritually. From within the unity of the Spirit of God and the one new man—Jew and Gentile united in Yeshua—we need to recognize the unique roles that both groups are yet to play out in the last days: 1) For Jewish believers to be a light to their own people with the church’s full support and blessing. 2) For the rest of Israel to be awakened and to receive salvation. 3) For Jewish and Gentile believers to be Israel’s salvific agent to help bring this to pass according to the mercy of God it has received (Rom. 11:30-32). Just as Israel was used to give birth to the church, now in turn to complete the 46 MinistryToday November // December 2014
family circle of God, the church would release that spiritual life back to Israel to help bring about God’s glory upon the Earth through Jesus’ return (see Ezek. 37:9-11; Rom. 11:30-32). For Jesus will not return until they say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matt. 23:9; emphasis added). It is important for us to understand that this will not happen by God alone and will require dedication and diligence on the part of His church.
The Church Is the Chosen Catalyst
If the church is the end-times catalyst that will breathe this life back into Israel, don’t we need to focus on God’s house first, that it may be properly awakened? Don’t we need to address the issues that are keeping us separate from our own unique role in the glory plan and be willing to enter into a healthy dialogue to help bring about God’s healing? Shouldn’t this become our main focal point of prayer and intercession first, in order for this to take place? I often say that if we want the veil lifted from Israel, we have to first lift the veil from the church concerning its attitudes and approach and its separation from Israel. For there are reasons we have not been able to properly see God’s will and plan for this time. It brings to light some very sensitive and delicate issues from our ancestral past that still affect the way we act and think toward Israel that we must be willing to deal with now.
The Holy Spirit is looking to heal us from the past, from any ancestral actions toward the Jewish people that have traveled through our bloodline and that the enemy has been using to keep us apart. God wants all of us to break off the past in order for us to find our future in God’s mercy and glory plan so that through faith in God’s words and covenants, we will see Israel come to life spiritually, and that finally our Father may have complete unity between us in His family, as Jew and Gentile. While most of Israel’s spiritual awakening may not actually come down to the end, it does not separate us from our participation through reconnection, intercession and lifestyle evangelism to see her people spiritually redeemed. It is an area of adjustment that is required in our theology toward these times. If we truly knew the significance and consequences of this transaction in us, how we would actually run to it with all of our heart and all our might, because we would understand the outcome it will produce. So I have to ask the leaders of the church: Can you see this clearly yet? God is looking for us to fuel the heavens at this time—not only for Israel’s spiritual awakening but also for the end-time harvest and the enemy’s demise from the heavens (Rev. 12:7-9), which are all intricately linked in an end-time battle plan for the kingdom of God and His church. However, as we realign ourselves with the principle of the gospel to the Jew first and then the nations, only greater power is waiting in the wings, and the church’s reconnection to Israel spiritually is absolutely vital for this to take place (Rom. 1:16; 11:12,15). “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me” (John 17:23). G r a n t B e r r y is a Jewish believer in Jesus and author of The New Covenant Prophecy and The Ezekiel Generation. He has founded Reconnecting Ministries with the specific focus to help the church reconnect spiritually to Israel and considers it vital to the kingdom of God in the last days. © iStockphoto/Danieloncarevic
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REACHING THE JEWS
Missing Link in Our Missiology
JEWISH VOICE MINISTRIES’ JONATHAN BERNIS EXPLAINS WHY GOD IS NOT FINISHED WITH ISRAEL AND THE JEWS.
48 MinistryToday November // December 2014
BY JONATHAN BERNIS
ecades of annual, clockwork-like repetition had taught John Wilkinson to expect the arrival of the letter in the opening days of each New Year. Wilkinson had founded the Mildmay Mission to the Jews in London in 1876. And, not long after the organization launched, he began receiving annually a check in the mail from a particular noteworthy donor. That check always carried the date January 1 and the same four words written on the memo line: To the Jew first! That donor was Hudson Taylor, the pioneering 19th-century English missionary to China. Numerous biographies have been penned to document Taylor’s profound and lasting impact on the spread of the Christian faith in China. That’s right, the Western world’s pre-eminent missionary to China made the very first check he wrote each year a donation to a group dedicated to bringing the Jews of Europe the good news that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the Messiah.
Let’s explore both of these principles in the clarifying light of Scripture. As we do, I believe we’ll recover a lost key to blessing—for ourselves individually, for our individual congregations, and for the church as a whole. Let’s find what I call “the missing link in our missiology.”
‘Ethnos’ and ‘Goyim’
Matthew records a startling prophetic statement by Jesus that I consider the clearest and most concise statement in the entire Bible concerning the Last Days. “And this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14, NIV). Here Jesus directly mentions “the end” and links it to the proclamation of the gospel to the whole world. Put another way, He is declaring that visible, worldwide evangelism will be the event or activity that will signal the Last Days are upon us—and implies that until this is fulfilled, Jesus will not return.
“When Jesus declared that the gospel of the Kingdom must be preached to every ethnos, He was not saying that we merely had to reach inside the 196 nation states of the modern world.” This poses an intriguing question. Namely, why? Why would a missionary with a legendary passion for reaching the people of China with the gospel start each new year with a donation to a group in London endeavoring to evangelize the Jewish people? It is because Hudson Taylor understood some spiritual principles very few Christians in today’s world can comprehend. In fact, Taylor clearly understood two key missiological truths. (Missiology is the theology of evangelism and missions.) First, he understood that there is spiritual power in putting first what God has said to put first. The words on Taylor’s annual donation check memo line (“To the Jew first!”) reveal that he understood and believed the implications of Paul’s famous Romans 1:16 declaration: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (NASB, emphasis added). Secondly, he grasped that the Word of God links the spiritual awakening of the Jews to success in the church’s mission to take the gospel to the whole world. Lightstock; © iStockphoto/MiroNovak
Please note the word “nations” in Jesus’ statement. When most of us see that word we think of countries, or nationstates. For example, we speak of the United States, France and India as being nations. There are essentially 196 nation-states in the world today, but this is not what Jesus was referencing in his statement. In Hebrew, the word for nations is goyim and refers to the non-Jewish people of the world—the Gentiles, in other words. And the Greek word for nations is ethnos, from which we derive the word ethnic. Matthew uses the word ethnos in relating Jesus’ words. Ethnos literally means “race” or “tribe,” or as we more commonly say today, “people group.” Because we live in a mobile world in which people are constantly migrating, most countries of the world contain a rich mixture of ethnos within their borders. The United States alone comprises a myriad of nations whose people have settled here to find freedom and a better life. When Jesus declared that the gospel of the Kingdom must be preached to every ethnos, He was not saying that we merely had to reach inside the 196 nation-states of the modern world. No, the commission is to reach the distinct ethnic groups that November // December 2014 MinistryToday 49
live within all those countries. Just think about the magnitude of that challenge— in the U.S. alone. With such a huge challenge before us, it is natural to wonder, “Where do we begin?” Thankfully, the Word of God has an answer for us!
First Things First
We have already taken notice of the Apostle Paul’s words to Gentile believers in Rome in which he articulated his priority for delivering the gospel—“to the Jew first, then for the Gentile” (Rom. 1:16). By the way, Paul backed up those words with actions. Throughout his ministry— even though his self-declared calling was to be an apostle to the Gentiles (Rom. 11:13)—Paul’s first stop in every new city was the local synagogue. This pattern reveals something important about Paul’s priorities that is missing in the missiology of most evangelicals. Most of the cities Paul visited in the Roman world were diverse melting pots as well. There were many ethnos living
Jonathan Bernis, president and CEO of Jewish Voice Ministries International
in Antioch, Corinth, Ephesus, Thessalonica and the other busy trading ports to which Paul traveled. Yet his first evangelistic efforts were always directed to the Jewish community of the city. It seems that only after he was satisfied
that the Jews of the city had been given an opportunity to accept or reject the Messiah did he feel released to direct his preaching to the other ethnos. Why is this? We don’t have to guess. Paul gives us the key in his extensive
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discourse on the Jewish people in Romans chapters 9 through 11. Here Paul makes it clear that the Jewish people are a major key (perhaps the key) to reaching the nations. Allow this explanation: In the 11th chapter of Romans, Paul addresses Gentile believers who had been making the argument that, since the Jewish people had rejected Jesus as their Messiah, God had in turn rejected them—the implication being that salvation was no longer available to them. Paul flatly dismisses this assertion: “I say then, has God rejected His people? God forbid! For I also am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom he foreknew .…” (vv. 1-2, MEV). Paul goes on to explain that, although a “remnant” of Israel was currently accepting Jesus as Messiah, the rest had been providentially “hardened” against the gospel message. But Paul declares this hardening was not permanent:
Jonathan Bernis (r) speaks with members of the Jewish community.
“I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid! But through their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression means riches for the world, and their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fullness mean?” (vv. 11-12, MEV).
Paul points out that such a rejection was necessary in order for salvation to be offered to the remainder of the world. But he doesn’t stop there. He makes what I believe to be an extremely significant prophetic prediction when he says: “For if their rejection [of Jesus] means the reconciliation to the world,
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what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?” (v. 15, MEV). Yes, every non-Jewish believer in the world who has come to experience forgiveness, peace and eternal life through faith in the Messiah has been blessed because of that rejection. But Paul indicates that an even greater blessing will result when that rejection turns to acceptance. Indeed, we are told it will bring life from the dead. And Paul goes on to prophesy that such a day is coming! “For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, lest you be wise in your own estimation, for a partial hardening has come up until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved …” (vv. 25-26, MEV). This verse and others suggest a linked destiny between Israel and the church and between Israel and the nations. And that phrase “until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” also suggests a link between a Jewish revival and the imminent return of Jesus for His Bride.
Just as Israel’s rejection released the gospel to spread throughout the world, the Jews’ return will signal something very special and something very exciting. I do not claim to understand precisely how this will manifest or what it will look like exactly, but I am absolutely convinced that this is a spiritual reality. No, God is not nearly finished with Israel. Nor has His “to the Jew first” mandate in our evangelistic and missionary efforts expired.
A Missing Key to Blessing
Now, more than ever before, God is calling every believer to reach Jewish people with the gospel. And Jews are responding—in unprecedented numbers. Not since the days of the book of Acts have so many Jewish people opened their hearts to receive Messiah. Through Jewish Voice Ministries International alone, some 75,000 Jewish people worldwide have responded to altar calls in the past six years. Have “the fullness of the Gentiles”
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come in? I don’t know. What I do know is that God is opening long-blinded eyes and regenerating thousands of Jewish hearts every single day. And this is something that we should find very exciting indeed. I also know that God is pouring out special blessings upon people and upon churches that acknowledge God’s order of things by honoring the “to the Jew first” principle in their giving to missions. For example, a dear friend of our ministry is Pastor Robert Morris of Gateway Church in the Dallas, Texas area. Gateway is one of the largest and fastestgrowing churches in North America. In his recent book on church growth and leadership, Pastor Morris cites the question he is invariably asked whenever he encounters other pastors and ministry heads. Namely, “What is the secret of the success, prosperity and favor that seems to rest upon Gateway Church?” Many pastors find his answer surprising. Pastor Morris says he is convinced the key reason Gateway has been
“God is pouring out special blessings upon people and upon churches that acknowledge God’s order of things ...” blessed is that very early in the church’s existence, he and the leadership grasped the “to the Jew first” principle and began ordering the church’s missions budget accordingly. The first tenth of Gateway’s budget for outreach and evangelism has always gone to support organizations that are endeavoring to take the gospel to the Jewish people. Hudson Taylor would approve. As I mentioned at the outset, the first check he wrote each new year was to the Mildmay Mission to the Jews. The man who received those checks, John Wilkinson, once described his life’s mission:
“From 1854 to this day, much of my time has been occupied in preaching the gospel to the Jews, showing from the Hebrew Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ. A considerable portion of my time has also been spent in expounding to Christians, God’s truth about the Jews with a view to awaken Scriptural interest in the conversion of our Jewish brethren.” That’s my mission too. Much more importantly, it’s the heart of God. “To the Jew first . . .!” This, I believe with all my heart, is the missing link in our missiology. It’s the key to great blessing for us and an extraordinary end-time revival among the ethnos of the world. A Jewish believer in Yeshua (Jesus), J o n a t h a n B e r n i s is President & CEO of Jewish Voice Ministries International. He has worked on the forefront of world evangelism since 1984, taking the Good News of Israel’s Messiah to the far reaches of the Earth, to the Jewish people, and also to the nations.
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Revival: 58 MinistryToday November // December 2014
ARE MORE AND MORE JEWS THESE DAYS PUTTING THEIR FAITH IN THE MESSIAH?
BY RON CANTOR, MESSIAH’S MANDATE
n a 30 -minute span one morning this summer, Hamas sent a barrage of 13 Qassam rockets at Israel. This is what life is about here in the Holy Land. Considering how much controversy surrounds this tiny sliver of real estate on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, it is amazing that some theologians actually don’t believe that the rebirthed nation of Israel is a fulfillment of prophecy. The Scriptures back that statement up: hh “For I w ill ta ke you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land” (Ezek. 36:24, NIV). hh “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and bring you home again to your own land” (Jer. 29:14, NLT). hh “For the time is coming when I will restore the fortunes of my people of Israel and Judah. I will bring them home to this land that I gave to their ancestors, and they will possess it and live here again. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Jer. 30:3, NLT, and dozens of other prophecies). Biblically, there can be no doubt that God promised long ago that He would bring the Jewish people back to Israel. We know from Zechariah 14 that there will be Jews in Jerusalem, albeit in the midst of war, when Jesus returns. Paul pled with his friends in Rome not to be deceived on this issue. He basically prophesied that the church would be tempted to judge the Jewish people and treat them harshly. He warned them of dire consequences: “[Israel was] broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches (Israel), he will not spare you either.
© iStockphoto/tovfla; cl2004lhy
“Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again (Rom. 11:20-23; emphasis added). It would be easy to simply focus on verse 23— that God can save Israel again—but first we have to be honest concerning a bloody history. Sadly, the church did not heed the words of the rabbi from Tarsus. Instead, it not only judged Israel but also persecuted the Jewish people many times—even to the point of death. One could say that the Roman Catholic Church judged Israel for embracing a works righteousness based on human tradition. The judgment would be correct, but God has not called the church to judge Israel, but to “provoke her to jealousy” (Rom. 11:11). Did not the Catholic Church become the very thing it judged? I have been to Rome and indeed it is beautiful—but it is dead. The popes and cardinals forbade the reading of Scripture to not only the common people, but even most priests were denied this luxury. This enabled them to control the people and teach unbiblical doctrines such as purgatory—which in truth had nothing to do with theology, but fund raising. They told their people that when they gave indulgences, their dead relatives would be released into heaven. They persuaded hundreds of thousands to march in the Crusades by promising them heaven if killed in battle. Add 72 virgins and you’ve got al-Qaeda or Hamas. But the anti-Israel, anti-Jewish stance of the church started long before the Crusades. Augustine, the most famous theologian of his time, taught that the Jews are merely left on November // December 2014 MinistryToday 59
Replacement theology became predominant in the church long before the Crusades, and many still practice it today.
Earth to see the church’s triumph over Israel: “Jews deser ved death but were destined to wander the earth to witness the victory of the church over the synagogue.” Replacement theology became predominant in the church—the idea that the church does not merely become co-heirs with Israel, as Paul states in Eph. 2:19, but that the church eliminates the call of God on Israel. Paul said in Rom. 11:29 that the “gifts and callings of God (to Israel) are irrevocable,” but Eusebius (275-339 CE) taught that the promises of Scripture were meant for the Gentiles and the curses were meant for the Jews. He asserted that the church was the “true Israel.” Other early church leaders were more blatant in their hatred of the Jew: hh “Jews a re a per verse people, accursed by God forever.” — Hilary of
were so passionate, and he is presented as a very godly man. You be the judge … “The synagogue is worse than a brothel … it is the den of scoundrels and the repair of wild beasts … the temple of demons devoted to idolatrous cults … the refuge of brigands and debauchees, and the cavern of devils. It is a criminal assembly of Jews … a place of meeting for the assassins of Christ … a house worse than a drinking shop … a den of thieves, a house of ill fame, a dwelling of iniquity, the refuge of devils, a gulf and an abyss of perdition … I would say the same things about their souls. As for me, I hate the synagogue … I hate the Jews for the same reason.” — John Chrysostom (CE 344-407) On this foundation it became easy for Spain to unleash the Inquisitions on its Jewish community. Jews were given the choice to leave or convert. More than 30,000 Jews were murdered during the
“Can Jesus the Jew return to an anti-Semitic bride? No, the end time’s church will love Israel.” Poitiers (CE 291-371) hh “The Jews are a brood of vipers, haters of goodness.” — Gregory of Nicia (died CE 394) hh “[ Jews] are serpents, wearing the image of Judas, their psalms and prayers are the braying of Donkeys.” 60 MinistryToday November // December 2014
— St. Jerome (CE 347-407 Note: St. Jerome seems to have forgotten that the other 11 disciples were also Jews who spread the gospel to the nations so that he could partake in it.) This next quote comes from a man called the Goldenmouth. His sermons
Inquisitions by the church—not for the sin of not becoming Catholic, but for the sin of converting and still secretly being loyal to Judaism. Lighting Sabbath candles was punishable by death. A Jewish convert would be burned alive for » refusing to eat pork. Lightstock
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It is no wonder that Hitler used to gloat that he was merely finishing what the church had started! But surely it can’t end like this, can it? Can Jesus the Jew return to an anti-Semitic bride? No, the end-times church will love Israel. Even as the Jews brought salvation to the nations, the true church will intercede for revival in Israel. No longer will the younger brother persecute the firstborn. I am reminded of the amazing witness of Casper ten Boom, father of the more famous Corrie. When the Jews in his Dutch town had to take the yellow star, he stood in line with them. That is the type of love toward Israel that Paul spoke of when he poured out his heart in Romans 9—to the point of being willing to trade his salvation for the salvation of Israel. 62 MinistryToday November // December 2014
“I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Messiah for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Isr ael ” (Rom. 9:2 - 4 a ; emphasis added). Such compa s sion c a n on ly be found in the bosom of the Messiah Himself. And it is this type of selfless intercession that will lead to the revival in Israel—a revival of which the prophets spoke. “The days are coming,” declares the L or d , “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel … (Jer. 31:31). “And I will pour out on the house of Dav id a nd t he i n habit a nt s of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will © iStockphoto/boryak
mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son” (Zech. 12:10). “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezek. 36:25-28). We have similar promises of revival from the mouth of Jesus Himself. Speaking to the Jews of Jerusalem, He said: “For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matt. 23:39). In Hebrew, blessed is he who comes (Baruch haba) is a greeting. Yeshua is saying I am not coming back until you welcome me—much like David, when he said he would not return to Jerusalem until his brothers from Judah came and retrieved him (2 Sam. 19:11-18). Paul is even clearer when he says that after the “fullness of the Gentiles” … “a ll Israel w ill be saved” (Rom. 11:25-26). Interestingly, he begins verse 25 with these words, “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery …” In other words, understanding God’s plan for Israel in the end times took revelation— it was a mystery. Just as Israel was blinded to the truth of Yeshua, the church was blinded to Israel’s call and future restoration. But thank God in these days that more and more believers are honoring the natural brothers of the Messiah— even as more and more Jews are putting their faith in the Messiah. R o n C a n t o r is the director of Messiah’s Mandate International in Israel, a Messianic ministry dedicated to taking the message of Jesus from Israel to the ends of the Earth (Acts 1:8). He is an author and serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. 64 MinistryToday November // December 2014
66 MinistryToday November // December 2014
WHEN PALESTINIAN CHRISTIANS UNDERSTAND GOD’S LOVE AND MERCY FOR ISRAEL, THEY WILL EXPERIENCE IT FOR THEMSELVES AT NEW LEVELS BY SANDRA TEPLINSK Y
any Western Jews and Christians believe that Christian Palestinian ism aggressively pro motes anti-Semitism, replacement theology and the delegitimiza tion of Israel. They say it represents a dangerous resurgence of the church’s historic, anti-Jewish doctrine that has led in the past to the widespread mur der of Jews. At a minimum, it is appro priate to ask if the Palestinian Church has heeded the exhortation of Romans 11:17–25 not to be ignorant or arrogant toward Israel, but to tremble in humility. A Christian Zionist leader from the U.K. pointedly comments: “The big lie is Christian Palestinian ism, the anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian cru sade going on in the church today that will say from one corner of its mouth, ‘We love the Jewish people’ and from the other corner of its mouth, ‘We hate Israel.’ That is not possible. You
© iStockphoto/stevenallan; EduardoLuzzatti
cannot love the Jewish people and hate Israel.” In 2012, a highly regarded rabbi in the United States stated that Christian Palestinianism had so influenced the church that relations between mainline Protestants and Jews in America had hit its lowest point. He did not know if the relationship could recover. Israeli Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, a leader in the Jewish-Christian interfaith move ment, explains: “As long as you believe in replace ment theology ... and that the Jews no longer stand in covenantal relation ship to God, then [you believe] we have no right to be in Israel and you join our enemies.” As a follower of Jesus, an Israeli and a mother, I am sobered to realize how many evangelical brothers and sisters are attempting to compel the world to take action that, apart from divine inter vention, could lead to the slaughter of millions of my people—including my
own family. To my knowledge, none of them is suggesting outright that any of us be killed. But as Rabbi Riskin remarks, some have unwittingly joined forces with the enemies of Israel who aim at nothing less. In no small part, the spread of Chris tian Palestinianism is related to the current Western trend to dismiss the concept of absolute truth. Today, more and more Christians say the Bible can not be read according to any objective hermeneutical standard—because there are no objective standards. Each indi vidual and each culture perceives reality differently, so any given standard is as valid as the next, they say. Palestinian victimization, in this view, provides a framework for Scripture interpretation just as sound as any other. Israeli Messianic scholar Lisa Loden describes the dilemma: “The question of whether or not the [Bible] text has meaning in and of itself, [or] if meaning is derived from the November // December 2014 MinistryToday 67
interaction between the reader and the text, is a crucial question in contemporary hermeneutical studies. The primacy of the text has been the gold standard of biblical scholarship ... but is currently under examination and attack.”
Forgiveness at the Cross
Palestinian believers freely share that their theology stems in large mea-
extreme, prolonged pain. But they did not seek to reinvent the message of the Scriptures to accommodate their suffering. To the contrary, those who identified intimately with Messiah in their deep distress often gave the world a lasting witness of the gospel. Please do not misunderstand: I am not suggesting that Palestinian believers stay silent in the face of injustice. I
your pain, I will transform it. Some of my most intimate, life-changing encounters with Yeshua have been at the cross as I released forgiveness toward those who deeply mistreated or offended me. Is it possible the cross of Yeshua could offer our Palestinian brothers and sisters some of the same overcoming grace and comfort? I recently
“Christ-like love for Palestinian Christians will not be expressed by aligning with them against Israel. It will be expressed by aligning with them for Jesus and His heart for the Jews.” sure from personal pain and offense. To be sure, some have suffered much and are in need of compassionate help. God does not want us belittling or ignoring them. At the same time, let us remember that they are not the first Christians through histor y to feel offended or victimized. Countless believers have unjustly suffered
merely point out that Jesus is greater than any of our circumstances—and can give us the love, peace and joy with which to overcome them. Persona lly, when I have unjustly suffered, I have heard the Lord lovingly ask: Are unforgiveness and self-pity going to limit your response to My ways? If you meet Me at the cross with
asked a Palestinian pastor this question, after spending hours listening to him and his church members share personal grievances about the Jewish state. He replied that Palestinian preachers generally did not discuss taking pain and offense about Israel to the cross. With his next breath, he said they probably should start. »
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A New Christian Zionism
Some Christian or Biblical Zionists attribute the new Palestinian theology to a demonic force opposing God’s promises to the Jews. As we have seen, the devil works in many ways to discourage Israel’s restoration. I believe, however, we must forthrightly hear our brothers and sisters. We must embrace them with prayerful love, discernment and practical help. In the process, God might even use them to point out areas in us that He wants to mature. What might we learn from Palestinian believers and how can we best respond to them? First, we can acknowledge that certain Israeli policies, forged in the context of the state’s struggle to survive, have caused unwarranted suffering and, sometimes, abuse. We must not ignore or excuse Israel’s disobedience, reflected in those policies, to God’s ethical commands. We can focus support on Israeli policy makers who advance biblical righteousness. Second, some Christian Zionists have in the past expressed little concern for Palestinians due to an emphasis on Israel’s fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Because Palestinian believers usually reject the idea of Jewish covenant election, they do not regard Israel’s existence as anything prophetic at all. They feel they have been marginalized by the Western Church—and many deeply resent it. To rectify the past, we must seek the Lord for His compassionate, honest and wise response. We can pray for Spirit-led opportunities to engage with Palestinian believers. We can also pray for reconciliation efforts between Christian Pa lestinians and Israeli Messianic Jews to deepen and expand. T h i rd, we a re to i ntent iona l ly remember that being pro-Israel does not—and must not—mean being antiPalestinian. It has been aptly said that if our love for Israel means we cannot love Palestinians, then something is wrong with our love for Israel. If we lack love for Palestinians because we have been offended or injured by them, we must take that to the cross. Last but certainly not least, we must remember the Lord does not want our ultimate focus on either Israel or putative Palestine, but on Him. Those who
care passionately for the Palestinian people may be tempted to confuse love with unsanctified mercy. Unsanctified mercy seeks to alleviate suffering at any cost, regardless of the injustice that may result. It does not align with God’s will or His Word. It does not flow from a focus on Him. Therefore, Christ-like love for Palestinian Christians will not be expressed by aligning with them against Israel. It will be expressed by aligning with them for Jesus and His heart for the Jews. When Palestinians understand God’s love, mercy and grace for Israel, they will experience it at new levels for themselves. Healing from heaven will flow to them. Palestinian Christians will begin to walk in the manifest power of the Gospel of the Kingdom as never before. Could God even use them, together with Israeli believers, to help minister peace to both peoples? A leading pro-Palestinian theologian has stated that Christians must choose one side or the other: Israel’s or Palestine’s. He writes: “The question is, am I as a Christian going to view the Middle East through the lens of prophecy or the lens of justice?” In response, I propose the time has come to drop the dichotomy. God does not choose between presumably pro-Palestinian justice a nd presumably pro -Israel prophecy. His immense love, expressed in His Word, beautifully reconciles prophecy and justice. It is not a matter of either/or, but both/and. In the end, each evidences the reality of the gospel. But neither is itself the gospel. The Gospel of the Kingdom revolves around Jesus and His restoration of all nations in mercy and grace. This gives Palestinians, Israelis and everyone else a bountiful future and a hope. The preceding is taken from Sandra Teplinsky’s book, Why Still Care About Israel? Used by permission from Chosen Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group (bakerpublishinggroup. com), copyright 2013. S a n d r a T e p l i n s k y has been in the Messianic Jewish ministry since 1979. She is president of Light of Zion, an outreach to Israel and the church based in Southern California and Jerusalem.
STATEMENT OF OWNERSHIP, MANAGEMENT AND CIRCULATION (Required by 39 U.S.C. 3685) Statement required by the act of August 12, 1970, section 3685, Title 39, United States Code, showing ownership, management and circulation of Ministry Today, publication number 08915725. Published bi-monthly (6 times per year) at 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746. Annual subscription price: $24.97. The names and addresses of the publisher and editor are: Publisher, Stephen Strang, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746-4868; Editor, Stephen Strang, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746-4868; Managing Editor, Shawn A. Akers, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746-4868. The owner is Plus Communications, Inc./ DBA CHARISMA MEDIA, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746. Stockholders owning or holding 1 percent or more of total amount of stock are Stephen Strang, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746 and Joy Strang, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746. The known bondholders, mortgagees and other security holders owning or holding 1 percent or more of total amount of bonds, mortgages or other securities are: none. Total Number of Copies printed: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 23,140; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 22,440; Paid and/ or Requested Circulation: 1) Paid/Requested OutsideCounty Mail Subscriptions Stated on Form 3541: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 18,440; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 18,137. 2) Paid InCounty Subscriptions: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 0; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 0. 3) Sales through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales and other Non-USPS Paid Distribution: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 1,730; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 1,317. 4) Other Classes Mailed Through the USPS: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 0; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 0. Total Paid and/or Requested Circulation: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 20,170; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 19,454. Free Distribution by Mail: 1) Outside-County as Stated on Form 3541: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 435; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 376. 2) In-County as Stated on Form 3541: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 0; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 0. 3) Other Classes Mailed Through the USPS: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 0; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 0. 4) Free Distribution Outside the Mail: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 199; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 600. Total Free Distribution: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 634; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 976. Total Distribution: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 20,804; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 20,430. Copies not Distributed: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 2,336 number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 2,010. Total: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 23,140; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 22,440. * I certify that the statements made by me above are correct and complete. *Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months: 97.0%; number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date: 95.2%. Stephen Strang, owner Joy Strang, owner
November // December 2014 MinistryToday 69
Gaining Acceptance Once thought of as a major threat to Israeli life, Messianic Jewish ministries are now being recognized as Jewish-friendly
BY BARRY RUBIN n recent decades, Messianic Judaism, a movement of Jewish people who have accepted Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah and continued to embrace their Jewishness, has been steadily growing—especially in the United States. Jews have been coming to faith in Yeshua for centuries, increasingly so after Israel became a reality again in the late 1800s with the Zionist movement. After the Holocaust, when Israel became a nation again in 1948, the number of Jewish believers in Yeshua has been increasing worldwide, almost in lock step with Jewish immigration to Israel. But what is the state of Messianic Judaism in Israel itself? Because Israel is in an extremely dangerous area of the world, surrounded by Arab countries that have threatened its extermination, Jews there live with a certain amount of anxiety. When would the next Intifada take place? Which country would declare its desire to push Israel into the sea? When would Hamas rockets fly again? Living with those concerns, the people have become cautious about “outsiders,” especially after nearly two millennia of “Christian” anti-Semitism. Thus, Christian missions to the Jews of Israel often have been met with
70 MinistryToday November // December 2014
Worship time at Emmanuel Messianic Jewish Congregation
suspicion. Yet some have been successful, especially if they are sensitive to and supportive of Messianic Judaism. There are historic Anglican Jewish missions from the United Kingdom. King of Kings (kkcj.org) is a congregational ministry of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. The Caspari Center (caspari.com) is a Scandinavian Lutheran mission to the Jews. Christian Witness to Israel (cwi.org.uk) sponsors Grace and Truth congregation
in Rishon L’Tzion. They also publish books, as does Keren Yeshua. Modern Jewish missions are also active in Israel. Jews for Jesus has a new center in Tel Aviv. The Christian Jew Foundation (cjfm.org), not only does missionary work, it also supports a number of national pastors. Chosen People Ministries (chosenpeople. com) has centers in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and congregations in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Ariel.
Rabbi Barry Rubin (r) leads Emmanuel Messianic Jewish Congregation during a service
Maoz (maozisrael.org) is an Israeli organization that publishes books in Hebrew and supports Israel while helping Jewish people meet their Messiah. There are others as well, but, as with most overseas missions, indigenous works have had the most success. Nowhere is this truer than in Israel. The primary evangelistic work in Israel is not through missions. It is being done through local Messianic congregations. The larger ones are in Tiberias, K’far Saba, Netanya, Jerusalem and Joffa. There are 150-plus congregations in Israel with as many as 15,000 Messianic Jewish believers, of whom about 60 percent speak Russian as their first language. The growth in the number of congregations has increased over the last 20 years, just as it has in the United States and other countries. Nearly every year, another indigenous congregation or two springs up, and as more and more Jews from around the world return home, this will only increase. Israel is a small country—about the size of New Jersey—so these congregations are easily noticed by their fellow Israelis. More and more, Israel is increasingly aware that there are Jews who trust Yeshua as the Messiah and savior, much as it was in the New Testament era. These Messianic Jewish congregations are now led by Israelis, even though they may have a mix of Jews and Gentiles. Most services are in Hebrew (sometimes Russian, Amharic, French or Spanish). The music too is
indigenous, as is the style of worship —very Israeli. The melodies have a distinctly Middle Eastern tone to them. Most meet on Saturday when Jews generally hold worship services. These congregations of Yeshua-followers are clearly Jewish. Messianic Jews are gaining more acceptance in Israel. Instead of being perceived as threats to the Israelis, due to prejudices going back 2,000 years, they are recognized as friends, fellow citizens, and an active part of Israeli society. In part, the groundwork for this was laid by the benevolence work of groups such as Chosen People Ministries (chosenpeople.com), The Joseph Storehouse (www.visionforisrael. com), the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America’s Joseph Project (mjaa.org), and other similar works. Israelis, who have been especially challenged during the wars with Lebanon, Hamas and the high taxes used to pay for defense, are grateful to Messianic Jews, sometimes in spite of themselves, for food, clothes, medicine and other supplies. They need our help. This is a very tangible expression of the love of Messiah. Messianic Jews are being trusted enough to allow them to materially assist Israel during her most difficult times. It is known that there are many Messianic Jews serving in the army—mostly the children of immigrants from the United States and Europe—who were raised in Israel. This shows unity with the people, so much so that the funeral of one Messianic Jewish soldier killed in the last war
was well attended by Israel’s leaders. The newspapers noted that he was a Messianic Jew, part of a congregation in the Haifa area. A television special featuring interviews of members of the Christian Moshav, Yad Hashmonah, was widely watched. It included a Messianic Jewish family celebrating Shabbat, etc., giving a very good impression of Messianic Jews in Israel. No longer are followers of Yeshua seen as people to stay away from. Now, they are embraced as fellow strugglers in Israeli life. Over the past centuries, because of all the atrocities done to Jews in the name of Jesus, Jewish people have avoided having anything to do with Him, His followers, or His teachings. It was too costly, too risky. And in Israel, where people are more vulnerable to attacks, this is acutely so. But Messianic Judaism is changing things. Now, Israelis are more open to talking about Yeshua and considering his claims to Messiahship. The congregational leaders in Israel need connections with pastors in the West. Many would appreciate prayer, fellowship and sometimes even financial support for special projects. Western pastors have a lot to give to Israel’s Messianic leaders by way of training and guidance, as well as prayer. Most Israeli pastors do not have much formal training and would benefit from partnering with non-Israeli pastors. Most Israeli pastors are pioneers and need more seasoned spiritual mentors to guide them. Encouragingly, the perception of Messianic Jews is undergoing a steady transformation in Israel these days— from one of mistrust and outright loathing to recognition and acceptance. Knowing the love of Yeshua in the Messianics’ hearts, the bridge between them and Orthodox Jews is getting shorter all the time. Doors to hearts once closed are beginning to open wide. R a b b i B a rr y R u b i n is the president and publisher of Messianic Jewish Publishers and Resources/Jewish New Testament Publications. He is also the Rabbi of Emmanuel Messianic Jewish Congregation. November // December 2014 MinistryToday 71
demonstration, and several other stores were damaged in the violence.
Members of Ezra International assist Russian Jews at the Kiev Airport before they make their Aliyah to Israel.
Molotov cocktails were thrown at a synagogue. An 18-year-old was arrested; he was identified as a Palestinian.
ALIYAH: Order in the Chaos Amidst all the world’s anti-Semitism, God is holding true to His Promise to regather His people from the four corners of the Earth BY REV. GARY CRISTOFARO
recent report by the Jewish Agency revealed that a greater number of Jewish people have been “dying to get out of their home countries—or, in some cases, getting out so they don’t die.” The report also stated that the 28 percent increase in Aliyah to Israel has been more a factor of being pushed than pulled. The two countries that combined for a third of those immigrating to Israel were France and the Ukraine. At first glance, these two countries seem worlds apart. The Russian invasion and ongoing war makes it quite easy to understand the increased desire for poor Jewish people to leave the Ukraine, but what about France? Jewish people have enjoyed a high level of influence and affluence there for many years. Isn’t anti-Semitism suppose to be politically incorrect? But, there is an easy solution. Many simply veil their anti-Semitism with a more acceptable approach. It appears that being anti-Israel is all the rage. Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in July ignited a firestorm of protests and violence in France and in nation after nation. The violence initiated from Gaza and Israel’s response helped unite the global 72 MinistryToday November // December 2014
Israel-hating cause. The Anti Defamation League recently published many of the disturbing proclamations, events and headlines from around the world, and it seems no country is exempt. These are all manifestations of thinly veiled anti-Semitism.
In August, six teenagers boarded a bus transporting a group of Jewish students ages 5 to 12 years old and threatened “to cut their throats.” The teenagers also shouted “Heil Hitler,” “Kill the Jews,” “Palestine must kill you Jews,” and “Free Palestine.”
In July, a swastika, accompanied by an obscene word, were spray-painted on a bus shelter in a Jewish neighborhood of a Toronto suburb.
In July, following an anti-Israel demonstration, a protester threw two Molotov cocktails at the security kiosk of the Jewish Community Center. Additionally, a kosher store was attacked with Molotov cocktails during an illegal anti-Israel
The Rabbi of a Jewish community was attacked by an assailant and suffered a broken nose and ribs.
Two people wearing keffiyahs beat a woman who displayed an Israeli flag on her balcony.
“Free Gaza” was spray-painted on a synagogue. And the list goes on … Consider what Russian Jewry must be making of the recent statements made by the deputy of State Duma Elena Mazulina from the United Russia Party. She declared that the modern Russian Federation is not eager to see the representatives of Jewish people on its territory. Violence, protests, anti-Semitism, hate rhetoric and terror threats together have camouflaged the divine order in all of this chaos. God has promised to regather His people from the four corners of the Earth. Therefore, upon closer examination, one can see how all of this is working together to fulfill that divine purpose. Anti-Semitism is not simply an attack on Jewish people. It is a direct affront to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is in essence a mocking of His faithfulness and ability to fulfill His promises. Therefore we can take heart that the turmoil in and around the world is further evidence of God’s faithfulness. It is through this chaos that He is stirring the hearts of His people to return to Israel once more. R e v . G a r y T C r i s t o f a r o serves as Director of Development for Ezra International. He pastored First Assembly of God in Melbourne, Florida for 14 years. Ezra International
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MINISTRY LIFE: M U LT I C U LT U R A L BY MITCH GL ASER
5 Ways to Pray for the Peace of Israel
Here’s why your prayers for Jerusalem will bless both Jews and Gentiles
he Psalmist encourages us to pray for Israel, but During the recent conflict with Hamas, our staff was able to believers may not fully appreciate the reasons God provide care for many of these survivors, both materially and instructs us to pray specifically for Jerusalem (Psalm spiritually. One of them describes the peace of heart he has 122:6). Yet, our motivation to pray for the peace of Jerusalem now experienced through receiving Jesus as Messiah and Lord: is embedded in the very words of “Something happened in my life the Psalmist themselves: when I went to Poland on a Chosen Pray for the peace of JeruPeople Ministries Israel trip for salem: “May they prosper who Holocaust survivors. I received a love you.” Bible, which I read day and night Praying for the peace of Jeruwhile we were in Poland. Since salem is a prayer for physical and then, I have dedicated myself to spiritual peace—which only comes reading Scripture and studying. I throug h the Prince of Peace. was baptized and know fully that Praying for peace reminds us that Jesus the Jewish Messiah has died human beings are incapable of and conquered death for me!” creating peace for themselves and 3) Pray for the quiet reconciliation that only God can bring peace to efforts of Jewish and Arab believers a broken world this side of heaven in Israel seeking to encourage one (Phil. 4:6-7) and in the world to another by developing deeper relacome (Is. 2:2-4; 11:6-9). tionships between the Jewish and Praying for the peace of JeruPalestinian churches. There are salem is, in reality, praying for Jesus more than 140 congregations in to return, as peace will only come Israel, ranging from small house to the world when He takes His D r . M i t c h G l a s e r is president of Chosen People fellowships to established places of rightful throne in Jerusalem and Ministries. His latest project is The People, the Land and worship. Pray that the work of the reigns forever (Matt. 23:37ff; Rev. the Future of Israel: A Biblical Theology of Israel and Prince of Peace will grow among 11:15). Praying for the peace of the Jewish People from Kregel Publishing. Jewish Israelis and Palestinians and Jerusalem is a way of asking God to that they are enabled to provide a implant His peace in the hearts of powerful witness of Messiah’s recboth Jews and Gentiles by personally accepting the Prince of onciliation among their neighbors. Peace as Lord of their lives. 4) Pray for God to help the church in the United States to be How should we pray for the peace of Jerusalem? The fol- better informed about what is happening in Israel and to find lowing might give you some ideas: ways to glean information for continued prayer outside of the 1) Pray for Jewish Israeli and Palestinian leaders to both nego- often-slanted approach of the media. tiate a temporary, politically based peace and to also find 5) Praying for the peace of Jerusalem reminds us of our blessed peace in their hearts through accepting Jesus. These are the hope! Even though peace is elusive today, it is still our prophetic people we should pray for at this time: Palestinian leaders destiny. The Shalom we are seeking is now available for all Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshaal; Israeli Prime Minister people, as this peace transcends the terror of Islamic State, the Benjamin Netanyahu; as well our leaders in the United States, war with Hamas and whatever conflict or suffering this world President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. thrusts upon us. Jesus said, We can pray that God guides these leaders to make deci“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the sions that bring peace instead of war and suffering for world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, their citizens. nor let it be fearful.” 2) Pray for the work of God’s people in bringing the message of His peace is all we need today to keep our hearts from being the gospel to the almost 200,000 Holocaust survivors living in consumed with fear. His peace is our destiny, as one day the Israel. By God’s grace, Chosen People Ministries has been able Prince of Peace will return from heaven and establish His to enjoy a growing ministry among these precious people. throne in Jerusalem (Is. 2, 9:6-7). 74 MinistryToday November // December 2014
MINISTRY LIFE: P E R S O N A L
CHARACTER BY JUSTIN L ATHROP
4 Ways to Make Your Time With God Count Here’s how to optimize your time spent with God
s pastors, our life-blood, our power a nd our I move into studying my Bible or prayer, my mind has been strength come from the time we spend with God. coaxed into a quieter place and is ready to focus. But if you’ve been in ministry for more than a few 3) Go for a drive. Another thing that hampers my time minutes, you may have noticed that as a pastor, spending with God is distraction. There’s always something to do— time with God can feel like yet emails that need to be answered, another task on the to-do list. calls that need to be returned, There’s a tension here—because someone who needs help with something that used to feel like something. And so often what I an intimate, refueling time with need in order to focus and have your Creator has now become a quality time with God is to get part of your job description. away from the distractions. The This can sometimes threaten best place for me to do this is in to steal the peace, rest and conthe car. When I really need time nection it once had. alone with God, I like to go for There’s a lso this incredible a drive, letting the sounds of the responsibi l it y. We’re not just car and the familiarity of the road reading the Bible for ourselves soothe me into a place where I’m a n y m o r e . We ’r e r e a d i n g t o ready to talk, or pray or listen study for our sermons or so we for what God mig ht be tr y ing have an answer ready whenever to tell me. someone needs a word from the It’s a g reat place for prayer. Lord. Our prayer time isn’t just With nobody there to hear you about our relationship with God but God and your steering wheel, anymore. It’s about filling up to With more than a dozen years of local-church min- you’re able to be really honest in pour back out. istry, J u s t i n L a t h r o p has spent the last several your prayers in a way you aren’t So what do we do as pastors years starting businesses and ministries that partner when there are people around. to have f u l f i l l i ng qu iet t i me with pastors and churches to advance the Kingdom. 4) Study for yourself. As a pastor, with God, without it becoming it’s hard to read the Bible for youranother task on our to-do list? self. I read a passage and think Here are some tips that have worked for me: of all the people who need to hear it, or read a chapter 1) Change locations. If you find yourself in a rut, tr y and think of the five sermons I could preach on that switching locations for your quiet time with God. Go out- small section. side instead of staying in your favorite chair. Go for a walk Instead of reading and studying only to regurgitate that or to a new coffee shop. information immediately, I need some time where the Sometimes switching locations is just what you need studying is just for me. I need to read and apply it to my to put you in a new frame of mind to spend some good, own life or let the words sit in my soul for a while before I quality time with God. pass them off to someone else. This is what fills me up the 2) Read a book to quiet your mind. When I’m about to jump most. I think it will do the same for you. into a time of reading the Bible or praying, the biggest Spending time with God is how we fill up, how we thing that trips me up is my lack of focus. Even first thing refuel, and how we have the strength, power and wisdom in the morning, my mind starts to wake up and think about to be good pastors. Spending time with God is not only all the things I need to do that day. Sometimes we need a crucial for our church congregation, it’s also crucial for us segue into a quiet time, something to calm our minds and as pastors. move our thoughts into a quieter place. I find that reading So let’s take some time today, and tomorrow and even a book is helpful. the next day to invest in our own time with God, instead of Something that’s either peaceful or positive or about just for the sake of other people. God or worship usually helps me get on track. Then, when They’ll benefit from our investment, and so will we. 76 MinistryToday November // December 2014
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MINISTRY LEADERSHIP: A D M I N I S T R AT I O N BY SCOT T AT TEBERY
How to Avoid Hiring a Staff Infection
Here are some key questions to ask every potential staff candidate
n most cases, your church’s hiring practices will have major Be transparent about things you think they will and won’t be ramifications that reach beyond your awareness. It’s not comfortable with. just a matter of whether a candidate can do the job or not. What drives this person? Past success is not always a positive The real impact of your hiring decision will be seen in: on a resume. Consider what drove the person to that suchh How they interact with your cess. Was it greed or a hunger for church members power? That’s probably not the kind hh Whether they make the people of person you want to hire. around them better or bitter So how can you find out what hh The degree to which they drives them and motivates them? “buy into” the overall mission of I think there are two main ways. your church First, spend plenty of time listening hh How passionate and loyal they to the person. Most people, if given are toward the people they serve enough time, will talk about what There are plenty of basic “meais most important to them. This surable” parameters by which requires more than just the time of a to judge a potential staff member formal interview, so you will want to such as education, experience and schedule a few other times to meet skills. But those sort of issues only with them for extended periods deal with the science of hiring— (dinner at your home, etc.). If they not the art. tend to talk about themselves, their The art of hiring requires more possessions, or their accomplishobser vat ion a nd i nterac t ion. ments more than their family, their It is hard work to be sure—but friends, and their faith, you should well worth it. S c o t t A t t e b e r y is executive director of Disciple- see red flags. Some key quest ions t hat a Guide Church Resources, a department of the Baptist Will his family be on board? The church should ask when hiring Missionary Association of America. Bible makes it clear that pastors staff are: should lead their family well. After Will this person fit in our church’s culture? It has been all, if they can’t lead their family, how will they lead the church? said that culture trumps strategy every time. This doesn’t But beyond the minister’s ability to lead his family, considermean that the new hire must come from the same culture ation must be given to how the family feels about the possible (He doesn’t have to be a city slicker to minister in NYC), move. If a family is divided over a ministry environment, it will but instead that he can fit in that culture. It’s really a ques- soon become obvious to the church. tion of the person’s adaptability. The last thing you want to Family members who aren’t on board will tend to withdo is hire someone who will always feel (and act) like they draw and sometimes even resent the location. This presents are a fish out of water. That’s not helpful for the church all sorts of problems. A congregation’s suspicions may turn to or for them. gossip and mistrust. Discerning whether the prospect will be a good fit for your The prospect should be asked if he has discussed the church’s culture means that you must first identify your cul- possible move with his family and what their reaction ture! Is it a busy or laid-back culture? Is it a meeting-driven or was. Further, if the candidate moves forward in the prorelationship-driven culture? Is it a culture of calm or chaos? cess, his wife (and possibly children) should be engaged in Is it formal or informal? How do people view the importance the conversation. of appearances, grammar, professionalism, availability, etc.? Issues of culture, motivation and family will not show After getting a clear picture of your own culture, take the up on a resume. They are not easily measured or reported. time to ask about the prospect’s current cultural environment. And yet, they are among the most important factors in Take note of which elements make the candidate comfort- hiring new staff. It is better to not make the hire if you can’t able or uncomfortable. Consider visiting them in their current make the right hire. It saves everyone a lot of time, energy setting. Be open with them about your culture. and heartache! 78 MinistryToday November // December 2014
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MINISTRY LEADERSHIP: P R E A C H I N G BY HAL SEED
7 Principles for the Perfect Preaching Calendar Here’s why it’s beneficial to plan sermons way in advance
ne of the preacher’s greatest challenges is choosing well into the Christmas season. By the time we hit the future what to preach and when. Three years ago, this chal- portions of Daniel in January and February, our attendance lenge escalated for me when we started adding off- popped 17 percent.) site campuses with live preachers. 4) All growth comes from Jesus. As our team sits down to stratePlanning for multiple locations gize the preaching calendar, we rechas forced me to think further ognize that apart from Jesus, we can ahead and formulate concrete do nothing (John 15:5). Prayer is as principles around which we build important in the sermon-scheduling each series. Here’s what we’ve process as it is in the sermon-writing learned so far: and sermon-delivering process. 1) For everything, there is a season. A key question we ask during Certain times of year are easier to planning is, “Lord, what do you attract the unchurched. We want want to teach your people during to leverage these opportunities by this time of the year?” building our calendar around them. 5) Titles matter. You can’t judge a For Americans, two to three book by its cover, but most of people weeks after school starts, three to decide to read a book based on its four weeks after the New Year, and cover. A bad title is a reason to stay Easter and the weeks that follow home. A good title can spark curiit are the best times to target the osity, anticipation and momentum unchurched. During these seasons, a nd motivate you r people to we want to do attractional series on invite friends. A good title promtopics like The God Questions, The ises benefits, raises intrigue and Purpose Driven Life, Family, Marsticks in your mind. riage, or Money Management. H a l S e e d is the Founding and Senior Pastor of New 6) There is no perfect preaching calendar. 2) Balance, depth and breadth. The Song Community Church in Oceanside, California. In 2001, I developed the perfect author of Hebrews understood that preaching calendar. Then 9/11 hit. some of his audience needed milk, while others were ready for I was scheduled to speak on spiritual gifts. Like every preacher, meat (Heb. 5:12). To balance the “milk” of high felt-need attrac- I changed my subject that week. I spoke on destiny, then three tional series, we fill in the rest of the calendar with deeper weeks on Islam, and concluded with a Christmas series called things such as book studies. The Prince of Peace. 3) Numerical growth comes mostly from campaigns. Children don’t To have a perfect preaching calendar, you need a perfect grow at a steady rate. They shoot up a half-inch one month, preacher. The only one I know returned to heaven many then grow little over the next few months and then hit another years ago. growth spurt. Churches do the same. 7) Choose your series nine to 12 months ahead of time, put work into At New Song, all of our growth has come from campaigns. it two to three months ahead of time. By Christmas, we have our Campaigns are intentional series that combine weekend September campaign on the schedule. In May, we’ll make sure preaching with mid-week small groups and daily readings, all we have its materials chosen and ordered (or written). In June, on the same subject. That’s why my books The Bible Ques- we recruit small-group leaders. In July, we prepare graphics. In tions, The God Questions, Future History (Daniel), and Jonah August, we begin small-group enrollment. all were designed as church-wide campaigns. Great series don’t happen because of a week’s preparation; In each of these campaigns, we’ve grown between 10 and they happened because of six to 10 months of preparation. 20 percent, with consolidation (and some attrition) following. You won’t be able to sink 1,000 hours into every sermon We’ve positioned most of our campaigns during the attrac- series. However, investing a few hours a year in advance, a tional seasons of September, January and Easter, though few more hours three months in advance, and a few more we found that Future History hit the spot by starting it in hours a few weeks in advance will increase the quality of your December. (Daniel was a wise man, so his early chapters fit preaching moment. 80 MinistryToday November // December 2014
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November // December 2014 MinistryToday 81
P A S T O R ’ S
H E A R T
BY ROB HOSKINS
How to Balance Family and Ministry
Pastors, lock on to one concept to find a great deal more success in both areas
y dad and I recently went on our annual “Mahi massacre” fishing trip. For many years we have set sail excited about quality father/son time, the thrill of the sport, and some really good eats. But, it’s also a chance for us to get out on the open waters, breathe deeply and think, talk, process and pray through life, ministry and leadership issues with a handful of other key influencers—an “iron-sharpeningiron” experience. We anticipated some heavy questions and Rob Hoskins deep conversations, but the question of the day surprised us! Every guy on the boat had given up time with their families and space from their ministries to be there with us. And once the sea breezes, frothy waves and blinding sun took effect, the deep, burning question buoyed to the surface. They all wanted to know: “How do you do it? How do you serve God and have a family too?” Between my dad and me, we book a lot of airline miles and spend countless hours on the road. So these guys who are constantly asked to travel and teach, speak, write, mentor, disciple and encourage desperately wanted to know how to remain faithful to their calling and do family well. I had only one word for them: intentionality. In today’s society, children have a hard time grasping what their parents do. It used to be that in our agrarian society, outputs were obvious, “we farm and our family grows corn.” Post-Industrial revolution, kids weren’t involved, but understood that “my mom sews dresses” or “my dad’s factory makes hammers.” But today, many of us labor in fields that produce no tangible outputs that our children can readily identify with. This poses a challenge to our kids to firmly grasp their place in the world and their purpose in life. We must be intentional about explaining our work and setting the context to instill in our children a clear understanding of their spiritual heritage.
Growing up as a missionary kid, I traveled with my parents, saw and participated in their ministry firsthand. I understood my spiritual history and heritage, which shed light on my spiritual destiny. Long before Kim and I had kids, we talked about what it would look like to pursue my global mission while intentionally raising our children and being a family. From the get-go, we knew I would travel and she would stay home, but that when I left, my love did not go out the door with me. My greatest supporter, she and I worked together to be intentional in how we communicated our family’s spiritual heritage and instilled a strong sense of destiny in our daughters. Kim was always positive about the part she and the girls faithfully played to help fulfill our family’s calling as I traveled the globe. She worked hard in our home to instill God’s unchanging truth into our girls’ hearts and minds. W hen t he y were old enoug h, ou r girls began to travel with me, getting to explore their spiritual heritage in light of their calling. This is part of what I shared with the guys who were wrestling as hard with this life question as they did with the massive fish they reeled into the boat. What being intentional looked like for me will look totally different for each of them—their intention toward their family will be as unique as their personalities and situations. So my specific encouragement to them to “be intentional” is actually quite nebulous. The key to intentionality is taking the time to step back, figure out what being intentional in your life and family looks like, and then doing it. Rigorously. At the end of a day, no matter how hard it was, I’ve never regretted showing too much love as a leader, husband, father and friend.
“The key to intentionality is taking the time to step back, figure out what being intentional in your life and family looks like, and then doing it. Rigorously.”
82 MinistryToday November // December 2014
R o b H o s k i n s is the president of OneHope, an international ministry that shares Scripture with children and youth in more than 125 countries. Sean Roberts
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