A KISS from me to you
With all the kissing going on today. I though I would give you a KISS and say that I love you all and am committed to our relationship. This is the editorial letter in the current edition of Messiah Journal, entitled, A Simple Vision.
I received a copy of Steve Job's biography as a gift for Hanukkah. I have been an Apple user for many years and have participated as a consumer in much of their (his) story. It was nice to get a behind-the-scenes view of the vision, the development, and the story of the products that have become such a valuable and appreciated part of my life. He was a remarkable man, and frankly, his work changed all of our lives. At least in regard to technology, he changed the world.
One thing that is clear from the book is that Steve Jobs had a clear vision and distinct disciplines that defined and guarded his work.
His story is defined by personal passion, trial and error, persistence, and a clear plan. It was amazing to me to see how certain things led naturally into others without any planning; in some ways Steve stumbled into them. For example, the iPod came as a result of Steve's insistence on not having a CD burner in the iMac; a CD burner would have hurt its aesthetics. He preferred the look and design of the machine over the need for people to be able to burn a CD to listen to downloadable music on the go. His insistence on the "look" of the iMac ultimately pushed him to envision the iPod. The iPod and iTunes soon became a massive 50% of Apple's annual revenue, transforming the company and leading millions to ultimately purchase an iMac. People thought: If the iPod is this cool, easy, and reliable--then I bet the Mac computer is just as easy.
The story made me think about my own work at First Fruits of Zion. Jobs saw the future--then he created the future. Thanks to the revelation of our holy Master in the Scriptures and the passion he has given me for restoring his people, I feel that I see the future as well--and I want to help create that future.
Here is my vision of the future--and since Steve Jobs demanded simplicity--I will try to be as simple as possible. Here it is.
I see the church recognizing its connection to Israel and all that that entails. I see the Jewish people recognizing Yeshua as the Messiah and all that that entails. Through this, I see all of God's people becoming one, living holy lives together as we prepare this world for the kingdom of heaven on earth.
Our revamped mission statement, "A Promise of What Is to Come," supports this vision. This new statement acknowledges that there is something greater taking place than just learning and understanding the Bible in a new way--we are part of a restoration and a return predicted by Moses, the other prophets, Yeshua, and the apostles. The modern state of Israel and the Messianic Jewish revival we see today is only the first blossoming of the great, final redemption, which will usher in the kingdom of Messiah. If you are like me and have glimpsed this BIG PICTURE, you share my passion to see this restoration fulfilled.
Now how do we create that future?
Just as faith requires action, so does our call and mission. While we rely on God for his ultimate stewardship of this work, we also labor to the best of our ability to accomplish something great for him. We can do this by being persistent, consistent, compelling, progressive, and connected.
Being Persistent. I just got off the phone with one of my advisors. We were catching up and reflecting on the work of FFOZ, our direction, planned resources, etc. He said, "One of the fundamental differences between you and I is that you are an optimist and I am a pessimist." He's correct. And while at times his pessimism balances my optimism, I am truly an optimist. I see great things for this message, and that reveals my persistence. David Bivin of The Jerusalem Perspective recently wrote me saying,
I'm well acquainted with disappointment. That's been the story of my life. I have to keep telling myself: "If you don't have unrealistic expectations, you won't be disappointed." Yes, we have a HUGE amount of reeducation ahead of us. Fortunately, there are bright spots and nahas here and there as individual students get a glimpse of what's out there and get excited.
Persistence will help create the future, no matter how far out it is, while remaining faithful and dedicated will bring it to fruition. And yes, there are bright spots and nahas here and there along the way. With God's help, you can expect FFOZ and VOD to continue the good race that we've started.
Being Consistent. One of my favorite Pauline statements is in Romans 12:10: "Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." I frequently reference this in my teachings; I think it is vital. Having a message that is not in alignment or agreement with the majority requires our teachings to be consistent in this area. If our teachings come across as condemning, judgmental, unnecessarily controversial in tone, they will not go beyond those that are already in agreement with those positions.
Paul also tells us that, "If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing."(1 Corinthians 13:2)
Hebrew Roots zealots often chide my colleagues and me on various blogs, Facebook statuses, and in conversation. They consider us compromised because we do not condemn others. Perhaps you saw the recent 280 comments on one of my Facebook statuses. Here is a sample, "This is crap. FFOZ's scholarship has gone down the toilet now that their primary focus is giving Christians the warm fuzzies. As soon as you make the Torah optional, all these little issues (like celebrating Xmas) become moot points." This kind of vitriolic attitude is all too common in the Hebrew Roots world. Others see it and say, "No thank you."
Consistency in demonstrating love despite differences, and humility in understanding, will enable us to create the future. Consistent love for our fellow man, even if we do not share identical perspectives, will eventually bring us together. You can expect FFOZ to continue to be gracious, accommodating, and kind-spirited.
Being Compelling. We have to give people more than what they have. A couple of years ago FFOZ coined the term, "Know Jesus Better." That slogan resonated deeply with people. All disciples want to know Jesus better, and we feel that the way to do this is to understand or know him within his Jewish context. In order to compel people to seek out the real Jesus, we have to provide the side of the Master that has not been understood; we have to place him back into the world of Judaism and strengthen his message by a more thorough treatment of historical meaning and Jewish contexts.
Additionally, we have to show that this is NOT about education or a simple realignment of understanding. We believe that it is a prophetic move of God. Understanding the Jewishness of Jesus is not merely an option which Christians can take or leave as they prefer; it is essential. It will save the gospel message. Today's Christian world lacks a proper foundation, and it is collapsing under Postmodernism. Consider the prophetic message of Zechariah:
Thus says the LORD of hosts, "In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew [the Jewish Messiah], saying, 'Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.'" (Zechariah 8:23)
People want to know they are a part of something big. This compelling message goes beyond a new understanding of Jesus; it is a prophetic attachment to the Jewish Messiah Yeshua that transcends everything else life has to offer.
Being Progressive. I was nervous at the onset of our last national conference. The topics that we were presenting are potentially controversial. Thrusting ourselves into another controversial topic did not sound appealing. The topic? Heaven and Hell. What is so controversial about that? Well, when you present on such a vital topic and challenge the traditional view in this area, you can easily be branded as a heretic--plus the nature of such a topic is emotionally charged and is full of speculation. I had the opening lecture, which was entitled, "Opening our Eyes." In that lecture, I appealed to our audience to give us the space to explore ideas and perspectives that may challenge some of our long-held views.
But I ask: If we are to look at our faith from a historical, contextual, and, most importantly, a Jewish perspective, then shouldn't we be allowed to be progressive in pushing Jewish ideas forward? Must we always be paranoid about a looming inquisition from other believers? Can we not, without alarmism, offer new ideas and perspectives for consideration? If not, then what is the point of this mission?
To create the future we have to be mature, balanced, fair, and yes progressive. We have to be able to think through old ideas and reconsider them from a new angle, with new insights and information. In the last issue of Messiah Journal we published such an article by Dr. Mark Kinzer, a Messianic Jewish scholar whom I highly regard. It was entitled "Final Destinies." As a result of our publishing this piece, I had my participation in seminars canceled, received harsh letters, and heard angry condemnation of our work. We expected this, yet we feel that Dr. Kinzer puts good thoughts forward that need to be considered by post-supersessionist Christianity. Rather than falling back on our Spanish Inquisition impulses, we need to think through these matters, discuss them, learn through them, and sharpen our understandings in this case and many other areas as well.
Being Connected. Steve Jobs was not afraid of difficult relationships. At one point, in order to make his product better, he enlisted the help of Microsoft. In order to create the future, we have to do it together. We are a team of disciples and we need each other. We are not rivals, and we should not act like it. We will not create the future if we continue to fight or exercise "baseless hatred" toward one another. Please take the time to read "The Writing on the Wall" (page 37). Please attentively consider the section that discusses "Baseless Hatred." It is a critical message for all of us.
I am proud to have this journal expanding and to have new authors and contributors that demonstrate our shared vision for the future. Working with great men like Mark Kinzer (Issue 108) and Russ Resnik and Tsvi Sadan (current issue) and many others will only make this journal better and bring the future sooner.
Make an iPod
I sense that one day we will stumble across our iPod. Steve Jobs experienced many obstacles in creating his vision for Apple. Yet his vision was clear and he constantly guarded that vision to see it come to fruition. His life ended prematurely, yet he accomplished more than most men who live out their years. Our time on earth is short as well, but through partnership, persistence, an unyielding passion for what the Father has for us to do, and with God's blessing and help we can change the world.
We can do this!
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