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Restoring the Home as The Center for Spiritual Growth
Premier Edition of Restore! Magazine

Millions of Christians have left the Church since 1960. Why? Today's Church behaves more like a "Greek theater" than a living organism. Its members "go to" church when they should "be" the church. These spectators are wearied from fighting, wasting money and trying to fulfill a pastor's "vision." Assuming there is no alternative, many Christians just want "out." They leave (fully intending never to darken a church door again), but they soon realize they are missing the church. They do not realize they are the church. Still believing in God. His Son Jesus, God's Word and the power of His Spirit, they wander and search for something real. They have been made sick from the church's "competing" with itself! They only wanted relationship, not membership; ministry, not programs; shepherds, not theater manager; Bible, not buildings! We Are The Church! Ralph Neighbor, in his book, Where Do We Go From Here?, says, "During the past 35 years, a new form of church life has spread across the earth. It is estimated that as many as 74 million people are participating in 'cell churches.' Satan Wants to Destroy Families! Satan, the enemy of God, has destroyed the family in the Western World. Satan has used television, films, and music and has taken advantage of an increasingly worldly church. The church has unwittingly aided and abetted Satan. For example, the church measures faithfulness to God by attendance. It says you cannot get to heaven by attending, but it will send anyone to hell for not attending! By demanding faithful attendance to every program devised by the church, little or no time is left for the family to be together. There are many other examples of how today's church destroys the family, but the worst is the notion that one must be faithful to attend services at the expense of family time. The church was never intended to be like a Greco-Roman theater building with stages and pews. If buildings are the answer, then why are so many cathedrals being turned into museums? Is it possibly due to a lack of people? Yet, the church continues to build buildings, not people. It even builds Gothic cathedrals in the heart of India where peasants can't afford the upkeep! When I say that the church needs to return to the home, I am not speaking of thousands of "mini-Greco-Roman pastorless churches." Nor am I speaking of "cell" churches. I am advocating the restoration of the home as the center of each family's spiritual growth. When we build strong families, then our assembling together will make a strong church, not the reverse! When we of Family Restoration Fellowship made the transition from a "building oriented" church to being "family oriented," five things were considered. They were: (1) The home should be the center of spiritual growth; (2) Church leadership should "pasture" the flock; (3) Tithing should be received from all member families as a transaction which requires a blessing from the pastor; (4) The head of each household must assume the responsibility for spiritual leadership; and (5) A weekly family day of spiritual rest must become part of each family's lifestyle. These five things were found in the Biblical family model.

Tithe Must be Properly Handled! Tithing should be received from all member families as a transaction which requires a blessing from the pasturer. Tithing is God's plan to fund His ministry. It is not an "optional" clause in Scripture. What needs to be done is found in Nehemiah 9:38-10:39. It says in summary, "We assume the responsibility of God's Law to tithe so that the needs of our priests are Biblically provided." Denominational statistics indicate that fewer than one-third of today's church members tithe. Part of the cause for this embarrassment is that the tithe has been improperly received and improperly administered. Furthermore, how that tithe is administered is critical. It should be invested in the people. According to Numbers 18, ten percent of the total tithe of a congregation should be held in reserve. If a family loses their income, that ten percent could help with household bills until employment is found. We of Family Restoration Fellowship have seen this work successfully for three years without any family's taking advantage of the fund. We place fifteen percent of the tithe into a fund which purchases and supplies each family with home study materials. These materials include books, study notes, video tapes, crafts and audio cassette instructional tapes. We simply take what is best from publishers, put them all together to make an orderly study and "give" them to the tithing families. The head of each household sees to it that a day is set aside each week for the family to gather to study God's Word. The results have been astounding! Spiritual growth has been steady and rapid. We save another fifteen percent to take all our families on a week-long vacation. Lodging and food are provided for the entire week. The families spend the time building relationships and ministering to each other. There is a special time each day to gather and share what God is doing in our midst. We meet weekly in different homes during the remainder of the year, and we also meet monthly for praise and instructions on the "how to's" of home Bible study and conducting a day of rest.

How God Sees Tithing
Restore! Winter 1996 Volume 2 No. 1

The Lord God Almighty established tithing. Tithing is not the invention of man, nor is it his property. Leviticus 27:30 says, "A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain form the soil or fruit form the tree, belongs to the Lord: it is holy to the Lord." The reason God established tithing is to bless everything the tither puts his hands to, and to have that tither take God's tithe and give it to the man of God. God uses His tithe to finance His work on earth. Men have taught that tithing ended with the writing of the New Testament. This has led many believers into the false notion that God has changed. The Greco-Roman church, in its attempt to de-Judaize itself, has thrown away God's blessing which comes when God's people tithe. God has not changed. A passage quoted by pastors attempting to raise their budgets is Malachi 3. Almost without exception, these pastors fail to notice the context of verse number l0 (their favorite).

Sowing and Reaping - God instituted the concept of "sowing and reaping." In Genesis 1:9-13 God created all plants and their reproductive process. In Genesis 8:22 He confirms that seedtime and harvest will continue as long as the earth endures. Solomon affirms God's plan in Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 when he says, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot . . . " The Apostle Paul told the Church at Galatia: "A man reaps what he sows" (Galatians 6:7). He told the Church at Corinth, "Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously" (II Corinthians 9:6). As in farming, a thither "reaps" what he "sows." A tither's heart is as important to God as the act of tithing itself. The two must be in harmony. One should never think that God does not notice the heart during the act of giving. The heart should be totally free to participate in God's divine plan of reaping in direct proportion to what has been sown. God's main purpose in tithing is to bless everything the tither puts his hands to. His blessing results from witnessing the obedience of the tither as affirmed by the act of tithing. Deuteronomy 12:7 says of the tither, "There in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you." This is affirmed in Deuteronomy 14:29 where it again says, " . . . so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands." God instructs His people to give to the poor in Deuteronomy 15:10 and affirms again, "Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to." Without a doubt, God desires to bless all who tithe. Tithing is an affirmation to Him that He has done all things well. To the Biblical Jew, the tithe (10%) represents the whole (l00%). When one gives l0% of his increase back to God, he is actually giving all God has given him back to God! This is why tithing is such a great revealer of man's heart.

Importance of the Number Ten - Ten represents one hundred. When giving God one tenth, man actually gives God all. This way of giving reveals man's heart to God. A correct heart says, 'God, you have given me all that I have, I now give it all back represented by this one tenth. Freely I have received, freely I now give. By my act of tithing, I declare you are my God, and you declare that I am your treasured possession.' In Israel, as in other peoples, the importance of the number ten is linked with original reckoning of the fingers. Thus, ten is the basis of the 'dekadic' system which arose in antiquity. In the Old Testament, for example, ten is an important and recurring number. The Law of God is given in 'Ten' commandments (Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5).

Receiving and Handling the Tithe Properly - It is equally important to God that the man of God properly receive the tithe. How the man of God receives tithe is critical to God. There must be a "face to face" encounter between tither and man of God to keep the integrity in the act. In Numbers l8:32 God lets all men of God know that they must "not defile the holy offerings of the Israelites." There are two aspects of tithing rarely discussed in a local congregation. They are: l) What is the proper way to receive the tithe? and, 2) How should the tithe be handled after it is received? Since there is little instruction on these two critical points, believers tend to follow their own "organizational guidelines." Unfortunately, tithers in this condition are left without knowledge of how God looks at tithing, the affirmation of the tither's covenant with Him. They do not experience the blessing of God "to bless everything they put their hands to." Most congregations collect the tithes in an impersonal manner and then ask God to bless the offering. Tithing should be intimately personal with the man of God who should then bless the tither, not the offering. Tithing is done to obey God, to invoke His blessing upon the tither, and to cooperate with God as He finances His work on earth. Tithing is the affirmation God looks for to see if you intend to obey all His commands. It is the revealer of the heart. That is how God sees tithing.

In Order to Learn Torah - One Must Have Peace
Restore! Magazine Volume 2 Issue 3

There is a phobia in the Christian community over observing Torah. The mere mention that one feels led to obey any one of the Lord's commands recorded in the Torah has caused Christians to say, "Be careful, you are placing yourself under Law!" They are quick to speak the classic untrue Christian cliché, "We are saved by grace; they (Jews) are saved by obeying the Law." Jesus said in John 8:41, "I do not accept praise from men." Further, He said in John 8:29, "The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him." Jesus, the Lion of Judah, never pleased man. He only and always pleased His Heavenly Father. The Apostle Paul captured our Lord's desire to please God and not man. He says in II Corinthians 5:9, "So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are home in the body or away from it." Jesus, the sinless Messiah, pleased only His Heavenly Father. We, like Paul, must make that our goal. All believers must be liberated into pleasing only their Heavenly Father. Those to whom the Lord is speaking about being "observant" should no longer feel they must do so secretly. God is speaking to Believers throughout the earth today about becoming observant. What He requires should be what they desire. To deal more honestly with what God requires, I now ask both Jews and Christians two questions. Firstly, to a Jew I ask, "Are you Jewish?" Then secondly I ask, "Are you observant?" I now ask Christians, "Are you a Christian?" and "Are you observant?" Asking only the first question of both allows them to hide a non-observant life-style. The second penetrates to the heart of their faith and love of God.

Pleasing God - To become observant, one must throw off the shackles of "men-pleasing" and worrying about being "put under the Law." Rabbi Yaakov Culi 1689-1732) wrote in The Torah Anthology, Book Seven, "In order to learn the Torah, one must have peace. If people discuss the Torah, it must be to attain truth, not win arguments or display one's knowledge." God is speaking to Christians worldwide about observing Torah. They confess they put off becoming observant because they would be labeled and cast away by fellow believers. Yet, their hearts long after pleasing the Lord. It is time for the releasing of men to simply please the King of kings. To please God without becoming a legalist or a crusader to impose the "Law" upon others is a matter requiring great understanding. God was in Christ reconciling Jew and Christian (Gentile believer) into one new man. Man should not alter God's plan. Care must be given to becoming a "Believer" in God's Messiah. Without this faith one cannot be saved. However, after salvation, becoming observant to what He places on the heart should not require a change from being a Christian to becoming a Jew. Observing what the Lord places upon the heart should only change one's life-style from pleasing man to pleasing God.

Becoming a Haredi - What is a haredi (ydir,h;)? A Haredi is a person who trembles at the Word of God. As one rabbi, head of a small yeshiva in Jerusalem, put it, "A haredi doesn't originate anything." Peter had this verse in mind when he wrote, "Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. God wants both: keep His commandments and walk in His ways. According to Hosea 6:6, God desires "mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." God also reveals this lack of being observant to His ways in Isaiah 30:9-11. He said, "These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord's instruction. They say to the seers, 'See no more visions!' and to the prophets, 'Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!' " I had an elder of a church I pastored stop a woman from dancing during our praise and worship. I spoke with him and asked why he objected. He "didn't want any of that stuff in his church" was his reply. I responded with, "The Bible not only allows dancing unto the Lord, it actually commands it!" His response to me was, "I don't care what the Bible says!" Such is the common plight of God's Word within today's Church. People simply do not care what it says. Well, I care what the Word of God says! Further, I care how God wants me to walk in His ways. I am haredi! I tremble at God's Word. I believe if obeyed, God's Word guarantees blessings, and, if disobeyed has consequences. If God is speaking to you about being observant to Torah, do so within the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord. It is kind of nice knowing you get to observe a Shabbat! Do not worry about being labeled "Jewish." You became Jewish the day Jesus moved into your heart.

Ministry or Marketing? Lessons for the Third Millennium
Restore! Magazine Volume 5 Issue 4

Today's churches compete against churches and synagogues compete against synagogues for members. Their competition is done through marketing. For example, if one congregation has a "family-life center" and advertises its existence, then members of other congregations without "family-life centers" are sure to chose the one with the center. These competitive congregations have found that marketing produces increased numbers. The increase in numbers seems to be the only measure legitimizing the use of marketing as a tool for growth. Oddly, after looking beneath the surface of the reason given for marketing, increased numerical growth does not seem to be its primary reason. While increased numbers do give bragging rights to carnal congregations, their purpose in gaining new members is an automatic revenue increase–the real reason behind all marketing. Alas, these congregations are just following a worldly procedure. Since increased revenue is the only reason for competition in the commercial world, by following the world's marketing plan, are competitive religious groups identifying their true god as mammon? When churches and synagogues enter this competition they actually enter into competition with themselves. Without realizing it, these competitors wage war against each other over potential members and fail to prosecute the real war against their true enemy–Satan. Competitive congregations are only eager for what brings instant self-gratification. They seek increased numbers without ever identifying their own unique biblical purpose. They seem to be anesthetized against "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 4:12). It seems obvious that Satan would encourage congregations to fight each other rather than himself. That aside, there are two major problems created by congregational competition–division and contention. Is Christ divided?"

Shamefully, competition between congregations is so popular that it is being written about in the secular press. Rabbi Gerald L. Zelitzer of Neve Shalom Congregation, located in Metuchen-Edison, New Jersey, wrote an article "praising" competition for USA Today, Tuesday, September 28, 1999. His title was "Religions Use Retail Marketing to Compete for Converts." His tragic conclusion was, "Competition between faiths, as long as it is not coercive or done in an unethical or distasteful manner, can only serve to better the religious product of all as they rival one another in the sacred marketplace." Like many rabbis and ministers, Zelitzer errs "not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God" (Matthew 22:29). If he did, he could never call "preaching good tidings," "binding up the brokenhearted," "proclaiming liberty to captives," or "opening prisons for those bound" (Isaiah 61:1) "the religious product." Neither could he call the potentially eternally lost "the sacred marketplace." "Competition between faiths" should not exist let alone not be done "coercively," "unethically," or "distastefully." "Ethical religious competition" is both an oxymoron and blasphemous. God can and does bless many congregations with numerical growth. God points out what causes growth in II Chronicles 15:9, Acts 2:41, and Acts 4:4. In both situations the growth was fast and numerous. But God didn't need Madison Avenue to attract members. Nay, as He said to Zerubbabel, "Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit saith the Lord of hosts." The reason given for the growth mentioned in II Chronicles 15:9 is that others "saw that the Lord his God was with him." God was with him (Judah) because most of Judah (and Benjamin) had entered a covenant (verse 12) to seek the Lord with all their heart. It is interesting that in verse 13 the death penalty was invoked upon those who would not "seek" God. This appears to be the same penalty currently upon today's non-God seeking congregations. Those who grow tend to believe they have God's approval while those who do not grow conclude God does not approve of them. This causes members to continually move from one congregation to the next thinking they will discover God's approval at the "church of what's happening now." Why? They are ripe candidates for marketing. Eventually, "buyer's remorse" sets in (similar to having impulsively purchased an item due to slick advertising), and market driven congregations fill with back-row members without identity or ministry. In my opinion, it is time to follow the advice of Jeremiah (6:16), "This is what the Lord says: 'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it.' " To say that the Western church and synagogue are at crossroads is a mild understatement. Both are in rapid decline. But, instead of seeking any method to provide growth, why not seek God's path? It is time to enter into a covenant to seek God with all our heart. It is not the time to install competitive marketing as a replacement for the moving of God's Spirit. When the world sees that God is with His people, they will come in large numbers. God's Presence is the only pure cause of growth. With God present, all congregations whether large or small will have His approval. With God present, feelings of superiority and inferiority will disappear and the focus will once again return to what constitutes a Godly congregation. God's people should not be like Adam who tried to cover a spiritual problem with a carnal solution (fig leaf). Begin today asking this question about your congregation: "Does it offer religion or spirituality?" Regardless of size, every congregation should offer spirituality not religion. Consider Acts 2:41-42 as a trustworthy ancient path to stimulate congregational growth. It worked for Jewish believers of the first century and continues to work today.

Jesus' Bar Mitzvah - Enriched Understanding From Jewish Roots
Restore! Magazine Volume 6 Issue 1

Contrary to conclusions reached by critics, studying the Jewish roots of Christianity does not lead one away from the essential biblical truths which support Jesus as the Messiah. In fact, just the opposite is true. Years of worldwide experience has revealed to me that most people refuse to study the Bible any more deeply than (and for no other reason than) to get "saved." I have also discovered that once their lack of Bible knowledge is revealed, most will attempt to hide their ignorance by criticizing those who study their Jewish roots. The reason is that studying Christianity's Jewish roots gives the student information unknown to most believers. Why, then, are so many fearful of studying to show themselves approved unto God, workmen rightly dividing God's Word? (2 Timothy 2:15).

Excuses for Not Studying Hebrew. Another problem suppressing the study of Christianity's Jewish roots is that most ministers, desiring promotions over preaching the Gospel, simply parrot denominational clichés. They don't want to be accused of "rocking the boat." They are unable to study the Bible Hebraically. Because of this, they don't know the answers to these simple, basic questions: 1) What was Jesus fulfilling from His own words in Matthew 5:17?; 2) Why shouldn't we know all that is to be fulfilled recorded in Acts 3:21?; 3) Why did Jesus tell some Jews that all of the "Scriptures" testified about Him in John 5:39 when the New Testament hadn't yet been written?; 4) In Luke 24:44-45, why did Jesus open His disciples' minds to understand the Law of Moses (Torah), the Prophets (Nevieem) and the Psalms (Ketoveem)?; and, 5) Why did Paul say in 2 Timothy 3:15-16, "All scripture (TaNaK) is given by inspiration of God," again, when the New Testament had not yet been written? Questions must be asked, and asked now! Even if learning about Christianity's Jewish roots exposes biblical ignorance, it must begin. Remember, the ignorance exposed has been both in the pulpit and the pew. Neither has been doing much study. But ignorance must be removed by faithful and diligent study. As an encouragement to begin proper Bible study, I have found that discovering Jewish roots by members in the pew, liberates, excites, and answers long-asked questions. In the pulpit, this same discovery energizes sermons and makes Jesus come alive. Pulpits wanting to study this way need to reject, not avoid, criticism about "rocking boats." Remember, if the pulpit refuses to study, the pew will. In fact, the pew has left the pulpit far behind in this course of study. Believers all over the world have discovered Jesus alive and vibrant in the Old Testament. They are no longer satisfied with "party-line" sermons filled with quotes from Plato and Socrates. There is no need for a war to "protect" and "control." Neither is there a need to call Jewish-roots scholars or church members "names" to discredit them. Nor is there a need to retreat from them in silence–hoping they will go away. Let us all engage ourselves in the study of what all the prophets have spoken about our Lord, Jesus the Messiah, since the world began.

Lessons From Jesus' Bar Mitzvah. The best passage in the New Testament to emphasize the need to discover Christ's Jewish roots is Luke 2:41-52, the days following His bar mitzvah. Nothing in Greek culture, language, or philosophy can shed light on this purely Jewish passage. Only a look into our Jewish roots can reveal the truth contained in this passage. In the Song of Moses (Exodus 15), it says in verse 2, "The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him." To "exalt" or "enshrine" God is carried out in the bar/bat mitzvah. The bar/bat mitzvah is the official recognition of the celebrant's desire to begin a lifelong walk with God. It gives the celebrant an opportunity to "graduate" into a life-style of "walking with his/her God." Walking with God (halacha) is the ultimate goal of life. Walking with God is what Adam and Eve lost in Eden as the result of sin. It is what all men desire. The doorway into a walk with God is Jesus Christ. He said in John 14:6, "No one comes to the Father except through me." A bar/bat mitzvah is not just a "rite of passage" acknowledging reaching puberty. The bar/bat mitzvah offers the individual the opportunity to celebrate his/her decision to "walk with God" in a new and living way. This decision includes pledging one's life to the study of God's Word with the view of obeying all that God says. According to the Encyclopaedia Judaica Vol. 4, pp. 243-245, bar/bat mitzvah is "a term denoting both the attainment of religious and legal maturity as well as the occasion at which status is formally assumed for boys at the age of 13 plus one day, for girls at 12 plus one day. Only Luke records the events following the bar mitzvah of Jesus. This is recorded in Luke 2:41-52. It is important to know that a Jewish child in Bible times had three teachers. The mother was the child's teacher until weaned. The father was the child's second teacher until he/she reached puberty. The Torah, with all its Mitzvot, was the third and final teacher for each child. Therefore this celebration noted the change from the teachings of one's earthly father to his/her Heavenly Father. "Bar" means "adopted son." "Mitzvah" is the word best understood as "law." Therefore, "bar mitzvah" means "adopted son of the law."