Testimony, Tithe, Power & Puppy Dogs
by Lonnie Lane
Periodically I share with you, dear readers, some of the questions that come to me from some of you. So here are a few of what your sisters and brothers have on their hearts. Maybe they will answer some of your own questions. Blessings upon you as your read them.
Q. How in the world do you speak to Jewish people about Jesus? It seems they are immediately alienated when I try and bring Him up. Any pointers I should know?
A. First, pray and ask God to lead you to Jewish people (or any people) whose hearts He has prepared. Don’t look to score a touchdown when you meet them. You may be seed-planting, or watering so don’t think that unless you get them to pray with you that all is lost. Not so. The “event” of salvation often follows a “process” of God wooing them. As for pointers: You might want to say “Yeshua”, not Jesus, and explain that was His real Hebrew name and please don’t use the name Christ. Say “Messiah”. Jews will not be able to relate to “Christ” being either Jewish or someone they can trust. Too many Jews have died and suffered under the name of Christ by the hands of those who said they were Christians but clearly weren’t by their actions. We know if they killed the Jews they weren’t really born again but that’s hard to explain to Jews, though if it comes up, tell them that. Most Jews think the Nazis were Christians. As for fearing that they know the Tenakh better than you do, very few Jews are really familiar with their own Bible. Generally even baby Christians know more than the Jews do, unless they are Orthodox and even then they will be more familiar with other texts (e.g.Talmud) than the Bible itself.
We live in a time when God is reaching out to His Jewish people and drawing them to Himself as He has not done in the past 2000 years. So be confident that you are doing His work when you reach out to share Messiah with a Jewish person. You could tell them how you love Yeshua’s Jewishness and that you are learning about the Sabbath and the Feasts (if you are). Mostly, just love them. Don’t fear talking with Jewish people and even if they argue with you, don’t be put off. Just gently answer. I would have argued with you too at one time, but what I really wanted was answers to who He was. I just didn’t know what to ask and wasn’t sure I was “allowed” to even ask about Him. There are many Jewish people out there who are having thoughts and even longings to know Him and don’t have a category for it. Go and speak to them and trust the Holy Spirit to lead you. Remember, this is His plan. You’re just His spokesperson. Rely on Him to speak through you.
Q. I would like to know if the tithe should indeed be given to the local church or is it supposed to be given as led by God? The question is not about the money because I know He is the one who gives me the money. In no reference in the Bible do I see that the store house was the local church. As a matter of fact when I read the Bible thru the Old Testament, I see that there was always food in the house of the Lord and people would share it with the poor, widows, in the presence of the Lord. What do you know about this? How do you see this subject? Please help me; I really want to know because I want to know the truth. [Note: She also made reference to “the strict keeping of the requirements in the Old Testament.”
A. The fact that you mentioned the word “strict” regarding tithing tells me that you were under some “strict” rules, not the freedom of the Spirit. The thing about such “strict” rules is that keeping them isn’t love motivated. If you come to the place where you can tithe without being ‘strict’ about it, but because God has put a desire in your heart, then do it. If in the past you tithed under compulsion and fear, you might want to reorient your thinking about it to give to the Lord out of a heart of love for Him and His kingdom. But only when you can give to Him freely and not under compulsion. “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7)
It is true that the tithing system is totally different than the Old Testament because we aren’t supporting the temple and all it’s many services. But the heart of the matter you mention is still — God’s taking care of those who are in need. The first disciples shared so that no one had any need. (See, for example, Acts 2:44,45.) If it’s not happening in the church, it should be. It’s been my experience that when we find a need in the church or we wish to bless someone, God’s people are extraordinarily generous. But I also know that’s not always the case as not everyone is aware of God’s heart in the matter.
In the Kingdom, God’s principle is that the more we give to meet the needs of others, or to bless them, the more God meets our own needs and blesses us. I’ve seen it happen over and over in miraculous ways. As has been said, “You can’t out give God.” We have ample opportunity to give offerings where we might “feel led” to help others. But we are also to be supporting the “house” to which we are committed with our tithes. (Tithe means a tenth.) Those responsible have expenses and like the Jewish people had responsibility toward the maintaining of the temple, so we have responsibilities to help maintain the local temple to which we belong. It’s part of belonging. If you wish to honor those under whose ministry you receive from the Lord, then think of your tithe as participating in God blessing them, by giving you the opportunity to be a blessing. When we are a blessing to someone else, He will bless us back. Try this one as a promise of God you can count on — but remember, do it as an act of freedom and sweet worship from a willing heart of love: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows” (Malachi 3:10).
Q. I read in one of your articles that the name “Jehovah” is not even a name for God – can you tell me where this name comes from and why have people assumed this is a name for God? I was under the impression that it was just one of God’s names.
A. It’s a strange matter actually. The Hebrew letters for the name of God are equivalent to YHVH which is Israel’s name for God as he revealed it to them. The closest we come to it today is Yahveh or Yahweh. It is likely that originally the Hebrews pronounced the Name of God but due to this commandment, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain” (Deut. 5:11; also Exodus 10:7), they began to use Adonai, or Lord. At some point the vowel letters from Adonai were inserted into the tetragrammaton (a Greek word meaning “four letters” from tetra “four” and gramma “letter) of YHVH which became Jehovah. This cannot be correct since there’s no J in Hebrew. This is kind of a picture in my hopefully humble estimation of how distorted our idea of who God can be when distanced from the revelation of Himself that He gave to Israel. But that we’re even having this conversation is more evidence that God is restoring “all things” today. (See Matt. 17:11; Mark 9:12; Acts 3:21). HalleluYah! (meaning praise to Yah, incidentally, one of the names with which Israel addressed God as a shortened version of Yahweh).
Q. I have a question concerning evangelization. As a Christian I’m most familiar with the ABC’s of how to become a Christian by praying the so called sinner’s prayer. I’ve seen many who responded but after a time they would be gone. In all fairness there are at least some who do get born again. Here in the Philippines the dominant religion is Catholicism. They heard about Jesus, but know nothing about the Tanakh. I felt that knowledge of the Tanakh is important prior to explaining about the Messiah. How do Messianic Jews present the gospel, to the Jews and to the Gentiles since the Jews are already familiar with the Tanakh whereas a gentile is totally ignorant?
A. Yeshua said, to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19), He never said, “Lead people to me and then leave them on their own.” My own concern is that there are many ‘still-borns’ on street corners where someone has had them say a “sinners’ prayer” and then they never see them again. Would we leave newborn babies alone to fend for themselves? Could that be why many are “gone?” I believe Billy Graham has been quoted as saying that if he had it to do over again, he would do more discipleship because too many who went forward are now “gone.”
I’m not sure why you feel you have to know Tenakh (Old Testament) to share Messiah with Catholics, but in sharing the Lord, it’s rarely information that draws them but evidence of His power that gets people’s attention. Mind will speak to mind, but spirit will speak to spirit. A demonstration of power will cut right through the arguments in the mind an go right to their spirits. Whether sharing with Jews or Catholics, or whoever, do not be intimidated by what information you think you don’t know. You know HIM! You can always share your testimony and how you love Jesus and what He’s done for you. Tell them how you came to know Him and what He’s done for you in your life. There’s power in that! People need to know there’s something beyond more information. Most of us ingest more information in a month in this techo-age we live in than any generation had in a life time.
It’s the power of the Gospel they need. Paul said, “My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor 2:4). No one can argue with your experience. It’s yours! Just trust in the Holy Spirit to lead you. Begin to ask God to confirm His word with signs and wonders through you. What He did for the first disciples — “And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the Word by the signs that followed” (Mark 16:20) He will do for us! Expect Him to. Offer to pray for them and then keep praying on your own. Check back with them if they’ll allow you to and see if the answer has come yet. Stay in touch!
Q. I believe most of our traditions come from pagan worship, but how do I change all this for my family? What can I replace it with that may be more holy? How do I keep my family pure when our church and everyone around celebrate these pagan holidays and have church on Sunday? Do you have any ideas of how we can change? It will have to be a little at a time, my husband is not too big on extreme changes.
A. I understand your passion for being pure, but it is also important not to get legalistic about it. Grace, grace! God is making changes throughout His Body. Some just ‘get it’ sooner than others. My own church meets on Sunday, but as I am able, I honor the Lord on Saturday by setting it aside for Him as a Sabbath as best as I can, depending on what’s going on. I don’t feel that a church day is a day of rest anyway, especially if you’re the pastor or worship leader, or Sunday school teacher. My pastor feels the same way. Perhaps through prayer the Lord will work on your husband to put a desire in his heart for the same purity you have toward God. As it’s all the Lord’s ways, it’s His idea and though you want to honor the Lord, really it’s for the Lord to change your husband’s heart. I would put it in God’s hands, cease from striving or fretting and begin to thank the Lord for bringing truth to your family. Praise and thanksgiving will go a lot further toward getting others (husbands in particular) aligned with God’s will than coercion. Our peace goes a long way toward making someone jealous to partake of what we value than trying to make them feel guilty for not doing what we think they should.
So let your soul return to its rest, do what you can to keep your heart on its knees and at Sabbath rest. Observe what you can for now and keep praying for God to give your husband revelation. Don’t let these things become divisive in your home. Or then you’ll be violating other commandments, like to “so far as it depends on you, maintain peace with all men” (Romans 12:18), especially in your own home. Be at rest. God sees the desire of your heart and is pleased.
[Note: It seems that the matter of keeping the Sabbath or the feasts brings up many questions. This question seems to piggy-back on the last one.]
Q. I know our culture does not know how to physically rest very well let alone going to the One who gives us true rest. When I use to believe that the 7th day was a requirement for being a Christian, I was always taught that I could not do anything that was considered entertainment or work, including going to restaurants, sunbathing, not to mention of course working to feed the family (however it was o.k. for the pastors to work in preparing a sermon). Once we learned that this day was not required but was fulfilled in Messiah, I felt a weight lifted off. I believe I swung the other way to where the joy of a day of rest was lost. Now I’m trying to find a balance. Could you shed some light on what may be missing since you are coming from a Jewish perspective?
A. I hear your dilemma. You came out of a legalistic approach to the Sabbath and found freedom. But somehow you’ve lost the joy and rest, if I understand you correctly. Yes, now that the obligation is lifted off of you you are free to keep the Sabbath or not. Your salvation is not in any way affected by whether you keep the Sabbath or you don’t. You’re free in Jesus to do either.
Having said that, I do believe that God has given us the blessing of a Sabbath if He’s leading us that way. I keep the Sabbath when I can, but often there are just other things that need to happen. Yesterday I went to a wedding, for instance. Last week I read most of the day and relaxed. I love turning off my responsibilities and just taking a day without “have to” and “musts.” It rejuvenates me, it gets me through the week when I know I will have a day that is my day to enjoy with the Lord however I chose to do it. All those “laws” about no hard work far exceeded what Torah intended. Remember, Jesus said that the whole Torah is summed up in LOVE — loving God (enjoying Him), loving others, and yourself. Jesus died to take guilt off of us, but the church too often puts it back on when we substitute rules for life in the Spirit which is always freedom.
Sum it up this way, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17). If your freedom and liberty are curtailed or restricted, you better find out why. Guard your peace and don’t let anyone tell you that you need to observe a particular day or you’re in trouble. That goes against Scripture and puts it back under the Law of do’s and don’ts. Yeshua died to free us from the curse of (not keeping) the law. His will is that we enjoy Him, and enjoy the life He’s giving us, and enjoy those He’s given us to enjoy it with. If you were to keep the Sabbath under some sort of obligation or sense of duty, where’s the joy in that? Yeshua has said about all His own words to us, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11). Would you want someone to love you because they feel like they’re supposed to? Or out of a heart that cherishes you? Obligatory love isn’t love. So as your sister in the Lord, I tell you, you are free to do or not do, so long as you are not sinning. Keeping the Sabbath or not under the New Covenant is not a matter of sin. You are free in Jesus.
[And last but certainly not least, especially for you dog fans, I share with you one of my favorite emails.]
Q. I was taught that dogs do not have a soul but my boss is arguing with me at work that they do. Can you please advise?
A. You must have a dog that you love. I have a doggie that I adore. Her name is Lizzie, she’s a little Westie and loves to lay on my lap (she just fits) when I read my Bible or read to my 91 year old mom. However, I do not believe dogs have souls, because when God breathed into Adam, He breathed His breath which is the same Hebrew word (Ruach) as Spirit into Adam. As a result Adam became a living soul because the Spirit of God was in him. Only Adam was breathed into by the Lord who then was fully in God’s image, unlike the animals who can’t make moral decisions or think, or choose or love as we can. While there is some evidence of animals being in heaven, at least the horse that Yeshua will ride when He leads His army in Rev. 19, I wouldn’t count on your dog being with you eternally. I haven’t heard from any of Sid’s many guests who have been to heaven and returned to tell us about it that they have encountered dogs there either. However, it if turns out that God does extend His hand of salvation to dogs, I’m sure my Lizzie will be among them. I’m not counting on it, however, though I do consider her as not only a gift from the Lord but an instrument of His affection for me.
Reprint of this article is permitted as long as you use the following; Use by permission by Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2009.
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.