Mishpachah Yeshua Newsletter

A Newsletter To The Family Of Jesus From Restoration Ministries

The Hebraic family is not simply an individual or private matter.
Rather, it is an institution in which the whole community has a stake.
Thus, the Hebrew word “mishpachah,” meaning family, not only refers to parents and children,
but to the whole extended family worldwide in the body of “Yeshua”—our Jesus.

[click here for a printable copy]

March-April 2004  Topic: Grandpa, The Reformation Wasn’t the Restoration

Dear Older Men (and those of you who know some!),
Every other day or so I swim laps at the pool here in our mobile home complex. Most of the time all I can hear is my breathing through my snorkel  as I watch the bottom of the pool go by. But every so often our Father speaks to my spirit  about things that deeply concern Him, matters He wants me to address.
It’s almost as if He whispers right down through my snorkel. Not only are His words revealed; the emotions of His heart about what He is sharing comes through as well. This time His message was filled with intense warning
His whole discourse with me grieved over how hell-bent so many pew-sitting older men are today. Their disregard for His commands, their void of obedient trust, and their dearth of genuine concern that their children and/or grandchildren were heading for destruction were paining Him tremendously.
So many older men felt that their job of modeling Jesus and leading their families in wisdom and Christ-likeness was finished — if it had ever started! His Son — He Who died for the sins of mankind — will eventually have to judge them and their offspring to hell if their hearts don’t turn away from sin and find forgiveness and reconciliation in the manner His Word proclaims.
Our Father reminded me again why He took Sue and me to Israel 10 years ago. A few days after we had agreed to leave our retreat ministry in 1993, our friend, Bert Schlossberg, came to see us. Bert had moved to Israel with his family 5 years earlier. From his visit we ended up living with them in a settlement outside Jerusalem for 3 months. [It was during this stay that the Hebraic relational foundations would be revealed to us.]
The day after Bert’s visit, I got up early and knelt down in front of the sofa with my Bible laid out before me. I wanted to know why our Father was sending us to Israel. As I let the Word fall open, the Book of Jeremiah came into focus. The Holy Spirit directed my eyes to 1:17-19:
Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you.
Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land.
They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the Lord.
I bawled like a baby when I finished reading that passage. After 11 years of running a farm retreat center and counseling clergy, I was worn out, barely keeping my own marriage together. Now the Lord was telling me He had greater purpose for our going to Israel than just visiting friends and recuperating.
What really caused me to weep were the words, “‘They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.” Whatever our Father was leading my wife and I into, He’d have to rescue me. This He has been faithful to do ever since.
In the pool this week my Lord reminded me of this passage and His purposes for my life at this juncture. In the sternest voice I’ve ever experienced, He told me to warn men with all the conviction I can muster.

The Restoration Goes Way Beyond the Reformation
Most of us, before we ever heard of the Hebraic foundations to the Church, were steeped in Nicolaitanism. We relied on the teaching of clergy to make the Bible clear for us and our families. Our faith enactment was based more on religious form and creedal allegiance than on intimacy with our Lord.
A good number of you men who read our materials and contact me continue to argue points about creedal issues that were borne out of the Reformation or revisionism. These cognitive discussions that have nothing to do with relating to our Lord are extremely painful for me. No matter how hard I try I can’t seem to help you discuss your relationship with God.
The Reformation was not a Restoration of al that our Father ordained for the early Church. Yes, great truths were restored:  sola scriptura — the Bible as sole and final authority; sola fide — by faith alone are we justified; sola gratia — by grace alone are we reconciled with our Father through Jesus. Sadly, Martin Luther’s proclamations, for the most part, only went back as far as Saint Augustine, who, at the time, had been branded a heretic by the Roman Catholic Church. 
The Reformation was an attempt to reform — to make changes in the same piece of cloth — the corruption that so permeated Roman Catholicism. But, none of the Reformers restored the relational priorities and love-grounded obedient trust of Abraham that the earliest Jewish Christians embraced.
What I’m saying is this: these well-meaning yet anti-Semitic theologians based their new creeds and religious practices not on apperceiving God’s intent in the Bible, but on the decisions of theologians and church councils of the past. 
If there hadn’t been such a strong, long-standing anti-Jewish bias over the centuries, today’s followers of Jesus would be abiding in the relational foundations that the earliest followers of Jesus embraced. Isn’t it time that all of us join our Father and become “Restorers”, and stop trying to be “Reformers” of man’s religious practices? I’m calling especially on you older men to lead the way. Do you care enough for your family to get involved in their spiritual well-being?
One supreme difference exists between contemporary  Restorers and Reformers: The goal of the first is to grow in love for God and for others: “In Christ Jesus...the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6).

Reformers, however, are impelled to be creedally correct. As a result of repeated attempts to patch up and reform creedal platforms, over 22,000 “correct”, competing denominations now exist in the world. Do you think all 22,000 can be right? Especially if you take seriously Jesus’ prayer that His followers “may all be one” (John 17: 21)?


It’s Time to Apperceive
Our Father’s Intent
If you’ve read our book, Pastoring by Elders, the word “apperceive” isn’t new to you. Let me repeat the simple illustration that we used in the book to convey the difference between apperceiving the Bible and revising it as the Reformers did.
 
A man sets about to build a house. He carefully measures out a pattern for a roof joist and cuts it, then uses that joist as the pattern for the second one. For each and every joist, he uses his original as the pattern. This describes apperception—going back to the pattern of the Word for every application and religious practice.
The revisionist carefully measures out and cuts the first roof joist, then makes a second one from that. But instead of using the original joist as his pattern, he uses the second joist as a pattern for the third, the third joist to make the fourth, and so on. By the time he finishes cutting his last joist and lays it against the original one, he discovers that the measurements are way off. What started as minor deviations added up to major differences. So too with revisionism.
 
Because theologians and church councils of the past 300+ years only cited previous writings and decisions and then used them as their foundation point, multitudinous denominations with their own specific focus have been birthed.  
Revisionism produces creedal division. Apperception, however, restores what our Father intended for His Church — God-dependent people of loving trust and faith communities bent on bringing glory to Him, rather than serving their own interests. The apperceptive life calls for personal responsibility to study and to apply the Bible to all of who you are and what you do. No one else can do it for you.

A Wake Up Call
The Nicolaitan church system has been bouyed by Reformation writings that have discarded the relational framework of pilgrimage with Jesus. So many of you men have been deceived into believing that teaching alone can change you. Never! Our God commands those of us who would convey His truths to not only present truth, but equally to admonish as necessary: “We proclaim him, admonishing [Greek: warning] and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ” (Colossians 1:28). 
Consider Paul’s command to his protege, Timothy:
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction (2 Timothy 4:1,2).
Paul was writing about the times in which we live when he warns, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear (2 Timothy 4: 3).
Paul understood the need for men in all ages to be confronted in order to grow in the character of Jesus. “Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who are working hard among you, those who are guiding you in the Lord and confronting you in order to help you change (1 Thessalo-nians 5:12). If you can’t confront as the Bible requires, then you should never become a husband, father, or faith community leader. Intervening to halt destructive behavior, then guiding the errant to righteousness in that area of their lives is a very necessary function in each of these roles!
For 27 years I’ve watched some men mature in Christ while others walk the path of the Hardened, Mocking, or God-denying fool. I’m convinced that, along with yielded obedience to the Holy Spirit, a man who desires to mature in Christ requires another man or two to whom he will give deference. He’ll walk with purposeful determination in Jesus to not do anything to lose the respect of those loadbearing men. 
Nicolaitanism fails to provide the strong interpersonal relationships that are needed for appropriate accountability and confrontation to take place. So many of you men have remained complacently mired in a religious system of practice that you have a difficult time when you begin to enter into the Hebraic foundations. The relational responsibility called for both to God and to other men is too intrusive for you. I feel sad for your wives as they plod along without spiritual protection or leadership from you.

Our Father is Restoring His Church in an Age of Scoffers
I know full well that what I am writing here in itself isn’t going to change anyone. If you want to fulfill the responsibilities our Father requires, your are going to have to get on your knees. His process to bring you into conformity to His will is twofold:

1. He convicts you of your sin so that you will repent, that is, turn away from your sin and turn to Him and His way of life for you.
2. When our Father accepts your repentance, His Spirit will help you live a life that both pleases and glorifies Him.

This is true grace: God gives us the desire and the power to obey Him as our beloved Lord. Notice how true grace differs from the Nicolaitan concept of grace that excuses your sins until you decide you want to turn from them. This false presumption is “greasy” grace. You feel as though you can slide past the call to obey God because all sin is covered.
If you have studied the Hebraic foundations and are applying these truths our Father gave us to share, you realize that no one has the capacity to be relationally committed to the same degree to everyone in their lives. For example, among His disciples Jesus had his special three, Peter, James, and John, and then the other nine.
Why is this fact important? On the upper right corner of the first page of this newsletter we have illustrated the center three relational priorities of the Restoration Diagram. This is our particular focus of ministry. When you go to our website, you’ll find the same diagram. You can click and find our writings organized under Jesus, The Home, and Fellowship in Homes. This sequence of relational priorities is the critical, non-optional foundation to live as our Father requires.
If you’ve read our newsletter, The Gospel of the Covenant is the Pilgrimage to Salvation, this all makes sense to you.
The first priority is relating to our Father and His Son, Jesus as the Scriptures call for, in love-grounded, obedient trust.
The second is making our relationship with the God-head real in our homes as we model a unity in Jesus and a harmony that is both pleasing and glorifying to the Father.
The third is embracing a few others who uphold righteousness in their lives, and will one-another with you in living righteously, glorifying our Father through your answered prayer and testimony.
Everything else, including your congregational gatherings and impact on your piece of the world for the Kingdom, is built on these three foundational relationships.
Let me give you a glimpse of one facet of my ministry with men. Over the years I’ve mentally placed the men who contact me into three categories.
1. Some of you who contact me are living for God no matter what it cost you. I’m greatly encouraged by your resolve to glorify our Lord!
2. Some of you whose heart is in the first category are struggling and need some counsel to guide you back on track. I’m delighted if I can help.
3. Then, there are those of you who call or write but have no intention of dying to yourself and embracing the responsibilities our Father requires of you. You like to read and argue religious concepts, but have no desire to leave the irresponsible self-centeredness that Nicolaitanism offers you and your family. You have no idea how emotionally painful it is for me to talk with you. But you are the group I need to warn in this letter — the Scoffers.

Last week my brother Tom and I were recalling the wonderful corrective interaction we had with so many adults when we were growing up. We were raised in a very tight Polish-Catholic community. My cousins filled the classes in the parochial school we attended. At Mass each Sunday my parents saw the nuns who taught us. We had frequent interaction with my uncles who used these opportunities to correct us if need be.
My brother and I had been raised to trust in and to seek wise counsel, especially from the older and wiser people we encountered. Even today we continue to seek wisdom so that we can make the most correct decisions.  
I believe that when I went into Navy Flight Training, my family upbringing contributed to why I became a helicopter pilot rather than a jet jockey. My personality profile showed that I am a “we”-oriented person. Test results showed that I’d do better flying with a crew than flying alone. I had a strong sense about belonging to others and accomplishing tasks with others. Because of this, I really enjoyed being part of crew in a helicopter.
During our conversation, Tom and I also realized how lonely it can be when a someone grows up not cherishing wise correction and counsel from others. To their own detriment, so many today make decisions on their own and find themselves heading down destructive paths.
As my brother and I talked, I became aware of how many people among the scoffers I just mentioned have, for a variety of reasons, grown up with minimal corrective influences. Broken homes, frequent relocations, absence of intergenerational contact, and just plain rebellious stubbornness have all created a growing number of people 50 and younger who rely excessively on their own rationale. They have been raised to avoid wise correction and advice, trusting instead in their own “instincts” and inclinations. As a result, not only do they rebuff attempts at wise counsel in their lives, they scoff at both the advice and the advisor
Let me offer an example of the scoffing we’ve encountered since we began sharing the Hebraic foundations 10 years ago. Sue and I have no doubt that, during our time in Israel, our Father gave us the Hebraic facets to share. We don’t try to persuade people to believe us. Instead, we ask them to ask our Father themselves to verify  whether He recruited us to share His relational priorities.
When I challenge some to do this, I can sense the scoffing.  They’d rather argue than humble themselves and ask our Father to give them discerning ears to hear. An appropriate passage applies to those who doubt that God is still acting to further His own interest on earth: “Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you” (Acts 13:41).
These are the times Peter, Jude, and Paul warned were coming:

First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires (2 Peter 3: 3).
 
In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires. These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit (Jude 18,19; see also 2 Timothy 3:1-5).

The heart of a scoffer is bent on pursuing a selfish and evil course in life. But scoffers will do anything to disguise their selfish bent. The people I’ve encountered in the third category of contacts come across as the friendliest, most biblically conscientious people you could meet. Yet, their lives lack intimate relational accountability with either God or other men. When you remind them about needed corrective input in their lives, you get shunned. Then later you find you’ve been slandered!
Shepherd-king David be-moaned the attack of scoffers: “Whenever one comes to see me, he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander; then he goes out and spreads it abroad” (Psalm 41:6).

“The unrighteous man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion”
(Proverbs 28:1)
I want to conclude with a few insights for you older men to consider. Some time after we wrote our article I Hate Nicolaitanism, [available at our website under Hebraic Articles], our Father revealed to me why He hates the practices of the Nicolaitans and wars against those who live in it (see Revelation 2:6,16). He pointedly stressed, “Nicolaitanism permits people to remain in their unrighteousness.”
I pondered His words for some time. Clearly, fellowship in homes was instituted by our Lord to help His children uphold righteousness. Because of their relational interconnectedness, exten-ded spiritual family could confront sin. Their prayers were answered in response to their walk in righteousness (see 1 John 1:9, James 5:16-18). Men who drain you by their cognitive arguments avoid this kind of relational accountability. They, and perhaps their family, enjoy their unrighteous pet sins. Nicolaitanism does not confront their sin!
Even in most home groups and house churches today, people are more committed to what they get out of the group than to God’s standard of righteousness.
I want to appeal to you grandfathers and soon-to-be grandfathers. Both Sue and I rejoice to hear from those of you in your 70’s and 80’s who are affirming the truth of our newsletter of the Covenant Gospel. But if you are in category 3, we realize how hard it is for you to reconsider that you may have embraced a false gospel. Your children and grandchildren are probably wading through false gospel shoals as well.
Think of the consequences of where you’re leading them if you don’t stop to make certain that you have embraced the Gospel our Father has given in His Word.
Picture yourself standing next to your children and grandkids at the Judgment Throne. If they are condemned to hell by our Lord for having succumbed to a self-serving, empty false gospel that excuses sin and offers no reconciliation with our Father on His terms, they may turn to look painfully at you. What reason for not having sought and shared the true Gospel earlier can you give? 
Judge for yourself now if your family is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. His presence is evidenced if they are walking in His Light, easily convicted of their sins and repentant. If the Spirit of God takes up His dwelling in someone who embraces the true Gospel, don’t you think that God within a person will make a noticeable difference?
Take seriously this scriptural requirement before you and your family reach the Judgment Throne: “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9). You may want to repeat this passage aloud so that the full implication of its truth sinks in.
Some of you grandfathers I want to especially warn. I’ve been contacted by men whose son is getting a divorce, or  granddaughter has become a lesbian, or grandson is addicted to drugs, porn, or alcohol, or whose daughter has deserted her family. I earnestly desire to help. But you spend 30 seconds on the need of your loved one, then go on for a half hour about situations in your church, or some theological topic.
Think of how you come across. If I don’t sense you truly care about your own family, how do they feel? I’ve said before, “Whatever comes out of a man’s mouth first or what he talks about the most is indicative of what he really values.” Many scoffers have called me on several occasions and I still don’t even know if they’re married! I wonder how their wife feels — neglected or cherished? Does your wife come up in conversation with others as part of your sense of “we” in the marriage? Nothing on earth should compete with a wife fully experiencing her husband’s loving devotion!  Ask her she’s high in your priorities...
Grandfathers and soon-to-be grandfathers, are your moral principles equal to or even greater than those of your children? We’ve heard from countless parents who have had to keep their children away from their grandparents because of their low moral values. How do you and your spouse feel about sexual morals? Do you tolerate homosexuality, adultery or fornication by what you view or read? Talk this over with your spouse, then your kids.
Is your wife an interfering mother-in-law? There is no way to accurately assess the many variables that contribute to divorce today. But, from one who has observed thousands of situations, mothers of married women would be near the top.
If you want your grandchildren to grow up with their biological parents, keep your wife from listening to derogatory information about your son-in-law from your daughter. Talk to both of them together about their problems, or talk to neither of them about their situation.
Many of the spiritual strongholds that plague your children and grandchildren are ones they inherited through you and your wife.
• Have you helped your family become free from these demonic influences?
• Are you helping them have their need for dignity, authority, blessing and provision, security, purpose and meaning, freedom and boundary, and intimate love and companionship met in godly ways?
If you have offered to help us over the years but have left us because we couldn’t fulfill your expectations, we hope you’ll discover and walk in our Lord’s relational priorities. We don’t want our needs to be met without regard for what is going on in your personal lives.
When you approach us with bitterness toward a spouse or parent, or if your spouse has unresolved bitterness, we choose to help you first come into fellowship with our Father and His Son, Jesus. Sadly, many with bitterness or a bitter spouse have walked away, unwilling to deal with your own bitterness and fearful to confront your spouse about his/hers.
Far more important than the elections this year is whether you grandfathers will lead your families into the biblical stipulations that our holy God requires. Who becomes President of this country isn’t nearly as important as whether the Holy Spirit is ruling the hearts of your family. Consider taking your family through the Hinds Feet on High Places study guide to teach them about the lifelong pilgrimage aspect of walking with Jesus. That will help keep them from becoming self-satisfied, self-dependent, and distrusting of our Father.
My love for our Father encourages me to write so directly to those of you whom He sees as scoffers and who are producing scoffing progeny. I hope that by this straight-forward message I am fulfilling a call God gave me 27 years ago:

Son of man, I have made you a watchman; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you will surely die,' and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself.
(Ezekiel 33:7-9).

Notice that “the wicked” are not those who’ve never heard of Jesus, but those who choose not to obey His commands! (See Psalm 50:16,17). I want my son, and his wife and our granddaughter in heaven with us no matter what it takes. I can’t even imagine what lack of love it takes for a grandfather to lead the way for his family to chance hell.
If you have lived for years as a scoffer, our Lord offers encouragement if you will repent and seek Him wholeheartedly:

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29: 13); “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6).
 
If you want to lead your family spiritually so that each will be welcomed at the Throne, then start on your knees.

In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams (Acts 2:17).

Would any of you older men call God a liar? He tells us that “old men will dream dreams.” Do think these are dreams of fancy that He is referring to? Far from it! God often uses dreams to give men guidance, especially when something important needs to be conveyed.
When Herod wanted to kill the Christ-child, we are told, “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him’” (Matthew 2:13).
Then we are told, “After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt” (v. 2:19).
The Bible is filled with God giving direction to men through dreams. Do you think the God who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” has stopped using dreams to assist you older men in guiding your families?
Can it be that our families are falling into demonic traps of divorce and drug addiction because so many older men are not taking God at His Word? Job retirement does not mean retirement from spiritual responsibility. Even the most hopeless situations can be changed on your knees on love-grounded, obedient trust.

Your brother and fellow elder and grandfather,
Mike