CFNI – My Spiritual “Boot Camp”

By Peter Tsukahira

In the summer of 1974, I hitchhiked from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to the campus of Christ For The Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas, to attend a session that was taught by the well-known Bible teacher, Derek Prince. I had heard that his teachings were powerful, but arrived there not knowing what to expect. The meeting hall was packed with hundreds of people, and Brother Derek, as he was called, was speaking with passion about “deliverance”—identifying demonic forces and casting them out.

Spring 1975 – Peter celebrating Passover with a seder (festive meal) with his fellow students

Clearly an Englishman, Derek Prince spoke with unusual conviction and authority. As a new believer, I had never heard anything like this before.  Soon I realized that I needed deliverance.  Some young people from the staff began to pray for me. Then I was taken into a carpeted room that was already full of people who were praying out loud. There was a sense of urgency and authority, as well as love and acceptance in the room.  The staff members put their hands on my head and prayed in bold voices, rebuking evil spirits and bondages that had formed in the years when I was immersed in the world of drugs and darkness. Soon, a deep sense of peace came over me.

After that experience, I knew I was supposed to attend CFNI. My wife and I said goodbye to our friends in Santa Fe and drove an old 1956 Volkswagen “Beetle” as far as Wichita Falls, Texas, where it died by the side of the road. We continued in a rented car that took the last of our cash. Friends had blessed us with a going away gift—a money order worth $250. However, soon after arriving to the school, it was accidentally put in the washing machine and destroyed. My two years at CFNI were not off to a good start!

The classes at the school were stimulating; I devoured the Bible-related studies and read chapters of the Bible every day. I knew that I was growing in faith, but it was a surprisingly difficult path. The main problem was inside of me. I felt like I was on a spiritual and emotional rollercoaster. Some of the time, I felt strong and capable of obeying the Lord. The rest of the time, I was failing. Although I was free of demonic control, my thoughts, will and emotions were still not yielded completely to God.

In addition to dealing with impure thoughts and ungodly cravings, I realized that the deeper, underlying motives of my heart were corrupt. I tried fasting to gain control over my inner life, but soon I found that even if I forced myself to stop eating, later I would sneak into the snack area and gorge myself on junk food. Things were going from bad to worse, and I wondered how long it would be before I gave up. I knew that leaving the school meant leaving the life God had for me. I was trapped and sinking.

Spring 1976 – CFNI graduation

At this very low point, two things helped me to persevere and survive spiritually. One was having believing friends and mentors, and the other was finding useful work. Dennis Lindsay, the son of CFNI’s founders, was one such friend. In spite of our hugely different backgrounds, he and his wife Ginger reached out to me. Their lives of faith, though not easy, seemed natural and unforced. They enjoyed doing fun activities in addition to their ministry work. Just being with them was an encouragement and a much needed “reality check.” I couldn’t understand how in my rough, unpolished state someone like Dennis could see anything valuable in me. One day, he told me that he let God choose his friends for him. I didn’t fully realize it then, but through our friendship, Dennis was passing on to me valuable truths about God’s Kingdom.

Another friend, a fellow student also named Dennis, helped me in quite another way. Since I had so little money, I was always looking for work. I tried selling Amway products from door to door, but quickly realized that I couldn’t succeed as a salesman. At that time Dennis came to me and said, “God told me to give you my job.” He was a commercial teller at the Guarantee Bank across from CFNI, and I was hired on the strength of his recommendation. I went to my classes in the morning and worked every afternoon. That work raised my self-esteem and helped me become more disciplined in my daily life.

John Garlock, who was CFNI’s Director at that time, heard that I had taught Japanese classes for beginners at my university and gave me an opportunity to teach Japanese to anyone interested at CFNI. A handful of students showed up, but one of them, a nineteen-year-old student named Bill Wood, showed unusual zeal. Later, he moved to Japan, married a Japanese woman, and today he is a respected teacher who has written numerous books in Japanese.

Peter with some of the African refugees that the ministry shelters

While teaching Japanese at CFNI, I began to experience a special kind of joy from the Lord. My spiritual gift of teaching was beginning to unfold; that gift continued to emerge in the years that followed. I realized that this is what I am called to do in Israel and many other nations around the world.

My two years at CFNI began the process of shaping me into the person I was created to be. It was like a spiritual “boot camp,” where I was not only learning the Bible, but also discipline and other difficult but valuable lessons in life. By the end of my time there, I felt that I was strong enough to walk out a lifestyle of faith on my own and help others in their journeys with the Lord.

WHERE IS HE NOW?

Responding to God’s call, Peter moved to Israel with his family in 1987. There he co-founded Kehilat HaCarmel, an Israeli Messianic congregation, and became the director of the Or HaCarmel Ministry Center, located on Mt. Carmel in northern Israel. The vision of this ministry is to build the local, indigenous believing community by reaching out to Jews and Arabs, serving the poor, giving refuge to women and children and helping to transform the lives of those with addictions.

Peter’s international teaching ministry has impacted many around the world with an understanding of God’s heart and purposes for Israel. He is the author of God’s Tsunami: Understanding Israel and End-time Prophecy, My Father’s Business: Guidelines for Ministry in the Marketplace and Culture of the Kingdom.

Peter overlooking the Jezreel Valley where Megiddo (Armageddon) is located

He says, “Be ready to do whatever the Lord says to you. Launch out when you are young and trust Him. If you are married, pray together about every major decision, and do not make your move until you both are in agreement with God. Your gift from God will make a way for you, and He will cause all things to work together for good when you love Him and respond in faith to His call and purpose.”

To learn more about Peter and his ministry, visit

carmelcongregation.org.il,

mountcarmelsom.com,

godstsunami.com

cultureofthekingdom.com.

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If We Remember Zion

By Maria Erokhina

One of the most remarkable things about the recent inauguration of the 45th American President, Donald Trump, was the prayer of Rabbi Marvin Hier. It was the first time since 1985 that a rabbi invoked a blessing at such an important historic event. “Eternal God, bless President Donald J. Trump and America, our great nation,” Rabbi Hier started his benediction. Among other declarations, he also cited Psalm 137: “By the rivers of Babylon, we wept as we remembered Zion. If I forget thee, Oh, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.” What a powerful statement that was!

Throughout the Bible we find God lovingly call the nation of Israel “Zion.” The name Zion refers to a hill in Jerusalem. When God speaks about Zion, He is describing the very heart of His nation.

“Zion!” I can only imagine the tone of God’s voice when He pronounces this name. Waves of love, passion, mercy and jealousy are mingled in it. The truth is, God has never removed the nation of Israel from His front burner, as shown in Isaiah 49:14-16. “But Zion said, ‘…My Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.”

Unfortunately, the nation of Israel has been forgotten by  many countries, including America. Even the Body of Christ is guilty! It’s scary to ponder the years that Israel has been neglected, despised, persecuted, suffered pogroms and the Holocaust. Its very existence has been questioned since its inception. The world has overlooked the fact that the land that lawfully belongs to Israel (historically and according to God’s ordinance) has been inhabited by hostile strangers. We condemned Israel for claiming her rights. We introduced sanctions; we gathered troops; we threatened and manipulated; we ignored her interests. Under the mask of guarding peace, we took upon ourselves the right to decide what is right or wrong for Israel, while God had already spoken about it in His Word.

Zechariah 2:8 makes a strong statement: “For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.’” We can see that God is not passive when it pertains to His people. His wrath rages against those who rob and devastate Israel; everyone who harms it, pokes God in the eye!

With America’s new President, there’s hope that Israel will be remembered again. Let us pray that the hearts of our government officials will be aligned with God’s heart toward  His  nation. Let us pray that after so many years of neglect, America will finally remember Zion, not only in words, but in action. Let us pray that America will be a nation that stands with Israel, defends her interests and protects her! Because if we bless Israel, we will truly be blessed.

CFNI travels to Israel every year. To be part of this powerful trip and learn more about the biblical history of Israel, go to cfni.org/israeltour.

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Why Should I Tour Israel?

By Pastor Billy Allen

When it comes to the subject of Israel, this is possibly to most asked question among Christians: “Why should I go to Israel?” There are so many reasons that could be listed, but here are just a few.

  1. Without the Jewish people and Judaism we would have no Savior in Jesus Christ and no Christian faith. It’s a bit overwhelming how many Gentile Christians have no real sense of the history of their Christian Faith. A trip to Israel can immediately rid any Christian of this unfortunate ignorance.
  1. The Apostle Paul refers to Abraham as the spiritual father of all Christians. What more inspirational thing can you do but visit the land of our spiritual foundation and our spiritual father?
  1. Contrary to popular secular mentality, the most important place on earth is not New York, Los Angeles, London or Paris; it is Jerusalem and the Jewish nation of Israel. The Scriptures are very clear as to God’s position to and priority for Israel.
  1. The Jewish people are God’s chosen people.
  1. Anything God has ever done in covenant history with His people, in both the Old and New Testament, has taken place in and around the nation of Israel.
  1. The land of Israel is God’s chosen property and nation.
  1. God will bless those who bless Israel.
  1. The city of Jerusalem is “the city of God” and “where God has put His name.”
  1. It is the birthplace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  1. It is the place Jesus where lived and did all His ministry.
  1. It is the place Jesus promises to return.

For these reasons and even more, why wouldn’t any Christian that loves God and understands what God has done for them visit the place of their own spiritual heritage?

To be part of CFNI’s 2017 Israel Tour, led by Dennis and Ginger Lindsay, contact Marianne Allen at 214-302-6215 or hospitality@cfni.org. Details of the trip are on cfni.org/Israeltour.  

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Rosh HaShanah – The Jewish New Year

Israel

What is Rosh HaShanah?

L’shana tovah! Happy New Year! Wait, what? New Years in September? Year 5774?! What gives!

Rosh HaShanah or, the ‘Feast of Trumpets,’ is the Jewish New Year and is a part of the season of repentance. This holiday is observed on the first two days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei (the first month of the biblical civil calendar) which falls on Sept. 4-6 2013. It marks the beginning of a 10-day period of prayer, self-examination and repentance leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. These 10 days are called the Days of Awe.

According to Jewish tradition (Mishnah, Sanhedrin 38b,) Rosh HaShanah also marks the creation of the world. How did they come up with that? The first words of Genesis (Bereshit | בראשית) “in the beginning…” when changed around is read, “Aleph b’Tishrei” or, “on the first of Tishrei.” Therefore, Rosh HaShanah is known as the birthday of the world. It is the year 5774, so it’s been exactly 5,774 years since the creation of the world.

The feast is described in Leviticus 23:23-24, Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a Sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.

                                 Days of Awe

Rosh HaShanah | | | | | | | | | | Yom Kippur

How is it celebrated?

Rosh HaShanah is not celebrated like our typical American New Years holiday. Since this day is a Sabbath, no work is allowed, and all over Israel and around the world, Jewish people will be attending services in the synagogue.

As the holiday begins in 2013 on Sept .4 at sunset, the shofar (ram’s horn) will be sounded 100 times. The purpose of the sound of the shofar is to wake G-d’s people out of their spiritual slumber, to cause them to see the signs and times, and to remind them to examine the spiritual condition of their lives.

Rosh HaShanah Traditions:

1. Candle lighting and kiddush – As with all Jewish holidays and Shabbat, candles are lit just before the start of the holiday. Kiddush is said over the wine. This holiday is a feast; therefore, it’s customary for families to gather together for a holiday meal that begins with the blessing over a round challah which is dipped in honey. If you attend a synagogue on Shabbat, you’ll know what regular challah looks like. But for this holiday, it’s round to represent completeness, the continuity of creation and the omnipresence of God, as well as the yearly cycle.

2. Apple slices are dipped in honey to offer up the wish for a “sweet year” ahead.

3. The shofar is blown after every morning service. Tehillim (Psalm) 27, which begins with “The Lord is my light and my salvation,” is also recited at the end of the morning and evening liturgy.

If you’ve never been to a Rosh Hashanah service at a Messianic Jewish congregation, I suggest you attend one! If you are in Dallas, check out Sar Shalom Messianic Congregation with CFNI professor Dr. Jeffrey Seif. If you’re not in Dallas, get in contact with us and we’ll help you find one!

Yeshua in Rosh HaShanah

Rosh HaShanah is referred to in the Torah as “Yom Teruah,” the Day of the Sounding of the Shofar. Teruah means “an awakening blast.” On Yom Teruah, it is imperative for every person to hear the shofar. You are to hear the shofar being blown, not actually blow it yourself.

A theme associated with Rosh HaShanah is the theme “to awake.” It is also translated as “shout.” The book of Isaiah, Chapter 12, puts the shouting in the context of the thousand-year reign of Messiah. The Messianic era and shout is mentioned in Isaiah 42:11; 44:23, Jeremiah 31:7 and Zephaniah 3:14. The first coming of Yeshua is associated with a shout in Zechariah 9:9. The ultimate shout that Rav Sha’ul (the Apostle Paul) talks about is the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.”

During this Rosh HaShanah, let us hear the calling of the shofar, and let it beckon our souls to repentance. As we seek G-d to remember us for good in the coming year, let us do so with the confidence that one day that same shofar will sound, and it will bring with it the return of Messiah Yeshua.

L’shanah tovah tikateivu – May each and every one of us be inscribed for a sweet New Year, and may this be the year that we see the coming of the Mashiach!

Torah Readings for Rosh Hashanah

Day One:

Torah: Genesis 21:1-35; Numbers 29:1-6

Haftarah: 1 Samuel 1:1-2:10

B’rit Chadashah: 1 Thess 4:13-18; 1 Cor. 15:51-54

Day Two:

Torah: Genesis 22:1-22:24; Numbers 29:1-6

Haftarah: Jeremiah 31:1-19

B’rit Chadashah: 1 Thess 4:13-18; 1 Cor 15:51-54

 

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The Hated Ones

“Some Israelis hate the religious. Some hate the secular.
But everyone hates you.”

A few years ago I was asked to produce a short film for the Negev Tourism Office. Specifically, they wanted me to help them make a video advertisement promoting all the sites and attractions in the Israeli desert. So why did they come to me? Because I’m a Messianic Jew, and they wanted the video to target Christian tourists around the world. They needed someone who spoke “Christianese,” and who would know how to market what they were selling to that specific audience.

I remember arriving at the bus station in Beersheva to meet the crew I’d be working with on the film. Someone from the tourism office was there to pick me up. I was a bit surprised to see they sent an Orthodox Jewish woman. I could tell by the way she was dressed that she was religious. She couldn’t have been more welcoming, and she was so excited to take me around to all of the historical sites that would be featured in our video.

After a couple of hours in the car together, visiting everything from Abraham’s Well to various war memorials, we became chatty and seemed to be enjoying one another’s company. I got up the courage to ask her how she felt about this project we were working on, and specifically, how she felt about working with a Jew who believed in Yeshua. Her answer rings in my ear to this day: “Chaim,” she said, “Some Israelis hate the religious. Some hate the secular. But everyone hates you.”

Chaim Goldberg is an Emmy award-winning television producer, previously with Fox, NBC and CBN. He is now the Director of Media for Maoz Israel Ministries in Tel Aviv. To learn more, follow him on Twitter @ChaimGoldberg
Chaim Goldberg is an Emmy award-winning television producer, previously with Fox, NBC and CBN. He is now the Director of Media for Maoz Israel Ministries in Tel Aviv. To learn more, follow him on Twitter @ChaimGoldberg

THE MOST HATED PEOPLE ON EARTH

My friend and colleague, Ron Cantor, has a book called Messianic Jews, The Most Hated People On Earth. The title always amused me, but here I was, experiencing just that. This woman was was being very honest with me, telling me how people really felt.

Recently, former IDF Chief Gabi Ashkenazi, gave a rare interview where he was asked what the greatest threat to Israel is. His response was, “Internal divisions over Judaism.” I guarantee you, he wasn’t thinking of Messianic Jews. He was thinking of the ultra-Orthodox versus the more ‘secular’ or mainstream Israeli Jews.

But as polarized as those two sides are, there is nothing that can unite them quicker than their mutual disdain for Jews who believe in Jesus. To both groups, we are considered missionaries (a very dirty word in Israel), trying to destroy Judaism and forcing Jews to abandon their faith and become Christians. We are the new Hitler, but instead of sending them to gas-chambers, we’re trying to steal their souls.

Think I’m exaggerating? The Chief Rabbi of the city of Ashdod staged a rally outside a Messianic Jewish congregation in 2011 and said those exact words. “Hitlers!” he called us. I should know; I was there, and was nearly attacked by the angry crowd. Were it not for the police officer who escorted me away, the footage I shot of the inflammatory rally would never have been shown on Israeli national television.

LEAVE US ALONE

Modern – day Israel sprang back to life after the darkest period in our people’s history. The Holocaust was a human catastrophe unparalleled in its horror. The Jewish people had been driven from their homes by the Nazis. And now, at the end of it all, they finally had a home of their own—their biblical, historical homeland no less. They were safe in Israel. They could finally rebuild the Jewish nation after two millennia in exile.

Most Jews just want to be left alone. They’ve been fighting Arabs, literally, since the day of Israel’s declared independence. Wars and intifadas and terrorism never cease. So the last thing Israeli Jews want to deal with are fellow Israeli Jews, now trying to convince them that Yeshua (the perceived “Christian God”) is actually their Jewish Messiah. They just want to be left alone, in peace. Thus, the conflict for Messianic Jews. We are compelled, and in fact, commanded to share our faith in love. And yes, we know our friends and family here in Israel are so loathed to hear such “Good News.”

PRAYER NEEDED

Moving to Israel has been the greatest challenge of my life. Being thousands of miles away from my loved ones. Trying to adjust to a new culture. Trying to learn a new language. Trying to navigate new government bureaucracies from the driver’s license office to the tax authority. Trying to make new friends and fit in with a new community. Trying to find a good job, with my limited Hebrew. Trying to survive the summer heat of the Middle East. Trying not to give in to fear when war and terrorism rages around you.

The list of challenges are endless. But the greatest challenge by far has been realizing what an alien I am amongst my own people. Realizing how much ignorance there is about the Bible; both the Old and New Testaments. Realizing how much hostility there is at the very mention of the name Yeshua. Realizing how ostracized I am, even in the midst of the most ostracized group on Earth…the Jews. When looking at it through the eyes of men, we, the Messianic Jews, are the most hated people on Earth. The anti-Semites hate us for being Jewish.

The Jews hate us for preaching an unfamiliar form of Judaism. But when looking at it through the eyes of God, we are actually quite the opposite. We are in fact the most loved and blessed people on Earth. We are twice chosen! We were first chosen to be part of the special tribe known as ‘the Jews’ whom God set apart for a special relationship. Secondly, we were chosen to have our eyes opened to the truth of God’s salvation in the form of Yeshua.

While so many stumble around in blindness and darkness and angst, we have our fulfillment. We have our forgiveness. We have our Yeshua!

So don’t feel sorry for us. We Israeli, Messianic, Jews. But please, do join us in prayer. We need you to stand with us, as we persevere to share the Gospel with the miraculously reborn nation of Israel. That is God’s heart. That is our collective privilege. And so we carry on.

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