Frequently Asked Questions
- What is your spiritual background?
I was raised in a small Pentecostal church in south Georgia. Many of my earliest memories are of that church. I can remember praying at the altar with my family when I couldn’t have been more than 3 – 4 years old. I can also remember being told to stand on a piano stool and sing, “I’ve Been Changed” (you old Pentecostals might remember that one). It was primarily my mother who taught me to love and revere God.It was the Pentecostal environment that taught me that God does intervene in the lives of men and women, i.e. healing, miracles and granting revelation. I am thankful for the faithful diligence of my mother to take me to church every Sunday and Sunday night (Wednesdays too). Were it not for that, I might not be here today.As I grew older I strayed away from that upbringing to investigate other things. In the end, it was the things that my mother had taught me that came charging back into my mind and spirit on a warm autumn day in 1988.
At the urging of my then-new-wife, Beth (a staunch southern Baptist girl), a certain book called “88 Reasons,” and the ever-present Spirit of God, I decided to return (“run” might be a better word) to my Heavenly Father and . . . a Pentecostal church. It was in that central Florida church that I first heard about the feasts of Israel, specifically the Feast of Tabernacles. That is where the search for my Hebraic roots began.
- How did you get interested in Hebraic roots?
During a church service in the fall of 1990 I was invited by the director of the International Christian Embassy – Jerusalem to attend the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. After overcoming several obstacles, I made the journey to Israel and to my first biblical feast. Experiencing Sukkot in Jerusalem with thousands of other believers was overwhelming. I was struck by the fact that there was something wonderful going on here and it was something that I had never heard of it in all those years growing up in church.It was also during this experience that I heard a young lady sing one of the most beautiful songs I had ever heard – in Hebrew no less. Though I didn’t understand what she was singing, I knew that the words to her song were penetrating my heart. The singer was Elisheva Shomron; the song was “L’ma’an Tziyon” or “For the Sake of Zion.”I came home determined to learn how to sing the words to that song and to learn about the other feasts of the LORD. Soon after my return I called the only man in town I thought might be able to help me – the local rabbi. I explained to him my desire to learn and, after he recovered from the fact that I wasn’t Jewish, he invited me to his home and helped me to pronounce the words to the song. I sang it for him and, later that week, I sang it for his congregation at the local Temple. Thus was the beginning of a wonderful relationship that Beth and I shared with Jack and Eva Levinson. He was the one who first introduced me to the basics of the Hebrew language and the biblical feasts. That was when I began to comprehend that the roots of Christianity were buried deep in Israeli soil.
- Do you keep the Sabbaths and Feast Days described in the Old Testament?
Yes, to the best of my understanding and ability. We believe that the seventh day is, has always been and will forever be the Sabbath. God did not change His mind. As far as the feasts, He makes it clear that these are not "Jewish" feasts but His feasts. They are for His people throughout their generations. As a believer in Messiah, we have been grafted into the good olive tree – Israel - and as such ought to keep the feasts and sabbaths He gave to Israel.
- Do you keep the dietary laws?
When you consider that man’s downfall came about because he ate something that God said, "Don’t eat," it seems clear to me that when God says "Don’t eat something," He really means it. Consequently, my family has chosen to abstain from "foods" the Bible describes as unclean – pork, shellfish etc. (This does not mean that we are rabbinically kosher – i.e., I eat cheeseburgers). We don’t abstain from these unclean things because we believe it to be a salvation issue, but because we believe it to be an obedience issue – “If you love me, keep my commandments.”On the other hand, what good is a diseased or dead vessel? The Father tells us what is good and not good for food because He wants His people to live an abundant and healthy life. Knowing that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, should we willingly and knowingly contaminate the temple? That being said, I do not believe it is my place to judge those who don’t see things this way. I leave that to the Father for only He knows the heart of man.
- What about the Jewish Customs? Do you observe these?
It is extremely important to distinguish between commandment and custom. For instance, we are commanded to “remember” the Sabbath and “keep” it holy. In an effort to do just that, certain traditions came into existence that have become synonymous with keeping the Sabbath; for instance, kindling lights.Some might argue that one must kindle lights. I vehemently disagree because kindling lights on the eve of Sabbath is a custom. The commandment is to keep the Sabbath set apart from the rest of the week. However, if I kindle lights because I consider it to be a useful custom in keeping the commandment, there is nothing wrong with that.Hence, there are some customs I like and observe but with the understanding that they are custom and that is all. The most important thing is to keep the commandment whether or not you employ traditions derived from Judaism.
- Does your family support you in this belief?
Yes. I can honestly say that I have never received any resistance from any family member about what I believe. That is not to say they have always agreed but, still, no one in the family has ever spoken out against it or tried to undermine what we do. To the contrary, they have always supported us.
- Do you lead a congregation?
No. A few years back I was working along with a dear friend in a local congregation but with the understanding that I do not feel called to lead a congregation. Besides, my schedule would not allow it.
- When are you going to lead a trip to Israel?
Keep an eye on the website for tour dates. I do not go every year, but almost.
- I wrote to you and didn’t hear back from you. Why not?
First of all let me say, “Mom, I’m sorry. I will call you later today - promise!” To the rest of you, let me say that there is really no good excuse but let me take a stab at giving you one anyway.On average we receive hundreds of emails and letters every month, many of them asking questions that require detailed answers. A few years ago, when I wasn’t traveling as much as I am now, I could answer letters and emails more frequently. Since then, the time just isn’t available. As it stands now, I could spend all week just answering correspondence.When I am in town, most of my time is spent catching up on paper work, getting new teaching materials ready or various other duties. During that “at home” time, I also have to catch up with my wife and four kids. Unfortunately, this leaves little time for answering mail. I wish it were different but for now that is how things are.That being said, let me assure you that I do read them all. Furthermore, don’t stop writing because we love to hear from you. If you don’t get a response please do not assume that we don’t care – we do. Continue to be patient with us and maybe one day this challenge can be overcome as well.
This site has helped in this area with the comments structure which allows me to answer questions or comments that others may be thinking as well. My answer to the question is seen by the members and helps many at the same time. I try to give time to the member comments as it will usually help more than just one person when I answer the question.