There are nuggets to be treasured throughout the book, and my copy of Identity Crisis is full of sticky notes marking sections about which I want to ponder further and revisit. My favorite part of Don’s teachings is on Ruth and Naomi. God’s Word is so absolutely awesome, but sometimes we may miss the beauty and depth of the stories. I had missed the fullness of the story of Ruth and Naomi, until reading Don’s rendering. In addition to seeing God’ plan for Jews and Gentiles within the book of Ruth, I was excited to finally understand the related New Testament story in Mathew 15:21-27. I wish everyone would read Don’s explanation of Ruth and Naomi to understand the relationship of the Jew and non-Jew within God’s plan and to reassess the Church’s relationship with Israel.
The Lord has led Don Schwarz to serve in church ministry in Houston Texas and Don is deeply involved with serving orphans and widows in Africa. See http://www.pouredoutforafrica.com/
Don Schwarz’s book, Identity Crises: Israel and the Church, is an extremely courageous and passionate book. The book was a bit ahead of its time, as only in recent years there seems to be an awakening in the Church and Church leaders are reaching out to the Jews and taking steps toward real reconciliation. Don’s book brings to light the issues that should not be ignored, and will help any seeker of truth see more clearly with regard to Israel and Church relations.
Identity Crises: Israel and the Church
by Don Schwarz
by Marcus Ryan
My mother saw Marcus speak at a church in West Virginia. She went to hear him because there is a family connection. I spoke with her after she returned home with an autographed copy of Marcus’ book, Restless Journey. She was so uplifted and happy after hearing him speak. She described herself as feeling as though she were “dancing on air.” I know that sounds exaggerated, but it is true. Mom was
never one to be impressed by just intelligent speech, academic achievements or intellectual wit, even though Marcus possesses all these characteristics. What had moved my mother was Marcus’ God given wisdom, his understanding of the Bible and ability to convey God’s Word. Mother felt God’s love emanate through Marcus. I cherish the memory of mother being so uplifted and moved by God’s Word shared through Marcus.
By the time I received my own copy of Restless Journey, I felt as though I was reading it for a second time, since Mom had called me many times to discuss the book as she read it. I understood why she had been so excited about what she read. Marcus has boldly exposed so much of himself in his book and compels the reader to do an honest self examination of his or her own life direction. It struck a chord with me and I am thankful I read it when I did. I was inspired to make an honest assessment of where I’ve been and where I am headed, and where God wants me to go. I will be more cognizant, going forward, to stay on course and to live my life deliberately and intentionally.
I highly recommend this book and hope you will be moved, as I have been, to not allow yourself to just wonder through your life, but to make this journey on the path God laid out for you.
Messianic Judaism: A Modern Movement with an Ancient Past by David H Stern
God’s Appointed Times
by Barney Kasdan
There is an increasing interest or even awakening among Christians to learn more about the “Jewishness“ of their faith. People are realizing that through the study of the feasts and festivals of the Old Testament, which foretold things to come, a better and more complete understanding of the beauty and perfection of God’s Redemptive Plan for humanity may be gained. And moreover,
many non-Jewish believers are now observing some of these ancient traditions in their own communities and homes to teach their children of God’s love and how He dwells with His people. They are remembering how God watched over the Jewish people, who brought forward His Word, keeping His promise to bless the world, and they are experiencing the joy of honoring and worshipping the Lord through His appointed times.
Rabbi Barney Kasdan presents the feasts and festivals concisely and coherently in his book, God’s Appointed Times, and explains how we may introduce the observances into our own homes. I think Rabbi Kasdan says it best himself:
“In short, all of the Feasts of the Lord were given to Israel and to “grafted-in” believers to teach, in a practical way, more about God and his plan for the world. When analyzed with the right spirit, there are some exciting new truths waiting to be rediscovered through participation in the Jewish/biblical holy days.” 1
“Hopefully you are excited about the positive reasons to understand and incorporate the holy days into your life. Of utmost importance is the emphasis upon our freedom in Messiah. These days, as with any other biblical customs, are not meant to lead us into legalistic bondage. Messiah Yeshua is our total sufficiency when it comes to our spiritual standing before God (Galatians 5:1).”2
God’s Appointed Times Is a good way to begin to understand these celebrations and observance, and how they help us understand our own Salvation.
1 Barney Kasdan, God’s Appointed Times (Clarksville, Maryland: Lederer Books, 2007), Introduction.
David H. Stern is one of the “father’s” and intellectuals of the modern movement of Messianic Judaism. I say “modern,” but certainly not new. As Dr. Stern points out, the first century Church was mostly Jewish believers of the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ); this was a Messianic Jewish movement.
The Messianic synagogues springing up during the past decades throughout North and South America, Europe and Israel are very much influenced by their Rabbis and do not follow a strict doctrine. However, Dr. Stern’s work Messianic Judaism: A Modern Movement with and Ancient Past gives a comprehensive synopsis to the primary beliefs and ideology held by the majority of the congregants and helps to bring coalescence and give direction to this widespread group.
The book is compelling and intelligent, and Dr. Stern, has laid the facts out so that even laymen will be fascinated. Church history is shown in an unbiased and unabashed presentation.
This book will help the Jewish and non-Jewish readers understand the history of Judaism, Christianity and the relationship between the two. It will help the Jew who is curious or interested to see the Jewishness of Yeshua (Jesus), and help the Christian to more fully know Jesus Christ. This book will help Non-Messianic Jews and Christians to understand Messianic Jews. And hopefully, this book will help to dispel many of the misunderstandings and untrue reports about Messianic Judaism that circulate within both the non-Messianic Jewish and Christian communities.
Considering Bible prophesy and what is currently happening in Israel, I believe the Messianic Jewish movement is on a course that will only gain momentum. In my opinion, this book is one of the most important books of our times; we need to know what Messianic Jews stand for as well as understand our place with them, as Christians and/or non-Jews.