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 Stephen Strang At Messiahí99

Ephesians 4:14-18

"That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:"

Stephen Strang of Charisma and Christian Life Magazine (Charisma) was a featured speaker at the Messiahí99 Conference. Strang, who worked with Jamie Buckingham, has long endorsed Promise Keepers, the Vineyard, the Charismatic movement and all that goes with them. Strang also publishes New Man magazine of the Promise Keepers.


Edited Transcript of Audio Tape

(Mr. Strang was showing some slides)


Introduction: "...that you're important. I've been involved in politics in varying degrees all my life and I can tell you that if the, if Steve Ross of Time Warner or Morton Zuckerman of US Newsworld Port came here, that says something.  That says something about our movement.  And today we are honored to have a man in that league, who is a leader in Christian publishing, Charisma Life or Charisma since 1975.  In 1976 began to cover the Messianic-Jewish movement in Israel.  He's been a major influence in the body of the Messiah. Speaking to the Body of Messiah and covering this movement for the last 23 years. And it's an honor and it's a privilege to have him today.  Ladies and Gentleman Stephen Strang....

Stephen Strang

 Thank you very much.  Well good morning, Shalom.  I'm excited to be here with you today. It's an honor for me to be here as I said last night. And just to open up my heart and to share with the perspective I have as a journalist of what God is doing in our day.  And I have one goal today.  And that I'm here to affirm you, I'm here to give you a perspective of how you are viewed in the body of Messiah and I hope that you'll learn something from my story and my own odyssey.  And, um, and I have as I mentioned last night I've had the privilege of traveling all over the world.  And you know you always have a lot of funny stories that happen.  And sometimes you end up sticking your foot in your mouth because you don't know any better.  And I had that happen to me on my first trip to the Soviet Union in 1990, before the Soviet Union dissolved.  And I went to uh, the Ukraine, and to Moscow and we also went to Latvia. And we met there with a church, it was a Russian speaking church.  And I had remembered something that Yonngi Cho had done.  

Now how many of you know the name? He's the pastor of the great church in Seoul, Korea. And I had heard him joke one time that uh, how wonderful the Korean language was and that Korean was going to be the language of heaven. So I thought, that everyone needed to learn it so I thought that I would endear myself to these people in Latvia by telling them that I-I wanted to learn to speak Russian because I knew that it would be the language of heaven.  And they all just kind of sat there and looked at me.  And I found out later that you know these Latvian people hated to speak Russian. You know the Russians had oppressed them. And so I've-I've learned to be a little bit more culturally sensitive since that time.  They-they didn't boo me or anything, but ah, they did just kind of sit there.  

            But I'll tell you that on that trip I heard a story it was a joke, but-but it's the honest truth. I heard this joke in Russia and it gives you a little insight into the Russian mind.  And it's about a Jewish man in Russia that was trying to emigrate.  And of course before the fall of Communism it was very difficult for Jews, as you know, to leave Russia.  And this man had put in an application for many years and now he was very old, and finally the uh, officials went to investigate his request and they came in the middle of the night.  And they banged on his door to intimidate him as they often did.  And they pulled him out of bed and they were interrogating him - why he wanted to leave Russia, what was wrong with Russia and so forth.  And he says, well it is just very simple, he said I need to go to Israel in order to learn Hebrew.  And they say Why do you need to learn Hebrew?  He said because I am very old and I am not going to live very long and Hebrew is the language of heaven and I want to learn to speak Hebrew before I die.  And the KGB agent says Well why should you worry, you may not, um go to heaven, you won't need to learn to speak Hebrew.  And the old man said, Not to worry, I already know how to speak Russian.

            Did you like that? Well good, I'll try another one on you. OK if you like that one you'll like this one, hopefully.  There was a man who was a single man.  And the reason he was single was that he could never find any woman perfect enough.  And he was looking for a woman that was kind of a cross between Betty Crocker and Wonder woman.  And one day he was traveling and there was an empty seat next to him on the airplane.  And wouldn't you know it that the most beautiful woman he had ever seen came in and sat down next to him.  And so he said, You know I've got to get to know this woman.  So he thinks a minute and he strikes up a conversation.  He says would you please tell me what does a beautiful woman like you look for in a man?  So she thought and she said Well, she says I like Indian men because they're tall, dark and handsome.  And then she thought and said I also like Jewish men because they're intellectual and wealthy.  And she says I'll also admit that I like the macho man, you know the kind the kind of guy with a pickup truck, a couple of hunting dogs, a gun rack.  And she says, by the way, we've not introduced ourselves, What is your name.  And the man thought real quick and said My name is Geronimo Goldberg (sp?), but my friends call me Bubba.  

            Oh good.  I'm glad you like that.  I've learned that it's important when you speak to a new group of people like I am today to, uh get acquainted a little bit, to break the ice.  And so I am going to tell you a little bit about who I am.  I , as you've been told, I am the uh, publisher of Charisma Magazine.  And, um, I'm married, I've been married for almost 27 years.  More than half my life to Joy. And Joy is very involved in our organization.  In fact she is the CFO, she signs all the cheques.  Millions of dollars a year.  And like I told our accountant, if she embezzles I have a real problem.  But God has, ah , in the last couple years has really given her a ministry to women and we, and she has the visions for women's conference that we've had now for the last five years. Last year at Daytona Beach we had over 6,000 women.  And it was a powerful, powerful experience. And sort of out of that our newest magazine - Spirit Lead Woman - has grown. And has developed.  I also have two sons.  I have a 23 year old who is hopefully following in my footsteps.  He is a magazine editor in Nashville and we have a little guy who is 12, his name is Chandler. And, uh, you know I am a newspaper reporter by background. 

I was trained, I got my degree in Journalism at the University of Florida.  And I got a job straight out of college in Orlando working for the newspaper.  And very early in my tenure I got an idea to start a magazine.  And my wife and I were involved in a large church there called Calvary Assembly. which, uh, today is still a great church but back in that era was, was one of the fastest growing churches in the country.  They were involved in a lot of out reaches.  The sponsored Jesus festivals and a lot of other things. And I went to them and I said - Hey, let's start a magazine and, and I'll, I'll edit it on the side.  And it won't cost very much and we'll get a couple of businessmen in the church to advertise and we'll sell a couple of subscriptions and that's how Charisma magazine started.

 We started in August of 1975. And you know I've been asked many times on in various settings to give my testimony. And for a long time I felt like I really didn't have anything to share.  I didn't, my testimony wasn't that exciting.  And then I realized that a lot of people could relate to what I do, because I was a, a man that God gave a vision to that was seemingly impossible, and that I was faithful in little things. You know the Bible tells us that if you are faithful in little things that you will be made ruler over much.  And so I'm, I'm the kind of guy that used what God gave me and God has caused it to grow.  It's like the parable of the talents that Y'eshua told. Remember the three servants that were given talents.  One was given one talent, one was two, one was five. And when the story is told we usually focus on the guy that buried his talents in the back yard. But what about the two that were faithful?  The one that was two doubled it to four, the one who had five doubled it to ten.  And the master told them exactly the same thing, Well done good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in little now come and enter into the joy of the Lord.  

            And so I believe that this is a principle of life.  That if you invest what you have that it will grow and grow again.  And we know that this is true. In, in uh, investing, money, if you invest money you know it ah, continues to grow over, over a period of time. If you exercise a muscle it will grow. If you are learning a skill like a surgeon.  You know they start with little surgery and they kind of develop and it grows.  And if you use it, it gets, it develops, and if you don't use it you lose it.  And, and basically that's my whole testimony.  

            God gave me faith for little things and over the years God has given me faith for me.  And so today Charisma magazine has grown from that very early, very humble beginnings uh, when we look at the pictures in it you'll see some of our very, kind of amateurish covers that we had to start with.  And it's grown now to be, ah perhaps the largest Christian magazine, certainly of its kind in the, in the world.  We have seven magazines now.  Which would include Spirit led Women, which I mentioned, our New Man magazine, anybody subscribe to New Man?  Great. And uh, Ministries Today, which is our magazine for pastors.  Uh we also publish in Spanish under Vito Christiano which means Christian Life. And we uh, have two trade magazines that go to the Christian retail trade. We also publish books and curriculum. And from those early beginnings God has helped us grow and today we have 200 employees.  But I like to tell people that, I like to think that we're just beginning that the best is yet to come.  And so, it's you step from, from ah one level to the other.

            So that's my story that gives you a little bit on my background and tells you about who I am.  By the way, we have a booth out there somewhere and Jeffrey is helping me, Jeffrey Levinson. Jeff you want to stand up? And uh, he's going to work our booth.  Now yesterday was Jeff's birthday so everyone tell him Happy Birthday later today.  And we have, um. He has a flyer here, it's half off our regular subscription rates.  So if you're interested in any of our magazines, today is the day to subscribe.  Jeff told me that was a good Jewish offer. Half-price. 

            Let me tell you a little bit about how my own love for Israel has developed and some of my experiences going to Israel. As I was thinking about this I realized that one of my first impressions about Israel came when I was barely old enough to read.  And my Grandmother gave me a nice picture book about Israel.  And I can remember, this was in the 50's, and I can remember the book had lots of pictures, and it had, it had text and it told how the modern state of Israel was a fulfillment of Bible prophecy.  And I can remember how impressed I was. And it told how Israel was divided because of course back then it was. And I can remember how it had pictures about all the, all the archeology and the, the digs and the different things.  The ancient things.  And I was fascinated with it.  It was probably one of the first reference books that I ever spent any time with as a child.  And it developed, I think, a very early interest in Israel. So some of you Grandma's remember that. Sometimes you can invest in your grandkids and it may not even seem that they're picking anything up. But it will affect them in a way the rest of their lives. As in this case it has me.  

            I can remember in, uh, when I was a teenager, the six day war started.  And, uh, in my church uh, the people I was with, we were very, very aware the Bible prophecy was, was uh, being fulfilled right before our eyes. And that something supernatural was happening.  And, uh, something was happening in, in that whole era. In the spiritual realm. You know that was about the time that the Catholic charismatic movement startedAbout the same year, the Jesus movement started around that same era. And, and you if we had time we could go into a lot of different things that were happening.  And it was all, you know like something was happening in Israel. And they were parallels in the church. And I can remember as a teenager being aware of that.  My first trip to Israel was in 1979. And I'll talk about it in a minute when I show you the article I wrote about it.  But it was my very first trip outside of America. We went to Israel, and not only there but we went down to the Sinai peninsula.  Spent nine days in the desert, and had the opportunity to climb Mount Sinai.  It was a very, very memorable experience.  

            Soon after we started Charisma magazine um, I told you a minute ago that we sponsored Jesus festivals and I was in charge back then of the going from church to church showing a slide show on the Jesus festivals. And I went to this one church on a Sunday night and they had double booked.  They had me to show my little slide show, which I did.  And they had uh, a lady who's a singer named Sandra Chisken (sp?). And a speaker Manny Brockman (sp?). And so I was there quite by accident. And I can remember being deeply, deeply moved by what I heard that night. It was probably my first real exposure to the Messianic uh, Jewish Movement. And it, and what I saw and heard that night it resulted in just a couple of months later one of our, our first cover stories certainly about the Messianic movement. 

            And what I have here are some slides just to show you through the years how we have covered this movement in Charisma magazine. And this was the cover, and you can't really read the headline cause it's rather small. But it says " Now its Kosher to believe in the Messiah". It was, it's in September 1976. Uh, some Messianic congregation up around Washington, DC gave us that photo. We couldn't really afford photos back then. We used photos people gave us.  And then this was the picture. Actually we were going to use that picture of Sandra originally, but it was just uh, too dark for the cover.  And, uh, that, that may have been our first article.  Go ahead Jeff.

            Uh, we can't tell when this article was. But I think this may have been a couple of months earlier than that. Um, I didn't have a chance to go back and really research that.  But it says, as you can see "Pray for Peace of Israel". And, they have Jerusalem.  And we have done these type of stories, um, many times over the years.  This was one of our very earliest advertisers. Lamb, has anybody ever heard of this group? I told you we have a little humor here this morning. 

            In 1979, I went to Mount Sinai and this is the cover that we had. I took that picture.  It's not the greatest picture of what they call ?, which you know, there is several mountains that they uh, different people say was the Mount Sinai. That, uh this was the one that we climbed. And here's our article.  That's me sitting up there um, on the left hand side. Uh that is at the very tiptop of Mount Sinai.  And in that article which I just reread this week, as I prepared for this.  I had actually forgotten some of the things that had happened. About how we went out there and we were in the desert 9 days with a group of 12 men.  And how God taught us a lot about ourselves and about the whole sense of community. When you are out there in the desert, and you would literally die if you left the group, and when you're dependent on each other for your very survival, you learn a lot. And we got up, we camped at the base of mountain and got up about 3 in the morning and started our climb.  And it's a 3 or 4 hour climb if I recall.  And it gave us, we spread out and it gave us a chance to pray.  And I can remember praying for every, virtually for everybody I knew. And it was a wonderful time and I got to sit up there on the top of the mountain for about a half an hour.  And then we got together and prayed and it was just a very, very meaningful, religious experience. And, and I made a vow to God to serve Him.  And printed it right in the magazine for all to read, and, and it was very meaningful.  Now twenty years later to go back to read that and to realize what God has done in my own life in that period of time. 

            In 1980, we did a story, Derek Prince wrote it as I recall, called " Our Debt to Israel". The following year we did a photo story with Max and um, Max Jacobee (sp?), the photographer. Uh, whoís written these, you've probably seen them, these wonderful coffee table books.  Uh, about Israel and Jerusalem and so forth. The Faces of Israel.

            In 1985, um, this was our  tenth anniversary and these covers actually, if you went on the back and everything we had every cover that we published up until that time. This is just some of them. But we cited ten trends.  We called them Decatrends.  And one of the trends was this one, the trend toward the love of Israel. And later on this morning I'm going to talk about some trends and I still see that trend to a certain extent but we felt that of the trends that were happening that this is one of the, this is a picture from the Feast of Tabernacles um, around 1980. And the story is about, by Jim Croft uh, who has worked many years with Derek Prince. 

            This cover right here, the cover obviously isn't about Israel, it's Jack Hayford, but if you see to the right it says Special Edition on the Holy Land: Why Christians are drawn to Israel. And this is just an example, this is the story inside.  It was a special section, it went on for many pages.  And we just done this a number of times over the years. 

            1988, uh, let me get close enough to read this.  It says uh, West Kiffors, who is a, for many years was a reporter with the United Press International.  Um, gave us his perspective and Maxim Jacobee provided us with the photographs. Uh, on Israel at Forty. And the, the quote there is from Job, and it says, There is hope for a tree if it be cut down it will sprout again and fresh shoots will not fail. And of course that's a prophecy of, that can be applied to the modern state of Israel.  

            1989, this headline had a little bit of a double meaning, Believer's in Israel, and was a story um, about the Messianic movement in that country.  Here's the actual story itself.  And that picture which isn't too easy to read that banner that a man is holding up says, uh, Jewish Zionists admire the work of Christian Zionists. 

            1990, we did a uh, photo story on Jews for Jesus with their annual summer campaign. It's going on right now up in New York City. Cause Jesus is for Jews and here is a, the opening lay out.  Um, the photos and text were by Suzie Post who's a secular journalist of some renown and if I remember correctly we one a journalistic award for this, this particular uh, photo story.  

            For the last few year's we have done an annual issue in January of every year that we call Holy Spirit around the world. And, every year we've done it a little bit differently, but we try to take a snapshot of what we see the Lord doing.  You know you canít write about everything.  Thereís no way you can know everything that is going on, but if we can just take sort of a snapshot of whatís happening uh, over the yearís as our readerís read it hopefully people can get, begin to get a perspective of what the Holy Spirit is doing and, and appreciate the diversity and breadth of the Body of Messiah. And, go back Jeff.  The reason I show it is you really canít read it but underneath there it says, That we wrote about Haiti, North Korea, Northern Ireland, Columbia, Rwanda, former Yugoslavia, Cuba and Israel.  We had stories about those places and what was happening.

            And now the next one.  And then this is the actual story. Love builds a bridge in the Middle East. And we have statistics there on the left and little map to, which we did with all the articles to kind of give people a perspective, because as you know a lot of Americans are not very aware of really whatís going on in other parts of the world.

            In 1995 we did this cover.  I think itís a very beautiful cover.  Um, a special moment for Israel. And it says, the sub headline says, Christians in this Ancient Land say they are on verge of a Long Awaited Miracle after years of resistance to Evangelism, growing numbers of Jews are finding the Messiah. And then we also had a story on the Holy Land itself. 

            Now Jeff Levinson, go back Jeff.  Uh, is our advertising department, and he helped me with these slides, so he stuck in a couple of advertisements. Um, these are some Messianic Jewish resources.  Um, and we have had, you know, quite a number of advertisers over the years, because our people respond to these things and are interested in them. Hereís an article from that special section by David Nolan, A Special Moment for Israel. Showing street drama and different things. 

            OK.  This is a very interesting article ah, by Stan about the testimony of Stan Touchan.(sp?)  You probably know his book Betray.  And it says an encounter with Y'eshua.  And the sub headline says Stan Touchan enjoyed the financial success the world could offer, but this Jewish manís life turned upside down when his daughter announced I Believe Jesus is the Messiah.  And I want to read a couple of paragraphs from that story.  As I was going through and, and getting ready for this talk, I was, I was interested in this statistic and if you know his story then you know he took a year off to investigate the claims of what his daughter was saying, really to prove her wrong. And he ended up believing himself.  But this is what it said.  From our April 1995 issue, it says on July 2, 1975, Stan attended and international convocation of Messianic Jews at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania.  His moment of truth arrived when he offered to help a disabled woman with her suitcase.   They paused to rest on a stone bench and the woman asked Stan who is your God?  Stan recalls, it was as if she hit me in the face, what a question.  But the woman pressed on, do you worship money? Your family? Your home? Your job?  Stan was convicted, everything had been more important to me than God he said.  Stan realized that deep within his heart he already believed that Jesus is the Messiah. For weeks I had believed, that I had been busy counting the cost now the overwhelming power of the truth overcame the power of my fear. 

            Which I think is a very powerful testimony. And I was just struck by the fact that he was at this meeting, this same week, at this place 24 years ago when, when God did that work in his heart and life. 

            Ok, this is a little more modern picture of Joel.  A people chosen by God.  And then how to make a spiritual pilgrimage.  The Lord is gathering his people, this, ah article in that issue. 

            And hereís Jonathan Bermas.(sp?)  Have you hugged a Messianic Jew lately? Good question. 

And then hereís ah, the same ah article.  And I donít know if ah, Jeffrey, who helped me with this wanted to show you the advertisement on the right or ah, the little box on the left page that says When you witness to a Jew itís Doís and Doníts.  And itís a little too small for me; the type is a little too small to read.  But it says, you know, ah, donít say Jesus, say Y'eshua, and things like that, all of them arenít quite as obvious as that.  And just to help to ah, educate our gentile readers. 

This is my favorite cover.  We did it for Israelís Jubilee in 1998.  And hereís the story, The Lord Will Dwell in Zion.  Beautiful layout I believe, beautiful pictures, very dramatic. This was the same issue, A Wandering Jew Comes Home.  Very dramatic story, dramatic photography.

And this is Barry and that, that itís ad so Jeff just keeps putting those in. (laughs) Giving them a little free publicity.

Ah, this cover is here because in the upper left-hand um, corner, the headline at the top in the brown bar which you canít read, ah, says The Rabbi Who Loves Jesus.  And just calls attention to this article right here.  And this is David Levine and the article on the right is the Rabbi Who Loves Jesus.  And Iíll just mention that our Creation House Publishing division published his book called In That Day. 

Who Jesus is revealing himself to the Jewish people in the last days.  How many of you have read this book?  A few of you. Well the rest of you have an opportunity, because ah, we brought ah, a hundred or so I guess. And weíre, itís normally ten dollars, but if you want it today itís only five dollars, and itís because we believe itís very important. Weíd like you to get some copies and give it to your friends.  It helps people to get a perspective on what is happening. 

And this was from our May issue just a couple of months ago.  Itís not about Israel.  Itís about prayer; itís a special issue on prayer.  And I wanted to show it for this reason.  Because this picture gives you a perspective on how we view the Messianic Jewish Movement.  We view it as a part of the body of Messiah.  And when we were trying to have a representation there, you can see an African, some Europeans, some Hispanics, if you notice the lower uh, right hand is our own Jeff Levinson.  And so non-verbally weíre just showing the Messianic Jew with the other believers in Y'eshua.  You see that? 

And then we have a Spanish magazine Le Vida Christiana. And just this, this is the current issue.  And we use the picture again, but youíll notice that the Messianic Jew is rotated.  And thatís because ah, Jeff, Jeff explained too me, it has to do with being sephardic and the fact that with the Hispanics the Jewish person was on the top instead of the bottom, it had all this symbolism that he wanted me to point out.  But that issue also has a 32-page section on Israel, kind of tourism to Israel.  And so not only in English but in Spanish this is the, itís much smaller circulation, itís only I think 30,000, but itís the leading magazine of its type ah, in Latin America and North America among ah, Spanish speaking Christians. 

And so this just gives you again an illustration that weíre writing about what God is doing. Now this is only representation of the, what weíve done.  There are a lot of new stories that we did not include.  Ah, we did a wonderful story a couple of years ago on Rose Price, that we did not ah, illustrate. But thereís a lot of examples.  We just wanted to kind of give you the highlights and to show you some of the covers and some of the stories.  And I was actually surprised myself to go back, and to uh, see what we had done, because it wasnít really part of a strategy, we just, it just happened.  It happened because weíre trying to cover what God is doing.

I want to talk a minute about some trends. Now if you read my column in Charisma you know that from time to time I will talk about trends and Bob Cohen asked me if I would try to identify some of the trends I see with Messianic Jews.  And so as I prepared for this Iíve come up with seven trends. Sevenís a good number isnít it?  Some of them good, some of them maybe ah, not so good.  Probably you have identified some of these trends yourself.  But you know sometimes people are sort of oblivious to trends. I mean they, itís like nobody ever really taught you how to identify whatís going on.  You know I think that Y'eshua told about how non-believers can look at the sky and see itís red and what, do you remember what he said? Tell itís going to rain, remember that?  Do you remember the prophet Elijah told a servant to go look on the horizon and he saw a cloud the size of a manís hand and he knew that the rain was coming.  But you know there are some believerís that you know they can look at something obvious and not have a clue about whatís going on.  And I believe that we need to be wise. We need to be discerning. We need to understand the big picture of whatís going on.  And I think that is the importance of trying to site a trend. 

Now a couple of yearís ago I had the privilege of going to a couple of seminars with Peter Druker (sp?).

Probably a lot of you have heard of him. You know he writes about the economy, and institutions in our society.  And he told how to spot a trend.  So I hope you find this useful, Iíll pass it along.  He said that when you look, when youíre spotting a trend, you look for unexpected surprises.

 Now Iíll give you some examples, some unexpected surprises, Iíll give you two.  Iíll give you one positive and one not positive.  Itíll just illustrate this.  In the early seventies, we had the hippie movement.  We had a whole generation that were involved in drugs and so forth. Then we started to see articles in Time magazine; there was an article in Look magazine, if youíre old enough to remember that.  About young people coming to believe in Y'eshua. They called them the Jesus people, do you remember that?  Or people would see these hippies coming down in church and sitting on the front row cross-legged with bare feet, I mean like this never happened. OK, it shocked everyone.  It was an unexpected surprise.  What trend did that foreshadow? It was the Jesus Movement right? Which was a very powerful thing and affected a lot of us in this room.  I, myself, I was affected by what happened with the Jesus movement in the, in the seventies.  OK, so thatís an example of a trend.

Another one that happened in the seventies.  Itís when people started marching for gay rights.  I remember at the University of Florida they had a gay liberation ah, club or something and they called it gay-lib.  And, and I thought why would anybody you know, want people to know this?  I mean back then it was all ah, in the closet they called it.  Well this was a foreshadowing of the gay rights movement that is you know, become pretty strong unfortunately, in our society.

So these are both unexpected surprises.  Now Iíll tell you, that at the beginning an unexpected surprise.  When you see an unexpected surprise at the beginning you canít tell the difference between a trend and a fad.  OK, because a fad will show up as an unexpected surprise as well.  So, it really takes time to tell which is the trend and which is the fad.

But we have tried to develop the, the skill and the technique of looking for unexpected surprises both positive and negative.  Both in how we run our organization and also from a journalistic point of view of whatís going on.  So I thought maybe that would give you um, a little perspective.  And Iíll just run through these really quickly so you donít have to stand in line too long for lunch. 

The first trend is I see, and this is an unexpected surprise, to me at least. I see more openness among Jews about Y'eshua.  And last night Paul Wilbur told us how surprised he was that an Orthodox Rabbi who he expected to be hostile was actually very open.  And then after the service last night, I sat and shared for a few minutes with Stephen Kowalski (sp?) from Utica, New York.  And he told me his testimony, a very interesting and exciting testimony on how he was president of the Conservative Synagogue there in Utica. His family helped found it uh, a couple of generations ago.  And he came to believe in, in Y'eshua. And after they found out, they continued to let him be the president of the synagogue.  And heís still very active in it.  It kind of reminded me in the sixties and seventies when we, we heard about ah, in the Charismatic movement at least, ah people in mainline churches were receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit and staying in their churches which was unheard of a generation before.  So to me this was an unexpected surprise.  Both of these stories that I heard last night.  And I think that in, illustrates a more openness.

The second trend is I believe more Messianic Jewish congregations are going to continue to spring up.  In 1967 there were 0. Today there, as you know there are around 300.  In Israel in 1979 when I went there and, uh, met with some of the um, Messianic believers, they were just a handful.  And if I remember correctly 20 years ago they told me that they thought there were fewer than a dozen Israeli suabras (sp?), native born Israeliís, who had come to faith in Y'eshua.  Now a lot, thatís changed.  Today there is about 60 congregations Iím told.  And, you know, while the numbers are still relatively small, theyíre much, much higher than that.  Iím guessing, um, I was there a couple of years ago and if I remember correctly they told me about a thousand. 

Now the number, the third trend was, is I believe that there will become mega-congregations.  And I think that this is a trend that follows some way the church world. You know that in the last twenty years we have gotten mega-churches.  You know that when I was a kid it seemed that most of the churches at least in our circles were very small.  A church of 200 was considered quite successful.  And now there are churches of 10, 15, 20,000 people.  Bill Hybles in Willow Creek, ah, Illinois.  Willow Creek uh, community church has about 20,000 people.  TD Jakes in Dallas, Texas, his church is only 3 years old, he has 20,000 people. Ah, Robert Schullerís church in Southern California.  You know there are a number of churches that have become quite famous and theyíre called mega-churches. And I believe weíre going to see that with congregations. And are beginning to see it um, B'eth eloim (sp?), Atlanta is uh, getting pretty big. And I think that in the next couple of years weíll see some over a 1000. Um, it used to be that a mega-church was any church over 1000.  I think now there are so many of them that they probably raised it to 4 or 5,000. But I think that is something that we can expect. 

The fourth trend I see is more growth of the messianic movement in Israel, and also more opposition. You know it seems that where the good happens, it seems like the bad happens too. But the Bible says that when Satan comes in like a flood that the Lord raises up a standard.  And you know the opposition that came the last couple of years with this ah, law that was tried to be passed. In fact I got real involved with that, I donít think Iíve ever written so many letters and emails at least in recent history Iím talking about on a personal basis, and encouraging people to do it as well.  Thankfully that has been um, put aside, at least for the time being. But I think that is a trend that will continue. 

The fifth trend I see is bridge building between African Americans and Jewish people through people who believe in Y'eshua.  (clap,clap)  And all of you are probably well aware of the fact that in this country at least, there has always been a strain the African American community and the Jewish community.  Which in a lot of ways makes no sense because both are minorities, both are people that have been oppressed, both are people that have slavery in their, in their history.  Um, but yet thereís been tension and it manifest itself in extreme cases like Louis Farakkan (sp?) and Black Muslims and we all know that.  But even people like Jessie Jackson has uh, you know been quoted of saying things that were very, very insensitive.  And thereís just been this tension and I think that even in the African American Christian community uh, they havenít understood this whole thing about Messianic Judaism and havenít really got that involved.  But the last few years Iíve seen a change because I travel and mingle quite a bit in ah, African American circles. 

 And Iíve seen the last few years more music thatís Messianic.  I see dancing that is more like we saw last night.  Now you know black people dance, you know they really dance um, they call it getting happy.  And itís their own style, itís not like what we saw last night. But Iím seeing, Iím seeing this more Jewish flavor.  Uh, thereís more interest in going to Israel than before.  You know, I Ė Iím just seeing small things that indicate a trend.  Now on the other hand, the service last night, very, very charismatic.  Hands raised, hand clapping, where do you think that style came from?  You borrowed it from the Pentecostal tradition, which borrowed it from the African American tradition. Because at Azusa street, where the Pentecostal revival began early in this century, the preacher was a black man, William Seymour. And the shouting Amen, and the hand clapping and the hands in the air is all out of the black experience.  Now, know itís evolved a little differently but you can see how that culture, that religious culture, has influenced you.  Do you see what Iím saying?  These are all small things but I see that thereís a trend because um, when you are a believer in Y'eshua, there is neither Jew nor Greek, black or white, male of female, right?  And I believe that God is beginning to bring us together. 

The sixth trend, is I believe that the Messianic Jewish movement will mirror and reflect and parallel some of the things we see in the church that arenít so good.  As it grows and develops I think that itís going to, weíre going to see some the trends like denominations.  I, I think this is almost inevitable in the human experience as things become institutionalized, as things become political to a certain degree.  And I think that this is something Iím going to challenge the leaders of this movement to guard against.  And sometimes when you know that something may happen you can guard against it and perhaps it becomes a self defeating prophecy.  Like for example, if somebody goes before the city council and says if we donít fix the, the sewer system, the storm water sewer system in this city the next time we have a hurricane come through as we do in Florida where I live, weíre going to have horrendous flooding.  So they get busy and they, you know, they fix what needs to happen and when the hurricane comes through there is no flooding itís a self defeating prophecy.  You, you want it to be self-defeating, and thatís why Iím telling you today. 

But some of the divisions that exist in the church, you know Iím not privy to it because Iím an outsider but I, and Iím not going to, Iím not going to dwell on it, but Iím going to mention it.  Some of the divisions between Charismatics and non-Charismatics.  Some of the divisions where people are, have this philosophy or that philosophy it mirrors whatís happening in the Gentile church. And you need not, you need to guard against that. And at the same time I like, as I prayed about this I really felt very strongly that I should issue this warning to, to the leadership.  Donít squelch this movement.  Because itís possible for leaders to squelch a movement. Itís happened numerous times.  One example that you may not be aware of is the Welsh revival that happened in the early part of the century.  You know historians are still writing about how entire towns got saved in the Welsh revival.  They told stories about how you know they had miners and the mules used to uh, go down into the mines and the, the, the mules didnít know how to respond because the drivers didnít swear at them anymore, because they were so changed.  But you know the Welsh revival was very short lived and one of the reasons is because one of the main leaders whose name um, was Evan Roberts.  He was 18 years old when it started but very earlier on someone challenged him or actually kind of accused him of trying to steal the glory from God regarding the revival.  And he was a very sincere man, a very godly man and he Ö.(tape turned over)Ö. To steal the glory and so he totally withdrew and basically sat around the rest of his life. Now what Iím telling you is over simplified.  If you studied it, there was much more complex than that.  But thereís practically nothing to show today for the Welsh revival.  The churches in Wales that were full in revival are empty today. 

 About the same time that that happened, Welsh revival happened in 1904, what happened in 1907?  Azusa street in Los Angeles. There was sort of revival that was happening in the world.  I, you know one kind of affected the other.  The Azusa street revival was not squelched, it spilled out, it went around the world. Today they say that there are 400 million believers that are affected by Pentecostalism in one form or another.  It has many, many different manifestations. Now I just give that to think about, there are other examples of movements.  Like for example, the um, in the Charismatic movement, there was some movements with denominations.  Where I, where you could see this happen, Iím not going to name names, cause I donít want to embarrass anyone, a lot of these people are still living.  But there were, there were leaders that were so beat up by their denominations or problems or whatever, it was like they said Life is too short, itís not worth the problems and they withdrew.  You know, instead of holding conferences, they quit holding them or just different things.  And in some of those instances the revival movements that were, that were strong 15 years ago are just mere shadows of themselves today.  So I just leave that as a challenge.  Hopefully itís something that youíll think about and hopefully the Holy Spirit will let you know how it would apply to what youíre doing here. 

And then the final trend, the seventh trend that I see.  Is that the, the church is returning to its Jewish roots.  And this is a trend that we saw in 1985 in the Decatrends.  We cited it as love for Israel, but itís all intertwined, you know itís not just one thing.  The love for Israel is, is a lot of it, itís um, wanting to go back to the roots.  And we see this in a lot of ways, but probably the best way is the music.   A lot of these songs, like even the ones we sang last night are sung in many, many churches. The dancing, that I referred to earlier, using the Shofar. It, you know, Promise Keepers, open their conferences with the Shofar. We open our conferences that we sponsor with Charisma magazine, with the Shofar.  The banners, the dancing, the awareness of the feasts. You know, the Feast of Tabernacles has become well known.  Many, many, many Christians have gone to it over the years. Iíve been to it myself; itís a very, very meaningful experience.  And I think that this is going to continue. 

And whyís it continuing? I think itís part of prophecy.  Y'eshua is getting us ready for his return.  And I believe that Y'eshua is getting us ready, all of us, the Gentile church included, for the great influx of believers.  Of Jewish people whose eyes are finally opened to their need for a Messiah.  And I believe there is a lot more that needs to be done and Iíd like to close by asking all of us to pray.  And I think that, you know last night, the Scripture from Psalms about the unity. And about how the unity is like the oil in Aaronís beard that flows down. Remember that Y'eshua prayed, Father may they all be one, even as you and I are one. 

And I believe, and I want us to stand, if you would stand with me please.  And you know I was thinking how can I end this talk?  You know Iíve talked about trends, Iíve told you my own odyssey about going to, to Israel.  How my own eyes have been opened to things. But I didnít want to just end my talk and say Thank you and God bless you and sit down.  I just felt that we should pray together.  I think that there are two things that we should pray about. 

The first is I want us to pray for the media in this country, because in a way I represent the media.  Now Iím a person who by Godís grace has had my eyes opened to what God is doing and as Iíve shown you weíve covered it.  But you know there arenít very many Christian publications who do this, and there are even fewer secular publications that are aware if whatís going on.  And you know I believe that the Bible says that there are principalities and powers and rulers in high places that bind.  You know we talk about it with individuals, like maybe someone has, you know some kind of demonic oppression over their life. And of course in many instances that is the case.  But you know I believe that the real spiritual warfare is with our institutions. And itís with things that permeate our society like racism and anti-Semitism, and things like that.  And I believe that as believers we have got to use the power that God gives us to pull down these strong holds.  And what Iíd like for us today is to, is to just pray for the media in this country.  And to pull down the strong holds and to open the eyes of the, of the people who are gatekeepers to the information that flows in our culture, in our society.  

So can we do that?  Letís just lift our hands.  Pray with me will you?  

Father God, in the name of Y'eshua, we just bind these principalities and powers, these rulers in high places.  Lord we just pray that the blinded eyes be open.  And Lord we just pray that the media in this country, the secular media, the mainstream media as well as the religious media, the Christian media, the Jewish media will be open.  Will be open Lord. To see what you are doing in the last days.  And Lord that the stories and the testimonies Lord, that are out there can be written about, can be reported on in a fair and objective way.  In the name of Jesus, in the name of Y'eshua.  Oh Lord we just pull down these principalities and powers and strongholds.  In the name of Y'eshua we pray.

And now letís pray for unity among believers. Between Jew and Gentile.  Between the Messianic movement and the church.  In fact would you pray for that?

End Stephen Strang

MC: Father I thank you Lord and Lord I thank you Lord for Steve and Charisma Lord, what a bridge builder theyíve been to us.  Lord thank you for this wonderful word Father. Lord we pray that this word would go out into the body of Messiah. Now Lord we are part and parcel of the body of Messiah.  Build bridges Lord God, build unity Lord God.  Build unity Lord, we have our distinctive callings, but Lord weíre one in the Messiah Y'eshua. And Lord that it says Lord, that as we be one the world will know, the world will know who Y'eshua is!  And Lord I see the great trend of uniting the body of Messiah together Father.  And Lord, I pray Lord, that great healing, the great healing that begin in the third and second centuries that separated the Messianic Jewish communities and from the uh, Gentile communities Lord God.  As my black brother in Jacksonville said, that was a pastor of a large congregation, this is the root of all racial divisions, and all denominational divisions. And so Lord I thank you for healing. Thank you for the healing this morning.  Thank you for the wonderful word of Steve Lord God and Charisma Lord God.  And I just want everyone to stretch their hands towards Steve and Charisma.  Lord it says that youíll bless those who bless your people and we honor him right now. We honor him and his work with Charisma and Strang Communications Lord.  Lord we want to honor those Lord God who honor your people Father.  And so Lord we pray that you would pour out blessing upon him, his family, a hedge of protection around them.  Around his finances, around his work and his corporation Lord God.  Around Charisma, around him Lord God.  We thank you, we honor him and the work that he has done Father.  (?)  Amen            

Stephen Strang:  Thank you, God bless you.  You may be seated.  Or dismissed.  Iím done.


Galatians 6:12-16

"As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God."

Next SectionPart II: The Bible and the Talmud

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