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The Jewish roots of Christianity

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Dear Friend:

Moishe Rosen, founder of Jews for Jesus, told me in the mid ’90s that my father Zola would live a long time because “mean people never die young.” In weighing the validity of Moishe’s assurance, I considered his personal sincerity and life experience along with the possibility that maybe he just wanted to give me peace of mind.

Now that a decade has gone by, I better realize what Moishe, who has always loved Zola, meant in calling him mean. Zola says what he thinks. He’s an open book. Since he lets off plenty of steam, he doesn’t build up enough pressure to blow a gasket. Some “gentle, meek and mild” folks keep smiling while stomach ulcers eat them alive—and maybe you don’t know where you stand with them. They can seem a little boring or maybe lukewarm. Zola has endured some derogatory descriptions in his time, but lukewarm is not among them.

Zola is now 66, which is within four years of the age at which his father passed. My grandfather, Joseph, was born in the 1890s and lived to be 70. For a chapter about him, please see our book, offered later in this letter—Jesus, the Jew’s Jew. Joseph immigrated to America from Riga, Latvia in his late teens. He was nearly broke. Before the Great Depression, he became very successful. He worked until he died. So will Zola, if the Lord tarries. And so will I. Retirement doesn’t run in our family. We don’t even find it in the Bible.

Joseph survived four heart attacks over the years. Unlike Zola, my grandfather Joseph didn’t have a triple bypass at age 44 and two angioplasties at age 55. Joseph had no low-fat diet, no antioxidant vitamins and no modern-day pharmaceuticals that keep some people alive longer than they want. (Incidentally, I call my father “Dad” to his face and “Zola” when talking about him to others.)

The bypasses that Zola had in 1982 were supposed to last ten years. Instead they have worked without fail for over twenty-two. What a surgeon! Or maybe Zola’s continuing vitality is tangible evidence of an ongoing miracle, perpetuated by consistent intercessory prayer. His heart surgeon was younger than Zola back then, and he still is. Dr. Melvin Platt is alive and well and still fixing people’s hearts. And so is Zola, you might say!

This time, when Zola has bypass surgery on July 28, Dr. Platt will use mammary arteries rather than leg veins. Consequently Zola won’t limp during recovery, and the mammary arteries should hold up even longer.

Please pray for Zola to have a speedy recovery, free of debilitating pericarditis, which is a swelling of the heart sac. We want God to cradle him during his stay in the Intensive Care Unit. Let’s pray in agreement that the Lord will hold off any post-operative depression, which is normal from such an invasive procedure. Zola’s heart muscle is good and strong, so bypassing the several occlusions should suffice to restore his good health.

This ministry will be just as strong as ever once we bounce back from the summer. I have served as this ministry’s business manager since 1988. I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Business Management degree in 1982, and I have tweaked the theories of maximizing profits in order to maximize blessings. After almost 17 years on the job, I still try to keep an open mind and look for new ideas.

Too many executives these days focus on the short-term. Often their jobs depend on this quarter’s profits rather than improving their companies’ long-term prospects. Christians, to the contrary, think in terms of eternity, which defies most business fundamentals. Free newsletters, free TV programs, free answers to Bible questions, no products over $69 (15 years ago, we sold our largest TV series for $119—not anymore!), posting on the Internet for free viewing the very same TV programs we are trying to market, and the list goes on.

I could not explain to a high-powered marketing firm’s executives why their line of thinking was too “earthly” for us. They suggested that we assign unique 1-800 numbers to each of our major stations and networks. In addition they believe we are remiss in not keeping track of the responses we receive from each individual newsletter. To me, their consultants seemed stuck thinking backwards from the bank deposit rather than forward to eternity!

First this ministry follows God’s will, which involves feeding His sheep, blessing Israel, teaching the meat of the Word, opening the Church’s eyes to the richness of her Jewish heritage and keeping a watchful eye on prophecy fulfillment. Then our ministry’s followers become supporters because they see that we are serious about our work, not to mention efficient and effective. What you see is what you get—captivating, on location television programs and solid newsletters, packed with real news and teaching. Deliver value until it hurts, and then Christ’s followers will join your team.

My dialogue with the learned consultants proved worthwhile in the sense that it demonstrated to me that we are on the right track, which happens to require faith. I rejoiced at the news of Zola’s impending open-heart surgery because now we are going to get 14+ years with him instead of closer to four. With our office’s upgraded equipment, we are geared for the long-term. Remembering the Rapture that is drawing ever nigh, we’ll keep leasing our office space rather than purchasing.

Sometimes it has felt disappointing to hear from so many people who say, “I can’t give anything right now, but you’re in our prayers.” Now, however, we are calling on our fiercest prayer warriors to bathe Zola in prayer like never before. We are certain that Zola will bounce back, but let’s ask God to put him back on the front line ASAP.

Can you imagine how wonderful it is, at decisive times like this, to have so many friends on whom to call? I covet your prayers—I really do—and we look forward to a soon and very complete recovery and many hale and hearty years down the road.

Zola is greatly encouraged by the number of pilgrims who are joining our November Israel tour. Evidently people are taking our advice and signing up early, and we appreciate that. In the new atmosphere of relative peace in Israel, tourists are returning in great numbers. Once again we would recommend that you make your plans as soon as possible, because once the airplane seats are gone, we have problems securing reservations.

At this juncture, Zola plans to go on the November tour as usual, but at a minimum he will join the passengers for a two-hour orientation session at JFK.

You can choose four options for the November tour: Israel only (November 6–16), Israel with the Petra extension (November 6–21), Greece and Israel (November 1–16), or experience it all—Greece, Israel, and Petra (November 1–20). To request a brochure on this tour, please contact Tony Derrick at (214) 696-9760 during office hours, 1-800-WONDERS (1-800-966-3377) anytime, or go to www.levitt.com and click on “Zola’s Tour,” where you can download a copy.

Should our Lord tarry in His return, Zola and Sandra invite you to join them in Orlando the weekend of December 30 to January 1, as they ring in the New Year. Enjoy wonderful Christian fellowship at The Holy Land Experience, where you will travel back in time to the first century. For more information, please contact Tony at the numbers listed above.

We are in the midst of post-producing our “Age of Terror—Continued!” television series. The first four of these programs are probably too time sensitive to rerun or market on DVDs, but their cutting-edge commentary should prove invaluable. The second four programs of the new series should run this fall and be added to our list of teaching materials that you can see at www.levitt.com by clicking on “Store” under “Study” in the index on the left. In addition, you can watch these programs free of charge, on demand, by clicking on “Zola on Internet TV” or going straight to www.levitt.tv. Please help us to underwrite the costs associated with giving away such marvelous teaching and insightful interpretation. Thanks.

And, as before, please “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”

Your messenger,

Mark

P.S. Thanks to those of you who are helping to see us through the summer months, during which many of our supporters’ budgets are squeezed with vacation plans. We have seen many of your regular gifts surge in an effort to bear the burdens of your brethren, and we heartily praise God for your sacrificial loyalty.

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