Reclaiming Our Forgotten Heritage: How Understanding the Jewish Roots of Christianity Can Transform Your Faith

Reclaiming Our Forgotten Heritage: How Understanding the Jewish Roots of Christianity Can Transform Your Faith

by Curt Landry

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Overview

"A timely and groundbreaking take on the roots of the Christian church and its place in the entirety of God's kingdom. . . . There is no better time than now to learn about and become firmly grounded within your spiritual heritage." —from the foreword by Perry Stone

The early church was made up of Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus, and the church's culture was rooted in Judaism and a Jewish understanding of God's relationship to His people. Over time, however, Christianity became increasingly more Roman than Jewish, and the church lost its identity.

Rabbi Curt Landry's personal story is remarkably similar. Born to a Jewish mother and a Catholic father, Landry was put up for adoption, and for more than thirty years he had no understanding of his heritage, his roots, or who his parents were. But when he discovered the truth of his story, his life changed completely.

The key to a life of power and purpose is understanding who you are. In this revelatory book, Curt Landry helps Christians discover their roots in Judaism, empowering them to walk in the revelation of who they really are and who they are born to be. Reclaiming Our Forgotten Heritage reveals the mysteries of the church, letting Christians grasp the power that comes from connecting with their true identity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400209408
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 01/15/2019
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 213,050
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Curt and his wife, Christie, travel extensively, preaching and teaching about the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. Together, their passion is to empower families to live and leave kingdom legacies and understand their own spiritual heritage. Curt and Christie are also actively involved in raising support for Israel within the evangelical community and have participated with the delivery of millions of dollars in aid to Israel and the nations. Curt Landry is the founder of Curt Landry Ministries, House of David Ministries, and My Olive Tree.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

THE POWER OF HERITAGE

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the f loods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

— Matthew 7:24–25

GOD'S DESIGN WAS NEVER THAT we would come into the world to be alone.

From the moment of our birth, we start reaching out for others in a world that is totally alien and unintelligible to us. We first learn to focus, see, and understand our world by gazing into the loving eyes of our mothers as we nurse. The first thing we recognize is her face. Before we know anything about the world around us, we know who our parents are and find comfort in their loving embrace. God designed the nuclear family as a place of protection and foundation. As we learn about the world around us, God intended that we do that hand in hand with our moms and dads.

In fact, the Bible instructs:

Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged....

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:1–2, 6–9, emphasis added)

In this passage, God wasn't just talking about educating our children. He was talking about creating a heritage of faith, of grounding our children in the wisdom of God and helping form their identities as God's creation here on the earth, intended to take dominion of it and prosper it. It's not just head learning, and it's more than just heart learning; it's digging deep to expose the foundation of who our children are as members of our families stretching back through generations, as citizens of a nation and as ambassadors of the kingdom of God. It is raising them the way Solomon counseled in Proverbs 22:6:

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

Why won't they depart from it? Because their awareness has been saturated in their heritage, their foundation, and their identity.

When we raise up our children in this way, they don't see themselves as free agents disconnected from any responsibility or purpose in the world around them. They learn they're not here only to "have fun" and to "find happiness." They have entered life as part of a tradition founded on contributing to the world around them, with responsibilities to every human being they encounter. They've been instilled with values built on wisdom greater than the insights of their own tiny brains, but they've also brought something of their own to contribute to it. They are part of a tribe that is here to do the will of God, but they also have their own individual mark to make.

I know how countercultural that can sound to Americans and those of Western society today. We've long been fiercely independent and have guarded our individual rights as sacred, taking to heart what Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

And great good has come from these values, but I believe the pendulum has swung so far toward the individual that we are in danger of losing the wisdom of our collective past. Kids are encouraged to go out and find their own ways with only minimal understanding of their heritage and little formation in their faith. I've spoken with parents who are actually afraid to talk about values and traditions with their children for fear they may prejudice them in some way from finding "their own truth."

No wonder we have a generation today that is coming into adulthood with "orphaned" spirits. No wonder they're hungry for their roots and fascinated with stories of heritage. Look at the popularity of television shows like Downton Abbey and The Crown and of magazines and websites featuring stories and pictures of monarchs and their heirs. The idea of nobility and royalty — of the passing down of a heritage that means something and brings privilege with it — fascinates people worldwide. We're hungry to have a place to stand, to know where we belong in the world with respect to everyone else, to be significant in some way, to make a difference for having existed. It's why we long to make our mark and to find meaning in our lives.

But rather than growing up with that and launching into life with a foundational sense of who we are and the difference we are here to make, so many who enter adulthood today haven't even begun that journey. You don't have to look far to see it. Look at the average freshman college dorm today. The rites of passage that take place in those halls have nothing to do with our culture or heritage, or upholding any sense of traditional values, but instead with determining how much alcohol someone can consume and still walk, experimenting sexually, and "trying to find themselves." They are launched into a perpetual adolescence that often doesn't end until their forties. And we're doing them a great disservice by letting them flounder like this.

But the same isn't true of all young people and cultures, and there's a great deal we can learn from these counterexamples.

I recently met a young woman in Israel who astounded me. She'd been raised Jewish in England but had become an Israeli citizen. She had served in the Israeli army and was putting in seventy-plus hours a week running her own nonprofit, even though her parents provided her with enough money that she would never need to work a day in her life.

Our first meeting, which had been set up by one of the wealthiest Jewish men in the world, took place at her company offices in Tel Aviv. She arrived a little late, so my son-in-law, Paul, and I were already there. She emerged from her limousine wearing Birkenstocks, jeans, and a T-shirt. Despite being dressed like some hipster barista in the United States, she had an air of confidence and conviction about her.

She apologized for being late, explaining that they'd run into a little more traffic than expected while dropping off her kids at their private school in Herzliya (a township north of Tel Aviv, along one of Israel's finest beaches). She spoke English with a British accent, but I would learn that she also spoke impeccable Hebrew. She invited Paul and me into her office, asked if we'd like a cup of tea or coffee, and offered us a seat.

It didn't take long to figure out she'd done her homework on me, and every word she spoke was respectful. She told me about the work she was doing in Israel. Her foundation brought in bloggers from around the world — anyone whose work had garnered more than a million hits in a day — so they could get to know her country. It didn't matter if their blogs were about food, tech, fashion, or whatever. Her organization sponsored their trip to Israel, where they spent a week to ten days speaking to their Israeli counterparts about what they did and learning about what the Israelis were doing. The expectation was that they'd go back home and blog about their visit: "Hey, listen. I'm from Berlin. I was told this about Israel, but I just spent ten days there, and this is what I did, and this is what I learned."

I thought the idea was brilliant. I thought she was brilliant. Not only did Israelis learn from each visitor, but each visitor went home as a champion of Israel. But I had to ask, "Why do you do all of this? Why do you work so hard? I know your family. You don't have to work."

She told me, "I must work because I'm not in the army anymore. My war now is in our economy. We know that if we don't keep the economy strong in Israel, our neighbors will overtake us, so our economic health and development is just as important as our air force and our army. So I work to be able to strengthen our country so that my children will have a place to live. As Jews, as you know, if we don't have Israel, there will be no place for us to live as a people."

It seemed so crazy. Here was a young woman worth millions, living in a beautiful house on the beach. She shouldn't have had a care in the world. But she was working seventy-plus hours a week to keep the economy of her country strong so that her children would have a place to live when they grew up. She seemed like a kid to me, though she was probably in her thirties, and she was living with purpose in a way I didn't learn about until I was in my fifties.

And yet I meet people with a similar drive every time I visit Israel. In that tiny little country, they seem to be everywhere. It's as if it's in the air they breathe.

My experience is very different in the United States. Outside of our daughter, Megann, and her husband, Paul, whom I see almost every day, I very rarely meet young people like that young woman in Tel Aviv.

Why? The only reason I can think of is their sense of heritage — or lack of it.

Heritage is primarily passed down through traditional activities, values, and holidays. Whether we understand it or not, the way we use our time, mark our calendars, and celebrate our culture provides a constant, subliminal reminder of who we are, where we came from, and what we believe is important to maintain. These activities and traditions and customs, big and small — you could call them "memorial activities" — keep us tied to the foundation of our past, both the good and the bad. They become like patterns in our souls, like predictable tides, so that we instinctively honor those who have gone before us, what they experienced and persevered through, and what wisdom and learning they passed on.

Most families, for example, always eat certain foods at Thanksgiving. We enjoy these dishes, of course, not only because they are delicious but also because they remind us of who we are and where we came from. They are prepared with love and in memory of the family member who first made them. Eating them tends to evoke familiar family stories and the sharing of memories. Such traditions help strengthen us in who we aspire to become and remind us of positive life lessons learned from our shared experiences together and from past generations.

At our church, House of David, we often say, "Our ceiling should become our children's floor." The nature of heritage is leaving a legacy of truth and experience so that our children and grandchildren can learn from us and do not have to make the same mistakes we did. Our children should be able to grow in strength and wisdom because of the gifts of this family legacy.

Some cultures are very good at doing that. Over the centuries, for example, the Jewish people have become masters at handing down a heritage of wisdom and identity. You don't have to dig too deeply to see this. It manifests itself in many ways. Just for the sake of comparison, however, I want to focus on the area of material success — yes, money.

Please understand, I'm not saying that money is everything. It's not. I'm certainly not trying to reinforce the "rich Jewish" stereotype that has led to such distortion and even persecution over the years. I just want to use this one example to explore how different viewpoints, garnered from different heritages, can manifest different results in people's lives. And in general, the Jewish heritage seems to include a tremendous, understated work ethic that yields results, including financial ones.

Economic statistics certainly seem to bear this observation out. While the percentage of Jews in the United States is somewhere between 1.7 and 2.6 percent, 20 percent of the top fifty billionaires in the United States are Jewish. And Pew Research has found that American Jewish households are significantly better off financially than any other group, with 44 percent having an annual income of one hundred thousand dollars or more and only 16 percent (the smallest percentage) making less than thirty thousand. (Even the wealthiest Christian group, Episcopalians, have significantly fewer people in the top bracket at 36 percent, while their group at the bottom is slightly larger at 17 percent.) Sadly, when you look at more Evangelical denominations like the Assemblies of God, their highest tiers of earners are much, much smaller at 10 percent, and the lower tier represents nearly half their members.

Why the difference? Knowing a number of Jews and Christians in these different groups, the only thing I can put my finger on is that the Jews grew up with significantly different beliefs about money.

Jewish people — again, in general — tend to see money as a tool to accomplish tasks and feel it is part of their spiritual heritage to prosper. They feel it is important to prosper materially so they can be generous and accomplish their aspirations. With very few exceptions, there are no vows of poverty in Judaism, nor do very many Jews consider it intrinsically spiritual to be poor. How can you be a blessing to others if you don't have a surplus to give?

In addition, the Jewish scriptural tradition — from the same Scriptures that are in the Old Testament of every Christian Bible — tells them that if they obey God and act according to His wisdom, wealth will certainly follow. Look at these verses, for instance:

And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

(Deuteronomy 8:18)

Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.

(Proverbs 3:9–10)

Note, however, that greed is not a Jewish value, nor is taking advantage of the poor. In fact, the very opposite is true. The Hebrew Scriptures repeatedly link both obedience and prosperity with care for the less fortunate. As Proverbs 19:17 advises,

He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, And He will pay back what he has given.

Widows and orphans are to be given special consideration. The poor and the foreigner are to be given ways to provide for themselves. The edges of fields are to be left unharvested so that others can glean from them and have food to eat. (Look at the Bible story of Ruth as an example.) There are laws against charging other Jews interest for loans and others mandating regular times of debt forgiveness. And the purpose of all these practices, as mandated in Scripture, is that "there may be no poor among you; for the Lord will greatly bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance" (Deuteronomy 15:4).

At first glance, this may appear to be exactly the opposite of Jesus' oft-quoted words: "For you have the poor with you always" (Matthew 26:11). I believe, however, that He meant something quite different from what we usually understand His words to mean. He was saying that the poor are always around when we don't follow God's wisdom for caring for them.

Jews understand the principle of being a good steward over what God has entrusted to us and do not consider financial blessing in itself either shameful or ill-gotten. To them, money is just a tool like a hammer or knife — that can be used to do good or harm depending on how it is wielded. They believe we must do our best to be sure our hearts are right and then to wield whatever resources we have for good.

As I see it, this aspect of the Jewish heritage — their view of material wealth — differs dramatically from the views and assumptions of many in our Western culture, including many of my fellow Christians. Many of us, in fact, have come to view money and wealth as a spiritual force with an almost demonic nature. We've succumbed to a kind of gnosticism, an ancient heresy that insists all physical things are evil and only spiritual things are pure. In this light Christianity and segments of American culture, either consciously or subconsciously, have come to view wealth as evil in and of itself. That doesn't mean we don't want wealth or seek after it. We just harbor queasy feelings that it's wrong to do so, and as a result our relationship with money may become warped by guilt, denial, and envy.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Reclaiming Our Forgotten Heritage"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Curt Landry.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword xi

Introduction xv

1 The Power of Heritage 1

2 The Place of Identity 17

3 The Counterfeit Self 29

4 Ambushed by the Truth 41

5 A New Creation 51

6 Adopted by the Father 61

7 Accidentally Jewish 79

8 Finding My Father-and Myself 89

9 Intentionally Jewish 99

10 The God Who Keeps Covenant 113

11 The Church of the New Testament 131

12 Our Stolen Heritage 145

13 One New Man 161

14 Faith 177

15 Shalom 191

16 Multiplication 203

17 Leaving a Legacy That Empowers 219

Acknowledgments 233

Appendix: Prayers 235

Notes 241

About the Author 247

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