Shortly after my father Zola began writing for Campus Crusade for Christ in 1971, he and I belly laughed about the “space-aged glue” that my gullible, 11-year-old self had purchased via mail order. It worked so remarkably badly, we mused, that NASA should apply it to their launch pads to facilitate better rocket takeoffs!
That happy “glue” memory came to mind recently when reading about Zion Oil & Gas’s latest dry hole. If Zola were around today, he and I would crack jokes about how foolhardy it would be to build even a gas station on Zion’s land — 99,000 parched acres that are miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee.
Mark: “Why, that dirt is so devoid of petroleum that it would suck any gas station right underground!”
Zola: “Amen! — Thirsty enough that tanker trucks shouldn’t be allowed even to drive across it, for fear of being swallowed up!”
(I described how Zola and I enjoyed laughing together — and at ourselves — on p. 21 of the December 2014 Levitt Letter.)
Presently traded as a penny stock on NASDAQ, Zion Oil claims to be inspired by Deut. 33:13–16 and Gen. 49:25–26, which speaks of “blessings of the deep that lieth under.” An enterprising optimist might imaginatively stretch either passage to prophesy abundant fossil fuels.
Previously, Zion Oil referenced Deut. 33:24: “And of Asher he said, ‘Let Asher be blessed with children; … and let him dip his foot in oil.’” John Brown, the Texas-based oilman who founded Zion Oil & Gas in 2001, claimed, “God has promised in the Bible to bless Israel with one of the world’s largest oil and gas fields.” Really?!
The October 2006 Levitt Letter (p. 30) offered readers the following caution:
It might help readers who are considering an investment in such a scheme to know that Asher was prophesied to dip his foot into olive oil, not petroleum (Deut. 33:24). They need to be aware, also, that the man drilling the well gets paid even when his investors get nothing.
Mr. Brown no longer cites Deut. 33:24. Possibly word reached him regarding the olive oil distinction (from Levitt Letter subscribers?).
Why point out Zion’s charlatan sales pitches? Zion’s stock price surged in 2017 and 2018. Per Dallas News: Continually selling more shares has been the company’s sole source of $171 million in revenue over the past 17 years. Zion spends $600,000 per month when not drilling and $1.6 million per month when it is. According to a November SEC filing, Zion has spent over $500,000 defending against four shareholder lawsuits that allege overcompensation of management and misrepresentation to investors. Yet Zion continues to attract investors. Quackery often works.
Sometimes I contemplate what ZLM could accomplish with just the crumbs of what other organizations squander. I’ve read that mankind grows enough food to feed every living soul on Earth. Yet, U.S. farmers routinely till thriving crops into the soil to qualify for federal subsidies that help stabilize prices but leave millions starving! Society’s food shortage has been for too long a distribution failure.
Diverting contributions from worthy to frivolous causes presents a recurring quandary for donors and would-be recipients alike. While private airplanes might serve as veritable time machines for televangelists who wish they were in two places at once, why insist on lavish jets at donor expense? Some organizations raise millions of dollars, but spend millions to do so, leaving relatively little to run the programs for which they’re supposedly raising the funds.
Meanwhile, our own ministry is so lean on financial stewardship that, comparatively speaking, we’re skin and bones. But good bones! Less than 1% of our resources goes to fundraising and only 20% to management and overhead. ZLM owns no planes, real estate, or cars, so ZLM supporters invest in teaching resources and, of course, heavenly treasure troves (Matt. 6:19–21).
Praise the Lord, we’ve kept both Wednesday and Friday Daystar broadcasts. (See my October Levitt Letter column, “Weighing and Praying — Which Daystar time should we keep?”) Still, it remains arguable that a single weekly Daystar broadcast should suffice for those who can record Zola Levitt Presents on DVRs and/or “tune in” at levitt.com and levitt.tv.
WHAT WE BELIEVE
Zola Levitt Ministries, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization guided by the standard of Rom. 1:16 — “To the Jew first and also to the Gentile.” We hold to a strictly literal and inerrant Bible interpretation, salvation through Yeshua alone, a soon pre-Tribulation Rapture of all Believers, and the establishment of a thousand-year Kingdom on Earth.
WHAT WE DO
Founded in 1979, we are principally a teaching and evangelistic association.
- Zola Levitt Presents airs nationally on dozens of independent television stations, teaching the Bible with an emphasis on Israel, prophecy, and the Jewish roots of Christianity.
- ZLM’s free monthly Levitt Letter newsletter gives a concise Biblical perspective with updates on recent events in Israel.
- Our Institute of Jewish-Christian Studies correspondence course teaches the Jewish roots of the Christian faith.
- Levitt.com carries a vast array of teaching materials.
- We offer two tours each year to Israel and Petra in Jordan, with an option to visit Greece and Ephesus in Turkey in the fall.
A house with “good bones” is a fixer-upper with potential. A couple of years after Hurricane Katrina, my wife and I turned down an investment opportunity in Mississippi. Distressed real estate situated in the Gulf Opportunity Zone became eligible for accelerated income tax write-offs. Taking advantage supposedly would have cost us nothing and yielded a million-dollar nest egg within 20 years. We would purchase houses that an estate firm would select, rehab, market, and manage for us. By signing up for beaucoup debt, we would rely on rental income to pay the mortgages and eventually own rent properties debt free. Thank goodness we didn’t bite.
Years later, newspapers reported on investors who were burned with massive debt on those Gulf “Opportunity” Zone shabby houses that, indeed, did not have good bones. Savvy real estate appraisers know how “pocket buyers” can skew markets by overpaying for multiple properties in a neighborhood. My November 2014 Levitt Letter Wise As A Serpent column cautioned, “Don’t be a pocket buyer [with blind faith].”
Contrary to those broken-down rent houses, this ministry’s “bones” — its fundamentals — are time tested and worthy of continued investment. As a Levite, I’ve been at this ministry’s helm for 30 of the 45 years since my bar mitzvah at a Dallas Messianic congregation. Mark Nelson, the son of a ZLM founding board member, has filled his father’s shoes as a director for roughly ten years and assisting with leasing ministry office space for twenty. Jay Ledbetter, an accomplished attorney who spearheaded Zola Tours in the ’80s, has served as a ZLM director for more than a decade.
INTRODUCING DAN YOUNG
In 1994, Dan designed our ministry’s website as a volunteer and also paid for its bandwidth. He maintained it until 1996, when he recruited his successor, Duncan Long, another fine volunteer (may God rest his soul). Dan worked for SW Bell and Nortel for many years before starting his own business. Through the years, Dan kept up with this ministry. He also walked through the valley of the shadow of death with a major heart attack and implants. In November, he joined our board of directors. Now his expertise will guide our expanding Internet presence. To see all seven board members’ brief biographies at levitt.com, click on “Home,” “About Us,” and then select “Others” under “Who We Are.” On the “About Us” page, please notice the “What We Believe” and “What We Do” statements (shown right).
Scroll down on “About Us” to learn the backgrounds of David and Kirsten Hart and other Zola Levitt Presents mainstays: Dr. Jeffrey Seif, Dov Schwarz, Eitan Shishkoff, Chaim Malespin, Dr. Todd Baker, Dr. Tom McCall, Myles and Katharine Weiss, Zola, and others. For the theologians who have taught on ZLM’s behalf, our website preserves a searchable legacy of some of their finest Biblical insights — what an astounding resource!
As our ministry marches into 2019, we face a 36% increase in our office rent and astonishing employee health insurance costs. Yet our vital, anointed Bible teaching must go on — every week on television, every month via the mail, and every second at www.levitt.com. The bottom line is this: I’m counting on you to keep us well armed as we continue our demanding battle for the Lord.
In his service,
P.S. Our bones are good and the fields we sow have no dry holes. So please do the best that you reasonably can to help our work for the Lord to prosper.
A Note from David and Kirsten
Most of you now know that Zola’s older son, Mark, is behind the ZLM scenes, holding everything together and skillfully managing an efficient ministry with grace and humility. Thank you for your straightforward honesty in this letter, Mark.
Zola Levitt Ministries existed for decades before Kirsten and I came along, and we count ourselves blessed to have Zola’s son at the helm keeping this ship on course through sometimes choppy waters. Yeshua never promised Believers smooth sailing, but He did assure us that He would be always by our side.
As we enter a new year, we are thankful for everyone who has gone above and beyond to support this unique and much-needed ministry. As news headlines remind us, anti-Semitism is on the rise. Kirsten and I don’t understand acts of hatred against people of certain races or spiritual walks — let alone America becoming a breeding ground for hate crimes against God’s chosen people. More than ever, viewers need Zola Levitt Presents’ message of love and understanding. Please keep Israel’s people in your thoughts and devotions. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem — now we must pray for the safety and peace of our Jewish brothers and sisters in our own country, which is a sign of the times.
As our ministry budgets for 2019, your financial gifts are welcome even more than usual. Rather than pleading, we prefer to thank you in advance for your continued and generous support of ZLM and our outreach programs. This ministry will continue to spread the good news of Messiah Yeshua and teach the beautiful Jewish roots of Christianity far and wide.
Zola Tours to the Holy Land
While anti-Semitism is on the rise, so is Holy Land tourism! Is 2019 the year for you to come with us to see this miraculous land? Kirsten and I hope you read the Levitt Letter’s fascinating articles about Israel’s increasingly frequent archaeological discoveries and scientific advances. What a time to experience the Holy Land with family members and friends! (Bonus: You can stock up on Israeli olive oil, Dead Sea skincare products, olive wood items from Bethlehem; you can even fill a bottle with water straight from the Jordan River! Buying Israeli products blesses Israel — it’s a win-win!) Zola Tours Manager Sandra will gladly answer any questions you have about joining us this March or September. Please contact her at 214-696-9760, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit levitt.com/tours.
Spring Tour 2019 options
|Deluxe (Israel only)||Mar 10–19||$4,888|
|Grand Petra (Israel & Petra)||Mar 10–22||$5,999|
Fall Tour 2019 options
|Deluxe (Israel only)||Sep 16–26||$4,988|
|Grand Petra (Israel & Petra)||Sep 16–29||$6,188|
|Grand Athens (Greece & Israel)||Sep 10–26||$7,988|
|Ultra Grand (Greece & Israel & Petra)||Sep 10–29||$9,188|
Zola Levitt Presents Programs in January
Our weekly broadcasts this month begin with three stand-alone programs before reprising our eight-episode series on David, “The Warrior King: David-like Leadership for Goliath-like Times.” Since the original Warrior King in 2009, we’ve refreshed it and added substantial new content. Please set your DVR to record, or catch us live on your favorite station. Of course it’s available for free viewing, 24/7 at levitt.tv.
- The Year Ahead
- David and Kirsten preview the coming broadcasts for 2019, including the new Divine Deliverance series and our refreshed Esther and Psalms of Ascent.
- Joshua Aaron and Dov Schwarz
- Joshua Aaron tops our chart of contemporary Messianic worship musicians. He is known for blending Hebrew and English in a way that all can join in to praise our Lord. (Plus, he’s a Hart family friend and one of the coolest guys we know.)
I wish everyone could enjoy a cup of iced coffee in the Galilee with Dov Schwarz, who is remarkably kind. Dov is an insightful Messianic Believer and so fun and genuine that you must watch this program.
- Ryan Hart and Sarah Liberman
- The first interview subject is lovable, gifted … and our son! We chatted with Ryan at The First Station — a favorite Jerusalem eating spot. Our on-screen Hebrew teacher Sarah Liberman also sings beautifully. God is opening doors for her to speak and minister. (Watch for this modern-day Galilean in upcoming Levitt Letters.) See her “Seven Species” teachings in our recent series Return to Eden at levitt.tv.
Our refreshed series The Warrior King: David-like Leadership for Goliath-like Times features ZLP’s trademark on-location re-enactments with scenic, Israeli backdrops for our Messianic teachers. This series remains strikingly relevant.
- The Call
- Dr. Jeffrey Seif considers David’s selection by the prophet Samuel and the amazing battle with the giant Goliath that catapulted David to renown. Though Jeff is a serious scholar of the Word, his humor keeps our ministry’s TV production crew smiling.
David & Kirsten
Sha’alu shalom Yerushalayim! —
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! — Psalm 122:6