Monday, October 5, 2020

Fight Loneliness: Obey G-d!

The current pandemic is clearly causing serious health problems for many people who’ve contracted the coronavirus, but less appreciated is that it’s also causing some very serious mental health issues for those who haven’t tested positive for COVID-19, loneliness being chief among them. At a time when many have separated themselves or been separated from friends and family out of virus fears, loneliness can seem like a natural side effect. Yet even prior to the pandemic, people in the United States reported experiencing more loneliness than ever before. Recent research suggests loneliness can be lethal according to a report by the American Psychological Association. Here’s how it happens: Persistent loneliness causes stress, which increases the body’s production of a protein called fibrinogen. An excessive amount of fibrinogen can clog arteries, increase blood pressure, and make people more susceptible to heart disease.

Millennials, called by some the loneliest generation, are especially at risk of experiencing social isolation according to recent data from YouGov, which found that members of Generation Y have far fewer social relationships than their forebears: 30% of respondents said they didn’t have a best friend; 27% said they had few close friends; 22% said they had no friends at all, and an astonishing 25% said they didn’t even have any acquaintances. What a sad commentary on the state of our society!

Thankfully, the Scriptures provide a solution for loneliness for those who are willing to live according to G-d’s Instruction: Seeking relationship with G-d and seeking relationship with others within a spiritual community is an imperative, not a suggestion when convenient! Something to think about!

Forward for Messiah,

Kirk Gliebe

Rabbi & Director

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Happy Jewish New Year!

 

One of the benefits of being Jewish is that so much of our calendar is dictated to us! Some of the most important dates occur in the month of September, our Fall Festivals.
 
In Leviticus 23:23-44 we read about the details of New Years (Rosh Hashanah), the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and finally the Festival of Tabernacles (Sukkot). Rosh Hashanah is not the original name for the first Holy Day; that day was actually called in Hebrew, Yom HaTeruah which literally means “the Day of Blowing”. The blowing of a shofar or ram’s horn is central to this celebration as a way of calling people to prepare themselves for the next two Holy Days. This is a time of reflection, when religious Jewish people focus on repenting for sin. The goal is to make amends, repent and do good deeds; to earn spiritual merit so that on Yom Kippur, that great Day of Atonement when Jewish tradition says the Book of Life is opened and everyone’s life is evaluated, G-d might decide that they have earned enough merit for their sins to be forgiven and for their names to be written in the Book of Life for one more year. How much merit is needed and how can one know for sure that they will be forgiven? Sadly, a Jewish person cannot answer these questions with certainty.
 
This lack of assurance is one of the reasons that we should take seriously our personal responsibility to share about our faith in Messiah Yeshua’s atoning sacrifice, for we know our eternal future, and in love and concern we need to share this hope with our Jewish friends and family. Make time this month to mail out Jewish New Years cards. Call your Jewish friend and ask about how they will be celebrating these important Holidays. Most importantly, pray for the salvation of the Jewish people you know and share with them the hope you have of assured forgiveness of sin!

Forward for Messiah,

Kirk Gliebe

Rabbi & Director

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Loyalty & Knowledge


Our nation has been through quite a lot the last few months. Despite the pandemic, the unemployment and the political and social instability we seem to actually be doing pretty good. So good in fact that I haven’t personally seen much evidence of new spiritual brokenness and seeking after G-d among people, something that I have been praying quite regularly for. I guess people are doing well over all, and G-d isn’t really relevant went things are going well, right? Of course wrong, but for the “spiritual but not religious” age we are living in, let’s be honest, seeking a deep passionate faith in an all-powerful G-d isn’t really high on people’s priorities.

The Scriptures, especially the prophetic books, put a big emphasis on just this issue: “it’s not what you’re doing, it’s how serious your commitment to G-d really is!” We often recall King Saul’s disobedience in offering a sacrifice, and Samuel’s rebuke – “It’s better to obey then sacrifice”, but the prophets take it a step further and state, “It’s better to be in serious committed relationship with G-d then to sacrifice”. In my recent reading of Hosea I was reminded of this, and especially was impacted by the Hebrew words translated “loyalty” and “knowledge” in Hosea 6:6:

For I delight in loyalty and not sacrifice, knowledge of G-d more than burnt offerings. (TLV)

The Hebrew word for “loyalty” is chesed which has the meaning of deep commitment from one individual to another! The word “knowledge” is da’at having the meaning of intimacy of relationship. Deep commitment and intimacy is really what matters to G-d. Not our religious habits and customs, no matter how Scripturally aligned they might be!

May we be renewed in our loyalty to G-d and our passionate desire to know him more intimately each and every day. May we be humbled before G-d and spiritually refreshed in the knowledge of his commitment to us.  This is what G-d desires from us and this is the message our messed up world needs to see and hear right now from us as believers in Messiah Yeshua.

Forward for Messiah,
Kirk Gliebe
Rabbi & Director


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Getting Along


“Why can’t we all just get along?” Back in 1992 Rodney King asked a question similar to this in an effort to calm the Los Angeles riots as a result of his own violent arrest by the police. As we are currently experiencing, and have seen time and again, because of mankind’s sinfulness the thin veneer of civilization of our own modern American society can come quickly undone, resulting in injustice, violence and instability.

A few years back I read a book by Sebastian Junger called “Tribe” in which he described, through the illustration of societal breakdown due to war, the value of real community. Junger proposes that community, in its most basic sense, is simply genuine sharing and caring for others, especially in times of stress. He uses as an example the communal meal, food provided by all whether large or small, elaborate or simple, demonstrating both the human desire to care for others as well as the desire to be cared for.

We see this idea of caring for others taught throughout Scripture, but we find an extensive list for how we should treat one another within society from Leviticus 19:1-18, beginning with a recognition of who G-d is and therefore who he expects us to be, and ending with the simple command to love our neighbor as we would love our own selves. Messiah Yeshua is asked to define who a neighbor might be in Luke 10:25-37. His answer of course was shocking, using the illustration of a Samaritan helping a Jew in 1st century Judea, an illustration akin to a disenfranchised person in our society assisting at great personal cost a wounded person of privilege in our current context.

Why can’t we get along? It’s not a political issue, nor a financial issue. It’s an “us” issue. It’s because of sin. Aren’t prejudice, disorder, pride and unlawfulness only really the expected outcomes of sinfulness unchecked in the hearts of regular people? How do we combat sin? We must humbly admit our sin, our prejudice, our rebelliousness, our pride and our greed to the G-d who made us, and intentionally choose to turn from our sin by confessing our need for personal change and forgiveness through the shed blood of the one who unlawfully suffered and died for our sin, Messiah Yeshua. If we say that we believe in this truth, let us also remember an additional command for action from the Scriptures as well:

Pure and undefiled religion before our G-d and Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1:27)

May we all exemplify today and forevermore a deeper love for G-d and for all those around us, especially those individuals who need our personal help to move forward in life.

Forward for Messiah,
Kirk Gliebe
Rabbi & Director

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Rejoicing in the Time!


“May you live in interesting times” is an often quoted phrase of questionable origin. Considered to be more of a curse than a blessing, the phrase certainly sums up how many of us feel right now. Our times are uniquely interesting at the moment, but not necessarily in a “feel good way”. In a short period of time we have found ourselves cut off from normal routines and relationships, some sequestering themselves out of fear of the virus, others forced into isolation only by force of law.

I have found a few believers recently, especially young adults, who seem to have become paralyzed with anxiety due to the uncertainty of this time. These are individuals who know their Scriptures and have been believers for some time, but have never really developed at a deep, personal level the depth of faith and trust in G-d necessary to effectively move their lives forward during turbulent times.

Messiah Yeshua warned his disciples about this very issue of deep faith:

“Yeshua answered them, “Do you now believe? Look, the hour is coming—indeed has come—when you will be scattered, each to his own, and you will abandon Me. Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have shalom. In the world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world!” (John 16:31-33)

G-d has not promised us as believers an easy life on earth. Actually its through adversity that the believer grows strong, developing deep roots of faith. Let us rejoice in this time to deepen our trust in G-d’s goodness, and let our light of unmovable faith shine bright in a world that more than ever needs to know Yeshua!

Forward for Messiah!
Kirk Gliebe
Rabbi & Director

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Certainty in Uncertain Times


On April 11th I turn 54. Born at the time of the conflict in Vietnam, growing up during the crisis with oil and inflation in the 70’s and coming of age during the tensions of Nuclear posturing with the Soviets during the 80’s, my formative years were filled with a sense of uncertainty. Our world seems much the same today: conflicts … concerns … uncertainty, now a pandemic! G-d always seems to prefer working in times of uncertainty since our uncertainty demands from us his followers total reliance on him, the Certain One.

Since we know that knowing G-d and following G-d provides for us his certainty, how should we be investing ourselves, our time and our resources today? I encourage you this month to consider and act on ways to invest your time and finances to strengthen G-d’s Kingdom effort!

Messiah Yeshua warned us about investing:

“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in or steal.” (Matthew 6:20)

On April 16th Devar Emet celebrates 24 years of ministry work as a unique part of G-d’s greater Kingdom effort. Much has been accomplished as you well know if you're familiar with our synagogue and outreach work, yet so much more remains to be done. The future though is uncertain.

Despite the uncertainty of our current health crisis, we know that G-d is moving our world toward His certain end, the Kingdom of our Messiah Yeshua! Let each of us generously and intentionally work to further this message through our time and resources. This kind of investment will bring certain and eternal reward!

Forward for Messiah!
Kirk Gliebe
Rabbi & Director

Monday, March 2, 2020

Remembering the Power of G-d’s Word!


Last March, Wolf Schubach, my very good friend and mentor of over 25 years, passed away after a grueling battle with cancer. In honor of his yartseit (anniversary of his death) I want to once again reflect on Wolf’s life and his passion for the Word of G-d. Wolf loved the Scriptures and the Hebrew Language, down to their very jot and tittle. Though a biologist by education and a business man by vocation, his passion for the last 15 years was in meticulously translating the Hebrew Old Testament. Four separate times he painstakingly translated through the entire text, working as he went to understand the unique meaning of each Hebrew word so he could express this unique meaning in an accurate English translation. Translating the Scriptures for Wolf was an expression of his worship of G-d!

Is it possible that for some of us, the Scriptures are too familiar? Could it be that we take them for granted, treating them as nice literature but not what they really are: G-d’s miraculous Word!  Paul challenges us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 with the miraculous and supernaturally unique nature and purpose of the Scriptures:

“All Scripture is breathed out by G-d and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of G-d may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Wolf appreciated Paul’s challenge, and spent the latter years of his life maximizing his ability to understand the Scriptures for himself. He challenged me to do the same. 

Consider for yourself: do you take the Scriptures for granted or are you maximizing the Power of G-d’s Word?

Forward for Messiah,
Kirk Gliebe
Rabbi & Director