Friday, March 1, 2019

The Hard Work of Resting

For much of the last few weeks I have struggled a bit with my health. It’s been a brutally cold winter in Chicago so I’ll just blame the weather. In early February I like to get away for a few days to just rest and de-stress. Carla and I spent about 6 days at a friend’s condo in South Haven to read, write and think, but without the stress of interruption from calls, emails, texts and unexpected crisis walking into my office. It was very restful and rejuvenating! My mind lately had grown exhausted from what has been a very exciting and effective time of almost continuous ministry. Not all burdens will exhaust the body, but all burdens can exhaust our mind and spirit.

Rest is of course a Biblical commandment. Yeshua our Messiah himself spoke this challenge to us in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Yeshua is not speaking here of taking a break from doing the dishes, instead Yeshua is speaking of laying on him the deep burdens of our heart and mind.

Laying our burdens at the feet of our Messiah Yeshua brings rest. For those of us in ministry work, whether vocational or volunteer, this means rest from assuming responsibility for what we can’t control; rest from activity that G-d hasn’t actually called us to do; rest from people who won’t choose to change no matter how much time we might pour into their lives.

Yeshua calls us to rest in him, in who he is and in his sovereignty over our lives as Melech Mashiach, King Messiah!

Impacting our world for Messiah demands our willingness to work hard for him while at the same time resting fully in him. Paradoxical yes, but isn’t that always G-d’s way? Something to think about!

Forward for Messiah,

Rabbi Kirk Gliebe

Friday, February 1, 2019

It’s all about the People!

The beginning of 2019 has taken off with lots of ministry and blistering cold weather! Sometimes we feel like we must be in Alaska instead of Illinois. Regardless of the weather, we work to keep our focus on the goal: encouraging people to consider the truthfulness of the Good News that Yeshua our Jewish Messiah brings Salvation for all who will believe in him!

That being said, ministry is a people business and so ministry is often busy and messy! Certainly it’s possible to do “religious work” without actually spiritually ministering into the lives of real people, but at Devar Emet it is our vision to connect with people, Jewish people, so that G-d might work through us for their spiritual benefit.

I have often noticed that the farther away one is from directly interacting with people, the more money one can make. Compare the pay of the employee servicing the customer with their boss or the CEO behind the desk. Unfortunately, this sadly is often true of people in ministry as well! Consider the local congregational leader or outreach worker dealing with the constant pressures of serving the spiritual needs of real people, overworked and underpaid for their effort, compared to those in administration of secular or religious non-profits far removed from the daily stresses of personally meeting people’s needs, yet paid significantly more for their efforts!

Ministry can never be about the money, yet Yeshua’s words remind me never to forsake the hard work of people ministry for the easy pay of management: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Pray to the Lord of the harvest that He may send out workers into His harvest field.” Pray for us to keep our focus clear and pray for others who will answer Yeshua’s call to the Harvest as well!

Forward for Messiah,

Kirk Gliebe
Rabbi & Director

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

A New Year's Secret!

At the beginning of our new civic calendar, it is natural for each of us to hope and plan for bigger and brighter blessings and opportunities in the New Year. I have always given much thought and prayer during this season of goals and objectives for the New Year: for my life, family and ministry. I hope you do as well. The truth is that such efforts are really an act of faith. No one can predict the future and assure for themselves success in a New Year, regardless of how well they plan out their lives. At this season especially, it is important for us to remember to firmly place our faith in G-d, the One who does know the future, and to be sure that our plans and goals have Him at the center.
When we maintain our faith in G-d and in his plans and goals for our lives, we will truly live successful lives.

Are you a successful person in the eyes of the World? Are you a successful person in the eyes of G-d? G-d’s Scripture teaches us the secret to a successful life: trust and obey! We will conquer the most tiring challenges if we just do what G-d tells us to do and trust in him regarding the unknown settings of the future. If we doubt G-d like Moses initially did, then we will fail in knowing G-d's perfect plan that he has for each one of us. If however we listen and learn to trust in G-d, as Moses eventually did, we will come to find that G-d knew the plan all along; all we had to do was ride it out by trusting for G-d to guide us to where we needed to go.

Remember the New Year’s Secret: When we maintain our faith in G-d and in his plans and goals for our lives, we will truly live successful lives. May your New Year be full of many blessings and opportunities!

Forward for Messiah,

Kirk Gliebe
Rabbi & Director

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Giving Gifts

It’s Chanukah!!!! Aren’t you excited?! Yes I know it’s not something that most look forward to in America since only the 2% of the Jewish Community celebrates Chanukah, but for us it’s a big deal!

What’s the big deal about Chanukah? Chanukah reminds us that following G-d requires commitment and that sometimes that commitment can be very costly. To the Jewish people living in the 2nd Century before the birth of Messiah Yeshua, following G-d and His instructions was not only discouraged by the pagan king, it probably would cost you your life! There was no such thing as “easy believism”. Yet some Jewish people stood up for G-d and today we know these people as the Maccabim. Sadly, the knowledge of their efforts and bold commitment is mostly forgotten within the Jewish community, replaced with the typical American emphasis on materialism. Since it is the gift giving season, and it’s hard to fight the societal flow, I would encourage us to consider gifts we can give G-d this year.

First, give the gift of your Time. G-d would like to spend more time with you, and He would really like your full attention when you are with Him. We get so busy with the things of this world, which don’t really matter. Every moment we spend with G-d in worship, study or just quiet meditation is time well spent.

Second, give the gift of Service. G-d has things He wants done and He is looking for a few good men (and women) who will “help” Him get it done! What have you been doing lately for G-d? Anything specific? It seems too often the same few believers do the work, while other believers sit around and watch. We all have G-d given abilities and talents that G-d wants us to use, usually for the benefit of people in need, including believers needing help or a day off.

Third, give the gift of Faith. Start believing that G-d really is as big as He says that He is. Accept that He did create the world in six days, that Jonah was swallowed by a whale, and that Peter paid the Temple tax with money from a fish! Why do we minimize G-d’s capacity to do! G-d deserves our full faith so gift it to Him!

Forward for Messiah!
Kirk Gliebe
Rabbi & Director

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Why be a Jew?

On October 27th the American Jewish community suffered its worst act of anti-Semitism ever in our almost 400 years of Jewish History in North America. People gathering to worship in a synagogue were intentionally targeted and killed simply because they were Jewish. The murderer acted alone, without political, religious or group association, just hatred against Jews. Since the incident, rallies and vigils have been held, including in Skokie, allowing people the opportunity to express their sorrow and reflect on the brokenness of our nation. In the midst of this a young Jewish believer asked me the question: “Why be Jewish? Why should we remain an obvious target knowing there are significant numbers of people even within the United States who don’t like Jewish people?” The FBI reports that over half of all religiously motivated hate crimes in America target the Jewish community, yet Jews make up only about 1½% of the entire US population.

First, Paul states in Romans 11:1 “I say then, G-d has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendent of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.” Like Paul, I choose to publicly identify as a Jew and to live publicly as a member of the Jewish community because that is who G-d made me to be. In this I fulfill my unique calling as part of Israel to testify of G-d’s faithfulness to keep his promise to Abraham and, as a believer, of Yeshua’s Messiahship of Israel before both Jews and Gentiles. Second, being Jewish is both a physical identity, being a descendent of the physical people of Israel, as well as also an eschatological identity and responsibility, as part of the nation Israel, who G-d chose to be his representative Chosen People. Identifying as a Jew at times means that I must accept the discrimination that comes from those in the Jewish community who don’t like my faith in Messiah Yeshua, but it means that I accept as well the discrimination (occasional threatening phone calls, mailings and slurs) from those in general society who don’t like who I am as a Jew, including from those who profess to be Christians.

Later on in the Romans 11:11-12 he adds, “I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!” In G-d’s perfect foreknowledge, he knew that the Jewish people would not fully accept Messiah Yeshua when he came. He thus hardened Jewish hearts so that the Gospel would go out into the hearts of the nations. I believe G-d is going to bring the Jewish people back to him at the time of Messiah Yeshua’s return; back into right relationship with him in Yeshua, when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  For now the hardness of heart toward the Gospel that my Jewish people demonstrate is G-d’s plan so that Gentiles are able to get saved! The Nations are benefiting while the Jewish people are suffering. That’s why Paul also warned the Gentile believers in Romans 11:16-22 to not boast or be arrogant, but to fear and understand.

I encourage you to fervently pray for the Jewish community in America. For G-d to protect and comfort us, but also for G-d’s Spirit to lead us to true hope in Messiah Yeshua. G-d has not rejected the Jewish people, and no follower of Messiah Yeshua should do so either!

Forward for Messiah!
Kirk Gliebe
Rabbi & Director

Friday, August 31, 2018

Covenant Commitment

Have you ever struggled to keep a promise? All of us have to admit that we do. It’s a natural part of our being human, whether purposeful disregard to keeping our word or simple inability to always be able to do what we say we will do. 

G-d does not have a problem keeping his promises because well, He is G-d! He formalizes what He says He will do in what is called a Brit (Covenant), which is a particular kind of formal relationship made between persons, characterized by mutual obligations. Thus a covenant relationship is not merely a mutual “acquaintanceship” but a deep relational commitment involving responsibility and action. Its faithfulness within relationship!
Just a few examples to consider:

G-d in his love has covenanted Himself to mankind despite our faithlessness, “I will remember My covenant that is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all flesh.” Genesis 9:15

G-d has covenanted Himself to Israel despite our faithlessness, “Thus says Adonai: “Only if heaven above can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, then also I will cast off the offspring of Israel—for all they have done.” It is a declaration of Adonai.” Jeremiah 31:37

G-d has covenanted Himself to us who have accepted Messiah Yeshua’s atonement despite our faithlessness, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

As we begin the new Jewish year of 5779, let us rejoice in our G-d who keeps His promises even when we can’t and won’t!

Forward for Messiah!
Kirk Gliebe
Rabbi & Director

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Halakhah: The Way to Walk

In the month of June I plan to do a lot of walking. This just comes with the terrain you might say of our HaDerekh Youth Israel Aliyah as we will be literally walking all over the Land of Israel from June 12 to July 2. I have high expectations for our Team when we walk through the Land together: we represent our Messiah Yeshua, we represent the American Messianic Jewish Community, and we represent Americans in general. I expect our group to way worthy of these important representations!!

I would like to define a Hebrew term which makes many Jews uncomfortable, the word Halakhah. It’s traditional meaning is understood to be “Jewish Law”, but the actual core of its meaning is the phrase “the way to walk”. In other words, halakh is the Hebrew word “to walk”, and halakhah summarizes the age old Jewish communal expectation for how individual Jews are expected to walk out their lives as part of the greater Jewish community. It’s similar to our traditional understanding of American values: hard work, rugged individualism, baseball, apple pie, etc.…

G-d of course laid down within the Scriptures his basic understanding of how he expected all people to live, including Israel his Chosen people. One example of how he expected Israel to walk was to keep the Shabbat as a sign of his unique relationship with Israel:

Leviticus 23:3 “Work may be done for six days, but the seventh day is a Shabbat of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You are to do no work—it is a Shabbat to Adonai in all your dwellings. (TLV)

G-d has provided all of Scripture for all of mankind so that we all might know how we are supposed to walk out our lives for Him. Paul wrote that if we study G-d’s instructions and on a daily basis apply them through G-d’s Spirit we won’t walk off the Spirit’s path and into sinful activities:

Galatians 5:16 – “But I say, walk by the Ruach, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.” (TLV)

G-d’s expectations are actually quite simple and reasonable; they just demand our submission and personal desire. Are you committed to walking G-d’s way?

Forward for Messiah,

Rabbi Kirk Gliebe