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

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Training Up a Child

In our “instant gratification focused” world today, it’s no surprise that children and youth are suffering! It doesn’t help that parents seemed to have forgotten how to parent, leaving kids to learn how to grow up and mature on their own. Even parents who profess to believe in Messiah Yeshua and G-d’s Biblical principles seem to be failing at passing this down to their kids as well. This month I would like to share what I have learned about what it means to spiritually train up children and youth.

The first principle is that training up a child starts by recognizing who the Boss is: G-d!  Deuteronomy 6:4-9 makes clear to us as parents that we must model committed faith if we hope to see it develop in our children.

The second principle is that training up a child requires a lot of work over time! Proverbs 22:6 is used by too many parents who seek to console themselves with the hope that their child is eternally saved since they took them to services where they said a prayer at 4 years of age, thereby sealing their eternity status, even though they haven’t attended a place of worship since they were teens and are living godlessly in their current lives. Parents & Grandparents, this Hebrew text doesn’t refer to teaching little kids. Instead it speaks about intentionally working to spiritually form adolescents: our teens and young adults!

The third principle is that training up a child demands a proper relationship in the home! Ephesians 6:1-4 is clear: children are to obey and respect their parents. At the same time parents better be disciplining and discipling their children in love. Knowing your role, position and expectation in the home is critical!

G-d’s calling for our lives is to make disciples, especially our own kids. How are you doing with that?

Forward for Messiah,

Kirk Gliebe

Rabbi & Director

Monday, March 5, 2018

Built to Last!

Quality products that last over time come at a steep cost. If you just want a hammer to last for one small project, you can get a cheap one just about anywhere. But if you are looking for a tool that you can hammer nails with for a few decades and then hand down to your kids, you must go to a good hardware store and invest in one for much more money. Quality will cost you!

The same thing can be said of the believing life. A deep and abiding relationship with G-d develops slowly over time and is forged out of consistent submission to and reliance on G-d himself. It cannot be attained quickly or easily.

Spiritual quality will cost you!
It will require your
personal investment of
time, talent and treasure!

Too often today it seems that followers of Messiah Yeshua in our society are trying to just get by spiritually, following Messiah with as little personal inconvenience and effort as possible. As we remembered in our celebration of Purim last month and consider in our celebration of Passover next month, Esther, Mordecai and Moses were willing to give their all to stand up for both G-d and their people. They were all fully invested in G-d’s calling for their lives. How about you?

Forward for Messiah,

Kirk Gliebe
Rabbi & Director

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Finding Your Strength!

Some time ago I came into contact with a book called StrengthsFinder by Tom Rath. The book, a best seller in the business community since 2001, helps people to identify their natural talents in order to improve them. It focuses the reader not toward fixing their weaknesses, but instead toward improving their G-d given strengths, which when you think about it, is actually a Biblical approach!

G-d has made every human uniquely different and invaluable to Him, endowing each one with natural gifts and abilities required to effectively live their life. On top of this, for those who come to accept Messiah Yeshua’s atonement, He also provides the supernatural enablement of the Holy Spirit so that as his followers we can serve Him most effectively for His purposes. As Ephesians 2:10 states:

For we are His workmanship—created in Messiah Yeshua for good deeds, which G-d prepared beforehand so we might walk in them. (TLV)

The Greek word for “workmanship” means a “work of art, a masterpiece.” Too often we look at ourselves and we see our weaknesses, when what we need to do is consider what Psalm 139:14 states, that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” by G-d, and remember: G-d doesn’t make junk!

I encourage you to consider both your natural and spiritual strengths, and to work toward improving what G-d has blessed you with so that you might be most effective in being the amazing artistic masterpiece that G-d has created you to be for His purposes.

Forward for Messiah,

Kirk Gliebe
Rabbi & Director