Monday, July 8, 2019

Making the Most of the Journey

Flying each year into Israel on our HaDerekh Youth Israel Aliyah can become pretty routine. It’s a combined journey of usually about 24 hours and 7,000 miles through three airports, leading eight individuals, all in their late teens or early 20’s. But after 11 trips with different groups of Messianic Jewish young adults, I have developed a pretty good plan for moving us along our journey to the Land of Israel.

Even though our journey to the Land has developed into somewhat of a routine, I would never want our trip to actually be routine. A meaningful journey can never be accomplished on auto pilot. It must be engaged thoughtfully, intentionally and joyfully. Life is an adventure and I for one want to live it to the fullest. I want these Israel trips to be challenging, to stay fresh and to be provocative.

But real life isn’t a series of extreme sports. Real life is living out our time focused on the journey God has for us to pursue. Time is a precious gift from God, and marking time focusing on worldly pleasures is a waste of that precious gift. Paul’s challenge in Ephesians 5:15-17 resonates deeply within me:

“So pay close attention to how you walk —not as unwise people but as wise. Make the most of your time because the days are evil. For this reason do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (TLV)

Let us celebrate the completion of our 11th HaDerekh Youth Israel Aliyah by intentionally and thoughtfully seeking out God’s expected will for the journey of our lives, making the most of our time for Him!

Forward for Messiah,
Kirk Gliebe
Rabbi & Director

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Living as Examples!

In high school I worked at a fast food restaurant, Kentucky Fried Chicken to be specific. With hard work I was soon moving up the ladder! I became the chief baker, responsible for making the famous KFC Biscuits! This was no small feat. They had to be done right each and every time. My boss trained me, showing me example after example of what he wanted me to make. He drilled into me through his example his expectation for my actions. I never have forgotten the value of a well-made biscuit, or the value of a good example! As followers of Messiah Yeshua, we are responsible for producing something more important than biscuits: we need to be producing disciples! In order to make disciples we have to provide for people an example to follow and then instruct them to copy that example! What does it mean to be a good spiritual example?

In Philippians 3:17 Paul makes very clear his perspective regarding spiritual example setting: “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.” Following good examples has been essential in my spiritual growth and development as a believer. I have benefited by seeing strong and more mature believers model what it means to love G-d and keep his commandments. They have shown me by their personal actions the truth of what the Scriptures teach! What actions were most helpful? First I would say was godliness: the day to day living out of what it meant to die to sin. This was invaluable for me to see as a young teen who struggled with bad habits and raging hormones! Their examples, especially those who were at or near my age, gave me the strength and encouragement to actively confess and set aside my own sin and to seek G-d’s righteousness. Second was humility: choosing to humbly submit to G-d and others. I always wanted to make a difference in the world, but seeing strong and intelligent people, especially men, willingly choosing to operate in meekness with others reminded me that it was not by my might nor my power, but G-d’s, that ultimately would be required if I wanted to make anything of eternal value happen with my life. Finally it was the living out of faith: choosing to follow G-d and his instruction simply because G-d is real and his ways are true. Seeing people giving their lives for the faith they believed in even when it hurt encouraged me to do the same!  

What type of an example are you for other believers to follow? Does your example direct people toward a more maturing faith and relationship with G-d, or are you an excuse for someone’s decision to turn away from G-d? Something to think about!

Forward for Messiah,

Rabbi Kirk Gliebe

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Built to Last!

A frequently used sales pitch in years gone by referred to the durability of a product: “Ford Trucks, built Ford tough” or “Timex, takes a licking but keeps on ticking”. If you’re old enough you might even remember Maytag’s lonely repairmen. We live in a time now though where very little is actually meant to endure. We don’t generally buy clothes today expecting them to really last for more than a year or two. Either they wear out because of low quality, or they go out of style so we don’t want to be seen in them!

We all appreciate quality and workmanship, things that are built well and that last. Yet nothing that mankind can make will ever truly endure; our best made creations over time will become obsolete, erode, decay and eventually disappear.

In the TaNaKh, also referred to as the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah wrote about this very issue. He said in chapter 40:6-8:

A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the L-RD blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our G-d will stand forever.  (Isaiah 40:6-8)

Isaiah is making in this Scripture two very important points for us to consider. The first is that our current lives on this earth are just temporary, like the grass and flowers. We are born, live life, have earthly successes and failures, but inevitably our physical lives decline, ending in death. This is what G-d has ordained to be in our current world broken by sin. But the second point Isaiah is making in this text is that G-d’s Word, G-d’s Will, G-d’s Instruction, has no end. As G-d himself is eternal, without end, so there is eternality to what He has expressed, and this includes what is his Instruction to us through his Scriptures. This also includes eternal life which G-d has promised by his Word to those who hold onto his Word by faith, who believe in what G-d has said in his Scripture about how we come into everlasting relationship with him through faith in Messiah Yeshua’s atonement.

Consider your own mortality, the limitation of your own life. In humility consider G-d’s love for you and his desire for you to know him and to have a relationship with him for eternity, all made possible through the shed blood of your Messiah Yeshua. Rejoice in G-d’s Word which was built to last and invest your life and the time that you have left in knowing and living out that Word!

Forward for Messiah,

Rabbi Kirk Gliebe

Monday, April 1, 2019

The Power of G-d’s Word!

March was a tough month for me. Wolf Schubach, my very good friend and mentor of over 25 years, passed away after a grueling battle with cancer. An immigrant from Germany following World War II, we bonded over our ancestral connection to Deutschland as well as our similar interest in the archeology of Israel. Beyond this though was our common 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.” (ESV)

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,

Rabbi Kirk Gliebe

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