Friday, January 5, 2018

Keeping the Main Thing … the Main Thing!

It’s that time of year again when we make time to look back at the past to help us plan better for the future. It is hard to imagine that we are now in our 22nd year of ministry with Devar Emet. This all started as a burden from God as a way to more effectively reach Jewish children and Russian Jewish immigrants. We stand amazed at all that God has done through this seemingly little Outreach in Skokie that actually now makes an international impact!

Effective Ministry happens
over time
through a series of consistent,
intentional,
steps of faith!

Our vision at Devar Emet continues to be very focused on the specific areas of ministry we feel God has burdened us to pursue: “Meeting the spiritual needs of Jewish young adults, teens and children, first through our own personal active outreach and mentoring, then through developing our expertise into programs and materials available for others to use.”

May God bless us all with an impactful 2018 for Him! Happy Secular New Year!

Forward for Messiah,

Kirk Gliebe

Rabbi & Director

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Faith is Not for Faint of Heart

Our calendar in December encourages us to remember two important historical events that are at their core, dates that celebrate faith. As Messiah Yeshua stated in Luke 18:8, “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (TLV) The context for this statement is the illustration of the persistent widow and the stubborn judge. Yeshua was challenging his disciples then, and us today, to persist in prayer, which is to persist in faith. Unfortunately too many of us I believe have allowed our zeal for faith living to cool. Let’s face it, living out faith today in our society isn’t perceived to be cool!

Hebrews 11 is recognized as a chapter that celebrates faith in G-d. The first verse makes the point of trying to both define faith and articulate what it does in the life of a person of faith. I sum the verse up in two points:

First, Faith is Confident Assurance about our Future. Faith gives us genuine certainty regarding what G-d has stated in his Scripture about our eternal future with him!

Second, Faith is G-d given Conviction about the Unseen Reality. Faith is the motivation that leads us to test for what G-d has stated in the Scriptures about the reality of the spiritual realm and, by testing, to prove that it is real!

What does this have to do with Chanukah and Christmas? Both of these holidays remember people of faith who took deliberate, risky and painful steps of faith! The Maccabees who stood up against the corrupt religious establishment of their day and the paganism of the Syrian King who reigned over them practiced great faith. They took G-d at his word, understanding what he expected from them, and brought great spiritual renewal for our Jewish people. Mary and Joseph, Anna and Simeon, also lived out faith in what G-d revealed to each of them in quite inconvenient and socially awkward ways. Just to think that Mary humbly agreed to become the mother of the Messiah, knowing the stigma this would cause her; Joseph also, knowing he would need to bear the difficult role of fathering a son, not his own, but G-d’s! Why did they do this? They were confronted by the reality of G-d’s will for their lives and they chose, by faith, to fulfill G-d’s will for them despite the difficulties it would bring. They each chose to trust G-d!

This holiday season take time to renew your commitment to faith living. What steps can you take that will force you to test the reality of G-d’s unseen spiritual realm: More time for Scripture reading? A greater commitment to G-d’s service in an environment way outside your comfort zone? Really prioritizing G-d with your finances? Setting aside your plans for your life in order fulfill G-d’s plans for your life? G-d’s Word is truth and Messiah calls us to grow our faith in him through prayer and action. Something to think about!

Happy Chanukah & Merry Messiahmas!

Kirk Gliebe

Rabbi & Director

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Community!

Society is changing and so is community, as committed involvement and service by individuals within social clubs as well as religious communities continues to suffer, falling down and even off many people’s priority lists. Unfortunately, congregational community is a non-negotiable according to the Scriptures and is one of those spiritual disciplines essential for the life of a follower of Messiah Yeshua. Several years ago I wrote a discipleship series called “The Seven Spiritual Habits of a Maturing Messianic Jewish Faith.” The material covers basic spiritual disciplines which must be practiced in order for a follower of Messiah Yeshua to grow in their personal relationship with God. Two of these disciplines relate to involvement with other believers within a community.

The first one is Congregational Integration. Just showing up for services and studies is insufficient for spiritual maturity. We must be committed to our community: its purpose, programs and people. Having only a superficial connection to a congregation will never allow someone to become a unified and useful part of the community; we will not be able to be raised up to areas of service, responsibility and leadership. Remember that God calls us to be actively connected to our congregations so we can be fully useful for service!

The second is Commitment to Service. An integrated member of a congregation is a committed servant within that congregation. This happens naturally in the life of a spiritually maturing believer who recognizes their spiritual responsibility to serve. The list of service opportunities within a congregation is never ending, especially if a congregation is committed to reaching out to those who are not yet followers of the Messiah. Remember that God expects us to serve him first and foremost through committed service within and through our congregational community!

Over time we can get discouraged through the “back and forth” of being in community, being actively involved with one another. Taking a break from responsibility from time to time is healthy and wise; stepping back from being active in community is not. As our Messiah taught, “Love one another.” Let’s remember that the love Messiah Yeshua spoke us is best developed when we practice it with real people within his Messianic community. Our Devar Emet membership expectations challenge us to realize that the growth and development of our community is our shared responsibility. As our Membership Expectations remind us, members commit themselves to being willing to adjust their own schedules to give priority to meeting together as a community, commit to seeking to identify, develop, and use their spiritual gifts and abilities to intentionally serve and, as appropriate, even lead within the community. But most importantly, they commit themselves as members to develop a spirit of mutual love, unity, forgiveness, concern, encouragement, and the bearing of one another's burdens within our congregation. This is what commitment to community is all about!


Let us consider what we each can do to facilitate and encourage greater community within our own communities of faith. This will require some sacrifice, mostly our time, talent and treasure, but certainly that is the least we can do to follow the way that our Messiah Yeshua has asked us to walk. Consider in what ways G-d would want you to sacrificially build on the foundation that has been laid within your community, not just for your own benefit, but for the benefit of others! In this new year of 5778 let us each consider what we can do to allow G-d to work more effectively through us in order that G-d will be able to more effective work through His Messianic community.

Forward for Messiah!
Kirk Gliebe

Rabbi  & Director

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Before Honor, Humility!


What is required to achieve genuine honor? In Proverbs 15:33 it says that humility comes before honor. The Hebrew word for honor is “kavod” meaning “weightiness\substance”. Its counter intuitive, but the answer Scripturally is to pursue humility in our lives.

As believers we must understand that real honor in life from G-d comes as a result of genuine humility before G-d!

The two major themes of Rosh Hashanah are Personal Repentance and G-d’s Kingship. We must keep in mind that we get to one by thoroughly understanding and appreciating the other, and humility is fundamental to both. Understanding deeply who G-d is and what he is capable of should compel us toward repentance.

How are you actively recognizing G-d's sovereignty over your life? Remember:

·    Fearing the L-RD leads to a proper understanding of God’s sovereignty.
·    Not recognizing G-d’s sovereignty leads to personal arrogance, which leads to destruction.
·    What do you need to repent of? Humility leads to personal repentance which results in honor.

Sometimes we miss out on the honor G-d wants to bestow upon us because we fear man more than we fear G-d. Something to stay aware of!

Forward for Messiah!
Kirk Gliebe

Rabbi  & Director

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Peace of Mind!


Ever get a bit frustrated by life? Now that we are starting the new Jewish year of 5778, it’s a good time to consider a new mindset. A few years back I read of a study conducted by Duke University on "Peace of Mind.” The results of the study contained the following nine factors which, when applied to one’s life, are most likely to contribute to emotional and mental stability:
1)     The absence of suspicion and resentment
2)     Living in the present and the future
3)     Not wasting time and energy fighting conditions you cannot change
4)     Cooperating with life, instead of trying either to demolish it or run away from it
5)     Forcing yourself to be outgoing with others, instead of retreating within during periods of stress
6)     Refusing to pity yourself or seek self-justification in easy alibis that make you appear "noble" to yourself and others
7)     Cultivating the old-fashioned virtues of love, honor, loyalty and thriftiness
8)     Not expecting too much of yourself
9)     Find something bigger than yourself in which to believe
I personally find a great deal of practical Scriptural advice in this study. How about you?
Forward for Messiah!
Kirk Gliebe
Rabbi  & Director

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Living for G-d!

Have you ever asked yourself the question “What does it mean to live for G-d?”


For most Yeshua followers this question immediately brings to mind action items such as attending services, reading Scripture and prayer. But action items like these express outer religiosity, and don’t necessarily indicate true internal spiritual passion.  Plenty of people attend services, read Scripture and pray but their approach to life isn’t substantially any different than people who don’t.

“How differently should a person live who states that they want to live their life for G-d?”

It would be easy to be trite; to come up with some clichéd “religious” answer, but G-d doesn’t like cliché followers. To live a life for G-d demands a different approach to life for oneself, a commitment to living differently from the way others do.

Shaul in Philippians 2:12b states: “keep working out your deliverance with fear and trembling”. Would you be someone whom Shaul would say is working out their Yeshua faith based clearly on Scriptural principles? Are you substantially and recognizably different as a believer from unbelievers? Something to ponder!

Forward for Messiah,

Kirk Gliebe

Rabbi & Director

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Embracing what is Important!


Our HaDerekh Youth Israel Aliyah group of nine experienced quite a lot road tripping through Israel in June. The sights of Biblical ruins, the variety and uniqueness of Israel’s geography, swimming in the Red, Dead, Med and Sea of Galilee, fighting cockroaches in Tiberius, and meeting so many Jewish people in the Land who profess faith in the Messiah of Israel, Yeshua!

Many of the people we met with challenged us to make Aliyah, to move back to the Land of Israel as Jews and assume our responsibility as physical members of the nation of Israel. Biblical references would be cited, the allure of reclaiming the Land would be mentioned, and the machismo of military service would be alluded to, especially for the guys. Considering Aliyah is part of the reason for our trips so this is a natural part of our discussion with Israelis, but seldom did we hear of the cost of Aliyah: poor wages, a high cost of living, terrorism, religious discrimination against Jews who believe in Yeshua, severe spiritual warfare!

We value what we appreciate, and we appreciate what is important to us!

What’s important to you? I imagine the basics are important: clean water, good food, and a safe place to sleep. What else is important to you? Personal significance, comfort, pleasure. Yet so often what is important to us is not at all important to G-d! Following G-d’s calling should be our most important interest, yet this costs us, and rightfully so.

To make Aliyah for a Jew from America will cost: in wages, comfort, and social acceptance. To follow Messiah will cost: “Take up your execution stakes and come follow me.” May we fully embrace what is truly important, and the cost that goes with it!

Forward for Messiah,
Kirk Gliebe

Rabbi & Director