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

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