The Messiness of Gentile Inclusion, pt 2

Yesterday I wrote out a few thoughts based on Peter’s experience with Cornelius in Acts and ventured to guess a little about who this Cornelius man was.

Today I want to think out loud about the abundance of non-Jews we find in the Hebrew Bible.  Sometimes it is a reference to non-Jews directly, other times it’s a reference to the G-d of Israel being G-d over “all flesh” and that “everything that breathes” will one day worship Him.  My assumption is that “all flesh” and “everything that breathes” includes me, a Gentile.  My second assumption is that people like me are intended to be following the lead of the people of Israel as they are called to be “a light to the nations” and “nation of priests”.  My second assumption may not be the assumption that most people make, but as I read the Bible this assumption grows stronger and stronger.  I realize that we non-Jews have teachers and leaders whose task it is to show us the way, we’re not supposed to go our own way and hope to arrive at this intended destination.

We find mention of several different classes of non-Jews in the Hebrew Bible. Continue reading

The Messy-ness of Being a M(Non)J Part 3: Full Circle

Please see part 1 of this introductory series here:  Our Church Story

Home Again, Home Again, jiggity jig.

Before our detour into the Hebrew Roots congregation we had established a Sabbath ritual of study and family time at home.  After returning home we quickly fell back into that routine and reveled in the peace of it for a little while before we started to get restless and bored in the afternoons.  We missed being part of a larger group but our family discussions around our Bible readings were amazing, and each of us felt that something very special was happening every Shabbat.  We were able to read a variety of teachings from several different groups and now that we had walked through the Hebrew Roots camp we knew fairly well what some of the pitfalls were and why we did not agree with certain teachings.  Based on certain experiences we understood better how important love is, and kindness, and acceptance of others.  Of course we were talking about such things during the week too, but there was just something uniquely special about our Sabbath readings and discussions.  There was also something uniquely heartbreaking about our Sabbath observance as well – we were lonely and longing for people to live life with and to learn from, moreso on Shabbat.

We were homeschooling and involved in several community groups as the children grew. Continue reading

The Messiness of Gentile Inclusion, pt 1

Our story has been messy, and that’s often the joke about this walk because it is indeed messy.  At first we didn’t know we were on a journey that would take us away from where we started, and then we didn’t know where it would take us at all.  To be honest, for the first few years we weren’t sure that anyone else was even on this journey.  Imagine our surprise when we discovered that there were others walking this same road.

It would be so easy, so nice, if this journey had been tidy and clean.  If we had a roadmap and clear instructions and people to show us the way.  Yes, that would have been great.  Goodness, even one of those things would have been a welcome treasure!  But instead we’ve had teachers we had never met, “virtual” communities, and vague idealistic ideas from our studies as we pressed ahead and wondering where in the world we’re going.

Today is a time when MJs is struggling with the idea of Gentile Inclusion.  This isn’t a new thing.  Throughout the Bible it’s been a dicy topic.  To say that people in the old days had to convert in order to be accepted might be a bit anachronistic, but that’s the way it had become by the days of our Master.  I’m not sure that the wives of Jacob’s sons had to convert or that Rahab and Ruth had to formally convert, and let’s not talk about the mixed multitude in the desert.  But by the time of the Second Temple, that’s the way it was.  If you wanted to be accepted by G-d and among Israel, you needed to convert to Judaism.  Period. Continue reading

The Messy-ness of Being a M(Non)J Part 2: Bumpy Roads

Part 1 of this introductory series is here:  Our Church Story

Our Hebrew Roots Detour

It was a few months after the Christmas sermon series at church when we found our family Sabbath observance was eclipsing our Sunday observance in every way – and we were excited about it.  We studied together at home during the week and then on Shabbat we read through some commentaries we received via e-mail.  Those discussions were wonderful and caused us to talk about things that didn’t come up in church on Sundays.  You know, children ask the best questions and sometimes the hardest ones to answer too!  At church the 3 oldest children were regularly volunteering in certain positions on their own and the 2 younger children were volunteering with Wes and I in our respective positions.  At that time we discovered that there was indeed a messianic or Hebrew Roots group in our area and we wondered if that might be a better fit for our family.  We desperately did not want to celebrate another festival alone.  After visiting a few times we opted to make the switch.  We were excited to have a full day to work at home and not to have those tense conversations on the drive home from church anymore. There were many reasons that we decided to make the switch but the biggest one was that we did not want to raise arrogant children who felt they knew more than the leaders.  We wanted them to understand that there were adults who they could trust when they had questions and who would lead them in a good direction.  The children had serious suspicion of this concept by the time we left the Sunday church.

But we had hope for the Messianic/Hebrew Roots congregation.  We were so hungry for mentors and teachers that could lead us further down the road of discovery of the Jewish roots of our faith and the opening up of the Scriptures from this cultural and historical context.   Continue reading

The Messy-ness of Being a M(Non)J Part 1: Our Church Story

I haven’t written much in years, and I do miss it.  I’ve tried to re-start a few times but it’s just not come very smoothly.  However, I’ve got a fire in my belly at the moment and want to enter into a discussion that is taking place in several venues.  This attempt to share my story and my perspectives will, hopefully, be in a series of short posts over the next week or so.  So hang tight as I start with some background…

Our Church Story

In the 1990s we were a young Christian family with a serious desire to know G-d better.  We read the Bible together at the dinner table and the Christian radio station was playing whether we were in the car or at home.  We attended church whenever the doors were open, going to services, volunteering where we could, teaching children’s classes as well as hosting/leading couples Bible studies.  Even with all of this, we couldn’t shake this sense:  “There has to be more than this!”  It felt like something significant was lacking and we couldn’t find that missing piece.  After moving to a church with more opportunities to get involved we started to notice a shift in our family, away from where the church was going.  Our children would sit with us in services because they started to become frustrated with the children’s church programs, whether they were puppet shows or coloring pages or whatever – they felt like they weren’t being taught very well.  We took that as a cue that they were learning things at home and the excitement we felt at home was greater than the entertainment factor of the children’s classes.  So they sat with us in adult services and enjoyed the dialogue we would have on the drive home.  There were two specific seasons that caused us to re-evaluate the way we were doing things.

One summer the pastoral staff decided to spend the summer on the Torah.  Continue reading

Listening to some great stuff

I’ve shared several links on my Facebook profile in recent weeks that I wanted to share together here as well.

My routine in the mornings is to listen to a teaching while on the elliptical (otherwise it’s super boring to exercise staring at a blank wall) and when I’m working in the kitchen I’ll pull up some audio files and listen to some good teachings.  I’ll load my phone with good teachings and if I’m driving somewhere out-of-town I can listen while I drive, too.

Below are a few teachings from various sources that I thought my friends might appreciate.  If you listen to any of them, I’d love to hear what your thoughts are regarding their messages.  :)


tikvaticonI’ve been listening to the teachings from Tikvat Israel for about a year and a half now, and I’ve really been enjoying them.  I look forward to listening to each of the teachers and their distinct personalities and teaching style because each of them share their messages with such wisdom and gentleness.  Recently they’ve started a new series called Messianic Jewish Discipleship 101I. The first sermon in this series is called Why The Sabbath? by Rabbi David Rudolph.
You can find this teaching at this link:
The prequel to this series lays the foundation for this series and is also a very good teaching to listen to, maybe before you begin the series:  Living As Disciples –

Finding-a-Place-to-ServeFinding A Place To Serve – Dr. Jacob D. Rosenberg is leading his congregation through the book of Acts and this sermon focuses on Steven’s selection to serve the widows of the Helenist Messianic Jewish community in Jerusalem.  As I listened to this engaging message, I was very encouraged to hear this message the other day, the first message I’ve heard from this teacher and this community.

This is a new congregational teacher to me, and this was the first teaching I listened to.  I’m pleased and looking forward to listening to more from Adat HaTikvah in coming days.



emet_logo-shadow-blue-600px_0Our Bible study group is taking an intentional and measured stroll through the Gospel accounts this year, and we’re having a wonderful time together.  One of the resources that we’ve begun to add to our group study resource list is the audio series from Emet HaTorah based on the same material that we’re studying.

This coming week we will be on week 13 – New Wineskins.  You can catch up with us and listen to the discussion on the week’s readings at this link:



heavenlytorah.inlineThough this teaching is from the spring, it’s one that I think my readers will really appreciate.  Here is how the website describes this teaching, Restoring The Kingdom To Israel:

Just prior to the ascension of our holy Master Yeshua of Nazareth, his disciples asked him, “Are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Bible teachers often criticize the disciples for being so slow and hard-hearted that they still expected a physical restoration of the kingdom of Israel, but from a Messianic Jewish perspective, a purely spiritual kingdom with no actual physical restoration of the kingdom of Israel on earth is no kingdom at all.

You can find it here:

I hope you’re able to enjoy some of these teachings, and more teachings from these great teachers.  :)