At most public high schools it isn’t always easy to follow God. At the high school I attend, we have two programs. The teachers running these programs go above and beyond to find a way for young people to talk about God and worship together. The two programs currently offered are, Cru and FCA (Fellowship of Christian athletes).
Cru is supervised by one of our Spanish teachers. He runs this program on Wednesdays right after school and they last about an hour. Our leader answers any questions students have about God and answers them with Scripture to back it up. There are about 12-15 students that regularly attend Cru and everyone I’ve seen there seems highly enthusiastic to learn. For the lesson, everyone gets a printout of the verses. As we each read a couple of verses we’ll occasionally stop to make sure we’re all understanding it well enough.
Fellowship for Christian Athletes is only somewhat what it sounds like. It is a service for students to get together and learn about God. However, it isn’t just limited to athletes. These teachers who volunteer as leaders show up to school 35 minutes early on Tuesday mornings to teach students about God. When you walk by the room on Tuesday mornings, it’s always packed. There are at least 30 or more people. They have a lesson, some doughnuts and fellowship.
Out of all the public school’s I’ve attended, Warren Central has been the most supportive of believing students. Both of these programs are extraordinarily helpful with one’s personal walk with God. With both programs students get a message and fellowship with other believers. These programs help students stay away from peer pressure and share their personal beliefs. It is rare to find such amazing programs in a public school.
By Regional Rep Carrington Nicole Hulce
Jeff Adler is the Rabbi at Sha'aray Yeshua and has been my Rabbi for my entire life. He recently performed my Bar Mitzvah and he helped perform my mikvah. He has been my friend for as long as I can remember and is practically family at this point.
He has recently had health issues and our entire congregation has been praying for him. He has been recovering and we are so thankful. He has done so much for our congregation and for my family. God has blessed us by allowing us to know him.
So here are few things I learned about Jeff during an interview. At the end of January was Jeff's 55th spiritual birth day. Growing up as a Jewish believer in Messiah, there were no Messianic Synagogues until he was about twelve years old. His family went to churches, while grateful for them, he felt out of place. There was no way to express his Jewish identity. Even his relatives treated him, his parents, and siblings like the black sheep. They had to learn to relate to them better and many of them became believers including his grandparents.
As a senior in high school Jeff had people already prophesying over his life and ministry. Jeff attended a seminary in Chicago. As a senior in college he began to feel a sense of satisfaction about the plans for his life. I asked Jeff why he thought youth ministry was so important and his response was pretty simple, '' because those lives matter.'' He went on to explain how youth are making major decisions about their lives and its important for them to start making them right. I also asked Jeff how he would guide a young person who is considering ministry as a profession. He said he would encourage them to think about their interests, talents, and gifts. God will use those interests, talent, and gifts to complete his will.
So I encourage those who read this to try and get to know your Rabbi, your youth leaders or other congregational leaders. God gave them the positions they're in for a reason and they can help you on your spiritual journey.
Going to college is a big transition. You go from seeing your family every single day, to about every other week or every once in a while. While living at college you gain a lot more freedom than you might have asked for. At first it’s great because there’s no parents and you’re literally on your own, doing your own thing. But then you realize that you are literally on your own.
Your first semester is what I would like to call your free trial, because everything is completely new and you have to train yourself to adapt to the college life. One thing I want to stress is that in my experience high school really did not prepare me for college. If you are like me you can relate to this: In high school, basically you had it pretty easy, nothing was really all that challenging, you could still easily have a social life, and do what you want to do without worrying about your grades going into a crisis. But in college? Oh no, that’s a whole different story, you are basically thrown into the deep end of a pool and you have to teach yourself how to swim. You have to actually learn how to be an adult. And one of the biggest characteristics of being an adult is managing your time, which is one of the hardest skills to learn, especially when you’re taking all these classes that are most likely harder than you are used to. College asks for a lot of your time and energy if you really want good grades, and it can get really stressful. It’s really all about sitting down and reflecting with yourself on how you function and what you can do to set yourself up for success.
Now, we are human, we are not perfect. But when you bring God with you to college, He can and will make a way for you to be successful. That’s the number one key. God doesn’t want to see you fail, He only wants to see you succeed. As long as you learn to be consistent it’ll work out, because consistency is key. Don’t slack, because once you start slacking, things pile up, and then they become very overwhelming, and you find yourself always rushing, and doing things last minute. One thing I learned in my first semester is to be intentional, proactive, and to have a positive mindset ALL THE TIME. Once you give a little bit of room to negativity, it will eventually unpack all of its bags and move into your life, and it won’t be pretty.
Also, have confidence in yourself that you can do it, because you can. You are more than a conqueror through Yeshua who loves us (Romans 8:37). Always give yourself a pep talk, and speak positive things into existence, like “I will pass this test, I will get this homework done, I will be successful.” Also, reach out to people for help, prayer, or someone you can trust to talk to, like a mentor. Life is a learning experience, and we grow every day. Don’t let life knock you down, always remember that God is on your side.
John 8:32 reads, “ And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. ” Recently, the Lord has been putting the concept of spiritual breakthrough on my heart. The idea of “breakthrough” as mentioned here is vague. But to each person, it is personal and very specific. To some, breakthrough might be salvation. To others, it might be freedom from debt. To another, it might be throwing off the chains of fear. The list of possibilities is never-ending. But with the power of the Lord, that which binds you or your loved one is not never-ending.
The strongest way to combat chains and achieve breakthrough is by the truth of God’s Word. As John 8:32 says, it is the truth of the Scripture – the very words of God – that sets us free. Chains fall when we cling to the hope of God’s promises. Breakthrough happens when we seek God’s will and rest our confidence in Him. In addition, prayer is a powerful weapon against that which holds us captive. When we pray the truth of Scripture, we claim the promises of God by releasing them back to Him. “The prayer of a righteous man has great power to prevail.” (James 5:16) The prayers we pray bring great breakthrough in our lives because of the power of the Ruach.
The things which hold us captive have no place in our lives. We must surrender anything and everything which holds a place in our heart that God should have. Whether it’s the salvation of a family member, debt that is holding you down, fear that keeps you from sharing the powerful hope in Yeshua, or anything else, those strongholds must be given to the Lord in truth and in prayer. And with the power of the Ruach, you will see breakthrough happen powerfully in your life and in the lives of those around you.
There are multiple instances of breakthrough in my life. In one, God came to me before I even knew what breakthrough looked like; in another, I persevered in prayer until I saw change. I used to be gripped by fear. I was terrified to speak up in class, I barely talked to new people unless I had to, and I only spoke in front of others if it was absolutely necessary. This was a time when I was very new to having a relationship with the Lord (I had been a believer for a long time, but I was only then learning what it meant to have a genuine relationship with God). As I grew closer to Him, I realized that fear had no place in my life. One day, I was worshiping during a youth group event, and God gripped my heart with the verse 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Breakthrough began there, and has continued ever since. By holding onto the promises of God’s Word, I was able to take the steps towards committing that fear to God. Every time I would get nervous, I would remind myself that the Lord is in control, and that I don’t have to be afraid. More recently, I have struggled with jealousy and comparison towards another person. I began by praying, asking the Lord to help me love that person and to clothe myself in humility. God continued to convict me of my thoughts towards this person, and at one point (also during a worship service) the worship leader asked us to go to someone to receive prayer. I confided in a friend, and she prayed over me. God used her to speak truth into my life: I am worthy and I am loved, and by using my heart to compare myself or to be jealous of someone else, I was giving away parts of my heart that God wanted to use. Since then, I have been dedicated to praying for and choosing humility in my everyday thoughts and actions. Breakthrough occurred in my life because of God’s truth and because of prayer, and I have learned that breakthrough doesn’t occur only in one moment. It is defined by God gripping our hearts, us submitting to Him, and continuously choosing His way day-by-day, moment-by-moment. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
Reading God’s word isn’t about how much you read every day, but rather what you get from it.
Matthew 4:4 – “But He replied, “it is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
It doesn't have to be, "I need to read five chapters, then I'm done." If that works for you there's nothing wrong with that, but I think it's important to slow down sometimes. No need to rush through. There’s nothing wrong with only reading 1 or 2 verses or chapters at a time, then give yourself time to process and grasp what you’ve read. There’s so much more to God’s word than what’s written on the page.
What Does it mean?
When you read God’s word, take time to understand it. Sit and think about what it means, and ask God what it means or what He meant by it. Then consider how you can apply it to your life. While doing this, you’ll start to see things in scripture that you've never noticed or understood before. The words start to unravel, and pieces start to fall into place.
Psalm 119:130 – “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”
Dwell on it
•To live as a resident; reside.
•To exist in a given place or state.
•To fasten one's attention on something.
Now that you have come to understand the word, take even more time to dwell on it. Dwell on it all day, or even the rest of the week (longer if you want to). Let it seep into your heart, let it transform you. Go back and reread things, something new might catch your eye (or heart), something you may not have seen before, revealing new things to you. Dwelling on God’s word is incredible.
Daniel 2:21-22 – “--He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things. --”
Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Isaiah 40:8 – “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”
Psalm 33:4 – “For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “All scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for restoration, and for training in righteousness, so that the person belonging to God may be capable, fully equipped for every good deed.”
Good News! There’s even more.
John 1:1-18 – “In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made through Him, and apart from Him nothing was made that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it. There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that through him everyone might believe. He was not the light, but he came to bear witness concerning the light. The true light, coming into the world, gives light to every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him; but the world did not know Him. He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him. But whoever did receive Him, those trusting in His name, to these He gave the right to become children of God. They were born not of a bloodline, nor of human desire, nor of man’s will, but of God. And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. We looked upon His glory, the glory of the one and only from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testifies about Him. He cried out, saying, “This is He of whom I said, ‘The One who comes after me is above me, because He existed before me.’” Out of His fullness, we have all received grace on top off grace. Torah was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Yeshua the Messiah. No one has ever seen God; but the one and only God, in the Father’s embrace, has made Him known.”
Dwell on that….
~ Proverbs 27: 17 ~
As iron sharpens iron,
so a person sharpens the countenance of his friend.
by Nicole Varner
“‘For I know the plans that I have in mind for you,’ declares Adonai, ‘plans for shalom and not calamity-to give you a future and a hope.’” Jeremiah 29:11
God has known you for your entire life, even before you, your parents or their parents even existed. He knows what will happen in your future, and He knows what choices you’ve made that led to where you are now. You may not like where you are at now, whether that be spiritually, mentally or physically, but that’s okay. God has a plan for your life, and the low points that you are experiencing now are just growing pains. God never said following Him would be easy, and I’ve seen people leave their faith for that exact reason. What they don’t understand is that going through hardships while relying on God is so much easier than figuring it out yourself. Although, to rely on God during hard times requires a great deal of patience and patience requires trust. If you can’t trust God to have your back, it becomes very difficult to wait.
It is so easy to become impatient when you have all the pressures of this world lying on your shoulders. Whether those pressures are deadlines, drama at school or work, or feeling stuck in a bad life, God wants us to rely on Him. He wants us to trust that He has our life in His hands, and He’s not going to let go. Remember this, He loved you before you ever loved Him. When you’re struggling and you feel like no one is on your side, trust that God is there. He has a tendency of taking broken people or horrible events and turning them into something better than you could ever imagine.
A lot of excuses I’ve heard recently about following God seem to consist of the same main idea: “Why would I want to follow a God who lets bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people?” That is definitely one of the harder subjects to address. We don’t live in a perfect world and because of that bad things do happen to good people and vice versa, but that gives us even more of a reason to follow God. There is a huge difference between going out into the world and trying to depend on yourself or others for answers to your problems, rather than depending on God. To rely on God requires a lot of patience and trust, which both sadly, are not very common character traits that people have nowadays.
Yeshua said that we are to have a childlike faith, and I can attest to that statement. The more you trust in God to take care of you, He will. For me it’s as simple as asking God for an easy/good day when I wake up in the morning. Sometimes that day isn’t easy or good at all, but looking back on those days, I see how God used those struggles to help me grow in my faith. Recently, God had been testing me on my ability to have patience. It is definitely an important quality to have. When I am patient I have to trust God knows what He’s doing, and something better will come along not in my time, but in His.
When you do finally give yourself completely to God, you begin to learn more about yourself and grow into a better relationship with Him. God wants you to go to Him immediately when something goes wrong because that is true faith and trust. The other morning, as I was getting ready for school, I misplaced my phone. I was already running late because I didn’t hear my alarm so I was in a hurry to find in. I usually put it down on a table or dresser while I’m getting ready so I look in places it should’ve been. During my frantic search I had a thought go across my brain, “pray”. So I paused took a minute and asked God if would help me remember where I put my phone. After I asked, I slowed down and got the rest of my stuff ready to go for school, and as I’m going to grab my book bag, I think, “maybe I put it in my bag.” Sure enough I open my bag and there it was. God has a funny sense of humor because the verses of the day on my bible app came from Matthew 7:7-8 which say, “‘Ask, and it shall be given to you. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives, and the one who seeks, finds, and to the one who knocks, it shall be opened.’”
I find that it’s the little things that help you grow in your faith. From those little things God strengthens your relationship with Him, and as you grow He tests you to keep that relationship strong. Whether He’s testing your patience, humility, gentleness, or goodness, know that it is for a good cause and He’s probably trying to get your attention so you can change to be more like Him.
An extremely powerful chapter that clearly instructs us how to live by loving others, using the gifts G-d has given us and being an example by letting others see G-d’s light and goodness through us.
dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to G-d because
of all He has done for you. Let them be
a living and holy sacrifice–the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him.
Whoa! Do you hear this? Our bodies are a sacrificial offering to G-d! They are given to Him as a form of worship. How are we going to present ourselves to the one true and holy G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Should our bodies be something that we take care of and keep pure and clean to be able to present to our L-rd? Or is it okay to give something less than perfect to G-d? He’s given us everything we could ever imagine out of love, so shouldn’t we do our best to give Him something He can declare is worthy and acceptable?
See also: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the will of G-d—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
When we hear or think about this verse, the first thing that usually comes to mind is how we present ourselves to others. But, the verse says, “ the renewing of your mind, ” so it’s not only about conforming the way we act with other people, but also our mindset. Do you need to change the way you think? Pretty much everybody should say yes to that; we shouldn’t have pride, selfishness, jealousy, or stubbornness. There are so many other things that we need to train our minds not to think like so that we can try to get as close as possible to have a mindset and attitude of Messiah. This is something that we should definitely be praying and asking G-d to help us with; He loves to see His children coming to Him for help!
Ezekiel 11:11-12, Matthew 16:26
3 Because of the grace (privilege and authority) G-d has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith G-d has given you.
This ties in with the last verse. We really should not have a proud or arrogant spirit. Now, I know that this something easier said than done; I have really struggled with this in the past (even now it’s something that I need to keep myself in check about). But when you really think about it, what can we truly be proud about that we accomplished completely on our own? Nothing. Everything we have done or achieved has been given to us by G-d to be a part of His perfect plan. We are all equals in G-d’s eyes, so why should we think differently?
2 Corinthians 10:17
4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5so it is with the body of Messiah. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
These verses are so powerful! Okay, I know what you might be thinking: “this is common knowledge!” or “I’ve heard this before!” But have you ever really thought about what that means? This means we all have to work together and build each other up! You’ve most likely heard the phrase, “A team is only as good as its weakest player.” Well, it’s the same in out ‘team’ that makes up the body of Messiah! If you see another believe really falling behind and struggling with something, go talk to them and share the burden; encourage them with the word of G-d and work together so that you can learn from each other and do the best job possible for G-d.
(Sorry! I had to add this in; it just fit in perfectly! Mulan can always be related J )
6 In His grace, G-d has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if G-d has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as G-d has given you. 7If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If G-d has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
G-d has so graciously given us these wonderful gifts! Now, when parents (or really anybody) give you a present, do they give the same thing to everyone else? Not usually, if they know you really well, they will most likely shape the gift to fit you. And if other people do it, surely G-d will do so much more for us. From the very beginning of time, G-d knew exactly what gifts you would have and how you would use them, how amazing is that? For that reason, we should never be afraid to use our gifts; G-d has given them to us for a purpose. Just like the gifts others give us are meant to be used, we are encouraged to use these spiritual gifts to the fullest! We should also cultivate our gifts and ask G-d to show us how to use them to help reach out to others.
Deuteronomy 16:16-17, 1 Peter 4:10
9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tight to what is good. 10Love each other with genuine affection (brotherly love), and take delight in honoring each other.G-d calls us all to be lovers. Now, as I’m sure you know, this isn’t like falling in love with someone; it’s more of an act than a feeling. If people went around and just thought, “I love this person,” how will that other person receive that love if there is no action along with the thought? We can’t read other people’s minds, so we have to love others through actions and words. Share the word of G-d—this is HUGE , the best way we can love others is to show them G-d’s love)—or lend a helping hand. Build each other up. Hate what G-d hates and love what He loves. “How do I know what G-d loves and hates?” The best way to know what those things are is to read and know His word; He made it clear and not confusing so that it is easy to understand. * Remember: hate the sin, not the sinner! *
Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:37-50, Romans 13:8-10
11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the L-rd enthusiastically.
This verse needs to be a daily reminder to some of us. There are so many times that I get so lazy—or even distracted—and I end up putting off working on the things that I’m supposed to do (sound familiar?). But G-d clearly states that that is not something we should be doing. Even going to school or work is an opportunity to be a light and show G-d’s love to others; so we shouldn’t even be lazy when it comes to those things. As difficult as it seems, this verse even goes so far as to say do it enthusiastically. Everything we do should be for the L-rd, and we should do that gladly and enthusiastically; there is not room for laziness. Especially now that we are getting closer to the return of Messiah. Really, we never want to be lazy because Yeshua will come like a thief in the night, so we need to be ready for Him and give Him the welcome He deserves. Do we want to sleep through His return (kind of like the disciples in Matthew 26)? Or say, “Sorry G-d, I just didn’t feel like doing your works”? That’s a big no. Now, we aren’t perfect, so sometimes we might fall into the temptation of being lazy. The best thing to do is to pray for G-d to help us resist the temptation of laziness and weakness of spirit (His word tells us He will never give us more than we can handle).
Proverbs 26:13-16/19:15, Matthew 26:40-41
12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.
We have so much to hope for! For the return of Yeshua, for living in eternity with G-d, for the opportunity to reach out to the millions of lost souls, for the enemy to be defeated, and for leaving behind all evil to be surrounded by goodness in heaven. And not only should we hope, we should rejoice about it! Jump for joy with your hope and knowledge of what is to come! But, while we joyfully hope and wait, we will face many trials. This is where prayer and patience come in. If we don’t remember to have hope, patience and prayer, our short time in trials will be so much harder. They work together and we cannot let go of them.
Psalm 25:5/28:7, Proverbs 23:17-18, Jeremiah 29:11-13, James 1:12-15, 1 Peter 1:5-9
13 When G-d’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
This is another way to show your love to others (notice a pattern?). Like the Good Samaritan, when we see others in need, we should reach out and lend a hand to help in whatever way we can. We should always be grateful that G-d has chosen us to know Him and have eternal life. With this knowledge, it shouldn’t be a chore to help others in need that don’t have as much as we do. It could be a way to lead them to the greatest gift—Yeshua. We should be ready to help in whatever way needed (spiritually, physically, or even mentally). G-d has already given us so much, so it is our duty to love others and help when needed.Deuteronomy 15:11, Proverbs 14:21/14:31, Matthew 6:1-4
14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that G-d will bless them.
Yet another verse that ties into loving others (seems important). Even the people who curse you—who may even hate you—need your love. Again, even though it might be hard, “ Don’t just pretend to love [them]. Really love them. ” More times than not, these people are really just lost, confused and hurting. You can love them by praying for that G-d blesses them with being able to knowing Him so that they might be saved. Just shower them in love (keep this in mind; comes again in a few verses J).
15 Be happy with those who are happy and weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! 17Never pay back evil with more evil. Do such things in a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18Do all you can to live in peace with everyone.
Like in verse 3, don’t be proud and arrogant; G-d can teach us lessons through anything, so be content wherever G-d puts you (with whoever and whatever). G-d really just wants us to live in unity with one another and not let the petty things of this world distract us from eternal life with Him. A way to be a role model to others who might need the guidance is to show G-d’s light and be honorable. If you can help it, don’t let anyone be able to say something bad about you (things that are true—sometimes people may be cruel and spread lies, but you can’t help that and the only thing you can do is pray for them and the situation). Even though G-d is the only judge, we can pull people in if we always act in goodness, mercy and kindness. Act in integrity and be honorable so that people can see G-d’s light in you, which can lead them to Him.
Psalm 48:11, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, 1 Peter 3:8-12
19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of G-d. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the L-rd (Deuteronomy 32:35). 20Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads” (Proverbs 25:21-22). 21Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
We have a holy and just G-d. He will give to everyone what he or she deserves. It is not our place to give them our own form or thoughts of justice. If we act out in revenge, then we are no better than them and there will be consequences. We can also show G-d’s love by “ [blessing] those who persecute [us] ”. When people wrong you, they expect a reaction and retaliation, so it can melt or change their hearts if they receive love and kindness instead of anger and bitterness.
Leviticus 19:18, Jeremiah 25:14, 1 Peter 3:13-14, Revelation 2:23
I hope this touches your heart and that you go forth loving others and seeking help from G-d when you need it!Love, Sarah
Founded in 2014, Keren Ohr Messianic Synagogue has served the Savannah, Georgia region for almost two years. It has grown from a small attendance of around 20 people to a consistent attendance of 50 people a week. Rabbi Jude Caracelo and his family moved from Melbourne, Florida and its synagogue, Kol Mashiach, to start Keren Ohr. I asked Rabbi Caracelo a few questions about his experience in starting and running a brand new synagogue, and about how he became a leader.
Noah Caracelo: What compelled you to start Keren Ohr, and why did you choose Savannah, Georgia?
Rabbi Caracelo: My wife and I knew we were called to
ministry. I was the Assistant Rabbi in my home synagogue in Florida. We knew at
some point we would lead a congregation. We had been looking at several
options, but the "Gideon's fleece" for me was finding a secular job
in my field. A perfect job opened up in Savannah, GA and with prayer and
discussion we felt that we needed to move to Savannah and start Keren Ohr.
NC: What challenges did you face when making Keren Ohr a reality?
RC: The biggest challenge initially was getting the word out about our new congregation. We knew only a handful of people when we started Keren Ohr. We relied heavily (and still do) on social media and a good website. But it took some time to get the synagogue off the ground. The Lord brought us a couple of Messianic families who had moved to Savannah just before us. With our three families we launched the congregation.
NC: What is a typical Keren Ohr service like?
RC: A typical service consists of praise and worship, Jewish
liturgy and a message. Those are the three basic elements. We try for a mix of
traditional Messianic and Jewish music and contemporary songs. The liturgy is
not extensive but we incorporate the well known pieces (Sh'ma, Ma Tovu, Etz
Chaim He). The messages are all about applying what the Bible says to our every
NC: What do you do every week to prepare for the service?
RC: For my message, I spend several hours a week preparing. I do sermon series, usually lasting from three to eight weeks. For each message, I have a stand alone point or points based on a passage of scripture related to that series. I have a lot of commentaries that I glean from, but my preparation is mostly prayer, pouring over the text for that week, and laying out a clear point or points for the listener.
NC: How do you foster a sense of community in your congregation?
RC: We have several events throughout the year to build community. Monthly men's fellowship/sisterhood meetings, youth meetings, picnics, and special services all play a part in this.
NC: Why did you choose to become a ministry leader?
RC: I did not initially set out to become a Rabbi or leader. I was very content to work in the business world and raise my family. However, the Lord started working on me when I was about 32 years old to go into ministry. During the next several years, the Lord prepared me in many ways, including study and dying to myself. I can truly say I was called and I did not choose.
NC: Did you have any other leadership positions before starting Keren Ohr?
RC: Yes, I was a youth leader, men's group leader, worship leader, and Assistant Rabbi before starting the congregation.
NC: What advice would you give someone who is looking to get into ministry?
RC: Learn as much as you can from your Rabbi and other leaders the Lord has put over you. Even if you don't have the opportunity to formally learn under them, watch how they handle situations and work through life in the ministry. You will be surprised at how much you will draw on that learning when/if you go into ministry. The other advice I can give is continually work to die to your flesh about being a leader. What I mean by that is pride is an insidious thing, and we all have to be careful to stay humble. Remember, it's not about you - it's all about God. He gave you the gifts you have and He will allow you to be placed in ministry if it is His will. Practice humility and seek His face continually. Ask Him if you should be in ministry and wait on Him. Our timing is never the Lord's timing. You may think you are ready for ministry, but God will open the door to it when it is the right time.
You can get more information about Keren Ohr Messianic Synagogue, including directions, events, contact information, and message recordings, at shalomsavannah.com.
“If you, LORD, kept a record of sins,
LORD, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
So that we can, with reverence, serve you.
You don’t have to hate yourself. You don’t have to live in the past. You’ve sinned. You’ve made plenty of mistakes in your life. But did you know that it’s okay? Your glorious Messiah has forgiven you. It’s alright to have regrets. Thinking over your mistakes can serve to motivate you to do better. But don’t let the enemy beat you over the head with something that God has forgiven.
Sin is your past. It’s everyone’s past. None of us are capable of a sinless life. I have spent many sleepless nights thinking of my mistakes, and reliving every moment of shame. This kept me from being free to look forward to the future and loving God. The enemy will use any means of keeping us in bondage, and he loves to keep us living in the past, where we are completely ineffective at serving God.
We have to live in humility, realizing that we have all sinned, and He loved us enough to forgive us. But don’t let your past keep you from moving forward.