Thursday, August 31, 2017
At our Shabbat gathering on September, 2nd, we will receive an offering for Messianic Congregations in Houston. 100% of the money designated for "Houston Messianic Congregations" will go to help people in messianic congregations in Houston. If you would like to give to this fund, above your regular tithes and offerings, you can write a check to Restoration or you give cash in an envelope and designate it for "Houston" this Shabbat. If you would like to give online or through the Restoration App use "Houston Messianic Congregations" in the drop down menu. Click here to give now!
There are a few messianic congregations in the Houston area and many people have had floods, fires and various other hardships this back weekend with Hurricane Harvey and weather that followed. We can help! Please pray and ask the Lord, how much should I give?
We have joined a growing group of over 11 Messianic Congregations who are supporting our friends in Houston. See you on Shabbat!
Saturday, August 19, 2017
A Time of Rest & Renewal
As our past seven years have played out together, I’ve learned of other pastor/shepherds who have hit crisis points in their lives and had to go into crisis mode to address it. While I am not at the point of burnout, I’ve been listening and wanting to learn, recognizing that I am, in no way, exempt from the possibilities that led to my colleagues’ situations.
I have been strongly encouraged by many leaders in my life to consider times and seasons of rest and renewed investment into self, and I want to let you know that I, with the blessing of the staff and board of our synagogue, have decided to take a sabbatical of fourteen weeks from September 23 to the end of December.
Our board has been planning and discussing this sabbatical for the last three years. We have been preparing and seeking God as to how it would work and what it would look like.
I want to be among you as Rabbi for a long time. Seven years in, I want to at least double our time together. I love you and want to walk with you. The truth for any of us is the truth of my life: we belong to the Lord Yeshua, and we are called to obedience. With that in mind, my life is not my own, but I’ve told the Lord that I would love to stay on mission in his kingdom at Restoration for many more years to come. And we want those years to be healthy. So I take this sabbatical as a release to the Lord for more to come, believing that there is an expansion coming both personally and corporately.
Here’s the truth: I have so loved walking among you for seven years that I want to do everything in my power to be ready for more.
It has been said, “A ministry sabbatical is a release from the routine of the call for the physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual well-being of the ministry leader.” And I am hoping for God to do more than I can imagine with this time.
It started with my family coming to lead Beit Messiah seven years ago and then our name change and replanting of Restoration almost four years ago. I have come to love the city of Seattle and I love what God is doing in our congregation. I believe that in this past year our leadership has made some serious strides to prepare our synagogue for unprecedented growth. I am convinced that a time of rest, renewal of relationship with Yeshua, deepening of my roots, time with my family, and time to write will help prepare me for the next phase of ministry.
What will I do in my time away?
The sabbatical will begin with four weeks with my family in Jerusalem, which will include Yom Kippur and Sukkot. I am very excited for this opportunity for my family to celebrate the High Holy Days in Jerusalem, a commandment in the Torah, and help my family grow in our Jewish identity as followers of Yeshua. Following our time in Jerusalem we will spend two weeks in New York with my parents, which lets be honest is mostly for pizza and bagels.
The rest of the sabbatical will be in Seattle with one trip for Laura and I away from our children and a trip by myself to be with my best friend in Philly. We will not attend Restoration during this time but will participate in a variety of other congregations for our edification as a family.
For the majority of the fourteen weeks, I will spend the mornings writing a book on the Jewish context of Peter and Paul in the book of Acts from the series I preached recently. I also have several books that I will be reading on rest, spiritual growth, and healthy leadership during the sabbatical.
There are several leaders in my life that I will remain accountable to during my sabbatical and I hope to have made some serious progress in writing, hearing God’s voice, dreaming for the future, and listening to the Holy Spirit.
What will Restoration do in my time away?
I am excited for Aybars Uckun to lead our synagogue during this time. Aybars has proven to be a faithful follower of Yeshua, a devoted husband and father, a constant encourager, and an excellent preacher of the Word of God. This experience will be an incredible opportunity for Aybars to grow as a leader. Please trust him, love him, and help him serve the Lord to the best of his ability. The board of Restoration along with Aybars will not make any major decisions without me during this time as our budget, preaching, and ministry plans will be set for 2018 before I leave at the end September.
Starting after the High Holy Days we will begin a year of following the Torah and Haftarah cycle. Aybars will preach three different series through the book of Genesis. When I return in January we will go through the book of Exodus and will continue through September of 2018 going through the Torah readings. If you are not familiar with the Torah cycle, you can look it up on the Restoration app by clicking on the “Torah Readings Tab.” We will also have paper copies of the yearly cycle available after the High Holy Days at the Connect table in the lobby.
To help Aybars do more than just preach during these 14 weeks, we have invited four local pastors to speak, between series, into the life of our congregation. These four pastors - Chris Manginelli, Matt Elser, Brad Barshaw, and Mike Labrum - are trusted friends and excellent preachers, and they have agreed to speak into the life of Restoration in this season.
We are better together!
Let me say again, I am not burnt out and I am not leaving Restoration. My desire and prayer to God is that I will be in Seattle, in ministry, for a very long time and this sabbatical is a preventative measure to keep me in ministry for many years to come.
I love you and I am grateful to God for calling me, like Abraham, to leave the land of my fathers (New York) and come to a place I know not (Seattle). It will be difficult to disconnect for these 14 weeks, but I am believing that God will renew me in a fresh way that can only come from disconnecting from the pressures of doing ministry, so that I can be ministered to.
I invite you to pray for me, as I will continue to pray for you, during this sabbatical. Please be in prayer for Aybars and our board as they take on more ministry in my absence. Also, pray for our community that God will encourage us and renew us for the next season of what we hope will be a time of significant growth. Pray that we will see many people, Jew and Gentile, come to know Yeshua and learn what it means to become fully devoted followers of our Messiah.
As a side note, I am hopeful that the NBA and the Supersonics will return to Seattle soon after my sabbatical, and we can all join in prayer for that! Can I get an “Amen!” (don’t try to crush my dreams).
This I know for sure: the best is yet to come for our synagogue, and more than ever, we are better together! I love this family that God has given me and I can't thank you enough for your support in this time of rest, renewal, and writing.
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Thursday, June 15, 2017
Dear Restoration Family,
I wanted to fill you on some leadership changes at Restoration. After 5 years as a board member and Elder, Dan Behrens decided to step down because of the distance that he and his family drive to be a part of our congregation. It became increasingly difficult for Dan to fill his role as an Elder because he could not participate in a Connect Group or meet with people during the week. We are so grateful to Dan for all that he has done for our community. We are all in agreement that stepping down as an Elder was best for his family and for Restoration.
Our goal is to always have at least five people on our Board of Directors, with a higher number of lay leaders than staff members. Aybars Uckun and myself will remain as Elders and staff of Restoration.
Kelly Uckun has been serving as our Treasurer & Secretary since January. She is doing an amazing job performing other executive functions as needed and keeping track of the congregation's finances as well!
In April, we asked P.K. White to rejoin our leadership as a Board Member in a transitional role. He will serve in this capacity until January of 2018. We are glad to welcome him back and are grateful for his commitment and for his servant's heart.
In May, Janet Cothrell joined us as a Board Member until at least January 2018. Janet is a great addition to our team and has been a faithful and committed member of this community for well over a decade. Her wisdom and practical counsel are a blessing to our Board.
These additions will ensure that we will continue to meet the standards we have set for the Board and help us to fulfill our mission, to lead people to become fully devoted followers of Yeshua. Please pray that each of these leaders and their families experience God's provision, protection, and divine wisdom.
I have no doubt that the best is yet to come for Restoration! Yeshua is alive and we have much to celebrate as we press into the work God has called us to. We are really excited for this summer and coming fall and believe in the months and years to come Adonai will bless our community by bringing growth to the number of families that attend and our congregation's finances. Growth in these two areas will continue to help our community be a blessing to not only our city, but to Israel and the rest of the world as well! We believe God has incredible things in store for all who are connected to our synagogue.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact myself, Aybars, Kelly, PK or Janet. We love our synagogue and all that God is doing here!
In Yeshua and on behalf of Restoration's Board of Directors,
Thursday, May 18, 2017
|Some of our Team|
In Masvingo, Zimbabwe at a medical clinic with Jewish Voice Ministries International (JVMI) the extraordinary happened, again. This was my fourth medical clinic with JVMI, and honestly it moved slower at the start than the previous clinics I had been on. By Wednesday night I had resigned myself to not having a single amazing moment. For context, on my first trip sang the Aaronic Benediction over 700 Ethiopian pastors in the old African Union in Ethiopia and then again over 1500 people in the new African Union. Amazing. On my second trip, I preached the Gospel to an entire Beta-Israel village near Tach Gayint, Ethiopia and saw the whole village come to faith in Yeshua. What?! Ridiculous. On my third trip, this time to Zimbabwe, a young woman came with manifestations from a demon that would confuse her so much that she would go into a type of walking sleep and wake up lost; once, she woke up to find herself standing in a fire, her foot and leg burnt as a result. She came to the clinic clearly manifesting without control, and in the power of the name of Yeshua we were able to set her free. I had the chance to lead not only her, but her extended family to Yeshua, her father saying the words at the end, “We will follow the God that set her free from this demon.” I know, it sounds like a Bible story! Why does the Lord let me experience such amazing things? I am not sure, but I am grateful for the opportunities He gives me.
|Messianic Congregation in Masvingo, Zimbabwe|
On these trips, we open the clinic on Sunday afternoon (half day) and close them at noon on Friday (ends with a half day). Altogether the clinic is open 5 full days, so by the time we get to Wednesday night there is only a day-and-a-half left and we begin to finish the clinic. So, on my fourth trip, again in Zimbabwe, we came to Wednesday night. Based on history, I expect at least one major thing to happen. Don't get me wrong - I am not saying that this is the way it has to be, and I try to bring no expectation of what will happen on these trips. But at the same time, I live by the promise that God will do more than I can hope or imagine, and if you know me at all you know I can imagine pretty big.
On Thursday morning, I preached a sermon at the morning meeting for our international volunteers and local workers out of Exodus 14 and 15. The story follows the exodus of Israel from Egypt after 400 years of slavery and the parting of the Sea of Reeds where Israel walks through on dry land, and then the waters crash on the pursuing Egyptians and their chariots, drowning the enemies of Israel. The end of Exodus 14 reads, “So Adonai saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. When Israel saw the great work that Adonai did over the Egyptians, the people feared Adonai, and they believed in Adonai and in His servant Moses.” Then in Exodus 15 Moses sings a song to the Lord,
I will sing to Adonai, for He is highly exalted!
The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea.
Adonai is my strength and song,
and He has become my salvation.
This is my God, and I will glorify Him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.
Adonai is a warrior—Adonai is His Name!
Pharaoh’s chariots and his army
He has hurled into the sea,
and his chosen captains have sunk
into the Sea of Reeds. (Exodus 15:1-4)
The enemy said, “I will pursue,
I will overtake, I will divide the spoil.
My lust shall gorge on them!
I will draw my sword—my hand will destroy them.”
You blew with Your wind, the sea covered them.
They sank like lead in the mighty waters.
Who is like You, Adonai, among the gods?
Who is like You,
glorious in holiness,
awesome in praises,
doing wonders? (Exodus 15:9-11)
|People waiting for prayer|
I shared these verses at our morning meeting to encourage everyone to finish well. I wanted them to know that though the people we were ministering to were facing despair and darkness, the God of Israel wanted them to experience hope and light. That we came not just to help them physically but to show them Yeshua, and much like Israel crossing the Sea of Reeds we had already seen God do amazing things and that we can believe that in our last day-and-a-half in Zimbabwe our God was willing to do more than we can hope or imagine. I preached hard. I preached well. I needed to hear it myself for what was about to happen that afternoon.
On Wednesday evening we got a call that a local prison wanted to send some prisoners to receive care at the clinic. On Thursday afternoon, twenty three of them came in a giant military-style bus with no windows. Handcuffed to the guy next to them and surrounded by armed officers, we needed to make sure they didn't interact with the general population of our clinic. Our team did a great job of getting these guys around the clinic to receive care. We cleared out one of the tents so we could gather all of these guys together and share the Gospel with them. They all sat quietly waiting, still handcuffed to the guy next to them; and with a translator this is what I told them…
“We are so glad that you are here and that we have had the opportunity to serve you guys. You need to know that Yeshua our Messiah was crucified with two criminals. One chose to mock Yeshua and the other asked to be remembered. I know you feel forgotten but you need to know that we have not forgotten you, and more importantly the God who formed you in your mother’s womb has not forgotten you either. Although you live in a cell, God wants to set your hearts and souls free, today. He can set you free if you ask Him to forgive you of your sins and accept Yeshua as God and Savior.”
|Prisoners, officers, translators and prayer team|
More than I can hope or imagine?! You better believe it. I don't plan these amazing moments on these trips but my God does. He just asks that I show up and trust Him. It is not even just about the one big moment, it’s about the amazing doctors, dentists, nurses, international volunteers, and local workers that make it possible to help over 9,600 people, to pray for 2,399 people, to see 322 people come to know Yeshua, and to see at least 18 verifiable healings in the name of Yeshua. We saw with our own eyes the lame walk, the blind see, the deaf hear and in this case at least 23 prisoners set free! The one big moment is my God’s way of putting a giant dollop of whip cream on top of the sundae.
Back in Seattle, I made a joke in a group of pastors that for some reason my ministry is more effective in Africa than in Seattle, and then I went into a few-day funk because, momentarily, I believed it. It took me several days to come around because I believed that lie. Ministry that I do is effective, not because of me, but because of the God I serve. Here is what I know for sure: my God does more than I can hope or imagine - in Africa, in Israel, in America, in Seattle, in my congregation, for my family, my marriage, my children, their school, our friends. My God wants to pull people out of darkness and despair and show them light and hope in the name of Yeshua. He wants to use me and YOU to do it. And if given the opportunity, He might just change your life, increase your faith, and allow you to do amazing things for His glory! Without doubt (okay, maybe enough doubt to give God room to do amazing things), I can say, “The best is yet to come.” For me, my family, Restoration, Seattle, Messianic Judaism, the larger body of Messiah (Church), and anyone from any nation, Jew or Gentile, who calls on the name of Yeshua!
Want to know more about Jewish Voice Ministries and medical outreaches?! Head over to https://www.jewishvoice.org/go/medical-outreaches
Want to know more about Jewish Voice Ministries and medical outreaches?! Head over to https://www.jewishvoice.org/go/medical-outreaches