Russ Resnik encountered Yeshua as Messiah in the early 70s as a young radical in the mountains of northern New Mexico. Later, he was drawn into the Messianic Jewish movement and founded Adat Yeshua, a Messianic congregation in Albuquerque, NM, which he led for nearly 20 years. Today, he serves as executive director of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC), an association dedicated to establishing, strengthening, and multiplying congregations for Yeshua within the wider Jewish community. Russ is ordained as a Messianic Rabbi through the UMJC and also maintains credentials as a clinical mental health counselor. He has an international speaking and teaching ministry, contributes regularly to Messianic Jewish publications, and is the author of Gateways to Torah: Joining the Ancient Conversation on the Weekly Portion,Creation to Completion: A Guide to Life’s Journey from the Five Books of Moses, and Divine Reversal: The Transforming Ethics of Jesus. Russ and his wife Jane live in Albuquerque and have four children and seven grandchildren.
Of all the biblical holidays, only Shavuot – the time of the giving of Torah – lacks a specific date. Instead of giving a month and a day as with other holidays, the Torah tells us to count forty-nine days from the offering of first fruits during Passover. Then on the fiftieth day we celebrate Shavuot.
My granddaughter Orli recently joined a Little League team for special needs kids and I went to the opening game. When her team got up to bat, most of the kids used a batting tee, but one of her teammates opted to have the coach pitch the ball to him. As the batter missed ball after ball, and the pace of the game slowed to a crawl, no one complained. Finally, after about seventeen strikes, he hit a grounder and headed off for first base, as everyone cheered—both teams and the parents sitting around to watch. It was easy to be patient because we knew that this game wasn’t about sizzling action and gripping entertainment, but about giving disabled kids a chance to play ball.
Every Bible student knows that separation is part of the key concept of holiness. Maybe we use separation as a euphemism because “holy” is not exactly a trendy or even friendly term. Can we even talk about it without sounding way too religious?
The story of Nadav and Avihu is one of the most troubling in the Torah, but it provides a vital insight into the real meaning of separation and the related term holiness.
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” — John 14:6
How do we square the words of Rabbi Lefin—“Do not allow anything to pass your lips that you are not certain is completely true”—with the question most dreaded by every husband or boyfriend—“Does this dress make me look fat?”
You will hear the noise of wars nearby and the news of wars far off; see to it that you don’t become frightened. Such things must happen, but the end is yet to come. For peoples will fight each other, nations will fight each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various parts of the world; all this is but the beginning of the ‘birthpains.’ Matt. 24:6–8
For my first few years as a follower of Yeshua I suffered from what one of my colleagues later diagnosed as end-times fever. And I wasn’t alone. Friends, mentors, the voices on the radio or cassette tapes—all were convinced that Messiah’s return was so near that we should devote all our energies to being ready and helping everyone we knew to get ready too, before it was too late.
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone. --Colossians 4:6
I’ve taken up power dog-walking lately. Jacky, my granddaughter’s golden retriever, is a noble beast, a trained service dog that stays in his service mode best when he’s walking really fast. Our own dog, Buddy, is a Jack Russell terrier (mostly) that we rescued when he was abandoned in our neighborhood. He’s much smaller than Jacky, but likes to keep the same 3.5-4 mph pace. At this clip, we’re all in the zone, focused on the walk itself and not too distracted by other dogs, in their case, or by mental wanderings, in mine.
A few years back, my son Daniel converted me away from bottled water. I had thought that drinking pure and healthy water was an act of environmental awareness, but he helped me see it the other way around. Spending resources to make little bottles that could only hold one long drink, to put water into those bottles, ship them all around the country, put them on shelves and sell them one by one, could hardly be corrected just by recycling the bottles after we used them. Better to stick with plain old tap water, or tap water we filter ourselves, and a reusable bottle that might last years.
Last week I was in Southern California, where I grew up and where my most of my family has always lived. One of my nephews had unearthed a box of old family photos that he is now copying and cataloging, including some of Jewish ancestors I can’t even identify for sure. Viewing pictures of my grandparents and parents and my own early years made for a melancholy day. My father has been gone for twelve years and my mother for seven and a half, but the photos made my sense of loss fresh. I’m an orphan. But viewing the pictures was a healthy thing too—it’s right, even if it’s sad, to remember those who’ve gone before us and how much they’ve given us. We would not be what we are without all the resources our forebears laid upon us.
I’ve been reading a great book on management — The Speed of Trust, by Stephen M. R. Covey. Trust, the book’s sub-title claims, is “the one thing that changes everything,” the key to success and effectiveness in every organization and relationship. The book lists thirteen behaviors that have been proven to build trust, including Behavior #8: “Confront Reality,” which sheds a lot of light on the trait of decisiveness.