But may all those who seek you be glad and take joy in you.
May those who love your Yeshua say continually, "Adonai is great and glorious!"
-from Psalm 40
From May 2002 through March 2003 I was the Intern Messianic Rabbi at Congregation Shema Yisrael. There I learned much about running a congregation, counseling, and how the IAMCS and MJAA were obeying God to create a Messianic Jewish movement and a Jewish subculture .
Then, under God's leading, I ran a small congregation in Eugene, Oregon from March 2004 until July 2007. It was named P'nei Adonai after the intensely refining presence of God. Within it a half-dozen core families strove to follow the first-century roots of our faith. With God's guidance and a lot of scholarship we slowly grew in our understanding of how to worship and how to see the world as Yeshua does. During those years our congregational activities evolved to look less like the Messianic Judaism I had been trained about and more like a contemplative first-century experience focusing on worship, discussion and discipleship.
Perhaps God will call me to resume ministry work at a future date.
These concept and parashot pages will eventually be updated. I know one of my "back burner" assignments from God is to go through all my old sermons and extract what is useful.
May Adonai bless you, watch over you, and grant you peace.
Yeshua asked people to become his disciples. This request had a specific meaning: we should learn to see the world and interact with God and people as he did. We should study his worldview and memorize his parables and sayings. We should follow his methods of worshipping and using scripture. We should think twice before departing from his manner of lifestyle.
The easiest way to begin studying Yeshua's worldview is to examine how scripture understands important concepts.
The Parashot are the traditional Jewish weekly Torah portions.
Each Parashot essay has two sections: "Notes" and "Traditional Jewish Commentary". The first collects the fruits of the congregation's discussion: insights we heard from God or shared with each other. The second shares some cultural "common knowledge" about each portion of scripture. In both parts references are included where appropriate and possible; unfortunately, both modern sermons and ancient Jewish tradition contain many instances of passing along commentary without proper referencing.
The Chabad calendar is a good resource to learn how the weekly portions are assigned to this calendar year.
Scripture classifies holy days in two ways. A holy day may be a moad (appointed time). If a moad, it may also be a chag (pilgrimage festival).
Whoever makes an appointment gets to set the agenda. If you make an appointment with your boss, you set the agenda. If your boss makes the appointment, he or she sets the agenda. The maodim (plural of moad) are when God has called the Jewish people, under the covenant of Sinai, to meet with him. On these days God sets the agenda. In the Torah, God tells us what should happen on these days.
There are also holidays that are not moadim, which are like parties thrown for God, in contrast to a meeting called by God.
The holidays that are a chag foreshadowed Yeshua's first coming, and teach about fearing God. The holidays that are not a chag foreshadow Yeshua's second coming, and teach about repentance.
Both moad and chag
Moad but not chag
Neither moad nor chag
Besides these pages about the scriptural holy days, while running a congregation people frequently asked me what I thought about Christmas.
Some day I will convert the old P'nei Adonai prayerbooks to web pages.
Here I collect some old religious essays.
All throughout history and scripture the Jewish people, including Yeshua's earliest disciples, often worshipped with using song and dance. With music and dance the entire body is involved in worship, allowing us to better worship God with all of our heart, soul, and mind.
The Kingdom of God includes much diversity. Since I have a Jewish background I can share how to be worshipful using Jewish culture's simplest circle dances. May familiarity with these dances allow you to better worship God!
Jewish dance is done in a circle, so no one has a partner and everyone can focus on God. (If there are many dancers then multiple concentric circles happen.) The choreography is very simple and repetitive, so participants can focus on worshipping instead of their feet.
Most of the dances I share here are "interchangeables" which can be done to any song with an appropriate tempo. There are also a few dances used for a few of the most traditional songs. (Jewish culture includes much more complicated interchangeable dances, but I am not sharing any of these because they require much practice to be able to use while maintianing a worshipful mind.)
The Classic Hora
Clap Your Hands
It is Good
It is Also Good
It is Simply Good
We Are Blessed
Arise and Jump
Lo Ahavti Dai
Ma Navu (4-count)
The Mod Deer
O Give Thanks
Ma Navu (3-count)
Bo Ruach Elohim
Hallelu Et Adonai
Heenay Ma Tov
RLOD and LLOD ("right line of dance" and "left line of dance"): The direction people move around the circle as they do the dance steps.
R and L ("right" and "left"): These single capital letters are only used to refer to which foot is doing the current dance step. In all other occasions the words "right" and "left" are spelled out.
Mayim (4 counts): The Mayim step is called a "grapevine" in most other folk dance. To do this to the right: cross the L foot in front of the right foot, step to the right with the R foot, cross the L foot behind the right foot, and step to the right with the R foot again. To do a Mayim to the left start with your R foot moving to the left crossing in front, and do the same "in front, sidestep, behind, sidestep" pattern. The Mayim step is often done holding hands; when done not holding hands then hands sway a bit, slightly crossing in front of and behind your body. The Mayim works best if your hips pivot, facing the direction you move with the first step and facing the opposite direction on the third step.
Tcherkessia (4 counts): Step forward with the R foot while raising hands to eye level with palms toward you; return weight to L foot which has not moved; step backward with R foot while letting arms swing down at your sides; return your wieght to L foot which still has not moved.
Yemenite (3 counts): To do a Right Yemenite first transfer your weight onto your R foot (perhaps sidestepping slightly), then step with your L foot behind your right foot, then return your weight onto your R foot (without moving it). A Left Yememite is the same but with feet reversed. This step is often followed by a hop to finish up four counts of music (i.e., R Yemenite, then hop on R foot).
My great-grandfather, Dr. Oakley Earl Van Slyke, was born in Carthage, New York. At Syracuse University he received the degrees of D. D. and Ph. D. from Boston University. He preached at a Methodist Church in New York state.
In 1902 he was married in Lyons, New York, to Elizabeth Nusbickle. She typed his sermons in two large, leather-bound books. They moved to California in 1906 or 1907.
He died in Pasadena, California, at midnight on Wednesday, February 11th, 1931, of cerebral meningitis.
Minimal changes were made as I turned those books into web pages. I wanted to preserve both the antique features of language and any non-standard uses of punctuation intended to assist with reading the sermons to an audience.
These sermons are an important part of his legacy. They are fascinating family history even though, quite naturally, some of his ideas have not withstood the test of time.
Boaz the Good
The Star of Bethlehem
Character Revelations of the Human Face
The Permanence of Faith
I have written a translation of the Tao Te Ching with commentary.