Friday, March 27, 2015

Why Messianic Jewish?

   Some of you have been wondering what led us into Messianic Judaism. Well, about a year ago, Tom told me that he wanted to start celebrating the Biblical feasts and special times appointed by God. I can't speak for Tom, but for myself, I have always taken the Bible very literally, so I was all for this! I can remember being a teenager and reading the Old Testament (or Tanakh) portions about dietary law. I immediately started eating accordingly. In fact, it is only since moving to Georgia that I began "cheating" because the fresh shrimp right off the boat is amazing...especially deep fried. I feel very guilty when I cheat on my diet, but that's off-subject. :)
   As we talked, we realized that God was leading our family to follow the scriptures more closely out of our love for God. We knew that we would not find a church in our area that celebrated all of the Biblical holidays, so we decided that we needed to find a group of Jewish believers in the Messiah (Yeshua).  We looked online in early spring and there was nothing near us, so we decided to learn more about the holidays on our own and left it at that. I traveled with the kids to Pennsylvania for most of the summer to catch up with family and friends, and so our boys could attend camp with their former youth group. 
   When I came back in August, Tom and I began talking again about Biblical holidays and how we felt God was leading our family. This prompted me to do one more search on google. Lo and behold, there was a Messianic Synagogue in the town next us, and they taught educational classes on God's holidays! (Our Rabbi and his family moved from Florida--they felt called to start a Messianic Jewish Synagogue in the Savannah area. Their first service was in June.) We were so excited to visit! I remember feeling so afraid that we wouldn't be accepted because we were "Gentiles," but I was so wrong. We were welcomed and loved from that first Saturday, and we have not looked back. We found exactly the home and family we were looking for! 
   I love to read, so I have been doing a lot of reading and studying on my own. I love how deep God's word is. When you study God's word from a Hebrew roots perspective, you realize it just keeps going deeper and deeper. The Bible is a book about Jewish people, written by Jewish people. Yeshua was born and raised as an observant Jew. The more I learn about Judaism and continue to study my Bible with Hebrew eyes, the more blown away I am! I will leave you with some links and books I am currently reading.

First Fruits of Zion - (Messianic Bible Study Materials) If nothing else, sign up for their weekly edrash and edisciple; they are very short devotionals from a Hebrew roots perspective.

Torah Class - This teaching will change your life. You can listen via the website or they have a podcast you can download for free on your phone, tablet, or iPod. The teacher is not Jewish; he teaches verse by verse through the Bible from a Hebrew roots perspective. Tom listens in his truck every day while he's driving to appointments, and the kids I listen to one podcast every day while we eat lunch. Work it in to your day! I would suggest starting in Genesis, since that is the beginning, but you could pick any book of the Bible you want and start there!

I am currently reading God's Appointed Times, which is an overview of Biblical holidays from a Messianic standpoint. Each chapter covers a holiday and they are very brief and easy to read. Each chapter includes recipes, crafts, and songs.

The other book I am reading is Our Father Abraham. It covers the history of the church and Judaism, again, from a Messianic perspective. It is very deep and interesting, so instead of going into a lot of detail, you can look it up on Amazon and view the table of contents. It is excellent and informative; very thought-provoking! 

I have several other books on my shelf to read next that came highly recommended by some friends:
God's Appointed Customs: A Messianic Jewish Guide to the Biblical Lifecycle and Lifestyle by, Barney Kasdan
Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith by, Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg
Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewish Words of Jesus Can Change Your Life by, Lois Tverberg and Ray Vander Laan

I picked up a video that we have only started watching, but it is very educational and informative:  

Any of these resources can be found on or
You can try your library, but I have not had any luck here. :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


From the Complete Jewish Bible: 
Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Sh’ma, Yisra’el! Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad [Hear, Isra’el! Adonai our God, Adonai is one]; and you are to love Adonai your God with all your heart, all your being and all your resources. These words, which I am ordering you today, are to be on your heart; and you are to teach them carefully to your children. You are to talk about them when you sit at home, when you are traveling on the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them on your hand as a sign, put them at the front of a headband around your forehead, and write them on the door-frames of your house and on your gates. 

   I have always loved this passage. It sums up our jobs as believers and parents; to teach our children (by example) to love God. Listen to the link above...this is the Sh'ma, the words of Deut. 6:4. We sing this prayer every Saturday morning at our synagogue services followed by reciting the rest of the passage in Hebrew and English and we usually sing it with our little Joy every night as we tuck her into bed. One of the many things I love about Judaism is that prayer is incorporated into every aspect of one's life! Messianic Judaism is much like Judaism in that you will find some people/congregations that are more orthodox than others (and our synagogue just so happens to be the most awesome one ever :D). Tom and I are in the learning stage and trying to decide before God what he wants from us as an act of worship. Our salvation is by grace, through faith, but out of our love for the Lord, we want to please him and give him honor and respect. We believe each person and family must decide before the Lord what he wants from them and that looks different for each one of us. I really love the reverence that Jewish people have for HIM and HIS NAME. Tom and I have been so touched to the very core by so many aspects of Judaism that it will probably take me several posts to go into what he has been teaching us and how we've been led this past year.

   Tom and I decided that we wanted to take this passage of scripture literally and have God's word on the doorpost of our house, so a few weeks ago, we got our very first Mezuzah! 

As they say in Savannah, "Shalom Ya'll!"

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

It's Been Awhile!

   I am honestly not sure how long it's been since I've written a blog post.  Very likely 2+ years!! For my faithful former readers, you know that our family went through a lot prior to moving to Georgia. We needed a fresh start in a new place and time away...including time away from Facebook and blogging. I rejoin Facebook and the blogging world very apprehensively with mixed feelings...almost a kicking and screaming feeling. I don't want to be "connected" again, but at the same time I miss my far-away friends and family and know that this is a great way to keep in touch. 
   So, what have the McBratneys been up to the last few years? LIVING! We have not been without difficulties, believe me, but we are feeling very blessed. We LOVE coastal Georgia. We love going to the beach, hiking, bike-riding, fishing, etc.
   Tom is working for a wildlife and animal control company.  He does very well there; each day is different and he works very independently, which he likes.  He can set his own schedule, but he is so busy that he often works long hours, sometimes (most times) 6-7 days a week, and sometimes out of town (NC, SC, GA, and FL). He traps wild animals and always has interesting (and scary!) pictures and stories to share.
   I have been busier than I would like the past few years. I am still chipping away at general college courses. I have recently been re-considering my pre-vet major and am praying about transferring to another college and majoring in Messianic Jewish Studies...which I will save for another post. I am homeschooling Michael and Daniel, and will soon be adding my little Joy to the homeschooling gang since she just turned 5 in January.
   Michael is 14 and in 9th grade. His favorite activities are climbing trees, riding bike, trying to shoot squirrels with his slingshot, and other "boy" stuff. He has been applying for jobs and can't wait to start working and saving for a car. He also loves attending synagogue services and being involved in the youth group at synagogue. In less than two weeks the boys will be going on a weekend youth retreat, which they are really looking forward to!
   Daniel is 13 and in 7th grade. He enjoys many of the same activities as Michael, minus the dangerous things like tree climbing. He is really into learning tricks on his skateboard and is learning to play the guitar. We had a little family-band debut at our congregation's Chanukah party, and who knows? Maybe some gigs are in our future! LOL! He also enjoys involvement with the youth at synagogue and is looking forward to the retreat as well.
   Little Miss Joy is 5 and probably enjoys bossing her big brothers around more than anything! However, she makes it a point to tell EVERYBODY that they boss her and call her a baby. She loves to play outside, particularly in the mud. Making messes is her specialty, but she also enjoys being a princess and occasionally being girly. She is learning to ride a bike (with training wheels), but mostly likes to ride her scooter around the neighborhood with the boys and neighbor kids. She loves attending synagogue and going to her Shabbat School where she learns about the Bible, Bible verses, Jewish holidays, and Hebrew language.  
  That's the very, very shortened version of what we are all up to these days.  More to come!