2020 Men’s Retreat

We did it!!!   At least 18 years in a row: we hiked around Devil’s Lake in Baraboo Wisconsin.  We stayed at Expeditions Unlimited, a Christian retreat center.   We were their first group since the Shelter-In orders.  The staff was glad for their season to start.  I do not want to say too much about the retreat.  I would like some of the other guys  to share their comments first.  Please share comments at the bottom of this page!

I have sent each man an email with a link to share retreat photos.  I will update this page with those photos as soon as possible.

Here are a few other helpful links.

Wild at Heart Audio Book

Purchase Wild at Heart Book

Email to Sanctuary March 20, 2020


March 20, 2020

Dear Sanctuary Messianic Community of Faith,

Shalom in the magnificent name of Messiah Y’shua.

We are clearly living in challenging times. They are also exciting times; we have this opportunity to live as lights in a dark time.  One of the things that has been a reflective point this week; fear begets fear, faith begets faith.  We want to be ones that beget faith and not fear.  We have made the decision to continue our regular Shabbat services.  Our decision and explanation are posted here:   https://sanctuarymessianic.org/about/rebbes-current-corner/

We are a small yet precious band of brothers in Messiah Jesus.  Even if only a handful meet tomorrow; we are confident that even the smallest gathering of believers will be a blessing.

Though we have been a bit slow in posting the audio for our messages, we have been updating the smilingmaven website and are attempting to bring it up to date.  We are also looking into possible ways to ministering through “remote” technology.  On this note: we are receptive to some volunteer help with these types of resources.

We encourage you to read the article on our decision to meet, pray about joining us, but know that you are loved, and appreciated whatever you decide about meeting tomorrow.

Blessings in the incomparable King,

Art and Deb Weiner

Sanctuary Messianic Congregation


Additional Note:  Art’s Message from last Saturday – Recognize false gods of 2020
Available here. https://smilingmavenministries.com/march-2020/

Sanctuary Messianic March 21, 2020

Sanctuary Messianic
Shabbat March 21, 2020

Ministerial leaders throughout our country have been pressed and concerned about the decision whether to continue meetings during this unique time in our nation. We have talked with others, prayed, considered various viewpoints, and sought the Holy Spirit’s help for our precious community of faith. Our decision is to continue our Shabbat services including Hebrew Honey this weekend. Below are some significant points to consider in this decision:

  • We do not view a congregation meeting as simply a social gathering. We are community public servants, Messiah’s public servants to others. Police, fire department, healthcare, etc., these continue in times of crisis. We believe that we are called to minister in times of crisis. Just like other public servants, who put themselves in potential harm’s way, especially during crisis, we recognize that we may be doing the same.
  •  We do not believe or want to convey that this is a better decision than those congregations that are choosing not to meet.
  • If anyone has a need to visit healthcare during this time; (even if it is not related to the coronavirus), that visit can place them in a social setting that can be more susceptible to the transmission of the coronavirus. Some people may make decisions to put off some healthcare for this reason. We understand that some may decide not to attend Shabbat services for this reason. We honor and respect that decision. We encourage all our Sanctuary Messianic community to respect these types of decisions. There is no judgment or criticism for anyone and the choices that they make during this season.
  • We believe that for those that are continuing to meet, it is important to communicate these types of decisions with other people with whom we may also have contact.
  • We ask anyone attending Shabbat services to take extra care with handwashing and general hygiene concerns.
  • Deb and I have prepared a personal ministry statement regarding this difficult time. https://smilingmavenministries.com/response-to-coronavirus/
  • If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

In His grace,

Art and Deb Weiner
Sanctuary Messianic Congregation

Link to Congregational Email

Young Adults

November 18, 2018

Pondering a change to Saturday evening rather than Friday evening.   Also considering an evangelistic event for January.   Please let me know what you think.









September 18, 2018

Young Adults Unite!!!!
Or at least gather for fellowship.   smile1

Welcome to this brand-new page on the Smiling Maven website.  I encourage you to check out the rest of the site.

It was great to see the turnout for the cookout last month at Illinois Beach State Park.  The mosquitoes at the end of the evening were not much fun, but I guess they needed to eat as well.

We will be meeting at my house (1215 Carmel Blvd. Zion IL) this coming Friday evening (September 21) at 730 PM. This will be our first Young Adults gathering at the house since Deb and I traveled to Israel in May. We look forward to reconnecting in this way.

On our “agenda” for Friday evening: Deb and I may share a bit more about Israel. We would also like to discuss the possibility of a regular study for the Young Adult group. We have considered looking at Ragamuffin Gospel together. We have ordered a few extra copies of the book.  Hopefully they will arrive before Friday.  Of course, we will also have refreshments. We look forward to a grace-filled time of fellowship.

I encourage to share a comment below. As always, feel free to contact me any time.

Blessings in Messiah,


June Update

So, Nu, what’s happening

We had a complete, challenging, and enjoyable trip to Israel in May. We rented a car and travelled the land. We both sensed a connection with the country and the people. Not sure what that may mean for the future, but our hearts are looking to the lowly King for this and other aspects of our future.

Hyde Park and University of Chicago: Notice came during our trip in Israel. The Humanities Graduate program decided that it was not a good fit; they did not accept me for admission. It may be more related to my faith then my academics. The University does have a strong leaning towards both Islam and Judaism, and an apparent bias away from Christianity.

Employment: SMT Health Systems unexpectedly and radically altered the commission structure for sales reps in April. This basically cut our income in half. We knew change was coming, we knew that things might change as I considered going back to school. Yet this change, and other changes at SMT convinced Deb and I that this summer would be my last with SMT. Some further developments while we were in Israel helped us make this decision sooner than later. I submitted my resignation with SMT earlier this month. It is effective June 30th.

So nu, a lot has been happening. It is as though everything is “off the table” and we are open to whatever the Holy Spirit places on the table before us.

Walking into the Impossible

Okay, okay what has been happening in the life of the Smiling Maven, this one that needs to smile more and who is regularly banged over the head with God’s incredible, relentless, insistent, redeeming, grace.  Well, the journey has taken an interesting and exciting turn over the last year.    It has been somewhat unexpected, definitely challenging, and with a sense of an open season and some open territory.    It is probably a bit tough to share in one article or even in one newsletter.     It seems like there will be more to write and share as this journey continues.   So what is this journey?   What is this new season?   What is this new territory?    It has to do with one and a half square miles of the City of Chicago that is called Hyde Park, the unique multi-cultural community where the University of Chicago is located.    This journey has to do with both Hyde Park and the University Chicago; it has to do with, walking into the impossible.

In 1985 this Jewish young man came to Chicago as a graduate student at the University of Chicago.   That school year he became involved in ministry with Jews for Jesus, and met and began dating his soon to be wife Sandy.   During that time there was a tiny little spark that maybe someday he might be involved with the planting or establishing of a messianic work in the Hyde Park area.  However, entrance into ministry, marriage, and the pressures of school finances, nudged him away from continuing graduate school and connection to the Hyde Park community.   More than 30 years have gone by; Art has been widowed, remarried, children have grown to adulthood, and there have been years of various types of ministry as well as secular employment.   Yet, the inclination or desire to finish graduate school has never quite disappeared and that tiny little spark about ministry in Hyde Park had never completely vanished either.   These topics were never really part of Art’s regular conscious thinking or consideration; however, that was going to change in 2017.

Early in 2017, Art and his wife Deb visited with Foursquare Pastors Terry and Annette Cvengros.   Just as a matter of general curiosity Art asked a question about whether the Foursquare had any type of messianic ministry.  At the time Terry and Annette did not know if the Foursquare had any type of messianic ministry, but somehow the conversation shifted, and Annette shared that the Foursquare had a relatively strong burden to see some churches planted in Chicago.    Immediately, almost like a flash, Art remembered the long ago spark about starting a messianic ministry in Hyde Park.   At the time, he said nothing about this memory/flash.    However, sometime within a month, Art took a devotional day away from Zion IL.   He took the train into Chicago, transferred and took the Metra Electric to Hyde Park.    For the first time in over 30 years he walked the ground of Hyde Park and the University of Chicago.   That was the first of seven such trips devotional/prayer-walking trips to Hyde Park during 2017.

Hype Park is a multi-cultural community that is in some ways an oasis from the usual economic and social atmosphere of most Chicago neighborhoods.    It may be an oasis from some of the economic struggles of other areas, it may have less crime than other areas, but the spiritual atmosphere is very dry.    Here in Zion IL where the population is about 20,000 there are at least 20 evangelical congregations (where the Bible is held in regard as the Word of God).   That is one church per 2000 people.     In Hyde Park there are 90,000 people and at best there are 10 congregations that uphold the Bible as the Word of God.    That is one church per 9000 people.    That in many ways is discouraging, and even oppressive.    Yet, something inside this Jewish grace fanatic reminds me that the lowly King is attracted and drawn to the dark places, drawn to bring light and life where it is needed most.

During a trip in November 2017 Art had an appointment with some staff from the Humanities department.    The discussion was the possibility of Art returning to University of Chicago to work on a Master’s Degree in Hebrew and Greek.  So, nu, seven trips in 2017 and four already in 2018, a burgeoning burden for the Hyde Park community and a movement towards going back to school;  this has been an interesting journey.  That might be an understatement

At 56, considering returning to school while living in Zion (travel to Hyde Park takes over two hours), and still working in medical sales; this crazy Jewish guy is seriously looking at and continuing this journey and unique adventure with Hyde Park and University of Chicago.    The plan is to take the GRE (graduate exam) before April; apply to University of Chicago graduate school for entry fall 2018 (application deadline April 30).    Art would go to school part-time, traveling to Hyde Park probably two days a week.  Continue his work with SMT Health System, and continue to pray and see what doors open for additional ministry in Hyde Park.    Looking at this from various angles; time, academic challenge, finances, travel, spiritual climate etc., etc., it looks like: ‘ walking into the impossible”.    Thankfully, a Jewish carpenter from Nazareth said – “with God all things are possible.”

There is a lot more that can be said about this journey, but this seems like a good introduction to the New Mad Adventures of the Smiling Maven.  (The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob was a humorous French movie made in 1973)



Gems from Genesis

Gems from Genesis Lesson 1

Feb 4, 2017 Audio Download

Key Background concepts.

We restarted this study January 21st. There are a few key concepts or understandings (or un-understandings) that help us look at Genesis in a clearer light.

The scriptures do not tell us everything about everything. They do not tell us a complete scientific or historical account of all of creation. That is not their purpose. The Apostle John writes: these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and that believing you might have life in His name. The scriptures, including Genesis 1-4, are written that we might believe in Jesus and that believing we might have life in His name. They are not written that we might know everything about everything.

The fall of man, Adam and Eve in Genesis chapter 3, had a tremendous impact upon the human race. That is an understatement. The fall was a tragedy of tragedies. Part of that impact was an inverted or upside down understanding of the nature, character and purposes of God. Until one comes to Messiah, our understanding of God is in a sense “upside down”. Coming to faith in Jesus – having life in His name” our understanding is in sense again flipped upside down so it is right side up again. We can begin to see God as He is, not with an upside down understanding. That process though may take our entire earthly journey with Messiah. As we seek to understand God and His Word, we ought to be prepared for areas of our understanding to be inverted so that we see Him more properly. Understanding that our perspective may be flipped or inverted as we look at Genesis is a healthy prerequisite for this study.

The scriptures surely hint at a “before”. A “before” the beginning. Examples:

Titus 1:2
Revelation 15:8

The scriptures also tells us that Lucifer/Satan exalted Himself above God, and was cast down. This too may be part of the “before”, it is surely something that occurs before Adam and Eve respond to the serpent. Though Genesis 1 and 2 do not tells us directly about Satan’s fall we have scriptures such as Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel to give us some understanding of this tragedy.

This leads us to one last and crucial point; relevant to all of our view of scripture. As believers in Y’shua, ones who have life in His name, it is imperative, crucial, (and basically absurd if we do not) to view the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) in the light of the New Covenant (New Testament) scriptures. Jesus’ death on the cross is the supreme revelation of the nature and character of God given to man, and likely given to all of creation. In that light and revelation we have a much improved understanding in all things relating to God. The understanding of Messiah and His character and of the New Covenant gives us powerful commentary on Genesis. Messiah is relevant to Genesis 1:1, to Genesis 1:2, Genesis 1:3 and so on and on and on. So let’s live in that light, and look in that light as we study and look for gems in Genesis. Blessings!