Last November, my husband resigned his position as pastor of a small Baptist church in southern Minnesota. In the next few weeks, we’ll be moving our family to a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota, to start a new life.
Our move has brought about a lot of questions, so I thought I’d write a post about why we’re making this big change.
Why are we moving?
My husband has loved being a pastor, so it might come as a surprise to hear that we’re leaving our church here — and even more, that he’s not seeking another pastorate at this time.
One of the perks of being a pastor is having time to study and pray (Acts 6:2-4). As my husband has been studying for his weekly sermons and lessons, the Spirit of God has been bringing a topic before him repeatedly.
One of our core beliefs is that the Bible has all the answers we need, for any problem we might encounter, so that we can have life and godliness.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:3-4).
This verse is clear that the answers are in God’s Word, the Bible, because it says that His divine power has given us everything we need, through our knowledge of Him.
Knowledge of God isn’t an arbitrary thing. We should be able to open up our Bibles, search for an answer, and find it. If we don’t have something we needed for life or godliness, it is because we first don’t have a thorough knowledge of Him, as revealed in Scripture.
Several years ago, Kraig and I decided to start in Genesis and read, with the intention of discovering instructions God has given us for life and godliness. It didn’t take long until we discovered a problem.
It felt like much of the Bible just didn’t apply to us!
For instance, a friend of ours was involved in a type of “prosperity gospel,” and she was fond of looking at Deuteronomy 28 for assurance that God would bless her financially if she were a believer. However, it was clear from the context that these words were written as a national blessing to Israel.
“If you fully obey YHWH your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, YHWH your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey YHWH your God…” (Deuteronomy 28:1-2).
“We are Christians, not Jews,” we said, “so these promises cannot apply to us.”
The problem was that we knew that almost the entire Old Testament was written to Israel, not to the Church. It would be taking it out of context to apply the Old Testament’s instructions or promises to us in the Church. Yes, there were principles. Yes, there were some good stories, poetry, and proverbs. Yes, it told about the coming Messiah, but it held very few instructions for us. In fact, as we continued reading into the New Testament, much of that was also written to Jews, rather than to us.
Why did 2 Peter 1:3 tells us that the Bible’s promises would give us everything we needed for life and godliness, when so much of what it said applied to someone else in a period of time long gone?
And as we realized that very little of the New Testament had been penned or was available to believers when Peter wrote his epistles, we were even more frustrated. They didn’t have access to Paul’s epistles. The little we had read that was directly written to the Church and applicable to us today certainly could not contain everything we needed for life and godliness.
It felt like we were taking scissors to the Bible… snip… snip… snip….
This is the topic my husband studied extensively.
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:14-17).
These verses, written by Paul to his disciple Timothy, tell us that the holy Scriptures are the only things that can make us wise for salvation. In addition, only the Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. It is only through the Scripture that we will be equipped for every good work. All of the Scripture is written for our learning and applies to us.
So what “Scripture” was Paul talking about? We came to realize, through our study, that the only Scriptures Paul and Timothy had access to were the Tenach, known to us as the “Old Testament.” Furthermore, the early church spent considerable time studying the Torah, or the Law of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), read publicly in the local synagogues they continued to attend each week.
“For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath” (Acts 15:21).
As my husband preached verse-by-verse through Acts, as well as Psalms, this last year, we became even more convinced that we needed to follow the example of the first-century apostles and early church. We needed to study the Torah and practice what it said in our own lives.
If we didn’t, we would be the worst of hypocrites.
So my husband resigned, and our adventure is just beginning.
What will be different?
Some basic things are changing in our lives.
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to YHWH your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days YHWH made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore YHWH blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:8-11).
This is one of the most major changes we’ve made. It is certainly possible to rest from labor on the seventh day (Friday evening sundown until Saturday evening sundown), even if you’re a Baptist pastor. But the Scriptures also tell us to assemble with other believers on that day.
“There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to YHWH” (Leviticus 23:3).
So the first thing that is changing that we will be resting on the seventh day, but also worshiping with other believers on that day.
This is the most major change, but we also try to eat only biblically clean foods (ie. no pork, shellfish, gelatin, marshmallows, etc. as listed in Leviticus 11), and to otherwise try to live biblically clean and holy lives as commanded in the Torah.
Finally, we have added daily study of the Torah to our home and homeschool, working through the Parashah with other believers week by week. (See sidebar for what we’re studying this week.)
I can smell a lot of upcoming blog posts, can’t you? 🙂
Where are we going?
After much prayer and consideration of many places all across America, we feel that the Spirit is leading us to a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. As of today, I’m not still sure of the exact place we’ll be living, although we’re planning to pack up our truck and go within the next two weeks. We’re sure that God will continue to lead us to just the right place He has planned for us!
Where will we go to church?
We view the next few years as a time of learning. One of the first things we’d like to learn is more about how believers in the first century worshiped. We are actively trying to learn Hebrew, to do a lot of reading on various kinds of Torah-observant congregations, to study how to effectively start a church, to learn new worship songs, and to learn how to properly celebrate the Sabbath and feasts.
Are we leaving the ministry?
Yes and no.
Yes, because it’s rather hard for a Baptist pastor to find a job as a pastor of a sabbath fellowship! 🙂
No, because we believe that all of us are “ministers,” seven days a week. So we aim to continue ministering in whatever way we can, wherever we live.
And no, because we wonder if maybe God will allow us to start a new church somewhere, someday. Maybe even in the Twin Cities! But in the meantime, we have much to learn….
How will we live?
For years, my husband and I have been wondering what it would be like to live entirely by faith. My husband is a pastor, so it’s not easy to just switch careers and find a new job in just a few weeks’ time.
Nevertheless, my husband has been applying for many kinds of jobs, in education, in management, and even in coffee shops! So far, he hasn’t found one.
That’s okay. As I’ve said before, our work is never the source of our income; God is the source of our income!
“”Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:25-34).
I’ve had my moments of panic over the last few weeks — and I’m sure I’ll be tempted to worry again in the future. (You can pray for me!)
But on the other hand, it’s really exciting to actually do what we always said we believe. Our goal is to live by faith, praying about our needs and being thankful for what we have in the meantime.
We’ve been working to start a web-design business, so if you’re really worried about us, just visit our website and hire us! Or refer us to a friend! LOL!
So the Adventure Begins…
I’ll keep blogging about all of this, as we continue with this move and into the months ahead. I’ll share what we’re learning and tell how God is providing.
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10).
We’re employed by the King of Kings, in training to be better ambassadors for His kingdom. We’re citizens of a another country, and we have our King’s promise that He will never leave us or forsake us.
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for YHWH your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7-9).
How about you? Will you also follow Him?
“If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15).
Let me know how I can help!