Let me begin by saying it is a privilege to write again for Messianic Home. My family has experienced so much of YHWH’s grace over the last four years. At times it has been difficult for us to know the direction He was leading us and we still seek to know His will. I am very thankful for the grace and patience Scott, Jane, their family, and all of our friends at Lamb Fellowship have extended to us. You have blessed us more than you will ever know.
I am also very thankful for the patience shown to me by my father and mother. They have struggled from the beginning with this “Messianic” direction we have taken and looking back it is no wonder…
Mom, Dad, my brother, and I grew up attending Rocky Valley Baptist Church in Lebanon, TN. As those that live in this area can attest – the name was a description of the land and not an indication of the spiritual condition. Our lives centered around the church and the activities that took place there. I don’t recall my family having any close friends outside of our church. Many times after church on Sunday we gathered with those friends for a large meal and then while the adults discussed the issues of the day, church and otherwise, we participated in a big game of tackle football in the front yard, rain or shine, hot or cold. Dad always allowed us to keep playing, even though the game had a terrible effect on our yard.
I remember when I was nine years old going to church and listening to a woman testify of how she was saved. I don’t remember her name, but her testimony jolted me and I saw myself for the first time. I knew then that I needed what she had. The next Sunday, during the invitation, I went forward and confessed before my pastor and the congregation that I was a sinner and needed to be saved. YHWH, I believe through His Son Yeshua, whom I knew as Jesus, saved me on that first day of spring 1970. Yeshua made Himself real to me and just like Paul, I could not deny the experience I had with the Messiah that day.
Mom and Dad stood with me in my decision to follow Christ. They were still supportive several years afterwards when in high school I made friends with and began to fellowship with some charismatic brothers and sisters and to experience and see things I had never seen before.
After Sherri and I married, we began attending an Assembly of God Church in Bowling Green, KY. On occasion my parents would visit, although they never quite felt comfortable with all the excitement that was generated in those services, but they still supported us. I truly believe they were just glad to see us active in a church, although different from their own, still a church.
After many years away, we were able to move back to Lebanon and live on a small farm next to my parents. We now had 6 children and we wanted a church where we could all worship and study together. After searching awhile we finally began a home fellowship with another family. Again it was not what my parents would have chosen. They would have liked us to fellowship with them, but they got used to the idea and supported us.
Please understand that it has always been important to me to respect and honor my parents. When I thought that my father or mother would disapprove of something we were doing I would be in turmoil until I could prove to them that what we were doing was okay.
Looking back it probably began at Passover. As we studied in our home fellowship we began to realize that the religious holidays we observed were not biblical and we decided to observe Passover. So we found a Seder to attend and did it. Our first biblical feast was wonderful. But, still having no real conviction against Easter we also participated in the family egg hunt that year. All was still well with the family, however it was too late – a seed had been planted.
YHWH began to reveal many things to us in Scripture, and we began to have questions. I don’t believe it was coincidence that a family – with the last name Diffenderfer – moved to Lebanon from Florida and joined us in our home fellowship. I’ll never forget the first meeting they attended – we served pork hotdogs. I didn’t realize until later why they weren’t very hungry that evening.
A spiritual earthquake was about to take place in our lives and the aftershock would be felt for miles – well at least over the hill.
Needless to say my parents were concerned. Within a short period of time we embraced what was to them a very strange, foreign doctrine. Sacred titles and names were changed. Christmas and Easter were gone. Pesach, Shavuot, Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur, and Succoth were the new holidays. No more pepperoni pizza, pork barbeque, shrimp, catfish, or crab legs. In Tennessee the question is, can you eat breakfast without sausage, bacon, or country ham? To them the prohibited food list was endless. I can still see the look on my mother’s face when she tried to serve the children jello…
“Cult” – that was the word used many times to describe our small group. Our belief was so radically different. We acted and sometimes looked Jewish, but we believed in the Messiah. A very odd combination looking through the eyes of my parents steeped in a rich southern Baptist tradition.
Through all this my parents still loved me. They have shown me time and time again what love is. All through Scripture I see things we can argue about and disagree on but we cannot disagree on the subject of love. I confess that in my zeal to walk this walk I have been guilty of not loving others as I should and sometimes that included my parents. One of my greatest times was when I was able to sit down with my dad and share with Him what I believed. He was so relieved that in all the changes we had made that I had not abandoned the fundamentals of the faith. I still believed in the deity of Yeshua, and only through Him could I be saved.
The most important fundamental element of our faith is love. I am eternally thankful to my parents for leaving a legacy of that kind of love for me and my children.
I want to encourage you as you walk this walk and begin to understand YHWH’s word to remember what James tells us, that if we offend in one point we are guilty of all. The 5th commandment is not conditional or optional; Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land which YHWH thy Elohim giveth thee.
Though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains and have not charity (love), I am nothing.
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