“Honor your father and mother, so that your days may be lengthened upon the land that Hashem, your God, gives you.” (Exodus 20:12)

Kibud Av Va’em is the Hebrew phrase that encompasses everything that “honor your father and mother” means. As with many Hebrew phrases quoted from the Torah, it means so much more than its face value. It is also a requirement that applies to all of us – no exceptions.

Because it permeates our entire lives, its meaning and specifications change as we mature. When we are young living in our parents’ home, the meaning is somewhat basic: be obedient. The best way to honor our parents is to listen to what they say, and follow their instructions for what we can and cannot do.

When we reach adolescence, the meaning of Kibud Av Va’em changes a bit. While we should still be obedient to what our parents tell us to do, we also have to learn how to interact with them. A new dynamic is introduced in our relationship – we are beginning to approach adulthood and take on the roles and responsibilities that accompany this transition. However, we must temper this changing time with the fact that our parents are still our parents – we do not become their equals just because we begin to mature.

Adulthood brings with it a whole new set of issues. The age difference between twenty and forty-five seems much less significant than the difference between ten and thirty-five. We tend to feel that when we reach adulthood, the relationship that we have with our mother and father should take on more consideration for us. After all, we have reached adulthood, and we desire to be treated as equals. We have begun to live on our own and provide for ourselves. We may have gotten married and begun to raise children. There is now more than ever, so much that we have in common. This tends to be the time when we lose sight of our responsibilities to our parents. Many of us know that we are to provide for our parents when they can no longer provide for themselves – in very much the same way they provided for us when we could not. Many of us fully intend to take on this responsibility when the time comes. However, at the age of forty or fifty, our parents do not seem to need this type of care from us yet. They are self-sufficient – they seem to be very much in the prime of their lives. What could they possibly need from us? What could we as new adults with our own families possibly have to offer them? Shouldn’t we be more concerned with carving out a place for ourselves and our own family?

We still want to have a relationship with them though, but we want to be treated as adults, as parents, as professionals – as equals! We are no longer the kids that took instruction from them, the adolescents that had to follow their rules. We are making our own rules now, and we want them to recognize, and in some cases, be obedient to them. We are ready to trade in the position of honor for one of mutual respect and friendship.

About seven years ago, I went through a series of situations that nearly destroyed my relationship with my father and mother. Catherine and I were busy raising a very active two year-old and newborn twins. I had a new job with increased responsibility, and I felt it was my time to demonstrate that I was now the father to be honored – in short, it was my turn to be in charge.

It was not that I didn’t love my parents – I did then, and still do today. What brought this change about were my feelings of equality with my mother and father. After all, we were all adults now – I was no longer a child, and did not want to be treated as one. I had left their house and their authority and started my own family. I even had scripture to back up the position I was taking: And the man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:23-24).

I had so many responsibilities to my own family that there was little time to think about honoring my “old one.” And even if I had thought about it, what could I have done differently? We still visited my parents, and they visited us. They got to see their grandchildren as often as was feasible, and I felt that we were doing fine relationship-wise. But I did not want to be told how to run my household, or how to raise my children.

Another detail came into the picture that had not existed before. Catherine and I were raised in the Episcopal Church, which practiced infant Baptism by sprinkling. We were not attending that church anymore, and wondered if we should have the twins Baptized. After much prayer on the matter, we decided that the reasons for it were not what we believed, and we decided not to do it. It was not an easy decision to make, as it was the first real break with the established religion that I had known since I was a child.

We decided to tell my parents about our decision, because we did not want them wondering why they had not been invited to the baptism (as they had no reason to suspect that we would not have them baptized).

The news went over a bit less successfully than I had anticipated. I never imagined that my mother and father would take the news so hard. My father even went so far as to insinuate that if anything happened to the twins, they would go to Hell. Both of them were sure I had joined a cult.

We could have gotten through this and maintained our relationship with my parents had the events that followed not taken place. I was sure that we had made the right decision concerning the baptism, but I did not want to be challenged on the matter. I assumed that any correspondence from my parents would seek to challenge my decision, so I chose not to deal with the correspondence. My father called and left messages; I did not call back. My mother wrote letters; I did not write her back. I did what many of us do when we are young and dumb – I chose not to deal with the situation at hand. Perhaps I thought that if I ignored it, that it would go away.

I justified the decision based partly on what I had learned from verses like Matthew 19:28-29: And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life.”

I had departed from what I saw as a dead, lifeless religion, set on finding “truth.” The Bible said that this was OK – I could ignore my family in the name of Yeshua. I was finding my way with my new family, trying to walk in the way that YHWH wanted me to walk. However, what I succeeded in doing was alienating myself from people that loved me, and presenting a terrible witness for devotion to Yeshua. I also succeeded in dishonoring my parents, although I did not realize it at the time. The people who had given so much, were repaid by my growing up and turning my back on them.

I am not saying that I should have had the twins baptized – that was a decision that Catherine and I made only after weeks of prayer and serious thought. What I should not have done was ignore my parents. They were confused, perhaps upset, and maybe even a bit angry. But they could not have forced me to do something that I didn’t think was right, and I should have realized this. I made a stand based on a scripture I did not understand. I thought I was free of any responsibility, just because they did not believe as I did. I ran away, when what I should have done was to stand firm in what I believed, and love and honor them as I always had. I had no reason to run away, because I had not done anything wrong. I had merely begun to grow in my understanding of my relationship with Yeshua.

How many Believers have fallen into this same trap when they begin to discover their Hebrew roots, and explore this Messianic lifestyle? It is so easy to take on a feeling of superiority, knowing that we have discovered the truth, and everyone else is walking in sin and darkness. Some of us may even desire to share it with our families, only to find that what we are saying is met with glazed eyes and unbelieving ears. Sometimes there really is a feeling on their part that we have gone terribly wrong. Most times however, they just want to understand what we are talking about.

What do we do then? Having convinced ourselves that this is the only path and all others lead straight to Hell, we isolate ourselves from those who were skeptical of our new-found “faith”. We search for like-minded individuals with which to fellowship, only to find that they are few indeed. Finally, we find ourselves stuck – we have burned the bridge back to our family, and we cannot seem to find any way off this uninhabited island we have created for ourselves.

About a year later I found out that I was to be transferred to Colorado. I did not want to move halfway across the country without making amends for my actions. I had cut them off, shut them out of our lives. I knew that I had hurt them, and I needed to ask for forgiveness. I visited my parents before we left. The visit was brief, and rather cold. They said they forgave me, but I could tell that they had not forgotten what I had done.

While we were in Colorado, I called my parents on their birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I could tell each time that the miles were not the only distance between us. After a year in Colorado, I decided to leave the Army. We moved home to South Carolina, and I got a job in Columbia as a software developer. I had hoped that during my absence, my parents would have softened to what had happened two years earlier. However, I found this not to be the case. I could tell that they had not forgotten what I had done.

At first I thought that they still harbored resentment about the baptism. It was not until about three years ago, when I was at a Torah study in Columbia that I really began to understand the whole picture, and become aware of exactly what I had done. We were discussing the topic of honoring parents. I had always seen the fact that Abraham had left his home to follow YHWH as similar to my own situation. God had called Abraham out of his home and away from his family, just as I believed that He had done with me. We were talking about this when someone said, “But Abraham never severed ties with his parents.” The moment these words were spoken, I felt as if YHWH was speaking directly to me – Abraham never severed ties with his parents! This was true – they worshipped false gods, but he still considered them his parents. In fact, he sent his servant Eliezer to his father’s house to get a bride for Isaac. I realized that I had gone terribly wrong in my relationship with my parents. I also realized that I had no idea what it meant to honor my father and mother!

I immediately called my parents and invited them to my house – they refused my invitation. I invited them a second time and they said they would think about it, but then declined. I made trips to their house with the children, trying to demonstrate to them that I wanted them to be a part of our lives. And while this was going on, I was dealing with the fact that honoring our parents might be a command for life, and that I had somehow gotten very confused over its meaning.

What I discovered through this whole process is that the relationship we have with YHWH should mirror the relationship we have with our parents. I am not saying that we need to elevate our parents to the status of deity – what I am saying is that we learn how to interact with YHWH by interacting with our parents. And if, along the way, we build a lasting, personal relationship with YHWH, then at the very minimum, we owe our parents our lives, for showing us our Salvation.

When we are young, our relationship with our parents is one of dependence – we need them for everything. As we grow older, we transition to a relationship of obedience – we need them to teach us. Finally, when we are grown and no longer seem to need them, our relationship becomes one of gratitude – they have given so much, and in most cases, made tremendous sacrifices, to get us to where we are now. We owe them everything! How can we – how could I – turn away from them as if we don’t need them anymore?

I am not saying that my parents were or are perfect. They made plenty of mistakes in my life and during the past several years, but this was not license to terminate the relationship I had with them – especially if I wanted them to accept my apology for the mistakes I had made.

Honoring your kids is the best thing you can do for a healthy parent-child relationship.

Honoring our parents is our way of showing them that we appreciate the things they have done for us. Many things that our parents have done can never be repaid – even in monetary terms. We can not assign a price to the nights they sat up with us when we were sick or the kindness and understanding they showed us when no one would play with us at school. We did not have to beg for meals, and we always had a place to sleep and a roof over our heads. Our parents provided all of our physical needs, in the same way that YHWH provides all of our spiritual needs. It also serves to remind us that no matter how old we get, we will never be our parents’ equal. We will never be the same age, and we will probably never call them by their first names. Their position is set apart with regard to us – we are not on the same level with them.

When we begin a new family – when we leave and cleave – this is not license to stop honoring our parents. Just because we start a new family does not mean that we should forget all that they did for us to prepare us for this time. The command to honor our father and mother is also the only commandment that has a condition attached to it – …so that your days may be lengthened upon the land that Hashem, your God, gives you. Our children learn how to honor us by watching us honor our parents. If we do not honor our parents in the sight of our children, what are we teaching them? We are teaching them that parents are only useful when they are young; when they grow up, they will have no need for us. Failing to honor our parents does not necessarily mean that we will die at an early age (i.e., not live long in the land YHWH gives us) – it also means that we will be forgotten by our children when they do not honor us, just as we have forgotten our parents by not honoring them.

Honoring our parents does not mean that we have to accept their advice on all matters. It does mean that we should remember that there is probably experience behind the advice, and even if we decline it, we should do so with gratitude and respect.

We are commanded to honor our parents in the same manner that we are to recognize the existence of YHWH as our Creator. How we treat our parents will ultimately reflect what kind of relationship we have with YHWH – are we grateful to Him for our Salvation? Do we call on Him only when we need something, or do we have a daily interaction with Him? Will we eventually put away our relationship with YHWH because we don’t need Him anymore?

One of the hardest things for an adult to do, as I have witnessed, is to recognize that he owes his life to another person or people. But that is exactly the case with our parents. We owe them our lives; in the independence of adulthood, we must remain humble and remember this fact. We must honor them – we must show our gratitude for all that they have done, and remember that one day we will be in the same position with our own children. What will we teach them, and how will they treat us?

When Scott asked me to write something on authority for Messianic Home, I thought about all the examples of authority I could pull from scripture, demonstrating where authority comes from, how authority is given to someone, and how some exercise, and even abuse, authority. After some study, I realized that I was overwhelmed with information, and, quite frankly, out of my league. I have written commentaries on every Parasha in the Torah, but I could not seem to figure out how to sort through all the information on this seemingly simple subject. After some time, I understood why this was not coming as easily as I had anticipated. It was because the groundwork regarding authority had not been laid. Before a person can attain a position of authority, they must be qualified. All the study and writing on what authority is does not matter if we do not know what the qualifications are. Unfortunately, there are more qualifications than time to write them all, so we will stick to the primary qualification upon which all the others must be measured: AGE.

Many times throughout scripture we read about the duties of God’s people, not assigned by their strengths or abilities, but by their age. For instance, when God outlines the tasks of the Levites in Numbers 8:23-26, He does so by age – a Levite is not permitted to serve in the Tabernacle until the age of twenty-five. When we first read this scripture, it appears to be in contradiction to Numbers 4:3, 23 and 30, which lists the age of the Levites who [come] to join the legion to perform work in the Tent of Meeting as thirty. Why does Numbers 8:23 mention the beginning age as 25? Levites may have been born as Levites, but they were not born knowing how to serve as Levites – they had to be taught. Thus, the Stone Edition Chumash states that the five years between age 25 and age 30 were used for apprenticeship so that the Levites could learn that which was required of them as workers in the Tent of Meeting.

Another point of view concerning this five year period is purported by Rambam. He explained that the five-year apprenticeship, still used today in training Rabbis, was instituted by Rabbinic tradition. He further explains that during this time, the young Levite was eligible to voluntarily assist other Levites in their assigned tasks. In many ways, this could also be considered a self-imposed apprenticeship. Even today, those who are successful in their chosen professions are those who take the initiative to participate in internships that allow them to watch and learn others who are already operating in the profession. The pay for these internships is usually little or nothing but the long-term reward is great.

Age does make a difference to God. He has established seasons of life in which we are to fulfill certain purposes. In The Pirkei Avos Treasury/Ethics of the Fathers, Mishna 5:25 contains a summary of the understanding of these age brackets:

“He [Yehuda ben Tema] use to say: A five-year-old begins Scripture; a ten-year-old beginsMishna; a thirteen-year-old becomes obliged to observe the commandments; a fifteen-year-old begins to study the Gemara; an eighteen-year-old goes to the marriage canopy; a twenty-year-old begins pursuit [of a livelihood]; a thirty- year-old attains full strength; a forty-year-old attains understanding; a fifty-year-old can offer counsel; a sixty-year old attains seniority…

In the traditional Hebrew society, there were certain ages at which certain things were to be accomplished. At the age of five, for example, a boy was to enter into the study of Torah, with the book of Leviticus. At age eighteen, a young man was to get married. And the reason we refer to the leaders of our congregations as elders is for the simple reason that they are, physically, our elders.

Why are these age brackets established? Why does age make a difference to God? It would seem that if a man is capable of something at a younger age, he should be given the opportunity at that time. The fact is, that each of these age brackets brings with it a certain level of authority.Contrary to popular belief, there is no authority “brass ring” – authority is realized throughout our lives as we grow and age and mature. Using our age brackets as an example, a man of eighteen years “goes to the marriage canopy” to assume authority over his household. He is able to do this because of the things he has accomplished up to this point.

Psalm 90:12 states: So teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom. Our lives are not meant to be a haphazard collection of years, but a meaningful progression through the things that God has ordained for us to accomplish, asHe gives us authority over different areas. This is not to say that He judges us solely on what we accomplish, because this is certainly not the case. God does however, desire thatwe number our days – that we make each day count, doing the things that He has ordained for us to do, in order, at that stage in our lives – so that at the end of our days, we can present to [Him] a heart of wisdom.

At 32 years of age, I was afforded the opportunity to teach Torah to a special group of people in Columbia. I saw this as an excellent opportunity, and immediately leapt at the prospect. As the year went on however, I realized that I was not properly equipped for the job. It was not because I did not know the subject – I had been studying Torah for two years, and had a working grasp of most of the concepts contained in it, as well as sometrue revelation. It was simply because I lacked the wisdom and the authority needed to teach a group like this one. Most of the people were older and wiser than me. In fact, I should have been their student and not their teacher. What they really needed was a teacher that had already been where they were at that time. They needed, according to Yehuda ben Tema, a fifty-year-old, who had not only reached full strength, but had also gained understanding and could offer counsel. This is not to say that no one learned anything in our studies. I can say without question that I learned a great deal, and I think that others did as well. Nevertheless, the study would have been better if there had been someone older who was available to teach, and had the authority to do so.

We also need to understand that our age brackets do not match up exactly with those listed in the Mishna. If we do not get married until age 30, we are as an eighteen-year-old in many ways and we should be doing those things that an eighteen-year-old should do. This means that our first responsibility in ministry is to our family. Deuteronomy 24:5 states: When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out with the army, nor be charged with any duty; he shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken.

God makes provisions for a husband and wife to have uninterrupted time together after they are married. It is very important for a newly married couple to establish a life together, and have time to raise small children, because this is the area of authority that God provides at this stage of life. All of this cannot be accomplished in a year, as prescribed in the above scripture, but it does give a time period in which a husband and wife begin to establish their family.

How much more important was it for the Levite to have the time to establish his family before he entered into Tabernacle service, which lasted the rest of his life! Even if an Israelite had to go to battle a year after he was married, the battle would not last forever and he would soon be home, reunited with his family. The Levites of today, the pastors and teachers, need to be afforded the opportunity to establish their families before they try to take on the management and administration of another family; their congregation. The stress that comes with small children can be overwhelming at times and to add the stress of pasturing a flock could bring the family structure to its knees. We should never feel as if the ministry the Lord has given us is competing with the children that He has given us. This is a sign that we are out of balance in some area of our life.

What did it mean in the Numbers passage to join the legion to perform work in the Tent of Meeting? It meant that this person, as the Mishna says, has attained full strength. They were now able, both physically and spiritually, to serve in the Tabernacle performing the various duties, which included the transport of the Tabernacle when the camp journeyed. They were the workers, responsible for the goings-on in the Tabernacle on a daily basis. Does this mean that they knew nothing – that all they were good for at the age of thirty was manual labor? Certainly not. On this subject, Midrash Shmuel states that until the age of thirty, one should study to increase his own knowledge; at thirty, those who canshould begin teaching and guiding others on the path of Torah. The Levites were, by age thirty, learned men. They had been studying Torah since they were five, and we can only assume that they were well versed in the teaching and instruction. Similarly, a thirty-year-old today may have engaged in his or her study of the scriptures for many years, and may be equipped with the necessary knowledge to teach others. This still does not mean that they possess the wisdom to offer counsel to others or to serve as an elder. They simply have not lived long enough, and therefore they do not possess the authority – self assurance and expertise that come with experience – to take on these roles.

At the age of forty, the Levites were still serving in the Tabernacle, and they had, according to the timeline in the Mishna, attained understanding. According to Tiferes Yisrael, this means that they had “the ability to understand the ramifications of an idea and extrapolate one fact from another. By the age of forty, one’s intellectual abilities have matured to the point where he attains this degree of perception.” It is also interesting to note the similarity between this age and the number of years the Children of Israel wandered in the Wilderness. The Sages say that a person does not fully understand his teacher until the age of forty and that it took the Children of Israel forty years in the desert to understand their teacher, Moses.

We can see this in action in Deuteronomy 29:3, when Moses address the Children of Israel after their forty years: “You have seen everything that haShem did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land – the great trials that your eyes beheld, those great signs and wonders. But haShem did not give you a heart to know, or eyes to see, or ears to hear until this day. The more understanding we acquire, the better equipped we are to teach others that which we have learned. There is a parable contained within Midrash Bereishis Rabbah that illustrates this point, using Abraham’s recognition of God at the age of forty:

“A person was once walking through the forest when he noticed a brilliantly lit castle in the distance. As he approached, he thought, “Can it be that the castle has no owner?” Immediately, the lord of the manner turned to him and cried out, “I am the owner of the castle.” Abraham, too, looked around at the wondrous world in which he lived, and asked himself, “Can it be that the world has no owner?” Immediately God focused His attention on him and cried out, “I am the Owner of the world.”

Just because Abraham came into the knowledge and understanding of who God is at the age of forty does not mean that he was ready to be the father of a multitude of nations. He had more to learn before God would recognize him as fit for this position. Likewise, teachers and pastors do not know everything at the age of forty, and may still not be equipped for the demands of their position. They may be able to teach, shepherd, lead and do a host of other meaningful and worthwhile functions, but may still lack the ability to draw from their life’s experiences and advise others, simply because of their age alone. It is hard to advise a grandparent or parent of an adult child, when one has not experienced those situations yet in their life. This person can only imagine what it is like.

To be fully capable of offering spiritual guidance and counsel, one must be able to draw from life’s experiences, as well as understand that on which he bases his decisions. Proverbs 4:7 states that: The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding. Additionally, Proverbs 9:10 states: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Knowledge is achieved on the path to wisdom, but it is not wisdom itself. Wisdom comes from understanding, but it also comes from having lived.

At the age of fifty, the Levites “retired” from physical labor in the Tabernacle and began a “new” career – that of advising others on spiritual matters. The elders consisted of men over the age of fifty, because they had lived long enough to be able to offer sage advice; they could weigh conflicting options and opinions impartially before offering advice (Rashi). This is the point at which God considers a person equipped to be a true spiritual leader and counselor, because they have become an authority in such matters. They have not ceased living or learning, but they have seen enough to be effective in this role. Likewise, a pastor should ideally be at least this mature to effectively lead his congregation and offer counsel to them on spiritual matters. He has studied, acquired knowledge and understanding, and obtained wisdom based on his life’s experiences. He is truly equipped to be a leader and an authority. It is as if the apprenticeship to be a Levite or a pastor has been going on for the past 25 years, preparing him for this role that he assumes at the age of fifty.

Having said all this, we turn our attention to those of you that are not yet fifty, but are pastoring a congregation. God has put you in this position for a reason, so please don’t change your leadership or be offended based on this commentary. It is God’s perfect plan for His people to number their days in this manner, but how many of us know that we nor the world in which we live are perfect, and we have a bad habit of getting in God’s way and messing up his plan. Does this mean that we have done something wrong? Of course not. It simply means that we got started before we knew everything that was required of us. Moreover, our lives do not always “line up” perfectly with His plan. If we got married at age twenty-five instead of eighteen, it would seem that we are off schedule.This just means that we have to take a detour, but we do not have to start over completely.

God has ordained specific seasons for certain purposes. There is a season to learn His teaching and instruction, a season to get married, a season to raise children, a season to work, a season to offer counsel, etc. Our task is to recognize the season that we are in, based on our age, family situation and what God has us doing, and that God has given us authority in specific areas at specific times. We then have to learn how to do what it is that is required of us so that we might move to the next season, thereby expanding our scope of authority. We have to learn to number our days, and remember that we cannot do that for which God has not equipped us. We have to be content to remain in the place He has put us, until such a time as He moves us to a higher level of responsibility, understanding, or wisdom. Authority comes from having lived – from having gained experience. Let us live first, and gain the experience required, before we claim to be an authority.

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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