This blog post is Part 1 in the series, Matthew’s Testimony. Originally I intended to write a single article on my testimony. However, looking back, there have been several significant steps to arriving where I am today, so I decided to do a mini-series. Lately it’s been impressed upon me that I need to put my testimony down in writing, that way I can not only remember it with clarity, but it may also be an encouragement to others. Revelation 12:11 says,
11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
Needing More… Again!
After being a part of OHOP for a season, we felt the Father leading us back to Indiana. His provision for our transition was perfect. Once we arrived, we became very involved in the church, led a Bible study on How to Hear God’s voice for the church members, and did life the best we knew how. Our time in Florida had been wonderful, but financially it was difficult, which caused many things to get out of whack in our lives. Being back in Indidan, we saw the Fathers financial provision take place in our lives, we were ministering to people, and we were teaching our children about the Father. But somehow, things still didn’t fell complete. So one day while I was on a prayer walk, I prayed and asked the Father what was going on in our lives, and what do I still lack? If this sounds familiar, it’s because it is,
Matthew 19:20 ‘The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?’
During this prayer time I saw a picture of the Jews in my mind, in it they couldn’t see the Messiah as Messiah, because they had blinders on that prevented them from seeing the truth. In that moment I prayed, Father, in what area’s of my life do I have blinders on? Not much happened then, as a matter of fact, I totally forgot I prayed that prayer. About 2 weeks after I prayed, the Father answered my prayer, but it wasn’t until about 6 months later that I would remember what I prayed. The answer to my prayer came when a friend of mine shared two video’s on my Facebook wall. One was called Truth or Tradition, and the other was called Identity Crises. Both video’s where done by Jim Staley with Passion for Truth Ministries, it was sometime between April 8th and 13th of 2012. After watching both of these videos, it rocked my world, so I had my wife sit down and watch them also, and I gave her the old Christian cliche, ‘If this guy is right, we have to change our entire life. But, if this guy is wrong, we are never gonna listen to a thing he says again.’ Needless to say, what we found him to be saying was correct. As we struggled to find out what new changes were going to be taken place in our lives, we spent a lot of time watching and testing video’s by another ministry called 119 Ministries. Over the course of the next three and a half months, the Father would begin to show us scripture through a whole new perspective.
Discovery Stage, What’s it Going to Cost Me?
Much of what we learned during this new season, was controversial, and that’s putting it lightly. Watching Truth or Tradition, and doing a bunch of follow up research to see if what Jim was saying was true, meant that from this point on, we couldn’t celebrate Christmas or Easter anymore, we would have to attach ‘tassels’ to the corner of our garments, and this was just the start. Our enjoyment of Bacon and Sausage would cease, as we found out pretty quickly that the Father’s instructions had not been done away, and that our Father in Heaven knew what was better for us to eat than we did. We also found out that keeping the Sabbath was of the utmost importance, and that it was not on Sunday like we had been taught. My wife and I were taking is slow though, it took us praying, discussing with each other, researching, and watching video’s on these topic to fully convince us, and the date we decided to keep the Sabbath for the very first time, was July 7th. We found out pretty fast that while keeping Sabbath was not difficult, it did mean that we would now need to revolve our lives around scripture, instead of fitting scripture in where it fit. This change did make things inconvenient for a while, but shortly we had made the necessary adjusts, and found scripture to be true. Isaiah 28:13,
“If you do turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My set-apart day, and shall call the Sabbath ‘a delight,’ the set-apart day of יהוה ‘esteemed,’ and shall esteem it, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, 14 then you shall delight yourself in יהוה. And I shall cause you to ride on the heights of the earth, and feed you with the inheritance of Ya‛aqoḇ your father. For the mouth of יהוה has spoken!”
In August I approached the pastor at our church and let him know about the video’s we had been watching, and said I would love to study it with him so I could find out if this Jim guy was wrong or not. After he refused, I told him I didn’t want to cause any commotion in the church, but don’t be surprised if I show up wearing tassels some day. The day happened about one month later. Shortly after that, I was accused of Proselytizing (Which means, ‘convert or attempt to convert (someone) from one religion, belief, or opinion to another.) for the first time in my life, for asking people questions. Later we were yelled at, accused, called legalists, and some stopped talking to us, de-friended us and blocked us on Facebook, and falsely accused and lied about us, all for asking questions. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I have suffered like many have for their faith, but for the first time since high school, I knew I was being rejected specifically for my faith. That made me believe that I might be on the right path. I know 2 things about Messiah. 1. He said we would be rejected for His sake. 2. He said the path was narrow and few find it. I knew now that I was not walking the same path as everyone else.
As time went on, we saw ourselves become more focused on teaching our kids scripture, looking to scripture to make decisions on our lives, studying scripture like never before, and kinda even looked like what we saw in scripture, instead of Christianity. Through this process we made many new friends, lost some friends (including my best friend, someone I had known for 15 years), and experienced tension within our families. One day as I was walking up the stairs in my house I felt the Father ask me a question. He said, ‘If you knew everything this decision would cost you ahead of time, would you still have done it?’ I thought about it for about 10 seconds and then responded, ‘Yes, of course, how could I settle for anything less than you?’ This reminded me of when Peter was asked by Messiah if he wanted to go away also, and Peter responded in John 6:68, ‘
‘יהושע therefore said to the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” 68 Then Shim‛on Kĕpha answered Him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You possess words of everlasting life.’
Later that day I felt the freedom of the Fathers Torah, that could be best explained by David in Psalms 119:44-45 (NLT)
I will keep on obeying your instructions forever and ever. 45 I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.
On December 22, 2012, I attended my first shabbat fellowship gathering, and on 1/5/13 my family joined me in attending. January 13th, 2013, was our families last sunday at church, as we transitioned to attending a Sabbath fellowship. Looking back, I think this was scary for our parents, but I know my Father in Heaven has been with us through this entire journey.
How it’s Affected My Life, My Relationships, and My Future…
From the first time we watched the video’s by Jim Staley, it’s been about 2 years now, and even though there are some things that have been tough, we could never go back. When we look at scripture, we are finding that are lives are matching up with it much better than it ever did before. We do find it hard to follow Torah (YHWH’s instructions for our lives) sometimes, but doing so is not without reward. For instance, did you know that there are pork products found in things like soap, shampoo, gum, cheese, lot’s of processed food, many baked items, and more? While this sounds overwhelming, as we have been forced to look at labels when we shop like never before, it causes us to ask questions about other ingredients as well, as a result we are learning to each much healthier, and there are many similar examples in our lives.
Scripture also tells us how to raise our kids, and when the Shema (Deut. 6:4-9) teaches us how, in order to be obedient to scripture, it makes us much more intentional about how we teach and raise our kids. I thought we were good parents before, but keeping our Fathers instructions has forced us to become even better parents. Keeping YHWH’s feast is something that can be difficult to do, especially if you have never done them before, and this was true for us as well. But keeping the Feasts has caused us to dig into scripture like never before, researching how do we keep it, why do we keep it, what’s it symbolic of, and much, much more. Christmas and Easter never caused us to do this. However, learning the Feasts has taught us a lot about YHWH’s plan for His people, salvation, how to live our lives, and helps us to understand the context of scripture like never before.
As for relationships in our lives, there have been some who have decided they would rather not fellowship with us anymore. There have been some who choose to still be close to us, but don’t understand us, and we have made many new friends. Following Torah has caused me to evaluate how I do business sometimes, caused us to live differently and re-evaluate priorities in our lives. We have had to consider how we live, what changes we should make, what kind of jobs I can and can’t do, and much much more. We find that when we follow Torah, which literally means instructions, for us to follow those means that we may need to re-evaluate some of our priorities, but in all of these things, we see and experience the blessings of making those choices.
Many say that keeping the Torah is bondage or a curse, I assure you that those people have never kept the Torah themselves. The blessings we find in keeping Sabbath, the Feasts, and even some of the other commandments are indescribable. Our kids look forward to Sabbath and the Feasts in a way that made them forget about Christmas and the like a long time ago. Our family finds incredible value in learning to live according to the instructions of YHWH, and it’s our prayer that everyone would learn to keep them so that they can be blessed like we have been blessed!
Deuteronomy 11:26, ‘See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, when you obey the commands of יהוה your Elohim which I command you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commands of יהוה your Elohim, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other mighty ones which you have not known.
The journey isn’t over yet, but I am so thankful for every major event the Father has taken us through. Each time we are drawn closer and closer to the heart of YHWH. I pray that my journey will cause you to draw closer to the Father as well!
To read all of our posts in the series, click on Matthew’s Testimony.