Our first gathering together as a family congregation was April 12, 2014 (Month 1 Day 13) for our own Havdalah service. During that time, I prayed. I began with a blessing: Blessed are you Jehovah our God, Sovereign of the Cosmos, who leads his chosen people. The Divine responded:
Then the Divine continued:
Now listen and do. True shema.
I have spoken in other places about the meaning of the Hebrew word shema. The previous statement is the Divine expressing the very concept inherent in shema, one must listen to understand in order to do. Then the Divine continued:
You are now conjoined, completely enjoined, forever your own congregation, no turning back, no turning back.
That is exactly what I have been doing. I have spent time working with my family and our family assembly, while having occasional visits with a local Messianic synagogue.
On April 19, 2014 (Month 1 Day 19), I prayed during Havdalah. I began with a blessing: Blessed are you Jehovah our God, Sovereign of the Cosmos, who gives all that is needed. The Divine responded:
Blessings my son. You have done well.
Later in the prayer, the Divine conveyed:
Relax, your work in ministry is over as you know it, for a new ministry awaits, a ministry you are planting as we speak
Learning how to relax, learning how to truly unwind and slow down, has been and remains difficult. Life itself does not operate in a way that is conducive to relaxing. But relaxing and slowing down definitely has its place.
My ministry is over. Hmm. That was somewhat difficult to accept, but I have come to terms with it. There was a time that I thought I was going to go back into the pulpit as a fulltime pulpit minister, or that I would return to some type of fulltime work in the church. It didn’t happen.
Why? It directly relates to my choice to follow the leading. I’m not upset about the leading, nor am I upset with the ways in which it affects my fulltime work in the church.
But a new ministry awaits. Part of that ministry is working for my family, serving them, that has been part of the ministry. It is significantly different than how I once approached family. While it has only been a couple of years, the family has stabilized in ways that I think would have once eluded me.
What else does this new ministry hold for me? I have yet to see. But I do know this, the manner in which I work in the ministry, staying true to this leading, has created lots of moments for questions and criticisms, for no other reason than believers don’t have any real ability to assess why I am doing what I am doing.
Later in the prayer, the Divine conveyed:
Take the time to share, writing is sharing,
So I share. I write. I speak with others. I have discussions. The realities of the work are always there, but at least they are different than when I was in pulpit ministry, for that I think I will always be thankful.
Then the Divine added a contrast:
but… I have given you a small, yet important, very important, congregation to work with.
So the work is small. Does it matter? Sure it does. I have yet to meet a pulpit minister who isn’t looking to increase numbers. Increase is a sign of growth.
But I interpret the information that the importance outweighs the size. I have no clue as to how it will be important, I just accept that it will be.
I anticipate growth, but growth looks much different. Growth begins with my family, I expect our family to grow by one wife, and then I expect the family to grow with children.
But, how the congregation grows, in addition to the family growth, is unknown to me. I know what typical ministry looks for, but since this is anything but typical, I have no means of even speculating.
All I know is that I do the work I have been told to do. Part of that involves writing, speaking, and publishing about the Scriptures, and the truths contained therein. Part of that involves helping people in their faith. Part of that is letting the Devine do what the Divine does.
On April 26, 2014 (Month 1 Day 26) we assembled at our home for Havdalah and I prayed. I began with a blessing: Blessed are you Jehovah our God, Sovereign of the Cosmos, who gives community. The Divine responded:
Then the Divine continued:
My son, listen to me. You need to listen, yes shema. Hear, drink in, do. Now listen.
As I have experienced in past prayers, the Divine leads me to pay attention to what is shared, to not only hear, but do, truly implement that which is understood. The Divine continued:
You are my representative. My representative must behave for they represent holiness.
Every believer in God should be able to accept that we represent the holiness of the Divine. We don’t always represent the Divine in the best way, but at least we know we should be a good representative.
But what people interpret as a good representative, seems to be as varied as the believers themselves. The Divine continued:
This is much different than you have done in the past, for you represented yourself, yes yourself, you now represent me.
That is something that I am not too comfortable sharing, but there it is. Because this is a difficult thing to accept, to accept it means that when I was in pulpit ministry I was representing myself. Was I? No. I was representing my religious heritage, its traits, its theology, its teachings.
So how was I NOT representing the Divine? The leading that I came to experience after leaving pulpit ministry was not a part of my life during my experience in my religious heritage. During that time, I did not spend this type of time in prayer with the Divine, nor did I receive interactive leading, even though I most definitely prayed and looked for help from providence.
The Divine interprets these as two different things. It doesn’t matter that when in my religious heritage I was faithful to the Scriptures and teaching the Bible, because I did not have my direct interactive prayer life, I was not representing the Divine, but myself which I identified with my religious heritage, a heritage that did (does) not believe in the interactive leading of the Divine.
So consider how the Divine continued:
In representing me, holiness is utmost.
Look, almost all believers believe that holiness is paramount to discipleship. But what they interpret as holiness differs from believer to believer as it does congregation to congregation.
Later in the prayer, the Divine conveyed:
Now, I want you to represent me in the most holy of ways,
Considering that I am moving into a relationship with two wives, that statement has to be a mind-boggler from the Divine. But as I have articulated elsewhere, nowhere, not one place do the Scriptures identify a man having two wives as abhorrent. It might be in the eyes of people, but it is not so in the eyes of the Divine.
Since a man having two wives is not abhorrent to the Divine, then it is possible to still be a representative. Consider that the Divine continued:
but ‘how’ you dress is not as important as ‘how’ you act. Unholy thoughts become unholy actions, let not your heart stray from that which is holy – me.
There is a lot of information there for contemplation. The Devine continued:
Listen to me, search my word, but be patient, know the teachings,
I cannot underscore the importance of that information. I do my best to listen, to shema, I do my best to search and study the Scriptures to know those teachings. The Divine continued:
but be patient, love everyone, but be patient,
Being patient is not always easy. The Divine continued:
love is merciful and love is kind, but love does not ‘tolerate’ the abhorrent.
For me, that is a very difficult aspect. Believers have demonstrated intolerance toward what the Scriptures identify as unacceptable behavior. But believers have also demonstrated too much tolerance toward unacceptable behavior.
For me, the focus on love balances the message. The balance involves mercy and kindness, but also has to be connected to the concept of patience. Consider how the Divine continued:
Here is what I mean. Since I seek the heart, there is no amount of correction or teaching you can do or muster to ‘convert’ the abhorrent.
I don’t think there is any way I can underscore that statement. But that is exactly what people of faith attempt to do, pushing correction and teaching as if it would affect things. Consider that the Divine continued:
I ‘convert’ the abhorrent, many-a-person has changed because of me not religion, religion affects people, but religion pushes away, don’t push away. Attract. By being holy, sharing, then revealing me. That’s it.
That ends on a positive note, but sure begins with difficulty, especially for New Testament believers and our emphasis on the Great Commission and conversion. I am not here to resolve the tension, just realizing that the tension exists. Furthermore, the Divine takes the credit for the change that is affected in people.
Similar to the previous paragraph, religion is a touchy subject. Again, I am not here to resolve the tension, just realizing that the tension exists. But, I definitely see the importance of the positive qualities that the Divine identifies.
The prayer continues, the Divine conveyed:
Now for your family. We are almost ready.
That was over two years ago. The hardest thing about living by faith and leading is time. Time seems to have either a vastly different meaning or is of no meaning to the Divine.
To me “almost” is not two years, but I also accept that I was not completely ready when that was presented during that prayer. So perhaps the issue resides more with me. The Divine continued:
When you have become one family, your life will change in tremendous and powerful ways.
Two thoughts, the first is about the opening phrase. The word “when” is non-descript in its timing, but one family definitely seems to insinuate the arrival of Rachel.
The second is about the change. I think those words are not overstatements and not understatements. But those statements do give me great pause. Consider that the Divine continued:
Be not afraid.
That is an important statement. It seems directly between the information about change, and about my wives. Consider how the Divine continued:
Your wives will pull you apart if you do not find balance.
Balance is not making “balance” between each wife. Balance is found within my self. The task of helping two wives is unique, I know that, but my practical experience is zilch, zero, nada.
I know that there are other men who have multiple wives, maybe they have their balance, maybe they don’t. But for me, balance begins, firstly, in the aspect that I truly want two wives and this is something that I am willing to give my self into completely. The Divine continued:
You are not their master, you are their servant,
I am going to stop there, because that is so important. There are many husbands who ‘lord’ their husbandship over their wife, or wives if it be the case. There are probably lots of things I could discuss regarding that situation, but I am not here to discuss the negatives of that style of house oversight.
Instead, the Divine said I am the servant of my wives. That seems like a complete inverse of how most people view marriage, for it seems that even the majority of religious women see themselves as the servant of the marriage.
But, I want to state that Jesus, the Messiah, the Anointed One of Israel, while called “Lord” does not, in any way, lord himself over his bride. He serves his bride, making her greater because of his servanthood. Sadly, that picture seems to have either been lost or missing in the teachings from the church and Christians about marriage, yet the New Testament makes that image clear.
But the opposite is also true. There are many wives who lord themselves over their husbands. This is why when I have discussed having multiple wives it is fairly prevalent to hear the aphorism: You can’t serve two masters.
That concept comes from a broken idea about marriage. And many men serve their wife as if she were his master. I have only one master, and that is why I can serve one wife or two wives and don’t have to be concerned about their ‘lordship’ as wives. The Divine continued:
a servant can get overloaded, underappreciated, yet you won’t, shouldn’t, because as a servant, you are a lover, not a slave,
So if I thought I was being demoted and/or devalued, that statement reveals part of the balance. Consider the other part of the balance, the Divine continued:
you are not their manservant, you are their equal,
Therefore, following in the likeness of how Jesus serves the church, I serve my wives. But I am their equal. They are not superior, they are not inferior.
This probably makes many Christians think of headship and the household, so what the Divine expresses next is important:
but not the ‘head’ I am, yes I am,
That seems to turn some New Testament teachings on their head, no pun intended. I have put some time into meditating on this. Here is my brief answer, for what it’s worth.
The woman (Eve) was put into subjection to her husband (Adam) because of her transgression. That was her curse. Jesus redeems from the curse of the law. Woman’s subjection to her husband was part of the curse of the law. Although it is commonly taught that in Messiah, the woman is under her husband’s headship, this cannot be and have woman be redeemed from the curse.
The prayer makes it clear that in Messiah, the husband is to embody the Messiah, to be a servant, as servant, he serves his wife or wives. This does not make the woman better than the man, no. Through Messiah, the woman regains her created status to NOT be in subjection to her husband.
The concept of woman being in subjection to the man is prevalent in religious teachings about marriage. If memory serves, it had prevalence in my teachings and understandings until this prayer. That is because I never grasped the importance of Jesus redeeming from the curse of the law.
Now, that brings something very important to the front, and that is the woman’s place before God. Once redeemed from the curse of the law, she moves out from under her husband’s oversight, which is a blessing to the husband as well as the wife or wives. But it comes with a caveat, the Divine continued:
allow me to correct them and their off-putting behavior…
This means that the husband doesn’t have to concern himself as he once did about making sure his wife’s or wives’ behavior are righteous. Having been redeemed from the curse of the law, he is freed from this responsibility, and the responsibility goes back to where it was to be, directly under the Divine.
That is the exact place that was never removed from the husband. Since they both stand before God next to each other, they are equals.
There is probably more that I could say, or should say, but I am telling “My Story” not giving a lesson on marriage.
But I will say this, when I consider the beauty of that marriage, where I am freed from the responsibility of being their ‘lord’ and that responsibility sets with the Divine, it becomes a marriage that is beautiful, and rewarding, for all.
Blessings and Shalom