Today I am so honored, as well as a
wee whole lot excited to introduce you to my friend, Anne Elliott. Many of our home school readers probably know Anne from one of two, (or both), places. She and her family are the founders of Foundations Press which publishes fantastic history, Bible and PE curriculum. They also own, and run, Homeschooling Torah (insert SQUEAL here–this is my family’s all-time favorite curriculum!! Oh, and an affiliate link). This curriculum has been one of the biggest blessings ever for us-not just as far as the ease of use/planning and content, but because of the “family” of HT members in our Facebook group–which Anne is very active in (another thing I am very grateful for).
I first “stumbled” upon Anne several years ago. A homeschool blog was advertising all 3 levels of the Foundations Bible curriculum for free. So, I downloaded them. We loved them! This also led me to Anne’s blog. I remember mentally ‘filing it away’ to look at later then forgot. Fast forward to now–I had heard about Homeschooling Torah through some homeschool FB group, and bam! The curriculum was an answer to prayer! I waivered back and forth, even cancelling my subscription a few times in confusion (I have shared with my readers about my spiritual journey here), yet God kept leading and nudging me back to HT. I am SO thankful I listened! If I might add–one does NOT have to be “Torah Observant” to LOVE this curriculum or even use it!
So, today I would like to share with you my “interview” with Anne. At the bottom of the post is the linky for today which will remain open for a week. Link-up your posts (as many as you would like), on today’s topic: All About the Home!
Now, let’s start the interview off with a brief, and oft funny, video!
(video taken from the Homeschooling Torah website–meet Anne and her family!!)
Please introduce yourself:
My name is Anne Elliott. I’ve been married to Kraig since 1993, and we have seven kids — ages 19, 16, 14, 12, 10, 7, and 5. We live in Michigan, where we homeschool our kids, design websites, write homeschooling curriculum, and are working to start a new fellowship nearby. We’re passionate about lots of things, but we most want to get to the ends of our lives and know that our lives made a difference for God’s kingdom.
(Please see their statement of faith here for more information.)
Question #1: What is a ‘Torah Observant believer?’ How would you say it differs from Judaism and mainstream Christianity? (love her explanation and the visual learner in me appreciates the diagram!)
We’re different in a few ways from mainstream Christianity. The most striking differences include:
- Our family now follows a biblically clean diet (from Leviticus 11). We don’t eat any pork or shellfish, and we watch labels carefully, because those unclean foods sneak into lots of things, like gelatin and frosting on Pop-Tarts and even some vitamins and supplements. It has been a good change for our health!
- We try to follow the practical instructions given in Leviticus 19. We’re much more careful about sanitation in our home now, and we are more thoughtful about our clothing choices and even how we garden.
- A huge change (especially since my husband is a former Baptist pastor) is that we now rest and worship on Saturdays (the seventh-day Sabbath), and we celebrate the biblical holidays listed in Leviticus 23 rather than Christmas and Easter. This change meant that eventually my husband resigned as a pastor, and we have had to look for other ways to earn a living and minister. However, God has been extremely gracious to us, and we wouldn’t go back for a moment.
However, being grafted into Israel doesn’t mean we are trying to be Jews. I think of three circles overlapping. (Think of a Venn diagram.) The first circle is everything that Christianity has traditionally taught. The middle circle is what the Bible teaches. The third circle is what Judaism teaches.
I’m aiming for the middle circle. I want to look at Scripture for the answers to all life’s questions. However, these three circles can overlap. So where the Bible and traditional Christianity overlap, I will look like any other Christian. That’s okay! However, in many areas, the Judaism circle also overlaps with the Bible. In those areas, if a Christian or secular person were looking at me, I would look like a Jew. But I’m really neither! I’m just an oddball, LOL! But I want to be a Biblical oddball, firmly planted in that middle circle.
Question #2: What started you on this journey?
I became “Torah observant” in 2006 when I was searching for real answers to a question about 2 Peter 1:3, which says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him… (NIV).” I had no idea how that could be true, since it seemed to only give answers about how to have eternal life. I didn’t feel like I had any idea what the Bible said about practical daily living, but I had an uneasy feeling that this was because I just hadn’t read it very well. I started a frantic search and reading of the Bible from Genesis 1. The first five books are known as the Torah, but I had been taught that as a Christian, these passages were only written for Israel.
Through my study, I realized (from Romans 11, Ephesians 2, and many other passages) that I had been grafted into Israel and that the instructions in Genesis to Deuteronomy were practical and for my good. In fact, the meaning of the Hebrew word “Torah” is “instruction,” and that gives a good idea of how helpful and beneficial it is.
Question #3: What does this look like in your everyday life?
The first thing is means is that when we read the Bible, we read as if all of it is applicable to our lives. That makes a huge difference! I really don’t fall asleep while “having my devotions” any more (and yes, I used to do that!). My eyes are wide open now, searching for instructions, because if all of it is for my good, then I want to be paying attention. I love that “boring” sections like genealogies, the book of Leviticus, and those pesky “minor prophets” just come alive now. I have no idea why I used to think they were boring! It’s like I cannot get enough of the Word of God. The more I eat, the more I want.
Secondly, it becomes much more natural to talk about Scripture in our home, as we walk and talk, sit and lie down. That used to be a struggle, something that I felt guilty for not doing. Now conversations (even lively and heated discussions!) erupt as we talk about the Torah and try to figure out how to do what it says. Our children watch this and participate in it – and it’s very exciting to see.
Third, we have a strong sense now that we cannot just look into the mirror of God’s Word and then walk away. When it says we should rest on the Sabbath day, for instance, and that the day begins and ends at sunset, we are very aware of the sun setting on a Friday afternoon. In fact, we think about it all the other six days, too, and I think it has affected our productivity and ability to minister, as we ponder what it means that “for six days you shall doall your work.” The Torah is a living, breathing document, sharper than a two-edged sword – and once we start to do what it says, it only becomes more alive and more active. It is beautiful.
Question #4: How do you fulfill the commands in Deuteronomy 6:6-9, but especially verse 7?
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
One of the most fascinating studies my husband and I did since coming to Torah was to study through the book of Deuteronomy, specifically looking for instructions on parenting. You can read more about what we found because our findings motivated us to set up an entire publishing company, Foundations Press.
We had been homeschooling our children since the very beginning (and our oldest son is now 19 years old), but our study of Torah made us realize that the Bible can indeed become our primary textbook for every single subject in school.
- The book of Deuteronomy says that God created us to learn best in an environment where we “hear, learn, keep, and do” what He has said. This became the basis of the method of homeschooling we now use. http://foundationspress.com/about/hear-learn-keep-do/
- We also learned that God interacts with His people like a father with His children. Once we made a list of all the ways He teaches His children, we were presented with awesome ideas on how to homeschool.http://foundationspress.com/about/biblical-homeschooling-methods/
- You can read even more about what we discovered in a free e-book we offer on our website, athttp://foundationspress.com/homeschool-support-2/homeschool-how-to-series/biblical-home-education/
Question #5: Is this a ‘works based’ salvation issue? Many have compared this lifestyle to the “Galatians Judaizers.” How do you answer these claims? What makes us different?
Paul wrote a scathing letter to the Galatians about those “Judaizers” who had traded the gospel of Jesus Christ for another gospel. The thought that I could be one of them really bothered me!
One thing I noted was that the book of Galatians is a continuation of the story in Acts 15, where men came together in Jerusalem and asked this very question of the Apostles, with James at the head. However, the question they were asking was, “Is it necessary to keep the law of Moses to be saved?” (See Acts 15:1.)
You see, during the first century, if a Gentile wanted to convert to Judaism, he had to go through a very long process of study and education on how to follow all the Rabbinic traditions that eventually were written down in the Talmud and Mishnah. At the end of this process, a man would undergo circumcision as a sign that he would now submit fully to the yoke of the rabbis.
Was this what new Gentile believers in the Jewish Messiah Jesus (Yeshua) must do?
No! This was the firm answer given by the Apostles. Rather, James said that the Jewish believers were to welcome their new Gentile brothers, eating with them and sharing life with them, even if they weren’t sure how to obey the Laws of Moses perfectly.
However, one verse (that I had ironically never seen before) stood out to me. After James stood up and gave four rules that would be the starting point for all new Gentile believers, he continued with an amazing “discipleship program” for the early church: “For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath” (Acts 15:21). The Apostles’ plan was for all new believers – both Jew and Gentile – to be united each Sabbath day in their reading and study of “the law of Moses.” The Torah was the original discipleship plan for local churches!
If we were to believe that the Law of God saves us, we would indeed be falling into terrible heresy and denying the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, who shed His blood for our sins. However, as Paul says in Romans 6, we are not to continue in sin so that grace may abound. Instead, we are to come together in our local assemblies and learn from the Scriptures, which have been given to us as our instruction manual in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).
I’ve written more on this topic at http://anneelliott.com/2015/01/definition-of-righteousness/.
Question #6: Share some of your favorite resources for learning more.
My favorite resources are my Bible, a journal, and a pen. J Seriously, until a woman has read through all the Bible, for herself, in her own Bible, and preferably from the front to the back, she should probably be very careful about getting instruction from others.
The believers in Berea (Acts 17:10-12) knew their Scriptures so well that when Paul (!) came to town, they were able to check his teaching against the Word of God to be sure it matched. That is my goal!
Some online tools I use include:
- E-sword http://www.e-sword.net/
- Blue Letter Bible http://www.blueletterbible.org/
- Bible Hub http://biblehub.com/
However, even the Ethiopian eunuch sometimes got really confused when reading the Old Testament. We see that God provided Philip to him, to sit next to him and explain the Scriptures (Acts 8:26-40). The disciples of Jesus didn’t understand that He was the Messiah, so Jesus went on a walk with them and explained it all to them (Luke 24:13-49). When Apollos was a new believer, he got really confused, so Priscilla and Aquila invited him over for dinner several times and patiently straightened out his theology (Acts 18:18-28).
When I get confused, some of my favorite resources include:
- · http://www.alittleperspective.com
- · http://www.setapartpeople.com
Question #7: Anne-you have shared with us before that your husband was a Baptist pastor prior to this. What brought him to these beliefs and what is his advice for those of us still in the church but questioning much of what we have been taught?
My husband was a Baptist pastor for four years after we started to rest on the Sabbath, not eat unclean foods, celebrate Biblical holidays, and study Torah diligently. I think that taking the time to prepare four sermons a week and study for various other types of ministry were a gift, because he had time to actually dig into the Word and see what it said.
He was very careful and slow to change his theology. In fact, he spent several years trying to refute “Torah observance.” He prefers to preach expository sermons, which means he tends to preach verse by verse through an entire book of the Bible, rather than teaching on just topics.
One year, he was teaching on the minor prophets in Sunday school, the book of 1 Peter on Sunday mornings, the book of Acts on Sunday evenings, and the book of Psalms on Wednesday night! Over and over again, he was convinced by the plain teaching of Scripture that
“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:7-11).
You can hear more of his story at:
So if you’re still attending church on Sunday?
- Be patient. Does your pastor teach from the Bible? If so, give thanks! Open your Bible each week and study along. The Holy Spirit is alive and moving wherever the Word is read.
- Be submissive. If your husband hasn’t “seen the light” (in any area, not just Torah), then follow the advice of Peter, who tells us women to keep our mouths shut and to work on our own flaws first. LOL! You can be reading your Bible each day, but be sure to get the log out of your own eye before trying to get the speck out of your husband’s or pastor’s eye. See 1 Peter 3:1-6.
- Ask questions. Paul suggest that women ask their husbands theology questions before running off to their pastors or to the Internet. See 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.
- Prepare for change. If God leaves you to leave your church someday (and He might), then think about how you will learn and grow. Leviticus 23:3 says that we are to assemble with others. The writer of Hebrews warns us not to give that up, especially when the world seems evil and that all is falling apart (Hebrews 10:25). Paul reminds us that we need weekly fellowship and teaching from others or we could fall prey to lies and deception (Ephesians 4). Ask God for wisdom and guidance, so that you can obey Him completely.
- Wait. The Spirit of God is moving in a mighty way in our world today! The future is bright and exciting. It is humbling to think that we are living in a time when prophecies are being fulfilled before our very eyes. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-22).
Question #8: What is your current ministry?
We are passionate about helping families, strengthening marriages, teaching parents, and training up the next generation of children for His kingdom. We write and publish homeschooling curriculum, as well as Bible study and training materials for adults.
You can hear more of our story at http://homeschoolingtorah.com/interview-with-hebrew-nation-radio/ .
My husband is also passionate about starting new Torah-following congregations throughout the United States and providing training materials and encouragement to the men wanting to start these local groups. We are currently living in Michigan and working to start a new fellowship outside Lansing.
Question #9: Any last words of advice or anything else to share with our readers? Where can we find you on the web?
In this age when information flies at us faster than we can take it in, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed. When you’re not sure what to do, I urge you to follow our Master Yeshua’s example. Go off into a wilderness place (which might be that bathroom, for young moms!), and get alone with God. Pray, and ask Him for wisdom. This is a prayer He promises to always answer (James 1:5). Open the Bible and read with an intent to do what it says. Give it time. Allow the Holy Spirit to tailor your education to your exact needs, patiently waiting for His still, small voice to speak to you.
I really hope y’all enjoyed both this interview, as well as the one with Christine Miller of Nothing New Press. These two ladies have really blessed me with their stories, advice, resources, prayers and friendships.
Now, for the linky!! Link-up as many posts as you would like! Today’s topic is All About the Home (linky is open for a week; we also have more topics for Wednesday and Thursday-see the graphic above) and we want to hear all about anything to do with your home. Be it homemaking posts, homemade goodies, your life…it’s all wide open!