Sabbath-breaking and travelling missionaries

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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
The Popeye-Chicken Thread got me to thinking:

Being a missionary on furlough means travelling and putting many hours on one's car and sleeping in a new town every night. If one's view of the Sabbath means no commercial exchanges at all, this severely impedes travel (since much of my travel is on Sunday). Should travelling missionaries and pastors then count this sort of travel to be an act of mercy or necessity?

I have never felt guilty for filling up gas, eating while on the road (when travelling long distances for missionary service) or sleeping in a hotel at night.

Also, some pastors have taken me out to eat after the Sunday service. In those cases, I have considered that it would be rude to decline and tell them that I would rather not violate the Sabbath because I am their guest and they are taking the trouble to help me eat (a necessary thing) on a Sunday and, to a certain degree, one's guest must fit in with the expectations and rules of those he is visiting. If I were to say, "No, I don't want to eat lunch with you and, p.s., I think you are breaking the Sabbath by inviting this travelling missionary to eat lunch after service" this would seem rude and inadvisable. In fact, I don't think the host is breaking the Sabbath anyway if he is feeding someone who truly needs fed on the Sabbath (even though I am sure that some would say that the host should make something from home rather than take the guest out).

I suppose I could carry 30 gallon gas drums (like one brother in NJ suggested) or I could pack a cooler and sleep in the car, but these efforts to avoid work on the Sabbath seem to produce more work than they avoid.


What would you advise regarding keeping the Sabbath while travelling on Sundays when doing ministry?
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Pergy,

Speaking only for moi, if you are traveling in the course of ministry then that is an act of necessity. How would that be different from the person who must cross a toll bridge to get to church on the Lord's Day? You could minimize some activities by communicating in advance with churches you are visiting. If not offered, state that you would enjoy fellowship with a family(s) after worship. An after worship fellowship would allow you the opportunity to one-on-one with folks while also providing for food. If those things are not feasible, or not offered, you are still performing an act of necessity in this elder's opinion.
 

irresistible_grace

Puritan Board Junior
When we drove 7 1/2 hours round trip to worship at the church that its overseeing our church-plant we figured out how much gas it would take to get there and back. We fueled up on Saturday night so we only fueled up once on the LORD's Day and waited until Monday to fuel up again. We could not avoid getting gas that day but we did not completely disregard the 4th commandment (as regards our manservant/maidservant & neighbor working) either. We also packed a cooler with drinks and snacks so we didn't have to stop for supper. There is a fellowship meal between services every LORD's Day so lunch wasn't an issue!

You can't be legalistic about these things BUT you should do everything in you power to remain faithful. We are not saved by keeping the commandments but once saved we should desire to keep them. Trust & Obey!
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
When we drove 7 1/2 hours round trip to worship at the church that its overseeing our church-plant we figured out how much gas it would take to get there and back. We fueled up on Saturday night so we only fueled up once on the LORD's Day and waited until Monday to fuel up again. We could not avoid getting gas that day but we did not completely disregard the 4th commandment (as regards our manservant/maidservant & neighbor working) either. We also packed a cooler with drinks and snacks so we didn't have to stop for supper. There is a fellowship meal between services every LORD's Day so lunch wasn't an issue!

You can't be legalistic about these things BUT you should do everything in you power to remain faithful. We are not saved by keeping the commandments but once saved we should desire to keep them. Trust & Obey!

Carrying gas is just as easy/difficult as carrying sandwiches, etc, which need to be kept cold.

How did you arrive at a conclusion that gas is okay to pay for but food was not?
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Pergy,

Speaking only for moi, if you are traveling in the course of ministry then that is an act of necessity. How would that be different from the person who must cross a toll bridge to get to church on the Lord's Day? You could minimize some activities by communicating in advance with churches you are visiting. If not offered, state that you would enjoy fellowship with a family(s) after worship. An after worship fellowship would allow you the opportunity to one-on-one with folks while also providing for food. If those things are not feasible, or not offered, you are still performing an act of necessity in this elder's opinion.

Thanks. I am glad to know that your conclusions are the same as the conclusions I came to.
 

irresistible_grace

Puritan Board Junior
When we drove 7 1/2 hours round trip to worship at the church that its overseeing our church-plant we figured out how much gas it would take to get there and back. We fueled up on Saturday night so we only fueled up once on the LORD's Day and waited until Monday to fuel up again. We could not avoid getting gas that day but we did not completely disregard the 4th commandment (as regards our manservant/maidservant & neighbor working) either. We also packed a cooler with drinks and snacks so we didn't have to stop for supper. There is a fellowship meal between services every LORD's Day so lunch wasn't an issue!

You can't be legalistic about these things BUT you should do everything in you power to remain faithful. We are not saved by keeping the commandments but once saved we should desire to keep them. Trust & Obey!

Carrying gas is just as easy/difficult as carrying sandwiches, etc, which need to be kept cold.

How did you arrive at a conclusion that gas is okay to pay for but food was not?

Carrying 30 gallons of gas in a mini van could kill my family. It is highly explosive and the fumes are deadly. 13 hours with a gas can in my van would be irresponsible. Sitting on the side of the road because we didn't stop one time to fuel up with three small children would be equally irresponsible. The snacks were in a cooler but not on ice it was more so they wouldn't roll around the car. We could have fasted! Also, one person can work at a gas station but several must work at a restaurant.
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
I question whether traveling with filled gas barrels in your car would be safe. If not, I'd hope even strict Sabbatarians would agree that stopping for gas is a work of necessity.
 

Quatchu

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have a question, usually when I travel I must use the washroom on occasion, especially super long distances, I go into a gas station to do this. If I'm traveling on the Sabbath, what should be done because the station i would use is being watched by someone working on the Sabbath.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
I have a question, usually when I travel I must use the washroom on occasion, especially super long distances, I go into a gas station to do this. If I'm traveling on the Sabbath, what should be done because the station i would use is being watched by someone working on the Sabbath.

This is why we call it a "service" station. Free free to....
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
The Popeye-Chicken Thread got me to thinking:

Being a missionary on furlough means travelling and putting many hours on one's car and sleeping in a new town every night. If one's view of the Sabbath means no commercial exchanges at all, this severely impedes travel (since much of my travel is on Sunday). Should travelling missionaries and pastors then count this sort of travel to be an act of mercy or necessity?

I have never felt guilty for filling up gas, eating while on the road (when travelling long distances for missionary service) or sleeping in a hotel at night.

Also, some pastors have taken me out to eat after the Sunday service. In those cases, I have considered that it would be rude to decline and tell them that I would rather not violate the Sabbath because I am their guest and they are taking the trouble to help me eat (a necessary thing) on a Sunday and, to a certain degree, one's guest must fit in with the expectations and rules of those he is visiting. If I were to say, "No, I don't want to eat lunch with you and, p.s., I think you are breaking the Sabbath by inviting this travelling missionary to eat lunch after service" this would seem rude and inadvisable. In fact, I don't think the host is breaking the Sabbath anyway if he is feeding someone who truly needs fed on the Sabbath (even though I am sure that some would say that the host should make something from home rather than take the guest out).

I suppose I could carry 30 gallon gas drums (like one brother in NJ suggested) or I could pack a cooler and sleep in the car, but these efforts to avoid work on the Sabbath seem to produce more work than they avoid.


What would you advise regarding keeping the Sabbath while travelling on Sundays when doing ministry?

We want to keep at all times the heart of the command before us, making "holy" (that is set aside from the common use of the rest of the week, which might, ordinarily include travel) so that we might prioritize His worship all day, without undue hindrance.

In that light,
advance planning is an important part of keeping the command.

Pray regularly that the Lord will protect the sabbath (from undue distraction).

It's like tithing,
in that if we don't plan, ordinarily, it won't happen. It's not an afterthought for a tip, if money is left over and available.

Same thing with the sabbath.

Ordinarily, put travel before the Lord and try to avoid it on the Lord's Day. (Understand, not travel to church or for clear works of necessity of mercy). Plan your life around avoiding it, ordinarily, so that you may worship relatively unhindered. Because that's important.

Fill your gas up Saturday night as part of sabbath preparation.

If an unforeseen emergency arises, one not reasonably foreseeable (not that you just didn't bother to prepare for it), remember the mercy and necessity commands are as established AS PART OF THE COMMAND.

That's not a rationalization for carelessness, but indicative of the graciousness of the Lord of the sabbath.

Use "due diligence" in preparing for the sabbath, as you take God's command, and obedience to it, a priority in life.

God will bless you for it, because there is blessing in obedience.

Deuteronomy 28

1 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:

2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.

3 Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.

4 Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.

5 Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.

6 Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.

7 The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.

8 The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

9 The Lord shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways.
 
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Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
It's time for the people of God to get serious about obedience to a Holy God.:)

Not invest themselves in rationalizing disobedience, making excuses or inventing exception. Or using personal inconvenience as the measure of all things in this life.

Matthew 7

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
(since much of my travel is on Sunday). Should travelling missionaries and pastors then count this sort of travel to be an act of mercy or necessity?

Make an honest evaluation. How much of the Sunday travel is a necessity, and how much is a convenience? In some cases, could you not travel on Saturday, stay with a church family, and then travel again on Monday?
 

irresistible_grace

Puritan Board Junior
The Popeye-Chicken Thread got me to thinking:

Being a missionary on furlough means travelling and putting many hours on one's car and sleeping in a new town every night. If one's view of the Sabbath means no commercial exchanges at all, this severely impedes travel (since much of my travel is on Sunday). Should travelling missionaries and pastors then count this sort of travel to be an act of mercy or necessity?

I have never felt guilty for filling up gas, eating while on the road (when travelling long distances for missionary service) or sleeping in a hotel at night.

Also, some pastors have taken me out to eat after the Sunday service. In those cases, I have considered that it would be rude to decline and tell them that I would rather not violate the Sabbath because I am their guest and they are taking the trouble to help me eat (a necessary thing) on a Sunday and, to a certain degree, one's guest must fit in with the expectations and rules of those he is visiting. If I were to say, "No, I don't want to eat lunch with you and, p.s., I think you are breaking the Sabbath by inviting this travelling missionary to eat lunch after service" this would seem rude and inadvisable. In fact, I don't think the host is breaking the Sabbath anyway if he is feeding someone who truly needs fed on the Sabbath (even though I am sure that some would say that the host should make something from home rather than take the guest out).

I suppose I could carry 30 gallon gas drums (like one brother in NJ suggested) or I could pack a cooler and sleep in the car, but these efforts to avoid work on the Sabbath seem to produce more work than they avoid.


What would you advise regarding keeping the Sabbath while travelling on Sundays when doing ministry?

We want to keep at all times the heart of the command before us, making "holy" (that is set aside from the common use of the rest of the week, which might, ordinarily include travel) so that we might prioritize His worship all day, without undue hindrance.

In that light,
advance planning is an important part of keeping the command.

Pray regularly that the Lord will protect the sabbath (from undue distraction).

It's like tithing,
in that if we don't plan, ordinarily, it won't happen. It's not an afterthought for a tip, if money is left over and available.

Same thing with the sabbath.

Ordinarily, put travel before the Lord and try to avoid it on the Lord's Day. (Understand, not travel to church or for clear works of necessity of mercy). Plan your life around avoiding it, ordinarily, so that you may worship relatively unhindered. Because that's important.

Fill your gas up Saturday night as part of sabbath preparation.

If an unforeseen emergency arises, one not reasonably foreseeable (not that you just didn't bother to prepare for it), remember the mercy and necessity commands are as established AS PART OF THE COMMAND.

That's not a rationalization for carelessness, but indicative of the graciousness of the Lord of the sabbath.

Use "due diligence" in preparing for the sabbath, as you take God's command, and obedience to it, a priority in life.

God will bless you for it, because there is blessing in obedience.

Deuteronomy 28

1 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:

2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.

3 Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.

4 Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.

5 Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.

6 Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.

7 The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.

8 The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

9 The Lord shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways.
:amen:
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
You can't be legalistic about these things BUT you should do everything in you power to remain faithful.
I agree that this is the guiding principle. My family makes all its plans around being prepared and at our home church on the Lord's day, and that generally reduces Sunday work or travel to almost nothing. However, it is necessary to have gas, eat food, and to use the, eh hem, facilities; if you must be on the road, it is OK to do so. Under the old "blue laws" towns often would keep a single gas station and restaurant open on a rotating basis to provide for those who needed to be traveling.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Jesus did not have to heal all those people on the Sabbath, He could have waited one more day.

Also, our Lord who fasted 40 days needn't pluck grains to eat on the Sabbath - He could have just fasted (or even better, thought ahead of time and packed bread). After all, advance planning is part of keeping the Sabbath.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Jesus did not have to heal all those people on the Sabbath, He could have waited one more day.

Also, our Lord who fasted 40 days needn't pluck grains to eat on the Sabbath - He could have just fasted (or even better, thought ahead of time and packed bread). After all, advance planning is part of keeping the Sabbath.

Healing would be part of the mercy exception as established in the command. Plus, He is Lord of the sabbath.
Remember, works of mercy are established AS PART OF THE COMMAND.

There is no command to (always) fast on the sabbath. Nor is there a blanket prohibition on food preparation. This was always true, even under the Old Testament which the Pharisees misinterpreted and added man man regulation to.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Wouldn't ministry and all the travel and things involved with ministry constitute an act of mercy/necessity? The word "necessity" need not be super tight, for healing on a sabbath when the rest of the week is just as good is not a necessity in the strictest sense of the word.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Speaking in generalities, and in light of the principles....
Travel is generally a distraction and hindrance from worship all the day. Why can't it be planned to be there Saturday night? Is the travel itself necessary at that time, that's the test, not just is it necessary (at all).

"Necessity" as an exception to keeping the day holy is not a matter of personal convenience.

God's command, in general don't revolve around that.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
So many times you post here you have malaria or some horrible tropical disease or parasites or your wife and/or kids do. People die from those things you know. Your immune system needs more rest and less stress. I think you should do whatever is most restful and least stressful for you and your wife and kids. If that means traveling Sunday to reduce pressure and exhaustion, then do it. If it means buying food that is fresh and healthy, then do it.

Your entire calling is an act of mercy just to do what you do. Your entire existence is an ox falling in a well. Parasites like giardia affect vitamin absorption in the intestines and recovery takes as long time. Malaria weakens the body. Every Sunday for you is a day where Jesus cares about your healing more than somebody's definition of what is work or not.

I am not saying this applies to the average normal American. But for you, it certainly does.

May God bless your furlough.
 

thbslawson

Puritan Board Freshman
It's time for the people of God to get serious about obedience to a Holy God.:)

Not invest themselves in rationalizing disobedience, making excuses or inventing exception. Or using personal inconvenience as the measure of all things in this life.

Matthew 7

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

A little uncharitable to a brother asking a sincere question don't you think?

I didn't get the sense he was "rationalizing disobedience, making excuses or inventing exception" but sincerely seeking to know what the Scriptures say and how they apply in his situation. The fact of the matter is that there ARE exceptions. There's going through the grain fields on the Sabbath, healing on the sabbath, pulling an ox out of a ditch, etc. Oversimplifying a commandment is not being any more "serious about obedience" than trying to faithfully understand and apply the word in one's life.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Wouldn't ministry and all the travel and things involved with ministry constitute an act of mercy/necessity?

Isn't iteneration by missionaries primarily fundraising to support ministry? I acknowledge that there is a teaching element to it, which may range from giving the sermon to Q&A in a Sunday School class to a three minute 'moment for missions' during the service. But none of those are necessary for the congregation, although they may be beneficial.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Thomas,

I am afraid that the ardor and enthusiasm some have for the Sabbath (a good thing) which spills over into statements like the above (which assumes flippancy on my part) is why many of my friends almost loathe the reformed definition of the Sabbath...we make it look odious by making it a chain about our necks.

I have tried not to believe in the Sabbath and I have tried to embrace New Covenant Theology, in order to get away from the Sabbath because of the rules laid down by some. But, I see that the 4th commandment abides forever, as a blessing to man.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Wouldn't ministry and all the travel and things involved with ministry constitute an act of mercy/necessity?

Isn't iteneration by missionaries primarily fundraising to support ministry? I acknowledge that there is a teaching element to it, which may range from giving the sermon to Q&A in a Sunday School class to a three minute 'moment for missions' during the service. But none of those are necessary for the congregation, although they may be beneficial.

The missionary is often asked to cast a vision for missions, answer mission questions, and sometimes to preach. These things are all necessary to the Church, as the Great Commission was given to her.
 

Scottish Lass

Puritan Board Doctor
Prepare for the things you can; some things are truly unavoidable. We were traveling to south Kentucky every few weeks in the hopes of gathering an interested group of Reformed folks. We could make it one tank of gas as long as we filled up Saturday night. If the round trip had been 100 miles longer, we would have filled up. Our host family generously fed us; other times we have taken a cooler of sandwiches, etc.

Pergamum is going to encounter more times where mercy and necessity apply than the average person living in a developed area. He may well be expected to be in one place on the morning of the Lord's Day and another by evening. Or one place Sunday evening and another Monday morning. Transportation, access to food and medicine, etc. are different for him while he is in-country than for someone in America, too.

Regardless, we've hashed this out here many times before---whether we look at what is permitted or what is forbidden, etc. I'm not sure how much new ground there is to cover.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
But, I see that the 4th commandment abides forever, as a blessing to man.

Amen!

While the light of this commandment is less in our generation, God's promises regarding blessing for obedience remain. No doubt, many of God's commands seem onerous to self-willed creatures. We resent God imposing on "our" time and "our" money.

Yet He does.

And has every right to.

And in it, we discover, that in dying to self, being willing to self deny to be obedient, to obey and trust God when there is a cost, to have faith in situations where there do not appear to be easy answers to our understanding, that we grow in grace and faith.

All our basic to the Christian life.

The sabbath is but one of many testing grounds of such. An important one.

It's one others need to see as a witness, the unsaved, and the saved. From missionaries, church officers and layman. It needs to be modeled, and taught in the ordinary course of Christian life, evangelism, etc. because it is part of God's fundamental law, until the end of this world.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Only a generation ago, there were Sunday closings laws in many small towns and villages.

Somehow, people survived without gas stations, banks, grocery stores, cinemas, restaurants open on Sunday. And it wasn't that people were less spiritual back then, compared to now.

Curiously, mental illness, and restlessness has grown exponentially, church attendance has declined, and the arguments against keeping the sabbath have become either more dismissive or more sophisticated.

Yet are we a more holy people? Are we more mentally healthy and satisfied? Are churches more healthy now that sabbath observance has almost gone away?

Why is it that God often equated Israel's spiritual condition to their keeping of the sabbath? Has that changed now?

Keeping the sabbath ought be all the more diligent by those who would model God's Word and witness His life, e.g. missionaries, Pastors and those sent. That goes with the territory, e.g. to whom much is given, much is required.

And in that obedience, something happens.

Faith grows.

Peace grows.

Blessing flows in mind and body.

Most of all, the Lord of the Sabbath, gets Honor and Glory.
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
Scott, my old pastor grew up in the "blue laws" days in Maine. He said they didn't close ALL gas stations every Sunday, but that they had a rotation system, each of the four local stations being open one Sunday a month. FYI.
 
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