Saturday, June 27, 2009

One further note on Fatherhood.

It is not enough for the husband to simply be the head of the home. Many a despot father has been head of his home, while beating his children and abusing his wife. No, the key is to lead our families in the ways of God. If we will raise them up to be Godly young people and they see the example of Godly parents and a good marriage, God will bless!

A tale of three father's: Abraham

"Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: ...So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him..." Genesis 12:1-4
There are many great men in scripture, but few stand out like Abraham. He is called the "Father of faith".
First of all, it must be pointed out that Abraham was not perfect. The great thing about scripture (and one of the proofs of it's validity. After all, if it were, as some suppose, written after the fact as a way to try and prove the validity of it's teachings, the many faults of the people would not be included. These things would've been left out as a way to show how great the religion was, not included.), is that it always speaks the truth.
The great Abraham, who left home, family, and friends behind at 75 years old, because God had spoken to him, made many mistakes (don't we all?). He lied to at least 2 kings to protect his own skin. He displayed an appalling lack of faith, as well as caused many a problem for people today some 4000 years later, by accepting his wife's handmaid as a second wife in order to try and raise up the heir that God seemed to not be bringing. The resulting child, Ishmael, was not the promised son through which the Messiah would come. Rather, he became the father of the Arab world that gives us and Israel such a hard time. Sin does effect others besides the one who sins, even 4000 years later.
So why is he called the Father of faith? He left his homeland on a promise that he would be given a special land of his own, but he wasn't told where it was or how long it would take to get there. He repented when he messed up, but never permanently lost his faith in God. Probably the biggest reason, however, is that he had so much faith in God that he was willing to sacrifice the very son of promise- Isaac- when he was asked to, believing that even if God didn't stop him from doing it, then God would certainly raise his son from the dead! (Hebrews 11:17-19)
As we discussed before, to get back on topic, Abraham and Job were both alive at around the same time period. We already know why God did not choose Job to be the Father of many nations through whom he would bless the world- his parenting style. Why then did God choose Abraham?
We've already seen that Abraham was not perfect. Seemingly, in some ways, he was not as devout a man as Job was, so why Abraham instead of Job? The answer is simple and wonderful. It is also attainable for us today! Not being the "Father of faith" or the "Father of many nations". Those titles will forever belong to Abraham.
We can, however, obtain the blessing of God for us, our children, and those we come in contact with. Abraham was told in Genesis 12:1-4 that God would bless those that bless Abraham and curse those that curse Abraham. Can we attain this promise for ourselves? Yes, I believe we can. But what was it about Abraham that qualified him for this promise?
"And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children, and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgement; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him." Genesis 18: 17-19
So what were Abraham's qualifications and what is the pattern for us to follow?
First, God said of him, "I know him..."! This is very important. God didn't say, I used to know him or I will know him, he said (present tense), "I know him". The first qualification is to be in current, active, and intimate relationship with God! When Adam and Eve were married, it says "and Adam knew Eve.." in reference to their intimate loving relationship together. God desires to "know" each and every one of us. He desires to have that spiritually intimate relationship with US! The first step of qualification is for us to "be born again". Acts 2:38 is the ONLY New Testament plan of salvation. It says for us to "Repent, and be baptized...in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." If you haven't done that, you will be unable to do the rest and you'll miss the blessings God has for you.
Second, God says of Abraham that "he will COMMAND his children and his household after him.."! The second key, father's, is that we are to BE THE HEAD OF OUR HOMES! We are not to cower to the wife and children and let them do whatever they wish and order us around. We are to be THE AUTHORITY in our home. A word of caution here is needed, however. This authority does not make us a dictator. If we are a dictator, we break 2 New Testament commands for us to follow and, therefore, disqualify ourselves as taking part in the promise we are studying today.
One is the command for us to love our wives as Christ loved the church and GAVE HIMSELF for it. This is not a dictatorship, but rather a loving and self-sacrificial leadership that puts her needs before his own, up to and including being willing to die for her safety!
The other command is the admonition to "provoke not your children to wrath". This, again is not a dictatorship. Rather, it is loving leadership that doesn't mind explaining why we do this and don't do that. A dictator will cause his children to become bitter and end up suffering the wrath of God.
However, it also is an attitude of "the buck stops here." The final decision maker in the home is the Father! The wife and children have the right to give input, but his final and prayerful decision MUST be followed by all in his home and he must love them enough to COMMAND that they not cross the line.
The final qualification is that his family will, as a result of his Godly leadership, "keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgement.." If we lead in a way that helps them to follow God's ways, then the result is a Godly home and Godly children!
But here's the real kicker, though: "...that THE LORD may bring upon Abraham (us) that which he hath spoken of him."! Even in this doing, God promises those of us who meet his qualifications, that he will help us to meet them and bring his blessings and promises to bear in our lives! What a promise and responsibility! God wants to bless us, our homes, and our family tree after us. What he needs is for us to lovingly submit to him in obedience.
Next time we will study, "An Isaac Faith". Until then, God bless!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A personal note.

I realize that whenever biblical truth is talked about, there will be some who are angered by it. Let me say in advance, I'm sorry. It is never my intention to anger anyone with God's word. Further, there will be some who will ask, "Who does he think he his, trying to tell me how to live my life."
Let me assure you, strangers, friends, and family alike, I do not ever intend to come across as someone who has "arrived". If any of you get to know me, you will soon realize that I am human, just as you are. I have struggles. I make mistakes. I get hurt. I hurt others, though usually unintentional.
I have learned, however, that the only real truth is found in God's abiding presence and in his eternal word. It is this that I wish to study WITH you. I am in no way pointing AT you. I, like you, am living my life and trying to be the best me that I can be. However, I've learned that to truly be the best me, I must submit my life to the only one who really can change me, Jesus Christ.
Therefore, I ask you, especially those that know me now, or knew me in my mistake filled past, look past the messenger and look to the message. In the grand scheme of things, I'm irrelevant. However, the message giver is very relevant! He loves you more than I ever could. I do love you all, but the only real and perfect love you will ever find is in Jesus. the only lasting hope and real answers you will find are in Jesus. He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He is the great "I am..."
He left that open ended statement for all of us on purpose. We say we need love. He says that "I am ..." the only true lover of your soul. If we need a friend, he's the friend that sticks closer than a brother. If we need provision, he's the provider. If we need a father that will never let us down, he will be that father to us. If we need salvation (and we all do), he stands ready to save us. All we need to do is lovingly obey his word: "Repent,be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
God bless you all. Until next time (from one imperfect man to imperfect hearers)...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A tale of three fathers: Job

"There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eshewed evil." Job 1:1

What an opening statement! Of all the people in the land of Uz (however many there were), God singled out one man: Job. Why was Job singled out? Was God playing favorites? No. The answer is simple.
"He was a perfect and an upright man". I'm thoroughly impressed right there. How many people do you and I know that could be called "upright", much less "perfect"? Job is called BOTH, by no greater a source than the creator of the universe himself. WOW!!!
Now, the word upright here means, "straight" in a righteous way. The word perfect here does NOT mean, "without fault". It actually means, "complete, usually morally pious, specifically gentle, dear". We do not have to be morally and spiritually without fault to get the attention of our loving God because we are trying hard to please him out of a heart of love towards him. What's more is that he will consider us "dear" for the effort and attitude! This is akin to the thrill that a loving parent receives when their 2 year old gives them a "picture" that they've drawn saying, "I drew picture for you". When the parent looks at the picture itself, it's nothing more than lines and squiggles with no coherent shapes. But the attitude of love with which their toddler gave it to them makes the parent feel that the picture is better than anything that Rembrandt or Michael Angelo ever did!
This is how God views our loving efforts to please him from our heart of love. No, we may not be perfect, but he thrills at the trying and, more so, the attitude behind the trying.
Almost everyone who knows anything about scripture knows about Job. They know about the "heavenly wager" between God and Satan. They know that he lost his home, his livestock, his children, and his wife. They know that he lost his health. They know that he remained faithful to God in spite of the circumstances he was suffering. They also know that God "rewarded him seven fold". What we are going to look at today is something very few have ever covered.
According to scholars, Job and Abraham were alive during the same time period of history. Both were great men and both loved God with all their hearts and obeyed him in the face of insurmountable odds. Yet, God chose Abraham to be the "Father of many nations", whose family tree would include Jesus and would bless the whole earth. My question is this: Why not Job?
God called Job perfect and upright, why didn't he choose Job? Many would say that it was because he was not in the right bloodline. However, this can't be true, as the Jewish nation did not exist then (nor the Jewish people) and ALL of the bloodlines of the day came from the bloodlines of Adam, through Noah's sons. God could've chosen anyone to start the promised redeemers bloodline with. Why not Job?
I believe the answer to this riddle is found in the following two verses:

"And (Job's) sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their sisters to eat and drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feastings were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, it may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. THUS DID JOB CONTINUALLY." Job 1:4-5

Yes Job was a great man who loved God and his family with all of his heart. However, he did have one glaring weakness. Job loved his family too much! How can anyone love their family too much? When a person doesn't want to correct his family, as we saw with Eli, but tries to live for God FOR them, rather than teaching them (and enforcing them) to live for God, they love them too much. This is the problem in so many homes today. The parents don't want to go through the trouble of setting the rules for their children's lives. They don't want to teach them to live for God. No, they'd rather sit back and pray that their children make the right choices about things when the proper time comes.
Scripture says for us to "raise up a child in the way they should go...". It further says that "foolishness is in the heart of a child, the rod of correction will beat it out of him." No, we are to set the tone's in our home so that our children can be shaped and molded to be God fearing, God worshipping young adults.
We cannot do, as Job apparently did, and simply live a good live. give them good things, and pray that God will forgive their little excesses (sins). Little sins grow to be big sins. Little humans will grow to depend on mommy and daddies relationships with God, rather than developing one of their own, if they're not taught correctly.
Job tried to let them be and hope they'd come around, while praying for God to forgive their wrongdoings. This opened a door that Satan could exploit. Job's children lost their lives and, quite possibly, their souls because of this one "oversight".
Father's, it is our God given obligation to make sure, with the help of our wives, that our homes have a godly environment and our children are helped to gain their own relationship with God. If we, like Job, let our children get grown and move out of the protective sphere of influence of our Godly homes, we risk having to undergo the utter pain that Job went through and see our children die lost!
Job lost his children, his wife, his belongings, and his help because he failed to raise his own children to love God the way that he did. He also lost the opportunity to be "the father of many nations" and have the promised messiah enter the earth through HIS family, instead of Abraham's.
Who knows, if he'd done it right, we might all be talking about the nation of Job, instead of the nation of Israel. What a missed opportunity! And, what a Godly challenge for all of us! Father's. lets all get on our knees, give everything to God, and let him lead us in a revival IN OUR HOMES! God bless! See you next time.


Monday, June 22, 2009

A Tale of three fathers: Eli

With Father's day just having passed, many would question my reasoning for devoting any blogs at all to the subject of fathers. Many of my fellow writers would say that I should have written all this BEFORE the actual day instead of after it is passed. I, as you can see, am not a normal writer (or preacher, for that matter). It is my intention to do what my English teachers used to call "a compare and contrast" piece. This will be done in three or four different blog posts. Hopefully, by the time we're done, we'll all have learned some things.
Three of the most famous Father's in the Holy Scriptures (Bible) are Abraham, Job, and Eli. I'm not going to rate them in this writing, though I admit that the temptation is there. What we discover about these men and their "fathering style" could very well change us, our families, and even the world at large. With that in mind, let's begin with Eli.
After the famous flight from Egypt, wondering around in the wilderness, and the taking of the land; but before the famous first three kings of Israel (Saul, David, and Solomon), Israel was a true theocracy. They were guided by the principles of the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) and were ruled by a series of judges. These judges were not a monarchy. Indeed, there were many time periods in which there was no judge.
Inevitably, Israel would fall into sin. Then they would cry to God in repentance and ask to be delivered from the hands of the enemy. God would then raise up a judge that would, in most cases, call them to task for their actions, remind them of their vow to God,and follow God's leading to rid the Israelites of their enemies. Then, in most cases, the judge would rule until he died. Then they would be without a judge again.
During the time just before the last and greatest of the judges (Samuel), there arose a high priest of special significance: Eli. We first hear of him through the story of Hannah.( 1Samuel 1-2:11) He is the one who rebuked the mourning Hannah for being drunk, when he found her crying her prayers to God, with her lips moving but not speaking out loud. When she responded that she was not drunk, but was petitioning God for a child, he famously told her "...the God of Israel grant thy petition...".
He was charged by God through this same woman to raise the child that God had given her (Samuel). What is really remarkable about this is the very first verse AFTER the very young Samuel was safely tucked away in Eli's house:
"Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial, they knew not the Lord..." The next few verses go on to describe in detail just how bad these young men were! What a rebuke of Eli's fathering of these boys. (Actually they were at least 30 years old, as this was the youngest age that a man could take on priestly duties, according to the law.) He, who had ascended to the highest level of the priesthood, who was supposedly the holiest man in all of Israel, was a lousy father.
What happened? Did he get so caught up in rising to the top of his profession that he spent little time with his children? It's possible. Many a man of God, in this day and age, get so focused on their ministry that they forget that their primary ministry is their family. This is why so many PK's (preachers kids) go so wild.
Was Eli more concerned with the reputation that he had, than the family God had gifted him with? This is also possible. Many a preachers kid gets aggravated at their parents because of this. They have to act a certain way, speak a certain way, etc, not so much because these things are the right things to do (though much of it may be), but because they must carry themselves in a way that honor's daddy's office as a man of God.
Was there no bite to daddy's bark? This is also possible. Verses 2:22-25 tell the story of Eli confronting his sons with their sins. Yet, they received no punishment and did no repenting. Why did not Eli, who was not only their Father but their BOSS as the high priest, forcefully remove them from their "ministries"? He apparently was one of those fathers that told his children "you shouldn't do that. God doesn't like that.", yet he never applied the board of education to the seat of learning.
Whatever he did wrong, his sons were NOT godly men. Eli was apparently a much better father figure for Samuel than he had been for his sons, as Samuel turned out to be a much better man. What were the results of his lack of foresight in raising his sons?
1) The sins that he allowed to fester in his sons actually caused many Israelites to turn from God (2: 17) When we allow sin to fester in our family or ourselves, we open the door for that sin to cause many more sins in generations to come and families near our own. Indeed, I know of one family that gave God lip service, but were mean as rattlesnakes and as manipulative as a politician. The results? Their children went deep into drugs, alcohol, and sexual immorality. The grandchildren were worse than the children, even delving into homosexuality, lesbianism, and even witchcraft. Only God knows how bad the next generation will be. Many families have been deeply scarred due to the wrongs of this one couple and their ungodly parenting style.
2) Judgement was brought by God against the family and the nation (verses 2: 27- 36 and 4: 2-22). When we started, as a society, to move away from the God given instructions (the Bible) for child rearing, how we should act, how we should live, etc, we began to spread an unholy cancer in our country! God is not mocked. Our sins are finding us out. Our families are shambles because of it. Our schools teach lies because of it. Our churches are only shells of what they once were. Our entertainment is unspeakably ungodly. Our government is extremely corrupt. Our economy is on the brink of ruin because of it and we have the gall to call ourselves a christian nation! It started in the home- with Mom's and Dad's who "wanted something better" for their children, but were deceived into doing things to get those things that never would've been done in generations past. All because we left our Godly foundations.
As the men of God for this hour, WE need to stand up and shout the truth from the rooftops. It is time for personal, familial, community wide, church wide, and country wide REPENTANCE! If we, who are called by his name, will humble ourselves, repent, pray, and turn back to God's book and God's ways; he has promised that he will hear from heaven and heal our land. It has to begin with us. In our homes. On our jobs. In all that we do, "seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."
God bless you all. Until next time, to quote The Steeles famous song, lets guard the gate "For the sake of my children."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

Goats need love, too!

There once was a goat named Matthew. You might know him as a sheep called Matthew. This sheep wrote the book that is named after him- the book of Matthew. Matthew was not called a disciple until chapter 9, verse 9 of his own book and would not be fully born again until Acts chapter 2: 1-4. At that point, he became a baby sheep. As of chapter 9, verse 9 of Matthew, he was a sheep in process (still in the womb). Before that, he was a goat.

According to God's teaching in Matthews book (chapter 25:31-46). There will only be two types of people on judgment day- goats and sheep. The sheep will make it to enter into the kingdom of God, the goats won't. We all, like Matthew, start out as goats.

The question arises: How did Matthew know about what to write in chapters 1-9:9? After all, he wasn't there was he? The short and correct answer is "God told him what to write." I believe that there may be more to it than this. The early things about where Jesus came from, etc are by inspiration of God (some of which he leaned from listening during his travels with Jesus as well as from Mary the mother of Jesus).

However, when it comes to the specific teachings of Jesus, such as the sermon on the mount and such, you almost get the impression that he was there, in the background listening AND hearing every word the savior spoke. He was in the background because he was not popular at all, being a “sinful tax collector” and “turncoat” to the Jews

Matthew was a wealthy man, with servants, etc., but he was a lonely man. He had people that hung around him, largely due to what he could afford to do for them. Yet, there was very little, if any, real love and relationship in his life. Matthew had a very dry heart. When the murmurings of a "new prophet" began to reach his ears, he was compelled, I believe, to seek him out- looking for a real word, real love, and a real God.

The words of the master must have felt like cool water to a dry, hot, and thirsty heart! He must have followed Jesus at a distance, at first. Strangely attracted to this new prophet, but constrained by his position in society to stay back or be run off by the masses- (not much mercy around for a traitorous tax collector.)

Eventually, he must have, with a sad heart, given up on this. Following your only hope from a distance is as satisfying as a starving man peering through a restaurant window. It all looks great, but he's barred from touching it. So, sadly, he returns to his circle of influence to continue his well-off, if shallow, existence.

What he didn't know was that his life was about to change forever. The master, unbeknownst to Matthew, had seen the precious and starving little goat following him at a distance. He’d also noticed when the little goat no longer followed. So Jesus did a wonderful thing- he went after him.

One day, Matthew was going about his job of collecting taxes when suddenly a hush must have come over the ordinarily angry crowd at his booth (people didn't take paying taxes to Rome lightly or without complaint). When Matthew looked up to see what had happened, his heart must've caught in his throat. There, at HIS booth, stood the master- face to face with Matthew.

A million questions must have entered his mind: "What is he doing here? How can I charge HIM taxes? What do I do?" Jesus, the great shepherd and master, silenced the panic in his mind, reached through the pain in his heart, and offered love and a new life to the little goat named Matthew, by saying: "Follow me".

We're not told all that went through Matthew’s mind: astonishment and unbelief at first? Probably. But when he looked into the eyes of the great shepherd, he saw no condemnation. Rather, he saw love and a new start! Immediately, he left his unpopular job and began the process of letting the shepherd change him from a goat into a sheep.

Sometimes, it seems to us that people are "too lost to ever be found". However, as the Phillips, Craig, and Dean song says: "He believes in lost causes"! Just like the little goat named Matthew, these "lost goats" are outcasts by the church and feel hopeless. Just existing, they go through their daily lives without hope. What they don't know is that the great shepherd knows and loves them all!

If we, as God's body on earth, will simply let God speak to them through us in any way he wishes to (a kind word, a prayer, a meeting of a need), we would be as amazed as Matthew to see the change as God begins to work on changing them from a goat to a sheep- just as he's doing with us! Who knows? Maybe one day, they and us will hear those glorious words: “Well done my good and faithful servant. Enter ye in…”

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Author's page

Before you ask, yes, I am an author. My first book is now available at Amazon.com . It's called "A Dog's Eye View". Though I will be talking about my books and writing blogs, this site is actually not dedicated to me. It's dedicated to the "Author and finisher of our faith"- Jesus Christ! Without him, I can (None of us can) do nothing. However, with him, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!
Did you catch that? ALL things are possible, not some. The key is to walk in relationship WITH HIM daily. Life is a journey. Life with Jesus is an adventure! I would like to ask you to join the journey with him and to take part in my journey.
On these pages, we will explore many things. From the silly to the sublime, the non-important to the critically important. Whatever Jesus decides to share with me that day, I'll pass on to you. We will laugh together, cry together, vent our frustrations together, and scream our joy together.
So thank you, ahead of time, for joining my adventure and sharing it with me! God bless you all, my new friends. In Jesus, till we meet again,
Michael Winskie