Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fathers and Sons/ Father and Family

A few years ago when attending the ENOCH home schooling conference we discovered the Alert Cadets which is a wonderful organization with the aim of "Assisting fathers to win and keep the hearts of their 8-17 year old sons". A father and his son(s) work through the Basic Training Manual, on completion of which they can apply for membership and order their uniforms. This Basic Training Manual involves activities the father and son(s) do together like establish regular physical exercises to cultivate a healthy body and an active lifestyle, regular Bible reading, scripture meditation and memorization and spiritual journaling - all of which cultivate a strong and healthy relationship with our Creator and Savior under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Also promoted is undertaking service projects - helping others where needed to help us be less selfish and show others the love of God.

I believe this involvement in the Alert Cadet movement is helping me also to grow more and more into the role of the priest of our house. I believe God is busy doing a great work in us, helping me to become the father and husband my family and wife needs and I desire to be for them. My family and their relationship with the LORD is important and I am rising to the challenge with the help of our heavenly Father. It also goes hand in hand with another life-changing experience we've had when we've had the pleasure of attending a teaching by Sam Bakther John, the president of the Timothy Program International in India. He taught on family from the Hebrew perspective and this is a topic that I will discuss in one or more blog entries soon to follow. I am enrolled in this program developed by Dr. Karl Coke and through it God has begun something very exciting in our lives and we also thank God for these two great men as well as for Pastor Edwin Felicie from Jackson, NJ who is leading a monthly Bible study to expound on and reinforce the teachings contained in this course.

I have also recently bought a copy of the wonderful book "Raising a Modern Day Knight" by Robert Lewis, which was strongly recommended by some of the other fathers in the Alert Cadet Unit and which I can also now not recommend strongly enough. This book is truly inspiring and I became so excited that I just had to read some passages to my wife but in some cases I couldn't finish doing so without becoming emotional. I know that I will have to read and re-read this inspired and inspiring book, allowing God to work in me to the advantage of my son and my relationship with him. I want to set an example to him of what a godly man is so that he can grow up and follow this example and I also want to set an example to my two daughters of what they should be looking for in a man.

In this book four characteristics of what a godly man is, are given by contrasting the first Adam with the last Adam (Jesus Christ):
  • Rejecting passivity
  • Accepting responsibility
  • Leading courageously
  • Expecting and working for the greater reward
These characteristics fit in very well with the goals of the Alert Cadet movement. Just knowing these four points is not enough, though. You just have to get the book, read it and apply the principles it expounds for yourself. May God bless you on this journey that will help transform our society for the better by producing godly men who will show themselves, their sons and families and the world what it means to be a real man and father as God intended.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Free Hebrew Consonants Poster

As a family we've recently started learning Hebrew together.  We have a desire to learn more about God's language as we study His Word.  We started by learning the Hebrew consonants.   We found a nice song on You Tube (see below) to help us, and especially the kids, identify and remember the letters.  I created a poster to go along with the song and you can download it here for free.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Will of God

How important is it to do the will of God?
The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 7:21- 24,

"[21] Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. [22] Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? [23] And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. [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:"

Jesus says that if we don't do the will of God we will not enter the kingdom of heaven, so one could say that it is the most important thing in our life to do the will of God.

Hebrews 9:27 says, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment", so once we die we don't have another chance. This is the only chance we have to find the will of God and to do it, so that we might enter the kingdom of heaven to spend eternity with God, rather than to regret for all eternity that we didn't consider it important enough to do it - that we may have considered entertainment, sports, pursuit of other people's admiration and respect, etc. more important that getting to know God personally, know His will and doing it.

Before it sounds like I'm saying that we can earn salvation let me make it clear that I understand the will of God to be that we believe in the Lord Jesus and accept His sacrifice as the only sufficient payment for our sins and for that faith to be a living faith resulting in actions (James 2:17 - faith without works is dead). "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16). 1 Timothy 2:3-4 says, "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."

God's will is that everyone should be saved and He paid a price that is sufficient for everyone to be saved but He also gave everyone a free will to be able to accept or reject this offer of eternal life and a choice to act in accordance to what we understand God's will to be or to decide for ourselves that we know better how to live.

His perfect will doesn't come to pass automatically because He is God. Countless millions of people are going to hell and terrible things such as the Holocaust and genocide, child abuse, rape, persecution of Christians involving torture, etc. happen, causing some people to question God's existence and justifying living however they want to.

"If thou shalt confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus (proclaiming Him as your Lord, promising to obey Him with words and actions, otherwise He is not really your Lord) and believing in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" - Romans 10:9.
Ephesians 5:17 says "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." We are commanded to know and understand what the will of God is. To do this we need to study the Word of God (the Bible) diligently, meditate on it and do it. Then we will do the sayings of Jesus (Matthew 7:24) as we've read at the start.

Meditate also on Romans 12:1-2: "[1] I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. [2] And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
  • Jesus sacrificed His perfect life which we can now have in exchange for our flawed directionless lives. It is only reasonable and essential that we give up our worthless self-directed lives in order to obtain His divine, victorious, eternal life (John 10:10). We cannot have both since the way that seems right to man leads to everlasting death (Proverbs 14:12. Consider John 14:12 in contrast to Proverbs 14:12). Believing on the Lord Jesus allows us to do the same works as Jesus and even greater works. Believing in our own ability to decide what to do, leads to eternal death - the decision is not too difficult.
  • If we want to do the perfect will of God, we need to have our minds renewed to be able to think in a way that is lined up with the Word of God, more than with human wisdom and philosophy or even what we think our senses of sight, smell, feeling, touch and taste may be telling us. We renew our minds by reading and meditating on the Word of God and by doing what He tells us to do through His Word (Joshua 1:8).
Seeing is not believing. Believing in line with God's Word and acting on that belief even if contrary to our natural physical observations and conventional wisdom will cause us to walk in God's perfect will, in His blessings and so much more than we could have thought possible and for so much longer that we could ever fathom with our human intellect.

Please also visit Andrew Wommack's website for wonderful teachings on thisand many more topics of practical interest to believers. The piece above is what I believe God spoke to me today but He has also used and continue to use Andrew Wommack to speak to me on many occasions, also on this topic.
God has also used Dr. Karl Coke, founder and author of the Timothy Program International to help me view the so-called Old Testament in a whole new light and to appreciate the importance of learning Hebrew, which Jesus will also give me the strength/ ability to do (Philippians 4:13), however daunting it may seem at first and still does at times. Hebrew is after all the language God used to creating the heavens and the earth and everything in them.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Living Holy - Is it a Fruit or a Root?

As Christians, we are admonished to "live holy", to follow the example of Christ.  

"Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, 
that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love."  (Ephesians 1:4)

"Be holy, for I am holy."  (1 Peter 1:16)
Many confuse this instruction by thinking that we must strive to be perfect out of fear of rejection, or fear of losing our salvation.  Many are misled into believing that you must confess every single sin or lose your salvation.  This erroneous thinking places holiness as the root of salvation and this is contrary to what the Bible teaches us.

Living a holy life is neither the root of our salvation, nor is it possible to accomplish it through good deeds and pure will power.

In fact, the Bible states that "holiness" is the FRUIT of our salvation.

"But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, 
you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life."  (Romans 6:22)

We strive to live a pure life and do good works BECAUSE of the free gift of salvation.  

By constantly renewing our minds to be in sync with God's perfect Spirit within us, our thoughts, words and actions will naturally follow.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Who Is Your Teacher?

God dealt with people very differently in the Old Testament compared to after Jesus came.  This is one of the most profound concepts a Christian must grasp to have a fruitful life.   So many Christians are still living under the law of works and other deceptions.

But God sent His Spirit to reveal to us God’s secrets – 
the secret of Jesus’ resurrection, His plan for salvation, 
and the wonderful things He has freely given 
to those who love Him and believe in Him through Christ. 
(1 Corinthians 2:9-10)

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, 
but the Spirit who is from God, 
that we might know all things that have been freely given to us by God.   
(1 Corinthians 2:12)

This knowledge cannot be grasped by even the wisest scholars unless they accept God’s message in faith.  All those who reject God’s message are foolish, no matter how wise they are considered to be by the world’s standards.  The reason for this is because God’s message can only be understood through His Spirit.   If a person does not have God’s Spirit in him, he cannot understand it.

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, 
for they are foolishness to him; 
nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.   
(1 Corinthians 2:14)

Jesus said that every word he spoke, were Spirit and Life.  Every teaching of Jesus cannot be understood except by the Spirit in you.

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. 
 The words I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.  (John 6:63)

As we study God’s Word, we should be mindful of who our teachers are.  There are countless books, videos, sermons, and teachings available to Christians today, however not all of them are necessarily sound Biblical teaching.  When we have the Holy Spirit working in us, He teaches us and reveals to us the truth of God’s message.

The anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.  (1 John 2:27)

This is especially important as we approach the end times, since God has warned us that many false teachers will arise to mislead good and sincere believers.
One of the Gifts for the Spirit, is the “discerning of spirits” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).  It is prudent to ask God for a spirit of discernment, and to “search the Scriptures daily”  (Acts 17:11).  We should be very selective in who we listen to and what we read.  Everything we read or hear taught by Christian teachers, we must evaluate against the Word of God, under the leading of the Holy Spirit.   

Jesus admonished us to abide in Him as He abides in us.  An intimate relationship with Him comes only through constant, continuous time spent in His presence and in His Word.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Festivities In February

We live in a culture that is immersed in festivals with pagan roots.  Unfortunately many Christians have become so entrenched in these festivals, that it is difficult for them to discern between godly and ungodly.  

The problem is that when we start to compromise our faith by sugar-coating activities with ungodly roots, we begin the process of eroding our faith and character as Christians in such a way that others will no longer be able to distinguish us from the world, not to mention the damage that this compromise does to our spiritual strength and our relationship with the One True God.

We are called to be in the world, but not of it - not to be conformed to this world. (Romans 12:2)  We are instructed to NOT love the world or the things in the world (1 John 2:15).  We are admonished that friendship with this world is enmity with God. (James 4:4).

It is impossible to sugar-coat a paganistic event such as Valentine's day, by making it more socially acceptable, and think you can still remain faithful to God.   You delude yourself if you think you can participate in a celebration by "cleaning it up" and by saying you are sharing "the love of Jesus".  The so-called 'Christianization' of non-biblical, pagan celebrations is an affront to God and causes His name to be blasphemed among the Gentiles.  If you put a load of icing on a rotten potato, does it take away the rot?

With Valentine's Day quickly approaching, I urge all sincere believers in Christ who seek a spirit of discernment and intimate walk with the Lord, to investigate for themselves the horrific historic roots of Valentine's Day.  Look into the Roman festival of Lupercalia and how the Roman Catholic church attempted to replace this very popular pagan festival.  Today, even the Catholic Church recognises the Roman and Catholic roots of Valentine's Day and has removed it from their official calendar.

Consider, instead, to participate in a celebration that was instituted in Scripture, and is celebrated around the same time  -  Purim.

What do you think will please God more?   A celebration commemorating His Goodness in delivering His people and to honor His faithfulness throughout history and in the future?   Or..  a fun party that commemorates ritualistic animal sacrifices to a pagan god followed by a sexual lottery and debauchery?

God does not change.  He is just as offended by His people embracing paganistic rituals today, as He was in Biblical times. 

This year, Purim is scheduled for February 23-24.

Purim is such a fun celebration and the fact that it is a Biblical festival instituted in Scripture (Esther 9:31-32) just makes it extra special.  It’s a wonderful way to teach our children more about the Hebraic roots of our faith through the story of Esther.  Above all, we glorify God for His faithfulness in delivering His people throughout history, for sending the promised Messiah (Jesus), and for His promise of deliverance as His people are persecuted today, and will be in the future end times.

I plan on doing some fun crafty activities with the kids, making “groggers” (noisemakers) and silly hats.  The kids will be making little gift packets with cookies and snacks to give to friends and neighbours, and we’ll collect and assemble gifts to charity.  We’ll invite some family and friends over for a celebratory meal, and the reading of the beautiful story of Esther.  And of course we just have to have those really cute triangular cookies that symbolize Haman’s hat!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Should My Kids Participate In Valentine's Day?

This morning I received an e-mail from one of our homeschool co-op organizers notifying us of the upcoming Valentines Cards exchange for the kids of the co-op, as well as the upcoming Valentine's Day Party.

My first response was, "Oh cute!  The kids are going to make cards for each other."  And who can say no to a party?  It sounds like fun!

Then I felt something in my heart give a little tug.  Isn't Valentine's Day all about romance and love?  Why do little children get involved in it?   Maybe I need to investigate a little further.

Centuries before Christ, as early as 753 B.C., the Romans held an annual 3-day fertility festival on February 13-15, called the Festival of Lupercalia.  During this festival 2 goats and a dog were sacrificed, then skinned.   The priests, or Luperci, would then take the animal skins, dress themselves in it after cutting long thongs from the skins.  They would run around the walls of the old Palantine city nude, only covered in the skins, and with the thongs in their hands.  People who crowded near would be struck with the thongs, especially girls and young women.  Married women were also encouraged to bare their bodies and be flogged. The belief was that this practice would ensure fertility, prevent sterility in women, and ease the pain of childbirth.  The festival was also accompanied with much revelry and drinking.

It is interesting to note that the famous Roman polititian, Mark Anthony (83 B.C. to 30 B.C ), also performed as a Luperci at least once.

Another unique custom of the Feast of Lupercalia was the tradition of matchmaking through the pairing of young boys and girls.  Young, marriageable girls would place a chit of their name in a big urn.  Each young boy drew a name and was then paired with that girl for the rest of the year.

Roman Emperor Constantine the Great legalized Christianity in 313 A.D. thereby ending Rome's persecution of Christians.   In 380 A.D. Christianity was made the official state religion of the Roman Empire.  However, this did not end the practice of pagan rituals and festivals.  The pagans who adopted Christianity as their religion did not abandon their traditions and religious practices, mostly because this festival was the longest-lasting and one of the most important and popular Roman pagan festivals.

Although the ritual had become an important part of the civic life of Rome in the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I presented a lengthy document opposing the festival.  In 494 A.D. he successfully outlawed the pagan festival, but since so many people still clung to the Lupercalia, he shifted the focus of the festival by refashioning it as the "Feast of Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary". Two years later the feast day of St. Valentine was added to the calendar.   It is unclear, and the topic of much debate, what the Pope's motives were for creating the new saint's day, but it is easy to draw the conclusion that it was to adapt the enthusiasm for Lupercalia to a more sociable acceptable form of celebration.

Although the Festival of Lupercalia essentially ended in the West during this time, it continued in the East for another few centuries. 

Valentine's Day did not start out being a day of romance, but rather a day to commemorate the selfless service and ministry of the priest and physician, Valentinus, who was known for doing good deeds, caring for the poor, and healing the sick.  The Normans celebrated Galatin's Day around the same time.  Galtin meant "lover of women" and was likely confused with St. Valentine's Day at some point.  As the years went by, the holiday grew sweeter, especially during the Middle Ages with the notion that birds pair off to mate on February 14.  Shakespeare also romanticized the day in his work which further contributed to the romantic connotation.

The fact remains that Valentine's Day is not a religious holiday and never really has been either.  Although the Greco-Roman pagan historical roots are alarming to me, and it is clear that there is a correlation between the Festival of Lupercalia and the Valentine's Day society celebrates today, I can attempt to put this aside and only evaluate the merits of the Day as it is celebrated today.  However, if I do so, I am still concerned.   

The primary custom associated with St. Valentine's Day is the mutual exchange of love notes called 'valentines', accompanied with hearts, the colors of red and pink, and winged cupids.   

I would find it hypocritical of me to encourage my children to participate in the exchange of "I love you's" in a overwhelming atmosphere of "romantic love", when I intend to also advise my children to seek friendships rather than "dating" until they are truly prepared to pursue marriage.  Why start dating when you're not prepared to follow through and pursue marriage.  That would be looking for trouble in my opinion. 

Sometimes it is difficult to oppose the world view, and not go along with the main stream, especially with the heavily commercialized Valentine's Day celebrations today.  The easy way out would be to look at the sugar-coating and "cutesy", seemingly innocent, components of Valentine's Day, but the Bible encourages us to have discernment, and to not be unevenly yoked with the world.  It further admonishes us to be IN the world but not OF it.

We should not compromise.  Compromise started in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve compromised the one law God gave them, and they paid a heavy price for it.  Daniel refused to compromise his convictions and did not bow down to worship a king.  If this happened today, how many people would argue, "It's harmless!  Bowing down does not reflect what's in my heart!"  But how do you think God would have viewed it if Daniel held that attitude?  

This makes me wonder what price we pay as Christians for the compromises we have made by accepting a world view and pagan practices into our lives?  

You can sugar-coat a pagan ritual as much as you like, the demonic root cannot be removed.

"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.
For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?
And what communion has light with darkness?" 
(2 Corinthians 6:14)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Who Do You Blame?

One of the fundamental problems with Christianity today:

We blame God for the bad things
that the Devil is doing in this world, and
We blame the Devil for the bad things we are doing.
~Ri├Ętte Sinclair

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Spirit of God in Me

In my personal Bible study I’ve always found 1 Thessalonians 5:23 to be a fascinating verse in the Bible, and I’ve often pondered the meaning of man as a three-part being – spirit, soul and body.

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely;
and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I understand the soul and body parts:
*  Body – My physical aspects, i.e. see, hear, taste, smell, touch.
*  Soul – My mind, will, emotions, conscience, and personality.

The spirit part is the tricky one and my grasp of it increases the more I revisit the topic.

The spirit-part of man is fundamentally the seed of God’s presence within all of us.  We are created with all three parts and this is the part that will live on forever.

The difference is that the spirit-part is lost and dead to God (Ephesians 2:2) until we are sanctified – until we accept God’s free gift of salvation and undergo a new birth (John 3:3).  At that point our body and soul continue to lust after worldly and fleshly things, but our spirit, once sanctified, desires for the things of God.

The problem is that our body and soul are in direct battle with our spirit.  Our physical lusts, thoughts, emotions and desires constantly battle against the spirit (Galatians 5:17).

How do we turn the tide of this internal conflict in favor or our spirit and thereby also changing our body and soul for the better?

1.     Accepting Christ:
When we accept Christ, we are a “new creation”  (2 Corinthians 5:17).   This does not imply an immediate change in the spheres of our body and soul, but an immediate change in SPIRIT.   My physical features, emotions, bad habits or personality did not instantaneously change when I accepted Christ.  What did change is my standing with God.   Where before I was at odds with the Righteous God, the Almighty Creator of the Universe, now I have been made righteous through the blood of Christ (Romans 5:19).   I am now in right standing with God and may enter into His presence with boldness, because He now no longer sees my sin, but He sees my redeemed spirit – washed and cleansed by the blood.

2. Cultivating the spirit-part:
Merely recognizing that I am now in right standing with God will not automatically bring change to my physical circumstances, thought processes, lusts, bad habits, and so forth.   The only way I can effectively cultivate the spirit-part is by delving into the Word of God which IS the Spirit of God (John 6:63; Ephesians 6:17).  The Word of God is “quick and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  (Hebrews 4:12)

If you want to change the condition of your body, you must start by assimilating the Word of God. 
If you want to change an aspect of your soul – such as a bad habit, an addiction, anger, mood swings – you must start by studying and meditating the Word of God.

Just reading a pertinent verse in the Bible and understanding it intellectually is not enough either.  You must meditate on it, sleep on it, think it, LIVE it.  It should take over your thoughts in such a way that it crowds out the bad stuff not only in deed, but also in your mind, which is usually where the bad stuff begins – with a thought.  (Proverbs 23:7)

In today’s society where our lives are overwhelmed by television, media, advertising, busy schedules and rushing around, this is certainly an enormous challenge.   My first thought is:  “Where am I going to find the time?”    But then I ask myself:  “Do I really want to keep going the way I am now?”  There’s a famous quote that reads:  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.  

I have decided to utilize this process to effect change in my life by starting small.  What do I have to lose?  The proof will be in the results, right?  

I challenge you to join in and also give the Word of God a chance to cultivate God’s spirit in you and see if it will effect change in your life!  

My first goal will be to cultivate peace and patience in my life, what is yours?

Galatians 5:16-23

16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh;
and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are:
adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,
 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath,
 selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like;
of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past,
 that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.

For a more extensive topical study on Spirit, Soul and Body, you may go here.