Monday, February 25, 2013

As a man, a Christian, a husband and a father

As a man, a Christian, a husband and a father, here are the things that I promise:

1. To fight for my faith - I will always fight for what I believe in. I will not tell you that you are wrong, but I will tell you why I believe what it is right. 1 Corinthians 16:13 says to "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong." (NIV) I will fight for what I believe in and I will be strong for the Lord. When things don't go my way, I will not waver, I will stand firm. If I get punched in the gut, I will not get KO'd! I will stand firm and punch back.

2. To fight for my wife - My wife, Amanda, is the best thing to ever happen to me, besides becoming a Christian. She is my rock, my better half, my everything. I will stay strong for her, I will fight for her, I will guide us. If there is EVER any problems in our marriage, it is my responsibility to find help. It is my responsibility to make sure that our marriage stays on the right path. I am responsible to God for my family's actions and our family's decisions. Ephesians 5:25 says "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself up for her." (NIV) That last part is often skipped or forgotten, "And GAVE HIMSELF up for her."! As husbands, we are to give ourselves up to our wives, to give it our all, to FIGHT like a man and make sure that whatever you do, it is for your family.

3. To fight for the lost - My fight as a Christian is to fight the good fight and fight the evil of this world for the souls of the lost. In Acts 1:8 Jesus tells the disciples and tells future disciples to go out and spread the gospel. As a man, put on your big boy pants and go out there to fight for the souls of the lost. Ephesians 6:16-17 tells us to "...take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God." (NIV) God was telling us here to not sit on our butts and be lazy, but to be ready, to stand up, and go into war for yourself and for those around us.

4. To fight for my daughter - Lorelai, you are the most amazing little girl ever. Your daddy will fight for you always. I am going to fight the world for you and I am going to give my all for you. You will never see me giving up, you will never see me throwing in the towel. I am your daddy and I will fight for you. If I am going through hard times, I will not let this hinder my fighting spirit. Your daddy is a fighter and I am your knight until you find the right man to take care of you. Men, you make sure to fight for your children, to not give up on them, do not leave them, show them you will fight for them! You don't give up when times get hard, you don't wave the white flag when the battle is just beginning.

Do you notice the common theme here? Too many men these days don't know what it takes to stand up and fight like a man. God made us with an unhindered spirit and we were beautifully made! God made us and He was VERY pleased! Do you think He gave us this fighting spirit on accident? This is our responsibility as men, as Christians, as husbands and as fathers. Do not give up this battle!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Jacob wrestling a "man"?

    As you read the book of Genesis, there are many hidden reasons behind the words of Moses that you have to dig a little deeper to find out the true meaning, and not take the words at face value. One of these passages is Genesis 32: 22-32. In this passage, Moses talks about how Jacob slept and wrestled with a “man.” I want to dive a little deeper and talk about who this “man” could be and what it meant for Jacob to wrestle with him and to be blessed by him. The reason I chose this question as my next topic of discussion is that a friend recently asked my opinion of this subject matter, and so I am going to dive a little deeper and find out differing opinions to help form my own.

     Many times through out the Old Testament, God, or a part of God, manifests Himself in a human or majestic form. John Calvin states in his commentary that “Moreover, it is not said that Satan, or any mortal man, wrestled with Jacob, but God Himself: to teach us that our faith is tried by Him, and whenever we are tempted, our business is truly with Him...”1 Calvin states that he believes that the “man” that Moses stated here is actually God manifested in human form. The reason for his thinking this is that Calvin states that God is testing the faith of Jacob. Not just the physical strength of Jacob, but the faith strength of Jacob. Before this passage, Jacob was about to reconcile with his brother, and God wanted to be sure that Jacob was prepared for this task. Jacob had run his whole life; from responsibilities, from his family, and from God. Now he was about to try and make everything right, and God, in the form of this “man” was testing Jacob and his resolve.

     However, Molen states that it may be a variety of people. Molen states that the “man” in this passage could be either “God, Esau or somehow both.”2 He states in his journal that the “man” in this passage could have been an incarnation of Jacob's fears of visiting Esau, and Jacob was literally fighting the demons within himself while dreaming, and this could have caused this injury. He goes on to state that it could have been God that sent the image of Esau to fight Jacob, in preparation of seeing Esau for the first time in many years after their dispute.

     The third opinion I found was that on Wesley when he stated that the “man” that wrestled with Jacob was that of an “...angelic being. Rather it was the angel of the covenant, who often appeared in human shape, before he assumed the human nature.”3 The Angel of the Covenant means that he was a theophany, or Jesus Christ before taking human form. Often in the Old Testament there are cases of theophanies, which are appearances of the Christ in the Old Testament.

     I would have to agree with this last opinion. Many times in the Old Testament, an angel of the Lord appeared and made Himself known to man. He would often guide people and give them direction or blessings. Many question if this Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament is the existence of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, or if it is the Christ. Well, I agree it could be both. The Holy Trinity has always existed, and the son and Holy Spirit existed before Christ appeared in the New Testament. He just came in human form in the New Testament. One thing that seems to be a common opinion though is that this “man” came to help Jacob battle his demons before meeting up with his brother Esau. This is just another example of the Lord being with those that don't deserve him. Me, I am thankful for a loving and forgiving God that is always there for me no matter what I am battling.

1Calvin. 1554.
2Molen. 1993.
3Wesley, 1754-1965.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Valentine's Week

So, this week is Valentine's Day! Just as a hint gentleman who read this blog, the day is this Thursday. Amanda and I were chatting yesterday about the upcoming so-called holiday. Ernesto Alaniz also mentioned it in his sermon yesterday. It got me thinking a little about my love for Amanda and I thought this would be the best week to post a mushy blog.

"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." Here I quote a famous Doctor, not one in whom I would usually take love advice from except if it was for One Fish or Two Fish; or Green Eggs and Ham. But the statement is unbelievably true. When you dread going to sleep because you love your reality more than your dreams, that is one reason you know you are truly in love. I often lay in bed and just stare at my wife (Yes, a bit creepy) and think that I don't want to go to sleep, I just want to lay awake and love this woman.

One thing I think our country is missing today is the thinking of Dr. Seuss. In our culture, there are things to consume your time so that you don't have to spend that extra hour with your spouse. There are movies, video games, bars, television, etc. to shift focus off of what/who is right next to you. I am not saying that any of these things are necessarily bad, but when it takes priority over the important things, that is when it becomes a problem.

Yesterday, we were driving around and I look at my wife and tell her that I love my Sunday's with my family. Every other day I have so much going on in my life. Sunday is our day to spend some time together and have fun together; even if it is just going to the mall to hang out and then coming home to take a nap together.

So for those of you who are married or have that special someone to spend Valentine's Day with; cherish that time and let that special someone know how much you love them. So many things in our lives consume our time, that when you get that time to spend with that person, make the most of it.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Cain and Abel: Sacrifice?

What is the significance and nature of Cain and Abel’s gifts? i.e., what was the basis of their
acceptance or rejection?

Personally, reading the history of Cain and Abel has always been one of those Bible passages I always go back to try to completely understand what God is trying to tell me in this passage. Is this passage just another story of sibling rivalry, or is there more meaning behind it? Out of all the history of sibling rivalry through the OT, why does this one stick out so much? To use a personal example of sibling rivalry, my brother and I were always striving to seek the attention of our parents. My brother would often do something wrong, and sometimes I would often think to myself if he was just seeking attention. Is this the case in the history of Cain and Abel? Was Cain seeking attention from his birth parents, or even from his heavenly Father? There are three commentaries that introduce topics to discuss in this passage.

On Adam Clarke's Commentary of the Bible, Mr. Clarke recognizes the sacrifices of Cain and Abel and differentiates them and their significance. Mr. Clarke states “According to this interpretation, Cain, the father of Deism, not acknowledging the necessity of a vicarious sacrifice, nor feeling his need of an atonement, according to the dictates of his natural religion, brought a minchah or eucharistic offering to the God of the universe. Abel, not less grateful for the produce of his fields and the increase of his flocks, brought a similar offering, and by adding a sacrifice to it paid a proper regard to the will of God as far as it had then been revealed, acknowledged himself a sinner, and thus, deprecating the Divine displeasure, showed forth the death of Christ till he came.”1 Clarke believed that Cain's refusal to offer a living sacrifice to the Lord was less grateful than Abel's living sacrifice. While Abel offered up a living sacrice, I believe Clarke recognizes this as a representation of the coming Messiah and how He was offered as a living sacrifice for the sins of the world. Clarke goes on to say that “Thus his [Abel] offerings were accepted, while those of Cain were rejected; for this, as the apostle says, was done by Faith, and therefore he obtained witness that he was righteous, or a justified person, God testifying with his gifts, the thank-offering and the sin-offering, by accepting them, that faith in the promised seed was the only way in which he could accept the services and offerings of mankind.” So in other words, Abel's gift came with faith and thanksgiving, while Cain's may have been given half-heartedly or out of requirement.

John Calvin puts this argument into use when he says “...but he begins with the person of the offerer; by which he signifies, that God will regard no works with favor except those the doer of which is already previously accepted and approved by him. And no wonder; for man sees things which are apparent, but God looks into the heart.”2 Calvin goes on to state that Cain was trying to appease God with his sacrifice. Calvin does not believe that Cain was offering his sacrifice with a humble heart and was trying to give to God what he could muster, while Abel was giving to God, in Calvin's words, a “...good odour of faith, they had a sweet-smelling savor.” Abel's gift to God was given through faith and he was giving his best. He was showing obedience to his Lord and Father, and this is why his gift was accepted and not Cain's.

Winifred Borlee seems to take Calvin's view a little further in The Christian Science Journal and says that Cain, when he became wroth at his rejection of his gift to the Lord, “betrays a proud and self-righteous state far from that humble spirit...”3 Cain never felt that humble spirit when approaching the Lord, but Abel did. Abel approached the Lord with humility and a pure heart. This view is like telling someone they didn't do a good job after they did something for you, but they did it for a reson that is purely for them, and they have a temper tantrum. This is what happened with Cain. Borlee suggests that Cain had a temper tantrum after being told his gift was not suitable, which also shows he had other, or selfious, purposes for giving this gift.

My personal view on this subject is a mixture of all three views. I recently listened to a sermon by Pastor Robert Morris from Gateway Church in Texas. He introduced that Cain didn't give his first offering, and kept some of his goods for himself before giving some to God. He tied this in with tithing. When we receive a gift, or paycheck, we should give to God first out of thanks, and then do what we need with it. In Genesis, it says that Abel gave his first born of his flock. So he gave to God first, before keeping any for himself or taking some for him, I never looked at this passage this way. I feel that we need to give our first and best to God. I think that Cain kept the best for himself, and then gave to God what he could, just to appease God. Well, there is no such thing as appeasing God. You should always strive to give God your best.