Looking Into Our
Looking Through the Window
of Our Father's House
With more than forty years of knowing the Lord and now more than two decades of full-time ministry behind me, one can see that the church, or our Fathers House, has not been unscarred by our times. For many, it seems that the House of Abba looks dull and uninteresting compared to the previous days. Many are seeking new constructs of expressing their faith due to their dissatisfaction. This clue alone could ignite a spiritual awakening —there is nothing like hunger and desperation to ignite a new fire.
When considering the House of the Lord, we do not refer to buildings of brick and mortar, programs, statistics, and attendance records. Glowing reports of numerical strength are gratifying to the flesh, but it can also be misleading. David's focus on this led to awful consequences when 70,000 men perished! (2 Samuel 24, 1 Chronicles 2). Nonetheless, David describes our Father's House perfectly in Psalms 27:4, "One thing I have asked of Jehovah, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of Jehovah all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of Jehovah and to inquire in his temple." We also have these familiar words from Psalms 84:10, "For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness." If we're to restore appeal to God's House, let's come to terms within ourselves. This touches upon a recent topic, "introspection." Here we take it further.
IS THE GLASS HALF FULL
Firstly, attitudes are everything, but so are perspectives. Depending on how old you are and how long you've walked with God, views vary greatly. Ezra 3:12 illustrates this principle, "Many of the older priests and Levites and family heads who had seen the former temple wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid. At the same time, the younger generation shouted for joy." If you inquire of our present elders on what America once was, you should brace yourself for a picture of a very different country. Go ahead, be bold, ask long time believers what the House of our Father was once like, again brace yourself.
THE FORMER HOUSE, in times past, the House of God, would have an overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit moving upon God's people. This community of faith or ingathering of even two or three was always and still is, a holy organism that is God-breathed. This organism (the Holy Spirit) longs to be accommodated in the hearts of man and for the tongue to proclaim God's praises—for the heart to overflow with meditations. In this, the Spirit has never changed. Also, lest we forget, the Sabbath was created for man, and not the other way around. For this reason, our Father built us a house on earth while our Heavenly mansion is under construction. And though this house is made of flesh and Spirit, and we gather in brick and mortar buildings, many treat it as a drive-through fast-food restaurant; many seem to want it their way.
Our Father's House also has nothing in common with the world of social media, where one can "de-friend" someone in a split-second, and or delete their number from your phone, or quickly decline someone's phone call. Today, removing people from your life is done in a second. Then what's done on social media often ripple disaster into one's life, as we have seen through young people's tragic suicides in recent years. In other words, people have a wide range of destructive power in their hands today. They can plug people in and out and never interact with them again. This is not the kind of community that characterizes the community of God, whether we are Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation "Xors" or Millennials.
YOU SEE, CHRISTIANITY, OR NEW COVENANT FAITH, IS ABOUT SUCH THINGS AS RELATIONSHIP, ACCOUNTABILITY, AND COMMUNITY. People learn to love one another in a God-centered community, "where two or three gathers in My Name" is sufficient (Matthew 18:20). The Spirit will come and move and have its being amongst you. In the context of our discussion, we turn to the words of 1st John 4:7-8, "Beloved, let us love one another, for Love is from God and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is Love."
As we have said, Christianity is about relationships. But don't all relationships of any value require some level of cost and sacrifice—giving and receiving. When we speak of true agape Love, relationships of any inherent-godliness should possess characteristics of good-will toward one another, benevolence, and a sense of a willful delight in the object of our common love from our heavenly Father--Love for each other. Agape Love then involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will. This is beautifully described in 1 Corinthians 13; "love is patient, love is kind…" Consequently, in the House of Our Father, we can never be inclined to garner what we want for ourselves alone. It's face to face, and heart to heart engagement of each other that's the basis for relationships in the household of faith, and we must preserve that.
Many years ago, Kenny Rogers wrote and performed a song, "Islands in the Stream." It speaks about two lovers standing against the world and moving through life as Islands in a flowing stream. Comparably, we are not islands unto ourselves. This may serve us well in the world, but in our Father's House, degradation of the family ensues, and a counter stream against kingdom living flourishes. You see, as long as we're alive and breathing, every one of us contributes to a part of the whole. We yield ourselves with our entire being to this glorious spiritual House so that we can contribute to its destiny. And every person who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a home who finds new and old treasures stored in his attic. We beloved must discover our treasures once again (Matthew 13:52). Then as each person is a fragment of the community, a vital member of one family, our interaction with others affects the whole community's atmosphere. It may not seem that way because people are more self-absorbed today. Paul wrote a comprehensive chapter on the topic in 1st Corinthians 12. The lesson is the following: Personal relationships truly matter because they contribute genuineness and authenticity to the House that our Father built.
PART II: FEARS and MORE FEARS
Regarding our Father's Extravagant Love and His compassionate rescue of ourselves, fear is antithetical. The Bible states that perfect Love casts out fear (1st John 4:18). Still, growing fear seems to be gripping the lives of many believers. Given our state of affairs in society and government, many causes might exist for it. n recent years, I have found that many people in the body struggle with fear of man, fear of retribution from leaders, fear of authority, fear over their finances, and fear of the future. The causes of these fears are something to ponder. In my library, I have an excellent book entitled "Dear Son" by Rabbi Eliyohu Goldschmidt that illustrates what fear is. He writes:
"My dear son, 'there was once an earthquake in Eretz Israel during R' Yosef Chaim Stonefeld's later years when he was already feeble and infirm. As soon as the tremor passed, his grandson ran to his room and found him sitting over the Gemara as if nothing had happened. When he heard the boy come in, R" Yosef Chaim looked up and said calmly, "Did you make the Berachah over an earthquake yet?" The boy nodded. "Good," said his grandfather. "Now go back to your learning. "This is exactly how you would expect a person to react to an earthquake. People who experience an earthquake are generally so upset that it takes them a long time to get back to functioning normally. How, then, did R" Yosef Chaim maintain his composure?"
A CHILD IS TERRIFIED WHEN HE FACES DANGER, BUT HE FEELS SAFER IF HE IS HOLDING HIS FATHER'S HAND—EVEN IF HIS FATHER ISN'T CAPABLE OF PROTECTING HIM. Why is this so? Because fear is an emotional rather than a logical reaction. When a child holds his Father's hands, he feels an intrinsic sense of security that allows him to face the danger without an overly emotional response. A woman is at home during a severe thunderstorm and feels frightened. Her husband calls her on the phone and speaks with her for only a few minutes. Instantly she feels better after they hang up. Did that conversation give her any added protection against the crashing thunder and lightning? Of course not. But the contact with her husband reinforced her sense of security and allowed her to endure the terrifying noises of the thunderstorm without any undue reaction."
When it comes to fear, our Father profoundly rids fear from within us, and I trust you have found this (Philippians 4:27). The Prophet Isaiah writes, "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (41:10)." Then from the Psalmist in 56:34, "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?"
Historically, however, every generation has confronted their specific kinds of fears. During the 50's it was nuclear proliferation, and that has returned today with North Korea. There was a time when many thought that the human race would not survive. The United States and Russia were enemies, and North Korea had invaded South Korea. Simultaneously, television's pop culture was fast emerging, and America found a coping mechanism within it.
In the '60s and into the early '70s, we had the Vietnam War, which gutted the heart right out of America. Families were flocking to Canada to protect their sons from being drafted. Rock and Roll were on the rise, and the English invasion of such groups as the Beatles hit our shores. The vast majority of people don't remember the Jesus movement that swept through and touched thousands. A hippie generation came to faith in Jesus, alongside a revival of Jewish people coming to faith in their Messiah. All of this took place within a backdrop of an anti-establishment movement domestically and nuclear proliferation globally.
In early 2005, Wall Street's greed finally imploded, sparking a worldwide real estate collapse that destroyed millions of lives. The collateral damage left a generation of young people cynical of capitalism that serves only 1 % of America. Throughout most of this turmoil, the House of God was strong, resilient, and an anchor in times of storm, a place of hope and safety.
HOWEVER, I'D SURMISE THAT THE CHURCH, OR THE BRIDE OF MESSIAH, IS NOT THE LOVE SATURATED BRIDE AS WE WOULD ASSUME, AS MANY STRUGGLE WITH FEAR. I make this statement, not because of her messaging, heart, mission, or the scriptures that amply speak of Love, which is the opposite of fear. It's also not because our Father's Love has waned, or His ultimate sacrifice of His Son avails less today. So why do so many inwardly feel unloved as a son and daughter? Isn't it time to awaken Love? I will be so bold to lay a challenge before any pastor, Messianic rabbi, counselor, or leader: Query your people on any given Sabbath with such pointed questions. I warn you; however, you'll discover that many love tanks are either empty or running on reserve.
TIME TO AWAKEN LOVE: