The Good Father

The Good Father

My childhood was a nightmare. I honestly did not expect to live to even reach 20 years of age. In fact, at one point, I told a teacher that reaching 20 was my main goal in life! My father horribly abused me, beating me at the slightest provocation. Twice he almost killed me. He treated my mother horribly…and as you’re about to read, he treated her even worse than I knew. He treated my brothers and sisters horribly…again, far worse than I knew at the time.
 
In the past few months, God has revealed things about my life that have given me a new appreciation for what it means to have a Good Father. It may be that you were blessed to have wonderful parents who loved God and affirmed you and helped guide your steps in the paths of righteousness. It may be that like me you still carry scars from your upbringing.
 
Whatever the case, you have a Good Father who loves and cares for you. He has a wonderful plan for your life and wants to bless and favor you. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because of two events that happened regarding my own family. You see, I was not alone in being treated horribly by my father, and so I was not the only one who needed the healing hand of God.
 
My father beat up my uncle, my mother, and my siblings as well as beating me. He even got in a fist fight with a police officer in one of his drunken rages. I never heard him say, “I love you” or even call me by my name. Instead, it was “moron” or a curse word. Yet despite that, he still claimed to be a Christian and went to church week after week.
 
But there was much more that I didn’t know about at the time. I got a very unexpected phone call from a lady named Ann Marie whom I’d never met, in fact, never even heard of! You can imagine my shock when it turned out that she is my half-sister!
 
When Ann Marie was 40 years old, she found out she had been adopted. As many people do, she started looking for her birth family using DNA test results. Her search led her to a man named Robert Evans, who test results identified as her father. Of course, he was my father as well. As it turns out, though her birth mother never married, she had three children with my dad.
 
I had never heard the story until recently, but apparently at one point, Ann Marie’s brother found out that my dad was also his father and went to his home. My father came out of his door with a shotgun in hand and screamed, “Get off my property, or I will blow your head off. Your old lady is a whore!”
 
Like me, Ann Marie never heard the words from her father, “I love you. I’m proud of you.”  Perhaps you can imagine the emotions I was experiencing, as I began to share my testimony with Ann Marie on the phone! I talked to her about the Good Father. I told her that our father did not believe I was his son and violently abused me, two times almost killing me. The second time, I awoke in a fetal position, covered in my own dried vomit and crying out, “Why was I born?” 
 
I shared with Ann Marie that God has taken everything in our lives into account. He can make everything up to us. Our mess can be turned into a message and a miracle. We don’t have to be defined by what we’ve been through.  I told her that she was a child of the Most High God, that our loving Heavenly Father wants to affirm us and bless us. The same is true for you. No matter what you have experienced, you have a loving Heavenly Father who will never forsake you.
“I Don’t Even Have a Kite”

“I Don’t Even Have a Kite”

When I was very young, I experienced bigotry and attacks because my mother was Jewish.

I vividly remember making my way home from school and complaining to my mother because some of the older boys had called me a “kite.” (At least, that’s what I thought they were saying.)  I said, “I don’t even have a kite.  Why do they call me that?”  I was too young to understand the racial slur, but I knew something was wrong.  I saw people throw things at my mother or call her names when she went to the store.

Looking back now, I understand why when I was just four years old, she told me, “Christians hate Jews. Christians kill Jews.”  Her grandfather perished inside his synagogue in what is now Belarus.  The Jews of the town were herded inside, the doors were nailed shut, and the building was set on fire.  The people outside celebrated as the screams of the dying filled the air.

Many years later, Israel’s 9th president and my dear friend Shimon Peres talked to me about that event.  His family was from the same little village as my mother’s family.  He had researched the tragedy there and discovered that his grandfather perished in the same fire as my great-grandfather.  They were rabbis together, and they died together. He told me that day, “Mike, we are family.”  It was an amazing connection, but one born in great sadness and pain.

The bitter reality is that most Jewish people have never seen an act of kindness or love from a Believer.  They really do think that Christians hate them.  Because so much persecution and death have been carried out by those who claim to be following Jesus, they think that Christianity is opposed to them.

I grew up experiencing a divide between Christians and Jewish people.  I heard the slurs and name-calling and saw the prejudice in action. I heard from my mother the stories of her family members who perished in the Holocaust.  God has given us the privilege of sharing a different story, the reality that true Christians MUST love and care for His Chosen People.

Land of Promise, Land of Conflict

Land of Promise, Land of Conflict

Israel is a tiny country with a population of less than 8 million and a land mass comparable to the state of New Jersey, the fifth smallest state in the U.S. It is 290 miles in length and only 85 miles wide. Israel’s role on the world stage should seemingly be relatively minor, yet hardly a day goes by when events in or concerning Israel do not dominate international headlines. What many today seem to overlook is that Israel didn’t just rise from the rocky land of Palestine in 1948, it has been in existence for centuries, although known by various names.

The late columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote graphically of the land today: “Israel is the very embodiment of Jewish continuity: It is the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same God that it did 3,000 years ago. You dig the soil and you find pottery from Davidic times, coins from Bar Kokhba, and 2,000-year-old scrolls written in a script remarkably like the one that today advertises ice cream at the corner candy store.”

At the end of World War II, with all its horrors of the Holocaust, the devastated Jewish survivors in Europe longed to travel to Palestine, their biblical homeland. Their dreams were to be delayed when Britain was placed in control of Palestine by mandate of the United Nations and with a growing dilemma: How to walk the tightrope between world opinion and the Arabs. After the shock and revulsion of the Holocaust, much of the world increasingly demanded that the Jews be allowed to emigrate to Palestine…thought to be a place of safety for them.

Arabs in the region were adamantly opposed to the move.  Greatly frustrated by the situation, the British announced in February 1947 that control of Palestine would be ceded to the United Nations, even then a hotbed of anti-Semitism.  In November 1947, the UN offered a plan for partition that would divide the region into an Arab state and a Jewish state, calling for British troops to leave Palestine by August 1948.

The Jews welcomed the proposal; the Arabs scorned it. Some British leaders felt it would be impossible for a Jewish state to flourish in the face of such hostility from the Arabs. In the interim, Jewish leaders moved forward with plans for statehood. A provisional government was established under David Ben-Gurion in March 1948. Two months later, on May 14, as Egyptian fighter-bombers roared overhead and British troops readied for departure, Ben-Gurion and his political partners gathered at the museum in Tel Aviv.  At 16:00 [4:00 PM], Ben-Gurion opened the ceremony by banging his gavel on the table, prompting a spontaneous rendition of Hatikvah, soon to be Israel’s national anthem, from the 250 guests.

The following day, Israel was attacked by the Arab nations that ring her borders. Only through the grace and protection of God was Israel able to survive.  Again and again over the years, this tiny island of freedom has suffered assaults directed by evil men dedicated to the annihilation of the Jewish people.

Made in God’s Image

Made in God’s Image

God created you in His image for a purpose. Jehovah God wanted to have an intimate relationship—friendship—with you. There is a DNA component of God that is within us. When He is magnified, this mysterious “X” factor activates His Word. The Bible says in Luke 2:52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

Are you increasing in favor, or are you decreasing? I wear a bracelet inscribed with the words Living in the F.O.G. I’ve been asked repeatedly what that means. F.O.G. is an acronym for Favor of God. What is God’s favor and how can you live in it? Favor is “unmerited grace; regard shown by another, especially a superior; an act of kindness; a token of love; effort on one’s behalf.” Because you are His child, God, in an act of kindness and as a token of His love, extends unmerited grace and works tirelessly on your behalf. Not only does He bestow favor on you, He also blesses you with favor and affirmation from those around you. God acknowledged His Son when He said: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”(Matthew 3:17).

Living in the F.O.G. will help you reach the place in life where you can turn the head of God, touch the heart of God, and move the hand of God, a place where you can gain affirmation from the Father and His Word rather than from those around you—at home, at work, wherever you may be. You can learn to refuse to allow people and problems to define you. The one thing that has the power to release emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial success in your life is “F.O.G.”

To have the Favor of God in your life, you must focus on the image of God and not your own. Any image that comes before His is a graven image. When Moses delivered the Ten Commandments to the Children of Israel, the second one was: “Thou shalt not make thyself any graven image, or any form of what is in the heavens above, or what is in the earth beneath, or what is in the waters under the earth” (Exodus 20:4).

The Bible says we were created in God’s image. What does that mean? God emotes; He hears; He sees; He feels; He has personality. He created you for friendship, relationship. Knowing that, how can you live in His image? First, surrender your life to Him. Then, you magnify His image in four ways that represent His DNA. The Favor of God means that He will give you the resources you need to develop His image in your life, to do what He has called you to do—whether it is to be a missionary or an evangelist, a pastor or teacher, a salesman or chief executive officer, a doctor or a stay-at-home parent ministering to your family. Whatever you need, He will supply, and all because of the Favor of God.

In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

When you magnify the image of God, you are manifesting the DNA of God in your own life. Then, and only then, can you live in the Favor of God and activate the Word of God. What is DNA? I could give you a long, scientific explanation about deoxyribonucleic acid, the molecule that contains your genetic code, but I like to use the definition, “Divine Nature Acquired.” Paul wrote that “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I know this is true because it happened to me, and I know that once you experience God’s favor, your life will never be the same.

The Truth about BDS

The Truth about BDS

There is a concerted effort underway that is nothing less than a demonic plan that has been birthed in hell to destroy the nation of Israel…to literally bankrupt her and curse the nation. It is known as BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions). It is all about money. The plan is to turn worldwide public opinion against Israel, to isolate the Jewish nation and turn it into a pariah state, which no one will be willing to defend. It is a “Curse Israel” movement, and sadly, it is a fast growing and very popular movement.

The BDS campaign officially started on July 9, 2005, when nearly 200 Palestinian organizations met together and called for a worldwide economic boycott to attempt to force concessions from Israel. The main stated goals of BDS are to end the Israeli “occupation” of the Bible lands of Judea and Samaria and the so-called “right of return” for Palestinians into Israel.

The unstated goal is much darker. The Palestinians have repeatedly rejected the two-state solution. They do not want to live side by side with Israel in peace. They want the Jewish state to be destroyed. Some are more open about their aims than others, but the desired end result is the same. The popular chant among Palestinian supporters (sadly, often heard here in the United States) goes like this: “Palestine must be free, from the river to the sea.” Of course, the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is where Israel currently exists; those who join in this chant are calling for nothing less than the complete and total end of Israel.

The BDS campaign is founded on a lie. While there are good and well-meaning people who have been deceived by that lie, it is also being used as cover by those who hate the Jewish people. While anti-Semitism is rampant in much of the world, it is still regarded as unacceptable in some quarters. So the “collective Jew” of Israel replaces the individual Jew, and all of the hatred and contempt that must be concealed in polite company can be expressed under the cloak of BDS.

Many, many people here in the United States have accepted the propaganda that the Palestinians are an oppressed people, who are occupied by a foreign power. This false portrayal of events shapes the way news is reported, and it shapes the way people think. Often, people say they want a two-state solution, without remembering that in 1948, Israel offered a two-state solution, which was rejected by the Arabs and Palestinians who immediately launched a war to destroy Israel. They did not want peace then, and a great majority do not want peace now. We are fighting against the BDS movement and the lies they are promoting as part of our effort to defend God’s Chosen People.