1. Not operating normally or properly.
  2. Deviating from the norms of social behavior in a way regarded as bad.

Yesterday was my birthday, and I awoke this morning thinking that I haven't even started on October's article yet! I thought, “Well, this is a great way to start this next year of my life!” I dragged out of bed, and began the morning routine. (It is amazing how that takes a bit longer these days)! I opened the back door, as Kit-Kat was patiently awaiting his breakfast. October can be a bit nippy in these parts, but the sun was shining on this beautiful Fall morning. He stretched, and purred as I scratched his ears, and set down his food dish.

Next, was Puppy's turn as she stretched under the warm covers, while I scratched her back and rubbed her tummy. Having gotten her settled down to her breakfast, it was my turn. I turned on the TV while tending to my morning routine, and got dressed. I then started the morning coffee, took some mail out to the box, and brought in the newspaper. About this time, one of my favorite TV preachers was just beginning his message...and there it was! An idea for this month's article! Of course, I cannot rewrite his message, but the subject of his message was inspiring. He was preaching on the dysfunctional families of the Bible!

If you ever thought about it, most of our Bible heroes were a bit different. It has been said that you do not have to be crazy to be a Christian...but it helps! Seriously, I do not believe that any of God's heroes or heroines had any type of mental illness. They were people of FAITH!They had the courage to trust and believe our God! So many can be mentioned from the Old Testament through the New Testament, and even up to our current time. The phone rang, and I didn't get to hear the message, so I don't remember those whom the minister mentioned, but you can find these amazing people in almost every book of Scripture.

The first person who leaps to my mind is Noah (Genesis 6). He and his three sons took 120 years to build a ship 6oo feet long, 100 feet wide and 60 feet high in a land where it had never rained! People laughed and jeered all the while mocking this strange family; (can't you hear the neighbor ladies laughing at Mrs. Noah at the grocery store?!) I would have thought it would have at least given people pause when the day arrived that every species of wild animal lined up quietly awaiting their turn to step on board the ark. I'm sure it was of small comfort for Noah to be right as the rain came, the waters rose, and the whole town (not to mention planet) became fish food.

About 100 years after the flood, God scattered the people who were building the Tower of Babel. Peleg was born at that time, whose name means “the earth was divided” (Gen. 10:25). People began various industries as they moved over the earth, but again, forgot God, which naturally leads to sin. Three hundred years after the Flood, conditions were almost as bad as before. God called a man from the land of Ur of the Chaldees born 10 generations after Noah (his 8th great-grandson) by the name of Abraham, to love and serve Him all the days of his life. Abraham followed God on quite an adventure into the land of Canaan, which is an interesting study. He fathered the two powerful nations who are still at war in the Middle East...the Arabs (Ishmael's seed) and the Jews (through Isaac, the son of promise). By the end of his life (Genesis 25) Abraham had also fathered others by a second wife, Keturah (whom he married after the death of Sarah) but only recognized Isaac in his will. He had given his other sons gifts and sent them away to the East (verses 5-6). God had earlier told Abraham to send Ishmael away when he was a lad, as Sarah requested (Genesis 21), but also promised that Ishmael would become a great nation, possibly because he was the first seed of Abraham.

The next Bible hero who seemed to be a bit different was introduced as a 3 month old Hebrew infant, found in a little craft on the bank of the Nile River by the Pharaoh's daughter, (while his birth sister watched) and became the prince of Egypt (Exodus 2). As God arranged it, the baby's birth mother was hired to nurse him, and his new mother named him Moses (i.e. drawn from the water). He was raised as a royal, but gave it all up to follow his birth parents' God, and delivered his nation of Israel out of Egyptian slavery into the Promised Land! This man's life took many interesting twists and turns, which makes for fascinating reading. Moses was the leader and lawgiver to Israel, and is revered to this day by the Jewish Nation.

One of the more colorful Old Testament characters was David (1 Samuel 16). He began as the least in his father's house, whose job was tending the sheep, as was the customary job of the youngest son of the family in that day. David went on to be a giant slayer, a fugitive, a true and trusted friend, a leader of an army, and ended up as the King of Israel! One day our Lord will begin His 1,000 year earthly reign on the throne of David in Jerusalem. David was a man of great strength, and weaknesses, as is the potential of all humans. His life story is so exciting, it is such a wonder of God that David accomplished all that he did. He was a man of great passion and could go from the mountain top to the pit of despair, and I suppose some would have called him dysfunctional. Yet he was God's beloved!

The New Testament is not without God's Beloved Dysfunctionals. Peter was a man of passion, as was David. He was a man's man. I picture him as a bit rougher than David. They both started out as men who earned their living by the sweat of their brow...outdoors men. We aren't introduced to Peter as a boy, as in David's case. He is a full-grown man earning his living as a fisherman when we meet him, and a follower of John the Baptist. We know that he had a wife and mother-in-law to support (Matt. 8:14), although we aren't told if he had children or not. We do know that in later years several Apostles' wives traveled with them (including Peter's wife, 1 Cor. 9:5), and some historians think Peter had children as well. We know that the first disciples to meet Jesus were Peter and his brother, Andrew (Matt. 4:18). The next were two other fishermen and also brothers, James and John, sons of Zebedee. All four immediately left their boats (and father, Zebedee) and followed Jesus. Peter was the first to defend Jesus (John 18:10), the first to deny Jesus (Mark 14:68), and the first one to trust Jesus (Matt. 14:29). Peter was one of the first apostles, and responsible for spreading the Gospel of Christ and helped set the New Testament Church in order. He died the Martyr's death, as an old man, but refused to be crucified right side up as his beloved Christ was, but insisted on being nailed to his cross upside down. Some writings also tell us that his wife died with Peter, at the hands of Nero in Rome, around A.D. 68.

There are so many colorful characters in the New Testament; some are more well known than others. Of course, Paul, Silas, James, and John are as famous as Peter. When I was first studying the Bible, I found a 10 volume set of Bible Story books which were just the perfect read for a new Christian Bible student, even though I was in my early 20's. It gave me the over-all story from beginning to end, which is really a great education for someone who had never read the Bible from cover to cover. It put things in sequence which was perfect for my orderly mind-set. Prior to that, I couldn't have told you if Moses was in the Old or New Testament!

If you are in the market for a set, be sure to ask your pastor or at least the sales person at your local Christian bookstore for his/her recommendation as to what brand to purchase. It may be that different religions have their own slant on the facts, geared to children.

Getting back to our subject, I cannot omit the Apostle Paul from our list of Beloved Dysfunctionals. This man was one of the most amazing men of his day and/or even in our current time! He was such a devout and highly educated Jew, a member of the Sanhedrin, and felt he was doing God a service by killing 3,000 of the so called heathen Jews who had decided to follow Jesus, and worshiped Him as the Messiah of Israel, and even the world. He also wrote half of the New Testament as well as establishing Churches all over the then known world. He, who started out killing Christians, ended up by not only joining them but furthering their message, writing letters of encouragement to them while he was in prison, and even becoming a martyr for Christ in Rome. Talk about acting dysfunctional!

There is one hero of the New Testament who has been overlooked by the Church. We are not told his name, but we know he was a youth, and referred to as Paul's sister's son, or Paul's nephew. God used this unnamed boy to save the life of probably the greatest Apostle of the Bible.

Paul had been on his “missionary journey” and ended up in Jerusalem at the temple, joining in the purification ritual. When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from Asia recognized Paul and started a riot against him. The Roman troops arrested Paul, and was escorting him to the barracks the next day, when Paul asked if he could speak to the crowd. The commander gave his permission. When Paul began talking, the crowd settled down because of his elegant Aramaic speech. But, at the end of Paul's message, when he testified that the Lord had told him to preach to the Gentiles, they were about to stone him to death!

The next morning, the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. More than forty men were involved with this plot. They went to the chief priests and elders, and told them of their vow. They asked them to petition the commander to bring Paul before the Sanhedrin, tomorrow, on the pretext of wanting more information about his case. These conspirators said they would kill Paul before he got there. However, when Paul's nephew heard of this plot, he went straight to the barracks and told Paul. Paul told one of the centurions to take his nephew to the commander because he had something to tell him. The Bible says in Acts 23:19 that “the commander took the young man by the hand, drew him aside” and asked him what he wanted to tell him. The boy told him the plot, and the commander told him not to tell anyone that he had reported this plan.

The commander then dispatched 270 soldiers to transport Paul to Caesarea, along with a letter to Governor Felix to explain the situation, since Paul was a Roman citizen. The Apostle was saved to fight the good fight of faith for many days to come, thanks to a young man only known to us as the nephew of the Apostle Paul!

The final beloved dysfunctionals on my Biblical list are really two men, also known to the Apostle Paul. By our modern standards, they were both misfits. One was a slave owner, named Philemon, and the other was the slave, called Onesimus, which means “profitable”. Their story is told in a short note written by Paul to Philemon, around A.D. 64, and is one of the Prison Epistles. Philemon was a Christian from Colosse, and his slave, Onesimus robbed his master and fled to Rome. There he became a convert through Paul, who sent him back with this letter (Philemon). It is of priceless value as a teaching in: (1) practical righteousness; (2) Christian brotherhood; (3) Christian courtesy; (4) and in the law of love.

We have our modern day Beloved Dysfunctionals as well. In 1906, a Black preacher by the name of William Seymour began a most amazing ministry in this country at 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles, CA. It seemed to be an offshoot of the Great Welsh Revival, as the Fire leaped from Wales to America. There are several websites dedicated to the outpouring at the Azsua Street Revival and makes for quite an education. In this time of racial separation in the United States, the Holy Spirit united many of God's people who were hungry for the Holy Spirit. In my opinion, Bishop Seymour was the main vessel God used for His first outpouring of the teaching on the Holy Spirit on our shores. Brother Seymour didn't care what he had to do to get more of God; he would be laughed at, scorned or whatever the price he personally had to pay, made no difference. Yes, even called Dysfunctional! One of the most endearing things I read about him was, when he went to pray, he wanted to be sealed in with God. Unlike the Jews, he had no access to a Prayer Shawl to put over his head, but he did have a wooden apple crate! He had no concern about what people might think, he was alone with his God and could talk to him in “private” no matter how silly he looked! Talk about humility!

On September 28, William Seymour experienced chest pains and shortness of breath. Before the doctor arrived, he had passed on to Glory. His last words were “I love my Jesus so”. Brother Seymour was laid to rest in Los Angeles' Evergreen Cemetery. His gravestone simply reads, “Our Pastor”.

In 1972, Sidney Ahlstrom of Yale University said that William Seymour was the “most influential black leader in American religious history”...Amen.

In 1998, the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary dedicated their new Chapel to Seymour's memory. Yet another one of God's Beloved BELOVEDS!

God Bless You All,

Pastor Moser

October, 2011


Don't despise humble beginnings...even an apple crate can have a Divine purpose!