"My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness."-2 Corinthians 12:9
From schlubby sitcom heroes to mommy blogs to online articles, there is a broad cultural perception that men constantly mess up and women must fight an uphill battle to fix them. Men are a burden, constant works-in-progress, pushed toward perfection but always falling short. This book asks a revolutionary question: What if these messed-up men are actually a mighty tool for God?
Tina and Dave Samples remind us that the Bible is filled with a cast of messed-up men—men who struggled and fell, and yet were used by God to accomplish His purposes. In fact, God has consistently chosen imperfect "clay pots" in which to place His light.
David was a poor father. Peter had problems with integrity. Moses had anger issues, Gideon struggled with fear, and Elijah suffered from depressionthe list goes on. Messed Up Men of the Bible offers encounters with these ancient men who faced the same emotions and questions that contemporary men face, in order to reveal fresh spiritual insights and hope for modern relationships. Through personal stories, practical advice, and useful exercises, Tina and Dave provide encouragement and hope for women dealing with the messed up men in their own lives.
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About the Author
Dave is a pastor, teacher, author, and church planter. He is a native Texan who resides in Granbury, Texas and pastors at Tolar Baptist Church in Tolar, Texas. Dave has held numerous denominational leadership positions and has spoken for a variety of organizations including the Gospel Music Association in Estes Park, CO. You can find David online at www.davesamples.blogspot.com, or link with him via Facebook or Twitter (davesamples).
Read an Excerpt
Messed Up Men of the Bible
Seeing the Men in Your Life Through God's Eyes
By Tina Samples, Dave Samples
Kregel PublicationsCopyright © 2016 Tina Samples and Dave Samples
All rights reserved.
A Double-Minded Man
No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
Betty twisted in the oversized chair, leaned into her husband's words, and clenched her jaw. One ear clung to his assurances while the other turned away; one part of her chose trust while the other fought to believe. She felt split down the middle.
Her mind drifted to moments when she had accepted his every sentence without hesitation, suspicion, or fear. She recalled never having reason to doubt his words or deeds. But as the years of their marriage progressed, she stumbled upon "little white lies" — minimized issues, storytelling, and broken truths.
Each lie thickened the glass wall separating the relationship. Betty wondered when the glass might finally shatter. He had done it so often now — inconsistencies in behavior and speech, pretending to be something he wasn't. Who was this man? How could she find confidence in him? Could the relationship be restored?
TINA * Do you identify with Betty's story? I remember as a small girl losing confidence in my father's words. My moments of excitement at the thought of going somewhere or doing something with my dad were cruelly crushed when those plans fell to the ground. My father's inconsistent lifestyle failed to bring something a little girl needed — stability.
My dad was a huge mess, and his inconsistency weakened his character. He struggled with an alcohol addiction that led him to live an unpredictable lifestyle. When sober, he was caring and compassionate, but when he drank, he was cruel and unkind. Which of the two characters was my real father?
That is a question many women ask about the messed up man in their life: "Who are you?"
Women want to believe in their fathers as well as the other men in their lives. When fathers struggle with being authentic, they leave muddy footprints on little girls' hearts. We then grow up and enter relationships with messed up men who also struggle.
Chuck Colson said, "We must be the same person in private and in public. Only the Christian worldview gives us the basis for this kind of integrity."1 But are we ever the same person in public that we are in private?
Men lacking authenticity isn't something new in today's world — even Jesus walked with those who struggled with honesty.
Wooden Sticks and Steel Rods
DAVE * The apostle Peter is a man not unlike the men in your life. At times he attempts to be more than he is — more spiritual, more confident, more successful. Peter wants to be the best he can, but like all men, he isn't quite there. He teeter-totters between right and wrong. Let's look at a few examples.
In Matthew 16, Jesus asks a simple question: "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" Peter's spot-on answer, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God," is met with Jesus's approval. Jesus responds, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven" (vv. 13–17).
Yet just six verses later, Peter receives Jesus's stern rebuke, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."
The rebuke comes after Peter, alarmed at Jesus's prediction of His own impending death in Jerusalem, attempts to correct Jesus. In response, Jesus rebukes Peter for giving voice to Satan. Isn't that amazing!
One moment, Peter is speaking the divine words of the Father; the very next, he is speaking the lying words of Satan.
Perhaps you've seen this in the men close to you. Sometimes they are brilliant and spiritual. But at other times, they seem filled with deceit and anything but God's words.
Paul relates another incident of Peter's inconsistency:
When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, "If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?" (Gal. 2:11–14)
Paul publicly condemned Peter for behaving one way around the Gentile believers and another around Jewish believers. We often call this inconsistent behavior a lack of integrity or lack of authenticity. Merriam-Webster defines authentic, the word from which authenticity derives, as "real or genuine ... not false or imitation ... true to one's own personality, spirit, or character."
A steel rod is stronger than a wooden stick. The stick is no less authentic than the rod; it just has a different kind of authenticity. The stick has the authenticity of wood while the rod has the authenticity of steel. But what if the stick tried to pose as a steel rod? The stick would be pretending to be something it is not. It does not have the same strength or qualities as steel and will not hold up under the same pressures.
Now let's look at the man in your life. If your messed up man tries to pose as something other than what he is, he lacks authenticity. Perhaps the man you believed to be steel has broken or is breaking under pressures that a wooden stick cannot possibly support. Peter experienced brokenness when his words shifted from a faith-filled confession to fear-filled caution. He was again broken when Paul confronted his shift in something as simple as food and drink. Is your man less than or other than who he says he is? Are there honesty issues in his life?
Here's the good news: your messed up man is in the company of a great many biblical heroes, including Peter. You may have experienced the consequences of leaning on a stick that couldn't support you the way you expected. The truth is, no human can ever support you fully. Only God can have that place in your life.
TINA * I'm sitting here asking myself if I view Dave as a stick or an iron rod. Okay, I won't answer that, but looking back, I clearly remember the stick breaking a time or two. Yet, I also remember my husband's firm grasp on me and his family, grasps that could not be loosened or torn asunder. He was an iron rod in iron cladding. And oh, how it melted my thick, scared walls as security brushed over me. Kind of like butter on a hot bun.
What is his true character? Sometimes men are inconsistent in their behaviors, actions, and ways of living. Of course, women are too. Perhaps some men, like some women, struggle to find authenticity, genuineness, and truthfulness, or to live a life consistent with who they really are.
Circumstances may play a role in a man's authenticity. Abraham told Sarah to pretend to be his sister in order to save his own life. Jacob's sons pretended to be one thing in front of their father and another to their brother, Joseph, whom they threw into a pit and sold into slavery. Were they loving and concerned brothers or jealous bullies?
When reading about Peter, we ponder the question, "Who are you?" Are you courageous or cowardly, a lover or fighter, a friend or foe, a Jew or Gentile, fearless or fearful, a believer or an unbeliever? Peter struggled with all of these matters. Authenticity is about being consistent with who one is.
Life is filled with decisions, and though we would like to help the men in our life make decisions, and good ones, that isn't our responsibility. Still, we try by picking out Sunday clothes, discouraging ice-cream runs, and distracting them while they pass by favorite fast-food restaurants. Who reminds them to get off their phones for family time, or that the doctor said not to do that because this would happen? Sometimes men don't do a very good job of making decisions, and we've experienced time and again how their bad decisions have impacted their lives. (Of course, we women have the same issue.)
Peter came to a point where his bad decision created a moment of weakness and failure. Jesus knew Peter would fail. Jesus didn't keep it a secret either; he told Peter he would fail. Can you imagine? How would it feel to have Jesus look you square in the eye and tell you when and how you're going to fail?
The moment arrived, a moment requiring a huge decision for Peter. Would he be authentic or not? Would he boldly declare who he really was — or hide it?
Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him and said, "You too were with Jesus the Galilean." But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you are talking about." When he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth." And again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man." A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, "Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away." Then he began to curse and swear, "I do not know the man!" And immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, "Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly. (Matt 26:69–75)
Can we attest to moments of blowing it? I'm not a very good cook. One day, while my husband and I worked upstairs in our home offices, I heard a loud pop. The pop sounded like a gun. We both jumped up and ran downstairs. I turned toward the kitchen and found our lab looking up at the stove, tail wagging as if to say, "Up there!" Upon further investigation, I realized I forgot that I had put eggs in a pot to boil. My forgetfulness created an unfolding of events that ultimately led to eggs exploding. Fragments of egg were everywhere! In my attempt to fix the situation, I grabbed the scalding pot and thrust it under cold water. My husband yelled, "No!"
You guessed it. When the water hit the eggs, those that hadn't already burst exploded at that very moment. Shrapnel of egg hit me square in the face, speckled my hair, and splattered my clothes. I stood dumbfounded — frozen as if I really were hit by shrapnel. I expected my husband to do what I felt Jesus would have done — grab a towel and help clean me up. Instead, he stood there, lips curled and eyebrows raised, and said, "You have egg on your face."
Isn't that what we often do when the men in our life mess up? Peter's embarrassment before the Lord was a gut-wrenching moment; a moment of recognition and realization. Sometimes our messes lead to those moments; sometimes they leave us broken and weeping — or at the very least, with egg on our faces.
When moving, my family often stayed in old, abandoned homes. One particular home stands out in my mind, not because of its age but because of an incident that affected me in the house. My parents made arrangements to run to the grocery store, but before leaving, they warned us kids, "Whatever you do, don't go upstairs." The stairs were rotten, unsteady, and dangerous. (The fire department burned down the house a short time after we moved out because a young teen died going up those steps.)
After Mom and Dad left, my younger sister and I looked up the steps as if looking up a huge mountain. Perhaps hidden treasures lingered above! We had to find out. Boards creaked and cracked ominously with each step. Holding each other's hand tightly, we kept climbing, sidestepping holes here and there.
Reaching the top felt like summiting Everest. Our feet shuffled down the hallway to the first room. Tense with anticipation, we peered in. Nothing. The empty room stared back at us. Each room resembled the previous.
Except the last one. A turn of the knob, and we stepped inside to find an old calendar hanging forlornly on the wall. The large image of Jesus caused our hearts to leap. Taking the calendar off the grimy wall, we cautiously made our way back downstairs and carried it around the rest of the afternoon.
Our excitement came to a halt when we heard the rumble of a vehicle pulling into the driveway. Squealing and shrieking, we scampered to find the perfect hiding spot for our treasure. Then we went off to play and forgot all about it — until ...
"Tina! Tina and Pam!"
My mother's tone could raise the hair on a pig's back. We froze, our beating hearts pounding in our ears. One more call loosened our legs, and we ran like the wind to her.
"Did you go upstairs?" she asked, brows creased and lips pursed.
We shook our heads. "No ma'am. We didn't go up the stairs."
There was a silent pause. And that's when I noticed the haze in the kitchen, with smoke wafting up toward the ceiling. Perhaps my sister and I had made a bad decision in hiding the calendar in the oven.
Our mother asked again, "Did you go upstairs?"
Caught. I opened my mouth and let the truth stumble out. I don't recall all my words, but I remember saying, "We just wanted Jesus."
My sister and I tensed and waited for the spanking of our lives. But something unexpected happened. There in the center of that smoke-filled, dirty kitchen, our mother dropped to her knees in front of us. Crying, she scooped us up in her arms and, pulling our dirty cheeks next to her wet face, she prayed. Her body trembled against ours. I don't remember her words, but I'll never forget her love and grace. Her embrace — and God's.
A few years back, I asked Mom if she remembered what she prayed over us that day. She said, "I prayed you would come to know the real Jesus." We did — and I became a pastor's wife, and my sister became a missionary.
There's nothing like big arms pulling a scared body into a warm, graceful hug. My mother's embrace made me want to become more truthful with her, more consistent in walking a path of good and godly character. And that's how it is with God and our messed up men.
Whether we like it or not, or feel the man in our life deserves it, God embraces him.
Men fear the reactions of women, what we will think of them if we ever discover their lack of authenticity, and what that discovery might do to the relationship. Our own hurtful emotions as women get in the way of handing out undeserved embraces.
It isn't the fault of women that men struggle. The question is, how can women embrace men during those vulnerable moments when men work to build honest character? How can we provide safe places for men to dwell in while God opens their eyes and hearts so they can become more like Him?
Peter failed Jesus. But Peter would later learn that Jesus takes the towel and wipes egg off our faces, picks us up, and embraces us — even in the midst of our failures.
The Secret to Peter's Success
How do you picture Peter? I picture him as a strong, brawny man. When I look at the men in my family (and there are many), I envision Peter. I think of Peter as rough around the edges, maybe not up on his people skills, and not a frequent bather. I picture him as someone who loved the outdoors and fishing, and who spent too much time away from his family working and playing — a man who loved adventure. I think of someone who didn't always watch his language, acting one way in a crowd and quite another when out with the boys; as not always balanced in life and perhaps not always doing a good job of being the man of his home. Does that sound familiar?
While Peter's wife is unnamed in Scripture, Peter's writings give us a glimpse of her character. In 1 Peter 3:1–6, Peter addresses women. It's odd what he says to us: "Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives" (niv).
Peter is saying to women, "You are more likely to change the messed up man in your life by your behavior than by your words." It's the old saying: "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." I can see your lips curve as I write. Those of you who sway the man in your life with honey know what I'm talking about. Men are influenced by the women in their circle. Men learn about women through their grandmothers, aunts, sisters, moms, dating partners, friends, and wives. Men learn about women not only from what men say about them and what they observe on the streets but also, and very importantly, from their interactions with women. Our lifestyle is a testament to men of what we believe.
Excerpted from Messed Up Men of the Bible by Tina Samples, Dave Samples. Copyright © 2016 Tina Samples and Dave Samples. Excerpted by permission of Kregel Publications.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 Peter A Double-Minded Man 15
2 Nebuchadnezzar A Conceited King 29
3 Saul A Reckless Ruler 42
4 Moses A Destructive Deliverer 58
5 Job A Sick Soul 74
6 Elijah A Pitiful Prophet 89
7 Solomon A Wayward Worshiper 105
8 David A Fading Father 119
9 Judas A False Friend 136
10 Samson A Lustful Leader 152
11 The Demoniac An Oppressed Outcast 167
12 Gideon A Weak-Kneed Warrior 181
About the Authors 211
A Message from Tina & Dave 213