Top Posts for 2011

A firefighter friend of mine (mentioned in this post) was recently baptized by our Chaplain in a portable fire water tank similar to the one pictured here


The top 5 most popular posts for 2011

In reverse order from the fifth most popular to the first, here they are:

5) Genesis 2:24-25 — …a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

In the 1960s 5% of live births in the United States were to single mothers. Today that number is 42%. In 1960 77% of women and 65% of men had left home, finished school, become financially independent, married, and had their first child by age 30. Today that number is 46% for women and only 31% for men. The bottom line is that people today are taking longer to grow into mature adulthood and the cultural influences on marriage today are damaging. So I suppose then that I shouldn’t be surprised at the interest in this post. I wrote it in September of 2010 and it still remains in the top 5 today.


4) Genesis 2:7 — God formed man from the dust

The longer I’m alive the more I recognize the truth in Abraham’s statement to the LORD that I am nothing but dust and ashes. (Genesis 18:27) In fact today scientists know that all of the elements that make up the human body are found in the dust of the earth — just as the Bible describes. And if someone were to collect and separate all of those elements found in your body, and sell them, you would be worth only a few dollars.

This post isn’t primarily about our lowly earthy condition but is mainly about the dramatic difference that God’s Spirit can make in your life. I wrote it in July of 2010 and it’s popularity continues.


3) Genesis 12:1-9 — Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

This is about how Abraham’s adventures serve as an illustration of what you can expect to encounter in your life as a follower of Jesus Christ. I think most people don’t realize what they signed up for when they became a Christian. This post is an explanation of just that, an explanation of what you’ve signed up for. What you find will surprise you.


2) Genesis 7:17-24 For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth.

This Post’s about our window of opportunity to accept God’s offer of salvation. God says to you and He says to me, yes you can go to hell, but it’ll be over My dead body. While you’re still alive here on earth you have the opportunity to accept the ultimate sacrifice of His Son who died on your behalf.

I also talk about how a firefighter friend of mine serves as an example of someone who lives as a man should live while facing great adversity. By the way just a few weeks ago he was baptized in a fire department portable water tank similar to the one pictured at the beginning of this post.


1) Baby Survives Abortion

The popularity of this post far exceeds any of the others from the top five. Most of what I write has to do with the life of Christ, scripture, and God’s kingdom but when I read this story I couldn’t help but speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves… (Proverbs 31:8) Apparently this post resonates.

Since I wrote it a baby’s been born at 24 weeks which is the third smallest baby born on record. Her name is Melinda Star Guido, she was born on Aug. 30, 2011 and she weighed just 9 ounces — about the same as two iPhones. If you’re interested you can read more at the UK newspaper link for The Daily Mail.


On behalf of everyone who makes this blog possible I want to thank you for your interest. I read something recently in the book Heaven is for Real that struck a chord in me. Five year old Colton, who claims to have visited heaven during a near death experience on the operating table, said, “Jesus told me he died on the cross so we could go see his Dad.”

It’s my hope and prayer that the LORD uses this blog to reconcile you to Him.

May He richly bless you in 2012.

kurt


References:

You Lost Me

Heaven is for Real

Jon Courson

Heaven is for Real

The day after Christmas I drove up to Portland to visit my son Nate, daughter (in-law) Anastasia, and their friend Steve. On the way up I listened to the audio version of the book Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo. It’s the story of a four year old who nearly died on the operating table but survived to tell of his vivid recollections of what it was like in heaven. It was a great read/listen. Do I believe that four year old Colton Burpo’s descriptions of heaven are just the imaginings of a four year old? Or do I believe they’re a factual account of his visit to heaven? There’s no way to know for sure, but I have to admit the book definitely made me think.

Interestingly, a few days after I arrived in Portland I found out that the same day I finished the book Heaven is for Real a family member died.

In case you’re interested, a Today show interview with Colton and Todd Burpo is below.

 

References:

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

God interrupts the world with the birth of His Son

Heark the Herald Angels Sing

Read Luke Chapters 1-2 and Matthew Chapters 1-2

Our story today, is the Christmas story. And it begins with a woman named Elizabeth, who, though she is well past her child bearing years, is pregnant with her son John, who will later become known as John the Baptist. When she’s in the sixth month of her pregnancy God sends an angel named Gabriel to another woman, a different woman, named Mary, who lives in this little town in Galilee called Nazareth, and who’s pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, one of David’s descendants.

The angel approaches Mary and says, Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.

Now this freaks Mary out, she doesn’t understand why she’s being greeted this way, by an angel no less. She’s troubled.

The angel senses this and says, Don’t be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You’ll conceive and give birth to a son, and you’re to call him Jesus. He’ll be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he’ll reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.

How is this possible, Mary asked, since I’m a virgin?

The angel: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.

At this Mary simply said, I’m the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.

Then the angel left.

So Mary heads to Zechariah (Elizabeth’s husband) and Elizabeth’s which was in the hill country of Judea. And as she enters their house she greets Elizabeth, and just as soon as Elizabeth hears the greeting, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaps, like a big time leap, and Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit.

In a loud voice she says, Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you’ll bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!

Then Mary sings. (Click on this link to see the lyrics of Mary’s song)

Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then went home.

So everything seems great until Mary tells Joseph that she’s pregnant. I don’t know what was said between them but Joseph thinks that Mary has been unfaithful to him and if you think about it, it’s hard to blame him for thinking that way. He knows for a fact that he and Mary haven’t been together yet sexually. And he knows that Mary’s pregnant. So putting two and two together he decides he’s going to divorce her, although he decides that he’s going to divorce her quietly because he doesn’t want to disgrace her.

So it looks like the marriage is going to blow up, but then he has a dream and in his dream an angel tells him, Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife (But he didn’t make love to Mary until she gave birth to a son).

Later, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census be taken of the entire Roman empire. So everyone had to go to their own town to register.

So because Joseph was of the house and line of David, he had to go to the town of Bethlehem. So he does. He goes from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem in Judea to register with Mary, who’s pledged to marry him and is already expecting.

While they’re in Bethlehem the time for the baby to be born comes and she gives birth. She wraps him in cloths and places him in a manger because there’s no rooms available for them to stay in.

That night there were shepherds nearby watching over their flocks in the fields. An angel of the Lord appeared to them and God’s glory shone all around them and the shepherds were terrified.

But the angel said, Don’t be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

Then all of the sudden a great company of angels appears with the first angel. They praise God saying, Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.

Then the angels left and went into heaven.

The shepherds say to each other, Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.

So they hurry off and find Mary, Joseph, and the baby — the baby lying in the manger, wrapped in cloths just as the angel said it would be. After they saw him they go around and spread the word about what the angel told them about this baby and everyone who heard it was amazed.

Then the shepherds went back to the fields, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Wow.

Christ is born.

The only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, The Great God and our Savior Jesus Christ is born. (John 1:18, Titus 2:13)

 

God’s Interruptions:

The world’s historical inertia was interrupted that day by the birth of The Resurrection and the Life, The Son of the Most High God. (John 11:25, Mark 5:7) After Christ’s birth the world would be thrown into spiritual and cultural tumult and turmoil — by divine design. That interruption was a part of God’s plan.

Have you ever thought about how God’s work is so often done through interruptions? Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah and his wife Elizabeth were just happily working, day by day, serving the Lord, in a routine, ministering, when bam, Elizabeth, suddenly and unexpectedly is pregnant, (and Zechariah is even temporarily struck by the Lord and rendered unable to speak for months).

Mary’s in her routine of preparing for her wedding with Joseph but then an angel shows up and she also unexpectedly becomes pregnant, with all the implications of not yet having consummated her marriage.

Joseph’s in his groove down at the wood shop when he finds out that Mary’s pregnant. So he starts to work on a quiet means of divorcing her when that’s interrupted by an angelic announcement.

Then Caesar requires that they travel to Bethlehem, where there are no rooms available. (Later they’re warned in a dream to take their infant Jesus and flee from Herod’s henchmen to Egypt — yet another interruption)

It’s just one thing after another.

There’s a strong pattern of God using interruptions to accomplish His plans throughout the scriptures.

Abraham’s life was interrupted when the LORD told him, Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. And he was interrupted again when God directed him to travel to Mount Moriah and offer Isaac as a sacrifice.

Moses was on track to take a high level position in the Egyptian government, perhaps even becoming the next Pharoah, when his life was interrupted for forty years when he had to flee to the wilderness after he killed the Egyptian.

Jacob’s son Joseph had his life interrupted when he was sold into slavery. And again when he was falsely accused of having an affair with his master’s wife and thrown in jail.

David’s life was interrupted when he had to flee from Saul. And his life was interrupted again when he had to flee from Absalom.

Daniel was in a nice routine of praying to the LORD three times a day when he was thrown into the lion’s den.

The last three years of Jesus’ life were filled with interruptions. He was interrupted first by His mother asking Him to turn water into wine, then by a an untold number of people asking for healing, he was even interrupted by people asking him to give audience to children. Not surprisingly, He handled His interruptions with great grace, wisdom, and power.

The scriptures are filled with examples of how God uses interruptions to accomplish His work.

Let me tell you something about myself — I hate to be interrupted. Perhaps it comes from my years in the fire service where I was constantly interrupted by the call of the alarm bell. In the fire service your interrupted in the middle of a meal, in the middle of a project, in the middle of a shower, it’s constant. Or maybe it’s just that part of my personality that loves to find my groove and to fall into a deep zone of concentration — uninterrupted concentration.

I have to confess that sometimes, I even see Jesus as an interruption:

When He calls me to worship him in the morning and I’m tired.

When He directs me to read His word.

When He interrupts my day to help someone with a problem.

When He invites me to spend time at His house.

Not all the time, but sometimes, I can receive these as interruptions, even annoying interruptions — because — I hate to be interrupted.

Like the men of God in the examples above, sometimes we don’t have a choice in the matter. The interruption just happens to us.

But sometimes the men of God in the examples above did have a choice. Sometimes we do too. We can look for Christ in the interruption. We can choose to be obedient to God’s direction in the interruption, as Abraham did when he left Ur. As Joseph did when he took Mary to be his wife. As the shepherds did when they went to see Jesus in the manger.

So I have a problem and I have a choice.

My problem is obvious — it’s clear that the Lord uses interruptions to accomplish His work, and it’s also clear that I hate to be interrupted.

My choice is simple — I can blow Him off and stay in my groove, my routine. Or I can follow His direction.

Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you hate interruptions. Might I suggest that you and I need to take a fresh look at life’s interruptions? You know God could have revealed His plan to Joseph and Mary years in advance. He could have brought Jesus into the world any way He chose. But He chose to use interruptions. That’s not the way I would have done it but then the LORD declared to us, “…my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” (Isaiah 55:8) One thing’s for sure — God’s way is always the best way.

When we’re interrupted we need to immediately look for God’s hand in the situation. When we’re interrupted we need to immediately look for God’s direction in the situation. When we’re interrupted we need to seek His will and follow what He has in mind for us to do.

The next time you’re interrupted…

This Christmas, not if, but when you’re interrupted…

Look for Christ in the interruption.

Thank Him for having His hand on your life.

Seek His direction.

Obey His direction.

Act on His direction.

It seemed to work out pretty well for Mary and Joseph.

 

One More Interruption:

Maybe you’re sensing that God’s Spirit is interrupting you at this moment. Perhaps you’re realizing you’ve sinned and you’re wondering what you should do about it.

Jesus was born to die for your sin and He did just that.

If God’s Spirit is moving you to receive Jesus as your Savior then go to So Your Life Is Falling Apart.

It’ll be the best interruption you’ve ever experienced in your life.

 

References:

Bible Gateway

Blue Letter Bible

Dr. Terry Crist

Ben Courson

Jon Courson

Christmas with Christ

Orthodox Christian pilgrims gather to enter the Grotto during Orthodox Christmas services at the Church of Nativity, traditionally believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem

Wow, what a Christmas season this has been. It’s been one thing after another. There were lights to hang outside and a tree to put up and decorate. We had to travel out of town for awhile. Before I was even back in town the fire department was sending emails requesting that I come back to work for a couple of days before Christmas. Of course there was Christmas shopping to do. I have to find a gift, for Kathy, which is difficult to say the least. Mom’s flying to Seattle to spend Christmas with my sister so I gave her a lift to the airport. The battery went dead in our 1994 Toyota Camry so I had to swap in a new one. Then I had to pick up some family members from the airport. I’m on the phone with my nephew Kassidy who’s coming down for a visit with his family, but maybe not, but maybe so… Kass, just come on down! Skyping with my parents (who are out of town) so they can visit with us, their grandkids, and great grandkids.

Wow.

So now it’s time to put the Christmas Eve and Christmas day plan into action. We’ll get the family together for dinner out on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day we’ll get the family and friends together again, have a nice spread, open presents, play some board games, watch a Christmas movie.

Phew, done, made it through another Christmas. Wow. I’m so glad we celebrate the birth of Jesus every year. It’s intense but fun. Without the celebration of the birth of Christ we wouldn’t get the family together the way we do. We wouldn’t exchange gifts. We wouldn’t watch a movie together.

But we did it. We did it all.

Didn’t we? We’re good right? It was another great Christmas.

Wasn’t it?

Let me ask you something. Have you ever hosted a birthday party without inviting the person who was having the birthday?

How many of us do that today? Madison Avenue marketing makes us believe that we can’t live without the new iPod Touch, or the new Kindle Fire, or the latest clothes, or kitchenware, or big screen TV, or the Monster Abbey Bominable Doll with Pet Wooly Mammoth named Shivver (no I didn’t make that last one up, it’s real, and it’s a hot seller).

Hollywood has us believing we need to go see the latest blockbuster movie.

Activision has us believing we need to play Call of Duty MW3.

Never before have we experienced such distraction in our lives. One hundred channels on TV, video games, football, Facebook, Farmville, Netflix (watch movies instantly!)

But that can’t be an excuse to leave Jesus out of Christmas. We can’t get so focused on family, friends, gifts, games, and entertainment, that we leave out the One who we’re supposed to be celebrating.

The One who endured torture and death so you and I can enter into heaven!

If someone had saved your life, physically, here on earth, can you imagine celebrating his birthday without inviting him to the party? So why do you, so why do I drift away from focusing on the Person who we’re supposed to be celebrating this time of year?

LORD have mercy on us.

LORD please forgive us.

Invite Jesus Christ to join you in celebrating His birth this Christmas. Go to church. Read the Christmas story at this year’s gathering. Pray to Him as a group, with family, and friends — give thanks for how He’s blessed you in 2011. Spend time alone with Him. Do something that points to Jesus, that honors Jesus. Do something in remembrance of Him.

The night Jesus was born, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Luke 2:15

Go to church and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told you about, just now, in this blog.

Invite Jesus to join you this Christmas.

You’ll be glad you did.

And so will He.

Genesis 27 — When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes he blessed him

Isaac Blessing Jacob by Gioachino Assereto 1640


Read Genesis 27

The following story was told by Moran Cerf at the Moth Storytelling competition: themoth.org

Ummm, so ten years ago I used to break into banks to make a living. I used to steal anywhere between a thousand dollars and ten thousand dollars a week or every two weeks. And I was a part of a team of three people — we were hackers. We had a little office in downtown Tel Aviv in Israel, and we’d break into banks and steal their money, then we’d cash it, go back to the owners of the bank, and tell them, look we stole your money. Why don’t you secure your bank better, give us a little bit of that (money), and let us secure your bank, and help you close everything so the bad guys won’t actually steal your money?

I loved this job. I really loved telling that I do this job at parties because it felt like such a cool thing – my life was so exciting. Deep inside I always wanted to be a scientist. I wanted to be a scientist but I felt that I could never have as an exciting life as a scientist as much as I have as a hacker.

So it’s September, 2000, and we have a little job to break into a little bank in Israel, in Tel Aviv. It’s a very small bank, it has very few branches, and we do a pretty good job. We have two weeks to break into it, and after five days we tear it apart. So we can do whatever we want – we can transfer money from one account to another, we can look at all the information of everyone, and we did our job, and I’m ready to just sign off on this thing and send it to the board of directors.

And then Tammy, one of the members of my team, she comes to me and she says, “Have you seen the job description?”

And I say, “Yea, it’s the same one we always get.”

She says, “Yea but did you read it carefully?” She hands me the paper with the job description, and it reads something like, the team can try any means of breaking in: physical, software, infrastructure, blah, blah, blah.

And I say, “Yea what does it mean?”

And she says, “It means we can break into the bank – physically – go and rob the bank. Not just computer breaking (hacking) but actually go and rob the bank…

…and we should do that.”

Now Tammy, she is thirty-five, she just broke up with her boyfriend after nine years because she wanted to have a baby and he didn’t want to have a baby so she broke up with him. And she’s very unstable and I know that, when she comes and says, “Let’s break into the bank.”

And I am the boss and I say, “Well but we don’t know how to break into banks, that’s not our… like we know how to break into banks with computers. We don’t know how to actually go and rob a bank.”

And she says, “Well, you know, how many times in your life do you get to break into a bank and if you get caught, it’s OK because you just did your job and it’s OK, and it’s just a part of the thing. And if you succeed you actually broke into a bank. You live only once, let’s do it! Please, please, please, please. Let’s rob the bank – please, please.”

And I look at her and I start thinking it makes sense, and I say, “OK, let’s rob the bank.”

So the weekend starts and the three of us are learning how to rob a bank. And we don’t know anything about it. And as much as you might think, there’s not much about it on the internet — at the time. So like, we couldn’t find a book that says, Breaking Into Banks for Dummies. So we start looking for ways and it turns out we have to come up with a way ourselves. So we plan a very elaborate way to break the bank which is a little branch up in Northern Tel Aviv that has only one teller so there’s not going to be too much of a crowd there.

And we have one of us, Gian (pronounced John) who’s younger, that is an insider – he’s going to go to the bank first. He’s going to have a little camera on his belly, a hidden camera, he’s going to film everything so if something goes wrong, we’re going to have footage that shows that we didn’t do anything bad.

And Tammy and me, we’re going to go afterwards, and when he signals us that there’s no one else in the bank, so no one’s going to pull a gun or something, and starts freaking out. And we’re going to go and we’re going to rob the bank. We’re going to take a little bit of money from one of the safe boxes that we picked in advance because we have information about the bank. We picked the name of a woman (who we knew would have a small amount of money in her safe box).

So it’s Monday morning, and Gian is inside, and he signals us to come inside. And we come, and we start walking toward the teller, and I start having doubts. I mean I’m not sure how many of you have had the chance to rob a bank in your life, but, it’s really scary. And there’s a moment before you say, “It’s a bank robbery,” where you can still take it back. So you can still walk in, say to the guy, it’s a mistake, and leave, and it’s OK. But once you say, “It’s a bank robbery,” even if you regret it you still said it, and now you have to do something, and it’s complex. And I saw it’s a mistake, and can I leave? So I started hesitating.

But Tammy just broke up with her boyfriend and she doesn’t think anything of it and she goes and says, “It’s a bank robbery, we want you to go to the safe and open 10003.”

And the teller, she’s like a twenty-five year old girl, she’s hardly ever seen a customer in this place ever, and she’s like studying for the SAT. She puts a marker in the book, she stands up like nonchalant, goes with Tammy to the back room, to open the thing.

And now I’m sitting there, and Gian, his job, he’s the youngest, his job was also to use this time to take pictures of the place because we sometimes find people leaving post-it notes with the password next to the computer and we can put it in the report. So his job is to take pictures to find more things that we can actually put in the report – so he’s doing that. And Tammy’s in the back with the teller trying to get open the safe. And I’m sitting there and I don’t remember what I’m supposed to do at the time. I have a few minutes, and I know I have… but now I’m sitting there and I have nothing to do.

So I see Gian there and he’s taking pictures, and he’s pretty short, and he’s finding it hard to take pictures. So I said, “I’m going to help you.” So I put my hands together, and I lift him so he can take pictures from a higher place. And then the teller comes back, and she sees us, and for her it’s just like a customer and a bank robber, because she doesn’t know we’re together. So now she’s really confused to see me helping him to take pictures of the bank robbery. And then she’s starting to smile, she’s like confused, and she goes back and sits in her place.

And then Tammy hands me the little box that she took with the money that we thought we’re going to take from (the lady) – it should be just a couple of hundred dollars. And then I open it, and lo and behold, (the lady) just broke up with her boyfriend a few days before, and she took all her jewelry and put it in the box. And I open it, and I see something that looks like a million dollars worth of jewelry. And now we have no liability for that. We can’t take that.

So I call Tammy and I say, “Look Tammy we can’t take that, we have to put it back.”

She says, “Put it in, (the sack) drop it in, let’s leave.”

I say, “No! It’s too much money. We can’t leave with that. We have to put it back.”

She says, “No!”

And we start fighting there. And the bank teller, she’s kind of amused by us. She’s seen better bank robberies before.

And Gian, he’s seventeen years old. And he’s just finished school and he’s about to go into the army in a few months so he never dated a girl in his life. So he feels it’s his chance to hit on a girl, with the teller. So he goes over, and he starts telling her he’s a part of the team, and he actually planned everything…

And I finally take the box and I say, “I’m going to put it back.”

So I go to the teller and I tell her, “Sorry, please, I just need you to take the key and put it…”

And she gives me the key and says, “Just go yourself. I’m not going back there with you anymore.”

So I’m apologetic and I take the key and I go to the back room to open the safe and put the box back. And I leave everyone behind and I spend a few minutes doing it.

And I come back and I see that Gian is giving his phone number to the teller. And we have this whole debate before hand whether we should or should not wear ski masks so no one’s going to know us. But if you give your phone number and name to the teller then it’s kind of, puts everything in perspective. So he gives that phone number to the teller.

And then, because it didn’t look like a bank robbery, a woman enters the bank with a baby. And she goes in and she starts writing a check because she doesn’t see that anything is weird. So she starts writing a check with the baby and she can’t hold the baby so Tammy, she loves babies, she holds the baby for her, while she writes the check. And now the baby starts crying because its mommy’s writing a check and Tammy holds the baby and she loves babies and she starts singing a lullaby.

She sings (in Hebrew), “Sleep sleep my little child.” It’s very peaceful.

And suddenly she (Tammy) starts crying. Because of the fighting with me, and the bank robbery, and the boyfriend, and the baby she’s starting to cry.

And everything is weird and I said, “Bank breaking is not going to work.” So I pull Gian in one hand and pull Tammy with the other and we just run away to my car and we get into my car and start driving away in silence. And all this time, Tammy is crying next to me and I look at the rearview and I see Gian in the back, he’s smiling, he’s grinning.

He’s going to go on a date tomorrow with the teller.

As told by Moran Cerf at the Moth Storytelling competition: themoth.org


The bank robbery story is a story of stealing as is the story before us today in Genesis 27. The two stories have a few similarities that we’ll explore later but first in order to review some of the history that led up to this let’s briefly visit the last post. Last post we saw how Esau chose to marry two women who weren’t believers, and how his choices grieved his father and mother Isaac and Rebekah. His marrying unbelievers implies that Esau is still in an unrepentant state, not following his father Isaac’s direction nor his example.
Today we’ll explore the story of Isaac’s blessing, and Esau and Jacob’s competition for that blessing.

Our story begins with a description of Isaac’s current condition.

He’s old. As will happen to all of us who grow old, his body is breaking down. His eyes are so weak that he can no longer see.

He’s blind.

He calls for his older son Esau, Son?

Right here dad, Esau says.

Isaac says, Look, I’m old. I could die at any time. Why don’t you grab your gear — your quiver and bow — and hunt up some game for me. Then cook it just the way I like it and bring it to me to eat. Then I’ll give you my blessing — before I die.

Now Rebekah (who loves Jacob) is just around the corner and she hears the whole thing. So when Esau leaves to go hunt, she says to Jacob, Hey, I overheard your dad tell Esau to go hunt some game and then to come back and to cook it up the way he likes it. Then dad said he would give Esau his blessing in the presence of the LORD before he dies. So I have an idea, listen carefully: Go out to the flock and bring me two of the best goats you can find. I’ll cook them up just how your dad likes it. Then you take it to your father to eat, so that he’ll give you his blessing before he dies, instead of Esau.

Now in Rebekah’s defence, she may be remembering the prophesy of God from Genesis 25 where the LORD told her that the older will serve the younger. (v. 23) It may even be that she favored Jacob from the beginning because of that prophecy. Her error isn’t that she desired to see God’s prophecy come to fruition. Her error is that she took matters into her own hands. Rather than trusting in God’s promises she’s trusting in the activity of her own flesh. Naturally you and I have done the same thing. I don’t know about you but I’ve been there more than once. So it’s hard for me to be tough on Rebekah and Jacob. But I will say that I believe the prophecy would have been fulfilled without Rebekah and Jacob’s interventions. The end doesn’t justify the means, and God will bless who He will without deceitful plots of the flesh.

Wait a minute, Jacob says. Esau’s all hairy and my skin’s smooth. What happens if dad touches me? He’ll realize that I’m trying to trick him, and he’ll curse me instead of blessing me.

Rebekah says, Son, if that happens let the curse fall on me. Just go get the two goats like I said.

So Jacob goes and finds the two best goats he can, and brings them back to his mother, and she prepares them just the way Isaac likes it. Then she takes Esau’s best clothes out of the laundry, probably out of the dirty laundry because it was important that the clothes smell like Esau, and she gives them to Jacob and he puts them on.

Then she quickly cuts up some goat skins and crafts coverings for Jacob’s hands and neck so he’ll feel hairy like his brother.

Then she gives Jacob the meal that she made.

So now the con is set. Jacob takes a deep breath and enters into his father’s tent.

Dad, Jacob says as he enters.

Yes son, Isaac answers. Then he asks, Who is it?

Now, just like the bank robber Moran Cerf talked about, it’s at this point that Jacob is at a crossroads. Before he says the words, I’m Esau your firstborn, Jacob can tell his dad that he came into the tent by mistake, turn around, walk out, and he’s none worse for the wear. But as soon as he says, I’m Esau, things get complicated. Very complicated. Much more complicated than Jacob ever anticipated I’m sure.

Have you ever told a whopper in your own self interest? Do you remember the feeling? Your heart pounds, your breathing increases, your hands get cold and clammy. So Jacob, perhaps with his heart pounding, his breathing rate increasing, his hands feeling cold and clammy — Jacob the heel snatcher lies.

He lies and blurts out, It’s Esau your firstborn. I did what you said. Why don’t you sit up and eat some of the game I killed for you, so you can give me your blessing?

Notice that Jacob wastes no time getting right to the point. He’s probably thinking, Come on, give me your blessing so I can get what I came for and then get out of here.

But it wouldn’t be that simple, not by a long shot. Acting out of the flesh never is. Things always become complicated.

Isaac’s suspicious.

So I have a question, Isaac says. How’d you find it so fast?

Then Jacob does something that breaks my heart. He brings the LORD into it. He says, The LORD your God gave me success.

Then Isaac says, Come over here so I can touch you and see if you’re really Esau or not.

So Jacob comes over and Isaac touches him and says, Your voice is the voice of Jacob, but your hands are the hands of Esau. As he’s feeling the hair of the goat skin gloves that Jacob’s mother made for him.

So he’s convinced enough to take another step toward giving the blessing but before he does he asks, Are you really Esau?

I believe that at this point it would have been better for Jacob to say, No, I’m not, I’m sorry. I can’t go through with this. Dad, can you forgive me?. But he didn’t.

Instead he said, I am.

So Isaac moves forward — incrementally. He says, OK, go ahead and bring me some of your game meat that you cooked up and I’ll give you my blessing.

Jacob brings him the meal and Isaac eats it and Jacob brings him some wine and Isaac drinks then he says, Come here, my son, and kiss me.

So Jacob goes over and kisses him and when Isaac smells his clothes — that’s the clincher.

Isaac seals the deal, he blesses Jacob.

He says:

“Ah, the smell of my son
is like the smell of a field
that the LORD has blessed.
May God give you heaven’s dew
and earth’s richness—
an abundance of grain and new wine.
May nations serve you
and peoples bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
and may the sons of your mother bow down to you.
May those who curse you be cursed
and those who bless you be blessed.”

Genesis 27:27-29

Later we’ll see that Isaac’s blessing as well as the prophecy in Genesis 25, where God told Rebekah that she had two nations warring in her womb and that the older would serve the younger, both were fulfilled as a result of Jacob’s receiving the birthright and the blessing — Esau would be under Jacob. And both were further fulfilled in 2 Samuel chapter 8 where we see that David, Jacob’s descendant, put garrisons throughout Edom, (Edom was a nation made up of Esau’s descendants) and all the Edomites became subject to David. (v. 14)

Back to our story: After Isaac finishes and almost before the flap of the tent door was completely closed after Jacob’s exit, Esau shows up.

I’m baaa-aack, Esau says in a cheerful voice with his dad’s carefully prepared meal in hand. Why don’t you sit up and have some of this delicious game meat that I made for you? Then you can give me your blessing.

Then Isaac, confused, asks, What’s going on? Who are you?

I’m your son, your firstborn son, Esau.

Slowly, red color rises from Isaac’s neck to his face. Isaac is beside himself. He’s so upset that he begins to tremble uncontrollably: Then who just came in here and fed me game just the way I like it? I ate it. I swallowed it, hook, line, and sinker just before you came. Whoever that was, I blessed him — and indeed he will be blessed.

With anguish and a broken heart Esau cries out bitterly, Please, bless me — me too! Please!

But Isaac replies, Your brother, he came and deceived me and took your blessing.

Esau says with anger and frustration, Isn’t that just the perfect name for him — heel snatcher? That’s twice now that he’s taken advantage. He took my birthright (not exactly true actually as Esau agreed to give up his birthright and the Bible even says that he despised his birthright in Genesis 25:34) and now he’s taken my blessing!

Then he says, Have you saved any blessing for me?

Isaac says, I pretty much gave him everything. I made him lord over you and all of his relatives. I blessed him with grain and new wine. So what can I do now? What could I bless you with? I can’t undo what’s already been done.

But do you have only one blessing? Esau asks. He’s openly weeping now. Please, bless me too.

So Isaac blesses him as best he can. He says:

“Your dwelling will be 
away from the earth’s richness, 
away from the dew of heaven above. 
You will live by the sword 
and you will serve your brother. 
But when you grow restless, 
you will throw his yoke 
from off your neck.”

Genesis 27:39-40

We’ll see this part of Isaac’s blessing fulfilled in 2 Chronicles chapter 21 where Edom rebels against Judah and sets up its own king.

After that Esau’s sick with rage and resentment. He develops a plan for revenge, he says, After dad dies and the time of mourning is over, I’ll kill him. I’ll kill Jacob for what he did.

Well word gets back to Rebekah about Esau’s intentions toward Jacob so she sends for Jacob and says, Esau is planning to kill you for what you did so do what I say. Get a few things together and get out of here as fast as you can. Go stay with my brother Laban in Harran until your brother’s not angry with you anymore. After he calms down I’ll send word for you to come home. Why should I lose both of you in one day?

Then Rebekah goes to Isaac and says, “I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.” (v. 46)

And as we’ll see in the next chapter, Isaac buys into Rebekah’s plan for Jacob to travel to Harran — to take a wife from Rebekah’s clan. But he’ll be gone far longer than Rebekah anticipated. In fact she’ll never see him again, in this life, because she passed away before his return.

This is a great word for mothers — over protecting, over engaging, over involving out of the energy of the flesh will just complicate lives and could even result in the loss of your son or daughter. Oh, maybe not a physical loss but quite possibly an emotional loss and perhaps even a loss of faith. According to the Barna Group one of the chief reasons cited for leaving the church by young adults age eighteen to twenty-nine is that they felt overprotected. The LORD knows you love your son. He knows you love your daughter. Put the energy born out of that love into prayer rather than over protection. (You Lost Me by David Kinnaman)

In the end, like the younger bank robber, Jacob will be smiling, because it won’t be long before he’s keeping company with a beautiful woman.


God’s Grace:

There’s a most interesting aspect to this story that I believe is essential for us to understand. Conspicuously absent is a virtuous life pattern demonstrated by Jacob.

Yet Jacob receives the blessing.

Tell me, where is Jacob’s virtue, his integrity, his honesty, his honor? Where do we see Jacob earn God’s blessing? Up to this point his life demonstrates nothing but a pattern of deceitfulness!

There’s no way Jacob could possibly be blessed on merit.

It’s important to understand that what’s important to see here aren’t the faults and flaws of Jacob but rather the grace and mercy of God! Jacob was blessed not because of his goodness but in spite of his deceitfulness.

The story of Jacob receiving the blessing is a great illustration of our hope of receiving God’s blessing by His grace. We can’t do it on our own merit. For you or for me to receive the blessing of our Father in heaven, like Jacob, we need to come dressed in the clothes of our older brother. For Jacob that was Esau, but for us it’s our older Brother Jesus Christ. It’s His fragrance that will move the Father to bless us because when we’re in Christ, then we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:15)

So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

Romans 9:16 (KJV)

Or as the NIV puts it:

It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

Romans 9:16, 11:6

God blesses us because He loves us, not because of the good we do. What good we do is in response to God’s love — and His blessing.



Genesis 27

1 When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, “My son.”

“Here I am,” he answered.

2 Isaac said, “I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death. 3 Now then, get your equipment—your quiver and bow—and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. 4 Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die.”

5 Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the LORD before I die.’ 8 Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: 9 Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. 10 Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.”

11 Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin. 12 What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.”

13 His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.”

14 So he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and she prepared some tasty food, just the way his father liked it. 15 Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. 16 She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins. 17 Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made.

18 He went to his father and said, “My father.”

“Yes, my son,” he answered. “Who is it?”

19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.”

20 Isaac asked his son, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?”

“The LORD your God gave me success,” he replied.

21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near so I can touch you, my son, to know whether you really are my son Esau or not.”

22 Jacob went close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23 He did not recognize him, for his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; so he proceeded to bless him. 24 “Are you really my son Esau?” he asked.

“I am,” he replied.

25 Then he said, “My son, bring me some of your game to eat, so that I may give you my blessing.”

Jacob brought it to him and he ate; and he brought some wine and he drank. 26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come here, my son, and kiss me.”

27 So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said,

“Ah, the smell of my son
is like the smell of a field
that the LORD has blessed.
28 May God give you heaven’s dew
and earth’s richness—
an abundance of grain and new wine.
29 May nations serve you
and peoples bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
and may the sons of your mother bow down to you.
May those who curse you be cursed
and those who bless you be blessed.”

30 After Isaac finished blessing him, and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. 31 He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, “My father, please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.”

32 His father Isaac asked him, “Who are you?”

“I am your son,” he answered, “your firstborn, Esau.”

33 Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed!”

34 When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me—me too, my father!”

35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.”

36 Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob[a]? This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?”

37 Isaac answered Esau, “I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?”

38 Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” Then Esau wept aloud.

39 His father Isaac answered him,

“Your dwelling will be
away from the earth’s richness,
away from the dew of heaven above.
40 You will live by the sword
and you will serve your brother.
But when you grow restless,
you will throw his yoke
from off your neck.”

41 Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”

42 When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Your brother Esau is planning to avenge himself by killing you. 43 Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran. 44 Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides. 45 When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”

46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.”


References:

Bible Gateway

Blue Letter Bible

Matthew Henry

Chuck Missler

You Lost Me by David Kinnaman

Moran Cerf

themoth.org

Jon Courson

Just a friendly heads-up: Moran Cerf’s story is very entertaining and also very clean however the MC of the moth storytelling competition makes some very off color remarks after Moran is finished. These occur after the 8:30 mark on this video.

Genesis 26:34-35 Be Equally Yoked

Equally Yoked

Read Genesis 26:34-35

Last post we saw Isaac’s example of persistence as he dug well after well until he finally found one that worked. Now in verses 34-35 we see that while Isaac was out digging wells, Esau was out taking wives. At the age of forty Esau married two Canaanite women. Unfortunately Esau’s choice of wives wasn’t the best. “They were Canaanites,” you might be saying. “So what’s the big deal?” Good question. I think the issue is the cultural background that they grew up in. There are 139 references to the idols, the pagan gods worshipped by the Canaanites. Their culture is one of paganism, it’s a culture where there’s no room for the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God Yahweh. The One who gave Abraham the promise of the Messiah, the One who delivered Lot from Sodom and Gomorrah, the One who fulfilled His promise to Abraham, the promise that Sarah would give birth to Esau’s father well after her child bearing years.

Esau’s parents, Isaac, the one who builds altars to the LORD (Genesis 26: 25), the one who prays in the field seeking God’s best (Genesis 24:63), and Rebekah who followed God’s direction to go with Abraham’s servant to begin a new life, were heart broken and grieved.

Interestingly, as I write this post I’m experiencing the opposite of what Isaac and Rebekah did with Esau. I’m in a waiting room at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital where my nine month old grandson Andrew is recovering from a radical skull reconstruction surgery. His surgeon actually removed the front half of his skull, cut it up into puzzle pieces, then rearranged the pieces to correct a deformity. It’s radical. It’s also emotional. Andrew looks like he just went twelve rounds with Manny Pacquiao. It’s very difficult to watch a nine month old baby in pain to the point where he doesn’t want to be touched. Besides which we’re all sleep deprived and travel weary — we even rub on each other just a bit, on occasion. But unlike Esau, my son Gabe made a great choice when he married his wife Charise and we’ve been reaping the benefits of that choice over the last week (as well as over the last nine years since they’ve been married). What a blessing it’s been. What a blessing it has been for Kathy and I, Gabe, Charise, and Andrew, and Charise’s parents Terry and Susan to have Jesus in common during this difficult time. We’ve prayed over Andrew together, enjoyed discussions about the LORD together,  and have just appreciated each other in Christ centered fellowship. We’re tremendously blessed by Gabe and Charise’s decision to be equally yoked.

Jesus tells us that we’re to love on people. He also tells us that we’re to be of the world but not in the world. (Matthew 22:39, John 17) Except for a very few of us who might be called to a monastic lifestyle, we’re not to isolate ourselves from people outside of our faith. You can’t love on the people of the world if you’re not engaged with the people of the world.

So we’re to help people, love on people, witness to people who are on life paths that are of the world. You can and should show the LORD’s love to people of the world as their paths come near or intersect with yours.

But, if you’re yoked with someone on a worldly life path, it’s inevitable that you’ll be drug off the LORD’s path at some point. It’s just a matter of time until the yoke that you share will pull you off course, off the path that God has in mind for you and onto a different path, a worldly path.

Jesus said that, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” (John 15:19) So it’s clear that we’re not of this world. Over the years I’ve observed Christians who attempt to live as a part of the world and they’re life experience is miserable at worst and mediocre at best. You’ll be blessed if you recognize that you do not belong to the world. These aren’t my words but Jesus’.

So even though we’re to love the people of the world, we’re not to yoke ourselves to those of the world. (for those already unequally yoked see 1 Corinthians 7:12-24) Marriage is yoking. Esau yoked himself to wives who were of the world and it grieved Isaac and Rebekah. Yoking yourself to an unbeliever will always cause you grief. Yoking yourself to a believer ultimately results in greater blessings.

I’m watching those blessings unfold right in front of me, right now, here at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Don’t miss out. Paul put it very candidly when he said, Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.

In other words:

Yoke yourself with people who are also of Christ.

Yoke yourself with those who follow Him.

Yoke yourself with others who love Jesus.

If you do you’ll find that God’s spirit will dwell with you and walk among you.

You’ll be blessed.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 

“I will live with them

and walk among them, 

and I will be their God, 

and they will be my people.

2 Corinthians 6:14-16


Genesis 26:34-35

When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.


References:

Bible Gateway

Blue Letter Bible

Matthew Henry

Terry Luttrell

Jon Courson

Genesis 26 Revisited — He moved on from there and dug another well

Dig Another Well

Read Genesis Chapter 26

Now there was a famine in the land… (Genesis 26:1)

I just saw an article that said the job market is improving. I think that means the journalist who wrote about the “improving job market” still has a job. In the last two days I’ve spoken with three of the most capable, competent, men of character that I know — and all three lost their job, all three lost their source of provision.

Genesis 26 is a study in how to respond to that situation. That situation that all or most of us will encounter at one time or another. That situation that has recently become more common  due to the down economy and the depressed job market. That situation called unemployment. I believe there are 6 things that we can learn about unemployment from Isaac’s example in Genesis 26. We’ll learn how to Spend, how to Surrender, how to See, how to Seek, how to Sustain, and how to remain Secure.


1) Spend — Spend time with the LORD

The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt…” (v. 2)

Providing for your family is a big deal. God tells us in 1 Timothy 5:8 that anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 

If you find yourself out of work, take the time to seek God’s direction. Read your Bible, go to church and take notes, seek wise counsel from those older, wiser, and more godly than yourself, fast and pray, go for walks and pray, if you wake up in the middle of the night then take a minute to get on your knees and pray, lay down on your face and pray. Providing for your family is a big deal. Seek His direction — earnestly.

In other words find ways to spend time with Him. There’s great blessing in spending time with the LORD. While in God’s presence, not only did Isaac receive direction about where to go and where not to go, but he also received the promise for Isaac’s descendants to be as numerous as the stars, to receive huge tracts of real estate, and for all the world to be blessed through his offspring. (Genesis 26:2-5)


2) Surrender — Surrender to His direction

So Isaac stayed in Gerar. (v. 6)

So often we know where the LORD would have us to go but we go where we shouldn’t go. We know what the LORD would have us do but we do what we shouldn’t do. I know of an alcoholic who took a job in a bar and of course tragic events ensued. I know of a young man who loved to party who took a job where he knew his co-workers were party animals and an out of control life was the result (although is his case he eventually left that scene, relocated to Oregon, and currently enjoys an abundant Christian life). Of course to receive the benefit of the LORD’s direction you have to follow the LORD’s direction.

Though he went to an area near Egypt, at least Isaac obeyed the LORD’s command for him not to go into Egypt. As you pray through your situation keep your eyes and ears open for His leading. Trust that He’ll come through eventually. Try things. Apply for jobs. Go to interviews, even those you’re not qualified for. Your chances that the LORD will open a door for you increase if you make it your business to knock on doors. Once you’ve received God’s direction then follow it, go for it. Be obedient and submitted to the LORD’s leading. (Genesis 26:6)


3) See — See failures as a normal part of success

He moved on from there and dug another well… (v. 22)

Failure is a necessary part of success. Nothing great was ever accomplished without failure. Michele Hoskins was a single mother with three children who had just lost her job. So to get back on her feet she had an idea to start her own business selling syrup made from her great-great grandmother’s secret recipe. She was able to place her syrup in a few local grocery stores but only if she gave it to them for free. If they sold then she would bill them. Her strategy and tactics to expand her small business beyond this was interesting to say the least. She set out to sell her syrup to Denny’s restaurants but after contacting the right people they said no. So what did she do? She called them every Monday at 10:30 AM for two years!

When Denny’s hired a new CEO his people told him about the lady who called every Monday trying to sell them her syrup. Well it just so happened that around this time Denny’s was experiencing a public relations nightmare as they were being sued for mistreating African American workers. Michelle Hoskins just so happens to be black. So this new CEO recognized that Michele’s great-great grandmother’s syrup was just exactly what Denny’s needed.

Shortly thereafter, Michele became a millionaire.

Initially Isaac experienced success and blessing in Gerar but after a time the king threw him out.

So he set out to establish himself elsewhere. He dug a well, but after he dug the well the herders of Gerar claimed the water for themselves. Verse 20 tells us that Isaac named the well Esek which means dispute.

Verse 21 tells us that Isaac moved on and dug another well. But the people from Gerar claimed the water from that one also, so he named the well Sitnah which means opposition.

After that he went down to his local state employment office and filed for unemployment. He kept his cable TV and enjoyed chips and dip purchased with food stamps while he sat on the couch watching ESPN, day after day after day after day…

NO! That’s not what Isaac did.

What did Isaac really do? He dug another well. And finally, no one quarreled over it. So he named it Rehoboth which means room. Room to establish himself. Digging and digging and digging and digging resulted in water and provision to take care of his family. I’m not saying that there aren’t times when it makes sense to collect unemployment — that’s not the point. I’m talking about attitude. I’m talking about persistence. I’m just saying that when you get shut down, move on and dig another well.

Your chances that the LORD will open a door for you increase if you make it your business to knock on doors.


4) Seek — Seek the LORD during the good times as well as the bad

Isaac built an altar and called on the name of the LORD. (v. 25)

Many of us run to the LORD during tough times. We seek Him out and spend time with Him when we’re desperate for His help. I think it says something about someone when they’re committed to their relationship with the LORD in both the good times and the bad. I’m reminded of Tim Tebow who seems to be committed to giving thanks to the LORD, publicly, in the face of great criticism, every time he experiences success on the football field.

Shortly after Isaac dug the well named Rehoboth, he went up to Beersheba and built an altar. When things improved Isaac didn’t distance himself from the LORD but he continued to build his relationship with God by building an altar. Great blessings are poured out where ever the LORD is found. But if you’re not where the LORD is then your not in position to receive God’s blessings. Two of the most successful and blessed men in history, David and Daniel, spent time in the LORD’s presence three times a day. (Psalm 55:17; Daniel 6:10)


5) Sustain — Sustain your relationships

Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they went away peacefully. (v. 31)

In Genesis 26:26-31 we see the same people who threw Isaac out of Gerar approach Isaac seeking a treaty. Isaac was wise in that he didn’t burn any bridges. Though they threw him out of Gerar, though they were hostile toward him in attitude, though they were envious of him, though they stopped up his father’s wells, though they even claimed two of Isaac’s wells as their own, Isaac kept their relationship intact. He showed them grace in verse 30 when he made a feast for them, ate with them, and drank with them. He invested in his relationship with them. He made peace with them.


6) Security — Find your security in Him

The youngest of the three men I mentioned at the beginning of this post just turned thirty years old. I asked him today, “Having just lost your job yourself, what advice do you have for people out there who have just lost their job?” I wondered how he might respond. I wondered if he’d talk about persistence, or interview technique, tips for searching online for jobs but he didn’t talk about any of those things.

He said, “Your sense of well being, your sense of security has to come from something other than your job, or even your wife and family. It has to come from something eternal.”

It has to come from your relationship with Christ.

I spoke with all three of the men I mentioned at the beginning of this post in an effort to encourage them but I left each conversation encouraged and inspired myself. They all seem to have great confidence in what the LORD has planned for each of their respective futures. I’ll be surprised if I don’t see all three, by God’s grace, land on their feet.


Spend time with the LORD seeking His direction. Surrender yourself to that direction. See failures as a normal part of the process toward success. Seek the LORD in the good times as well as the bad — you’ll be abundantly blessed. Sustain your relationships, even with the ones who sent you packing.

And finally, find your security in Him.

In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.

Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.

Psalm 62:7-8 (KJV)


References:

Bible Gateway

Blue Letter Bible

Matthew Henry

Jon Courson

Kassidy Lane

Priorities

A few days ago I was asked, “How do I maintain balance between my professional and my personal life?”

The question was asked in the context of promotions. Like most good administrations this person’s leadership rewards those who are actively contributing to the success of the organization. It’s a fact of life in the work world that the higher you go, the greater the commitment.

My favorite way of answering this question is with the story of the full jar and it goes something like this: There was a wise old sage who was once asked by a young man how to prioritize his time. The old man didn’t say a word but brought out a one gallon jar and put large rocks inside of it until they reached all the way to the rim.

“Is the jar full?” he asked the young man.

“Yes it’s full,” the young man replied.

Again without a word the old man scooped up handfuls of gravel and poured them into the jar until the gravel, filling in the void spaces around the large rocks that were already inside, reached the rim.

“How about now?” the old man asked.

“Well, I think it’s full,” the young man said with a pinch of doubt in his voice.

Again without a word the old man scooped up handfuls of sand and poured them into the jar until the sand, filling the left over void spaces between the large rocks and the gravel, filled the jar up to the rim.

“Now it’s full,” the old man said. “You see the large rocks represent your relationship with the LORD, the gravel represents your relationship with your family, and the sand represents your work life. If you fill your jar with the sand first then there will be no room for the large rocks and gravel. If you fill your life with work first, then there will be no room for your family and God.”

The young man nodded slowly.

The old man continued, “Make your relationship with the LORD your first priority, then your family, then work. As long as you keep these priorities in order, you can work as much as you like.”

The only thing I would add to this story is that it’s essential to find time to care for your body also because your body is the temple for the Holy Spirit. Your body doesn’t maintain itself. Living a healthy lifestyle makes you more effective for the LORD. (1 Corinthians 6:19)

Beyond that I would also add a few thoughts in order to more completely answer the question, how much of yourself should you give to your employer in order to receive a promotion.

1) If you’re making a decision about a promotion, get into God’s word, go hear the message at church, pray through the issue. Promotions are life changing events, they’re a big deal so pray — I’m talking about seriously intentional prayer here, I’m talking about nose in the carpet kind of praying. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

2) Only take the promotion if you have the full support of your spouse for we’re to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)

3) The greater your ambition, the greater your passion, the greater your resolve — the greater your success. The question is what will you be ambitious about?

To be truly great you must be full of ambition for the LORD, and for your family, and for your organization, but not for yourself. It’s a paradox that one of the great keys to success is having at your core both passion and humility. The LORD lifts those up who are bowed down. (Traveler and the Chaplain , Psalm 146:8)

If you have a desire to contribute to your employer so you can get promoted then don’t. Don’t go for the promotion. Good organizations are looking to promote people who are on fire to contribute to the success of the organization for the sake of the organization, not for the sake of their own promotion. (Schwarzkopf)

 


Relationship with God first, family second, work third — I’ve watched many who have kept these things in order do well in life. And, sadly, I’ve watched those with whom the order becomes confused and their lives eventually unraveled.

Live for Christ first,

family second,

work third.

You won’t regret it.

…seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 6:33 (KJV)

 


References:

Bible Gateway

Blue Letter Bible

Traveler and the Chaplain

Norman Schwarzkopf

Jon Courson