(From the Archives…)
Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:8-9
A little trivia to start: The Bible tells us that the land in which God’s garden is located is called Eden, however we are never actually given the name of the garden itself, only the name of the land in which it is located. But one thing’s for sure, the word Eden means delightful, and we do know from the Bible that without a doubt, whatever the name of the garden, God’s garden was a delightful place to live.
Notice that in the middle of His garden God puts both the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. “Why?” You may be asking. “Why include the forbidden tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in the middle of the delightful garden? Why ruin a perfect place with a forbidden tree?” The answer is that God desired a meaningful relationship with Adam and Eve, and a meaningful relationship requires a choice.
Marriage and Slavery
Hadijatou Mani is a 24 year old woman from the Sahel region of Nigeria, on the Southern fringe of the Sahara. Hadijatou’s story is the story of someone who wasn’t given a choice. When she was just 12 years old she was sold to a man named Souleymane Naroua. When she was just 13 she was raped by her master and forced to bear his children. Read More
To see the previous post from Genesis, go to Can God Use a Sinner Like You, or Like Me?
Joseph is a fruitful vine,
a fruitful vine near a spring,
whose branches climb over a wall.
With bitterness archers attacked him;
they shot at him with hostility.
But his bow remained steady,
his strong arms stayed limber,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel
Joseph endured a difficult life. Described as “archers” in this passage, Joseph faced arrows of persecution from his own siblings–they plotted to murder him, then they settled for selling him into slavery. So he was separated from his family, while he served as a slave in Egypt. Then he was falsely accused of rape by Potiphar’s wife, after which, he was tossed into a dungeon–for years.
Jesus was another who was committed to living his life God’s way, no matter what arrows flew in his direction. He loved people, all people, including promiscuous women, prostitutes, and thieves–even when it brought brutal criticism. Although on the surface he looked as ordinary as anyone else, he healed, and helped so many, it was impossible to write it all down. (John 21:25) And though he did all these things, things no one else could do, he never bragged. The religious leadership of his day hated him. Over and over they tried to catch him in a verbal ambush, but Christ answered so cleverly and completely they eventually stopped trying. Several times they tried to kill him, but they couldn’t until his time came. His dream was to make a way for us to go to heaven, but it meant he had to die. He did it anyway.
You might be asking yourself, “How? How did Joseph and Jesus live this way?” The source of power for both Joseph and Jesus is revealed by Jacob in our text. They were both able to live the way they did “because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel…”
You have access to that same source of power you know.
Those decisions you’ve made the last few years that haven’t worked out for you? The ones that made you say, “Yea but…”
“Yea but she seemed like such a nice girl.”
“I know but he was so good to my five year old daughter.”
“Yes but she was so much fun to party with.” Read More
1) Love Like Jesus series: The most popular posts of 2012 begin with a series. Jesus commanded us to “love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12 NKJV) But He never provided instruction as to how we’re to love–or did he? Posts from the new Love Like Jesus series examine every encounter Jesus had with a person or a group, in chronological order. Each interaction is analyzed and a way for you to make application in your own life is provided.
2) Senna Part 2–Teach Us to Number Our Days: One of the most compelling stories I’ve ever heard is that of Formula 1 race car driver Ayrton Senna. I was surprised to find I’m not alone. Senna Part 2–Teach Us to Number Our Days is one of the most popular posts I’ve ever written. We can learn some valuable lessons from his life. If you’re interested in Ayrton Senna, you might also like Senna Part 1–Senna vs. Prost–Esau Ran to Jacob.
Read Genesis 49:1-28
The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come, and the obedience of the nations shall be his. -Genesis 49:10
A Sinner and Strays
I know a single mother who’s made mistakes–big mistakes. She battled drug and alcohol addiction for decades. She’s had multiple men in and out of her life. She struggled mightily at times as a single mother.
But there is this one thing about her– Read More
I had a most interesting family matter to attend to. So here’s one from the archives.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
God said, “Let us…” and “…in our image…” and “…in our likeness…” Obviously us and our mean more than One. It would seem God was referring to Read More
Read Genesis 49:1-28
“Simeon and Levi are brothers—
their swords are weapons of violence.
Let me not enter their council,
let me not join their assembly,
for they have killed men in their anger
and hamstrung oxen as they pleased.
Cursed be their anger, so fierce,
and their fury, so cruel!”
Steve Jobs’ Anger at Apple
I love apple products. I bought an Apple IIC when they first came out (to this day I can say that was the best keyboard I ever set my fingers upon). I love my iPhone. I love to Face-time with my family when we’re away from each other. I even love Apple commercials, especially the one where the girl throws the hammer at the big screen with Big Brother talking. Steve Job’s penchant for perfection resulted in some amazing products and some incredible marketing. But he also had an anger problem.
In 1985 Jobs’ boss, John Sculley, who was then the CEO of Apple, decided to remove Jobs from his position as head of the Macintosh division. When Sculley gave Jobs the news, Read More
Read Genesis 49:1-28
Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.” Genesis 49:1
Living Life Like James Bond
I have a friend, Kent, whose life was a little bit like a James Bond movie–at least for a couple of years. When he was in his twenties, he used to deliver Top Secret documents to a government location he won’t permit me to disclose. He traveled with a Halliburton attache case handcuffed to his wrist. He carried a 45 Colt in a shoulder holster, and a 38 Smith and Wesson on his ankle for backup. He was a nice looking guy and, not surprisingly, women found his secret agent persona attractive. Several female flight attendants made themselves sexually available to him. He decided to take them up on their offers. He was married at the time.
Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and take you back to the land of your fathers. And to you I give one more ridge of land than to your brothers, the ridge I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.” Genesis 48:21-22
Baby Boomer Behavior
Lately I’ve noticed the abundance said and written by twenty and thirty-somethings about how “that miserable baby boomer generation has failed us.”
“They’re greedy geezers.”
“They’re leaving us a great burden of debt.”
“The leaders from their generation are short sighted and selfish.”
“It’s as though they threw a big party and left it to us to clean up their mess.”
And besides all that, “They told us we could be anything we wanted as long as we put our minds to it. I found out recently — I can’t be an astronaut after all.”
Let me just tell you what I think about all these statements, they’re all undeniably Read More
Read Genesis 48:15-16.
Jacob Blesses His Family
“May the God before whom my fathers
Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully,
the God who has been my shepherd
all my life to this day,
the Angel who has delivered me from all harm
—may he bless these boys.”
How to Bless Your Family
An independent filmmaker told me a story recently about a shoot he did, here in Southern Oregon, just a few months ago. One day they were scheduled to film at the top of Mount Baldy in the Applegate Valley. It’s a very remote location, in fact, the director and his wife found themselves ten feet from a mountain lion a few weeks prior to the shoot, when they first scouted the area (fortunately the mountain lion fled).
There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. –Genesis 47:13
Years of Plenty
Kathy and I were so excited. Mortgage interest rates were all the way down to the 6% range, and, if you were willing to accept an adjustable rate, you could get down into the 4s.
I remember saying the words to Kathy, “Money is on sale, we should borrow as much as we can.”
So we did.
We borrowed, and then we borrowed some more. I could hardly believe what our banker was telling us — he almost never said no. We bought real estate, then we bought some more real estate. And our properties appreciated, at a record setting pace.
We were experiencing the years of plenty.
Years of Famine
You might be surprised to learn, if I had a time machine and could go back to do it over again, I’d borrow as little as possible. Why? Because that was the world’s way, and not God’s way.
The world says, “Buy it! Buy it now and pay later! You want this. You need that. Just borrow and get it now.”
“You deserve it!” The world says.
Why does the world relentlessly hammer away with these messages, day after day after day? They do it because it makes them money! They do it because you believe their message, and act on it. They do it because the system is set up for the world to win, and for you to lose. The companies attempting to convince you to borrow want to make money — at your expense.
God, on the other hand, doesn’t need your money. All of your money is His money to begin with anyway. And while the scriptures don’t prohibit borrowing, God does portray it in a negative light. “…the borrower is slave to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7 tells us. Borrow and you’re a slave to the bank. Borrow and you’re a slave to the credit card company when they raise your interest rate. Borrow and your spirit is a slave to the weight of debt hanging over your head.
Your financial well being doesn’t come from your income, your net worth, or your financial portfolio anyway. Research shows, whatever your range of income, financial well being comes with consistent saving and an avoidance of borrowing and high risk investing. Many financial advisers tell their clients not to pay off their homes, even when they’re able to, so they can write off the interest. But people living with a great sense of financial well being tend to ignore this advice. It turns out (not surprisingly) managing your finances God’s way brings peace. (see Well Being by Rath and Harter)
In our text, in Egypt and Canaan, there was no food. The seven years of plenty are over and now Egypt and Canaan are experiencing the seven years of famine.
You know what? That’s how it always is. Always. No economy moves in a straight line. Every economy has its years of plenty and its years of famine. Any casual student of history knows that. And God’s word tells us how to manage our finances in a way that accounts for these economic ups and downs.
Joseph saved during the seven years of plenty. The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down, Proverbs 21:20 tells us. Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer, we’re told in Proverbs 30:25.
So any time you have the opportunity to save, jump on it!
You can always anticipate a time of famine ahead.
Joseph provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children. (Genesis 47:12)
Manage your financial blessings according to God’s word — and you will too.
Harvard researchers have determined credit cards provide a psychological uncoupling from the money we spend with them, which of course creates a tendency toward the accumulation of debt. But the current financial system also provides opportunity for saving. Automatic payroll deduction into a savings account also uncouples us psychologically. A short time after it’s in place, auto-deducted savings are out of sight and out of mind, and are more easily maintained. (Well Being, Rath and Harter)