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January 24, 2013 – Genesis 25

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jacob-and-esauGenesis is one of my favorite books of the Bible. It’s so easy to read; not as easy as a month’s worth of Far Side of course, but slightly easier than Leviticus. However, sometimes Genesis makes a powerful point, but leaves the punch unsaid. It’s like Thanksgiving dinner, but then leaving off the pie. The exclamation point is missing, and it leaves me wanting a little bit of Bible pie. Well, in line with my obvious commitment to benefit mankind by sitting on my rear and typing, today we shall dish up the holy pie.


In Genesis 25, we get to meet the brothers of Esau and Jacob. It might be a bit of an understatement to say they had a strained relationship. While sibling rivalry exists in every family, you rarely see brothers handing out death threats or dangling a bowl of soup in front of a starving brother for money. But that’s what we see Jacob doing; Esau comes home from a long day on the hunting trail, and Jacob is working over the Foreman Grill with a large steak for him. Esau begs for a lil taste, which Jacob is happy to give him…in exchange for his birthright. In essence, Jacob offers to sell a sirloin if Esau will give up his future. Surprisingly, Esau agrees.  However, the Bible makes the rather drastic comment that Esau “despised” his birthright.

It used to appear to me that Esau got kind of a bum deal. He was starving, and his conniving brother ripped him off in a moment of weakness. To top it off, the Bible treats it like his fault, and for thousands of years people have been laughing at his moron-acy. Yet if we think about it a little longer, we can see that perhaps Esau is more at fault that might first appear.


Let’s do a Let’s Pretend. Fact one – Esau knew that God had blessed Grandpa Abraham and Papa Isaac, so he knew the blessing of God was coming down to the next son in line. Fact two – he knew Abraham had been greatly tested by God, and was subsequently blessed. Fact three – ok, i lied; i have no fact three.

So, let’s pretend that Esau, rather than selling his birthright, says no. He replies “Jacob, i’m really starving, but I know if you don’t provide for me, God will provide some other way, because He has promised to be faithful to our family.” Do you really think God would not have honored that? Maybe Esau would be the blessed one; maybe he would have had the big family; maybe we’d be talking about the “children of Esau” and the Esaulite nation in the Middle East today. If had just waited a small bit longer, who knows what would have happened.

How many times have we missed out on God’s full blessing because we bail out when we get a little hungry? Maybe if we had prayed just five more minutes, God would  have spoken louder. Maybe if we had stayed just two minutes longer at church, we would have made a lifelong friend. Maybe if we had read one more verse, we would have heard the Holy Spirit speak and change our lives.

Today, I challenge you to give God just a little more. If you usually read a chapter in the Bible everyday, read 2. If you spend 5 minutes in prayer, spend 7. Your life may just change forever.

January 22, 2013 – Acts 22

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s9048-03When I was a kid, my brothers and I had a bit of a climbing problem. No bridge, building, or tree was safe from our vertical determination. However, you may be startled to learn that some people don’t appreciate children climbing on their places of business. So, we moved on to climbing up billboards, particularly those of well known national hamburger chains. Of course, boys being boys, eventually you have to raise the stakes, and we decided that to really show our superiority, we must not only ascend the heights of commercial advertising, we must also get our dance groove on.

So, one day, I was climbing up the Wendy’s sign with my older brother egging me on as usual (don’t deny it, you know you did.) In any case, after my ascent, I decided to forgo my usual MC Hammer impression and opted for the classic German dance instead. Unfortunately, we were unaware that this was a fairly new sign that had not been completely assembled, and as I got to the dramatic conclusion of my interpretative dance, coinciding with the end of the sign, the “Y” shook loose from the sign. Being the manly man that I am, I screamed like a girl and slid down the pole as fast as I could, joining my brother in time to watch the rather sizable letter drop 30 feet onto the roof of a parked BMW. Which just goes to show: it’s all fun and games until someone polka’s the Y out.


During our trip though the Bible, I’ve noticed that many times there is an “until.” For instance, one of the great stories of Jesus is when he feeds the five thousand, wherein Jesus uses 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish to feed the crowd at Bethsaida Square Gardens. However, immediately after that Jesus says “I am the bread of life,” and many of these same people leave him. They are excited to be around Jesus during the miracles, but when he reveals the cost of following him they are no longer interested .

Similarly, in our reading today Paul tells his story to a crowd of Jewish people. They love the first part of his tale, as God reveals himself to Paul and changes his life. That is, “until” Paul mentions that God has sent him to the Gentiles, which enrages them to the point that they call for his death, rip their clothes off, and throw dust in the air (tantrum, anyone?).


It seems that most of us have an “until” in our life. We are more than willing to follow God during the good times, but when things get tough we find ourselves drifting away. We attend church faithfully, until hunting season starts. We tithe always, until the money gets tight. We get up early to have devotions every day, until the ball game goes late the night before. We trust God with our future, until it means leaving our hometown/job/house/income, etc. If you look at your life, I don’t think you would have to look far to find your own “until.”

What is it in your life that is holding you back from following Christ completely? Are you holding back your finances? Your hobbies? Your time? Are you willing to give it up? Do you want to get to heaven and hear God say “well done” or “that’s pretty good, you followed me until…” Our walk with Christ is a constant challenge of moving past our “untils”, until we are transformed into His image.

Oh, and by the way, the whole sign story isn’t “true” in the strictest sense, at least as far as my parents know. Let’s keep it that way.


January 17, 2013 – Nehemiah 7

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gate.4I can deny it no longer; I have somewhat of a Bible-crush on Nehemiah. As we’ve seen elsewhere, Nehemiah was a genius when it came to city administration, but I have to admit that even with my rose-colored Nehemiah-shaded glasses I’ve never noticed this particular gem of his until today. In today’s reading, notice how Nehemiah gives specific directions to the city leaders about when the city gates should be opened. Normally, the gates would be opened when the sun came up, when the city was just waking up, and closed when the sun went down. However, in this case, Nehemiah considerably shortened the business hours of Jerusalem. It seems that there may have been several reasons for this.


1) Security
The best times for an enemy to attack would be either early morning before the whole city is awake and active or late in the evening when everyone is settling down for the night. Nehemiah’s plan insured that the gates would remained closed until the majority of the city was awake and alert, and that they would close before people started drifting off to beddy bye time.

2) Correct Priorities
It’s easy for the busy-ness of life to take over our lives before we realize it. By making sure that the gates, and by implication the city business sector, did not open until later and closed early, Nehemiah made sure that people had time to attend to their spiritual lives first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Bookending the day with prayer and devotion is good model for us to emulate today as well.

3) City Development
The Jews had just returned to Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s time, and it make sense that he would want the people to be working on cleaning/rebuilding the city as much as possible. This is similar to when people take off early during the summer work day so they can get home to mow the lawn, paint the deck, fix the torlet, or restock the lawn gnomes in the front yard. The more time people have, the more likely they will give at least some of it to fixing up the city.

Think this doesn’t apply to us today? Oh, how very double dip with chocolate chip wrong you would be.


Having trouble finding time for God in your busy schedule? Studies have shown that the best time to study is early morning or late at night. In other words, if you are struggling with your devotion time, perhaps getting up a little earlier or turning off the TV a little earlier would open up some time for you to spend in the Word.

Secondly, if you want to protect your spiritual life, beware the early morning or late night hours The Bible says that sin loves the darkness, and Internet traffic analysis shows that piracy, cheating, and porn traffic all go up when the sun’s down. Work while the sun’s shining, and be very careful when it’s not, or you may find yourself under attack.

Finally, make sure to take time away from work to spend on your own backyard. And I don’t mean the daffodils. Make sure that whatever your line of work, you make time for your family. If the house is rundown, the castle won’t stand long.

Nehemiah knew a small change in schedule could change the future of the whole city. What small change can you make today?