"Count it all joy when you fall into various trials."

Archive for December, 2011

Whose are you?

Whose are you? You have an ancestry that has both winners and losers. In the historic family tree are clues to who you are and why you have some of your personality and health issues – good and bad!

What kind of background is in your family tree? Perhaps your dad and grandfather were alcoholics or maybe your great granddad had a heart condition. It could be that you are consumed with lust, yet your parents seem to be just fine, but you aren’t aware that your grandfather was a ladies’ man who had different women in every town. You may be obese and when you look at the family album, you see that you great grandmother’s family were all extremely heavy.  You may be a descendant of those who came over on the Mayflower or of Abraham Lincoln.

I have two interesting ancestors that I know about. One of them is from the Studebaker family that developed the now extinct car company. Another was a full cousin to Andrew Johnson, the President of the United States that was almost impeached, he was so bad. I know of several others; some were pastors and some who were rogues. They are all part of my DNA.

Any author knows that it is important to get the attention of the reader by starting with something that compels you to read on. The Holy Spirit directed the writing of the Scripture, so why would He lead Matthew to start out with what seems to be a dry and dusty list of people? It seems pointless.  It begins, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ . . .” Genealogy means family tree. It continues with a long list of people. It seems difficult to wade through the list and is often skipped or laid aside.

Tales of intrigue and desperation are buried behind the names in the list. There are lots of clues as to who Jesus Christ was in his earthly life. Let’s explore a few of the names.

In Matthew 1:3, it quietly says that Judah begat Perez and Zerah by Tamar. What it doesn’t say is that she was the widowed daughter-in-law of Judah and seduced him by prostitution in order to continue the family line. In doing this she got him to leave proof of his identity in lieu of payment. There is a lot to the story including sex, identity theft, and intrigue. You can read it in Genesis 38.

The second story shows up in an unassuming line, “Boaz’ parents were Salmon and Rahab.” What it doesn’t say is that Rahab was a prostitute who lived in the town of Jericho. She helped the Jewish people subdue her hometown. This is a story of victory, danger, escape and protection. It is found in Joshua 2 and 6, Hebrews 11:31, James 2:25.

The third story is the one about King David and Bathsheba. If you follow this blog, you read that story in my previous post. Bathsheba is Uriah’s wife and he is one of David’s mighty men who go to battle to fight for David’s kingdom. In the time where men (and kings) go out to war, David decided not to go.  As he was at his leisure, he saw the beautiful wife of Uriah bathing on her roof top. He sent for her and seduced her and she conceived. It is a very compelling story and includes betrayal, murder, confrontation and pain. 2 Samuel 11 – 12:2.

As you can see, even Jesus had an interesting ancestry. Father God thought enough of the women to include them in Jesus family tree.  What is unique is that only a few women are named.  He changed who they had been by making them part of His family.

God wants us all to be in His family which is why He created us.  When we become part of Father God’s family, we change from one ancestry to another. Jesus is now our big brother, Almighty God is our Father, Wisdom is our Sister and the Holy Spirit is our Comforter, Guide and Teacher. We don’t have to be weighed down by our past. We have a promising future.  Father God tells us in Jeremiah 29: 11 – 14 “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. 12“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. 13-14“When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. “Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree. “I’ll turn things around for you.”  The Message Bible

As my children would leave our home when they were going outside, I would call to them, “Don’t forget who you are!”

So, now the question. . .”whose are you?”

So, you have a choice. I had a choice. I chose Him. I know Who’s I am!  I KNOW He loves me.  I KNOW He loves you. Choose Him and prove His love and get a new family.

It is easy to do. The Bible says that those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved. Read John 3:16, 17. Find out how much He loves you and that He is just waiting for you to call out to Him. Each of us come to the realization of who He is in a different way. For me, I was driving down the road, listening to the radio preacher when God took over his voice and I knew for sure that He was real. I just began to say, “I’m sorry Jesus. I just didn’t know. I didn’t know.” So it isn’t a formula, it is a heart thing. Ask Him to make Himself real and I promise that He will.

Secrets

I got an e-mail that was filled with sage advice. The line that stood out to me was, “If a relationship has to be secret, you shouldn’t be in it.” Secrets mean that we are hiding something. There is shame involved. We are living in the dark.

With that lead in, here is my story for today.

David was the head of a large news network. He got with the management team and gave out instructions and told them they could reach him by phone, but he didn’t say where he would be. He went home and decided to take off a few days. He had many competent people that he could depend on.

He was home alone. He had been seeing several different women, but no one he wanted to see right then. He went out on the deck to enjoy the day and the sun. He dozed off and when he woke up, his neighbor’s wife had come home and she was sunbathing on the deck in a skimpy bikini. She was so beautiful and he was tempted. Yes, he had several beautiful girlfriends, but none of them excited him like this stunning woman.

Her husband, Uri, worked for him at the network and that troubled his conscience. As the head of the network, he knew that her husband had been on a dangerous assignment in a warring third world country. Her husband was excellent at what he did and his journalistic skills made him a front line person.

He casually walked next door and struck up a conversation. Brook was alone. He invited her over for a drink and at first, she said no, but finally she agreed. She went in her house and put on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. She looked simply breath-taking.

He got two glasses of some very expensive wine that he saved for special occasions. They chatted casually, but soon he began to appeal to her loneliness. He was a master at reading people and knew just what to say and the seduction was tender. He felt it was a lovely interlude and filled his empty hours. It had been a very satisfying encounter and he knew he would think of her often. Tears of regret brimmed on her lovely eyes as she quietly dressed and left him.

Life returned to normal and still he did not feel like going in to work. He had good people and all reports were good. He watched the news every day and things were great without him which caused him no discomfort. He always hired excellent people and he knew they didn’t really need him except in crisis situations.

Every day he went out on the deck, but she never returned. Her home was dark,   This frustrated him somewhat but he continued to watch hoping to see her again. His employees began to ask him when he would return to work. He was just not interested into getting into the battle – not yet.

One day, as he sat on the deck willing her to be home, the back door opened, and she came out in a casual dress that clung to her body as she moved. His heart began to beat wildly. She looked around nervously and then her eyes met his. She acknowledged him and he motioned her to come over. He rose to greet her aware of his excitement. He reached for her, but she stepped back.

She opened her lips and a tear slipped down her cheek and a sob escaped. “David, I am pregnant.” They knew her husband had been out-of-town for several weeks. It would be impossible to explain. He held her and she dissolved in tears.

“I’ll get him home,” David told her. “He will want to be with you. It will be all right.” He went to the phone and after a few calls; her husband was in a plane headed for the states. David kissed Brook and sent her home. He showered and put on his suit. At the office, they were glad to see him if a bit surprised.

When the Uri arrived, he asked for him to be brought straight to the executive suite. He thanked him for his excellent work and debriefed him on what was happening at the front. He told him to take a well deserved break and go spend time with his wife. He sent him off early.

When David got home, he looked at Brook’s house hoping to see the company car in the drive, but it was not. He called over under the pretense of speaking with Uri but he had a sinking feeling he wasn’t there. She told David that Uri had called but hadn’t come home and was staying in a hotel at the airport so that he could return at once to the front.

Furious, David called her husband’s direct boss and told him to send him into the heart of the worst fighting under the pretense of getting a great story. In a few days, the report came that her husband had been killed in the line of duty. He had a momentary sense of guilt but shook it off. He called Brook to let her know what had happened and she was distraught.

Assuming the role of her husband’s boss, he went over to comfort her. She clung to him and he held her as she grieved.

As soon as David could work it out, after the funeral was over, he took Brook to be his wife. He knew that he had manipulated things to protect his own reputation yet he really loved her and was glad to have her with him at last.

An old friend, Nate that he knew from college had become a pastor. It had been some time since they had gone to lunch and when he called for an appointment, David accepted. When they met in his office, Nate told him that he had some disturbing dreams and he would like to share them with him. David was fascinated. “Tell me what they are about.”

Nate began, “There was a rancher who had a several large herds of prime cattle and he had a neighbor with only two acres, who had one perfect little calf. When rancher had some unexpected out-of-town company, he killed the neighbor’s little calf and served it for dinner.” David became irate. “Who would do this terrible thing?” Nate looked him in the eye and said, “It’s you, David. You are the one!” David came to himself and recognized what he had done. He fell to his knees and a guttural noise escaped from him and he wailed loudly.

By now, if you know your Bible, you know that my story is about King David and Bathsheba and her husband, Uriah. The Prophet, Nathan, risked his life confronting King David. In those days, the King had final authority over everyone’s life and confronting him was a dangerous business. David repented and fell on his face before the Lord. When the time came for the baby to be delivered, it was still-born.

There is much pain in the secrets that we have and there is much deception in trying to cover them. We are unable to ever really hide anything because there is an all-seeing God who knows everything.

We read the Bible stories and they become neutralized with familiarity. I hope that they can be made more pertinent to our own daily lives. The Bible has all the same problems that we have today; they are just set in another time and culture

So here is the question: “What secret are you keeping? What is the one thing that you haven’t told your husband or wife? What are you keeping from your boss? Are you falsifying your expense reports? Are you having liaisons when you are out-of-town – after all no one knows you – and what difference will it make?”

Examine your heart and go to the Lord. I am not advocating relieving yourself of the guilt by telling your wife or husband of your indiscretions, but I do recommend getting right with your heavenly Father. If you have a trustworthy friend or pastor, confess it to them. They will help you to know if telling the affected person/people is the right thing to do.  First John 1:9 tells us to confess to one another that we may be healed.

How do you begin? First of all, if you don’t have a relationship with the Lord Jesus read my first post and then read Psalms 51. Father is waiting and ready to forgive you and release you from this secret(s). He loves you so much and He knew that you would get in trouble and that is why He sent His Son. There is nothing in the way if you being set free.

King David knew that God loved him and he went to him immediately when he saw who he had become. His Father God forgave David. Father is willing to forgive us no matter what we have done.  King David was unfaithful and a murderer but because of his willingness to turn away from his failing, he was called a “man after God’s heart.” May this truly be said of us all.

2 Samuel 11 and 12

Psalms 51 (David’s prayer for forgiveness)

The Bride

I heard a story about a young woman who was meeting with a wedding planner.  She was a very good wedding planner.  She had seen many young women with stars in their eyes come to her to help them decide on important elements of their special day.    As they chatted about the arrangements, the young woman asked if she could play a video that she would like to use in the ceremony.  The wedding planner said, “Sure.”

The video began to play and the wedding planner was working at the table making notes about the things they had discussed.  Every few minutes, the girl would exclaim, “Oh, isn’t he handsome!  He is such a wonderful man!”  And she would sigh with contentment and joy.  The wedding planner looked up.  He was an average looking boy; nothing special and she returned to the writing pad.

Then the young woman would burst out again and tell how kind and good he is and how she loves him.  After some time, the wedding planner stopped her work and watched the video listening to the girl’s declaration of love and adoration.  By the time the video was over, the wedding planner felt she could marry the young man!

The bride had so romanced her love that the other woman could see how she longed for him and understood and felt drawn to him as well.  A bride so loves her intended that she can think of little else. Her eyes sparkle with expectation and joy.  She draws near her loved one and serves him with delight.  She listens to him as he speaks.  When they are separated, she anticipates his return.  Every letter that he sends is treasured and read and re-read and kept always.

She sees to it that she is dressed in readiness for his appearance.  Her home is always in order so that he will find her ready to greet him.  Every moment is exciting and filled with hope and expectation.  In his presence is fullness of joy.  Each day with him is precious.  They share secrets and talk together for hours without thought of time.  She yearns for the day when they will be one.  Therefore, her mind is longing for her wedding day and she is consumed with the preparations.  Her expectation of fulfillment rises with each beat of her heart.  He is her very life.

Then the wedding day comes, the honeymoon is over and life sets in.  A wife, if she is not careful, will become weary.  She has come to know him and there is familiarity in his presence.  She no longer anticipates his return joyfully and has settled into routine and duty.  The freshness of the first love fades.  She serves him but forgets why.

There are children who have become her focus.  She is no longer fascinated by him and his letters gather dust in the box on the shelf.  The crying of a child is now her priority.  When her lover is at home with her, she is content to know that he is in the house.  They live parallel lives.  Her hair is disheveled and her jeans and sweat shirt seem fitting.  She has been too busy to shower and the lunch dishes are still on the counter.  When he leaves, there are no long kisses and grief at parting but a quick acknowledgment and a request that he stop for a few items at the grocers on the way home.  The duty has become more than the love.

When we let the relationship with Jesus become religion, this is what happens.  We no longer show our great love for Jesus and his for us.  The morning devotion is another item on the list to be checked off.

He loves us and longs for us to love him in return.  When we do, others will see how desirable he is and draw near.This is why Jesus refers to believers– both men and women – as his Bride.  This is who we are.  We are loved and He longs for us.  When our every breath is filled with thoughts of Him, we respond to his love with  preparation and anticipation of His soon return.

But he is a gentleman.  He gives us the choice.  We choose to love Him or we can choose to get involved with the press of our busy schedule, our favorite television programs, the demands of our jobs, and be drawn away.  It is up to us.  What will you choose?

It is easy to do.  The Bible says that those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved.  Read John 3:16, 17.  Find out how much He loves you and that He is just waiting for you to call out to Him.  Each of us come to the realization of who He is in a different way.  For me, I was driving down the road, listening to the radio preacher when God took over his voice and I knew for sure that He was real.  I just began to say, “I’m sorry Jesus.  I just didn’t know.  I didn’t know.”  So it isn’t a formula, it is a heart thing.  Ask Him to make Himself real and I promise that He will.

If you already know Him but are struggling, get alone with Him and fall in love with Him again.  He is waiting with open arms.  He loves you!

John 12:32

Song of Solomon

Revelation 19:7
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.

Christmas

The season is festive, full of colored lights and beautiful ornaments.   There is shopping and shopping and shopping.  Our entire economy depends on this season of the year.  How did that happen??  We all want to give the perfect gift.  One that will be just right and memorable.  We want to be rosy-cheeked as we come home with our treasures.  We want to be smiling as we prepare our Christmas feast.  We want this to be a family time without strife and without pain.

But just before the big day, the Visa bill arrives and – yikes! – we didn’t realize it was going to be that much!  We notice a headache and an uncomfortable feeling in the stomach.  Then, we try to reconcile this with the thought, “It only happens once a year!”  And then we think, “It’s a good thing too, or we would be bankrupt.”  Is this the way you want this time to be?

We even have to fight with the government just to say “Merry Christmas” and display a Nativity scene.  In some ways, it has become such a ridiculous event that we just think, “This year, we will just forget it!  We will take a cruise or go to a desert island.  It won’t cost much more than buying gifts that will be re-gifted next year.”

So what is this all about?  Is Christmas just a social gathering of family and friends?  How did it begin?

The event is described in Scripture.  A young girl from Nazareth is minding her own business and she is visited by an angel.  Our minds can’t wrap around that as we have never had an angelic visit us.  We have an angel on the shelf and we even have an angel lapel pin, hoping it will bring us favor.  As we read the story, this angel actually talked to Mary!  He told her that she would have a baby and she said, “I have never known a man.”  This is just unbelievable and I know it doesn’t make sense, but stay with me.

The story continues.  The angel said, “The Spirit of God will come upon you and you will conceive and get pregnant.  The baby will be a boy and you are to name him Jesus – in Hebrew – Yeshua – which means salvation.”  So she was to have a baby and name him Salvation. His Daddy is the Spirit of God!  How do you wrap your head around this?  It was a very strange event but for some reason, this young girl, who was maybe 15 years old, said, “I accept this. I will do it.”  When the angel left, she sang a song of praise.  Really?

Her fiance wasn’t quite as excited about the whole thing as she was.  When Mary told him what had happened, he thought, “This is a fable and I don’t believe any of it!”  He fled her presence.  “Oh,” he cried in anguish, “How could Mary do this?  I care about Mary so much, I will just break it off quietly and not have her stoned.”  (That was how they did it in those days.  Be unfaithful to your husband-to-be and they would take you to the edge of town and put an end to you.)

As he was thinking it over, the angel shows up again.  (How can that be?  I want an angel to visit me.)  He tells Joseph to cool it.  This thing with Mary is not what you think it is.  The Spirit of God is the Father of the baby and Joseph is to marry her but keep his hands off her until after the baby is born.  Wow!  How would you feel?  But, the angelic visit changed his heart.  He believed that the baby Mary was carrying was the Son of God.  He agreed to continue with their plans.  That, too, is amazing!

About this time, the government gets involved and the couple have to make a long trip to Bethlehem to register to be taxed.  So, Joseph takes Mary who is near her due date and they head out.  When they arrive, the hotels are all booked.  (They should have called ahead.)  But, the inn-keeper saw the circumstances of this young couple and he wanted to help them.  He offered his barn.

Image DetailI spent my early years on a farm and I know that barns are really organic.  There are animals, hay, manure, owls, and pigeons.  It has no fireplace but the animals give off a certain heat.  Joseph and Mary gladly accepted the offer and moved into one of the stalls.  They found clean hay and made a place for Mary to lay as she birthed this special child.  When the baby had arrived, she fell asleep and Joseph rigged up a place for the baby in a feeding trough.

There is more to the story, but this is how it all began.  No shopping malls, no colored lights and carols.  Just the sounds of animals breathing and braying.   All alone, in a barn, helping each other bring the baby into the world, when they had never been intimate with each other in the way of men and women.  A young girl and a man following the leading of an angel messenger, and quietly changing the world.

This special baby comes into the world without anything.  He is totally humbled.  God is his Father, but he is fully human without the special privileges that religion has assigned to him.  We can touch him and kiss him.  He cries, poops and sucks on Mary’s breast.  He gets the hiccups and he smiles.  This baby is destined to bring salvation to the world.  He is even named Salvation.  No pressure there!

Rumors get out and soon Mary and Joseph are visited by another angel.  They find themselves fleeing to Egypt as already the government wants to kill him.  How dangerous can a baby born in a barn be, for heaven’s sake?

This is the true Christmas story.  It has little relevance to what we have made of it.  He came to bring us back to Spirit-life like we had in the Garden.  Because this baby was the Son of God, he came to live through all the junk we do, so he could set us free.  He made it possible for us to hang out with Father in the beautiful life that He designed for us.  Jesus – Salvation is our big brother but we have to invite him in.  We’ll look at more of “his-story”as we go on, but for today, enjoy the lights, the holly and the tree, and remember that He is how this all came to be.  Ask Him to make your Christmas special by inviting Him into your heart to spend it with you.  He is waiting . . . . . . . . . .

It is easy to do.  The Bible says that those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved.  Read John 3:16, 17.  Find out how much He loves you and that He is just waiting for you to call out to Him.  Each of us come to the realization of who He is in a different way.  For me, I was driving down the road, listening to the radio preacher when God took over his voice and I knew for sure that He was real.  I just began to say, “I’m sorry Jesus.  I just didn’t know.  I didn’t know.”  So it isn’t a formula, it is a heart thing.  Ask Him to make Himself real and I promise that He will.

Matthew 1:18-25, 2:1-23

Luke 1:26-56, 2:1-7

Life and death

Those of us who live on this planet have come to believe that we are in a battle between good and evil.  We know we should want good but we are captivated by evil.  Evil seems naughty and enticing.  There is an allure.  Skulls and death are a banner of the hopelessness that many of us feel.  We wear it and somehow it makes it seem better.  We even make fun of people who seem to be good.  We call them “goodies” and brown-nosers.  So what is the God-story in this premise?

Let’s look at it this way.

Eve took a big bite of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and it was very good.  She immediately offered it to her husband, Adam.  He knew he shouldn’t eat it.  He knew what God had told him.  He could eat of any tree in the Garden, but this tree was off-limits.  He looked in the eyes of his beautiful bride and saw her pleading look and he crumbled.  He reached out and took a big bite.  He knew at once it was a mistake!  The biggest mistake of his life!

It hadn’t been many days since he had been formed in the earth and God had breathed Spirit-life into him. It had been an awesome time.  God meeting them and spending time with them.  Awesome!  But now something was very wrong.  The Spirit-life was dead and unresponsive.  He had known so many things by the Spirit and now – well, now, NOW!  He could only look around and see things that he had looked at many times and they were not as beautiful.  They were lacking.  The Light had gone out.  He looked at Eve and for the first time, he realized that she was uncovered and it gave him odd stirrings. Inside he ached to touch her.  He had never felt this way before and it frightened him!  He grabbed her hand and ran behind a nearby tree and began to make coverings out of leaves.  It was an amateur effort but it would have to do.  If he couldn’t see her beautiful body, he hoped the ache would subside.  This wasn’t the romance that Father God had explained to him when he brought her into him.

God came and told them the consequences of their choice.  The man would labor;  he would fight weeds and struggle to raise food.  The woman would have pain in child-birth.  The serpent would travel on his belly and eat dirt for the rest of his life and the woman would hate him.

There was good news – a promise that God would send His Son to save them out of this great loss and the serpent would bruise His heel, but He would crush the his head.  With those proclamations, Adam and Eve were put outside the Garden and the way back in to it was guarded by angels so they could not return and eat of the Tree of Life and in their fallen condition live forever.

Adam looked back knowing that they had really messed up!  The Garden was closed and the Spirit-life was gone.  He was trying to figure it all out in his head and it gave him a headache.  Thus Adam and Eve began an eternal battle with good pitted against evil.  Good on the moral high ground and evil at the more  alluring level, enticing them to do their own thing;  then the battle really began.  Their sons began to argue.  In the climax of their lives outside the Garden, their son Cain killed their son Able in a jealous rage.  Death got a foothold in our lives.

Adam and Eve grieved and regretted not having trusted Father God.  They longed for the Son to come save them and they looked forward to that day.

Today we are still courting death and allowing the enemy to defeat us.  We think about murder and suicide caught in this death pull.  We delight to do our own thing and at times, this means death is attractive.

Now to be clear – God didn’t do this to us.  We did it to ourselves.  It is in our DNA.  We are under the same proclamations that Adam and Eve were under when the Garden was closed to them.  But God . . .God’s plan. . . He sent Jesus, his own Son to earth.  He lived just as we do but he did it without turning away from Father God.  Ultimately, He traded His life for ours.  Jesus allowed mankind to nail Him to a  the cross of Calvary which we sometimes call a tree.  He died for you and me and now Jesus lives for you and me.  He came out of the grave and rose up so we can live.  What love!  What an event!  It had to have shaken their world.

The media of the day were the rulers from Rome and the religious leaders.  They began the propaganda machine saying His body had been stolen.  They told the soldiers who were guarding His body to say that they were asleep.  It was a cover-up!  If they had fallen asleep, they would have been executed by the Roman guard.

Yet, He walked among them and appeared to many people.  He is alive!  He is Life.  He brought us Spirit-Life then and He is still bringing it to those who want it now!  He brings all the Life that we can handle and more.  He is to us the Tree of Life, so now, we can eat freely and live forever with Him but, we just have to make our own choice.  We can continue to live – caught in the web of deceit and death – or we can choose Life.  It is simple to choose!  Call on the name of the Lord Jesus – and you will be saved back to Spirit-life!

Once again able to live in true reality, relationship and romance with Father and each other.  This is Father’s plan before the world was even conceived and it was because of His love.  He made us so He could love us and He wants us to return that love.

He says, “I have set before you life and death . . . blessing and cursing . . . therefore, choose life!  It is better.”

It is easy to do.  The Bible says that those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved.  Read John 3:16, 17.  Find out how much He loves you and that He is just waiting for you to call out to Him.  Each of us come to the realization of who He is in a different way.  For me, I was driving down the road, listening to the radio preacher when God took over his voice and I knew for sure that Father God was real.  I just began to say, “I’m sorry Jesus.  I just didn’t know.  I didn’t know.”  So it isn’t a formula, it is a heart thing.  Ask Him to make Himself real and I promise that He will.

Genesis 1, 2, 3

Deuteronomy 30:15,16

John 6:33, 35, 47, 48

John 10:10, 28

Romans 6:23

2 Corinthians 4:10

Galatians 2:20

2 Timothy 1:1, 10

1 John 1:2, 2:16, 25, 5:11

Revelation 2:7, 22:2, 14

%d bloggers like this: