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March 23, 2007

Chapter-a-Day Genesis 34

Shechem then spoke for himself, addressing Dinah's father and brothers: "Please, say yes. I'll pay anything. Set the bridal price as high as you will—the sky's the limit! Only give me this girl for my wife."

Jacob's sons answered Shechem and his father with cunning. Their sister, after all, had been raped. They said, "This is impossible. We could never give our sister to a man who was uncircumcised. Why, we'd be disgraced. The only condition on which we can talk business is if all your men become circumcised like us. Then we will freely exchange daughters in marriage and make ourselves at home among you and become one big, happy family. But if this is not an acceptable condition, we will take our sister and leave."

That seemed fair enough to Hamor and his son Shechem. Genesis 33:11-18 (TM)

Lust and infatuation will make you do silly, stupid things. [ouch] No wonder they call it love "sick".

March 21, 2007

Chapter-a-Day Genesis 32

The man said, "But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it's Israel (God-Wrestler); you've wrestled with God and you've come through." Genesis 32:28 (TM)

I feel myself wrestling with God, too. Every relationship has its' struggles. God sometimes eludes me. He slips through and escapes my grasp no matter how hard I try to hang on. At other times I feel Him driving me to the mat - in complete control, and I'm powerless to alter it no matter how hard I try to escape. There are times when I feel on top of things and have my arms wrapped around God - but I know that it's momentary. He's too good a wrestler to let me control things too long.

There are lessons in winning, and there are lessons in losing, but sometimes the most important lesson is in the struggle.

March 19, 2007

A Happy St. Patrick's Day

We had a full weekend with family and friends and a fun St. Patrick's Day. On Saturday, Wendy and I took Taylor shopping for a prom dress - which is always an interesting experience for a dad. I loved seeing Taylor in all of the beautiful dresses. What a gorgeous young woman she's become. The hard part is being one of the only men in the midst of adolescent female craziness that is dress shopping. At times there's a little too much estrogen in one place for any man to handle.

At one shop I watched two other clueless fathers standing by the door with looks of complete confusion and despair. There was nothing to do but stand by the door holding the checkbook. I still wish that the women who own and manage these stores will someday understand that catering to the waiting fathers, husbands, boyfriends in these situations would surely pay off. How about a small lounge area with a chair, a Sports Illustrated and a television tuned to March Madness? It's not rocket science. Make a comfortable place for the guys to hang-out and I guarantee you'll see sales increase!

(Taylor ended up deciding on a beautiful dress that Wendy and I loved. Then when she got home, in true female fashion, she sent a text message telling us she'd changed her mind and wanted a different one.)

Saturday night we met up with our friends Adam and Laurie Best along with Adam's father Ron. Ron and Adam play with the drum and bagpipe corp in Des Moines - so they were making the rounds of Irish pubs. We stopped to hear them play and then met up with them after their gigs were all over. Tim drove up from Kansas and joined us at Rock Bottom for a nice evening of conversation. We had a blast.

Chapter-a-Day Genesis 30

When Rachel realized that she wasn't having any children for Jacob, she became jealous of her sister. She told Jacob, "Give me sons or I'll die!" Genesis 30:1 (TM)

Many people dismiss the Old Testament or ignore it - but I constancltyReading the Old Testament constantly shows me that while cultures have changed, traditions have changed, and times have changed - human nature has not changed. Rachel was feeling the biological clock and the female jealousy that are just as real today. I've seen it. That's why the truth of scripture will never grow old or be outdated. The Bible is a story of human nature - sin nature - and God's redemptive work. That story is just as real today as it was for Jacob, Rachel, and Leah.

March 16, 2007

Chapter-a-Day Genesis 29

Then Jacob said to Laban, "Give me my wife; I've completed what we agreed I'd do. I'm ready to consummate my marriage." Laban invited everyone around and threw a big feast. At evening, though, he got his daughter Leah and brought her to the marriage bed, and Jacob slept with her. (Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as her maid.) Genesis 29:21-24 (TM)

Let's see, so far in Genesis we've seen...
Abraham (father) deceive Pharaoh & Abimelech
Isaac (son) deceive Abimelech
Jacob (grandson) decieve Esau (grandson)
Rebekah (grandaughter-in-law) & Jacob (grandson) deceive Isaac (son)
Laban (Rebekah's brother) deceive Jacob (grandson)

Hmmmm...do you think there's a behavioral pattern in this family? Isn't it amazing how certain behaviors and sins flow down through the generations? It almost makes you feel doomed to repeat it. It's like you're stuck in this pattern that you didn't create but you're powerless to change.

That's when I remember these words from Romans 7:17-25 (TM):

"But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different."

March 15, 2007

Here We Go Again!

It was announced this week that Wendy, Madison and I will be performing in Union Street Player's Tulip Time production of Tulip House. We play a family who agrees to take part in a reality t.v. series in which we must live an authentic 1930's existence. Wendy and I were sort of hoping to take a break, but Madison really wanted to audition and we thought it would be fun to do as a family. So...here we go again :)

Chapter-a-Day Genesis 28

When Esau realized how deeply his father Isaac disliked the Canaanite women, he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael, Abraham's son. This was in addition to the wives he already had. Genesis 28:8-9 (TM)

Anger and bitterness cause us to do stupid things.

Stop it.

March 13, 2007

Chapter-a-Day Genesis 26

Isaac built an altar there and prayed, calling on God by name. Genesis 26:25a (TM)

It wasn't until Isaac knew God - until he was formally introduced (vs. 24) - that Isaac was able to worship God personally and to call on God by name. There are people I know for whom God is an impersonal pronoun - it's a vague, general sense of diety out there. How awesome to have a personal relationship with Jesus - to know Him and to be known by Him. Like Paul, I can say:

I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. 2 Timothy 1:12 (NIV)

March 09, 2007

Chapter-a-Day Genesis 24

Stage "Then I'll know that you're working graciously behind the scenes for my master." Genesis 24:14 (TM)

I love the way Abraham's servant worded his prayer. Shakespeare said that, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." If that is true - and I believe it is - then God is Writer, Producer, Director, Stage Manager and prop master. In our lives, God is always "graciously working behind the scenes."

In any stage production, the actors must have faith that the army of people working, unseen, behind the scenes are doing their jobs to ensure things happen on stage the way they are supposed to. In life, we must have the same faith in our heavenly Director.

Places everyone!

March 08, 2007

Chapter-a-Day Genesis 23

Then Abraham got up from mourning his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites: "I know I'm only an outsider here among you, but sell me a burial plot so that I can bury my dead decently. The Hittites responded, "Why, you're no mere outsider here with us, you're a prince of God! Bury your dead wife in the best of our burial sites. None of us will refuse you a place for burial." Genesis 23:3-6 (TM)

What was it about Abraham that commanded so much respect from his neighbors? It may have been his wealth, but I don't think that wealth alone would cause them to call Abraham "a prince of God" (seriously, we wouldn't call Donald Trump "prince of God" would we?). Abraham must have lived in such a way that all those around respected him - and his faith.

Would my neighbors say the same of me, even those who don't want anything to do with my faith?

This story of Abraham reminded me of one of my life verses, I Thessalonians 4:11-12 (NIV):

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

May it ever and increasingly be so in my life.