Posts Tagged ‘real life’

Genesis 38:

1 At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah.

 6 Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death.

 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. 10 What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death also.

 11 Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s household until my son Shelah grows up.” For he thought, “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s household.

14 she took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife.

23 Then Judah said, “Let her keep what she has, or we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you didn’t find her.”

 24 About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.”

   Judah said, “Bring her out and have her burned to death!”

 25 As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who owns these,” she said. And she added, “See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.”

 26 Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again.


According to Hoyle.  Heard that?  I didn’t become familiar with the phrase until I was probably 22 years old.  Here’s another one: SOP.  Learned that one right around the same time; Standard Operating Procedures.  BAU?  Just picked that little gem up in the last year or two, courtesy of my savvy, business pro-wife.  Business As Usual.

Yeah, this story?  Not at all according to Hoyle.  Total disregard for SOPs.  Long, long way from BAU.

This is the first generation of the line of descent that would become the lineage of Jesus Christ.  The first.  Not off to an awesome start.  At least by human standards.

In case you got lost, Judah left his brothers after the ordeal with Joseph being sold off into slavery.

He broke rule #1 by marrying into the Canaanite community.  God had impressed it upon Abram that Isaac should not marry a Canaanite.  He impressed it upon Isaac that Jacob should not marry a Canaanite woman.  And now, here’s Judah.  What does he do?  Marries a Canaanite woman.  Oh well.  All’s fair in love and war, right?  The narrator seems to move on easily enough from the fact.

He has three sons.  Son 1, Son 2, and then what seems to be a distant Son 3.  Son 1 get’s married, but then dies unexpectedly, reportedly for being “wicked in the sight of the Lord.”  Hard to speculate about what happened there.

The cultural norm of the day dictates that Son 2 then takes on the “duty” of husband, caring for the widow.  In that society that means making sure she has children that can take care of her as she gets older.  And if that widow doesn’t happen to have children, well, that means he’s supposed to get her pregnant.

But he takes… measures, shall we say, to take advantage of the “right” to sleep with her, but not to get her pregnant.  Not according to Hoyle.  Breaks from SOPs, and definitely not BAU.  Son 2 is being very naughty.

Suddenly, he’s dead.  Out of the picture.  Seems like not reading the manual gets a body in REAL trouble around these parts.

SO, that brings us to Son 3.  Now he’s obligated to step in and cover for Son 1.  As it were.  But Judah, aka mean, old Dad, steps in and says- he’s not ready now.  Go back home, live with YOUR dad for awhile.

In other words, I’m not going to take care of you anymore.

Tsk, tsk, tsk, Judah!  Maybe you didn’t get the memo, but God wants you to care for the widow, especially in your own family!

So time passes, and for whatever reason, Judah has not sent for Tamar to come and be given as Son 3’s wife.  Maybe he’s got other plans for Son 3- plans that are more suited to prosperity and taking care of an old man than charity and an extra mouth to feed.

So Tamar goes insurance shopping.  And she gets a deal that would make the Geico gecko blush.

She disguises herself as a prostitute, and Judah, newly widowed himself, gets an itch.  But he forgot his Mastercard.  So he gives her the keys to his Bently (with custom plates: “JezsGrmpa”) as collateral.

But she gets pregnant.  Finally, she’s pregnant.  Somebody to watch over me, she says.    Problem is, she’s not married.  So she’s in trouble with the morality police.  And they come and tell Judah, and he grabs his badge and heads down to the station. (uh, hey, can you give me a lift?  Can’t find my keys…)

As they’re preparing to read Tamar her rights, she shows Judah the key ring.  And he swallows his altoid.  “Call it off!”

As the Bad Boys theme song plays in the distance, Judah admits to his indescretion, gets his Bently back, and gets back to livin the clean life.

Can you be comforted in knowing that the family line of the perfect Son of God has so much soap opera melodrama in it?  It actually makes Jesus more perfect in my mind.  Scripture says he was as we are, in every way.  His family was jacked up.  Starting from the very first generation.  He can understand a bad reputation.  He understands single moms.  He understands dead-beat dads.

He also understands when things just never lay out the way they are supposed to.  When things don’t go according to Hoyle.  When SOPs are a distant fantasy, and life is anything but business as usual.  And His plan is able to accommodate those things.

My life is definitely different than I ever expected it to be.  I’m forever grateful for that, too.  It’s a little saccharine to hear, but sometimes, life going off-schedule, off-message, just plain off-the-rails, sometimes is better than the alternative.  Sometimes.

I still have my fantasies.  But I think I’m holding on with a looser grip than I used to.  I’ve had too many surprises to think that I can go through life without any more.  And as I said yesterday, sometimes bad stuff happens.  Really bad stuff can happen.  Cars crash, planes crash, organs stop working.  Babies are born with unforeseen challenges.  Jobs get lost.  People get sick.  Relationships break down.  These things are not dispensed by God as punishment for being naughty, being wrong, being… something.  But He will make good to come from them.  Because again, God is a maker, and He’s a GOOD maker.  He makes things, and says, “that’s pretty good!”

Even, maybe, if you’re the one doing the naughty stuff?  I mean, it’s one thing to be the recipient of suck.  But what if you’re handing the suck out like candy to everyone going by you on the sidewalk?  Answer, yes.  Judah acknowledges his failure, instead of compounding it by hiding it.  Judah repents- it says he stopped sleeping with Tamar.  There was a life-change.

Maybe that life change wasn’t the cause of God’s blessing.  Maybe it was God’s blessing.  Maybe changing your life is the most tangible blessing God can give you.  He has a way for us to live.  He has a way that we’re designed to live.  Judah was ignoring it, to an extent, ignoring the need to care for the poor and disenfranchised within his family, within his community.  God took to the matter himself though.  And in doing so, lives got whacked back into the right way.  God got the situation back on track, according to Hoyle.  Judah read the manual.  Finally.  Standard Operating Procedures being observed.   Business as usual.  Life.  Good.


I have a great friend and pastor who once dropped this one on me: Jesus, in his resurrected body, is the most real thing in the universe.


Rob Bell, in his book Velvet Elvis, writes that he is “simply trying to orient myself around living a particular kind of way, the kind of way that Jesus taught is possible.  And I think that the way of Jesus is the best possible way to live.”  Later, Bell writes that when you live the “way” Jesus taught, you begin to notice- to realize that you are living more in harmony with “ultimate reality.”


Yesterday, the pastor’s message had a brilliant line: “The degree to which you are obeying the law of God, you are real.”

(commence forceful popping).

So in your very best “Cheech” voice, ask yourself with me: “What is re-AL-ity, maaaan?”

What is “real” anyways?  Is “real” something you can see?  Something you can touch?  Does tangibility constitute being “real”?  What qualities do all “real” things share?

What qualities do “UN-real” things share?

The bible talks about principalities and powers, it talks about spirits of the air.  It talks about levels of Heaven, and the world of the grave (Sheol).  It talks about the Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom of Caesar.

Jesus say “my kingdom is not of this world.”  There’s angels and demons.

Or do we go with Neo?  There is NO spoon.  (remember to take the bag out when popping slows to 2 or 3 seconds between pops).

The question for me is this: if Jesus lived the perfect life, and has been resurrected- if Jesus’ resurrection is actually the firstborn of man to the life that God desires for all of us, if that is our goal, our destiny, our pursuit- to live into that life- is there anything now that can be called real?  Is there anything now worth doing?

Paul writes that the deeds of our lives will be tested- sort of like a product from a factory- “Does it meet x-y-z criterion?  Will it be what we are saying it will be”?  He says that when it is tested all that which was not of God and for God will be burned away, leaving only what is God pleasing to remain.  And that will represent our life to God.  This is not a scale.  We do not need to make weight to be received warmly by God.  We are received warmly by God.  Period.  But there is a noted difference between the things of our life now that are God’s and those which are not.

These things are real.  That which burns away- not so much.  They do not attach to our legacy.  God says those things are not real.

So what on earth are we left with?  Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven in the same breath as forgiveness.  As healing Luke 8:1-3.  As repentance (Mark 9:46-48).  In the same breath as mercy to the poor (Mark 10:21).  He talked about faith in the face of optimism (Matthew 8:9-11).  In the face of humility (Luke 7:28).  In the face of delayed gratification (Luke 22:16).

So I guess those are the things that are real.  Really, really real.  The degree to which my life looks like that, I am real.

What do I need to strip away to get down to the really real?  Where has my life taken on the qualities of unreality?