Posts Tagged ‘Way’

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.

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Genesis 36

1This is the account of the family line of Esau (that is, Edom).

 2 Esau took his wives from the women of Canaan: Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah daughter of Anah and granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite— 3 also Basemath daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth.

40These were the chiefs descended from Esau, by name, according to their clans and regions:

   Timna, Alvah, Jetheth, 41 Oholibamah, Elah, Pinon, 42 Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar, 43 Magdiel and Iram. These were the chiefs of Edom, according to their settlements in the land they occupied.

   This is the family line of Esau, the father of the Edomites.

“Baby, even the losers get lucky sometimes,
Baby, even the losers, keep a little bit of pride, they get lucky sometimes,”

I don’t think there is a lot to be said here.  I considered not writing a post at all about this chapter.  But then a thought occurred to me.  “This guy was the loser in the deal.  And he still gets a spot in the Bible.”  Why?

So, if you haven’t been around lately, Esau is the elder brother in a odd situation.  He is a twin.  Usually, the elder brother is the chief punk in his house.  But not this one.

During Rebekah’s pregnancy, she cried out to God because her pregnancy was so uncomfortable.  And God replied, telling her that she was having trouble because she had twin boys inside of her, and they were struggling with each other.

In fact, God also told her that the younger would be greater than the older.  That there would always be contention between the brothers. And that oddly, the older would serve the younger.

I wonder if she considered that often as the boys grew.  She must have.  Esau, as a young man must have put the weight on first, gotten the hair on his arms and legs first.  He’d have likely been 1st string on the Varsity football team.  He was the big, rugged guy.

Jacob- well.  Jacob did home econ.  He liked to cook, preferred sitting by the fire, and long talks with with his mother.  He was… dainty, fair skinned.  And mouthy.  Surely there was a mistake made.  She must have misunderstood what God meant.  Hormones and stuff.  Jacob?  Waterboy material.  Smart, sure.  But overpowering Esau?  Controlling Esau?  Nah.

And yet.  It happens.  Rebekah sees to it that it happens.  And it goes.  But not well.  So Jacob runs.  Far.  And for a long time.

He grows wealthy, establishes a strong and prosperous family.  He is blessed by God, and in time, God comes to change his name.  Israel.

And all along, right in the middle of all that, Esau.  Esau is still here.  Still chugging along.  And not doing so bad for himself either.  Just has this nasty little curse hanging over him.  Screwed over by his brother, and his parents resent him some, because in his anger, he married with the local girls, none of whom were especially impressive to Isaac or Rebekah.

Yet here he is, in the biblical record, with a burgeoning family.

God has actually blessed him in his lifetime.  Kinda like God actually blessed Ishmael in his lifetime.  Why?

Because He is a life lover, and a promise keeper.  And he told some people he would make whole nations out of their families.  A promise like that is potent.  It doesn’t die in the frost.  It survives.  It springs through crusty ground.  It is drought tolerant, heat hardy, and, well, it just grows.  God promised Abraham that a nation would come through his son.  From his own body.  And God blessed Hagar and Ishmael because, well, they were connected to that promise, by hook or by crook.  And so is Esau.  Yeah, he was impetuous with things.  Yes he got robbed.  And yes he did not handle it especially well.  But there’s another “yes” to be considered.  Yes, he is a part of Abraham’s bloodline.  And Isaac’s.  And that’s not nothing.

God is generous.  God keeps his word.  If you are in Jesus bloodline, if you are walking in Jesus’ footsteps, living in two planes- two realities, the Kingdom of this world, AND the present Kingdom of Heaven- if you are part of Jesus’ family heritage, then there can be no question.  God has raised you up with Jesus, because you are tied to Him.  God will be generous to you, regardless of how you screwed up your birthright, without regard to how you might have valued soup over your place as an image bearer of your creator.  God is generous to you without regard to your anger management issues.  God is generous to YOU with only the very highest regard to your unbreakable connection with Jesus.   As He wills to bless Jesus, you too will be blessed.  And as He blessed Jesus to do good works, peeling back the veil of God’s nearness and His kingdom’s nearness, He will move in you, stirring your spirit to compassion, goodness, mercy, gentleness, peace, and patience, placing his hand over your hand on the curtain between this world and God’s world, and aiding you as you turn it back to reveal His ways, right here, right now.

Genesis 20:

—1 Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, 2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.
3 But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”
4 Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? 5 Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”
6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her.

—9 Then Abimelek called Abraham in and said, “What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be done.” 10 And Abimelek asked Abraham, “What was your reason for doing this?”
11 Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’

I stayed up way too late last night, watching hockey highlights and silly SportsCenter™ top 10 this and thats on YouTube™.  When I told my wife how late I’d stayed up and what I’d been doing, she just shook her head and said “You have a problem.”  I laughed it off.  “Nah,” I said.  “You’re just looking too close.”  Back up, I should have said.  You’ll see.  I have LOTS of problems.

I used to smoke.  I used to smoke A LOT.  It’s not really so much that smoking is bad and “unChristian.”  Actually, I really struggle with saying that anything is “unChristian” just because so many people understand Christianity strictly as a moral code-  Lists of “do’s” and lists of “don’ts”.

No, the thing that bugged me is that I was addicted to something and in my heart that felt like an idol.  Something that stood between me and commitment to God.

I can’t say that I quit smoking, but I can say that I no longer smoke.  Think about that.

God shows himself committed to the process of making good on His promise in Genesis 3 to save us from the mess we’ve created.  No matter who He has to deal with.

Abraham is wandering around again.  That guy had some seriously itchy feet.  He’s in another kingdom now, in the Negev- the Saudi peninsula.  And 26 years (at least) after being run out of Egypt for lying to Pharaoh about the identity of his, he’s at his old tricks again.  He asks Sarah (his smokin’ hot 100 year old wife) to play along as though she were simply his sister rather than his wife.  Just this one last time, babe, lie for me.

Some bad habits never go all the way away.  They’re usually pretty tame.  But they don’t have to be.  But boy, once they take root, well, there’s a pretty good reason that saying applies.  Roots don’t come out all at once.  And sometimes when a little bit of the root is left in the ground, it comes back.  More mature.  More resilient.  More difficult to get out the next time you try.

For Abraham, he seems to have a penchant for “distorting the truth” my bible notes says.  He’s a big, fat, pants-on-fire, liar, liar, liar.  That’s what I say.  But he’s apparently something else.  To borrow a phrase from a friend of mine, he seems to be a little “judgy-Mcjudgerton.”

Why did he lie?  He was afraid.

Why was he afraid?  Because he was walking in the ‘hood at night, and he didn’t think God was protecting him there.  “There is no fear of God here,” he reasoned.  Hmm… so he’d just use a little… insurance.  God would understand.

Nope.  No, God did NOT understand.

When the king saw Sarah (and she was smokin’ hot), he took her while Abraham just quivered in his little lying boots.  And God struck back.  With mercy.

Eh?

With mercy.

God comes to the king in a dream, and says that he must not pursue Sarah as his own wife.  That she is in fact married.  And guess what?  The king is onboard.  Not only is he onboard, but he’s a little put out that Abraham lied about the whole thing.  And understandably so, because God’s mercy to the King and his household included shutting up all of the womens’ wombs.  Yikes.

Lesson?  God is a big boy.  He rolls slow in every ‘hood.  You don’t have to compensate, and you especially don’t have to compromise the values of God’s kingdom to do it.  God is working in every culture, in every city, in every human heart and mind.  Whether they necessarily recognize that is a different story.  Maybe Abraham’s job there had been to name God in that place.  But instead, he lied to avoid a confrontation.

Lesson next?  My lies affect people.  And this is the same principle, in reverse, as my blessing!  When I live God’s way for living, I am an outpost of God’s kingdom.  God’s kingdom spreads where I am when I am aligned with Him.

When I lie, when I misdirect, when I scheme, manage, and compensate… well, Jesus told Peter that he was channeling Satan.  He said “You do not have God’s Kingdom” in mind by this.  You don’t represent anything.  You are.

Lesson last?  You cannot wear God out.  You’d think that Abraham would be practically perfect after having God in his pocket for so long.  I mean, he friggin’ MET God.  And yet he’s still lying.  He’s still not believing (or understanding, maybe) that God is not confined.  He’s not looking the other way.  His arm is not too short.  He’s trying to compensate for God’s inabilities.

What does that mean?  It means that God will put up with me, with my failures, with my relapses.  Till I’m a hundred years old, if need be.  It means that God doesn’t exclude people from his plan because they’re flawed.  He doesn’t include people who used to be flawed.  He includes people who ARE STILL flawed.  And he even includes people who don’t know Him very well.  It is by His including people who don’t know him very well that those people get to know him very well.

Maybe the church could learn a lesson here.  We vet and vet and vet, and we judge, and we “pray” and we counsel and gossip to make sure that our leaders are qualified.  That our teachers are upstanding.  And to a degree that’s good.  But it also sometimes appears that we’re disqualifying people more than we are qualifying them.

People disqualify themselves just by virtue of being people.  It is God’s voice in us that qualifies us.  It is God’s hands in ours that qualifies us.  Look for God in places and you will find Him.  He’s already there, waiting for somebody to name and identify him.  Don’t shirk from confrontation when it’s time.  And don’t be afraid if you’re wrong, or if you’re weak.  You’ve always been that way, and you’ll always be that way until God’s work on you is done.

And that’s alright, because as long as God is working on you, you’re alive.  And as long as you’re alive, no matter how poorly you might be doing it, God is still working on you.  Even till you’re 100 years old, it would appear.  Or in Abraham’s case, you might not even really know it’s happening until you’re 75 years old.

God?  Will you still love me, when I’m 64?

Ye-up.

Peace.

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.

(pop).

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.”

(pop)

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?

Persuasion

Posted: September 7, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

We live in a society of persuasion.  Right now, there are a number of people trying to persuade me to elect them to the office of President.  Watch the TV for eight or nine minutes and I’ll likely find 5 or 6 ads trying to persuade me that my quality of life will improve if I buy their product.  The list goes on and on.  Seriously.  I won’t bore you with a more exhaustive list of the plethora of arguments and attempts for our attention, our time, our money, our lives.

I’m guilty of that too.  I love the challenge.  We’ve been raised in a theatre of debate: if you want something, you have to demonstrate the need for it.   We must build the case.  Or defend it.

One most troubling things to ever crease the forehead of the world was spoken by Jesus when He said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; nobody can come to the Father except by me.”  What a fuss that’s made.

I think that my life- at least as I reckon it, has been spent obsessing over a very small portion of that statement:  the Truth.

I like debate.  I like argument.  I like to explore and spar.  I don’t mean to antagonize people.  I really just want to give away something that I have and love.  Problem is, other people don’t see it that way.  And I can appreciate that.  I’d feel the same way.

I need to change.  To repent.  It’ll be difficult and I probably won’t make it.  I hope that you can forgive me as we go.  Because I’ve been convicted that there’s a better way.  The Way, and the Life.  It seems to me- that is, I myself have been persuaded that if I simply live the Way, and the Life, if I manifest Truth in my flesh, I will have no need to persuade anybody of anything.

Rather than argue, even in a kind and friendly tone, I can just live.  What might happen if I just invite people to live the way Jesus did?  I mean, obviously, I’d have to start doing that too.  But if I just live a life of dependence on God- of healing the wounds that have bloodied the life of my city, of living grace and mercy, of living Jesus’ way, what’s left to demonstrate?  Where is the need for persuasion?

If Jesus is the Way, something in the act of living must bring us closer to God.  If Jesus’ is the Truth, it must be the truest, best way to live- the way that most corresponds with the reality God created.  And that- THAT would be the life!

So here’s my confession.  I talk too much.  I think a lot, and debate a lot, and ultimately, it’s just arguing.  Which really is a defense, not an offense.  So- I’m going to focus a little more on the offense.  I’m going to focus on the way, and less on the truth.  I don’t believe you can really separate them- if I live the way, the truth is manifest.  I mean, “truth” is more than a simple “known” object anyways.  It’s not an “it” as much as it is a “who.”

If I am living the life- all I need to do is invite people to live the same kind of life I am living.  A life defined by mercy, submission, service, loving and genuine community with my neighbors is a life rendered to God.  Defined by my actions, not by my words.  If I am joined in this life, those who join me will see for themselves how good, and right, and true Jesus is.  And there will be nothing left for me to say.  Except “welcome.”