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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Emails to God – Jesus’ Lineage (Matthew 1:1-17

1 This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,

Isaac the father of Jacob,

Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,

3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,

Perez the father of Hezron,

Hezron the father of Ram,

4 Ram the father of Amminadab,

Amminadab the father of Nahshon,

Nahshon the father of Salmon,

5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,

Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,

Obed the father of Jesse,

6 and Jesse the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,

7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam,

Rehoboam the father of Abijah,

Abijah the father of Asa,

8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,

Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,

Jehoram the father of Uzziah,

9 Uzziah the father of Jotham,

Jotham the father of Ahaz,

Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,

10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,

Manasseh the father of Amon,

Amon the father of Josiah,

11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.

12 After the exile to Babylon:

Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,

Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,

13 Zerubbabel the father of Abihud,

Abihud the father of Eliakim,

Eliakim the father of Azor,

14 Azor the father of Zadok,

Zadok the father of Akim,

Akim the father of Elihud,

15 Elihud the father of Eleazar,

Eleazar the father of Matthan,

Matthan the father of Jacob,

16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.

17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.

Dear God, I find it fascinating that Jesus is considered to be from the line of David even though Joseph wasn’t his biological father. It almost makes me want to call foul on this because, technically, there was none of David’s blood in Jesus (although we don’t know Mary’s lineage). I suppose that for some this would have been an important distinction so that they can feel better about the blood lines of the Messiah, but this has always been one of those little details that has bothered me.

I guess the other thing I notice here is that forty-two men’s lives preceded Jesus’ birth. Most of them lived in obscurity. They lived and they died without knowing that they would eventually be listed for all time as part of Jesus’ lineage. I am sure that some of them lived frustrating lives of pain and suffering. I am sure that some of them wondered what their purpose in life was. You knew that, if nothing else, their purpose in life was to provide for the birth of Joseph so that he could be there to answer your call to raise and care for Jesus.

Father, help me to turn loose of any great expectations of my life and to simply live each day as part of your overarching plan, whether I can see what that is or not. Help me to decrease as you increase. Help me to be united to my wife. Help me to parent my children. Help me to serve you in every act I perform today. Help me to be completely submitted to you.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2011 in Matthew

 

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Emails to God – Re: Tim Tebow (no verse)

Dear God, since I finished Genesis a couple of days ago, I have been trying to figure out where to go next with my prayer journals. Should I break into new territory and go and do books I have done before? This morning I checked out 1 Chronicles, but the first 9 chapters were lists of names and genealogies. Now, I know that there is probably something in there for me, but not today. By the time 1 Chronicles picks up the narrative it is in chapter 10, and it starts with Saul being killed and David becoming king. It mentions that you withdrew from Saul because of his sin, but you were with David and he had success.

That made my think of Tim Tebow. You know that he has been pretty maligned as a quarterback. He has a lot of athletic talent, but very little quarterback ability. It’s weird because all of the sports announces and analyzers sit around and talk about what an awful quarterback he is, and on paper it seems that they are right. The offense looks ugly and he doesn’t seem to be able to play the position in a classic quarterback way. The other thing that every announcer will tell you is that he is a man of great Christian faith and character, and they have no qualms with him personally or off of the field.

The weird thing is that he wins. In fact, his team did something this last Sunday that no team has done in NFL history. They came back from being scoreless through the first 57 minutes of play and down by 15 to win the game by 3 in overtime. Apparently, there was a critical two-point conversion during which the defense called timeout and the players still feel like they had the wrong personnel on the field to stop the play they expected. Confusion.

As I was driving around and listening to the sports announcers talk about what an awful quarterback Tebow is and how improbable the win was, I couldn’t help but think back to some of the stories of Gideon, David, and the like. Now, I am the first to say that I don’t think you care who wins a football game. If you did, then I am convinced that Baylor would win a lot more than it does. However, I couldn’t help but think this week that if the Bible were still being written today, there might just be a chapter in a book somewhere about this faithful man of God named Tim Tebow, through whom God used his athletic abilities to draw attention to the needs for mission work in the Philippines, Africa, etc.

Father, I guess my point is that I think you might be working in the details of more situations than I would normally think. I look at the donations for our clinic in September. We had a great month because of two extraordinary donations: One for $25,000 and one for $7,000. Both were more than these people had given before. I could look at those and say, “Boy, aren’t we lucky to get those,” or I could look at them and say, “Wow, God worked supernaturally to provide for our needs. Praise be to God.” I hope that I will say the latter more and more often as I become aware of how much you are truly providing for us every step of the way.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Emails to God – Prayer Requests (No Verse)

Dear God, our Center received two prayer requests from patients today, and I want to focus on them this morning instead of figuring out where I will go next since I finished Genesis yesterday.

The first one is from a woman who has been to our clinic a few times. She has a hurt knee, for which she needs your healing, but she also asks for prayer for her family, including for “my husband to stop using drugs.” Her prayer broke my heart because it is one thing to face the frustrations of physical pain, money, etc., but it is another thing to be in a situation with a family member where you feel like they are out of control and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Some will ask why she doesn’t just leave him, but it is likely that she cannot afford to leave him. She needs your help. He needs your help. She doesn’t mention children, but if they have children then they need your help. Please be with this woman and her knee. Lead her to healing, whether you provide it through us or your Spirit just moves through her body and heals her supernaturally, provide for her healing. Relieve her pain and help her to be able to fully work. And then I pray for her husband, her, and her family, and how they all interact. It is hard to know how you can help them, but I pray that you will be able to be there for him. Make him the man you need him to be. Help him to turn loose of drugs and other things that he thinks can provide a peace and joy that only you can truly provide. Help him to be at peace, and use this entire situation as an opportunity for him to find you and then bring glory to your name through his life’s transformation.

The second one was from a man who, coincidentally, is recovering from alcohol/drug addiction. His prayer request is for “balance in [his] life with work and personal growth.” He is having trouble because he cannot make enough per hour to make ends meet for his family. He says he doesn’t want to work 60-80 hours per week because that tends to get him out of balance. Frankly, God, with the way the economy is going, there is a faithless part of me that doesn’t know if you can answer this one, but the truth is that I know you can. I know you can help this man in his recovery and you can provide for his family’s needs. He also asks for prayers for his kids. So I do, God. I pray for this man’s recovery, that it will continue and that he will be strong in you. I pray for his job, that you will somehow multiply his income like Jesus did the fishes and loaves. I pray that you will love and parent his children through him and through their mother. Like the other family, use this as an opportunity to show up in their lives and reverse what could be generations of curses and vices that have passed down. Encourage this man. Give him hope. Give him your peace. Help him to bask in the middle of your presence.

 

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Emails to God – The End of Genesis (Genesis 50:22-26)

22 Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years 23 and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees.

24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” 25 And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.”

26 So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.

Dear God, I wonder what kept the Israelites from going ahead and taking off back for their homes. Why didn’t they leave Egypt? Were they afraid they had been away too long and wouldn’t be welcomed back to their own land? Were they happy in Goshen and saw no reason to leave? I supposed this would have been the time to leave if they were ever going to do it. Why didn’t they?

I also wonder what Joseph died from. He obviously died before a lot of his brothers, and he died comparatively young when you consider how old everyone else was living. So did he get sick from a disease? Probably. Funny, but we don’t often think of a Biblical character’s cause of death. They just die because they didn’t have a lot of doctors going around giving an accurate diagnosis.

As I finish off Genesis with this passage, I suppose the overarching message of the book is that you had a plan, you placed the fate of your plan in very fallible people (from Adam, to Noah, to Abraham, to Jacob, etc.), and your plan somehow endures until this day. Is every date in here correct? Every story precise? I doubt it. But there is certainly a sense that you were there, you are here, and it is going to be okay in the long run.

Father, help me to sense your presence over my very flawed life. Help me to turn loose of the need to get everything perfect and simply let you live through me. Bless others through me, even though there are times when I am not tuned into you. Move beyond my abilities into a place in my life where you live through me even beyond my ability to consciously channel you. I am a fool, and I know your plan if foolproof. Let your plan reign.

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2011 in Genesis

 

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Emails to God – Testing Forgiveness (Genesis 50:15-21)

15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.

18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.

19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

Dear God, this family was deceptive until the end. These guys are awful. Up until now there is no indication that they had told Jacob what really happened to Joseph way back when (although this story intimates he found out somewhere along the way). But here they are lying to him and telling him that their father (whom Joseph loved) gave him instructions that he never gave. In fact, if Jacob were really to have given those instructions, wouldn’t he have more likely given them directly to Joseph than gone through the boys?

On the other side of this is the fact that Joseph was able to see beyond the pain of his situation and even any anger he had towards you for the way your plan unfolded. He accepted the suffering. He accepted the trials. Now, would he have accepted it if things hadn’t worked out so well for him in the end? Probably not, but it would still have been easy for him to not let his scars heal and hold on to the pain and bitterness.

Father, I still have grudges against people that I have got to let go of. In fact, while I was writing this my wife talked about some physical symptoms she felt during a recent illness, and it reminded me of a woman in this town who has done some things to hurt me because she is basically afflicted by the same symptoms on a constant basis but she doesn’t realize it. So when the thought of her crossed my mind I was instantly angry. So I still have issues. I still have grudges. Give me your perspective on these things and give me healing because I am, frankly, the only one they really hurt, and yet the feel so good to hold on to.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2011 in Genesis

 

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Emails to God – A Lesson in Mourning (Genesis 50:1-14)

1 Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. 2 Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him, 3 taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.

4 When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court, “If I have found favor in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him, 5 ‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’”

6 Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.”

7 So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him—the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt— 8 besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen. 9 Chariots and horsemen also went up with him. It was a very large company.

10 When they reached the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly; and there Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father. 11 When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.” That is why that place near the Jordan is called Abel Mizraim.

12 So Jacob’s sons did as he had commanded them: 13 They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 14 After burying his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, together with his brothers and all the others who had gone with him to bury his father.

Dear God, it strikes me in this story that Joseph officially mourned his father’s passing for at least 90 days (70 days of mourning in Egypt, a couple of weeks traveling to the burial site, and then a solid week after they arrived before they placed him with his fathers. There were probably more days in there than that, but we know from this account that it was at least 90 days.

My wife described the Jewish traditions for mourning death several years ago, and I remember her telling me that their tradition seems to have a much more realistic and healthy way of mourning. Without remembering the details, what I do remember is that they give the person who lost their loved one a long time to get over it. They are given space, and even permission, to grieve.

When my wife lost her mother almost 20 months ago she went into her mother’s death expecting to be prepared and adjusted because her mother had been sick for a while. She is continually surprised that she still feels the pain so acutely this many months later. She feels like she should be over it by now. She thought the pain would be, if not gone, then almost totally diminished much sooner than this.

Then, a few weeks ago, my brother-in-law lost his father. He had been sick for a while as well, and yet I think it surprised him to see how hard it was for him to lose his father.

Father, I think that our modern American Christian culture needs to learn how to mourn the loss of our loved ones. There is probably something we can learn from other cultures, including the Jews. In fact, I just found this web site that outlines the Jewish mourning process: http://www.uscj.org/soeast/columbus/mourning_custom.htm Help me to be the resource that my friends and family need me to be in their times of mourning, and help me in my times of mourning. Be glorified in me and give all of us peace as we make our ways through life.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2011 in Genesis

 

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Emails to God – The Death of Jacob (Genesis 49:29-33)

29 Then he gave them these instructions: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 31 There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.”

33 When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.

Dear God, this isn’t that important, but I think it is interesting that Jacob will end up being buried with Leah and not Rachel. I’m surprised he didn’t give instructions to have Rachel moved too since where he was buried was so important to him. Anyway, it isn’t important, I don’t think. Just interesting.

I wonder how each of the sons felt when Jacob died. I am sure the ones who were cursed by him at the end were conflicted between loving their father, hating their father, and the sense of knowing that they would never be able to earn their father’s respect back because he was gone. I’m sure that Joseph and Benjamin really grieved in a more pure way, simply loving their father and missing him.

Yesterday was my mother-in-law’s birthday. She passed away just over 19 months ago, and it was a hard day for my wife. Even though there were things about her mother that frustrated her (who doesn’t have things about their parents that frustrate them?), she deeply loved her mother. Of course, there were some areas where my wife felt like she didn’t live up to her mother’s expectations and those are things that she will now have to come to terms with on her own and not ever have them physically resolved with her mother.

Father, that leaves me to my role and responsibility as a father to my children. How have I cursed them? How have I made them feel like they don’t measure up—all in the name of trying to mold them into the people they need to be for life. I know I have scarred them, and that thought kills me. I know they have wounds from me that will never fully heal, no matter how much I try. We all carry those wounds around. We all carry those scars. They are a little like the scars that I can see on my skin from childhood. They aren’t anyone’s fault, but I will forever have a reminder of that bicycle accident when I was 11-years-old because I can see the scar on my right knee. So help me to not scar my children anymore, and help me to bless them and not curse them so that they might live lives that are both submitted to you and in peace.

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2011 in Genesis

 

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