Monthly Archives: June 2012

Emails to God – What Goes Around Comes Around (Esther 6)

That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. 2 It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.

3 “What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked.

“Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered.

4 The king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about impaling Mordecai on the pole he had set up for him.

5 His attendants answered, “Haman is standing in the court.”

“Bring him in,” the king ordered.

6 When Haman entered, the king asked him, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?”

Now Haman thought to himself, “Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?” 7 So he answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honor, 8 have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. 9 Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor! ’”

10 “Go at once,” the king commanded Haman. “Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended.”

11 So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!”

12 Afterward Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief, 13 and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him.

His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him—you will surely come to ruin!” 14 While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman away to the banquet Esther had prepared.

Dear God, I don’t know that I have that much to say about this story that isn’t self-explanatory, except for the very end. There was apparently some sort of intimidation or at least superstition among the people about the Jews because his wife and advisors were all of a sudden cautioning him about Mordecai’s power as a Jew. Yet, these were the same people who, a chapter before, were giving him ideas about how Mordecai could be killed. With friends like these…

There is a phrase, “What goes around comes around.” I think the lesson for me here is that I need to be about sending around love and grace because when I send around frustration and judgment then that is what I get back—especially with my wife and children. That is something I am learning more and more. How I handle my relationships with my wife and children will definitely come back at me many times over, either for the good or for the bad.

Father, as much as I can possibly muster, I offer my ego to you. Haman’s ego got him into a lot of trouble, and my ego can do the same. Please help me to crucify this ego as painlessly as possible, but if it requires pain then so be it. My heart is to serve my wife and children, parent and train my children, and live a humble life before you. Help me to do that.


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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in Esther


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Emails to God – Hoist By His Own Petard (Esther 5:9-14)

9 Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits. But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordecai. 10 Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home.

Calling together his friends and Zeresh, his wife, 11 Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials. 12 “And that’s not all,” Haman added. “I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow. 13 But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate. ”

14 His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Have a pole set up, reaching to a height of fifty cubits, and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai impaled on it. Then go with the king to the banquet and enjoy yourself.” This suggestion delighted Haman, and he had the pole set up.

Dear God, I suppose you could say that Haman was setting himself up to be hoist by his own petard. While I have used this saying before, and understand the gist of it, I didn’t really “know” what it meant until I looked it up this morning. Apparently, it is from Hamlet. Two men were plotting against Hamlet and he ended up turning the plot against them so that their names were replaced with his and they were killed by their own plan. Technically, a petard is a bomb.

So what is the lesson for me? It seems that the big one is that I should be careful to not set traps for people so that they can eventually be turned against me. The anger and vengeance that I display towards others can always come back to haunt me. It is hard to find fault with graciousness, but the person who walks around with bitterness and anger is hard to be around.

Father, as I try to figure out how to be the husband and father I need to be, let it begin with this concept—that I would be able to lead with all of the fruits of the spirit from Galatians 5:22 with my family. Help me to be loving, patient, peaceful, kind, good, gentle, faithful, and in control of myself. If Haman had had these characteristics instead of the hubris and arrogance he allowed himself then he would probably have lived a little longer. He was obviously smart and valuable for the king to have around, but he was insecure and arrogant—words that have been used to describe me. Help me to reject those attributes and to embrace humility and graciousness instead.


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Posted by on June 26, 2012 in Esther


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Emails to God – God Moves Without Prayer (Esther 5:1-8)

On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. 2 When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.

3 Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.”

4 “If it pleases the king,” replied Esther, “let the king, together with Haman, come today to a banquet I have prepared for him.”

5 “Bring Haman at once,” the king said, “so that we may do what Esther asks.”

So the king and Haman went to the banquet Esther had prepared. 6 As they were drinking wine, the king again asked Esther, “Now what is your petition? It will be given you. And what is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.”

7 Esther replied, “My petition and my request is this: 8 If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.”

Dear God, verse two is the answer to the fasting (and, I’ll assume, prayer) that the Jews were doing. Would he or wouldn’t he hold out the scepter? Would he or wouldn’t he have her killed for the impudence of coming to see him. The funny thing I’ve never thought about regarding this story before is that you would think that Xerxes must have known something was up because Esther had taken too big of a chance to see him to simply be inviting him for dinner. Did he not have a very inquisitive mind? In reading this story again, I am left to wonder why he didn’t ask, “No, really, why did you really come to see me?” But yes, he did know there was something more going on because he finally asked in verse six, “Now what is your petition?”

Of course, this is a big request for Esther, and I think it is interesting that she chose to involve Haman in her dinners. She’ll ultimately decide in the next story that she doesn’t feel ready to bring it up, so she asks them to dinner again. But why did she invite Haman? I think I would have just gone straight to Xerxes without Haman there. Haman’s presence makes it much scarier from Esther’s perspective, in my mind. Perhaps the Holy Spirit was leading her. Perhaps you knew that to have the biggest impact on Xerxes she needed to have Haman there.

Father, there is no evidence that Esther was praying to you during this time, but you were guiding it anyway. There are times, frankly, when I forget to pray to you, but I am hopeful that you will still work your will in and through me during those times. Give me wisdom, even when I haven’t asked for it. Give me love, compassion, and discernment when I am in a given situation and I don’t have time to stop and pray. And, ultimately, remind me to pray continuously about everything.

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Posted by on June 25, 2012 in Esther


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Emails to God – “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:9-17)

9 Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”

12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.

Dear God, first, Esther’s request for the Jews to fast is the closest we get in Esther to seeing someone involve you—if only by intimation. But what I really admire about this story is the last sentence of verse 16: “And if I perish, I perish.”

It kind of reminds me of my favorite verse. It’s Acts 20:24: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me. If only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord has given me—the task of testifying to the Gospel of God’s grace.” At some point we all need to consider our lives worth nothing to us. At some point we need to do what we know is right regardless of what it means for our comfort. I’m not saying that I do these things very well. I do consider my life when I decide moment by moment whether or not to testify to the Gospel of your grace. I do consider myself too much when I decide whether or not to confront someone who is speaking hatefully.

Father, I think of some of the heroes of the world and the selfless decisions they made. Of course, there are those in the military who have died for their country. There are parents who work hard to sacrifice and provide for their children’s futures. There are wives who sacrifice their careers for their children and husbands. There are fathers who sacrifice their careers for their children. One doesn’t have to die to show they are selfless. One has only to die to one’s selfish ambitions and desires. Help me to do this as I make decisions on what kind of husband, father, employee, leader, son, brother, and friend to be.

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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Esther


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Emails to God – Consequences for Our Actions (Esther 4:1-8)

4 When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. 2 But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. 3 In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

4 When Esther’s eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. 5 Then Esther summoned Hathak, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.

6 So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. 7 Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. 8 He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.

Dear God, I wonder how responsible Mordecai was feeling for all of this. I know he was distressed about him and his people losing their lives, but how much of his “wailing loudly and bitterly” was over the fact that he was the one who had caused Haman to do this? If he had had it to do over again, would he have bowed down to Haman instead of resisting? If he had bowed down in the first place, would Esther’s name be lost to history?

Sometimes we decide to take a stand in our lives with or without the knowledge of what the consequences of that stand will be. I make a stand with my children that they don’t like. I know I am doing it for their good, but it will anger them to not get their way in that given instance. What will be the result of that anger? Will they submit to my authority or will it plant a spirit of rebelliousness in their hearts? George W. Bush decided to draw a line in the sand after 9-11 and say that the United States would stop being defensive in nature in terms of responding to terrorists, and instead become offensive. While that decision has kept further attacks from happening on our soil, there have certainly been consequences to that decision.

Father, I guess my thing is that I want to make good, informed decisions as much as I can, but in the times when there is no way for me to know the consequences of my actions, I want to be able to tap into your wisdom and discernment. I am in no way suggesting that what Mordecai did in not bowing to Haman was the wrong thing to do. I am only saying that it hd consequences and you provided for those consequences. You provided Esther before the issue even arose. So I ask that you will guide me and save me from my own foolishness. Protect me from my mistakes and selfishness. Use my life how you will.

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Posted by on June 17, 2012 in Esther


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Emails to God – Flawed Leaders (Esther 3:12-15)

12 Then on the thirteenth day of the first month the royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out in the script of each province and in the language of each people all Haman’s orders to the king’s satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. These were written in the name of King Xerxes himself and sealed with his own ring. 13 Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews —young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. 14 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so they would be ready for that day.

15 The couriers went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was bewildered.

Dear God, I think my favorite part of this passage is frank look at the situation at the end of verse 15: “The king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was bewildered.” That’s great. You know, we always want to think that the people in leadership know what’s going on and are making good decisions, but sometimes the truth of the matter is that they really don’t know that much more than the rest of us, and they are prone to make just as foolish decisions.

I wonder how much people might look at me as a leader who will surely make the right decisions. I think the board that I work with trusts me in this way. I think our staff trusts me and looks to me in this way (for the most part). My kids used to, but they are older now and in the mode where they don’t think anything I do is right. But the truth is, there are times where I am just as overwhelmed or lost as any of them might be. I don’t have any special power that gives me a monopoly on wisdom. The most I can say I that I have you.

Father, help me to simply make the right decisions at any given time. Love others through me, first and foremost. There is a woman coming this morning to visit with me, and it will be up to me to see how she will get help to pay for a surgery. Give me discernment about this. I have another big project today. Help me to remember and share everything I am supposed to. Represent yourself through me with integrity, honor, and your glory.

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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Esther


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Emails to God – Assuming the Worst in People (Esther 3:7-11)

7 In the twelfth year of King Xerxes, in the first month, the month of Nisan, the pur (that is, the lot ) was cast in the presence of Haman to select a day and month. And the lot fell on the twelfth month, the month of Adar.

8 Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. 9 If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talents of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury.”

10 So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.”

Dear God, it can be dangerous to make a decision without first having all of the information. I am not old and wise yet, but the longer I live and the more I experience the more I realize that there are ALWAYS two sides to every story. There is ALWAYS more to be learned before a good decision can be made. Very few people have wicked motives. Very few people set out to hurt someone else. Those that are perceived by some to be wicked usually have a perfectly good explanation for the reason they did whatever it is they did. This is where Xerxes failed as a king. He never asked any of the Jews about Haman’s charge. He just assumed that they were a rebellious element within the kingdom because Haman told him they were.

I get to see this every day at work. There are patients here who can be manipulative, who lie, and who will say whatever they have to say to get their way, etc. They might be addicted to pain medications. They might have learned over time that the way to get their way is to be pushy. Because there are a few patients like this, it can be easy to paint all of our patients with the same brush. One can become cynical. But it is our job to try to cut through the layers of appearance and get at the truth. What is causing that person’s pain? Is there a legitimate way we can help them? Is it time to discontinue our services to them, or is there a way to be firm and yet merciful?

Father, this happens in every area of my life. It happens with my kids. It happens with my wife, my siblings, my parents, in-laws, etc. I can get offended and assume the worst of the person. The important thing is to try to get to the bottom of it and get the entire picture before I make a snap decision that is foolish. One thing I have found is that, with the exception of my kids who sometimes just do silly, selfish things, all of these others have no intention of doing me harm. There is simply a good reason why they did what they did. So please keep me from making the mistake Xerxes made. Help me to love others and have good relationship with them as they come into contact with me.

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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Esther


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Emails to God – Reflecting God in my Life (Esther 3:1-6)

After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles. 2 All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.

3 Then the royal officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s command?” 4 Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai’s behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew.

5 When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. 6 Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.

Dear God, why doesn’t this story mention you? Why doesn’t it say, “Haman would only bow to God, and, therefore, he would kneel to Haman and pay him honor”? I find it fascinating that, although you were probably his motivation, this book doesn’t record that at all.

Okay, here’s the big question: Can the same be said of me? When people see me and my actions, do they know my motivation? When I turn down an opportunity to advance my career do they know it is because I don’t want to go against your call? When I try to show a difficult person compassion do they know it is because I have asked you to give me your eyes for them? When I try to go out of my way to love a donor, do they know that it is so that you will be able to bless that person through their sacrifice?

Father, if a book were to be written about me, I want it to be impossible that it could be written without mentioning you. I want anyone who comes into contact with me, including the people with whom I am in conflict, to be able to see you in me. Of course, that means that you have to be my motivation. You have to be woven throughout my life. I need to reject sin and embrace you. So I do that today. I pledge this day to loving you and seeking you as I make decisions that will bring others a sense of you.

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Posted by on June 11, 2012 in Esther


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Cycling to a Church

My wife posted this poem this morning. I really liked it.

Megan Willome

I have searched20120609-170913.jpg

and I have known.

I know when to coast

and I know when to get up in the saddle.

I discern when it’s safe to turn.

I think about my going out when I’m lying down.

I am familiar with all my routes.

Before my wheel makes a complete circle

my ride is known.

The path before and behind is laid out.

Such views are too wonderful for me.

too spectacular from the hilltops.

Where shall I go today?

If I go north, Cherry Mountain is there.

If I head south, Luckenbach greets me.

If I ride east, I find the oldest church in the county.

If I pedal west—well, I haven’t figured out west yet.

Yet even there, my hands grip the bar and climb.

If I ride in the morning, as the night becomes light,

the moon still watches over me.

Even if the sun…

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Emails to God – Letting Go of “What If’s” (Esther 2:19-23)

19 When the virgins were assembled a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. 20 But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up.

21 During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. 22 But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai. 23 And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were impaled on poles. All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.

Dear God, there are interesting cause and effect principles in play here. We think of this being the story of how the Jews were saved through Esther being made queen, but let’s play a “what if”. What if Esther had told people she was Jewish? What if she was expelled from the virgin competition over it? What if Mordecai weren’t sitting by the gate to check up on Esther? What if the two guards had succeeded? Well, if Mordecai had not been there then he would have had to bow down to Haman later and the Jewish people wouldn’t have been targeted. So is this the story about the saving of the Jewish people or the story of how Xerxes was saved, but in doing that the Jewish people needed to be saved too?

Of course, there is no way to answer any of this. History is history. John F. Kennedy was president during the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis instead of Nixon (by a narrow vote). George W. Bush was president on September 11 instead of Al Gore (by a narrower vote). Were those elections providential? Perhaps. But we’ll never know. History is what it is.

My wife read a Stephen King book that plays the “what if” game regarding Kennedy’s assassination. What if the Lee Harvey Oswald had been stopped? How would history be different. It’s fund to consider, but we could send ourselves in circles chasing the answers when those same answers wouldn’t change our reality today.

Father, history is what it is. That includes my personal life. I chose the college I chose. I chose the jobs and cities I chose. I chose the wife I chose. I make hundreds of little decisions each day. Any one of them could change the course of a life. So I offer all of the paranoia I might be tempted to fall into to you and ask that you please be with me in the decisions I will make today. Make them as pure and selfless as possible. And please don’t let any of my mistakes do too much harm.


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Posted by on June 6, 2012 in Esther


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