Monthly Archives: January 2020

Fathers of the Bible — Jethro

Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, heard about everything God had done for Moses and his people, the Israelites. He heard especially about how the Lord had rescued them from Egypt. Earlier, Moses had sent his wife, Zipporah, and his two sons back to Jethro, who had taken them in. (Moses’ first son was named Gershom, for Moses had said when the boy was born, “I have been a foreigner in a foreign land.” His second son was named Eliezer, for Moses had said, “The God of my ancestors was my helper; he rescued me from the sword of Pharaoh.”) Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, now came to visit Moses in the wilderness. He brought Moses’ wife and two sons with him, and they arrived while Moses and the people were camped near the mountain of God. Jethro had sent a message to Moses, saying, “I, Jethro, your father-in-law, am coming to see you with your wife and your two sons.” So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law. He bowed low and kissed him. They asked about each other’s welfare and then went into Moses’ tent. Moses told his father-in-law everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and Egypt on behalf of Israel. He also told about all the hardships they had experienced along the way and how the Lord had rescued his people from all their troubles. Jethro was delighted when he heard about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel as he rescued them from the hand of the Egyptians. “Praise the Lord,” Jethro said, “for he has rescued you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh. Yes, he has rescued Israel from the powerful hand of Egypt! I know now that the Lord is greater than all other gods, because he rescued his people from the oppression of the proud Egyptians.” Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God. Aaron and all the elders of Israel came out and joined him in a sacrificial meal in God’s presence. The next day, Moses took his seat to hear the people’s disputes against each other. They waited before him from morning till evening. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, “What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?” Moses replied, “Because the people come to me to get a ruling from God. When a dispute arises, they come to me, and I am the one who settles the case between the quarreling parties. I inform the people of God’s decrees and give them his instructions.” “This is not good!” Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed. “You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself. Now listen to me, and let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing their disputes to him. Teach them God’s decrees, and give them his instructions. Show them how to conduct their lives. But select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. They should always be available to solve the people’s common disputes, but have them bring the major cases to you. Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you. If you follow this advice, and if God commands you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace.” Moses listened to his father-in-law’s advice and followed his suggestions. He chose capable men from all over Israel and appointed them as leaders over the people. He put them in charge of groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. These men were always available to solve the people’s common disputes. They brought the major cases to Moses, but they took care of the smaller matters themselves. Soon after this, Moses said good-bye to his father-in-law, who returned to his own land.
Exodus 18

Dear God, Jethro lived an interesting life. I’ve always wondered of which god he was a priest: “I know now that the Lord is greater than all other gods…”

In this story, we learn that he allowed his daughter and grandchildren to stay with him while Moses dealt with Pharaoh, the Egyptians, and the Israelites. We also know that he brought them back to Moses and that he apparently really respected Moses. Finally, he played the role of short-term advisor. Moses was so wrapped up in the trees that he couldn’t see the forest. I have a similar problem at my current job and the board of directors is trying to help me and play a similar role to what Jethro played for Moses here.

But I like this image of Jethro as father figure to Moses. I like the ole he is playing in his daughter’s life by 1.) helping her and her boys directly and 2,) helping her husband to keep his sanity which, in turn, will be of benefit to her as well. Basically, Jethro just seems like a good man who is offering himself to be used in whatever role you have for him.

On some levels, being a son-in-law to your father-in-law can be easier than being a daughter-in-law to a mother-in-law. The dynamics are different. But one of the hard things for either men or women is to humble themselves to take advice from their elder. Pride can get in the way. On the other hand, it can sometimes be difficult for the elder to know when to remain silent and let the young generation figure things out for themselves. The best lessons are learned through the experience of failure. Finally, there usually comes a day in the life cycle when the younger generation has to take over and start caring for the elder generation. That is an especially difficult transition because complete paradigms have to shift. My wife and I are moving into that phase now as the younger generation, but I am also trying to steel myself and prepare my ego and heart for the day 25 or so years from now when I will need to make decisions that will make life easier for my children when I am the aging elder and they are the younger.

Father, that last paragraph was a lot of words to just say that humility is important and a willingness to serve and step out in courage is important. I am sure that Jethro was at least somewhat nervous about giving Moses his advice. But he gave it well, and Moses was able to receive it. Help me to be both a good receiver and deliverer of your counsel so that I might be who you need me to be n the lives you have place around me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,


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Posted by on January 31, 2020 in Exodus, Fathers of the Bible


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Parents of the Bible — The Egyptians

So the people of Israel did just as the Lord had commanded through Moses and Aaron. And that night at midnight, the Lord struck down all the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sat on his throne, to the firstborn son of the prisoner in the dungeon. Even the firstborn of their livestock were killed. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the people of Egypt woke up during the night, and loud wailing was heard throughout the land of Egypt. There was not a single house where someone had not died. Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron during the night. “Get out!” he ordered. “Leave my people—and take the rest of the Israelites with you! Go and worship the Lord as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you said, and be gone. Go, but bless me as you leave.” All the Egyptians urged the people of Israel to get out of the land as quickly as possible, for they thought, “We will all die!”
Exodus 12:28-33

Dear God, it was the mass loss of life and their children that finally broke the Egyptians and Pharaoh. They were willing to pay any price after that. Even Pharaoh was brought to his knees by it. It reminds me of an 80s song by Sting called “Russians” in which he has a line about the Russians loving their children too.

Sometimes I marvel at how special my two children are to me. When they were small and playing sports or performing on stage, they were all my eye wanted to follow. Often, I couldn’t have told you what else was happening. I just cared about them. I’ve held one while the projectile vomited on me. I’ve flown across the country to help one (actually, I’ve done that for each of them now that I think about it). I was there when both of them were born. They look a little like me and a little like my wife. If you were to look at a bell curve of the things my wife and I discuss, they would be in the center. They are the center of my wife’s and my daily prayer time. And even with all of that, we can feel so helpless. Kobe Bryant couldn’t save his daughter the other day and I know he would have given all he had if he could have. I couldn’t even stop bullies from picking on them when they were little. I remember holding one in my lap and crying together, but I couldn’t completely shield them. I tried, but I couldn’t.

Father, thank you for this rich, joyful, painful experience called parenthood. You have used it to mold me. You are still using it. The Egyptians loved their children. The Israelites who had to watch their children live and die in slavery (and some be thrown in the Nile) loved their children. The Russians and everyone else love their children. I even saw a baby lamb next to its mother for safety when I was on a bike ride last Sunday. She loved her child too. And of course, you love us as well–even more than I can fathom. Thank you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,



Mothers of the Bible — Zipporah (Moses’s wife)

On the way to Egypt, at a place where Moses and his family had stopped for the night, the Lord confronted him and was about to kill him. But Moses’ wife, Zipporah, took a flint knife and circumcised her son. She touched his feet with the foreskin and said, “Now you are a bridegroom of blood to me.” (When she said “a bridegroom of blood,” she was referring to the circumcision.) After that, the Lord left him alone.
Exodus 4:24-26

Dear God, okay, I don’t remember this story and the author (Moses?) didn’t do a very good job of telling it. Moses and his family are on their way to Egypt and do some unexplained reason you were about to kill him. Was he griping too much? Was he telling Zipporah that he couldn’t do what you were asking him to do? Or had you told him to circumcise the boy and he wouldn’t do it? Either way, you were obviously fed up and Zipporah stepped up to the plate and circumcised her son in route. She was obviously upset about having to do it with her statement to Moses that he was now a “bridegroom of blood” to her.

Regarding circumcision, I don’t think I’ve ever thought about how Moses being circumcised would have impacted his life. I’m sure that why he knew the Hebrews were his people. (Exodus 2:6 and 2:11). I’m sure it came up with his wife too since he didn’t look like other males. So how did she know that circumcising her son would assuage you’re anger? How old was the boy anyway? I don’t know, but what I see is a woman who apparently saved her husband’s life by doing something she really didn’t want to do to her son (was Moses too weak to do it when the boy was born stricken by you to do it in that moment?)

Father, this one story gives me so much respect for Zipporah. She had to be scared to go to Egypt and take her family with her, but when the time came she was willing to do what needed to be done. Moms can be amazing. Wives too. As a man who has greatly benefitted from a great woman as my wife, I can recognize it when I see her. She left a life of comfort with her father and went through everything Moses did. Thank you for her example.

In Jesus’s name I pray,


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Posted by on January 29, 2020 in Mothers of the Bible


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Mothers of the Bible — Moses’s Mother

About this time, a man and woman from the tribe of Levi got married. The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She saw that he was a special baby and kept him hidden for three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River. The baby’s sister then stood at a distance, watching to see what would happen to him. Soon Pharaoh’s daughter came down to bathe in the river, and her attendants walked along the riverbank. When the princess saw the basket among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it for her. When the princess opened it, she saw the baby. The little boy was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This must be one of the Hebrew children,” she said. Then the baby’s sister approached the princess. “Should I go and find one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” she asked. “Yes, do!” the princess replied. So the girl went and called the baby’s mother. “Take this baby and nurse him for me,” the princess told the baby’s mother. “I will pay you for your help.” So the woman took her baby home and nursed him. Later, when the boy was older, his mother brought him back to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her own son. The princess named him Moses, for she explained, “I lifted him out of the water.”
Exodus 2:1-10

Dear God, isn’t it interesting that Moses’s mother’s name seems to be lost to history. His father too. It’s also interesting that we don’t get much about the father here, but who knows what his life was like. He might have been in hard labor and hardly around. No, these names are lost to history, but the are as important as any two people I read about in Genesis. They are responsible for saving the life of the boy/man who would lead your people out of Egypt.

I can’t imagine what it would have been like for the Israelite women to have to see their baby boys killed. Oh. Here’s a question I’ve never thought of before. I suppose that they circumcised Moses, meaning that’s probably how Pharaoh’s daughter knew immediately that the boy was a Hebrew. As mothers go, she’s as critical of a part of this story as Moses’s Hebrew parents. She was his adopted mother, and I don’t think we get her name either. In fact, the only name we get in these verses is Moses’s.

Why do I bring that up? Well, because we tend to think so much of ourselves, but it’s our actions that matter more than our words. These people all did the right thing. They had decisions to make and they did them. Whereas Jacob was so worries about his own name and his own convenience, these names are lost. It’s a reminder to me that my life isn’t about my name living forever, but the actions I take trickling through history.

Father, help me to do the right thing. Help me to be the husband, father, son, brother and uncle you need me to be. Help me to willingly decrease so that you can increase. Love through me above all else. Help me to stay in each moment and not be distracted by the future. Let your kingdom come and your will be done on earth through my life as you will.

In Jesus’s name I pray,


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Posted by on January 28, 2020 in Exodus, Mothers of the Bible


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Fathers of the Bible – Joseph, son of Jacob

So Joseph and his brothers and their families continued to live in Egypt. Joseph lived to the age of 110. He lived to see three generations of descendants of his son Ephraim, and he lived to see the birth of the children of Manasseh’s son Makir, whom he claimed as his own. “Soon I will die,” Joseph told his brothers, “but God will surely come to help you and lead you out of this land of Egypt. He will bring you back to the land he solemnly promised to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath, and he said, “When God comes to help you and lead you back, you must take my bones with you.” So Joseph died at the age of 110. The Egyptians embalmed him, and his body was placed in a coffin in Egypt.
Genesis 50:22-26

Dear God, this is a brief chance to see Joseph as a father. It’s actually our second glimpse. The first was when Jacob blessed them, but ignored their birth order and it upset Joseph. Then it talks about him seeing his great grandchildren born. It paints a picture of interest in his children, their children, and their children.

We don’t get any stories about the boys, good or bad, so it’s hard to know, but Genesis certainly isn’t shy about telling us the ugly part of their lives. That’s why I kind of get the impression that things turned out alright for Joseph as a father. First, I don’t know how many wives he had (or daughters), but it appears he only had the two boys so it’s not like he was just having tons of kids by tons of women (that we know of). I don’t know. I’m doing A LOT of inferring here, but Joseph seemed to live a reasonably controlled life that made room for loving his family (children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren) and also his brothers. And he also lived a life of forgiveness, choosing to not punish his brothers for what they did to him.

Father, I don’t know that there is really anything I can take from Joseph as a father and apply to my life, but it is refreshing to see one of these guys seem to care about the development of his children and how their lives turn out for their own sake and not his. As I get into Exodus, I’ll start with Moses’s mother and go from there. It will be interesting to see any parents of note that I haven’t considered before. In the meantime, please help me to be the father, husband, brother, son, etc. that you need me to be for my own family.

In Jesus’s name I pray,


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Posted by on January 27, 2020 in Fathers of the Bible, Genesis



Fathers of the Bible — Jacob (Part 8)

Then Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come. “Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob; listen to your father Israel. “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor, excelling in power. Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch and defiled it. “Simeon and Levi are brothers— their swords are weapons of violence. Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen as they pleased. Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel. “Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his. He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk. “Zebulun will live by the seashore and become a haven for ships; his border will extend toward Sidon. “Issachar is a rawboned donkey lying down among the sheep pens. When he sees how good is his resting place and how pleasant is his land, he will bend his shoulder to the burden and submit to forced labor. “Dan will provide justice for his people as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan will be a snake by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backward. “I look for your deliverance, Lord. “Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels. “Asher’s food will be rich; he will provide delicacies fit for a king. “Naphtali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns. “Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall. With bitterness archers attacked him; they shot at him with hostility. But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and womb. Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers. “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, in the evening he divides the plunder.” All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him. 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, 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. There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.” 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.
Genesis 49

Dear God, it is an interesting to consciously choose to curse some of your children (and seemingly their descendants as well). I mean, who does that? That can’t be a sign of good parenting, right?

I also notice that Jacob seems to have completely embraced the idea that the rights of the firstborn are NOT absolute. Again, maybe this is because he was the second-born child and he took his brother’s birthright and blessing. His father, Isaac, was second-born to Ishmael and had taken his brother’s blessing. Now, he actually had a grudge against Reuben so he kind of let him have it. Then he showed he still remembered how Simeon and Levi slaughtered that town in the name of defending their sister’s honor and he cursed them as well. That brought the first positive blessing to Judah, the fourth-born son. I suppose what I should probably do is break the blessings down by who the mother was. There are four mothers here (as I recall). Was their a difference in how he looked at his son based on their mother?


  • Reuben – Bad blessing
  • Simeon – Bad blessing
  • Levi – Bad blessing
  • Judah – Good blessing
  • Issachar (born after Asher) – Good blessing
  • Zebulun (born after Issachar) – Good blessing

Bilhah (Rachel’s servant (slave?))

  • Dan – Good blessing
  • Naphtali – Good blessing

Zilpah (Leah’s servant (slave?))

  • Gad – Medium blessing
  • Asher – Good blessing


  • Joseph – Good blessing
  • Benjamin (Rachel died in childbirth) – Good blessing

Hmm. That’s interesting. Only the first three got bad “blessings,” if you want to call them that. Gad’s was okay, but he has to be attacked first. When I just read them through, it felt like there was more negativity than that, but, no, it was limited to the first three, with whom Jacob had a specific beef. And, going back to an earlier prayer about him and his fathering, his problems seemed to center more on how the boys’ actions impacted him than whether they were right or wrong. The thing about Reuben and the concubine is interesting. It gets half of one verse (Gen 35:22a – While he was living there Reuben had intercourse with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, and Jacob soon heard about it.” This is right after Rachel died in childbirth with Benjamin and Bilhah had been Rachel’s slave. I wonder if Reuben thought she was unimportant to Jacob because Rachel was dead. Who knows? But it doesn’t say that Jacob did anything about it at the time. It seems that he waited until this moment to blast him with it. Not very good parenting.

Father, my dad had a friend who used to say, “Everyone has a purpose in life, even if it’s to serve as a bad example.” Well, I have to tell you, God, I don’t think much of the example that Jacob was for us. He lied and cheated. He was passive aggressive and selfish. He didn’t mind showing all of his boys who his favorites were. He held grudges. I have to say, it’s hard for me to see how he compares favorably with Esau. But there it is. You used him. You used him to build a nation. You used him to shape the world, an influence that continues to this day, thousands of years later. So thank you that I don’t have to be perfect to be used by you. Thank you that you just ask me to love you and do my best and then work around when I fail. Thank you for the redemption you offer me as a Gentile. I am very grateful.

In Jesus’s name I pray,


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Posted by on January 26, 2020 in Fathers of the Bible, Genesis



Fathers of the Bible — Jacob (Part 7) & Joseph

Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years, and the years of his life were a hundred and forty-seven. When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.” “I will do as you say,” he said. “Swear to me,” he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed. Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’ “Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine. Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers. As I was returning from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem). When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?” “They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father. Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.” Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them. Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.” Then Joseph removed them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on his left toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him. But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn. Then he blessed Joseph and said, “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm —may he bless these boys. May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly on the earth.” When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations. ” He blessed them that day and said, “In your name will Israel pronounce this blessing: ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’” So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh. Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and take you back to the land of your fathers. And to you I give one more ridge of land than to your brothers, the ridge I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.”
Genesis 47:28-48:22

Dear God, we actually have two fathers in this story: Jacob and Joseph.

I suppose Jacob always did have a soft spot in his heart for the younger sibling over the older. And as I’ve pointed out before, it seldom the oldest that ends up being the greatest in biblical families. Isaac and Ishmael (Muslims would disagree with this, and I would too if I were them, but since this is from a Christian my perspective I’ll go with it). Abel was more pleasing to you than Cain. David wasn’t Jesse’s first born. Solomon wasn’t David’s. I don’t know. Maybe I’d feel differently if I were the oldest instead of the youngest in my family, but I think the theory that the firstborn is the obvious choice as heir-apparent.

Joseph obviously felt this way about his boys. He wanted them to be blessed according to their birth order. But Jacob had a different paradigm, and we will see tomorrow that he actually blesses his fourth-born, Judah, as the leader and not Reuben, the firstborn.

It’s interesting to me that Jacob didn’t leave Egypt during his life. I would have thought that, after the famine was over, they would have returned to Canaan. Did he not want to inconvenience his children? Was he too old for the journey? Was he too weak to lead them? I understand that you ended up using the ensuing slavery to build his lineage as a nation, but it seems to me that it would have been easier for his family to return to Canaan being well-fed and nourished over the last few years of famine and the remnant left in Canaan being malnourished and weak (and probably fewer in number). On paper, it seems like this was a failing in Jacob and even his sons. They got fat and happy. But you still were able to use what I perceive as their possible failing for your purposes and plan.

Father, I know I will fail. I know that, despite my best efforts, I can act fat and happy. But there is freedom in the idea that I know my heart is for you, I worship you, I love you, and I’m doing my best; and you can work with that, my sin, and my failures to still bring about your plan for your glory. I simply pray that my work will be pleasing in your sight.

In Jesus’s name I pray,


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Posted by on January 23, 2020 in Fathers of the Bible


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Fathers of the Bible — Jacob (Part 6)

And they left Egypt and returned to their father, Jacob, in the land of Canaan. “Joseph is still alive!” they told him. “And he is governor of all the land of Egypt!” Jacob was stunned at the news—he couldn’t believe it. But when they repeated to Jacob everything Joseph had told them, and when he saw the wagons Joseph had sent to carry him, their father’s spirits revived. Then Jacob exclaimed, “It must be true! My son Joseph is alive! I must go and see him before I die.” So Jacob set out for Egypt with all his possessions. And when he came to Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father, Isaac. During the night God spoke to him in a vision. “Jacob! Jacob!” he called. “Here I am,” Jacob replied. “I am God, the God of your father,” the voice said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make your family into a great nation. I will go with you down to Egypt, and I will bring you back again. You will die in Egypt, but Joseph will be with you to close your eyes.” So Jacob left Beersheba, and his sons took him to Egypt. They carried him and their little ones and their wives in the wagons Pharaoh had provided for them. They also took all their livestock and all the personal belongings they had acquired in the land of Canaan. So Jacob and his entire family went to Egypt— The total number of Jacob’s direct descendants who went with him to Egypt, not counting his sons’ wives, was sixty-six. In addition, Joseph had two sons who were born in Egypt. So altogether, there were seventy members of Jacob’s family in the land of Egypt. As they neared their destination, Jacob sent Judah ahead to meet Joseph and get directions to the region of Goshen. And when they finally arrived there, Joseph prepared his chariot and traveled to Goshen to meet his father, Jacob. When Joseph arrived, he embraced his father and wept, holding him for a long time. Finally, Jacob said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen your face again and know you are still alive.” Then Joseph brought in his father, Jacob, and presented him to Pharaoh. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh. “How old are you?” Pharaoh asked him. Jacob replied, “I have traveled this earth for 130 hard years. But my life has been short compared to the lives of my ancestors.” Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh again before leaving his court.
Genesis 45:25-46:6,26-30,47:7-10

Dear God, the story sort of skips over this part, but I wonder what the conversation was like among the brothers as they returned to Jacob. They were going to have to tell him what they did: “Uh, Dad. Yeah. Well. Remember Joseph? Remember how we told you that he had been eaten by a wild animal? Well, that wasn’t really true. As it turns out, we sold him as a slave to some Ishmaelites–you remember Uncle Ishmael? Anyway, apparently, Joseph is now the governor of Egypt so it’s all good!”

As for Jacob, it doesn’t seem that it mattered much what had happened. His son was alive! I told a group the other night that one thing that surprised me about being a parent was how easy I found it to forgive my children. It gave me a picture of your love for me in a new way. For Jacob, he had his boy back. He had all 12 boys (including Simeon). And now there was hope for his future.

Father, thank you for the experience of fatherhood. Thank you for teaching me so much through my children–both through being a father and what you have taught me through them as individuals. Thank you for growing and stretching me through my wife and partnering with her through this as well. It hasn’t always been easy, but you have really used all of them to shape me and mold me. I believe I’m better and certainly more humble for the experience. Do with me what you will.

In Jesus’s name I pray,


P.S. I guess I should mention that Jacob agreed to leave his homeland to be closer to his son that could care for him and he allowed Joseph to have that role in his life. That couldn’t have been easy. Help me to be willing to be that humble when my time comes.

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Posted by on January 21, 2020 in Fathers of the Bible, Genesis


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Fathers of the Bible — Jacob (Part 5)

When the brothers came to their father, Jacob, in the land of Canaan, they told him everything that had happened to them. “The man who is governor of the land spoke very harshly to us,” they told him. “He accused us of being spies scouting the land. But we said, ‘We are honest men, not spies. We are twelve brothers, sons of one father. One brother is no longer with us, and the youngest is at home with our father in the land of Canaan.’ “Then the man who is governor of the land told us, ‘This is how I will find out if you are honest men. Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take grain for your starving families and go on home. But you must bring your youngest brother back to me. Then I will know you are honest men and not spies. Then I will give you back your brother, and you may trade freely in the land.’” As they emptied out their sacks, there in each man’s sack was the bag of money he had paid for the grain! The brothers and their father were terrified when they saw the bags of money. Jacob exclaimed, “You are robbing me of my children! Joseph is gone! Simeon is gone! And now you want to take Benjamin, too. Everything is going against me!” Then Reuben said to his father, “You may kill my two sons if I don’t bring Benjamin back to you. I’ll be responsible for him, and I promise to bring him back.” But Jacob replied, “My son will not go down with you. His brother Joseph is dead, and he is all I have left. If anything should happen to him on your journey, you would send this grieving, white-haired man to his grave. ” But the famine continued to ravage the land of Canaan. When the grain they had brought from Egypt was almost gone, Jacob said to his sons, “Go back and buy us a little more food.” But Judah said, “The man was serious when he warned us, ‘You won’t see my face again unless your brother is with you.’ If you send Benjamin with us, we will go down and buy more food. But if you don’t let Benjamin go, we won’t go either. Remember, the man said, ‘You won’t see my face again unless your brother is with you.’” “Why were you so cruel to me?” Jacob moaned. “Why did you tell him you had another brother?” “The man kept asking us questions about our family,” they replied. “He asked, ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?’ So we answered his questions. How could we know he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here’?” Judah said to his father, “Send the boy with me, and we will be on our way. Otherwise we will all die of starvation—and not only we, but you and our little ones. I personally guarantee his safety. You may hold me responsible if I don’t bring him back to you. Then let me bear the blame forever. If we hadn’t wasted all this time, we could have gone and returned twice by now.” So their father, Jacob, finally said to them, “If it can’t be avoided, then at least do this. Pack your bags with the best products of this land. Take them down to the man as gifts—balm, honey, gum, aromatic resin, pistachio nuts, and almonds. Also take double the money that was put back in your sacks, as it was probably someone’s mistake. Then take your brother, and go back to the man. May God Almighty give you mercy as you go before the man, so that he will release Simeon and let Benjamin return. But if I must lose my children, so be it.”
Genesis 42:29-43:14

Dear God, I just had a couple of thoughts as I read this story.

  • I noticed how Joseph asked about his father and little brother. All those years away. He was probably desperate for news from home. “Is your father still alive?” “Do you have another brother?”
  • No one seemed to mind leaving Simeon in jail indefinitely. No one made an argument that they should take Benjamin back so they could get Simeon out of Egypt. “If we hadn’t wasted all this time, we could have gone and returned twice by now.” So Simeon was in jail quite a while and no one seemed to care. I wonder what his time in jail was like. What kind of forgiveness issues did Joseph have to work through with Simeon in particular while he knew he sat there in jail?
  • Jacob replies to Benjamin as all that he has left after the loss of Joseph. First, he still really feels the loss of Joseph (in a way that he apparently doesn’t of Simeon) and he feels protective of Benjamin as being the last of Rachel’s sons.
  • Simeon does get a shout out at the end. Jacob includes his release in the blessing he gives the boys as they leave.
  • Jacob was the patriarch of the family, but he had zero idea of what was happening. That might be the biggest lesson in this story for me as a father. He didn’t understand why his children were disappearing. He didn’t know that his sons had sold Joseph into slavery. He didn’t know that Joseph had kept Simeon in jail and that he was safe. He didn’t know that Benjamin couldn’t have been safer than going to be with Joseph. And he didn’t know that you were using all. Of this to set up the nation of Israel through over 400 years of incarceration and slavery in Egypt. If he had known your plan, would he have yielded to it? Would he have made the decision to die of starvation in Canaan as opposed to know his descendants would live in slavery in Egypt? It’s a reminder that you are very good at protecting us with ignorance. As I’ve said many times, you keep me on a need-to-know basis, and I very rarely need to know.

Father, I have an old friend from childhood (we were never very close) who is going through a terrible trial with a child right now. He and his wife are scared. They are scared for their child. They are scared for their other children. They are stressed. They don’t know where this is going or how it all works out. But I know they are people of faith. I pray that you will honor their love for you and guide their family through this. Guide their son. Protect and heal him. Guide their children as they process what they see their brother doing. Help them to be protected from the fallout. And guide these parents. Surround them with your love and support. Give them a peace that is completely past all understanding. Give them the faith they need to be there for each other and for each of their children. And please use all of this pain down the road for your glory and the benefit of others. Do not let it be wasted.

In Jesus’s name I pray,


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Posted by on January 20, 2020 in Fathers of the Bible


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Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas (Selected Study Guide Questions)

Dear God, as I finalize what I’m going to do with this home church tonight, I thought I would go through the Sacred Marriage study guide that’s available free online and answer some of the questions for not only myself, but also you.

What has your marriage revealed to you about your sinful attitudes, selfish behaviors, and other character flaws? Why do you think marriage brings so many character issues to the surface?

  • I’ve talked ad nauseum about my neediness that you helped to mostly (not completely) purge from me through marriage. This is what comes to mind first. The change in paradigm to look to you for my wholeness and not to my wife. Well, I don’t know that you used my wife to teach me that, but, thankfully, you taught me that before my neediness destroyed my marriage.
  • I’ve talked about losing some of my selfishness in the interest of serving her and serving my children (without expecting anything in return–that’s important).
  • One of the things my wife, in particular, has taught me is how to appreciate the arts more. Musical theater. Poetry. She is a deep thinker and a very intelligent woman. I used to be very dismissive of the arts, and it was foolish of me.
  • She has modeled forgiveness to me. Not only how she forgives me, but also how she forgives others.
  • She challenges me spiritually by her example of pursuing you. There have been times when I haven’t pursued you like I should, but she has always been an example of steady perseverance.
  • Her self-discipline is quite remarkable and an example to me.

I could go on an on, but I better get to the next question.

How can a discouraged spouse directly apply the admonition to seek God in the midst of disappointments rather than to obsess over where the spouse falls short?

This is obviously the crux of the entire book. The ideal situation is when each spouse pursues a selfless attitude towards their mate. In that situation, one would likely naturally find their needs being met. But when it’s a one-way street, what is someone to do?

The thing I love about this book is that if someone reads it and says, “Boy, my husband/wife needs to read this,” then they’ve missed the point. For millennia people have been in unequally yoked marriages. Outside of an emotionally/physically abusive relationship (which needs intervention and more drastic measures), the answer is that your selfless loving actions will ultimately bring Jesus into your home and to your spouse, and there is a good chance that it evolve a change in your spouse. They will see Jesus in you (and the love, joy, peace, patients, etc.) present in you and then be more likely to respond positively. As opposed to the nagging, preachy spouse that becomes an obstacle to change.

How much time do you spend thinking about how to make your spouse happy, compared to the amount of time you spend thinking about how well your spouse is pleasing you? Do you think your answer is about right, or do you need to do better in this area?

Well, now that I’ve lived with these concepts for nearly 20 years, I think I am fairly close to a good balance. For the most part, I spend more time thinking about blessing her without looking for my benefits. Again, it goes back to loving. And I guess I should put this here because it needs to be said somewhere. My wife does NOT nag me. I weighed over 300 lbs. at one point, and in over 30 years together she has never said one word to me about my weight. She has never suggested I am not attractive to her. It’s a blessing she has given to me that I hope I am getting better about returning to her.

How is any lack of respect or active contempt for your spouse negatively affecting your own life and the lives of your children?

Some questions just shouldn’t be answered out loud. This is one that shouldn’t be answered in a group, but needs to be contemplated. I know my wife and I have tried to show each other respect behind the other’s back, especially with our children. We do our best to not be critical of the other to our parents, our siblings, or our children. I’ve witnessed this kind of negativity. We both have, and it is toxic to everyone involved. This one is a really big deal. No, if we are going over these questions tonight, this is one that needs to just soak in and fester.

How do you want people to describe your marriage at your golden wedding anniversary?

Oh, boy! I’ve always said that I’d love for it to be said of me that I never had a negative things to say about anyone. It won’t be said of me, but I’d love for it to be said of me. For my marriage, I’d love for people to say that they always felt welcome around us. I would want them to reflect on us and see us a serving others and that we lived harmonious lives with each other, yielding to the other whenever possible.

Do you and your mate face the difficulties in your marriage differently? What can you learn from your spouse’s approach? What can your spouse learn from your approach?

YES! Oh, did I say that too loud? I’m not going to say what she can learn from my approach because I have learned so much from hers. Some difficulties we have faced include:

  • Extended unemployment
  • Parenting struggles
  • Relationships with extended family

My approach is usually to be straight ahead confrontational. Hers is to take a beat and see if there is a more loving, less confrontational way to handle it. What I’ve learned from her is to take my desire to confront and package it in a way that enables me to deliver it lovingly. Again, I’m not perfect at it, but I’m better than I was.

The unemployment was a little different. In that case, there was a lot of uncertainty and praying to you. There was also, seemingly, a lot of silence from you. Having her there kept me accountable for moving forward. I can see where I would easily have slipped into a depression if I wouldn’t have had the responsibility of her and my children to keep me going and persevering.

Is there a “file cabinet” in your marriage’s “confessional”? What do you have to do to forgive your spouse and get rid of the filing cabinet?

There is one thing that my wife did that still brings me pain when I think about it. I don’t think about it often, but it really hurts when I do. And she has told me how sorry she is for it. And it happened over seven years ago so you would think that it would be gone. Why have I held onto it? Maybe it’s ego. Hmm. Good question. What do I have to do to forgive her and get rid of that thing? I think it might come down to dying to the part of my ego and pride that were hurt by it. Father, help me to stop thinking that I was too “good” for that to happen to.

How can a husband and wife more consciously invite the presence of God into their marriage?

About the best thing that we do is pray together almost every morning. She also knows when I am having my private prayer time, and I know when she is either having hers or going to the chapel. I think that knowledge is a good affirmation for each of us. Of course, we worship together most Sundays. I think that is important. We are part of a couples group at our church which has been very positive as well. And we talk about what we might be learning at any given time through our personal faith walks. I think one of the big things is that we give each other the freedom to pursue you in our own way, and we approach you very differently.

Consider the effects that these stages of family life can have on ministry:

  • newly married, without children
  • married with toddlers
  • raising teenagers
  • empty nesters

What are the advantages and challenges of each phase of life as it relates to living out your ministry calling?

Maybe I should have started with this question because now that I’m at the “empty nester” stage, I can look back and see all kinds of lessons you taught me along the way. It’s too much to go into here, but each phase has helped to break me, melt me, and mold me. And hopefully with each lesson, I’ve been able to provide you with a vessel that you can fill.

Father, thank you for my marriage. Thank you that you have really changed me for the better through my wife. I pray (literally) that I’ve done the same for her. Help me to be exactly what you need me to be tonight. I’m probably walking into dangerous territory. Let your Holy Spirit be there and help us all to approach our marriages and you in a humble way.

In Jesus’s name I pray,



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