Monday, December 27, 2010



Lk 2:8-20 - “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

So why shepherds? Why did God choose simple shepherds to herald the coming of His only begotten Son, the Savior of all humankind? Let’s look at why shepherds were NOT the obvious choice:
  • v. 8 - shepherds lived in fields, away from the general population. How could they spread the word, and for that matter, who would listen?
  • v. 9 - they were wimps! terrified of the angels that brought them news.
So why shepherds? Maybe God chose the only people on earth who’d grown accustomed to staring at the stars. Perhaps God could trust them to hear the full message...ALL the details:
  • v. 10 - the news was for all people.
  • v. 11 - this baby was the promised Christ, the long-awaited Messiah.
  • v. 12 - seriously, would anyone but herdsmen be willing to look in a feeding trough for a baby?
  • v. 13-14 - and who but shepherds were most familiar with the peace and glory of a starry night, though surely it’s just a glimpse of what’s promised by Heaven’s Hosts?
So why shepherds? Perhaps God chose them not just because of what they were but also because of who they were. They were not just shepherds, they were curious and diligent men.
  • v. 15 - curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also helped discover the Savior. The angels never commanded the shepherds to go to Bethlehem. They simply announced Jesus’ birth and let the shepherds holy curiosity do the rest.
  • v. 16 - these men “hurried off” to discover if the angel’s words were true.
  • v. 17 - and when they discovered the truth, they were diligent to share the news as the angels said.
So why shepherds? As Mary pondered these events in her heart (vs. 19-20), I wonder how often she remembered these smelly shepherds throughout Jesus’ lifetime.
  • Shepherds are the guardians of their flocks, protecting the sheep - Did Mary think the shepherds visit might have foreshadowed the protection they needed from Herod’s murderous plot to kill Jesus, when the wise men asked where the new king had been born? (Mt. 2:13 - “When [the Magi] had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’”)
  • Shepherds cared for sheep and lambs - Did Mary remember the shepherds visit when John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God? (Jn. 1:29 - “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’”)
So why shepherds? Because God, in His infinite wisdom and glory, knew of the perfect role they’d play in this eternal plan. The real question is: Why me? And the only answer is: Glory to God in the highest. Emmanuel. God with us. Amen.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I'm loving the lights of Christmas this year. I suppose the lights have always been my favorite part of holiday decorations - the twinkly ones in the windows, the tree lights, the candles, etc. I love lights...especially in this season when the sun goes down at 4:30pm!

Our youth pastor gave the first sermon of advent today, and he talked about Jesus as the Light of the world. Not new information. Nor was it news when he reminded us of how God led the Israelites through the wilderness for 40 years with the light of His presence in a pillar of fire. The new part was my re-commitment to move with God's light - not running ahead or lagging behind.

If I run ahead, I end up in the dark. If I lag behind, guess what...I end up in the dark. And in the dark, I make an easy target for all kinds of spiritual, emotional and physical attacks from the ruler of this dark world.

During one of Christianity's two most precious celebrations, I've already allowed myself to become a little weighed down with deadlines and to-do lists. I have a fabulous support network of family and friends that are willing and able to help if I simply ask. So, whether it's shopping time or chopping onions, I encourage you to do what I've been doing. Ask. Ask for help. And most importantly, join me in asking the Light of the world to shine His Light so all can see - in us, on us and through us.

Blessings on you, friends, as you move in the Light!

Monday, November 22, 2010


Monday 10am PST:

From Phil's wife...

Thanks to all your Prayer Warriors for praying for Phil. The prayer support has been overwhelming - from around the world. I've gotten a few emails from Phil since they arrived at the motel on Saturday afternoon; he's now at Sosua, DR. The motel room includes 3 meals a day; and he says the food is great; sounded like he enjoyed a hot shower, too! They're doing some work project in the DR today and then will fly back to Miami on Tues.

You may want to go to "Kerry Gibson" on facebook; it's public. He's been putting some pictures on and stories; very interesting.

From a team member...

Team Haiti will fly back to the US tomorrow. Some will stay overnight and some will go on home. All of us will be thankful to be home. All of us are thankful for all of the prayers from around the world. But most of all we are thankful that God allowed us to experience Him in such a dramatic way. To the best of my knowledge we are all grateful that God considered us worthy to experience this.

Thanks to everyone for your faithful prayers! Our motorcycle missionaries are soon to be safely returned!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Now that I live near a mountain, my life is a series of mole hills. During the first forty-four years of my life, my life seemed to progress from one emotional mountaintop to a bottomless valley to the next mountain, and then valley, etc. Perhaps it's age, perhaps it's faith—perhaps it's sheer exhaustion—but over the past few years, the emotional mountains and valleys of life have seemed to level-off. The internal mountains have become mole hills and the death valleys more like divots on a golf course, just gouges in the grass to be repaired and replaced. But level living can be tricky. Void of ecstasy or despair, one can become numb, calloused, anesthetized to emotion altogether. So how do we spare ourselves the manic, unhealthy highs and lows of unchecked emotion, yet experience the glorious life Jesus promised His followers? I think Joseph got it right…

Gen. 41:41-45 – "So Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.' Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph‘s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and men shouted before him, 'Make way!' Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.' Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt." (emphasis added)

  • Empowered by Pharaoh as second-in-command; hailed by the Egyptians; given an important-sounding name and an influential wife. How did Joseph keep all this praise from going to his head? #1 – He had been refined in the fires of adversity BEFORE he was blessed. #2 – He stayed connected with people. He could have wielded his new power from the palace; instead, he traveled among those he served. Humility is key to level living.
Gen. 41:46-49 – "Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh's presence and traveled throughout Egypt. During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure." (emphasis added)

  • Days of abundance, yeah! But when grain begins to multiply too quickly, and meticulous Joseph can no longer keep accurate records, does he plunge into a valley of administrative despair? No. He stops keeping records and praises the Lord for the abundance. Sometimes a blessing becomes a curse, when control becomes an issue. For those of us who cry when things aren't done a certain way—let's cheer for Joseph's flexibility, when his control slips away.
Gen. 41:50-52 –"Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, 'It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father's household.' The second son he named Ephraim and said, 'It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.'" (emphasis added)

  • Can I just say that if you name your child something about forgetting your dad's household, you haven't really forgotten your dad's household. Just sayin'. Perhaps his point is that he's chosen to let go, or disregard, the trouble of his father's household. And with Ephraim's birth, I'm noticing a pattern. Joseph attaches positive emotions from a joyous occasion to replace his negative feelings from past pain. He feels deeply the joy of his sons' birth, and he allows that sincere joy to root out the deep pain of his past.
Gen. 41:53-57 – "The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, 'Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.' When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. And all the countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the world." (emphasis added)

  • This situation is the perfect formula for overload: overwhelming need + underwhelming boss = overload for Joseph, right? Nope! Why? Because Joseph had already been practicing level living. Pharaoh and the Egyptians saw that the abundance and drought had occurred just as Joseph said, but Joseph knew it happened just as GOD said. A growing faith assigns responsibility and praise to God and creates ever-increasing level living.
Lord, when others around me panic, remind me I can trust in You…because of the ways You've been faithful in my past. Teach me to uncover past wounds and apply the healing balm of present joy and blessing. Show me the benefits of level living, and guide me into Your abundant life.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Friday, 11:15am PST

Greetings, ya'll!
Good news this morning! I've just received an e-mail from Phil's wife that our CMA group of missionaries are at the border and safe. They should be crossing the border tomorrow and on their way home soon. The following reports have come in during the last 24 hours:

From John Ogden, Sr., CEO/Chairman of the Board for CMA:

Thank you for all of your prayers for the CMA team in Haiti and also the other teams we have around the world at this time. I visited with Kerry this morning and his team is at the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic and no longer in danger. They are being well taken care of and said the lodging and food are great. Everyone's spirits are high. They will soon be back in the Dominican Republic and in the hands of Missionary Ventures where they will continue to be well cared for. This has been a trying time for them as well as our CMA families, but we believe the hand of God was upon them and that things far greater than we could comprehend were being accomplished in CMA, as well as with our ministry partners, for the Kingdom of God.

From Kerry Gibson, the missionary team leader:

Under cover of darkness the UN loaded our baggage into one APC and positioned us into 2 others. We gathered up and did a practice run about an hour before the scheduled 02:40 load time. After the practice drill the lights were killed to avoid detection by the Haitians and to give the appearance of "all quiet." and then we waited.

At 02:40, on the nose, the leader came in and gave the command "vaminos."

We loaded our respective vehicles quietly and in the darkness our convoy slipped out of the gates and into the Haitian streets. From that point on there wasn't anything covert about it. It was fast and loud. Once out in the city streets our convoy separated, possibly to make it more difficult for anyone who may be interested, to focus on the Blancos. (Whites) The entire run took about a half hour and we arrived at the much larger, more secure, Chileian army base outside of town to wait on the next leg of our journey out.

Praise Jesus for His protection and power! Please keep these eleven team members in your prayers as they make the final leg of their journey home!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I just received word this morning that one of our friends from home was one of the group of 11 Christian Motorcyclist Missionaries that went to Haiti to distribute motorcycles to pastors. Angry Haitians attacked their group yesterday, when they tried to leave the city.

Thursday, 8:45am PST - Moments ago, I received word from our friend's wife that her husband is safe and well. The following is a message she received from a representative of their mission organization:
"We're down here entertaining the UN forces--today it's Chilean and Uruguayan. Tomorrow, who knows? We're well fed, cared for, and have so much to praise God for. Some great stories of adventure, of protection and provision."
Plans for evacuation have been established by not reported publicly. Please continue to keep these missionaries in your prayers as well as the unrest in Haiti spurred by the cholera outbreak. For more on the story, you can visit:

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Same question, different objects: Which came first, big risk-takers or big faith? Did they have the faith that enabled them to take the risk? Or did taking the risk (and seeing God‘s faithfulness) build their faith? Well, my answer is the same for the chicken and the faith hero. Dunno. I have a friend in the insurance business. I don't mean she sells insurance or checks out the dings in your car after an accident. I mean she's one of those brainiacs that works the math to determine risk probability and cash reserves, etc. I've never asked her how – or if – the risk assessment of her job affects the risk assessment of her faith. That might be a good question. I can tell you that I'm one of those people that likes insurance. I think we should have a whole bunch of it – just in case. My husband, on the other hand, thinks we should get by with as little as legally possible – but he humors me, and we end up somewhere in between. I'm thinking a little less insurance means a little more risk…and maybe a little more faith.

Gen. 41:1-7 – "When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up. He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream." (emphasis added)
  • I hate nightmares, and after one so vivid, I wouldn't have been so quick to go back to sleep. Pharaoh took the risk of falling asleep again, and in so doing aloud God to speak a second time. Sometimes putting ourselves in a position to hear God is risky business.
Gen. 41:8-13 – "In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him. Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, 'Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was hanged.'" (emphasis added)
  • The cupbearer took several risks here: 1) to confess his shortcoming to a Pharaoh prone to whims, 2) to remind the same king that he was once angry with the cupbearer, and 3) to recommend Joseph, when he wasn't certain Joseph would give a favorable dream interpretation. Why did Pharaoh's cupbearer risk telling Pharaoh these things? Did he base his faith on God, on Pharaoh, on Joseph? We can only guess, but I believe Pharaoh was so distraught by the magicians' inability to interpret, perhaps the cupbearer felt he had no choice but to offer the Hebrew prisoner's help…and the hope of his God.
Gen. 41:14-16 – "So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.'
'I cannot do it,' Joseph replied to Pharaoh, 'but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.'"
  • Joseph takes a risk in contradicting Pharaoh, but it would have been a greater risk to steal God's glory.
Gen. 41:17-24 – "Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven other cows came up—scrawny and very ugly and lean. I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt. The lean, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first. But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as ugly as before. Then I woke up. In my dreams I also saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads sprouted—withered and thin and scorched by the east wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but none could explain it to me.'" (emphasis added)
  • Pharaoh has told an unknown number of magicians, and now he must retell his dreams to a Hebrew prisoner. Can you hear the pleading in his last sentence? I'm guessing mighty Pharaoh is not used to expressing his vulnerability, but evidently his fear is genuine and strong enough to risk a little humility.
Gen. 41:25-32 – "Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, 'The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream. The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine. It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon."
  • As was the case when God gave him the interpretation for the baker and cupbearer, Joseph needed no time in prayer to interpret the dream. Was it a risk to speak without prayerful consideration? Not if your faith keeps you in close and constant contact with the Source of dreams.
Gen. 41:33-36 – [Joseph continued,] ―"And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.'"
  • Joseph takes a risk by going beyond interpreting to ADVISING! He uses the experiences God has allowed into his life (difficult circumstances, unfair, unpleasant) and creates an opportunity for God's blessing. Pharaoh could have punished him or applauded him…but Joseph believed God could do more.
Gen. 41:37-40 – "The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. So Pharaoh asked them, 'Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?' Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.'"
  • Pharaoh took a risk, when he endowed Joseph – a young, Yahweh-worshipping foreigner – with so much authority. But why not? Joseph had already proven to be humble (in giving God credit) yet confident (offering unrequested advice) and capable (in interpreting the dream). It seems Pharaoh weighed the risks and made a wise faith decision. He would have made a good actuary.
Lord, increase my faith to take the risks that will increase my faith. Show me ways in which You've already worked, and then give me more opportunities to risk and believe. I want our relationship to be alive and growing, an adventure of constantly stepping out on air and providing the grace place to walk. Ummm, but not too exciting Lord…

Monday, November 08, 2010


Women, if you love your husbands, please don't ask this question: "Does this outfit make me look fat?" Seriously, gals. Give him a break. There is no right answer to that question. If he says, "No," that could mean you are fat, but the outfit still looks good. If he says, "Yes…" well, Lord help him. A smart husband might survive with an answer like, "You look beautiful in anything you wear." But every woman knows that's code for, "You could stand to lose a pound or two." Phraseology isn't just about the words we say; it's about how we say the words. The way we emphasize (em-pha-SIZE) certain syllables (SYL-la-bles) is important because if you put the em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LA-ble, it really messes with your head. Speaking of messing with your head, some authors think readers can't remember certain things, so they repeat a detail often – like messing with your head – so the reader doesn't forget a concept, like messing with your head...

Gen. 40:1-5 – "Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them. After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own." (emphasis added)
  • I think it's safe to say that the author of Genesis wanted us to know who Joseph ministered to in Pharaoh's prison. Hmmm? Repetition has always been an effective teacher. Intellectually, we repeat things in order to memorize. Physically, we use repetition to strengthen and create muscle-memory (an almost reflexive motion). Spiritual, repetition creates a unique mixture of living in continual conscious communion with our power Source and meditating on the Scriptures we rely on for strength and wisdom.
Gen. 40:6-8 – "When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh's officials who were in custody with him in his master‘s house, 'Why are your faces so sad today?' 'We both had dreams,' they answered, 'but there is no one to interpret them.' Then Joseph said to them, 'Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.'"
  • Notice, Joseph did NOT say that HE could interpret the dreams. He was careful to phrase his answer in a way that gave God all the credit. It seemed Joseph had learned a thing or two since boasting to his brothers about dreams and their messages. Was it age or hardship that taught Joseph humility?
Gen. 40:9-15 – "So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, 'In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh's cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh‘s cup and put the cup in his hand.'
'This is what it means,' Joseph said to him. 'The three branches are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh's cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. For I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.'"
  • Joseph did NOT say, "I'll pray about it and get back to you." He was ready for the moment when God used him. He prepared BEFORE the opportunity, and because of that disciplined daily relationship, he knew what to say and how to say it when the opportunity arose.
Gen. 40:16-19 – "When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, 'I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread. In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.'
'This is what it means,' Joseph said. 'The three baskets are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat away your flesh.'"
  • What if the baker hadn't mentioned the birds? Would Joseph's interpretation have been different? I suppose that's a silly question because he did mention the birds, and God interpreted truthfully through Joseph. But consider this: God's TRUTH remains the same, no matter how we PHRASE things. Whether the baker mentioned birds or Joseph interpreted them, God's hand presided over Joseph's circumstances and his words – as He will over ours.
Gen. 40:20-23 – "Now the third day was Pharaoh's birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh's hand, but he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation. The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him."
  • Seriously? A guy predicts your release from prison, and you forget to mention it to anyone? Again, I have to believe that not only is God sovereign over the things we DO say, but He also works through the things we DON'T say.
Lord, words are the most important form of communication I have with You and others – but sometimes they fail me…or I fail to use them correctly. It's at times like those that I'm thankful for Your grace and Your power to work beyond my weakness. Thanks for loving me in spite of my phraseology and for seeing beyond the words – into the intentions of my heart.

Monday, November 01, 2010


I don't like being ignored. As a general rule, it's just downright rude to ignore someone, right? When I go to a restaurant, I'd like to be greeted by a hostess or waiter—even if they can't serve us right away. When I come home, I'd like for someone in the house to at least acknowledge my arrival—even if it's just the dog (my precious Bouzer always welcomes me home). But can you think of times when it's actually good to go unnoticed? My husband says a good football official is one you don't notice. If they're doing their jobs correctly, the game runs smoothly and you can enjoy the competition rather than having the flow broken by faulty officiating. (Can you tell he was a coach in his early years?) Roy and I were invisible for almost two years. Not like the Houdini-kind-of-invisible, but the kind of invisible one needs after fourteen years of pastoral ministry. We disappeared in a mega-church—sitting in the back, only attending Sunday worship services. In fact, we were so invisible that we never even met the pastor or a single staff member in the two years we attended. Lest you think we were heathen sinners, fallen from the grace-earning ranks of Christendom, let me assure you that Roy still ministered through mentoring students on campus, and I continued ministering through my computer screen. It was lovely…for a little while, and we have since found a wonderful smaller church, where we can become a part of the visible body again. Being invisible can be a blessing—or a curse. It was both for Joseph.

Gen. 39:6 – "So [Potiphar] left in Joseph's care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome…"
  • Potiphar ignored Joseph with mixed motives. Indeed, he trusted his blessed slave; however, it seems the trust was mixed apathy and busyness on the part of Pharaoh's Captain of the Guard. No matter Potiphar's motives, Joseph was determined to respond honorably.
Gen. 39:7-10 – "…and after a while his master's wife took notice of Joseph and said, 'Come to bed with me!' But he refused. 'With me in charge,' he told her, 'my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?' And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her."
  • Invisible chatter is unadvisable. A quick, "No," would have sufficed and kept Joseph invisible. Granted, Potiphar's wife proves to be a persistent woman; however, as a rule the more we explain and clarify and communicate and, and, and…the further "exposed" we become. When dealing with temptation, oftentimes less is more, and explanations lead to danger.
Gen. 39:11-18 – "One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, 'Come to bed with me!' But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, she called her household servants. 'Look,' she said to them, 'this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.' She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. Then she told him this story: 'That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.'" (emphasis added)
  • The trusted servant Potiphar once "ignored" becomes a foreigner and then an intruder. How could Potiphar be so easily convinced that his trustworthy servant was guilty of such evil? For the same reason many quiet folks with somewhat "invisible" personalities are mistaken for snobbish, unintelligent or some other socially less-than trait. Joseph fell prey to the peril of many introverts—misjudgment by misunderstanding.
Gen. 39:19-23 – "When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, 'This is how your slave treated me,' he burned with anger. Joseph's master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph's care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did." (emphasis added)
  • Can you imagine how Joseph must have felt? Sold into slavery by his brothers. Boo. Success in Potiphar's house. Hooray. Unjustly accused and wrongly imprisoned. Boo. Success in prison and favored by the warden. Hooray? Let's face it. No one wants to be noticed in prison. Invisible was the best Joseph could hope for, right? But not JUST invisible. Blessed invisible. Joseph felt God's presence and reaped God's blessing no matter what his circumstance. Why? Because no one is invisible to God.
Lord, whether I receive the attention of others or not, I always have Your undivided attention and favor. You never look away, never blink, never miss a single heartbeat. You have numbered every hair on my head, and I am precious to You. Let this knowledge cradle me during those difficult moments when others look through me, or when others notice me in hurtful ways. In You, I can hide and become blessedly invisible.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Rain arrived last Saturday in the Pacific Northwest, and it‘s more likely than possible that we‘ll not see much sun until May. I finally cut sales tags off my rain boots and chose an outfit that matched them to wear to church. So in the long, gloomy, rainy days of Northwest fall, winter and spring – how do we stay positive? I hate positive thinking. It‘s a bit like lying to your face. Why should I tell my face to smile when every natural instinct says cry or scream? Even Job said, ―If I change my expression and smile, I still dread all my suffering.‖ (Job 9:27) See? Even good ol‘ Job thought positive thinking was a hoax. When those health and wealth gurus tell me to slap on a smile, I just want to slap theirs off! A permanent smile is just downright creepy – look at the Batman movies…the Joker never loses his smile, but who wants HIS disposition? So what‘s the answer? Do we walk around at the whim of our circumstance-blown emotions? That would be tragic indeed. To feel the true joy for which we were created, our attitudes, ambition and purpose must be centered on a far more stable Truth and Source. The writer of Genesis realized it and revealed it in the story of Joseph…

Gen. 39:1-2 – "Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh's officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there. The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master." (emphasis added)
  • How could Joseph "prosper" as a slave? Seriously. He had been the favored son of a wealthy nomadic tribal chief. He could have looked at Potiphar's villa and power and been envious. Instead, Joseph focused on the one stable Source of his contentment – Yahweh, the LORD, who was WITH him in Canaan or in Egypt. God's presence became Joseph's prosperity, not the hope of material gain or a manufactured feel-good emotion. God WITH him – WITH you. Emmanuel.
Gen. 39:3-4 – "When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned." (emphasis added)
  • How did Potiphar know Joseph was a follower of Yahweh? Either Joseph spoke of God or he wore something that defined him as a follower of Yahweh. People recognize us as followers of Christ in the same ways – either we tell them, or we give them some outward clue as to our inward condition. But notice that Potiphar realized more than just Joseph's allegiance to the Hebrew God. The master understood that Joseph's success came from Above, that it wasn't just the slave's natural talent that prospered his household. At some crucial point, Joseph found ways to give God the glory for every good gift that came to his master's house.
Gen. 39:5-6 – "From the time [Potiphar] put [Joseph] in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So he left in Joseph's care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate." (emphasis added)
  • The blessing of God's presence was passed from faithful Joseph to his observant master. Joseph's faith amplified God's faithfulness, making Potiphar the beneficiary of God's blessing. God wasn't faithful BECAUSE Joseph delighted in His presence, but Joseph's delight in God's presence certainly opened the door of God's blessing to Potiphar. Those who know us best quickly recognize a fake smile; but an authentic smile, from a heart content in Christ, is a blessing to the smiler and to the smile-watcher.
Lord, I have been pretty good at faking a smile for most of my life – and I'm tired of it. I see now that I can experience a true and abiding joy, based on the reality of Your presence. You are WITH me, wherever I am, in whatever circumstance I find myself. For that reason alone, my smile never has to lie again.

Monday, October 18, 2010


I'm going to have to monitor my husband's TV watching more closely. Actually, we both really enjoy a show called, Lie to Me. It's about this facial recognition specialist, who uses facial tics and expressions to determine if people are telling the truth. The main character is so proficient at reading faces, he can discern if a person is fearful, disgusted or humiliated. He listens carefully to their answers, determining if they're “deflecting” or avoiding the question. Well, my husband has decided to duplicate this TV show in real life. If I avoid answering his specific question, he says, “You're deflecting!” Hrumph! If I stretch a few details to make a story more interesting, he cries, “You're exaggerating!” What's wrong with embellishment? Well, embellishment is just another word for DECEPTION and it's been used with its cousin, AVOIDANCE, for centuries to manipulate people and circumstances. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had a history of deception…and now, Judah picks up where his ancestors left off.

Gen. 38:1 – “At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah.” (emphasis added)
  • Judah left when his father started mourning for Joseph, unable – or unwilling – to witness the consequences of his sin. Though it had been his idea to sell Joseph into slavery, he took the coward's road of AVOIDANCE and left his brothers to take responsibility for the pain he caused.
Gen. 38:2-11 – “There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and lay with her; she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er. She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. She gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah. It was at Kezib that she gave birth to him. Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the LORD's sight; so the LORD put him to death. Then Judah said to Onan, 'Lie with your brother's wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother.' But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother's wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the LORD's sight; so he put him to death also. Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, 'Live as a widow in your father's house until my son Shelah grows up.' For he thought, 'He may die too, just like his brothers.' So Tamar went to live in her father's house.” (emphasis added)
  • Stop to consider how many years Judah has lived among the Canaanites. Long enough to marry, have three sons, find a wife for them and then lose two of his sons due to wickedness. Judah has been hiding from his sin – away from Jacob, God's Covenant bearer. And he's doing everything humanly possible to protect himself and his third son. The problem is: we can't AVOID or DECEIVE God. Even at a subconscious level, God works His way into our hearts, nudging us toward Him. Here's what I mean…Judah required his second son to marry Tamar to “fulfill the duty of the brother-in-law.” Historically, this is the first reference to such a requirement. Later, this obligation is added to the Law of Moses, but for now, Judah is openly rebellious against God and deceiving his daughter-in-law. Regardless, God's protective hand is establishing the lineage of Judah…the family tree of Jesus Christ. When we refuse to submit to God, He remains a soft Light on our wrong path.
Gen. 38:12-19 – “After a long time Judah's wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep, and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went with him. When Tamar was told, 'Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to shear his sheep,' she took off her widow's clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife. When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, 'Come now, let me sleep with you.' 'And what will you give me to sleep with you?' she asked. 'I'll send you a young goat from my flock,' he said. 'Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?' she asked. He said, 'What pledge should I give you?' 'Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand,' she answered. So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him. After she left, she took off her veil and put on her widow‟s clothes again.” (emphasis added)
  • Notice Tamar never lied to her father-in-law – but she deceived him. He saw her and assumed she was a prostitute – just as Jacob had seen Joseph's bloodied robe and assumed he was devoured by wild animals. Isn't it just a little bit delicious that Judah, the trickster, gets tricked? DECEPTION need not be a spoken lie – it is the spirit of the concept being communicated. Tamar intended deceit – as Judah had.
Gen. 38:20-23 – “Meanwhile Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back from the woman, but he did not find her. He asked the men who lived there, 'Where is the shrine prostitute who was beside the road at Enaim?' 'There hasn't been any shrine prostitute here,' they said. So he went back to Judah and said, 'I didn't find her. Besides, the men who lived there said, “There hasn‟t been any shrine prostitute here.”' Then Judah said, 'Let her keep what she has, or we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you didn‟t find her.'”
  • Okay, this is almost comical. Almost. Judah is a sinner trying to scrape together some semblance of integrity – that is, if it doesn't take too much effort. When a little integrity might unmask his sin, Judah reverts to AVOIDANCE because it's comfortable. For many people, when a situation requires too much effort, honor or disclosure, we avoid it, forget it, or pretend it didn't happen. The Lord calls us to do what's right; but when we fail, we should at least make the effort to make it right.
Gen. 38:24-26 – “About three months later Judah was told, 'Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.' Judah said, 'Bring her out and have her burned to death!' As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. 'I am pregnant by the man who owns these,' she said. And she added, 'See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.' Judah recognized them and said, 'She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn‟t give her to my son Shelah.' And he did not sleep with her again.”
  • When Judah was backed into a corner, AVOIDANCE and DECEPTION now impossible, at least he gathered his tattered integrity and covered Tamar with it.
Gen. 38:27-30 – “When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, 'This one came out first.' But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, 'So this is how you have broken out!' And he was named Perez(means “breaking out”). Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out and he was given the name Zerah(means “scarlet or brightness”).”
  • I find it interesting that the names of Judah's and Tamar's twins seem to embody the opposite of AVOIDANCE and DECEPTION. Perez, the little one who “broke out,” certainly didn't know the meaning of avoidance. Nor could Zerah, the one with the scarlet thread on his wrist, deceive the midwife by his shifty arrival. How great it would be if our children could be free from the weaknesses that plague their parents.
Lord, help me to meet difficult circumstances without hesitation and stand stronger in unshaded truth. I want to be so near to Your all-consuming Light that I can't avoid the truth that surrounds me - no matter how unpleasant, no matter how much effort it requires. Let my integrity and wisdom grow in proportion to my relationship with You.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Life seldom delivers what we expect. The divorce rate is vivid proof. Even our long-anticipated holidays, celebrations and vacations almost never pack the same "punch" we've dreamed of. Why is that? Are our expectations too high or do we live life too low? One of the worst demolitions of our family's expectations was our nearly canceled cruise to Australia/New Zealand. It was Christmas 2008, and Portland experienced its worst snowstorm in thirty years – closing the airport and causing us to miss the first four days of our 14-day cruise. Portland's blast of winter cost us our tour of Australia, and we had to meet the ship in New Zealand (which was beautiful, by the way). We were thankful, of course, but we had so looked forward to seeing Australia, since our interest had been peeked years earlier when our daughter applied to be an exchange student there but was reassigned. Most importantly, however, for weeks and months, we expected a glorious Christmas with our precious parents-of-the-heart, who were to meet us in LA so we could be together on the ship for Christmas. Instead, they spent Christmas on the ship alone, and we sat in the LA airport – a nine hour layover before a 14-hour trans-Pacific flight. Yep, our girls are pictured above with their single present and our pile of carry-on luggage.

But we adjusted our expectations! The new plan was to meet a cruise-line representative in Auckland, New Zealand. Alas, no one met us, so we adjusted expectations again and boarded the ship the next day. Finally underway, our cruise was wonderful, beautiful, splendid. Just not what we expected…

Gen. 37:12-14 – "Now [Joseph‘s] brothers had gone to graze their father's flocks near Shechem, and Israel said to Joseph, 'As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.'
'Very well,' he replied.
So he said to him, 'Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.' Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron."
  • Joseph was about seventeen years old when his father, Jacob (Israel), expected him to travel fifty miles from Hebron to Shechem to find his brothers.
Gen. 37:15-18 – "When Joseph arrived at Shechem, a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, 'What are you looking for?'
He replied, 'I'm looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?'
'They have moved on from here,' the man answered. 'I heard them say, "Let's go to Dothan."' So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him."
  • Joseph was relentless in his search for his brothers – no doubt because he wanted to meet his father‘s expectations.
Gen. 37:19-20 – "'Here comes that dreamer!' they said to each other. 'Come now, let's kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we‘ll see what comes of his dreams.'"
  • Joseph’s brothers' hate had escalated into murderous thoughts – they expected to be rid of him forever.
Gen. 37:21-22 – "When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. 'Let's not take his life,' he said. 'Don't shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the desert, but don't lay a hand on him.' Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father."
  • Reuben expected to appease his brothers' hatred and rescue Joseph later – he expected to become a hero in his father's eyes.
Gen. 37:23-24 – "So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the richly ornamented robe he was wearing—and they took him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it."
  • Imagine the welcome Joseph expected. He'd searched from Hebron to Shechem to Dothan and finally found his surly brothers. Instead of welcome or appreciation, he received a waterless grave. Was the depth of their hate a surprise to Joseph? Had he expected them to go this far? The shock and betrayal of a family member is a deep wound. Though the author of Genesis later reveals Joseph's emotions during his captivity in Egypt, here there is no mention of Joseph's reaction. Not a single word, thought or prayer. Sometimes there are no words to describe the pain when a situation runs so completely contrary to our expectations.
Gen. 37:25-28 – "As [the brothers] sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt. Judah said to his brothers, 'What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let's sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.' His brothers agreed. So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt." (emphasis added)
  • Greed changed the brothers’ expectations. Suddenly, Judah was reminded that Joseph was their brother – an attack of conscience spurred by a lucrative opportunity. Their expectations were redefined by sin. We can rationalize an expectation, even make it appear noble – with incredibly ignoble motives. The root of our expectations is a matter of the heart.
Gen. 37:29-32 – "When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. He went back to his brothers and said, 'The boy isn't there! Where can I turn now?' Then they got Joseph's robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. They took the ornamented robe back to their father and said, 'We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son‘s robe.'"
  • Where was Reuben when the brothers sold Joseph to the Midianites? Reuben expected to be the hero – saving Joseph and returning the favored son to their father. But because he didn't act on his convictions right away, he Reuben missed the opportunity to do the right thing. Good intentions mingled with high expectations can be nullified by procrastination.
Gen. 37:33-35 – "[Jacob] recognized it and said, 'It is my son's robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.' Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. 'No,' he said, 'in mourning will I go down to the grave to my son.' So his father wept for him."
  • After seeing Joseph's robe smeared with blood Jacob expected Joseph to be dead. All the facts pointed to it, so his sons didn't need to say a word. Jacob created his own expectation without asking questions to clarify the truth. Did he blame himself for sending a boy of seventeen on such a long journey? Did he suspect his sons of foul play? Guilt, fear, anger and a host of other unhealthy emotions can send our expectations spiraling into a dark realm – like the irrevocable grieving Jacob began.
Gen. 37:36 – "Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh‘s officials, the captain of the guard."
  • Well, this is certainly about as far from Joseph’s expectations as he could get. In his dreams, his father and brothers were bowing to him. He was now a servant in a foreign land – away from everyone and everything he knew. The important lesson is this: In this moment, Joseph's life doesn't line up with the expectations God placed in his heart. However, God isn't finished with Joseph! Our lives are so much more than one moment in time, and the expectations God has for us will take a lifetime to realize.
Lord, my expectations are so very tied to the here and the now. I try to dream of what the future may hold, but my idea of the future comes much more quickly than Yours! Teach me to temper my expectations with eternity. Give me the contentment of Your timelessness.

Monday, October 04, 2010


Research has uncovered a serious disease that affects one out of three individuals. It's abbreviation is TMI, but you may know it as, “Too-much-eous Information-eous.” (Okay, just so we're clear – I'm making all this up) The symptoms of Too-much-eous Information-eous (TMI) are easy to recognize. The TMI carrier shares more information than his/her hearers need to know, should know or even want to know. A TMI carrier talks long after his/her listeners have stopped listening. TMI can be contagious, when an otherwise discreet or tactful individual endures repeated exposure to a TMI sufferer. To protect ourselves from this modern epidemic, we have a powerful yet simple weapon at our disposal: a single question posed to anyone you might suspect suffers from TMI. Simply make good eye contact and ask, “If you were to describe yourself as a punctuation mark, what would you be?” If the person answers, “Exclamation point, period, or question mark,” you may safely pursue a healthy conversation. However, if the individual answers, “semi-colon, comma, or (heaven help us) ellipsis – a triple dot at the end of a sentence,” RUN! You have encountered a TMI carrier, and your social graces may be in grave danger! If you believe you may have already been infected with the TMI germ, perform these simple tests at your next social gathering. #1 – If you don't get invited to a social gathering, you are probably a carrier. #2 – If you go to a party, and people's eyes glaze over the moment you begin speaking, you may be a carrier. #3 – If you go to a party, and they ask you to refill the food trays and punch bowl – and you've never met the host/hostess – you may be a carrier. My advice to you, if you have already been infected by the TMI germ…end every story with, “And then I found five dollars.” At least then all your stories will have a happy ending. Our biblical example of a TMI carrier: Joseph, Jacob's eleventh son…

Gen. 37:1-2 – “Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan. This is the account of Jacob. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.” (emphasis added)
  • You would hope that by age seventeen, Joseph would have found more creative ways than tattling to solve problems. Granted, some instances require the intervention of an mediator; however, could Joseph's tattling have been avoided with a more tactful attempt at diplomacy? Joseph's runaway tongue shares TMI with others, building walls where a little wisdom might have built bridges. Too often, even adults are guilty of tattling in order to gain support for their “side” of an issue.
Gen. 37:3-4 – “Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.”
  • It seems Joseph wasn't the only one suffering from TMI. Jacob, too, seemed to share his favoritism too freely. Rather than recognizing the sin of dividing his household, Jacob flaunted his dysfunction by draping Joseph in the richly ornamented proof of his fatherly love. It was TMI and became salt in the wounded hearts of his other sons.
Gen. 37:5-8 – “Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, 'Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.' His brothers said to him, 'Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?' And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.” (emphasis added)
  • Joseph's brothers hated him for two reasons – one was beyond Joseph's control, the other was TMI. Joseph's dream was a subconscious response initiated by God, foretelling a future event that the Lord would indeed bring to pass. However, Joseph's mistake was sharing his spiritual insights with folks who could not/would not/did not appreciate hearing about Joseph's heavenly encounter. We must choose carefully those with whom we share God's work in our lives.
Gen. 37:9-11 – “Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. 'Listen,' he said, 'I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.' When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, 'What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?' His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.” (emphasis added)
  • Okay, the first dream-share we can chalk up to an “oops,” for silly young Joseph. But when the kid adds fuel to his brothers' already white-hot flames of hatred, we've just got to shake our heads and say, “Yo, dude! TMI!” Since he included his father in this second explanation, I'm wondering if he thought he might get Jacob's approval…. Oops, miscalculation. I find it interesting that Jacob asks if Joseph's mother and he will come and bow down – Rachel is dead. Jacob chastises Joseph, but Scripture says that Jacob “kept the matter in mind.” Perhaps Jacob knew this impulsive, extravagant son, who has a severe case of TMI, has also been called by God for a special purpose. I find great comfort in that…
Lord, I see the faults in Joseph and Jacob – and many of the Bible characters – and they mirror so many of my own shortcomings. Having battled TMI all my life, it continues to plague me from time to time. Can you still use me, Lord? Even though I say the wrong thing at the wrong time? Even though I tell more than anyone needs to know? I trust Your power and wisdom to be greater than my weakness and flaws. Let it be so, Father. Let it be so.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Okay, this picture (at right) is NOT my house...but it could be if I don't learn to throw things away. I’m getting to that time in life when I open my underwear drawer and think, Holy Smokes! If I die today, I don’t want anyone cleaning out this drawer! I have underwear in there older than my children!

I certainly want to leave a more meaningful legacy than stretched-out, hole-ly (not holy), elastic-less underwear! It occurs to me that men and women think differently about legacies. (Men and women think differently about underwear, too, but that’s for another devotional topic.) In a room of strangers, men usually introduce themselves by reciting their occupation or their associations. Women introduce themselves by establishing their relationships – their children, husband, parents, friends. Women may also share their occupations, but oftentimes they will tell WHO they work with – as opposed to men, who begin comparing the quickest route to said location. In either type of introduction, the individual defines the people, places and things in their lives that have shaped them. A legacy is not only left for those who come after us. It is also shaped by those who have built into us. We see Esau’s legacy described in one chapter of Genesis. No underwear drawer to inspect. Just one chapter to read...

Gen. 36:1-5 – "This is the account of Esau (that is, Edom). Esau took his wives from the women of Canaan: Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah daughter of Anah and granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite—also Basemath daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth. Adah bore Eliphaz to Esau, Basemath bore Reuel, and Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jalam and Korah. These were the sons of Esau, who were born to him in Canaan." (emphasis added)
  • Esau was defined by his wives. No doubt, a marriage relationship in ancient Middle East 2000 BC looked quite different than a marriage relationship in America 2010 AD. However, I believe this remains constant: the unique intimacy of marriage affects a person’s sense of self more deeply than any other adult relationship. Ultimately, my legacy joins with my spouse’s legacy to become a combined statement of a life lived together.
Gen. 36:6-8 – "Esau took his wives and sons and daughters and all the members of his household, as well as his livestock and all his other animals and all the goods he had acquired in Canaan, and moved to a land some distance from his brother Jacob. Their possessions were too great for them to remain together; the land where they were staying could not support them both because of their livestock. So Esau (that is, Edom) settled in the hill country of Seir."
  • Esau was defined by his location. My husband and I have three homes. We hold a mortgage on one house; however, we consider three locations to be HOME: 1) where we grew up, 2) where we enjoyed pastoral ministry during our children’s growing-up years, and 3) where we live now. Each of those places changed us, taught us, shaped us into the people we are today, and in each of those locations, we left and will leave a lasting footprint that others will follow.
Gen. 36:9-14 – "This is the account of Esau the father of the Edomites in the hill country of Seir. These are the names of Esau’s sons: Eliphaz, the son of Esau’s wife Adah, and Reuel, the son of Esau’s wife Basemath. The sons of Eliphaz: Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam and Kenaz. Esau’s son Eliphaz also had a concubine named Timna, who bore him Amalek. These were grandsons of Esau’s wife Adah. The sons of Reuel: Nahath, Zerah, Shammah and Mizzah. These were grandsons of Esau’s wife Basemath. The sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah daughter of Anah and granddaughter of Zibeon, whom she bore to Esau: Jeush, Jalam and Korah."
  • Esau was defined by his children and grandchildren. For better or worse, our kids become our calling card to the world, when our voices are long gone. Of course, our children have been ours to mold and shape since their first squalling breath, but have you ever considered the shaping children do in our lives? Whether our own children or those of others, kids teach us things we could never learn from adults. The world through the eyes of a child – or even a teenager – is vastly different than its interpretation by a jaded adult. And if my daughters didn’t keep me updated on pop culture, I’d be even further behind the curve than I already am! God bless my kids (and someday grandkids), who in many ways help define their own legacy.
Gen. 36:15-30 – "These were the chiefs among Esau’s descendants: The sons of Eliphaz the firstborn of Esau: Chiefs Teman, Omar, Zepho, Kenaz, Korah, Gatam and Amalek…they were grandsons of Adah. The sons of Esau’s son Reuel: Chiefs Nahath, Zerah, Shammah and Mizzah…they were grandsons of Esau’s wife Basemath. …Chiefs Jeush, Jalam and Korah. These were the chiefs descended from Esau’s wife Oholibamah daughter of Anah. These were the sons of Esau (that is, Edom), and these were their chiefs.

These were the sons of Seir the Horite, who were living in the region: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, Dishon, Ezer and Dishan. These sons of Seir in Edom were Horite chiefs. The sons of Lotan: Hori and Homam. Timna was Lotan’s sister. The sons of Shobal…The sons of Zibeon…The children of Anah: Dishon and Oholibamah daughter of Anah. The sons of Dishon…The sons of Ezer…The sons of Dishan …These were the Horite chiefs, according to their divisions, in the land of Seir." (emphasis added)
  • Esau was defined by his in-laws. When Esau married Canaanite women, he bound himself and his descendants to their pagan culture for all time. Esau married the daughter of a Horite Chief, an important man in the region Esau planned to settle. Esau’s firstborn son, Eliphaz, took a concubine from the royal Horite family (Timna, 36:12,22) and made her son a chief equal among his other sons (Amalek, father of the Amalekites). The family of our spouse brings a kaleidoscope of color to the legacy we will leave – a truth we must recognize and then maximize or minimize as much as possible.
Gen. 36:31-43 – "These were the kings who reigned in Edom before any Israelite king reigned: Bela son of Beor became king of Edom. His city was named Dinhabah. When Bela died, Jobab son of Zerah from Bozrah succeeded him as king. When Jobab died, Husham…succeeded him…Hadad…succeeded him…Samlah…succeeded him…Shaul…succeeded him…Baal-Hanan…succeeded him…Hadad succeeded him…These were the chiefs descended from Esau, by name, according to their clans and regions: Timna, Alvah, Jetheth, Oholibamah, Elah, Pinon, Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar, Magdiel and Iram. These were the chiefs of Edom, according to their settlements in the land they occupied. This was Esau the father of the Edomites." (emphasis added)
  • Esau was defined by history. From conception, Esau competed with his brother, Jacob/Israel. Now, recorded for all time, Esau’s ruling descendants are measured first and foremost according to the timeline of Israelite kings. Though 99.9% of us reading this devotional won’t have our lives written in any sort of historical record, still our legacy will live on. As surely as we have been defined by people and circumstances in our lives, so we, too, will leave a defining footprint on this earth. What will it be?
Lord, teach me to live each day as though I’m building my legacy. Show me every individual, every community, every circumstance in my life as a tool that You’re using to shape my legacy for those who will follow. As I am defined by my legacy, let my legacy be a defining gift for my children and children’s children.

Monday, September 20, 2010


When do we begin yearning for MORE? I think it begins when we‘re children – as was evidenced by my own little cherubs. We started the Christmas tradition of advent boxes when our girls were in first grade and pre-school. Each day, from December 1-24, our family: 1) read a selected Scripture, 2) shared a short Christmas story, and 3) opened one 1"x 2"x 3" box containing a small gift. The gifts might be coins or pieces of candy, sometimes even a colored "pill" – the outer shell of which dissolved in warm water to reveal a little foam animal. At first each gift was met with wide-eyed enthusiasm, but as the girls grew older they searched for MORE. By the time they reached fourth grade and first grade, our little angels were scowling at the coins and tossing the pills aside. They wanted MORE. So the next year, we made advent a scavenger hunt, filling the advent boxes with clues as to where bigger gifts were hidden in the house. A few years later, our girls outsmarted us and found the gifts before the advent boxes were opened. So once again, we had to find a way to deliver MORE. We began placing wrapped gifts under the tree and numbering them in correlation with the advent box number. We tucked into the advent boxes snappy little poems that gave clues about the gift in the corresponding wrapped gift. This advent strategy has proven most effective and is still in use today – when our girls are in their mid twenties! (The above photo displaying some of our little silly gifts still in use and the fact that our new son-in-law also finds this tradition fascinating!) However, now that our kids are grown, we've all discovered there's just something missing about Christmas. We remember how special Christmas was when children's laughter rang out when they opened their gifts. Wouldn't it be nice to have some grand-kids around? Hmmm, maybe even grown-ups want MORE….

Gen. 35:1 – "Then God said to Jacob, 'Go up to Bethel and settle there…'"
  • Jacob went to Bethel. He built an altar, Rebekah's nurse (Deborah) died and God reaffirmed both His covenant and new name to Israel. But instead of obeying God's command to settle in Bethel…
Gen. 35:16-20 – "Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty. And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, 'Don't be afraid, for you have another son.' As she breathed her last—for she was dying—she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin. So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel's tomb."
  • Rachel's death was the first of three tragedies that befell Jacob after he left Bethel. I had always imagined Rachel's death as God's punishment for Jacob's sin. But perhaps she died simply because Jacob didn't heed God's practical directive to SETTLE in Bethel because his pregnant wife was on the verge of childbirth. Sometimes God's commands are purely practical in nature. Many Old Testament Laws (Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) were given to establish sanitation and health practices for a nomadic nation. When the Lord lays a command on our hearts, oftentimes His motive is not to squelch our fun or prove His power – but rather to protect us from all sorts of potential harm.
Gen. 35:21-26 – "Israel moved on again and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder. While Israel was living in that region, Reuben went in and slept with his father's concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard of it. Jacob had twelve sons: The sons of Leah: Reuben the firstborn of Jacob, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun. The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. The sons of Rachel's maidservant Bilhah: Dan and Naphtali. The sons of Leah's maidservant Zilpah: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob, who were born to him in Paddan Aram." (emphasis added)
  • Consider the grief each person felt at Rachel's loss. Jacob had loved Rachel since the moment he saw her, and imagine Bilhah's grief at the death of her lifelong mistress. Rather than making camp at Ephrath (Bethlehem), Jacob pressed on, moving his family during their grief. Consider this. Would Reuben have slept with Bilhah if Jacob's clan had settled in Bethel as God commanded? Of course, we cannot know the exact circumstances that drew Reuben and Bilhah together, and they are responsible before God for their choice to sin; however, did Jacob's disobedience play a part in their liaison? Maybe Bilhah was despondent at Rachel's death and Jacob, because of his own grief, was insensitive to the needs of others. Perhaps Reuben had simply meant to comfort Bilhah, or maybe as Jacob's firstborn, Reuben saw the opportunity to gain MORE than the firstborn's share and take his father's wife. Sometimes one decision sets into motion a series of dire consequences. Notice Scripture records nothing of Jacob's reaction to the news of Reuben's infidelity. Only a recounting of Jacob's children punctuates the scene, affirming that his family remains – hurting and broken as it was.
Gen. 35:27-29 – "Jacob came home to his father Isaac in Mamre, near Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed. Isaac lived a hundred and eighty years. Then he breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people, old and full of years. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him."
  • It seems Jacob's search for MORE finally ended when he arrived at his father's side. But his satisfaction was fleeting. Isaac died shortly after Jacob arrived and left him face-to-face with his brother, Esau. Jacob had twelve sons, three wives and the wealth of his household, but at what cost? His father was gone, his beloved Rachel dead, and the brother he had deceived repeatedly stared at him over their father's grave. What MORE could fill Jacob's heart now? Where did he turn to seek new hope for the rest of his days? The desire for MORE must be focused beyond the temporal things of this world.
Lord, I yearn and search for MORE, and then when I reach the goal – it often feels hollow or only satisfies for a short time. Teach me the contentment of obedience, the utter satisfaction of living in perfect harmony with Your desire for me. Teach me to be still when You ask me to settle and to step out when you call me to action.