Genesis 18-21

Gen 18:12
"So Sarah laughed to herself..."
I love that she laughs. I love it more that she is called out on it in verse 15 and, because she is human, denies it! Sarah, like Abraham, realizes how crazy this whole notion of her bearing child really is. She realizes that it would be a miracle for her to bear a child.

Sometimes hope seems crazy. Sometimes people look at the hope we have in Christ and think, "That's crazy. You really believe that?" Yes. I do. I have hope in Christ because there's nothing and no one else who can save. There is nothing and no one else in which I trust with my hope for the future. But sometimes we have to laugh because we are human. Sometimes we think about our hope compared the hopes of the world, and we have to laugh. We must look crazy! We are fools for Christ! We are, as Paul said, putting our faith in what is foolishness to the world. And there is no better place, more right place, to place our hope! Praise be to God.

Gen 19:16
God's mercy exhibited. God's promise to Abraham fulfilled; that is, if he could find anyone who was righteous in Sodom and Gomorrah he would save them. So even when Lot is "lingering," the Lord "seizes him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand." Why? "The LORD was merciful to him." For all the times God gets painted as one who is full of wrath and smite in the Old Testament, there are texts like this one. There are texts that say, "God is merciful. God is full of grace. God is slow to anger. God is love." Again, God, who created all of this, has every right to wipe it all out, but God, because he is merciful, loving, and full of grace, chooses to extend pardon. God chooses to embrace people who don't deserve it. This is grace. This is the Good News!

Gen 19:38
Quick note to cap off a pretty messed up story involving incest...Look at the nations founded through this messiness: the Moabites and Ammonites. Look at Jesus' genealogy in Matthew. Ruth, the Moabite, is among the ancestors of Jesus. Once again God shows that he can take messy situations, sinful situations, and redeem them. Praise God that he is able to redeem and restore us. He heals our brokenness.


Blogging the Bible

Genesis 11-17
I'm finally caught up to where I'm supposed to be on the Bible reading scheme. If you haven't joined the crew reading through the Bible, there's still time! You're not too far behind yet...

Abraham is the man. Honestly. He begins his journey with the LORD when he is 75 years old. He sets out unaware and uncertain. What does he have? God's promise. This is no small thing!

Gen 12:2
"I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing."
Don't overlook the "so that." Don't miss it. Why has God blessed Abraham? So that he will be a blessing to others. Abraham is to be the father of the people of God. Abraham is chosen. We aren't told why he is chosen, but we know that he listens to God and takes God's promise seriously. He obeys. So...God blesses Abraham so that others might be blessed and receive God's promises.

God's blessings are not ours to store up and/or take for granted. Any attitude that says, "God blessed me because I am so amazing, " is flat out unbiblical. God blesses his people so that they can bless others. God gives us gifts, talents, resources so that we can serve and use those gifts, talents, and resources to work for the Kingdom that it might be realized "on earth as it is in heaven."

Gen 16:13
"So she named the LORD who spoke to her, 'You are the God who sees me..."
Hagar names God, "The One who sees me." This is beautiful - to think that the God of the universe sees us. God looks upon us and is actually interested in knowing us, in relating to us. God enters into our lives because he wants to. God initiates the knowing; the seeing; the relationship. Thank you God because you see me, you see us!

Gen 17:17
"Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said to himself, 'Can a child be born to a man who is 100 years old?'"
The Covenant is renewed with Abraham time and again. God reminds Abraham of his promises just as we are in constant need of reminders about God's faithfulness. Finally, Abraham laughs at God. I thought this was rude of Abe at first, but then I realized, homeboy has been waiting 25 years for a son to make the promise come true. He has been following and obeying God for 25 years. He trusted God for 25 years; he left his home and his people; he survived famine and a time in Egypt; he tried to make the promise happen on his own by having sex with Hagar. Abraham has tried everything. He has really tried to believe God, and finally he simply laughs. He is now 100 years old. The thought of he and Sarah having children is hilarious. Let's be honest, it's ridiculous. But God is able. God is "able to do exceedingly more than we can ask or imagine" (Eph 3:20). God doesn't make empty promises.


Genesis 8-10

Noah, the Flood, the Covenant, and Noah's boys...

In these three chapters, above all, I am struck by the "tribal" nature of those times. The family tree mattered. Were you a son of the cursed Ham? Maybe you could trace your lineage to Nimrod, the first great warrior who was also numbered among Ham's descendants.

Lineage mattered. Family mattered. Why? Family trees tell stories. They talk about what "our people" have been through and how we ended up here today. They tell us, in part, why we function the way we do.

For Noah and his family, their primary identity above all the messiness, is that of Covenant people. They have been saved from the Flood and are allowed to enter into a Covenant relationship with God. Their identity - their existence - is a result of God's mercy. They are because of God's provision, protection, and providence.


Genesis 1-7

Day 1 and 2 - Genesis 1-7

I already started two days behind, but catching up is fun. I’ve found that reading large chunks of the Bible is particularly helpful for me.

Genesis 1 and 2

I realize any comments on the Creation account are potential fodder for an ensuing messy debate. Please refrain from getting ugly! Why do I say this? As a youth pastor, it seems at least once a month I am encouraged by well-meaning authors and others to teach the kids the right way or else. “Or else what?,” you might ask. Or else they will leave the church. There is a popular sentiment right now that kids are leaving the church in droves because they don’t know how to stand up against the “evolutionists” in the public schools – both high school and college. That is one of many reasons some youth leave the church. Unfortunately, there are many others, almost too many to count. As a pastor to youth, I wish it were as easy as solving one issue involving belief in one issue. What do you think? Why are kids leaving the church?

Genesis 3:6

“So when the woman saw that it was…

good for food

a delight to the eyes,

to be desired to make one wise,

she took of the fruit and ate.”

The tree was desirable; it was beautiful, just as the things that tempt us seem so attractive, desirable, and alluring. We are all tempted in different ways by different things. What is attractive and desirable for me may not interest you whatsoever.

Genesis 3:8

“They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze…”

Last weekend at the high school MUD retreat, we were asked to do a fire watch in the night. During the 15 minutes of silence we could hear the wind coming from a distance. It was awesome in the truest sense of the word; that is, it provoked an eerie awe. I could hear it far off and then when it was upon us we could see the effect of the wind on the trees and feel it on our faces. It was as if God was “walking among us at the time of the evening breeze.” Don't worry, we were already clothed!

Genesis 3:16

“Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

This comes as a direct result of sin entering the picture, so why would people try and make this normative in Christian relationships? Some say this is something to aspire to in our relationships. In Mark 10, when Jesus is pressed on the issue of divorce, he basically says, “Don’t look to Moses’ time for answers as to how God intended relationships to work. Instead, look to Creation; look to the beginning, before sin."

To use this text, as some do, to argue that it is natural for women to desire men and men to rule over women, I seriously wonder whether they believe in redemption. In Christ, we are new creations. The old has gone, the new has come. We are set free from sin to live under the principles of the Kingdom of God. We are no longer slaves to sin; we are no longer to live under the rules of sin. Instead, we are to live as redeemed people, as Kingdom people. We are to live as God created us to live - in mutuality and shared purpose.

Genesis 6:5-6

“…every inclination of their hearts was only evil continually.”

Those words “every” and “only” are troublesome. How could this have happened? How did they get there? How did they forget God? The real question is, “Why did God have mercy?” For those who like to say the God of the Old Testament is mean, let’s be honest, if everyone were only evil all the time, wouldn’t you have a problem with that? Wouldn’t you want to change that? Instead, God made a way to establish a promise with Noah and his family, in order that God’s Creation wouldn’t be completely annihilated. God turned to good what people meant for evil.

My Bible Reading Scheme...Buddying Up With the Bible

i've recently started another round of a "read through the Bible in a year." this time i'm joined by my small group [which includes my lovely wife], and hopefully some youth from our church. to all you youth who read this and take on the challenge: YOU ARE AWESOME!

i'm hoping that this time around i can create a space for discussion and interaction with the text. as we read and encounter the text together, i invite you to share you insights, questions, and places where you are flat out stuck.

my own posts will not be a commentary or exhaustive by any means. i will be posting what i read and what stood out in my reading. i hope you feel encouraged to share and interact, and i sincerely hope i can stick with posting on an almost daily basis!

when it comes to reading the Bible, we desperately need each other. the Bible is an historic, communal, and living text. we would do well to treat it as such! please join us...

if you need a copy of the "read the Bible in a year" plan, follow the links. we have chosen to read the text Genesis-Revelation rather than a bit of Old and New Testament simultaneously...

may we encounter the Lord together as we enter into his Word. and may we allow ourselves to be changed by the text.

as Johann Arndt wrote in True Christianity,
"God did not reveal his Holy Scriptures so that they might externally on paper remain a dead letter, but that they might become living in us in spirit and faith and that a completely new man might arise. If this does not occur, the scriptures are of no use to us."


Haiti: a response

while i should have developed my own response to the crisis in Haiti at this point, i want to share a New York Times op-ed piece by David Brooks that caught my attention this morning...

reflections? thoughts?

what does this say about world mission efforts, specifically, Christian world mission efforts? i know of groups who have gone to Haiti for years. does this raise any questions about the effectiveness of short-term mission projects abroad?


mcgwire on roids! who can you trust?

no way! Mark McGwire was on steroids? i don't believe it. i thought he was clean because he said he was clean. oh wait, no one, and i mean no one, honestly believed Mark McGwire was clean. come one!

so today, when i came across this article on ESPN.com i had a nice chuckle. way to go McGwire! way to tell us what we already knew. thanks for waiting. oh yeah, and thanks for lying.

in the article, McGwire says "You don't know that you'll ever have to talk about the skeleton in your closet on a national level," he said. "I did this for health purposes. There's no way I did this for any type of strength use."

we're supposed to believe that after he lied to Congress and everyone else?

bigger issue here...
can we trust anyone anymore? who isn't lying these days? distrust is almost an American value because lying seems to be an American value. scandals, lies, cover-ups - that's what our country is about. we love it. it fuels our media crazed, sound-byte lifestyles.

so how does the Church build trust, and expect people to put their ultimate trust in Jesus Christ, in a low-trust culture?