Genesis 17:1-27

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Genesis 17:1-27
When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty;[a] walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram,[b] but your name shall be Abraham,[c] for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”

And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13 both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

15 And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah[d] shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover, I will give[e] you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” 19 God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac.[f] I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. 20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”

22 When he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham. 23 Then Abraham took Ishmael his son and all those born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 26 That very day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised. 27 And all the men of his house, those born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Once again, have you noticed that I’m not really in a hurry?
Why do you think I keep bringing this up?
Why do you think Abraham tried to get Me to use Ishmael?
Why do prefer your own way to Mine?
Reminder: I’m God and you’re not.

25 Things

Several years ago there was a thing circulating around Facebook called “25 Things.” The idea was that you would write down 25 random things about yourself so that others would be able to know a bit more about you. I suppose there was a degree of narcissism involved as well, which made it doubly fun.

Anyway, I ran across my list today and thought it might make for a fun blog post. Fun for me, anyway.

So, here (with a little updating) are 25 Things about myself which you may find interesting or amusing…or maybe just narcissistic.


  1. I fell in love with my wife when I was 5 years old and I don’t think that ever stopped. Though we sort of went different ways for a while now that I look back on it I think it was what God had in mind all along. I do know that – knowing all that I know now – marrying Kathie was, other than maybe deciding to follow Jesus, the best decision I ever made. I can’t imagine life without her.
  1. I never thought I would be, nor did I have any desire to be a minister. However, I have absolutely no doubt that, in being on staff in the three churches I served over the past 35 years, I was exactly where God wanted me to be, doing exactly what He wanted me to do. It’s a long story but I have come to the conclusion that God has plans for us that, if we knew about them ahead of time, we would reject them out of hand. It’s amazing how He works in our lives to bring us around – we just have to take the next step.
  1. I can waste an incredible amount of time without even trying. However, when I do get started on a project it tends to consume me until it’s finished.
  1. I have a tendency to make jokes at inappropriate times.
  1. I have been surrounded by women my entire life. I’m excited to say that I now have 2 grandsons
    The boys – Asher & Oliver

    but I grew up with 2 sisters, I have 2 daughters, even our pets have always been female. The main male influence in my life, other than my Papaw (who was significant) was my Dad.

    Bob Hamilton – Christmas 2014

    I don’t think I can overestimate my respect for him. And now, as I look back on it, I think one of the most important things I learned from him was how to treat women (not that I understand them any better).

  1. I am not a very social person. I MUCH prefer spending time with a few real friends or my family than with a large gathering of acquaintances and strangers.
  1. I have friends who mean more to me than I ever thought possible.
  1. Music – I don’t think that there is a “genre” of music that I can’t appreciate on some level but there is something about the sound of a 16 piece jazz band that transcends the rest. When I say I love “big band” music many think only of the nostalgic sound of the 40’s – for me the attraction is not nostalgia – it’s the intricacy of design required to bring 16 musicians together for a common end combined with the freedom of improvisation for the individuals in the group that makes it powerful to me. Recordings are good but you have to experience it live.
  1. I might be a little competitive.
  1. There was a time when it was difficult for me to actually worship when I was leading worship because of all the details I had to think about. Over time, however, I began to find it difficult to worship when I was NOT leading worship. I’d be too busy analyzing and critiquing. In retirement I find I’m still having trouble with this.
  1. I never made great grades in school (better in college than HS but still…)
  1. Except music.
  1. I am indescribably proud of the adults that my kids have become (are becoming?). I can’t say I was thrilled with all their choices, (I’m not always thrilled with my own) or that there weren’t times that they frustrated me with their immaturity, (I’m often frustrated with my own immaturity) BUT I am completely impressed with who they are and where they are going.
    L-R: Liz, me, Kate

    They are easily the most interesting and fascinating people I know and they both have a depth of character that impresses the socks off me. They also crack me up.

  1. L-R: Asher, Iris, Oliver

    Being a grandparent is waaay more fun than I ever imagined! Sometimes they wear me out…but still.

 

 

  1. I truly detest the thought of getting old.
    I joke about it, but I hate it.
  1. I’ve never really struggled with being overweight or with my overall health but I do struggle with keeping myself fit – ok maybe I don’t struggle enough.
  1. Ice cream is the best! (why did I think of that next?)
  1. I really enjoy driving. In fact I’m sort of feeling the urge for a road trip right now.
  1. I appreciate the grace of God more every day. There was a time when I was a bit of a legalist but I find that the older I get the more I realize how much I need grace, consequently I’m more willing to extend grace than when I was young.
  1. However, I could never make it as a counselor – I’m pretty impatient.
  1. I’m on a lifelong quest for the world’s best cheeseburger. So far, the best one I’ve ever had was here in 2007 with our good friends, Bruce and Kathy Maxwell.

    DSCN2273
    The Haunted Hamburger, Jerome Arizona – 2007
  1. Worship – it’s not about “style”.
  1. I’ve always had a strong sense of my roots.
    Five generations. (Hint: I’m the kid.)

    I was raised with family history and it affects who I am today – it makes me deeply happy that my kids seem to feel the same way.

  1. I have never even considered trying to smoke. It’s not that I’m so goody-goody it simply has always disgusted me.
  1. I love finishing things.

Weekend Picks for 11-6-2015

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

You’re going to need to set aside some extra time for reading this weekend. So much good stuff!

The Exemplary Narcissism of Snoopy
-Sarah Boxer, The Atlantic

“Before all that happens, before the next generation gets a warped view of what Peanuts is and was, let’s go back in time. Why was this comic strip so wildly popular for half a century? How did Schulz’s cute and lovable characters (they’re almost always referred to that way) hold sway over so many people—everyone from Ronald Reagan to Whoopi Goldberg?

Peanuts was deceptive. It looked like kid stuff, but it wasn’t. The strip’s cozy suburban conviviality, its warm fuzziness, actually conveyed some uncomfortable truths about the loneliness of social existence. The characters, though funny, could stir up shockingly heated arguments over how to survive and still be a decent human being in a bitter world.”


This short list of bullet points is packed with a lot of insight…

Ten Differences Between a Boss and a Leader -Eric Geiger
MichaelScott_TheOffice


As the title suggests, this is pretty long. Set aside a little time this weekend to read it, you’ll be glad you did. After all, it’s N.T. Wright. You can’t go wrong with Wright! (See what I did there?)

What Is Marriage For?-N.T. Wright
Tracing God’s Plan from Genesis to Revelation
painting of man and woman“Now it’s important to begin with that big picture. If we don’t, we can easily imagine that what the Bible has to say about men and women, about marriage, about all that follows from and surrounds that complicated and rich and exciting topic, is simply a set of rules. We in the Western church have tended to isolate rules from the rest of the picture. We have imagined that the purpose God wants for us is to leave “earth” behind and to go to “heaven” instead, and that God has in the meantime given us these somewhat arbitrary regulations for how he wants us to behave…Now that isn’t just a parody of the truth. It is actually a radical distortion of what the Bible is all about.”


Ann Coulter Is Wrong About Russell Moore, Evangelicals, and America-Brandon Mark Showalter
“Ann Coulter has written some real doozies over the years and her latest column is no exception. Much like her left-wing friend Bill Maher, the conservative author and columnist has one acerbic tongue and it was on full display in her recent effusion denouncing the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (SBC) President Russell Moore. When Coulter wants to be she is an articulate defender of first principles, a shrewd prognosticator, and–also like Bill Maher–a bold voice decrying political correctness. Yet she consistently manages to disembowel her strengths with her penchant for saying truly vile (not to mention ridiculous) things.”


Speaking of Russell Moore, I really enjoyed his take on the CMAs and country music in general…

What Hath Jerusalem to Do With Johnny Cash?
-Russell Moore
rsz_6036694106_13640308c8_b“Country music recognizes sin and redemption even from people who are lost. Whereas in some other genres of music you can have sin consistently glorified with no consequences, country music rarely does that. Of course, there is much singing about sin–but it is almost always sin that has some hope of redemption or some recognition of judgment, the sowing and reaping and consequences. Country music tends to bypass self-justification by recognizing that something is wrong with the heart.”


I think if looked out my window at this, I’d freak out just a little bit…

 

 

Genesis 16:1-16

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Genesis 16:1-16
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children[a] by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.[b] And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.

The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 11 And the angel of the Lord said to her,

“Behold, you are pregnant
    and shall bear a son.
You shall call his name Ishmael,[c]
    because the Lord has listened to your affliction.
12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man,
    his hand against everyone
    and everyone’s hand against him,
and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”

13 So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,”[d] for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”[e] 14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi;[f] it lies between Kadesh and Bered.

15 And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Kind of odd behavior for a man known for his great faith,
don’t you think?
Do you think you’re worse than he was?
Do you think he was better than you are?
Did it help matters that he tried to fulfill My promise in his own way?
Who do you think made him what he was?
Who do you think makes you what you are?

My Picks for Thursday 11-5-2015

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

Ed Stetzer has a lot of good stuff to say here. May we listen well…

Three Ways Christians Can Be Like Jesus Amidst a More Polarized Culture-Ed Stetzer
Three Ways Christians Can Be Like Jesus Amidst a More Polarized Culture“As we Christians watch our views become ever more unpopular in an increasingly polarized culture, the temptation to defend ourselves in vitriolic, even hateful, ways will grow. As we interact with others virtually or in our communities, we must remember our call to live like Jesus. We must not adopt secular rules of engagement regardless of whether culture is religious or irreligious.”


How many times have you heard someone say, or perhaps you’ve even said it yourself, “I’m not being fed by my pastor’s sermons”?

Bob Russell does a great job addressing this common complaint…
Bob Russell


Seth Godin has a way of saying a LOT in a few words. Here’s an example. No need to follow the link because this is the whole post.

“It’s not your fault, but it might be your responsibility. That’s a fork in the road on the way to becoming a professional.”
–Seth Godin


And now for something completely different:
Breaking news from Bizarro Land…

http://bizarro.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Bizarro-10-25-15-WEB.jpg
(Click image for a larger version.)

 

Genesis 15:1-21

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Genesis 15:1-21
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue[a] childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son[b] shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

And he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give[c] this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Have you noticed (again) that I’m not really in a hurry?
Did I keep this promise?
Do you trust me to keep My promises to you?
Are you willing to wait?

My Picks for Wednesday 11-4-2015

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

I can often relate to how she feels…

Thoughts Lisa Spence
Lisa Spence“I once thought thoughts. You know, deep and meaningful thoughts, thoughts I pondered and wrestled with and deliberated over and contemplated and, well, thought and sometimes wrote about, sometimes not. “I don’t think stuff anymore,” I told my husband awhile back…”


http://www.mazapoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/love-and-marriage-quotes.jpg
I’ve always felt uncomfortable with that sentiment. Here’s why…

My Spouse Is My Best Friend -Mark Jones

“It seems weird to me, mainly because my wife belongs in a category that goes beyond friendship. How does a man compare his wife with several of his male friends, as if she is first but there is a second, or third best friend behind her? He doesn’t. He shouldn’t. We take away something from our marriages when we talk in this way, and we take away something from our friendships with people of the same sex when we speak like this.”

Seven Myths of Contextualization-Bob Kauflin
shutterstock_184172318_Fotor“In the past few years, much has been written, advocated, and modeled to help us understand why we should be concerned about leading services in ways that people actually comprehend what we’re doing and saying so that they are impacted in the right ways (Mike Cosper’s Rhythms of Grace is one example). That might mean changing your music accompaniment, liturgy, communication methods, and more.

But I’ve seen contextualization misapplied at times. Here are a few things I’ve found helpful to keep in mind when thinking through how to connect with people…”


If the opportunity ever comes up for a retired worship minister to visit the ISS, sign me up! Some amazing photos here.

International Space Station: 15 Years In 50 Pictures…
“As of this week, humans have spent 15 continuous years living off the Earth thanks to NASA and the orbiting International Space Station…. “It [ISS] has taught us about what’s possible when tens of thousands of people across 17 countries collaborate to advance shared goals,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement.”

 

Who would I be?


Who would I be?

If I were then?

Would I stand on the curb and watch him go by? Would I have knocked off for the afternoon to see what he had to say? Would I have raised my eyebrows and wondered what all the excitement was about? Would I have stood with a few on the corner and wondered pettishly, when were the authorities going to put a stop to this thing before it got out of hand! Would I have drunk it all in, and been wide-eyed and wide-hearted with wonder? Would I have clinched my opinion as soon as I saw he was associating with some of “those” kinds of people? Would I have smiled benevolently at the stories of wonders and healings? Would I have wanted to get his autograph? Would I have stood aside and waited thoughtfully-oh so thoughtfully-for him to prove himself fact or fiction? Would I have slept soundly that Friday night, and the next night too?

Isn’t it nice to be
here,
now,

For we can’t make those mistakes.

 

Number eight in God Is No Fool by Lois Cheney



(I’ve always loved this little book since I first discovered it while I was in college. Click the image for purchase info.)

 

 

Genesis 13:14-18

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Genesis 13:14-18
14 The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, 15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. 17 Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” 18 So Abram moved his tent and came and settled by the oaks[a] of Mamre, which are at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Do you think Abram believed that I was really going to do this?
You realize he was an old man and still didn’t have any kids, right?
Did I do it?
Think about the promises I’ve made to you.

My Picks for Tuesday 11-3-2015

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

Thank God for Your Normal Boring Life– Kevin DeYoung
“If your life feels ho-hum and humdrum, if you struggle to find contentment in the ordinary and mundane, if you are tempted to break free from the predictable routine of life with stupidity or sinfulness, consider for a moment that your boring life is the envy of almost person sitting right now in a hospital bed or a refugee camp. Consider how many friends and family members would gladly trade in all their frenzied commotion and uncertain schedules for a single day of your plain-jane normalcy. The only people bored with boring are those who have never had to live without it.”


Ladies, this one’s for you…

Do You Have a Really Good Man?Melissa Edgington
men“If we will only learn to appreciate our really good men for who they are what they do, then one day, when they leave the last Oreo for us or when they make sure our car registration is up to date or when they wink at us across a crowded room, we’ll remember that real romance is so much more than diamonds and whatever Nicholas Sparks dreams up. The really good men deserve better than our constant criticism and dissatisfaction. The grass isn’t greener in chick flick land. It’s astroturf. Stick to your own yard, where your really good man is probably mowing. That’s true romance.”


Beyond the Ballot Box-Mark Taylor
Nov3_MT_JN“Today I will vote against legalizing marijuana in Ohio where I live. I will do so because I believe legalized marijuana use will add to family brokenness, traffic tragedies, and other kinds of heartbreak in the city where I live. I will cast my vote out of my Christian conviction about how the outcome of this election will damage the fabric of my community.

But if marijuana use becomes legal in my state, or if the next president of my country turns out to be an anti-Christian scoundrel, I will try to remember Johnson’s words and refrain from wringing my hands. ‘Even the best laws change only behavior,’ she said Saturday. ‘But we are in the business of changing hearts.'”


3801 Lancaster and the Mystery of Kermit Gosnell
-Trevin Wax
Gosnell-3801-Lancaster-620x4363801 Lancaster succeeds in giving us insight into the mind of Dr. Gosnell. But this documentary asks a bigger question: How did we let this happen? Following that narrative thread reveals a picture of breakdown at every level of government bureaucracy.”

“Pro-life or pro-choice, the viewer of this film is likely to agree that Dr. Gosnell was guilty and his imprisonment just. Still, the pro-choice viewer may be uncomfortable with the chilling logic of late-term abortion. What does it matter, really, if we are inducing “fetal demise” with toxins while in the mother’s womb or “snipping the neck” just moments later? What is the difference? In either case, we have a dead body in front of us and blood on our hands.


Today is election day. Vote smart…

2206797058af0133117e005056a9545d
Click cartoon for source.