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Archive for May, 2010

“One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.  Surely you will reward each person  according to what he has done(Psalm 62:11,12).”

Today I took my wife to the neighborhood I grew up in.  I didn’t intend to, but somehow the family got engrossed in conversation and I missed my exit.  Since we were nearby, I gave her the grand tour.

The old ‘hood looks the same, but the main drag through the area has become somewhat seedy.  I told her that the place isn’t what it used to be, at least in my memory.

While my old neighborhood was a good place to raise a family when I was a kid, her opinion was that living there now would be suffocating. It would strangle our family’s growth.  There wouldn’t be any room to breathe.  While the place of my childhood was fine for my father and mother’s family, it wasn’t “us”.

We moved back to the USA late last year and we still aren’t settled.  My job as an adjunct university professor is by nature not permanent.  Our current home has been leased to someone else, so we have to move in a couple of months.

All this unsettledness makes me think it’s time to uproot –again.  I love it here in Southwest Virginia, my old stomping grounds, but my wife deserves better than our current situation.

She is a Proverbs 31 woman.  No, she’s not perfect, but that chapter of Solomon describes her well.  She works hard to make a home for us in less than desirable circumstances (Proverbs 31:15,17).

My wife has also been known to have a heart for the lonely and isolated. When we were in Finland, she was regularly reaching out to international students who needed a friend or practical help (Proverbs 31:20).

Her kids and her husband see her worth. Our family couldn’t function without her (Proverbs 31:28).

Best of all, and most importantly, she hangs on to God in the midst of our craziness. Yep, she’s human and asks God “why?” and “why not?” a lot.  But that only shows that she doesn’t have some cookie cutter view of Him. She sees Him as a real Person (Proverbs 31:30b).

As a result of my wife’s faithfulness, I think she should be rewarded. So does God (Proverbs 31:31).

This is why I am so frustrated.  With my menial wages, I can’t provide for her the way I want.  With another move facing us, I have a wake up call to do something about it, at least what is in my power to do. 

As I mentioned above, I love my old digs from the past.  The mountains of Southwest Virginia heal my soul.  But if this is the Promised Land for us, it is God who will have to come through.  Otherwise, we probably will have to move again, out of the area, as opportunity arises.

I am comforted, though, in the story of Isaac.  This son of Abraham was living in his Promised Land, the one God gave to his father Abraham. 

However ,there was a famine in the region, and Isaac was tempted to head to the big city for some economic relief.  God stopped Him from moving, though, and reaffirmed His promises.  He told Isaac not to leave the area, to stick it out, and “I will be with you and bless you (Genesis 26:3)”. That was enough for Isaac. He stayed put.

Isaac had a lot of conflict when he obeyed God and stayed where He wanted him to.  Men pushed him around and he had to move around within the region. Eventually, though, God gave him room to breathe in Rehoboth and peace with his neighbors in Beersheeba (Genesis 26:22-32).

As I see it, I serve the same God Isaac did.  God has a long memory concerning those who are faithful to Him (Hebrews 6:10).

Whether that means I stay or go, I know for sure God is a rewarder of those who seek Him and are faithful to Him.  That’s my wife.  So while I may not be able to come through on a human level, He sure can come through on His.

We need room to breathe, and I’m depending on Him to give it to us, at least for her sake.

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“Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live,  and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.  On my bed I remember you;  I think of you through the watches of the night (Psalm 63:3-6).”

It’s hard not to notice.  The world is a chaotic place.  Is it any wonder many of us worry and suffer sleepless nights?

We westerners all know about Middle East conflicts, massive oil spills and the impact of illegal drugs on our society.  I suppose it’s whose newspaper you read which determines how much you know aboout the conflicts around the world.

One news website has an interactive section on “forgotten” conflicts around the world.  They range from an ongoing civil war in Sri Lanka to a number of confrontations across Africa.  One of these wars not thought of much in the west is in our news today because some Maoist rebels derailed a train in India and killed scores of people. 

All the way down to the family level, the human condition is one of upset, discord and confusion.  In our own home, my wife and I had a restless time last night over some of our own concerns.  At least we prayed together over them before we set out on our day.

The problems of families, peoples, and nations should not be a surpise.  Mankind has been in the moral depths for ages. As a result, we are like the squirrel I saw in my way as I drove down my street this morning: we are frantically going helter-skelter, backwards and forwards trying to get out of the way of the calamity coming our way.

One of the friends of  Job reminded the miserable ancient patriarch,” For hardship does not spring from the soil, nor does trouble sprout from the ground. Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward (Job 5:6,7).” For a long time, men have been the cause of their own problems.

 Even as godly a man as Abraham, who followed Job, had trouble in his family.  The descendants of his son Ishmael are said by the Scriptures to have “lived in hostility toward all their brothers (Genesis 25:18b)”  His twin grandsons actually fought with each other while they were still in the womb (Genesis 25:21-23)”!

I read one story from South Asia last night which incorporates a belief that colic in a baby is a symptom of two reincarnated souls fighting for the child’s body.  This battle begins in the womb and continues  on at birth until one soul wins. If neither soul is victorious, the belief is that the person will evidence symptoms of mental illness, even insanity. 

Well, you can’t blame a person for trying. Belief systems must explain this ongoing battle between people, or mankind will go insane!  There’s already too much deranged behavior in the world already.

There is an explanation, a true one. The Bible gives the most plausible reason for our world’s woes.  It says we are a fallen race (Romans 3:23).  The Scriptures tell us we fight with one another because we are inherently selfish at birth and reject God’s intervention  as well (James 4:1-3). 

There are conflicts between people and nations because there is truly a battle going on for our souls.  In one instance,  we are self destructive in our own selfishness (I Peter 2:11).  In another case, their is an evil angelic being called Satan seeking to eat up our souls as well (I Peter 5:8).

Jesus Himself said we would have trouble in this world, but He also told His followers to be encouraged because He had overcome this fallen planet (John 16:33).   He also told them to not let their own hearts be troubled, but to trust in God (John 14:1).

The apostle Paul added that the followers of Christ will reap an eternal reward down the line.  We will experience the beauty and splendor of eternity with our God. We will think our troubles are light and worth suffering if we focus on what awaits us in heaven (II Corinthians 4:17).

Knowing what  Jesus and the Bible have told me, the next time I’m tossing and turning, I’m gonna muse on the endless fellowship with Him and the magnificence I will participate in up there, not on the worries, battles, pains and turbulence I am experiencing down here!

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“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving (Colossians 3:23,24).”

And so it continues: the rash of students carrying weapons on to school campuses, that is.  An incident of that kind occurred at our local middle school yesterday. A 13-year old boy was found to possess two guns and ammunition by  school officials.

This event gives me pause because both of my kids will be using that building in the autumn, since at the moment the local high school uses it in the afternoon. However, my concerns are relieved by one thing –someone in that school was faithful to report what they knew, and it wasn’t a teacher, a counselor or some other responsible adult.  It was a child.

The boy was turned in by a fellow classmate.  Now that in my opinion took a lot of guts, since peer pressure is rampant amongst youth. Why, the student who reported the weapons could have thought they would be labeled a snitch! Even worse, they might have imagined becoming a target of the perpetrator and their assosiates. But the student cared enough to do something about the situation.

One of the unsung heroes in the Bible  is a man whom his story only names as “the servant”.  This person was a trusted employee of Abraham.  The patriarch thought enough of the servant to entrust him with a very important task. The job was to find a wife for his son Isaac, God’s chosen man to carry out  His promise to Abraham to bless the whole earth through him.

Like most fathers, Abraham didn’t want any old girl for his beloved son.  He wanted the best, and he thought she would be found amongst his own family back in the old country.  So he charged the servant with going there and finding the lady. 

Not only was the servant told to go get the girl, he was told to under no circumstances take Isaac back to the land Abraham came from if the chosen lady demurred.  God had instructed Abraham clearly to move to Canaan, and neither he nor his descendants were going to budge unless God engineered it.

What Abraham knew that God would engineer is the finding of his son’s wife.  He told the servant that God would send His angel before him as a guide.

The servant followed Abraham’s instructions to the letter. When he showed up in the town of Abraham’s family, he consulted God.  When the family agreed to let God’s clear choice, a young woman named Rebekah,  go with the servant, he showered them with gifts.  When they seemed to hesitate and asked for more time with Rebekah, the servant urged them to let him fulfill his mission and take her back to Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 24:42-57).

Imagine the consequences if the servant had been unfaithful.  He was out from under Abraham’s eye and could have handled things differently.

For example, the servant might have decided he liked the comforts of Rebekah’s family. He could have hung around for a while as they suggested.  However, this man would not even eat until he could spill the beans about the purpose of his visit, even after a long journey (Genesis 24:33).   He was that faithful to Abraham, and to God.

Delaying his trip to party with Abraham’s family could have changed the whole course of history. With more time, the family might have decided that Rebekah was too dear to let go from home. As a result,  Isaac would not have received his wife, and his son Jacob would not have been born.  Jacob of course was the father of the men who would produce the twelve tribes of Israel, who would produce Jesus the Messiah.

The possibilities of this  alternate history are too mind boggling to think about. However,history unfolded as God intended because an unnamed servant trusted Him and was faithful to his master.

One never knows how important their day-to-day duties are.  All we know is that God has given them to us to do faithfully when He presents them to us.

In some way God has promised that when we do the job He has given us to do well, and do our duty to serve the people whom He has placed with us, He will reward us (Proverbs 27:18).

It’s a good thing there was one loyal person at the local middle school this week.   Things could have turned out a whole lot worse.  Sometimes we can learn a lot from young people. He deserves kudos for his faithfulness.

The teenager  that was concerned and courageous enough to save his classmates and teachers from possible harm might not get those congratulations from them because of the nature of the crime.  But you know God has to be smiling on that young man or woman.

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“…but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore, He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them (Hebrews 7:24,25).”

This morning, a little after dawn, I was driving by the pasture near our home.  Some of the horses at the stable there were out early, grazing in the grass.  As the sun came up, the surrounding mountains came into view.

People were out beginning to be out and about.  Some were jogging.  One dapper looking gentleman walked out of his front door and down his walk.  As I sit here in one of the local coffee shops, men obviously headed off for work are coming in for their morning cup of  Joe.

Life has a certain rhythm.  We just expect things to happen.  The sun comes up in the morning, and it sets in the evening.  The moon and the stars come out at night.

Sometimes the rhythm is broken. For example, this morning my newspaper was not in its tube.  The first question in my mind was,”What happened to my reliable newspaper carrier?”.

I expect my newspaper to be in its box, but the Bible tells me something: I can’t put God in one.  He doesn’t necessarily do everything according to a certain beat.  God has His own ways and methods.

From a human point of view, He can seem capricious, unknowable.  One minute we are praising Him for his grace, forgiveness and goodness to us (Psalm 65:1-5), and the next moment we are fearing Him and His actions in our lives (Job 9:11-18).

Some things God has set in motion and doesn’t change, like the cycles of the sun and moon.  However, although death is an inevitable event, He doesn’t let us know when it is coming.  We might know that the sun will rise in the morning, but we surely don’t know when we or our loved ones will pass on (Ecclesiastes 9:12).

Is it any wonder that Solomon threw his hands up in the air and cried,”Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless (Ecclesiastes 12:8)!”.  We can’t control anything, at least anything that matters.

Oh, we want to and we try.  I once regularly passed a motorist on the way to work who had a license plate that read,”I control this!”.  He at least got some satisfaction from thinking he ruled over his vehicle.

But we can’t  rule over God.  Job saw that he couldn’t deal on equal terms with such an awesome Personage, and wished for a mediator

Said Job, “If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot (Job 9:33-35).”

Oh, but Job, there is! He didn’t have a clear picture of the person of Jesus Christ.  He is the mediator between God and man (I Timothy 2:5). What is more, wonder of wonders, it is God the Father, our seemingly impulsive deity, who set the whole process up.  He arranged the whole thing out of His love (John 3:16,17).

The old hymn expresses how God the Son changed matters.

“What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!”

Now, we can speak up, express ourselves to God without fear.  We can talk to Jesus, the God-Man.  He knows us because He is one of us.  Yet, He knows God the Father because He is part of the Godhead, the Trinity.

We may not be able to control God (and who would want to since He is loving and perfect?), but we surely have access to Him through Jesus.  He listens to Jesus, who listens to us.

It’s nice to have  a flesh and blood friend to be our advocate before God. The fear melts away when we go to Jesus with our concerns. He’ll plead our case before a loving Father.

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“For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance (Psalm 66:10-12).”

Akeelah is an 11-year old African-American girl with a gift.  She can spell her head off.

However, in the film “Akeelah and the Bee”, the child prodigy has a lot working against her.  Although she is smart as a whip, she only shows it occasionally.  Akeelah refuses to commit herself to her giftedness because she doesn’t like her underachieving school in south Los Angeles, and besides, when she does show her smarts she is either laughed at or hazed by her peers.  

Akeelah’s family isn’t much encouragment either.  Her widowed mother works all the time and is wrapped up with keeping her gangbanger brother alive. Her sister is a single mom with a baby.  No one has the time or energy to encourage her in her academic pursuits.

There are, however, people who see her talent and try to bring it out: educators.  Her teacher and school principal cajole, even threaten her, to get involved in the school spelling bee.  While competing (and winning), she is noticed by a former English professor from UCLA, who is himself a former champion speller.

Dr. Larabee, the professor, is asked by the school principal to become her spelling coach.  However, the two get off on the wrong foot because Akeelah chafes at his discipline.

Akeelah finally sees how much she wants to succeed and that she needs Dr. Larabee, so she returns to him and submits to his hard training.  She is also befriended by a rich Latino boy, who finished high in the national competition the year before.  These two encourage her, and she reaches the state finals. 

Then the bottom drops out.  Her coach cannot handle working with Akeelah because she reminds him of his own daughter.  She had died of  sickness, crushing the professor.   So he quits and Akeelah it seems is on her own again.

Except she discovers she has “5,000 coaches”. Her mother begins to come through for her. The entire neighborhood, including the local gangbangers, help her to prepare for the nationals. 

SPOILER ALERT

In the end, Akeelah’s story moves Dr. Larabee to return to her side. Akeelah can relate to his loss. Her own father was shot on the way home from work when she was six.  She even developed her spelling habit as a means to deal with his murder.

Dr. Larabee and Akeelah’s family join her at the nationals.  Even there, though, she is faced with difficulty outside the pressure of winning the competition. Akeelah sees that her main competitor, a Chinese boy, is under even more pressure from his demanding father. So she tries to throw the competition by purposely misspelling a word.

However, her competitor knows she is doing this because he had corrected her on the same word in the past.  There is a short break and he asks her, “What are you doing?”.  He convinces her to do her best because he doesn’t want a tainted championship trophy.

After all the testing and tribulations, Akeelah becomes the national spelling beee champion, sharing the title with her main competitor. As a result, her family, her coach, and even her whole community experience healing.

Sometimes life seems like one big test.  Every day there are factors at work to bring us down and keep us from succeeding in our efforts.  Sometimes even those closest to us are the instruments of our stumbling.  

Surprisingly, there are even times when God tests us.  We humans have a hard time believing that a loving God would do such a thing.  We figure He must be capricious and cruel, like one of the gods of Greek mythology.

Although Job never cursed God, he did bemoan his fate.  He thought life was like a huge school project he couldn’t handle.  Job said in the midst of physical, emotional and spiritual suffering,”…I have been allotted months of futility, and nights of misery have been assigned to me (Job 7:3).”

 The Bible flat out says that God once tested Abraham.  Abraham didn’t falter. He yelled out “present!’ when the roll was called. It appears Abraham  knew he was in for a big exam, and must have been horrorified at what he had been asked to do: kill his son and burn him on a stack of wood as a sacrifice (Genesis 22:1-2). Yet, he trusted his Teacher.

Like Akeelah, Abraham and Job both came out of their ordeals smelling like roses.  Abraham was prevented by an angel of the Lord from killing his son and the angel promised him untold blessings as a reward for his trust (Genesis 22:12-18).  God restored Job to health and gave him much more than he had before in life (Job 42:12,16-17).

Like our teachers, God gives us tests to do us good.  He is an expert in the field of life, and He knows what is required for success. Yes, the work and discipline are sometimes too much to bear, but with our cooperation, God leads us through the process of learning.  His methods are solid and true.

In the end, we will be singing God’s praises.  We will have learned of his power and love, and that He is worthy of trust all the time.

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“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations…May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. Then the land will yield its harvest,  and God, our God, will bless us. God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him (Psalm 67:1-2,5-7).”

Gayle Sayers was one of the great running backs of all time.  He played for the Chicago Bears of the NFL in the late 60s and early 70s.  Sayers was NFL Rookie of the Year his first season. He set many records and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Brian Uhrlacheris currently one of the best defensive players in the NFL.  He plays linebacker for the Chicago Bears. He was NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and has played in several Pro Bowls (the NFL All-Star game).  Uhrlacher has played in a Super Bowl, and himself may be on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

These two all-time great Chicago Bears are now sniping at each other in the media. It all began when Sayers commented on the state of the team today. He said,”(quarterback Jay) Cutler hasn’t done the job. Urlacher, I don’t know how good he’s going to be coming back.  They need a couple wide receivers, a couple defensive backs.  If (coach) Lovie (Smith) doesn’t do it this year, I think he’s gone.”

Uhrlacher didn’t take kindly to the remarks.  “Let me ask you a question: ‘How many championships did Gale Sayers win?”’ Urlacher told the Chicago Tribune. “How many playoff games did he win when he played? None. None. None.”

And on it goes.

On the other hand, Mike Martz, the new Bears offensive coordinator is all sweetness and light when it comes to the team’s prospects.  He praises Cutler, who has been known to be insubordinate when he played for another team.

“I never let hearsay and gossip determine what I think of a player, and I haven’t with Jay”, Martz told Sports Illustrated. What I’ve seen in him so far is he has no flaws. None. He’s got no ego. I’m sure I’ve not met anyone as intelligent as him at quarterback. He’s been a great leader…”.  And so on. Martz also praises other members of the team.

The Chicago Bears are surely one of the greatest teams of all time. As of 1978, they had the most wins of any NFL team.  However, they have definitely been underachieving of late.  On February 4, 2007 they played the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl and were expected to continue their excellence, but they haven’t reached that level since.

When a favorite team doesn’t achieve, their fans and the media raise questions.  For the Chicago Bears, the verbal showdown between Sayers and Uhrlacher adds fuel to fire.

When a Christian doesn’t fulfill their potential, questions can also be raised.  Friends and family can wonder why a seemingly gifted person is underachieving.

The answer to the question of why a Christian underachieves is most likely complicated and, thus, not easily answered. Here is one possibility:  a Christian underachieves because they themselves are not serving God and seeking the welfare of others.  They are not being a blessing to God and people, so they themselves are not blessed.

The idea is that when a Christian obeys God and serves others, they release the blessing of God for themselves.  The cause and effect relationship is a little difficult to analyze. It is somewhat like the question of, “Which comes first, the chicken or the egg.?”  People can argue all day about that one. However, the cause and effect relationship does appear to be  cyclical one.

Abraham is a good case study of how blessing operates.  God told him to take his son Isaac, the miraculous boy of his old age, and offer him as a sacrifice.  This didn’t make any sense. After all, it was God Himself who engineered the birth of Isaac as the fulfillment of His promises of blessing to Abraham and his family (Genesis 17:15-21).

Abraham did what he was told, though. The story is well known. He took Isaac to a hill, put him on a stack of wood, and prepared to kill him.  At the last second, an angel of the Lord stopped him (Genesis 22:9-12).

But the angel of the Lord didn’t just stop Abraham from slaughtering his son.  He added a message from God.

  “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son,  I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies,  and through your offspring  all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me (Genesis 22:1-18).”

The cause and effect relationship in Abraham’s case looks something like this this:”Abraham blesses God — God blesses-Abraham–Abraham’s descendants bless all nations-God is blessed.

I think Mike Martz will have a similar effect on the Chicago Bears because he is blessing with his tongue instead of cursing.  This will bless his players, which will lead to victories, which will return to Mike Martz in the form of a blessing of some kind (a pay raise or a better job, for instance.)

We believers can follow Mike Martz’s example.  We can serve our wives and children, or a” significant other”. In blessing them, we will bless God and release blessing for ourselves. Who knows, we might even end up blessing the whole world. Now that would be an achievement!

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“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death (Psalm 68:19,20).”

While laying in a tent with my boys the other night, I had a strange dream.  It was a really fast-paced event: it didn’t last long.

In the dream, I was rushing around with a briefcase, running through the hallways and rooms of a Bible college I had attended in the past. I was totally stressed out, while the other seminary men around me were with their families, doing stuff that families do.

I’ve been reflecting on this dream and its meaning. I even discussed it with my pastor yesterday.  I think we both agreed it was a wake-up call from God. Here I was doing what I thought was a good thing, trying to serve God, but in the meantime I was exhausting myself and neglecting my wife and children.

I am not one to put stock in dreams as a primary communication method from God, but as I told my pastor, if Satan can use them, I figure God must use them as well at times.  As I see it, God is telling me something that I have known intellectually all along and even at times have tried to do something about: most of my life I have spent too much time trying to support my wife and kids (a good thing), but too little time nurturing them.

We Christian men are caught between a rock and a hard place today.  On the one hand, the Bible tells us that if we don’t support our families, we actually are denying our faith and are worse than unbelievers (I Timothy 5:8). 

 On the other hand, the Scriptures instruct us to nurture and care for our wives and take part in raising our children (Ephesians 5:25-33; 6:2).  Modern groups such as Promise Keepers have exhorted us to walk out of the office and fulfill these biblical obligations.

It’s a tough thing to figure out how to balance both of these responsibilities.  The thought that comes to mind is to do what one of my seminary professors once advised. He said that when faced with seemingly conflicting choices, we ought to “live at the center of biblical tension”.  I don’t exactly recall the context of this advice, but J. Robertson McQuilkin discusses it in his book on biblical ethics. So I imagine it was in this course that I heard it.

Geoff Ashley says that this biblical tension is a good thing.  He uses a game of tug-of-war with a child as an example to illustrate his point. If we maintain tension on the rope when playing this game with a child, they will be safe. But if we let go, the child will tumble backwards and hurt themselves.  Ashley says that biblical tension is like a game of tug-of-war: “If you let go of one of the sides of tension in a place where the Scripture maintains tension, you will tumble and say things like, ‘either God is absolutely sovereign or man is ultimately responsible.’ ”

Biblical tension comes when we are presented with two good truths: 1)on the one hand, God is sovereign in our lives; 2)on the other hand, we are made in His image, he has given us intelligence and also a free will to make informed choices.

As Ashley indicates, problems occur in this tension when we emphasize one of these truths over the other.  For example, relying too much on God’s sovereignty can result in irresponsibility and laziness. However, if we give ourselves too much freedom and put too much of the responsibility on ourselves, we risk making stupid, uninformed choices. It’s both/and when interpreting conflicts in the Bible, not either/or.

Abraham was faced with a dilemma in his life in where he made an either/or choice.  He knew he had a gorgeous wife in Sarah. He also knew that, as a result of having a beautiful woman as his wife, that his  life was at risk among the pagan rulers he lived with.  He figured they would just kill him and take her.

Abraham’s solution to this problem was early in his marriage to get Sarah to agree to say that she was his sister.  This was a partial truth, but it led to all kinds of grief for them. Twice, Sarah was taken away by ungodly kings who had the power in those days to do what they wanted.

In one instance God used a dream to rescue her .  He told the king who had absorbed Sarah into his harem,”You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman(Genesis 20:3) .”

 Now this king, one Abimelech, had taken Sarah in good faith. After all, to him she was Abraham’s sister. God knew that the king had brought Sarah to himself with a clear conscience, so he  instructed him to give her back and all would be well. Abimelech did so, admonishing Abraham in the process for his lie, and Abraham and Sarah went on their way.

It would have been better for all concerned if Abraham had protected his wife and asked God to protect him. Doing both would have prevented the whole situation.

 Applying this both/and principle to fulfilling our male roles as providers and family men, it seems the best course of action when faced with tough financial times is to ask God to take care of this impossible situation.  Most men I know will be responsible and work themselves to the bone to provide for their families instead of going to God for help. 

When we don’t trust God to provide for us and engage in a worhaholic lifestyle, we are making ourselves ultimately responsible instead of God. Ashley says that we make the following mistake as a result: “We emphasize the responsibility of man in such a way as to exalt man’s freedom and fail to confidently ask God to accomplish what He alone can do.”

When faced with a steep uphill climb as fathers and husbands, its time to ask God to help with the family provision.. I know this is hard. Heck, we don’t even like to ask for directions. However, it appears to be the only way to meet both the spiritual and  financial needs of our wives and children.

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