Independence or Dependence

Good Monday Morning to this week 25 of 2019

Then Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you’:  I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children. For You said, ‘I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’ ”

Looking at this prayer in verses 9-12. It may be imagination, but I think Jacob is trying to manipulate God in his prayer. In verse 9 he is claiming God’s promise that He would bless Jacob. In verse 10 he gives God the credit for his prosperity and then he again claims God’s promise to bless him in verses 11-12. It seems to me that Jacob was almost saying to God, “Come through for me God. You promised me. You owe me!”

I find his story of Jacob particularly intriguing because we get to see his whole family and how they interact. In modern language, Jacob came from a really dysfunctional family, and we will see the influence bad parents can have on their children.

Jacob’s messed up family life helped shape him into being a manipulative person. Jacob’s style of relating was one of manipulating others. He tried to control life and depended on himself, not God. God had to break Jacob of this bad pattern of relating. How it is that God finally got through to him?

All this weakness in Isaac let Rebekah take over. It was her natural tendency. Isaac’s natural tendency was to be passive, so she took over the family and Jacob’s life. Rebekkah had problems. When her twins are born, she shows partiality to Jacob, the non-hairy weaker looking one. Gen 25:27 says Jacob spent most of his time at home. So Rebekah takes over his life and arranges everything for him. She teaches him how to cook. She arranges for him to get the blessing, she arranges for his deliverance from Esau by sending him to her brother Laban, telling him everything will work out fine.

So I think we can see that Jacob came from a fairly typical family. His mother had a tendency to want to take control. The father let her. His brother was just a natural man concerned with the things of this world.

I do think we can assume that Jacob knew that he was supposed to end up with the birthright eventually. I’m sure his mother told him what the Lord had told her. (The older will serve the younger). What this event shows us is that Jacob was not willing to wait on the Lord.

It is ironic but that Jacob left the promised land which was part of his blessing. It ought to be obvious to Jacob that there is something wrong with this picture. It ought to indicate that the way Jacob got the blessing was not what God would have planned.

However, we see that in spite of Jacob’s deceitful way of obtaining the blessing, God is going to honor it.

But that night God, who is still trying to get through to Jacob, meets with Jacob in a wrestling match!  Verse 24 says, “Jacob was left alone.” It is such a little phrase, but I think it is very, very important. He had run out of resources. Jacob has finally been broken. Jacob is at the end of his rope. His life is a mess. He is all alone, he has exhausted his own resources and has to face Esau alone. I think Jacob is finally broken to the point where he will now trust in God.

As soon as we see that Jacob is alone, it says that “a man wrestled with him.” That man is God. We know that because Jacob is given a new name, “Israel” which means “he fights with God.”

What did God do to Jacob when He wanted to get hold of Jacob’s life?

He revealed Himself to him.

God says “let me go”!  But Jacob wouldn’t let go. He says, “I won’t let you go unless you bless me.” Jacob has finally come to the point where he would rather die than live without God’s blessing.

Jacob’s name was changed to Israel when he finally began to trust in God. Israel was God’s covenant name for the new nation. The name “Jacob” represents independence from God and “Israel” represents dependence on God. It is not a hard and fast rule, but it seems to me that there are certain places in the OT where God calls the nation, “Jacob,” instead of, “Israel,” and it is because they are acting independently.

Incidentally, after he meets with God, we see that although he left the people divided into two groups, instead of hiding behind them, he now goes out in front of them to face Esau alone. He now is depending on God and not his own resources. Esau receives him openly and it seems that there are no hard feelings, forgiveness and reconciliation happens. God has paved the way for Jacob to return to the promised land.

Jacob’s problem? He wanted to control his life, so he manipulated people. Jacob thought he could make it on his own without God, yet only with his “new name” did reconciliation happen and he was able to return to the “terrain” of blessing.

Reflecting on our lives – yes this is a problem, a challenge, a promise and blessing as we go from independence to dependency on God.

Wishing a blessed week!

Philemon

 

 

 

 

 

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Unboss or WWJD


For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and everyone who humbles himself will be exalted. Jesus

Good Monday Morning to this week 24 of 2019

This week I was reading and quite impressed by the trend in large companies to apply methods of “Unboss”.

UNBOSS is a new mindset that turns conventional understanding of management and works on its head and transforms limited companies into unlimited movements.

Here are some of their principles:

– Focus on purpose rather than profit.
– Dissolve the old hierarchy and encourage everyone to work together.
– Transform your business into an unlimited social network.
–  Become a great place to work and attract the best people.
– Step aside and let your co-workers take the lead.
– Turn customers into partners and advocates for your cause.
– Involve people outside your company – also in research and development.
– Tolerate mistakes and talk openly about them.
– Strengthen dialogue throughout the organization through the use of social media
– Forget short-term go back to passion the basis upon which you were founded.
– Think about who would really miss your organization if it ceased to exist today.

Good stuff – I like it!

Somehow I get the feeling Jesus knew a whole lot about this method and put it into practice a long time ago! He knew a lot about priorities, passion, future, purpose, changing society, bottom-up instead of top-down, recruiting, drawing in, encouraging, strengthening, dealing with mistakes, relationships, authority, power and much more.

Here are some of the statements that changed the world and that can keep changing the world if applied.

– Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40

– Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8 NIV

– Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.

– Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

– As you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. Jesus

–  For where your treasure is, there your heart is! Jesus

– And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ The King

– Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another. Hebrews

– God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. Peter

– We may ask, what does someone know, Jesus asks, how is he using what he knows.

– Jesus solved problems in people’s lives. The more He did this, the more His reputation spread and the more influence He had among the people and the culture. His core method was through extravagant servant leadership.

– Jesus’ life as a foot-washing servant would eventually lead to the adoption of humility as a widely admired virtue.

– The ancient world loved education but tended to reserve it for the elite; the notion of Jesus, that every child bore God’s image helped fuel the move for universal literacy.

– Jesus had a universal concern for those who suffered that transcended the rules of the ancient world. His compassion for the poor and the sick led to institutions for lepers, the beginning of modern-day hospitals.

– Jesus had a way of championing the excluded that was often downright irritating to those in power. His inclusion of women led to a community to which women flocked in disproportionate numbers. Slaves—up to a third of ancient populations—might wander into a church fellowship and have a slave-owner wash their feet rather than beat them.

– The apostle Paul said: “Now there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave or free, male and female, but all are one in Christ Jesus.” Thomas Cahill wrote that this was the first statement of egalitarianism in human literature.

Jesus established culture, a flourishing culture. A few principles by Shelly Trebesch

1. Authentic Engagement
2. Invitation to Participate
3. Empowerment
4. Correction

With these behaviors, he established a flourishing culture, a framework, a reproducing, life-oriented environment where anyone could experience God’s, true heart.

Wishing you a wonderful empowered and engaged week in participation with what Jesus wants to do with you.

Philemon

Interruptions

The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one’s life. C.S. Lewis

Good Monday Morning to this week 23 of 2019

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in Life Together,

We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks. . . .

Interruption, a period of time between two events

a temporary or permanent stop in a process

a situation in which something happens later or more slowly than you expected

a short period of time between two longer periods

a time at which one thing ends completely and a new thing begins

a time during which something interrupts a process or activity

a short time between periods of work in an official organization, especially a court or parliament

a short break in the middle of a play, film, concert etc

a period of time in which you are allowed to change your mind about a contract or agreement that you have signed

Bonhoeffer petitions to stop and allow for interruption — to cultivate a disruption theology, as it were. This benefits both the one doing the interrupting, as well as the person being interrupted because it is in those instances God reveals himself in ways we may never have seen or experienced otherwise. God is erecting visible signs of the cross in our path.

Interruption is God’s invitation. God is inviting us to see him all around us, in the lives of others, in our conversations, in our serving those in need.

When Jesus was interrupted, He started where He was and helped those in need who were nearest to Him. There is always another mission “out there”—the next cause, the next city, or the next country that seems to be the most important mission we could pursue. Jesus illustrates that our greatest mission is often the person in front of us.  Dillon Burroughs

I wish you many good interruptions this week!

Philemon