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January 2004 Archives

January 2, 2004

You Complete Me

Genesis 1:27; 2:18, 21-22
27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
18 And the Lord God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him."
21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

As I begin this new year I've been thinking about my relationship with my wife. Most of my "resolutions" for the year have to do with being a more attentive and disciplined husband - keeping my stuff picked up and put away, not procrastinating on my "honey do's," generally being more helpful around the house. These are the little things that should relieve pressure off of her. So today as I read the creation story the creation of man caught my attention.

Genesis 1:1-2:7 is the chronological description of the the seven days. From 2:8 on is another kind of description of the story. It is the relational description between God and mankind. In the chronological story, God placed in man both the female and male. To be made in His image required both the characteristics of each gender. Just as God is fully expressed in the trinity, His image as reflected in the creation of mankind is realized in both male and female.

God understood that "completeness" alone was not sufficient. There is a relational dynamic that must be realized. That's why God understood the need for a "comparable" being to man; a partner, a helper, a mate. Still the completeness of man(kind) is realized as man and woman are joined together in oneness.

This is not to say that single people are anything less than whole. Still, I understand in my life what one-ness has produced. There's a quote from a movie where a man is explaining his need for his wife when he said to her, "you complete me." That is why I want to become the best husband I can because of what it will affirm in my wife and in my own life of being made in His image.

Lord, I desire to be a man who treasures above everything else the priviledge of being made in Your image and the pleasure of being complete-ed.

January 13, 2004

Male Validation

Genesis 26:34-35; 27:46; 28:6-9
34 When Esau was forty years old, he took as wives Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah.

46 Rebekah said to Isaac, "I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth; if Jacob takes a wife of the daughters of Heth, like these who are the daughters of the land, what good will my life be to me?"

6 Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Padan Aram to take himself a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, "You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan," 7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and had gone to Padan Aram. 8 Also Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please his father Isaac. 9 So Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife in addition to the wives he had.

Many men deal with the "Esau syndrome." Without rehearsing all of Esau's story, early on he was willing to sacrifice the long term ("birthright") for immediate indulgences. Then once he realized what he lost, he spent the next season of his life trying to overcome his "failure" and prove his worth to those he felt he had disappointed - his father (giving away his birthright), his mother (bad marriage choices). He then complicates the issue by taking on more responsibility (a new wife). He never is at ease until he encounters Jacob. Something happens during these years that finally Esau is at ease with himself.

I don't know why we (men, or me) try to make up for past mistakes by going overboard trying to prove ourselves to others and gain their approval. Is is out of regret for past mistakes? Have we let our failures defines us so that we need others to validate us? At some point, each man has to grow up and find that he has God's approval, birthright or not, a wife from the right family or not, and learn to be comfortable in his own skin if we will ever be able to walk in the "blessing" (Genesis 33:4, 8-11)

Lord, help me to live with nothing to prove, comfortable with who you've made me to be and with what you are doing in me.

January 15, 2004

A Force To Be Reckoned With

Matthew 10:34; 11:12
34 "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword..."
12 "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force."

These are two of the most difficult of Jesus' statments. They seem to contradict His message of love and peace. For me today, they scream loud and strong a message of urgency.

The issues of life are literally matters of life and death (eternal and everlasting). Jesus' sword (which in other places in the NT represents the Word) seperates that which will produce either life or death in my life (Heb 4:12). The Truth always produces conflict because it wages war against my flesh, dividing my soul and my spirit, and discerns my thoughts and intentions. Jesus did not come to passify mankind - He came to deliver us, to seperate us from sin and bring us into freedom.

In the same way the Jesus has contended (and throught the HS, continues to contend) for our freedom, I must now contend for that which has become my life's cause - the Kingdom of God. And as a warrior, I must not be entangled with the affairs of the world (2 Timothy 2:4). I want to please Him and pleasing Him requires a violent, radical, forceful obedience on my part.

Lord, I want to be a force for you in my world.

January 17, 2004

Face Up

Genesis 35:1
Then God said to Jacob, "Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother."

Jacob remembers this location well. It's the place where he encountered God - "I have seen God face to face." (32:30) He found himself in that situation to begin with because he was avoiding "facing" his brother Esau. We use a term to describe the process of confronting things in our lives. It's called "facing" - your fears, your issues, etc. No matter how long we try to avoid it, at some point we will find ourselves in a "face off" with the very things we have been running from. The issue God used to bring Jacob to that moment was his fear of Esau's revenge. God knew the issue that Jacob needed to face was his identity. Really, that's what he was wrestling with that night - guilt, manipulation, all the things that had motivated his life. That night, the issue changed. It was evident in his encounter with Esau the next day. I love his words to his brother - "I have seen your face as thought I had seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me." (33:10)

It seems that after we face our issues, grappling with them until they cannot prevail against you (see 32:25), we see those issues differenly. In hindsight, we no longer see our fears, insecurities, our failures. Instead we see them as the face of God.

And it doesn't rest there. The point of struggle becomes a place of worship. Even more, it becomes your home, your place of residence. God will bring us back to those encounters to remember what we have faced, what we have persevered, and it becomes the place of blessing.

Lord, wherever I have to be to face what you need me to face, take me there. So that I too can see Your face.

January 19, 2004

Takin' Care of Buisness

Genesis 34:3-5
And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. 5 So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake...

There seems to be a simple formula for promotion that is found in Joseph's life: faithfulness ("all he did..") - favor ("So Jospeh found favor in his sight...") - responsibility ("made him overseer...") - blessing (the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake..."). This pattern was repeated in in prison too.

It's just like I tell Justin his role is in our family - TCB ("take care of business"). It's a reminder to me as well. And Joseph is a good model of TCB.

January 21, 2004

The Path to Greatness

Psalm 18:31-36
31 For who is God, except the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?
32 It is God who arms me with strength,
And makes my way perfect.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of deer,
And sets me on my high places.
34 He teaches my hands to make war,
So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35 You have also given me the shield of Your salvation;
Your right hand has held me up,
Your gentleness has made me great.
36 You enlarged my path under me,
So my feet did not slip.

Driven by a need to succeed (which is really a need for recognition, affirmation), I take success and defeat very personally. Still I am learning that just as those things do not define me, neither am I responsible for making them. My strength is a provided by God. My way has been prepared by Him. He has given me the ability not to stumble while also removing the obstacles that would cause me to falter. He has taught me how to engage in the right battles and even provides my defense. Still, these things are not the source of success.

"Your gentleness has made me great." (v.35) Away from the battlefields of my life, God nurtures me, heals my wounds, encourages and restores me. This word "gentleness" describes God's meekness and humility. Any success or "greatness" I might achieve can only be attributed to the gentle way of the Lord's working in my life. That's why John the Baptist is able to say, "He must increase, I must decrease." I join in his desire.

Lord, let Your name be great. Let me not be consumed by selfish ambition, fooled into thinking that any achievement are of my own merit,. Let my life be a witness to your gentleness.

January 27, 2004

"Ooooohhhh...fire...pretty..."

Exodus 3:2-3
And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. 3 Then Moses said, "I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn."

"why the bush does not burn..." This has to be one of the silliest questions ever asked in the Bible, except that it's exactly the kind of question I ask all the time. Vs. 2 says that "the Angel of the Lord" appeared to Moses. A pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus, God himself shows up to interact face to face with Moses...and Moses is more intrigued by a bush that is one fire but doesn't burn - "this great sight...". God doesn't even get Moses' attention until vs. 6 when He reminds Moses who He is.

How is it that I can be so captured by what God's presence produces and overlook him? Why when God shows up that our attention is captured by the circumstance and not His countenance. How many bushes have there been in my life that have I have focused on and God has had to get my attention? I'd like to think that if God showed up in my everyday life that I would automatically respond. There's a gnawing sense that he does, and I don't - "ooohhh...fire...a bush..." and God says, "hey, I'm in here!"

Lord, I desire to be a man who sees you in every situation, instead of being distracted by the "special effects."

January 28, 2004

Too Little, Too Late

Exodus 6:9
So Moses spoke thus to the children of Israel; but they did not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage.

Discouragement is one of the greatest weapons of the enemy. It drains our faith and buries our hope. Often, the emotional toll it takes combines with the physical circumstances results in our not having the strength to even hold on to hope. This verse describes the forsaken sense of discouraged people: "shortness" of spirit and cruel bondage. The resevoiur of hope in our lives becomes empty. Even when it is filled a little, it is not enough to sustain a recovery. Combined with oppressive circumstances, belief is in limited supply.

There have been moments where I have found myself discouraged like this. Desperate for deliverance, yet unable to believe it is possible. Still the word of the Lord remains true and his hand strong on behalf of his people. He brings us out, and into a new place of faith and hope for the future.

Lord, thank you for your deliverance from discouragement,

January 30, 2004

The humble...

Psalm 25:9
The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way
.

Everywhere I look in the Word, I'm seeing how expensive pridefulness is. It is such a arrier to communincation with God and probably the greatest cause of disobedience. It's hard to listen to God when you always think you know what is best and want to do things "my way" and not His. Prideful people cannot be led anywere. They won't even pull over and ask for directions. Prideful people's ears are closed to wisdom.

But the humble... recieve grace. The humble... are protected. They do not have to defend themselves. The humble are led by the Lord and learn His ways - he He thinks, how He works, what He wants.

Lord, as I humble myself, show me Your ways.

About January 2004

This page contains all entries posted to JustJeff | Life Journal in January 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2003 is the previous archive.

February 2004 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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