Archive for September, 2009


Moses-pulled-his-hair-outMoses was called to lead a bunch of Elder Brother Types across the wilderness desert into the Promised Land. All the pictures of Moses show him with a full head of hair, but I know he must have pulled it all out by the time he passed away. Elder Brother Types do not take leadership easily. Even after being slaves for hundreds of years, they expressed their opinions quite readily. Murmur was their middle name.

manna from heavenGod provided them manna from heaven. They murmured about this after awhile. I imagine most people would. After all, we love variety. How many ways can you prepare manna? I love to read the account of the people’s first discovery of manna:

And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’ ” And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. Exodus 16:14-18

The Bible reveals something about Elder Brother’s here. Do you know how to spot Elder Brother Types? By how much manna they gathered. All the EBT’s (Elderly Brother Types) gathered extra. They were the ones racing around to gather as much as they could. It was almost a contest to them.

manna from GodSomething unusual happened with the manna, however. The ones who gathered more had nothing left over. The people who gathered little never ran out. Paul even refers to this phenomena in 2 Corinthians 8:14, here in the context of equality and providing for others.

What does this reveal about EBT’s?

manna spoiled by wormsFirst, if they gathered too much, whatever they did not eat was spoiled with worms. It was no good the next day. EBT’s must learn to be content with what they have on a DAILY basis. We are to depend upon our Father EACH DAY for our daily bread!

Second, to avoid the stench of rotting manna, you gave away any left over manna to those who (for whatever reason) were not able to gather enough.

This lesson is important for Elder Brother’s. Don’t be so selfish that you hoard only for yourself. If you must gather a lot because of your competitive nature, do so for the purpose of GIVING TO OTHERS. This will get you closer to your younger brothers as well as your Father, because each day you come to Him for your basic needs.

Elder Brother Types tend to depend upon themselves and what they can provide for themselves. God wants EBT’s to see that all self effort is stinking worm food. If you only gather for yourself it will end up rotten, and you will barely have enough. But if you gather for the needs of others, you will never lack, you will know God’s Provision.

Elder Brothers get angry when the work of their hands is destroyed or wasted. If we learn to depend upon our Father, we will never be angry, for we will have plenty to give to others. God’s Chief Delight is to Give!

Father: Forgive me for selfishly hoarding your gifts. Teach me to depend daily upon your provisions. Teach me the importance of giving to the needs of others, that my heart might be drawn to my younger brothers.


John Baptist by MeltonJohn the Baptist was an only child. His parents were very old when he was born, and he may have been orphaned at an early age. We don’t know much about John except he was STRANGE! Funny clothes, funny food, he was an outcast in hygiene conscious Israel. There was something about his message though. Crowds from all over Israel came to hear this strange looking man speak. His message was harsh, demanding, Holy. People responded, and those that responded with insincerity he rebuked. He feared not what man could do to him. He was focused on the Word from God. He was a prophet of God. He had a job to do.

Anyone looking at John knew instantly that he was the Elder Brother Type. Hard, demanding, disciplined, driven, purposeful. His task was to prepare the way for one mightier than he – the Messiah. It was a task only an Elder Brother could do. John threw his heart and soul into his task. Then, one day, he saw this one whom he had been preaching about. At first he refused to baptize Jesus, but the Messiah insisted, and John obeyed.

Jesus-Baptized-09Such an honor for an Elder Brother. They enjoy being in the limelight. They enjoy accomplishing their mission. They hate the thought of failure. Such thoughts were on John’s mind later on, after the lights had faded, and he found himself in prison. There was no fanfare now, no admiring crowds. John the Elder Brother was at the end of his mission, his life, yet he had not seen the Messiah come forth with power as he had presumed.

John_the_Baptist003The doubts were eating at John. He considered himself a failure. This was not how it was supposed to end. He imagined the Stellar Rise of the Messiah, with the crowds hoisting John on their shoulders as they sang his praises for preparing the way. Yet no Messiah came forth, the crowds were off following others. He was imprisoned, forgotten.

Word came to our brooding Elder Brother about Jesus of Nazareth and the amazing things He was doing. John the Elder Brother was anxious to know if he had done his task well, to hear encouraging words, perhaps even a thank you. Scriptures record:

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” Matthew 11:2-6

Jesus refused to answer John directly, but closed his remarks with “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me!” What kind of answer is that? This doesn’t sound like a very loving Savior! This is no way to treat the one who prepared the way for you!

Jesus blessed are youJohn’s response is not recorded, but if you understand Elder Brother’s, you know how he responded. Elder Brother’s love accomplishment, and through His message Jesus revealed to John that his mission had truly been accomplished. His disciples delivered this word from Jesus and expected Johnt to be upset, but John just laid back down and started laughing. Jesus had just reminded him of something he had said in the wilderness, when his disciples asked him about Jesus baptizing at the same time as John.

In John 3:30, John had said “He must increase, and I must decrease!” In one swift blow Jesus had assured John and had thanked him as well! John had let the Elder Brother in him get the best of him. He had started to get offended because things weren’t going as John had thought they should. Jesus reminded John that He is Lord! And John is blessed when he doesn’t get offended at what the Lord is doing!

Wow! This is a lesson that EVERY Elder Brother must learn. Elder Brothers like things under control, according to their plan. But Jesus wants us to learn that He must be in charge, His plan is what is important, and we will be blessed if we realize He is Lord!

john-the-baptist-imprisonedFor a moment, John the Baptist was being the Elder Brother, and focusing on his situation and what he supposed was or wasn’t going according to schedule. He was frustrated, depressed, concerned, even bewildered. Elder Brothers will get that way because we are so intent on getting our way and accomplishing our tasks.

BUT JESUS!

Elder Brothers, look to Jesus, and surrender what you want to Him! And then DO NOT GET OFFENDED when He does things differently than what you want! Jesus must increase, and we must decrease!

Father: Everything I want to accomplish today I surrender to you, Father! Your will and purpose are supreme! May I not get upset or offended when things do not go my way! Keep everything going YOUR WAY!


cainThe first Elder Brother mentioned in the Bible was Cain. Cain provides a picture of typical  Elder Brothers. They tend to be hands on. They are not dreamers watching the flock, but have to get their hands dirty at whatever they are doing. They just have to stay busy. Elder Brothers are stubborn. They think their way is best and do not take criticism well. Elder brothers are proud of their accomplishments. They resent it when someone questions what they have done, or implies that it isn’t very good (they REALLY resent back seat drivers). Elder Brothers are not very generous. They tend to count pennies. Elder Brothers also allow their passions to get the best of them, and often get angry. Sure, they usually justify and even deny their anger, but they get angry nonetheless.

Cain Kills AbleSuch was Cain, a hard worker, stubborn, proud, stingy and given to anger. He didn’t see himself that way, until God confronted him. Then he saw himself as the sinful man that he was. How did God deal with him? He struck him where it would hurt the most:

No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.” Genesis 4:12

He struck him at his pride of accomplishment, that which the Elder Brother values above everything else. Elder Brothers love to be seen as accomplished, successful, worth something. Cain would no longer have good crops, he would no longer have easy success, he would no longer have a nice home to invite people to. He would forever be a wanderer.

Cain protested that this was too much to bear, that people would try to kill him. So God put a mark on Cain, to serve as a warning of judgment to anyone who killed him.

Cain - Unicorn ManHave you ever wondered what that mark was? I have. The Jewish Rabbi’s have some wild theories about the mark. The one I like best is from Rabbi Joseph who says it was a long horn growing out of his head! Picture Hellboy with only one horn.

As an Elder Brother who has experienced the DISCIPLINING Hand of God, I think I know. Whatever this mark looked like, it showed Cain’s BROKENNESS. Elder Brothers can only experience a relationship with the Father if they have been truly broken. How do I know Cain was broken? He named his first born son Enoch or Chanoch which signifies “instructed, dedicated, or initiated, especially in sacred things.” It may be considered some proof of Cain’s repentance, that he appears to have dedicated this son to God (Adam Clarke)

Cain could no longer have anything he might boast in, that his hands had made or grown. But he did have a son. Instead of boasting in his son, Broken Cain dedicated him to God. This is what brokenness will produce, and what Elder Brothers must experience if they are to know the Father’s heart. They must realize that nothing they have or have done is worth anything unless they give it to God! The Father is the source of ALL BLESSINGS, and a broken Elder Brother will know that, and give thanks!

Father: Reveal those things in my life that I am proud of, and that I am holding onto as MY accomplishment. Allow me to let go, and give them to you. May I share in the brokennes of your Son, my True Elder Brother.


Younger Brother returnsWhat was the difference between the younger and the elder brother that meant that one could enjoy the feast and the other could not? The Prodigal or younger son feasted with the Father, while the Elder Brother did not go in, even though the Father begged him.

Why is it that some Christians experience the power and presence of God and some do do not? Why do some of God’s children live victorious lives while others are in a state of constant defeat? The difference is not explained by the presence or absence of the Father. He is present with every child of His.

banquet The-Invitation-PostersGod is Father to both sons, yet only one enjoyed the feast. Why? The younger son had come to a place of deep reverence for his Father, while the Elder Brother had not. The prodigal son recognized the Divine ownership of his life, while the Elder Brother was still his own master.

Peter wrote “Sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord” (1 Peter 3:15) Elder Brothers will never feast with the Father until they realize He is Lord of every aspect of their life. Elder Brothers must let go of everything, and realize it is all the Father’s. He is Lord!

The Prodigal returned with nothing. Even his reputation and standing were gone. He had become as nothing. He had no where to go but to the Father’s arms. Instead of scorn, his Father kissed him and opened his storehouse of grace to him. Can you feel the great reverence and humility that must have overwhelmed the prodigal’s heart? Such a Father! Such a Relationship! His Father became the Lord of his life!

Younger and Elder BrothersThe Elder Brother clung tighter to his world, and refused to reverence the Father’s wishes. He gained his world, but lost the Father’s Heart!

Elder Brother, how is your relationship with the Father? Do you feast with Him every day? Or is your relationship cold, lifeless, sterile? Open your arms to Him as your Lord. Realize you are nothing without Him.

Father: I want your Life! Teach me that I am nothing without you. Nothing in the world matters except my relationship with YOU!


Sign Language for "Stuck Up"

Sign Language for "Stuck Up"

Since I began this journey with the Prodigal God by Timothy Keller, my eyes have been opened to see the Elder Brother throughout the Bible. It is a whole new way of understanding the Gospel as well. The most amazing discovery has been the freedom that comes from admitting to God that we are an Elder Brother. There is no point in pretending. He knows our heart. He knows when we look down on others, when we think we are better than others. There is nothing wrong with being an Elder Brother. What is wrong is when we deny it, and say we are OK.

When you realize you are an Elder Brother, and are open and honest with God, and then ask Him to transform you into the True Elder Brother, the one who is not stingy or judgmental or selfish, WATCH OUT. He will start to work, and it will be painful.

Traduce a brotherOne way God will get you to let go of yourself is to let you see your self in a bad light. He will let you be TRADUCED! When you are traduced, you are “exposed to contempt or shame by means of false statements or misrepresentation.God will let you experience what it means to have someone look down at you, to judge you. Even if you have done nothing wrong, expect to be TRADUCED. It is God’s way of softening your heart to the needs of younger brothers. Elder Brothers have condemned and judged younger brothers far too long. God wants to see how you react to the wagging finger and upturned nose.

I experienced TRADUCING yesterday. Someone questioned my character by way of a misrepresentation. They had judged me yet did not have the guts to tell me to my face, or to tell me of their concerns. They had to have someone else do it. I had done nothing wrong, yet my blood started to boil, and I wanted to lash out. I especially despise cowards, people who talk about you behind your back yet will not talk to your face. As I was listening, blood boiling, the Father brought a verse to my heart, about Jesus not reviling when he was reviled, but committing himself to Him who judges righteously. (1 Peter 2:23 paraphrased). He reminded me that I had given my reputation to God several years ago, and that I must rest in Him. That is tough for an Elder Brother to do, especially when he is a Pastor. We tend to say “How Dare You!”

JesusbeatenYet Jesus is our True Elder Brother, and when He was TRADUCED, simply took it, and focused on His Father. He also prayed and forgave those who TRADUCED Him. So for the next few hours I prayed, forgave and asked the Father to enlarge my heart. The only way Elder Brothers will learn to be like Jesus is to learn to Love when we feel like hating or exacting revenge. I confessed I did not know how to love, but I knew the Father did.

Then I read what David Roper wrote in Our Daily Bread this morning:

“It was 40 years ago or more that I observed a friend of mine showing great affection for someone I considered unworthy of love. I thought my friend was being taken in, and I was afraid he would be disillusioned and saddened in the end. When I expressed my concern, he replied, “When I stand before my Lord, I hope He’ll say of me that I’ve loved too many, rather than too few.” I’ve never forgotten his words.”

The author continued expounding 1 Cor 13:7 “Love believes all things”“Love “believes” in people. It can see the potential in them. It believes that God can take the most unattractive and unworthy individual and turn that person into a masterpiece of beauty and grace. If love errs, it must err in the way of trustfulness and hopefulness.”

Love the UnlovelyThis is what Elder Brothers need to see. Instead of thinking we are the righteous ones, the ones whom the Father needs because we are so responsible, we need to see ourselves  along side the younger brother in the pigsty. We need to know what it is to be TRADUCED and looked down upon. Then we need to look at our Father and say, When our heart feels the Love of the Father even when we are at our worst, please let me never see another person as unattractive or unworthy or filthy or useless. Let me see them as YOUR MASTERPIECE! Then our heart is enlarged to LOVE THE UNLOVELY! May we ever look to the Father and pray that He will some day accuse us of loving too many, rather than too few!

Have no HeartElder brothers need to be TRADUCED so that we understand the pain and hurt of our younger brothers. When our hearts are aching then we will be sensitive to the pain of the younger brother’s heart. We will reach out to our Father for help, and only then will we be able to reach out to our younger brother. Sure, they may continue to break our heart, but as David Roper said: “It’s better to believe in someone and have your heart broken than to have no heart at all.

Lord, help us to believe in people
And all that in them You can do,
So we can say we’ve loved too many,
Rather than too few. —Sper

The Father looks beyond what the brothers are to what they can become.

Father: Soften and enlarge my heart to love my younger brothers the way my True Elder Brother loves me. Empower me to love the unlovely. May I never look down on anyone. May I see others as You see them!