Posts Tagged ‘Joseph’

Laila and Claire having funIs it age, nostalgia or wisdom that causes us to see what others take for granted? At times I find myself standing on a precipice and seeing across time even when in simple situations. Part of that is a growing awareness of how God interweaves our lives to accomplish His purpose. Especially lives that on the surface don’t appear to be connected. One such moment happened this weekend, when my son and his family came to visit from Alexandria, VA. There were several times when we got all the kids and grandkids together, and the gatherings were great and enjoyable. It had been a year since Ben and his family had been in Kansas City. I must be honest, nine young grandkids can be chaotic. They yank so hard at your attention.

We had several gatherings, but one thing was clear, our family of six kids and four spouses and nine grandkids enjoy spending time together. They visit, talk, communicate and play. They care for one another. I am proud of that, for I have seen far too many broken families.

Grandkids playingAlthough my attention was on my family this weekend, especially my grand children, at one point I found myself standing on that precipice of time again. Oddly enough it was because of my grandchildren.  In the picture you see 4-year-old Laila having a simple conversation with 5-year-old cousin Claire. They were simply sitting on the steps of Tonya’s home having a great time, enjoying the 74 degree weather in January! To them it was a moment that quickly passed, soon forgotten. Their mother’s were watching with joyful hearts, and to them it was a warm but fleeting moment. I saw something entirely different, for God had transported my mind to that precipice again, the one with His view, His Eternal View.

My Dad enjoying his grandkids

My Dad enjoying his grandkids

Unknown to my family visiting and having fun around me, I was transported back to a day in March 1995. It was Sunday, March 26th, and the weather was warm and sunny like it was for Laila and Claire. Instead of this home being Tonya’s and her husband Ben, it was where our entire family lived. Tonya and Ben were high school sweethearts. There were no grandchildren yet. We were coming home after church. When we drove into our driveway, we saw my brother Tim sitting on those same steps. He wasn’t laughing. His face was red. His expression made my stomach sicken. I knew something was wrong. I jumped from our Van and Tim cried out “He’s dead! Dad’s dead!” Time came to a screeching halt. Even now the tears flow from my eyes.

Laila and Claire on the painful porchThere Laila and Claire sat, oblivious to the eternal power of their great-grandparents prayers, oblivious to that painful moment that rocked my world 17 years ago at this very spot. They may not realize it now, but they will. God holds them in His hand. They are His, and they will come to know Him as their Creator God. This will happen not because of any special talent or ability they may have. This will happen simply because God takes His possessions seriously. And my parents gave my grandchildren to God. They dedicated them to Him, even though they never got to see them. My wife and I continue in those very prayers. And now, we kneel on that same precipice, and pray for that same Godly Heritage.

Our Eternal Connection

My grandchildren are connected across eternity with Jim and Clare Tompkins. Their children will share the same connection. One day my children will recall my prayers for their children and grandchildren. And so God will continue His work, His Will on earth, because my Dad and Mom took His Word seriously, and prayed that His will would be done in their family, just as His will is done in heaven.

One day, perhaps soon, I will stand with my parents and see how God’s grace has worked and is working in our family. I will know how God works through our prayers and concerns. I will fully understand the importance of a Godly Heritage. And my prayer today is that my children and grandchildren will take my place on that precipice of eternity, the unseen precipice that only those who see with the eyes of the Holy Spirit can stand and kneel upon. For when you stand there, seeing as God sees, you pray!

Joseph Could See that which was Eternal

fruitful bough conquers the wallGod described Joseph as a fruitful “bough” in Genesis 49:22. The Hebrew is actually “ben” or son, but the context caused the translators to use the word “bough” as in a plant.

“Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; his branches run over the wall. Genesis 49:22

However, I believe God wants us to realize that, as His Sons, we are plants, and our children and grand children are branches. They are connected to us in a real sense, an eternal sense. When we see our connectedness, we will see the need to pray far into the future. For only as we grow strong through our connectedness will we be able to climb the wall, or as I see it, overcome barriers and enemies. This is what Joseph experienced.

The archers bitterly attacked him, shot at him, and harassed him severely, yet his bow remained unmoved; his arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), by the God of your father who will help you, by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that crouches beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. Genesis 49:23-25

Joseph was a dreamer, a man who saw things that others did not. His brothers treated him cruelly, and his response was “what you meant for evil, God meant for God!” Joseph knew that precipice, stood with a view to eternity. Joseph survived all those hardships because he could see his connectedness with his family and with God’s purpose. Do you? Do you live with a view of eternity? Are you afraid to stand on that precipice of time and see your connectedness? Do not go there if you see no value in prayer.

As I talked with my kids on that painful porch, we recounted the neighbors that had died while we lived there. One troubled teen had perished in a car crash as he was fleeing the police. That family later moved away, broken and defeated, the parents later divorcing. Another neighbor, a father experiencing tremendous back pain from repeated operations, took his own life. Years later, his son committed suicide as well.

praying on the precipice of eternityTragedy happens in our lives, in our families. It happened in Joseph’s life and among his family. How your family handles that tragedy will depend upon whether you see the God who controls the precipice of eternity, whether you are willing to see your life from His point of view. He who overcomes the wall and stands firm to the end is the one who sees the connectedness of family, even those you will never see. You must be willing to kneel on that precipice of eternity before the throne of the one who holds eternity in His hands.

Will your family be a fruitful bough? Will your family grow into a Godly Heritage? Are you able to SEE Him who is invisible? He stand firm to the end who can SEE!

For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. Psalm 61:5 

Journey of an Elder Brother Day Three

Joseph cast into pitJoseph was a younger brother, but had the characteristics of an elder brother. He was responsible, industrious, kept out of trouble. What was the driving force of Joseph that enabled him to escape the normal pitfalls of being either a lost younger or a lost elder brother? I think the driving force of Joseph was his confidence in God’s plan for his life. Joseph saw his life, no matter the place or dungeon he was in, as in the PURPOSE of GOD!

In Genesis 50:20 Joseph addresses his elder brothers: “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good!” Earlier in chapter 45 he revealed his awareness that “God sent me before you to preserve life.” This awareness of God’s divine purpose for our life is what elder and younger brothers need to have. Jospeh God meant it for good

If we focus on ourselves, on our things as the two lost sons did, we fall away from the Father’s heart.

But when we draw near to him, whether in the pigstye or the crop field, we will see that He is accomplishing something Divine, Holy, even Loving. God has a purpose for each path He has us on. Some may resent their parents, some thier spouse, some their job, some their circumstances. God has a purpose through it all. When we focus on His heart and His purpose, we will come to our senses (our God Sense) and willingly accept His grace, His will, His plan.Prodigal God Kisses his neck

What has God planned for your life? Seek to know His heart, and He will run to you and shower you with kisses. Joseph knew this, even in the deepest, darkest dungeon. That is why he could proclaim, “God meant it for good!”

From Pathway of Blessing

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christmas-memoriesThe week after Christmas is the time when I reflect on memories of past holidays. I like to remember the good times we have had. I need to do this because there were times when I dreaded Christmas. Instead of Christmas with the Cranks, it was Christmas with the Crank! December would roll around, and I would change into Mr. Crank. With six little kids aged 8, 7, 6, 5, 3 and 1, I dreaded the thought of finding all the toys on their Christmas List. I hated Cabbage Patch Dolls. I hated Teddy Ruxpin. They haunted my dreams and drained what little money we had. My eyes would glaze over thinking about how much my wife would spend trying to provide the ‘perfect‘ Christmas for our Six children. I must confess I dreaded Christmas. It lost all meaning for me other than Money and how little I with the Crank

The amazing thing is that God changed my heart. I still like to be frugal, but we have settled in to our new lifestyle and Christmas is a wonderful time for me. My eyes still glaze over a bit, and I still fuss about how much we spend, but I look forward to seeing my kids and grandkids, to staying up late, playing games, playing with the grandkids. Now maybe this change is due somewhat to growing older, but for the most part God has worked on my mind, my mindset. He has changed the way I look at Christmas. I’ve been called Scrooge, even Grinch, but not so much now. I have realized the importance of having a right mindset towards Christmas.

While I was reflecting this week, God brought Philippians 2:5 to my mind. “Let this mind (phroneo) be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:”

The Greek word used here is “phroneo”. Some translators use the word “attitude” instead of “mind”. Have this attitude that Jesus had, etc. But I believe this means much more than “attitude”. If we view this as just an attitude to have, it really weakens what it means to have the same mind as Jesus. If it is merely an attitude we are to strive for, that makes us seem like dogs. God is up in heaven and he’s watching us, and whenever one of us fetches real good, or has a real good attitude when he asks us to do something, God reaches down and pats our head and says, that’s a good boy, Jim, here’s a nice treat for you to chew on. Phroneo is based upon the word “phren”, which is the Greek word for diaphragm, meaning to curb or restrain. The Greeks viewed the diaphragm as a very important controlling organ. It combined the heart as the seat of passions as well as the mind as the seat of mental faculties. So the word “phroneo” refers precisely to the ability not only to think but to also control one’s thoughts and attitudes. To the Greeks, an “a-phren” (without control) was a FOOL.

The Mind of Christ Governs our Mind Will and Emotions

So, this word for mind phroneo refers to a mindset, a way of thinking that GOVERNS our mind our will and our emotions.

Now to put on the mind that was in Christ is a lot more than a change in attitude, or a renewed outlook in life. It wasn’t a good attitude that took Jesus to the Cross. It wasn’t a sunny disposition that enabled Him to endure the lashes that tore His back. No New Year’s resolution about having a good attitude could have enabled him to stand up to those soldiers beating and mocking Him without ever striking back.

No, Jesus had something deep down within Him that controlled all those passions and thoughts and desires. Jesus had a mindset that controlled His actions and attitudes. And the amazing truth from Philippians 2:5 is that we can have that same mind controlling our thoughts and our will. That is what Philippians 2: 13 says: “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

Your Mindset toward Christmas says a great deal about your mindset toward God and His Word.

Having the Right Mindset Toward Christmas says two things about you. I’ll discuss one and then toward the end I’ll discuss the second.

First: Having the Mind of Christ means you Connect to one another in Humility.

Romans 12:16-17 (NASB) Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.

humilityThe Mind of Christ will not come into a proud mind. In order for Jesus to have the right mindset to even be born and so bring us Christmas, look what He had to do:

Philippians 2:6-8 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Jesus made the first Christmas possible because of His “phroneo” that enabled Him to lay aside His Divine rights and become a servant, doing the will of His Father. If we are to enjoy a Christ-Centered Christmas, we must have the very same “phroneo” governing our thinking and emotions. We must have the “Passion” of Christ controlling our mind will and emotions.

As I reflected this week, I wondered if the first Christmas had been up to me, would it have happened? Would I have been Mr. Crank or would I have worshipped the Christ?

zachariasI considered Zacharias, and how he was humbled in the presence of Gabriel. He willingly became mute and went home to father John the Baptist.

I looked at Elizabeth and how she thanked God for providing her with a child, and so taking away the reproach of barrenness which had weighed her down her entire life. elizabethShe willingly humbled herself to God’s Will without boasting, but with a deep sense of humility.

maryWhat can you say about Mary? She willingly humbled herself to God, knowing the scorn that she would endure because of her unexplainable pregnancy. Her magnificat is testimony of her mindset toward the will of God. A more beautiful picture of humility is nowhere to be found.

Joseph is the overlooked one, but his mindset was one of love and humility. He belived the angel and endured the scorn of friends and probably his own family. josephHe willingly embraced Mary as his betrothed and patiently waited to consummate the marriage until the time of her purification.

shepherdsI considered the lowly shepherds and their willingness to go and seek the Messiah. They were the lowest of Jews and yet they were witness to the greatest miracle of God, the birth of Jesus Christ. They believed and told the story to others.

The Magi reveal a mindset that said Jesus is worth giving my time and money for. They sacrificed a great deal to come and honor Christ the Messiah, the King of the Jews.magi

Herod is an interesting man. He pretended to have the right mindset, but He wanted only to murder this ‘King’. He demonstrates the true Mr. Crank, the one who despises the real Christmas. He did everything he could to try to ruin the first Christmas.

herodEach of the main characters (except Herod) in this “First Christmas” had a mindset of humility and willingness to do whatever God willed. They had the mindset of Jesus when it came to doing the Will of God. They humbled themselves to accomplishing God’s Will.

Herod faked His worship and humility. Herod tried to wipe out Christmas. Herod was the original Grinch that tried to Steal Christmas. He did not have the mindset of Jesus Christ.

What about us? Would our mindset have allowed the “First Christmas” to happen? Would God have used us to bring His Son into the world? This thought has worked its way into my mindset. As I have yielded my heart and mind to the will of God, He has brought a new fascination and enjoyment of a Christmas that honors His Son.

If we approach Christmas with anything besides humility and worship, we demonstrate a mindset which would have prevented the “First Christmas”. We can see that mindset in the life of Peter:

Second: Having the Mind of Christ Means You Mind the Things of God!

Matthew 16:23 (ESV) “But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.””

hindranceHaving the Mindset of Christ means we “Mind the Things of God!”

What if Christmas Was Up to You? Are You a CRANK? Are You Selfish and man-centered? Are You Minding the Things of Man?

If Christmas was up to you, would it have happened? Would Jesus have been born? Would Jesus have been worshipped as the Son of God? Would He have received the Gifts and Honor due the God of Creation? The mind of Christ is set upon the things of God, anything less is a hindrance to Christ, and demonstrating the mind of Satan.

The “First Christmas” demonstrated the Mind of Christ, a mindset that we should have throughout the year. Humility towards man, and Passion toward the Will of God!

Would Christmas have happened if it was up to you?

You Can Have Christmas with the Crank, or You Can Have Christmas with the Christ.

The Choice is Yours.