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Showing posts from June, 2012

Wrestling with God | Genesis 32

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Welcome to Real Life. Once in a while, I read a story in the Bible that breaks God out of the neat little box I try to put him in. This is one of those stories.

Jacob is the third great patriarch of Israel. However unlike his noble father Isaac and grandfather Abraham, Jacob is somewhat of a shuckster. He’s willing to use underhanded methods to gain an advantage. His very name means “deceiver.” He tempts his ravenously hungry twin brother Esau into trading his birthright[1] for a bowl of stew. Then he steals Esau’s blessing by deceiving his elderly father. Twice cheated, Esau’s angry enough to kill. So Jacob flees to his uncle’s in Haran.[2]

Turnabout is fair play. In Haran, his uncle Laban tricks Jacob into marrying both of his daughters. Nephew and uncle continue to battle in the family business, scheming against each other, each trying to gain an advantage. After twenty years, Jacob’s had enough. He heads home to Canaan, taking the wives, children, servants, flocks and herds that he…

Bethel: House of God (Genesis 28)

Welcome to Real Life. Unfortunately, I am not at all observant. I often miss things happening right in front of me. Jacob had the same problem … until God opened his eyes. 
Jacob is traveling alone. He is going to Haran to seek a wife among his mother’s people. As the sun sets, he stops for the night. He finds a smooth rock to use for a pillow and falls asleep. Jacob dreams of a stairway to heaven.[1] Angels are ascending and descending the stairs. At the top stands the Lord. He speaks to Jacob, renewing the promises he made to Jacob’s father Isaac and his grandfather Abraham.[2] He tells Jacob, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.” In the morning, Jacob awakens with this thought, 

“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 

He calls the place “Bethel” which means “house of God.” 
We live in a physical world of people, places and things that we can touch and see. But, this is not the only world that exists. God opened Jacob’s eyes to the spiritual wo…

Slovak Heaven | Overcoming Fear

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Welcome to Real Life. This Father's Day post is in honor of my almost 93-year-old father. 
For years, I dreamt of a trip to Slovakia. And for years my husband secretly squirreled away money to make that dream come true. I found his gift under the tree one Christmas morning. It came with a stipulation. He didn’t want to travel with me, “Your mom will go, won’t she?” 

Mom was thrilled to go. Both my parents were born in Slovakia. But, we were all surprised when my father decided to join us. Though once a world traveler, he was now afraid to fly. He was also afraid to return to Slovakia. As a soldier, he left the country illegally at the close of WWII to escape the incoming communist regime. He feared that if he returned, they might just lock him up and throw away the key. 

What motivated my father to overcome these monumental fears? He had two sisters still alive in Slovakia. He wanted to see them. 

It was a beautiful August day when we arrived in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. My…

Brokenness: the Sacrifice God Desires

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Welcome to Real Life. I was driving and listening to Moody Radio,[1] when I heard something so profound that I had to pull over and scribble it down:
Brokenness may be more important in God’s sight than success.[2]Brokenness. I don’t like to go there. I don’t want to feel broken. I want every aspect of my life to operate smoothly, in harmony, like a symphony. Give me success. Success feels like God is smiling down on me. So then why is brokenness pleasing to God?
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.[3]Another translation provides clearer insight:
Going through the motions doesn't please you,
a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
don't for a moment escape God's notice.[4] God is not against success. But, along with success comes the temptation to be proud and self-sufficient. Wow, I nailed …