Thursday, December 31, 2009

Esau’s Reaction to Jacob’s Submission -- Genesis 33:4


Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.

I am studying this verse on the last day of 2009. It has been a most difficult year for the whole world. Wars, terrorism, drugs, pornography, bad government, the economy, the environment, disease, and so many other negatives have left their mark on most of the world’s population. In a way, we have been like Jacob who had been estranged from his brother Esau. Many of us feel very estranged from the world today. For Jacob and Esau, this verse tells us that there was indeed success or light at the end of the twenty year tunnel of darkness. For us, another year has come and gone, and the world is still not at peace. Many of us are not at peace with ourselves, with others, or with God.

Yet this verse gives me great hope as I see an uncommon parallel between Esau’s reaction to Jacob and what I believe is and will be the scene when any one of us seeks to be reconciled with our God. I say uncommon because in the eyes of some, seeing any parallels between God and Esau may be deemed heresy. Yet, Esau was indeed also created in God’s image. And these are indeed the thoughts that the Holy Spirit laid on my heart and mind in my study this morning.

First, Esau ran to meet Jacob. Although the latter had come quite close through his bowing seven times as he approached Esau, there was still enough distance between them for Esau to run to Jacob in return. Jacob’s prayer had been answered. In like manner, God is most anxious to have us reconciled with Him and He always is ready and willing to do His part. He answers our prayer that desires a relationship with Him.

Second, Esau embraced Jacob. The man who had his birthright and his firstborn blessing stolen through deceit embraced the man who did the stealing. God against whom we have sinned also embraces us with open arms when we seek to reconcile with Him.

Third, Esau fell on Jacob’s neck. Jacob was prostrate on the ground, perhaps in his last of seven bows to Esau, and yet to fully meet him all the way, and in an act of perhaps lifting him up, Esau falls on Jacob’s neck. This is not unlike a parent hovering over a young child who has come apologetically to them. For me, it is an image that reminds me of God gathering His children as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. For Jacob, it was a sign that not only did Esau accept him back into full relationship, but also that he would protect him. And God does just that for us – He accepts us into a full relationship with Himself and takes on the responsibility of protecting us forever.

Fourth, Esau kisses Jacob. If we can for a moment set aside the romantic use of a kiss, we will agree that since the beginning of time, a kiss has come to represent true love. I think of the kisses between a mother and her child or those of a child for his parents or siblings. There is no greater physical and appropriate demonstration of love and affection that is non-romantic and non-erotic than the kiss between two people who care for each other. Later in scripture, the kiss is used over and over as a symbol of both true affection and in some cases, of false affection parading as true. Esau kisses his brother Jacob and in so doing seals the reconciliation that has just taken place. There is no direct parallel to this that I know of that I can relate to God’s feeling for us. The words in Psalms 85:9,10 may come the closest when, in reference to the salvation we have in God as we seek him, the Psalmist says “righteousness and peace have kissed each other”. It is God’s ‘righteousness’ and our desire to make peace that come together in a kiss. There is no mistaking that God treats us in the same manner as we would treat others whom we love immensely.

Fifth, the verse says they both wept. When it came to a kiss, one could well have asked, “how do we know that Esau wasn’t just pretending or faking it?” The answer is “because of what the verse says next”. When weeping occurs jointly, it is a good indicator of sincerity. We were made that way. Yes, it can be just emotions or some can still fake it, but for the majority, real tears are true signs of humility and sincerity. These were not tears of fear or of sadness (except perhaps with respect to the twenty years of separation they suffered). They were tears of joy and gladness. And that is exactly what I believe occurs when one sinner comes to God. The sinner, his/her brothers in God’s family, and the angels of heaven shed tears of rejoicing. Crying is an emotion that plays a big part of being in God’s family. We cry for joy and we can weep, as Jesus did, for those that are not yet in the family.

If you have ever experienced a reconciliation of family members, perhaps of someone who had been physically lost and was found, or perhaps someone who had been estranged for one reason or another and has been embraced into the family, you will know what all this feels like. If you personally have been embraced into the family of God, you will know what this feels like. But we also all know that what really matters is what happens after either of these types of reconciliations is what. What do you do once you’ve been reconciled with others or with God? We’ll look at what happened between Jacob and Esau next time.

Join others following Ken on Twitter
Check-out AccordConsulting, SCA International, and Human Resources for the Church.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Time of Reckoning Is Here -- Genesis 33:3


But he himself passed on ahead of them and bowed down to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.

Esau is clearly within eyesight. Jacob’s families have been lined up in an order that protects Rachel and her children the most, followed by Leah and her children, and then their two maids and their children. Jacob stands behind them. He can no longer avoid his brother Esau. The moment he has both dreaded and wanted is at hand. Will he wait there as Esau and his 400 men approach Jacob’s company, perhaps harming or even killing some to get to him, or will he trust his life to God and be the man, husband, and father he was called to be?

Jacob comes through with flying colors. Perhaps with his recently acquired courage and assurance of success following his night of fighting with God, He passes ahead of his family to the frontline with nothing between himself and Esau and his men.

Once he got there he commenced to bow down to the ground and then move ahead, bow down and move ahead. He did this seven times until he was very near to his brother Esau. So far in Scripture, we have only come across the idea of bowing down once before in Genesis 18:2 when Abraham was sitting at his tent’s door in the heat of the day and three men appeared to him. He bowed himself to the earth in their honor. The phrase “seven times” also appears for the first time in this text. The Hebrew word for bowing down is “shachah” and it means to literally bow down and prostrate oneself before a superior in homage, before God in worship, before false gods, or before an angel. Jacob was clearly indicating over and over the superiority of his brother Esau in this situation.

You may wish to investigate the Tel Amarna Tablets that were found in 1887. The depict life around 1400 B.C. through a series of letters written by some prominent people of the times. These tablets relate that when greeting a king, one must bow to the earth seven times in approaching him. Jacob was doing just that for Esau had become a ruler over the area of Mount Seir known as Edom. Each bow brought the body parallel to the ground. After each, the subject took a few steps closer to the superior and repeated the process. By the seventh cycle, the subject was pretty close to the superior. Although we are not told in the text we’re studying that they did, the custom was for the subject’s family to do likewise. This would all seem quite in order, especially when you consider that in the east, as the older brother, Esau would be entitled to such respect from his younger sibling, Jacob.

Can you picture, though, the two different scenes on the stage that this meeting was to play itself out on? There was Jacob, his women, and children coming from one side and Esau and his 400 men from the other. What a contrast that was. Yet we cannot forget that it was Jacob who indeed had the birthright and God had made a covenant that many would be blessed through him.

The gifts that Jacob had sent on ahead earlier in the story with his servants simply indicated that he wanted nothing materially from Esau. The bowing down now indicated he was also willing to be socially submissive to him.

While Jacob feared what Esau might do to him if he submitted, he also wanted to do what was right. Peace can be attained if one does their duty to God and to those with whom the peace has been broken. Perhaps, even to the point of behaving towards them as if it had never been broken. If we continue to remember and rehash what happened or continue to hold grudges we will never be able to restore the peace. Humility is the greatest tool one has in attempting such restoration. It turns away wrath and can physically help preserve the godly. God wants us to take precautions, do our best, including in showing humility where it is appropriate, and then leaving the rest to Him.

As I once again was listening to a discussion on television about the Middle East issues, I wondered whether or not the only way to restore peace between Israel and Palestine would be to do just that. Submission and humility and treating each other as if the peace had never been broken, no matter what the memories, what the losses, what the costs.

As we leave this verse we note that Jacob was still “near to his brother” but not quite there yet. Was there something left for Esau to do? We’ll find out in the study of what follows.

Join others following Ken on Twitter
Check-out AccordConsulting, SCA International, and Human Resources for the Church.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Childermas Letters 2009

Below you will find some excerpts from a series of letters written about Childermas by a good friend of mine [Chuck Stephens] ministering in South Africa. He has a very unique way of uniting the old with the current and with what the future could be like. Read on . . .

The Childermas Letters
2009
Childermas Eve 2009

For the fourth year in a row, I return to this contentious theme. December 28th is the day in the church calendar when we remember the Innocents who were slaughtered by King Herod. It is a day set aside to contemplate and reflect on the co-relation between the quality of leadership and the well-being of children. This makes it too much for me to resist, speaking as I do on behalf of the Desmond Tutu Centre for Leadership.

C4L [the Desmond Tutu Centre for Leadership in South Africa. http://www.c4l.org/]is so convinced of the importance of this linkage that it has adopted the slogan –
transforming leadership, so that children are safe.

This year there will be three bulletins in the series.

• The first will be a case study for those who may think that leaders in today’s world can’t get away with harming children like King Herod did, even if they have the same motive of self-preservation.

• The second bulletin will present a case study of a child-headed household in South Africa, that I have been visiting regularly in the run-up to writing these bulletins.

• The third will track some of C4L’s successes and failures over the same period.

In 1999, Thabo Mbeki replaced Nelson Mandela a President. The world lauded Mandela for standing aside after only one term and not outstaying his welcome. That is almost unheard of in African leadership!

Mbeki appointed a Health Minister named Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. She remained in that portfolio for 9 years, until Mbeki was ousted in September 2008. In the media, she came to be known as Frankenmanto, and for good reason! Here is how journalist Chris Barron started a full page article on her this week:

“The only tears shed as we bury Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who has died at 69, should be for the hundreds of thousands of people who died because she refused them, and pregnant mothers, the drugs which probably would have saved them.

“Researchers from Harvard University laid the deaths of 350,000 people at her door and that of her political master, former president Thabo Mbeki.

“That’s a conservative figure. Hundreds of thousands more will die because she failed to do her job, one of the most criminal derelictions of duty in South African history.”

Manto makes Herod seem like an amateur! The population of Africa alone today is larger than the population of the whole world was at the time of Herod. He only erased a few dozen infants at best. She condemned hundreds of thousands of people to death, mainly adults, but not excluding children. This has also caused what Stephen Lewis calls “the deluge of orphans”. His choice of words is a propos – the AIDS pandemic is probably the biggest disaster in human history. It includes three kinds of people – those at risk, those infected, and those affected. Orphans fall into the last category, although some of them may also be infected. Speaking of Stephen Lewis, here is more from Chris Barron in the Sunday Times:

“By the end of 2005, almost four years after the Constitutional Court had ordered her to make them available, fewer than a quarter of those who needed antiretrovirals were getting them, and many of these were private-sector patients.

“At the time UN special envoy on Aids Stephen Lewis said every country in east and southern Africa, except war-devastated Angola, was doing more to treat people with Aids than South Africa, with considerably fewer resources. He found the health minister’s behaviour ‘absolutely mystifying’.

“In 2006 came the International Aids conference in Toronto where South Africa’s stand, on the instructions of Tshabalala-Msimang, featured beetroot, lemons and African potato.

“When Mark Heywood of the TAC stood at the podium pleading for political accountability, she sat in the front row giggling. When the chairman repeatedly invited her to respond to Heywood’s arguments, she refused.

“The resulting avalanche of international opprobrium and ridicule spelt the beginning of the end for Tshabalala-Msimang.”

Frankenmanto was not her only nick-name, she was also called Dr Beetroot! This reflects another miscalculation by the Mbeki government – their handling of race relations. In the long run, this could prove to be the bigger mistake.

Mbeki launched “the African Renaissance”. He promoted African solutions to Africa’s problems. One of the best-known examples of this trend, sadly, was the famous (or infamous) side-lining of ARVs in favour of “African solutions”. For centuries there has been that cultural and faith divide between the great white missionary doctor and the so-called witch-doctor. It is unfortunate that an issue that affected so many citizens – of all colours - ended up in this familiar motif.

Worst of all, it clouded a deeper reality. The ANC encompasses diverse elements and Mbeki tried to pander to them all. Many black people saw him as a “sell-out” in macro-economic terms, and indeed that backlash did eventually do him in. But one way that he tried to keep his socialist credentials shiny was to take on Big Pharma. He thought this would convince his economic critics that he could still represent the best interests of the black majority in the global economy. That fight was over ARVs – whether to import expensive drugs or produce cheaper generic products locally.

In other words, Mbeki and Manto were trying to save themselves, to perpetuate their regime. This was such a contrast to Nelson Mandela who moved on after one term!

But it resonates with the story of King Herod. The slaughter of the innocents might not have happened, if it were not for the Magi who came seeking to celebrate the birth of a new king. They diplomatically consulted King Herod, who tried to conceal his inner reaction. He tried to conscript them into locating this child for him, but they were warned in a dream and slipped away, out of Bethlehem, undetected. They did not betray Jesus. But they did betray Herod! The moral of the story is that to be faithful, sometimes you may offend the powers that be - especially if their intentions are self-centred.

In 2006, I wrote and recorded a parody of a well-known protest song. Here is the first verse and chorus:

How many times can a leader look up
Before she sees the sky?
How many deaths will it take 'til she knows
That too many people have died?
How many eyes must she have 'til she sees
The truth that her cabinet hides?

The answer, my friend, is groanin' in the wind
The answer is a-groanin' in the wind

It is interesting to note that I used a nome-de-plume – Robin’ Dylan.


Childermas Day 2009

I have recently befriended a family of three sisters living in a township about 30 kms from C4L. They are spaced 6 years apart in age – the youngest is 11 years old just entering her last year of primary school, the middle one is 16 years old just entering Matric year, and the oldest is 23. She is the head of household. Both parents died – 6 and 7 years ago respectively - when these sisters were 4, 9 and 15 years old.

Not a lot has been said between us yet about the AIDS pandemic, as the friendship is still new. Nor would I dare to mention all their names in this bulletin, for ethical reasons, but I assure you that I am not making this up.

By my calculations, their parents died in 2002 and/or 2003. They have a photo of their mother on the bookshelf in the room that serves as living room, dining room and kitchen. There are only two other rooms in their tiny home – both bedrooms. This was about 4 years after Dr Beetroot was appointed as Health Minister in 1999. The timing lines up. In 2001, Frankenmanto had been ordered by the Constitutional Court to roll out ARVs [antiretroviral drugs] to pregnant women. This was because of the huge success rates all over the world in preventing “vertical transmission” during the bloody birthing process. She retorted that she was being forced to “poison” her people, and did nothing.

In 2002 she blocked a $72-million overseas grant to the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal to assist with the roll-out of ARVs – for procedural reasons.

In 2003, a civil disobedience campaign by Treatment Action Campaign (representing people living with AIDS) raised enough of a storm that Cabinet finally insisted that Manto unequivocally announce her commitment to rolling out ARVs. But in reality she dragged her feet and roll-out fell far behind.

It was during this period that the three sisters were orphaned, and became a child-headed household. As they were unable to stay in their parents’ home, they started building a small place for themselves. Their foresight and intentions are clear from the foundations which have been all laid out for a normal-sized house. But only three rooms of this in-ground puzzle have been built up, to date.

The oldest became a Child Head of Household at that time, until she came of age. At present, the two younger sisters are still officially orphans, but the oldest is not. She has had to go to work to support her siblings. For her that means unfulfilled aspirations. Sadly, she has recently lost her job, one of a million South Africans to become unemployed during the Great Recession this year.

This young family struggles. They do not show any obvious signs of malnutrition, except that they are very thin. Or could that mean that there was “vertical transmission” from their mother at birth, and that seropositivity is now turning into AIDS? I don’t know them well enough yet to ask, but I will encourage them to consider voluntary testing if they have not done so already.

The scary legacy of Frankenmanto – for those who do find out that they are HIV positive - is that at this stage only 50 per cent of South Africans who need treatment are able to get onto ARVs. This keeps many away from voluntary testing.

It is clear to me that the community around them has been supportive. The sisters took me to meet one family which is where they can go when the food runs out. They are church goers, so that would be another source of support. Two of the three are still in school, so that might bring further support. Only a safety net composed of many strands can catch OVC like these before they succumb to hunger that can drive them into prostitution or other crime.

On the other hand, the community presents risks. I have not delved into why they did not stay in their parents’ home? But I know that orphans are often pushed to the side by other family members who claim to have higher priority. I also installed a dead bolt on the front door of their home this week, because in the night thieves pried open the door lock and stole the few appliances they had – kettle, iron, etc. So there is both give and take at community level.

In the Editor’s column of Africa’s biggest newspaper - the Sunday Times – this week, Mondi Mkanya made some relevant comments:

“To be honest, I did not wish to reflect on the life of Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, as I have been taught that it is not proper to speak ill of the dead…

“History, after all, will remember the truths and the lies told at the time. So it is our duty, as this generation of South Africans, not to allow the lies to overwhelm the truths…

“In penning this piece, I took heed of the advice of a good friend who, on hearing of the passing of the former minister of health, said to me: ‘Truth without venom’…

“At the beginning of this column I set out to speak truth without venom. I think I have pretty much failed. That’s because it was difficult to do so without lying. In remembering – and honouring, if we wish – the life of Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, let us make a pledge to ourselves that we will never allow a situation to develop in which we are beholden to authority as we were in that terrible decade. And not to imprison ourselves and future generations in a jail of lies.”

These are moving words and noble platitudes. But let’s get practical…

• Who is going to tell these three young citizens what the likely cause of their parents’ death was, and why they were neglected by their government?

• Who is going to explain vertical transmission to them and that they themselves may be infected?

• Who is going to advocate for them if and when they need ARV treatment? Who will secure the nutritional support that they will need if they get on ARV treatment?

• Who is going to tell them the truth and make sure that they hear no more lies?

I would like to, but I am white. That presents a whole other credibility challenge. My skin colour alone could cause them to doubt or dismiss what I say - as lies. But when I took mental note that one of the three sisters is actually called Innocencia - and thought of Childermas. then it was that I decided that their story must be told this week. In remembrance of King Herod’s domination.

In his famous resistance speech, Nelson Mandela said: “I have fought white domination and, if need be, I will fight black domination.” Domination is the key word. King Herod dominated. That was the way he ruled. Top heavy, top-down, pure self-preservation.

Domination gets particularly ugly when it lines up along racial lines. It used to be non-whites who were discriminated against. Now there are voices saying that it is happening to non-blacks. This is an even graver concern to me than the consequences of delayed access to ARVs has been.

What the Magi brought to light was that in Jesus, not only was a new leader born - but a new way of leading.



Afterthoughts

There is another side to this story as well – the narrative of C4L’s emergence, growth and efforts to make its social contribution at “the eye of the storm” in terms of the AIDS pandemic.

C4L was launched in 1999, the year that Manto was appointed Health Minister. Its remit is capacity building of people and groups in the human services. By 2003, C4L realized that its campus was situated in the area with the highest HIV-infection rates in the world. So we explored what our role could be. In 2003, about the time that the three sisters became a child-headed household, C4L launched its pilot project in this sector – to train teachers and enable schools to provide care and support for OVC.

This programme has gone from strength to strength. It has trained 90 teachers, 120 community volunteers and 100 youth leaders. It deploys a combination of these three role players – teachers, parents and peer counselors – to establish support groups for OVC after school. These are called Kids Clubs, and 25 schools in 8 communities now have one running regularly. This safety net serves about a thousand OVC regularly.

In early 2005, I was invited to speak to an AIDS Conference in Ottawa, Canada. Among the remarks I made was the following:

“Recently, South Africa’s health minister actually lamented that for every doctor lost to a country, that country should send a doctor to Africa. Does the right hand not know what the left hand is doing? The home affairs minister who controls immigration should take note of what she said! The health minister must have no idea how hard it is for a Canadian to settle in South Africa. To say nothing of competing under the prevailing market conditions, usually called ‘black empowerment’.

This seems to me to be a double standard. Canada allows immigration because multiculturalism is seen as a good thing. What are the implications of Africa not reciprocating? Africa still promotes “transformation” (meaning affirmative action); it is called positive discrimination, but it casts a shadow. There is a lot of talk about an African renaissance, and with good reason. What about a Reformation to go with it?”

In the months following the conference, C4L acted as the lead agency of a consortium of NGOs applying to the Global Fund (Round 5). The consortium covered three countries – South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique. The centerpiece of the joint proposal was to build 10 replicas of an existing ARV clinic. It operates in the same community that the three sisters live in. It is an exemplary institution, so we wanted to build 5 more in South Africa, 4 more in Swaziland and one in Mozambique.

But we got stone-walled by SANAC (SA National AIDS Council). Even though Swaziland’s Ministry of Health issued a support letter (after weeks of lobbying), approval in Geneva hinged on approval by South Africa. At the time, the chairman of the national AIDS council was the then Deputy President, Jacob Zuma, and the vice-chair was the Minister of Health, Dr Beetroot. It turned out that Zuma was struggling for political survival - he was dismissed by Mbeki soon after. And history corroborates the fact that Frankenmanto would not countenance any such ambitious plan to roll out ARV clinics.

Especially if the clinics were private and worse yet, operated by whites or foreigners! I personally spent weeks of hard work on that funding proposal without fully realizing at the time that the odds were stacked against it. Global Fund groundrules state that at least 40 per cent of its funding must be channeled through “non-state actors”. At that time, government had snafooed all Global Fund resources (Rounds 1 – 5) and shared nothing with the other sectors. In this light, its abysmal record in terms of ARV roll-out is double-jeopardy.

The noise that C4L made in and after Round 5 paid off in one respect – SANAC had no choice but to offer all funding available in Rounds 6 and 7 to non-state actors, to get the missing balance back. To the Paradigms of Excellence Christian AIDS Network (PECAN), though, the episode was demoralizing.

In 2006, C4L started to beat the drum about Childermas. It came to recognize that leaders are the ones responsible for creating safe conditions for children to grow up in. Whereas often what is best for children is sidelined because leaders are more concerned about self-preservation than they are about the Innocents. King Herod is the icon for self-engrossed, paranoid leaders.

The three sisters have lived through untold difficulties because of the state negligence.

Civil society organizations were side-lined by the same Cabinet, which came to see criticism as unpatriotic instead of a democratic responsibility.

The Mbeki government fell into disrepute and Manto’s name competes with the name Judas for treachery at worst and misplaced intentions at best.

Many churches no longer read the story of the slaughter of the Innocents from the pulpit. But the worshippers go home after church and read the Sunday Times – where the story is told and re-told, time and again. I agree with the editor of Christian Week who once encouraged churches to put Herod back in Christmas!

But I go a step further – encouraging Christians to recover and practice Childermas on December 28th.

God, bless Africa
Guard her children
Guide her leaders
And grant her peace
For Jesus Christ's sake
Amen

Post Script
Try to see the movie INVICTUS with Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela! If only his legacy had prevailed. Alas!

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

The Time of Reckoning Approaches -- Genesis 33:1-2


Then Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids. And he put the maids and their children in front, and Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last.

So Jacob, limping, is now with his family on the same side of the Jabbok river and he looks up and sees Esau with four hundred men with him. What is going through his head at this very moment? What difference would the “all-night wrestling match” he had with God make in what he did next? Would he be bold or fearful? Would he still try to strategize or be prepared to meet Esau head on? Take a close look at what he did do and you be the judge.

First he gives Leah all her children and makes sure they are together in one group. Then he gives Rachel all her children. He does the same thing with each of their maids. [You will remember that Jacob had at least two sons from each of his wives’ respective maids.] So all the children are with his or her respective mother while their father Jacob stands alone. He then does something that is totally understandable, but oh so hard. He lines the four groups in an order. At the very front he puts the two maids and his children by them. Then he places Leah and his children by her behind the first two groups. And finally, he places Rachel and his son Joseph by her as the last group. The implication is that if Esau and his men were to attack, the first to be slaughtered would be the maids and the children they bore him; followed by Leah and the children she bore him; and then lastly Rachel and her children. The hope being that Leah’s family had some chance of escaping and Rachel and Joseph had the greatest chance of all, being further back. Wow. This is totally understandable as we know, rightly or wrongly, Jacob did love Rachel the most and thus he would love her son the most. He would want them to have the most protection.

So far, the action he took would seem to indicate that he was still a strategist and a planner, perhaps not leaving everything to God in whom he fully trusted. But look what happens next. The next verses we’ll look at tell a much different story.

Join others following Ken on Twitter
Check-out AccordConsulting, SCA International, and Human Resources for the Church.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Why Jewish People Don’t Eat the Sinew of the Hip -- Genesis 32:31-32


Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob's thigh in the sinew of the hip.

The night of Jacob’s wrestling with God was over. He had gotten up before the sun rose and started to cross over the river Jabbok at Penuel. Scripture uses both Peniel and Penuel to depict the same place with a common meaning of ‘God’s face’. So Jacob was crossing from the north of the stream to the south side to join his family and entourage. The actual location is approximately forty miles from Jerusalem.

And from that day on, Jacob walked with a limp, favoring his thigh. That would be the lasting reminder to him of his battle with God and how God spared him. I cannot speak for everybody, but I know that many Christians have had a similar experience, myself included. We may not have wrestled with God physically as Jacob did, but we certainly have done battle with Him. On all accounts, we should no longer have been in existence, certainly not in the place and situation of service and blessing we are in today. But in the process, we have been left with an everlasting experience or memory, and in some situations, perhaps even a physical scare (depending on what God had allowed us to go through during our ‘battle’). That experience, memory, or condition, will be with us all our lives. And its main purpose is that we remember God’s grace extended to us in that fight.

As he heads back to his family’s camp, he could well be wondering, “what will Rachel and Leah, and the children, and everybody else say when they see me?” Yes, what would they say? More importantly, what would he tell them? What would he dare tell them? And would they believe him? There is no record at this point of the story as to what he thought, was asked, or replied. We can only imagine.

What would you be thinking if you had a night like that; a night where you fought, either physically or in a dream that might as well have been the real thing, with God? You had fought so hard that ultimately your body was changed to the point of being recognizably different.

I can only share a little of my personal experience. Many years ago I had such a battle in the middle of the night. A force (for I do not know what else to call it) at the foot of my bed, was holding my ankles down in such a way that my entire body could not move. I was paralyzed in my bed, unable to talk although I tried desperately, unable to flitch so I could not wake my wife up. I could see our whole bedroom around me. All I could do is know or recognize that the figure behind the grip was indeed an evil demon or worse still. Unable to make a sound, I was able to silently repeat the name of Jesus, asking Him to come to my help, and then informing the demon that he was been dismissed in the name of Jesus. It worked, but the experience left me shaking for several minutes afterward.

At this point my wife awoke and seeing me physically distraught, asked what had happened. I told her everything. She did not laugh at me or trivialize the event. She suggested we pray and then try to get back to sleep, both of which we did. But its memory will last my entire life.

Based solely on my experience, my guess is that Jacob, when asked ‘what happened to you’ by Rachel and possibly Leah (as all good wives would notice the difference in his walk and thus enquire of him as to what had happened), would indeed tell them the truth. What he said to the children and others beyond that I cannot begin to surmise. Nor do I know how anyone reacted, although again by my personal experience, I believe those close to Jacob would have taken him at this word.

What we do know for sure, however, is that the story somehow got out. It was eventually written down, and it was passed on from generation to generation, right to this day. But there’s more.

The verse says that “to this day” the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip that is on the socket of the thigh. Orthodox Jews today still do not eat that part of the animal. They are particularly concerned about the “sinew that shrank” and according to Bible commentator Robert Jamieson, “The sinew is carefully extracted; and where there are no persons skilled enough for that operation, they do not make use of the hind legs at all.”
I dug into this a little deeper from the Judaic point of view and came up with the following: In the Jewish scripture this verse is translated “therefore the members of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh-vein” (Breshit 32:33). Jewish tradition recognizes that this is in the story of Jacob but it considers it to be part and parcel of the Judaic laws that were handed down later on by Moses at Mount Sinai. This is one of their many mitzvahs (a Jewish religious duty or obligation). This particular duty or obligation belongs to the mitzvoth of kashrut, a set of duties that may or may not make a lot of sense but are required in order to help the Jewish believer tame his/her ego, or to help them set boundaries or limits in life. Each one has a particular message.
Striving to rebuild the Jewish people after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, this mitzvah is used to deliver a message of hope and faith against the powers that may oppose it. In centuries gone by, it was the Roman Empire that was considered to have descended from Esau. The Jewish people believe that the ‘man’ that fought Jacob that night was Esau’s guardian angel and by Jacob’s very survival, he defeated Esau’s guardian indicating that Israel would not perish, but outlast and overcome not only Rome, but also all its future enemies.
The only possible link in scripture to this kind of thinking is found in the last phrase of our text here and that is, “because he touched the socket of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew of the hip.” If indeed, the ‘man’ Jacob wrestled with was Esau’s guardian angel, we can see that the sons of Israel would not want to have anything to do with, let alone eat or absorb internally, anything that he may have touched. As interesting a possibility as that sounds, the rest of the text does not support the Jewish interpretation.
I also discovered that this mitzvah is the first to apply to both genders, and in all times and places. Most Jewish communities refrain from eating any part of the hindquarters, where the inner and outer sinews are located. In places where meat is rare, the sinews are removed and then the meat can be eaten.

As we read our Bibles, we would do well to be very familiar with what is recorded for us. We should also gain understanding of how its contents may relate to various cultures today, especially the Jewish culture. Finally we need to be aware of how such cultures translate or interpret the scriptures differently than we do in order to better understand them and to be better equipped in our discussions with them about our faith.

Join others following Ken on Twitter
Check-out AccordConsulting, SCA International, and Human Resources for the Church.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Two Values All Societies Should Embrace


I'm in the midst of reading Craig Stephen Smith's Whiteman's Gospel. He identifies a value that is very dear to the culture of his people, the Native North American and one that is very dear to the Anglo-Saxon North American culture.

His people value the role of the elders of the community and their responsibility of passing down from one generation to the next their oral tradition.

The Anglo-Saxon North American culture places a very high value on formal education and the pursuit of degrees that qualify people for jobs, advancement and honor. Anglos pursue their traditions, values and culture through education and degrees.

What is interesting is that both values, that of the 'elders' and 'education' are both based on the desire for 'learning' and perhaps even 'wisdom'. If the Native American wants wisdom, he/she listens to the elders. If the Anglo-Saxon American wants wisdom, he/she pursues higher education.

But is one value right and the other wrong? Is one more important than the other? Does one have more benefits than the other? No and no and no.

Now think of a third culture and for the sake of argument, let's pretend it is the "cross-cultural" culture known as Na-xons. The Naxons embrace both the pursuit of education and value the insight and inputs of the elders in their communities. The first value gives them all the facts there are to learn at any point in time. The second teaches them how to view and utilize those facts wisely and in a manner that is conducive to the perpetuation of a good life on earth. In addition, one value can, as Smith suggests, be the 'complement' of the other. What education is weak in, can be provided by the elders and vice-versa.

Now, here's the challenge. What are we doing as parents, communities, the church, educational institutions, etc. to foster a Naxon approach to learning? What can we do? I'm open for suggestions and welcome your comments in the comment section below. Let's hear from as many as possible. Who knows we may change the system yet. If not, by giving it some thought, we may change how we view our grandchildren or how they view us.

-- Ken Godevenos, Epistoli, 091228

Join others following Ken on Twitter
Check-out AccordConsulting, SCA International, and Human Resources for the Church.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Israeli-Palestinian Dispute: The World's Solution



I was listening today to Christine Amanpour -- one of the few CNN people I can take for longer than five minutes. Amanpour pulls no punches; tries to be fair; but she still leans a little too far left for my liking. Nevertheless, she had a great pre-recorded show on today re. the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

One of her guests was a former Advisor to several U.S. Secretaries of State and the other was an Israeli journalist who has crossed enemy lines to primarily represent the other side and report back to the Israelis and through CNN and others, to the world it seems.

The real issue one of them felt was critical was whether or not these two parties could ever come to a settlement. The journalist said they could on one condition. For her, it was simple -- Israel had to give up its rights to water, land, minerals, etc. The State adviser was much more practical. For him, both parties needed to make some big decisions internally so that they could present a unified front to the world as a first step. All factions claiming to represent the Palestinians had to get on the same page with respect to whether they would pursue their claim by force or by diplomacy.

All the Jewish factions he felt had to do the following: get on the same page with respect to the issue of the settlements, all or some; and the issue of Jerusalem, again did they want all of it or some of it; and finally agree on how much they were willing to sacrifice to get what they wanted on the first two.

Most interesting, wouldn't you say. There's nothing new there. But the chances of either party coming up with a united front internal to their own camp on the issues they need to settle themselves are about the same as me becoming President of France. (I don't live there and I don't speak French.) Now add to that the fact that Mr. B.O. was given terrible advice upon entering the White House with respect to the dispute. He basically total the Israelis that unless they were willing to give up all the settlements, they could forget any hope of a resolution, at least not one with the help of the United States. Smart, very smart. Not.

So, who's left to help the parties. Maybe other rising powers. Let's see there's North Korea, China, and India. Great negotiators and some of them extremely fair towards Israel. Not.

Sorry folks, but just as 2009 came and went with "no peace in Jerusalem", so will 2010. That is unless of course the true Prince of Peace and King of Kings will return in the year ahead. Otherwise, remember you heard it first "No Peace in Jerusalem in 2010" right here in this blog. We do people keep on trying?

-- Ken Godevenos, Presentalogist -- bringing you news today you can count on tomorrow.

Join others following Ken on Twitter
Check-out AccordConsulting, SCA International, and Human Resources for the Church.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Jacob Seeks God’s Blessing -- Genesis 32:29-30


Then Jacob asked him and said, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And he blessed him there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved."

I suppose that if God could ask Jacob what his name was when He already knew and then changed it to a new one, Jacob felt he could ask Him His name. And he did. But God did not answer his question except with another question, “Why is it that you ask?” As I contemplate this exchange between God and Jacob, I cannot help but think that this is indeed often the case when we ask God a question that we seriously feel we need the answer to. He responds by putting another question in our heart or mind. For example, “God, what should I do with respect to my situation at work?” And He replies, “What does the Scripture say about similar situations?” or “What do you think my Son may have done in your situation?” And so on; you get the idea. I cannot, nor do I ever presume to, speak for God where He himself has not (when I do, it is only to quote what He Himself has said in His word). In this case, I can only suggest that there may be two reasons for His often answering our questions with another question. The first is to suggest that we are not useless. We were in fact created in His image. We can think and we have a memory that allows us to learn, experience, and store things for future reference and application. Secondly, it is possible that His Word as given to us in the Scriptures is indeed complete and can help us arrive at the answers to all questions for which we actually need an answer to at this time. Jacob must have sensed that. He must have even figured out the answer to his original question by considering God’s posing of the question, “Why is it that you ask?” in His response. I say that because you will notice that there is no record of Jacob answering the question that God asked. All we know is that God then blessed Jacob.

We have no record of the nature of the blessing, just what Jacob said about the whole experience and what he called the place where this occurred. Jacob said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.” Here in this portion of scripture we first hear mention, indirectly, of the idea that seeing the face of God may be a very dangerous thing, for Jacob says, “I saw God face to face and I’m still around.” Had there been some previous thinking in this regard by those that worshipped Jacob’s God? Or perhaps Jacob was really saying, “I wrestled with God and by His grace, He allowed me to still live.” Jacob was no fool. He knew God could have wiped him out in an instance but instead He kept him alive for a purpose.

And Jacob then names this place ‘Peniel’ which is translated from the Hebrew as the “face of God”. His memorial to this event would not be remembered for the fact that Jacob fought God, but that he saw God’s face and God granted him life. May that be our desire in all our dealings with the Almighty. Not to remember our striving with Him, but to realize that by His grace we are still alive to tell the story.

Join others following Ken on Twitter
Check-out AccordConsulting, SCA International, and Human Resources for the Church.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Jacob Gets A Name Change -- Genesis 32:26-28


Then he said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking." But he said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." So he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." He said, "Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed."

Here’s Jacob in extreme pain as we would imagine. While he has just been dealt a blow by God to change the outcome of the battle between them, Jacob’s characteristic determination and stamina causes him to hold on to God with all his might. So much so that God has to say, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” I am not so sure that this was said with respect to the fact that daylight was coming and people across the river might see them when they awoke and heard the commotion. If it was, it certainly points to the possibility that indeed this was a real physical transaction that was taking place between Jacob and God. If it was not, and Jacob was having a dream, it may have been said in reference to the fact that Jacob, having been asleep for sometime and having had a restless night, would soon wake up. If so, whatever the intended purpose of the event was would not have been completed. We do not know. I believe however that when God changes us for His purpose, He does not throw away who or how we had been created to be by Him in the first place. God just takes our strengths and talents and then uses them to His glory.

What we also know is how Jacob answered the question. He said, “I won’t let you go unless you bless me.” There are two things to note here. Jacob still had his own strength. Even though he had received a serious injury to his thigh, he still had sufficient strength in him to hold on and ask to be blessed. When we wrestle with God as to who should have control over our life, no matter how badly we may have been defeated, He will always leave us with enough strength to seek His guidance, His blessing, His protection, and His power.

God then asks Jacob a question He already knew the answer to. “What is your name?” And Jacob tells him. Then God tells Jacob his name from that point on will be Israel. Here is yet another name change in the book of Genesis. First it was his grandfather Abram’s name that God changed to Abraham (father of many nations or a great multitude) in chapter 17. And now it was Jacob’s name that God changed to Israel. And what exactly did that name mean? From the Hebrew, it translates as a prince, and in particular a prince of God. Think of the typical prince and his power. It usually comes from his relationship with the king. So, Israel’s power comes from God. Jacob, based on his having striven with God and man, was now to be successful over others, or with men. All of this would be because of his connection to God. And here’s the neat thing, God gave him this new name because Jacob “prevailed” in his determination to settle things with both God and man.

I stumble at the question, “Why did God not change Isaac’s name?” But as we studied it earlier, you will remember it signified ‘laughter’. He was so named because his father Abraham laughed with joy at the thought of the promise that God had given him would indeed by fulfilled through a child being born to him now that he was a hundred years old (Genesis 17:17). And maybe that’s the reason God didn’t feel Isaac’s name had to be changed. It already related to the covenant and what was to come. Abram (Abraham’s name at first) on the other hand did not as it simply meant “an exalted father”, something that all fathers should be. And Jacob (Israel’s former name) you will remember meant “the heel holder” or “supplanter”. Well, God had much greater plans in mind for them.

It is also interesting that God asked Jacob what his name was. Did God not know? Of course He did. “Then why ask?” you may wonder. God wants us to remember throughout our lives from whence we came and who we were and to always praise Him for where He has taken us and what He has allowed us to be and do for Him. It is important to remember the occasion of our specific calling both as a child and an instrument of His. Jacob would always remember the specific instance God asked him his name and then changed it to Israel. He would be able to tell his children and grandchildren that account. And they would, and still do, pass it on to all generations.

Join others following Ken on Twitter
Check-out AccordConsulting, SCA International, and Human Resources for the Church.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Friday, December 25, 2009

10 Things The World is Expecting in 2010 and Beyond


On Christmas Day 2009, Canada's National Post e-paper, had the following headline: Storm Clouds Ahead for America. In that article they make reference to a U.S. National Intelligence Council report on global trends presented to president-elect Obama about 20 days prior to his taking office. In that report, the experts looked ahead to the year 2025. And what do they see? In two words, "profound change". Here are the highlights:

1. U.S. economic and political clout will decline. So it should you might say, but consider who's clout will replace it and whether you really want that or not. The report concludes that the world may well become a more dangerous place (nothing new here). The National Post indicates that the U.S. lost US$40-trillion as a result of the 2008 global recession and brought its public debt to somewhere between 60-80% of its Gross Domestic Product (compared to about 42% prior to the hit). In 2009, it is predicted the U.S. deficit will grow even higher percentage-wise. Many countries are thinking of dropping the U.S. Dollar as a standard of comparison or as a medium of exchange for their own currencies.

2. Food, water and energy will be in short-supply worldwide. Expected you say, but can we deal with the local, national, and international conflicts that these shortages will give rise to? Why, because by 2025, mass migrations will start to occur from the areas where these shortages exist first to those areas that still have these resources. Then it will only be a matter of time, till they too will be in a shortage situation.

3. Most will give up on trying to terrorize the world, but those that stick with it will become more "deadly and dangerous thanks to new technology" according to the report. To me that means more surprises, with less chance of protection or prevention.

4. Now I really like this next one; read each word carefully: "The international system . . . will be almost unrecognizable by 2025" says the report. Think about that. What exactly are they predicting? Well for starters, China and India will become bigger if not the biggest players (with clout). I'm worried about China politically and India economically. This will all happen in a new "global economy" as compared to national economies now which impact other countries. By 2025, and I predict perhaps earlier, many countries of any significance will be part of a single economy whose actions are determined by a single body rather than each country's financial and political heads or governments. (Just look at what the G-8 and now the G-20 have been up to lately.) And if that's not enough, to be 'nice team players', all the world powers will make decisions that will dramatically transfer wealth and economic power from West to East. Please keep in mind that there is only so much wealth and economic power available to transfer, and when the East gets more, the West has less. That will change your standard of living and mine. Don't believe for a moment that the new order will produce more wealth for everyone. It won't. This process has been going on for several years now and the gap between rich and poor is growing, not lessening in North America. Eventually, the rich may be impacted as well, as more Easterners take over the running of the global economy.

5. The report also predicts a great (or should that be 'greater') "arc of instability" from Africa to Middle East to the Balkans, to the South and Central Americas. When instability occurs, one entity decides to flex its muscles, the other tries to defend itself or seeks protection. Third parties, with legitimate and/or illegitimate interests, get involved. Wars flourish, deaths occur, millions are spent by all sides. And worse still, world peace becomes elusive once more, or should I say, still.

6. Another prediction (and we've seen it already in the form of Pharmaceutical companies and their power when it comes to dealing with global viruses or insurance companies with respect to Health Care) is that the power or influence of non-governmental entities like businesses, tribes, religious organizations, and criminal networks will increase. They will do so in order to protect their interests and existence.

7. Organizations like, and especially, the United Nations will become more and more lame. That's already the case as the U.N. is now plagued with the veto power of just a few opposing members and with the lack of will to make a difference. With such organizations failing, with the rise of non-democratic states with clout, and the failure of democratic states to be able to influence areas of instability, the overall degree of democracy in the world will decrease greatly. The alternative may not be exactly what some of us are looking for.

9. As the U.S. shrinks in influence, it's economic state of the nation will get worse and then the U.S. will have to make serious decisions pitting domestic policy priorities vs. foreign policy ones. The implications for the rest of the world will be that the rising powers of China and India, along with their ideological partners, will be able to push the world around (true enough, perhaps like the States did for decades, but from a different frame of reference -- democracy being the end goal of the U.S. vs. totalitarianism or a form thereof of other key players).

10. And finally, the Revolutionary Age. What does that mean? Listen to Joshua Cooper Ramo in his book The Age of the Unthinkable. "What we face," he says, "isn't one single shift or revolution, like the end of World War Two or the collapse of the Soviet Union or a financial crisis, so much as an avalanche of ceaseless change. We are entering a revolutionary age." That can be very scary or it can be, as it is for me, just what the "Doctor" ordered if you believe in the existence of of Grand Designer Creator who is still very much in charge of the Universe and this world we live in.

But wait, there's more. Listen to Francis Fukuyama, a former U.S. State Department Director who 20 years ago said, "In watching the flow of events over the past decade or so, it is hard to avoid the feeling that something very fundamental has happened in world history . . .What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government."

Surprise. I don't think so. The complete opposite is about to happen, according to the report on the future, given to Obama. History is far from being ended. It is entering what the National Post refers to as "a dramatic new age of complex and unpredictable change" whose sheer "enormity and speed . . . have already overwhelmed much of the U.S. Intelligence Council's analysis." The report was basically written in 2008 prior to the big hit the U.S. experienced in its economy recently. While it predicted a slow loss in U.S. influence over 15 years, the recent crisis accelerated the schedule, even to the point that some believe that for the U.S. much of what was predicted for 2025 is already present, the rest can only make the present worse.

In summary, History is ending; transition has begun; and HIStory is about to be fulfilled. You can watch with fear and trembling trying desperately to save what you have or you can see it as the fulfillment of divine prophecy. It's your call how you see it, but either way, she's a coming!

-- Ken Godevenos, Presentalogist (telling you what you need to know for the future, now). Follow me on: http://www.twitter.com/pappou )

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

God Changes Jacob Uniquely -- Genesis 32:25


When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob's thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him.

We next read that he (the ‘man’ who was God) “saw that he had not prevailed against him (Jacob)”. Jacob was fighting hard to hold his own and would not surrender. While God could have very easily won this battle from the start with one single blow or other action, He chose not to. He chose to allow Jacob to battle it out with him for some time. And then at a time selected by God, God does something totally unexpected. He touches the socket of Jacob’s thigh. To put it in our terms today, God dislocated Jacob’s hip. Let’s take a closer look at what that means.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says this on its website in 2009 (underlining emphasis mine):

A hip dislocation occurs when the head of the thighbone (femur) slips out of its socket in the hip bone (pelvis). In approximately 90% of patients, the thighbone is pushed out of its socket in a backwards direction (posterior dislocation). This leaves the hip in a fixed position, bent and twisted in toward the middle of the body. The thighbone can also slip out of its socket in a forward direction (anterior dislocation). If this occurs, the hip will be bent only slightly, and the leg will twist out and away from the middle of the body. A hip dislocation is very painful. Patients are unable to move the leg and, if there is nerve damage, may not have any feeling in the foot or ankle area.
The hip is a ball-and-socket joint: the ball-shaped head of the femur fits inside a cup-shaped socket in the pelvis. The structure of a ball-and-socket joint gives it a great deal of stability and allows it to move freely. A great amount of force is required to pop the thighbone out of its socket, but that's just what happens in a hip dislocation.
Motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of hip dislocations. (Wearing a seatbelt can greatly reduce your risk.) Falls from a height (such as a fall from a ladder) or industrial accidents can also generate enough force to dislocate a hip. . . .
A hip dislocation is an orthopaedic emergency. . . . Do not try to move the injured person, but keep him or her warm with blankets.
Usually, a physician can diagnose a hip dislocation simply by looking at the position of the leg. . . .
If the patient has no other complications, the physician will administer an anesthetic or a sedative and manipulate the bones back into their proper position (this is called a reduction).
In some cases the reduction must be done in the operating room with anesthesia. A formal procedure with an incision may be required to reduce the hip. . . .
It takes time—sometimes 2 to 3 months—for the hip to heal after a dislocation. The rehabilitation time may be longer if there are additional fractures. . . Patients can probably begin walking with crutches when free of pain. A walking aid, such as a cane, should be used until the limp disappears.
A hip dislocation can have long-term consequences, particularly if there are associated fractures. As the thighbone is pushed out of its socket, it can disrupt blood vessels and nerves. When blood supply to the bone is lost, the bone can die, resulting in avascular necrosis or osteonecrosis. The protective cartilage covering the bone may also be damaged, which increases the risk of developing arthritis in the joint.
We know all this after thousands of years of observation and research, but in Jacob’s day there were no orthopaedic surgeons, no emergency help to call. It was just he and God. Imagine the pain, the agony Jacob must have gone through. For him to have been able to go on with his intended purpose the next day as we read later, given a dislocated hip, we know that the basic character assets that God had built into Jacob did not disappear in that wrestling match. He was still one determined and strong individual, committed to doing what he believed had to be done.

But from now one, Jacob would always have a reminder that he had wrestled with God and God won. God always wins. We just forget. So God has to do something with or to each of us to help us remember. Sometimes it’s physical, sometimes it’s emotional, and sometimes, as in my case, it’s socially related. God knows just the right place to ‘touch’ each of us effectively so that we will always come back to remembering His active role in our lives. We will always come back to remembering that whatever we do, we do because of His power, His allowing, and His grace. That’s our God.

Perhaps not exactly the way we may want things to be, especially with respect to what we can do or accomplish, but that is the way it is. It is that way because He’s God and we’re His beloved creations.

Join others following Ken on Twitter
Check-out AccordConsulting, SCA International, and Human Resources for the Church.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Jacob Wrestles Alone -- Genesis 32:22-24


Now he arose that same night and took his two wives and his two maids and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream. And he sent across whatever he had. Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.

Jacob has put his best shot forward in sending his presents to Esau ahead while he stays in the camp that night. I’m sure he did not sleep too well if at all. What we do know is that he arose sometime in the middle of the night, woke up all his immediate family (Rachel and Leah, his eleven children, and the two maids, and crossed the shallow part of the Jabbok river. The water here is really a stream that takes its rise in the mountains of Gilead, and falls into the Jordan to the south of the lake of Gennesareth. It is now called the Zerka.

You will remember that earlier in our studies we wondered whether or not Jacob had daughters other than Dinah who was referred to in Genesis 30:21. The words in our current passage, especially Genesis 32:22, do not help us answer that question. The text says Jacob took his “eleven” children with him that night. Yet, scripture had listed twelve children up to this point – eleven sons [Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah through Leah: Dan and Naphtali through Rachel’s maid Bilhal; Gad and Asher through Leah’s maid, Zilpah; Issachar and Zebulum through Leah; and Joseph through Rachel] and one daughter, Dinah through Leah. So, in the absence of other evidence, we must conclude the word ‘eleven’ here must refer to the sons of Jacob. If so, then we are faced with an interesting question: were Jacob’s female offspring left behind that night or were they included in the immediate family but just were not mentioned? The thought of them being left behind is not one I prefer to linger on. Instead, I would go with the premise that in a patriarchal society, female children were not always mentioned. Either way, we are no further ahead on whether or not he had more than one daughter at this point in our study.

There is also some potential confusion here in these verses that should be identified. In verse 22 Jacob actually crosses the ford or stream of Jabbok with his family. But in verses 23 and 24 we read that he ‘sent’ them across the stream and then he was left alone. Several possibilities exist. It is possible that he helped them all get across and then went back to get the last of his belongings and night fell upon him, so he remained there, some think to pray, some say to get a good’s night sleep for what was ahead the next day. It may have also been dangerous to cross the water in darkness. It is also possible that there was a second stream to cross and this refers to that one, where he may have just sent them across and waited behind to be alone. Finally there is the possibility that the confusion rests with our use of the language. It is possible that in verse 22 the word ‘took’ refers to Jacob having had his family ‘taken’ by his servants across the ford and indeed he remained behind for a while. The New Living Translation (NLT) does indeed see the difficulty with the original texts and suggests that interpretation.

The words that come next are for most of us difficult to comprehend. The text says that when he was alone “a man wrestled with him until daybreak.” It is those last two words, “until daybreak” that indicate this happened during the night and it was, from Jacob’s perspective, perhaps a dream that resulted in a physical reality. Alternatively, it may well have all been a real physical occurrence.

Then we read, “a man wrestled with him”. The initiative for this contest clearly came from the “man” whom we learn later in the text is no ordinary man. Jacob was not desirous of this fight that lasted for a long time. So, who was fighting him? The text is silent at this point on a clear identification of who this was. Biblical scholars taking the entire Bible into account believe it was an Old Testament special appearance of Christ as part of the Godhead or Trinity, before his human incarnation in Bethlehem. This was possibly God in human form. But did Jacob know, during it, that he was indeed doing battle with God? Where did he get his strength to fight God all night? What drove him?

This last one in particular is a very good question. Perhaps the only way to respond is in the manner of the Greek philosopher-tutor Socrates with another question. What drives you and me to fight God most of our life? You will remember that Jacob is a very resourceful person who succeeded in just about anything he put his hand or mind to accomplish, even if it was with God’s help. And God had chosen him as someone through whose lineage the Savior of the world would come as promised in the covenant first made to his grandfather Abraham, then his father Isaac, and then to him (Genesis 28:14). But for God to use him like He would, God had to deal with Jacob’s one major weakness – the fact that he was too strong in his own ability, he was too resourceful, and his dependency on God was a secondary matter. I can identify a little with that feeling or thinking. By the grace of God, I have lived a successful life to date and am enjoying my senior years with relative peace, ease, and fairly good health. While when I stopped to think, I realized it was only because of God that this was possible, He was often an added element in the thought equation of my success. One day God decided to put an end to that and brought me to the point that I could do nothing, absolutely nothing, but be totally dependent on Him for mercy. It was then that God could start using me the way He wanted to. It was then he allowed me to write and publish my first book, reach pastors through conference speaking, help churches, lead a mission, and assist individuals with their personal spiritual challenges. And it was and is all God’s doing, not mine.

Jacob was in a similar place. Now it was time for God to deal with him, so He came down to wrestle with him once and for all. And Jacob fought back hard, as we all do.

We need to go back to the issue of whether this was indeed a dream or vision or whether it was a real physical interaction. There are those that fall into both camps of thinking. Personally, I do not believe that it matters and perhaps it is for that reason that we are not told. What we do know for sure is that Jacob was alone to fight his fears and to have his weaknesses dealt with. And that is the case with us. Although many may support us and coach us, and train and prepare us, ultimately it is us alone that face whatever fears haunt us in life. There is no escaping that.

Join others following Ken on Twitter
Check-out AccordConsulting, SCA International, and Human Resources for the Church.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Jacob Expresses His Thoughts -- Genesis 32:19-21


Then he commanded also the second and the third, and all those who followed the droves, saying, "After this manner you shall speak to Esau when you find him; and you shall say, 'Behold, your servant Jacob also is behind us.' " For he said, "I will appease him with the present that goes before me. Then afterward I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me." So the present passed on before him, while he himself spent that night in the camp.

Jacob now gives the same orders to all the servants that were put in charge of each of the ‘herds’ that were intended to win the favor of Esau, making sure they told him that his brother Jacob was just a little ways behind them and coming to meet him.

Then Jacob shares his real thoughts. By having all these gifts of 550 valuable animals ready for Esau and sending them in spurts ahead of his own arrival, Jacob figured he could satisfy Esau. If there were still any anger or hard feelings in him towards Jacob, perhaps these gifts so timed would mollify him. The goal was clearly one of reconciliation between the brothers who had not seen each other or so long.

But at the same time and because of his fear, Jacob wanted to make sure he had done all he could to first soothe his brother and only then take the chance of seeing him. The last thing he wanted was to meet an angry Esau. Jacob’s goal was to be accepted by Esau.

We sometimes criticize people who over plan, especially when it comes to making an effort to be reunited with someone. Often we say to these folks, “just go talk to him/her, it will be fine.” But the truth is, it is not always fine. A lot of hurt may have been caused in the meantime – hurt that has not been yet alleviated or forgotten. Perhaps some careful thought and effort does need to go into the re-insertion of our self into their lives. With regard to this, I often think of estranged spouses, our the reuniting of a child with his/her parent that had loved the family years ago, or the reuniting of an individual with their biological mother who had given them up for adoption years ago. Definitely some thought and planning, and lots of prayer would need to go into that kind of meeting.

Just yesterday I caught about five minutes of the television program Friends. It was one of their Christmas episodes. One of the characters, Phoebe, has found out where her father that left her mom and her many years ago was living, and she was being encouraged by her two male friends on the program to drop in and see him for after all, it was Christmas. Phoebe could only muster up enough courage to get to the gate, see through the windows that he was there, stopped and ran back to her friends in the car. She could not continue. The fear of being rejected was just too great. Those of us that counsel others to ‘reconcile’ need to be sure we’ll be there for them when it does not go exactly as planned.

So Jacob sends his presents to Esau ahead of his own arrival. That advanced timing is at least the length of one night. And what a night that must have been for Jacob. Can you imagine what must have been going through his mind before he finally fell to sleep?

What are the other lessons for us as we consider the meeting that Jacob is about to have with his estranged brother, Esau? Are we interested in being reunited with those that we have offended? What can we do to show our remorse and to convince them that we are sincere in our actions? Have we relied sufficiently on God to pave the way for us? These are the questions each of us faces as we deal with our relationships in life.

Join others following Ken on Twitter
Check-out AccordConsulting, SCA International, and Human Resources for the Church.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Jacob Counts on Gifts To Win Esau -- Genesis 32:16-18


He delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, "Pass on before me, and put a space between droves." He commanded the one in front, saying, "When my brother Esau meets you and asks you, saying, 'To whom do you belong, and where are you going, and to whom do these animals in front of you belong?' then you shall say, 'These belong to your servant Jacob; it is a present sent to my lord Esau. And behold, he also is behind us.'"

Jacob takes all the animals he has selected for his brother Esau, and gives them to different servants or groups of servants. The donkeys, the camels, the beef cattle, the sheep, and the goats – each grouping of animal was turned over to one key servant. And with it, Jacob gave some specific instructions. The servants were each to take the animals they were responsible for and go ahead of Jacob, but not together. Each type of herd was to be separate from the other and at a certain distance from the one ahead of it and the one behind it. To the servant in charge of the group that would go first, Jacob gave special instructions as to what to say to his brother Esau when he met the travelers and when they enquired about the ownership of the animals. The message was to be simple – “they belong to your servant Jacob but they are a present to our lord Esau from Jacob who will soon be along.”

Was Jacob leaving nothing to chance or was he doing everything humanly possible to ensure that God would honor his efforts and bless him? We do not know what was going through Jacob’s mind as he took these actions. I have discovered that there are two basic types of reactions that people have when it comes to God intervening in their lives for their good or for a required change.

The first type says “if God wants…then He will…make it happen or do so and so.” These are the individuals that rely not on God for wisdom, encouragement, and strengthen to pursue the opportunities afforded them in life, but really want Him to do all the work for them in bringing things about, including often their own physical protection. You know the kind of philosophy I am talking about. The issue could range anywhere from where one serves or works to how one feels about living in general or taking risks in life. To put it another way, God does not only have to provide the opportunity but He has to literally also get them the job or prevent them from drowning after a boat accident in the middle of the lake while not wearing a life jacket.

The second type says “thank you God for this and other opportunities; I will pursue all of them as long as you keep opening doors and stop pursing ones when you close all of its doors.” This type of person also says, “God, you know I have taken all the safety precautions as I take this ride, yet my life is indeed in your hands. Thank you.” This is the type of person who is actively involved in improving themselves and/or in keeping safe and alive in order to serve God and his/her fellow men/women.

While I do not know for sure, I would like to think that Jacob was indeed this latter type. But what really matters is what type you and I are. As for Jacob, perhaps the next three verses will give us some insight into his personal approach.

Join others following Ken on Twitter
Check-out AccordConsulting, SCA International, and Human Resources for the Church.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Jacob Also Relies On His Own Plans Genesis 32:13-15


So he spent the night there. Then he selected from what he had with him a present for his brother Esau: two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty milking camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys.

Let’s summarize. Jacob believes his brother Esau is coming after him with a host of men; he divides his own people into two groups in the hopes of saving one of them; he turns to God for protection based on God’s faithfulness to date and His earlier covenant with Jacob; and now Jacob is back to his own plans again. I don’t know what to think of that. I am the first to propose that like an automobile, man can be steered much more easily when in motion. So God wants us to take care of all that we can possibly do and then to rely on him. But is this indeed what Jacob was doing?

Jacob picks two hundred female goats, twenty male goats, two hundred female sheep, twenty male sheep, thirty camels and their young, forty cows, ten bulls, twenty female donkeys, and ten male donkeys to give to Esau as a present. Now why he picked these animals and why the specific numbers from each, at least 550 in total, is not known. We can surmise that it was because they were the available ones, or that these were ones that could help Esau built his own flocks, or these were of significant value, or a number of other reasons. Nevertheless, that is what he did. One possibility is that Jacob wanted Esau to know that he was not to worry about Jacob being a burden to him for he had enough to spare.

The opinion is split on whether or not Jacob acted in a manner conducive to someone who had perfect trust in God. Some argue that had he had such trust, he would have led the party meeting his brother and trusted God to do His part for his safety. Others believe that once we turn a matter over to God, we still need to take the humanly possible protective or otherwise appropriate measures. Jacob certainly did that. I personally support the proposition that we must not allow our dependence upon God’s help and intervention to render useless our exercise of common sense and application of wise measures that God Himself has brought to our mind or practice. One could, on the other hand, argue that such “bringing to mind” may not be of God, but of man, including our own sub-conscious thoughts. I would submit that this is unlikely if we are indeed walking in the Sprit and seeking God’s direction.

In this particular case, let us not forget the custom was to always approach ‘superiors’ with presents that would be of value to them. Jacob was following that custom as shown by the gift of the milking camels which are deemed as most valuable by Arabs and are so even today. Camel milk is also a main staff of their diet.

Jacob was indeed a very wise man not only in his business but also in his personal relations with others. That is a prayer that each of us should have as we begin our daily activities. May God grant us the wisdom to be wise in how to parent, or manage, or teach, or otherwise work, and also in how to love, care for, listen to, and serve others.

Join others following Ken on Twitter
Check-out AccordConsulting, SCA International, and Human Resources for the Church.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jacob Turns to God for Protection -- Genesis 32:9-12


And Jacob said, "O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who said to me, 'Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you,' I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which You have shown to Your servant; for with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, 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, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children. For You said, 'I will surely prosper you and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which is too great to be numbered.'"

Jacob eventually does turn to God as he knows that He alone can protect him from what he believes is coming down the road. But he doesn’t do it until after he fears and after he has made human arrangements that he thinks will guard him from the enemy. How much better would it have been had he gone to God first and sought His wisdom and guidance as to what action to take? Nevertheless, as always, better late than never.

In his prayer, he once again recognizes God as the God of his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac, as well as the God who spoke to Jacob himself. In my over six decades of life, I never realized how important it is for us to remember that the God we relate to today is the very God that our parents and grandparents related to, assuming they were God-fearing people. We often tend to forget that the God we approach on our behalf has been around forever.

While Jacob reminds God of what God had told him, he does so with humility as God’s servant. “God, I’m following your instructions and I know you have already shown me more love and kindness, and more faithfulness than I deserve. I know I left home penniless and now I return with two whole companies accompanying me, all because of your blessing. If you are reading this today, I admit I do not know your circumstances but I do know this: all of us came into the world penniless without a stitch of clothes on our back. Somehow this God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob saw to it that we got fed, clothed, trained, educated to some extent (or we couldn’t be reading this), and much, much more if we take the time to consider it all. Truly we are all unworthy of any of it. What we may have accomplished, we owe it all to Him, whether or not we realize it or even accept His existence.

Jacob asks for deliverance from the hand of his brother, the man whom he stole from and cheated. While it is easy to read this passage very quickly and skip over it, we would do well to stop and realize the real fear and trembling that Jacob was undergoing. In Jacob’s mind, Esau was on his way to attack him and the women with all the children. Living with that kind of fear must be an awful experience. I think of those that live in areas where wars and tyranny and genocide take place regularly. I think of young children or spouses who fear the coming home of a drunk or worse, a physically or sexually abusing parent or relative. Or, I think of Christians who have made a stand for Christ in their homeland where such a decision may mean death. What a horrible experience to know that each moment one must be on guard for the safety of oneself and one’s family.

But with all this fear, Jacob relies on the knowledge of what God had said. That’s the lesson for us when it comes to each and every issue. No matter what our fear, we need to be mindful of what God has told us in His word or in our hearts.

Join others following Ken on Twitter
Check-out AccordConsulting, SCA International, and Human Resources for the Church.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Jacob Prepares To Defend Himself -- Genesis 32:6-8


And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and furthermore he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and the herds and the camels into two companies; for he said, “If Esau comes to the one company and attacks it, then the company which is left will escape.”

What I find interesting is that we have no record of the actual conversation between Jacob’s messengers and his brother Esau. Clearly God and the human author He used for this portion of scripture wanted the focus to remain on Jacob. The messengers reported just three things. First, they got to Esau personally. Second, Esau is coming to meet you. Third, he’s bringing four hundred men with him. That’s all they said. When you consider how ‘lords’ traveled in those days, was there anything in any of those three short messages to warrant Jacob’s reaction? Jacob wanted the men to meet Esau. Esau was willing to meet him and would even come to him (remember Jacob’s route and destination did not have him going directly through Esau’s place of residence). And yes, he was bringing lots of men with him, but could that not have been for the sake of welcoming Jacob, taking care of Esau, and doing whatever needed to be done with respect to their customs and reconnection? Why did Jacob react the way he did?

The Bible says that Jacob “was greatly afraid and distressed” when he heard what his messengers told him. Thoughts of fear came right away regardless of his knowledge of God’s covenant with him. As much as someone has done well and has become wealthy and mighty in a distant country, when he/she finally comes back to the place of their sin, there is always the fear that they will not be forgiven by those that they had offended. Like any one of us who has committed a serious sin, its memory often continues to haunt us, even if we know both God and some of those involved have forgiven us. The comfort of God’s promises does not easily come to mind when that fear sets in. That perhaps is natural. What really matters once again is what we do with that fear and how quickly we turn to the God that has made a covenant with us.

In Jacob’s case, he took serious human steps to avoid potential military-type defeat. He divided all those that were with him, including all the animals into two parts. He felt that Esau could only attack one part and the other would escape in the process. Man fears, man plans, man hopes; but only God can save.

As I write these words, Canada and the world are in the midst of the greatest inoculation program we have ever experienced to date. The race is in to produce enough ‘swine flu vaccine’ to protect us all from the now famous H1N1 virus. There is great controversy over the vaccine’s ability to protect and whether or not its side effects, including possible death, are worse than the H1N1 flu itself. To date, there have been deaths both from the flu and from the vaccine. Many, my family included are not taking it. But here’s what’s interesting: out of fear, men make the best laid plans, and then they sit and hope, remaining in fear until the danger totally passes. Yet God provides us all with assurances about the things that really matter in life so that we need not fear, we need not plan outside of His will, and we need not just hope, but we can know what our ultimate future holds.

Join others following Ken on Twitter
Check-out AccordConsulting, SCA International, and Human Resources for the Church.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.