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Friday, August 18, 2017

BOUGIE BABIES AND BUILDING YOUR TRIBE

blogging Genesis 24

Isaac was his mother’s only child, born in her twilight years.  She had Isaac’s only sibling thrown out of the house because the older kid had laughed at her baby (Genesis 21:9,10).  Abraham and Sarah were wealthy, powerful, and highly respected (Genesis 23:6; 24:1). When Sarah died, Isaac was 37, rich, single, and living at home.   He was a bourgeois mama’s boy.


As soon as the Sarah’s funeral was over, Abraham set about marrying off his man-child.

Abraham called his oldest and most trusted servant and made the man swear a solemn oath to go to Mesopotamia and convince one of Abraham’s nieces or cousins to come back to Canaan and marry Isaac.

 So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, “Please, put your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell; but you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” (Genesis 24:2-4)    

Putting “your hand under my thigh” is probably a euphemism for putting your hand under my loins, which is a euphemism for . . .  Abraham made his servant swear on his -----umm, man-parts.
Abraham’s manhood, his destiny, his legacy, the success or failure of thousands of miles and over a hundred years fighting, shepherding, and hustling as a nomad all hinged on the next generation.  And the next generation depended on getting a spoiled mama’s boy married to the right woman and
getting them moved into the right neighborhood.

I know.  Sounds really bourgeoise, but Abraham was as “real” as it gets.   He lived across national, ethnic, and socio-economic lines.  His second wife was an Egyptian slave girl.  His third wife was Canaanite.  He made friends and did business with everybody.  Before his first son was born, Abraham had willed all his possessions to a Syrian employee (Genesis 15:2).    But, Abraham thought that his son was too good for a Canaanite wife, and too good for a house in his old neighborhoods in Mesopotamia.

. . . you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell but you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac. . . only do not take my son back there (Genesis 24:3, 4, 8).

Abraham wasn’t bourgeois, but he wanted bourgeoise for his son, which is an unflattering way of saying that Abraham wanted Isaac to have a different TRIBE


The tribe of Abraham and Isaac wouldn’t be designated solely by ethnicity though biological connections and genealogies would be important to the tribe.  The tribe of Abraham and Isaac wouldn’t be fixed by geography, though the land was a critical part of their identity.  Nor would the tribe be a copy and paste of the dominant cultural influences in the area, albeit Canaanite, African, and Near Eastern societies would contribute mightily to the new tribe’s flavor and flow.  The tribe of Abraham and Isaac would be theological brothers to the Salemites who worshipped the true God under Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20), but they wouldn’t join the Salemites.    The tribe of Isaac and Abraham the Hebrew (Genesis 14:13) would be in some ways like all those other people-groups but the sum of the new tribe would be completely different, something new.

Abraham’s life was defined by God’s Word, God’s spoken promise to make of him a great nation.  The tribe of Abraham and Isaac and Isaac’s children would become a new people, a new nation defined by the Word of God which they would come to know as the Law, the Scriptures.

Did any people ever hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and live? . . . 40 You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time (Deuteronomy 4:33, 40).

Israel, the Jews, the chosen people claim as their inheritance the promises of Abraham, promises made by the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob.  Abraham succeeded in building his tribe, his nation through Isaac and Isaac’s son Jacob.    

They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen (Romans 9:4-5, ESV).

But Abraham’s tribe became something bigger than bourgeoise.  God fulfilled the most powerful clause in the Abrahamic covenant: 18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed (Genesis 22:18).

Through faith in Jesus Christ, Son of God and descendant of Abraham Isaac and Jacob according to the flesh, we non-Hebrews, non-Israelites are made heirs of the promises of Abraham. 

It’s good to be “real.”  You should own your past sins, know how to handle yourself in fight, and maintain a formidable reputation in all circles, even among the heathens. 

Give your children genuine respect and agape love for people across every demographic but train them to be an outsider to the culture of easy sin around them.  Teach your kids the faults and failures in their family and ethnic history, and but don’t define them by those faults and failings.   You can’t usually pick spouses like Abraham did, but you can choose to center your children’s identity in God. 

If you do your life right, your kids will be spoiled (with blessings and security and opportunity you didn’t have).  

If you were successful your children will be a bit more bourgeois; make sure they’re also more firmly grounded in the Word of God. 

If all of us do that, we’ll be fathers and mothers of a great nation. 
 Image result for PROUD FATHER FREAKING AWESOME SONImage result for PROUD FATHER FREAKING AWESOME DAUGHTER
---Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama;  executive director of the Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization (SAYNO);  and director of rural leadership development for the National Institute for Human Development (NIHD).

Subscribe to my personal blog  www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com .

Email atgravestwo2@aol.com
Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 

Click here to support this ministry with a donation.  Or go to andersontgraves.blogspot.com and click on the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar.

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Miles Chapel CME Church
P O Box 132
Fairfield, Al 35064


Sunday, August 13, 2017

BITTER TO SWEET

We continue the preaching series on Exodus with a message about the struggle to transform  bitter experiences into sweet ones.

The message is titled: BITTER TO SWEET

Please comment.

Listen well.

If you can’t get the audio on your device, visit the main podcast page at http://revandersongraves.podomatic.com/

---Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama;  executive director of the Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization (SAYNO);  and director of rural leadership development for the National Institute for Human Development (NIHD).

Subscribe to my personal blog  www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com .

Email atgravestwo2@aol.com
Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 

Click here to support this ministry with a donation.  Or go to andersontgraves.blogspot.com and click on the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar.

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Miles Chapel CME Church
P O Box 132
Fairfield, AL 35064

Sunday, August 6, 2017

THE REASON WHY WE SING

After the Red Sea, there was a song.

In Exodus 15, Moses sang first hymn in the Judeo-Christian tradition, a song-psalm we seldom reference but through which God speaks to us about legacy and worship and the prophetic power of praise.

We continue the preaching series on Exodus with a sermon about the first freestyle and the first praise dance in the history of our faith. 

The message is titled: THE REASON WHY WE SING

Please comment.


Listen well.

If you can’t get the audio on your device, visit the main podcast page at http://revandersongraves.podomatic.com/

---Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama;  executive director of the Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization (SAYNO);  and director of rural leadership development for the National Institute for Human Development (NIHD).

Subscribe to my personal blog  www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com .

Email atgravestwo2@aol.com
Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 

Click here to support this ministry with a donation.  Or go to andersontgraves.blogspot.com and click on the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar.

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Miles Chapel CME Church
P O Box 132

Fairfield, AL 35064

Friday, August 4, 2017

WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT THE FUNERAL?

blogging Genesis 23
So Sarah died in Kirjath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.
Then Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying, “I am a foreigner and a visitor among you. Give me property for a burial place among you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.”
. . .
12 Then Abraham bowed himself down before the people of the land; 13 and he spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying, “If you will give it, please hear me. I will give you money for the field; take it from me and I will bury my dead there.”



I can’t (or won’t) tell you how many times I’ve sat with grieving spouses, children, or parents who said, “Pastor, I don’t know how we’re gonna bury her/him.”  Sometimes that meant they didn’t have the money.   Sometimes they had the money, but no one had made arrangement in advance.  They hadn’t talked about coffins, cremation, graves, markers, or funerals.


They loved their dearly departed, but in their family they didn’t talk about death, especially the business of death.

I won’t tell you how many times, but it’s common.  It’s easy for better prepared families to mock and judge the unprepared, but you’d be surprised how common lack of preparation is, even among people we think of as great, powerful, and admirable. 


The following is a true story.

There was this guy, a minority from out of state.  He’d come into town like he owned the place or he was supposed to.  He’d been caught committing fraud but he’d never been convicted, possibly because he had a following of hundreds of earners who would kill for him --- and had. 

He had two kids, sons.  His oldest lived out of state with the boy’s mother, his ex-wife.  Well, maybe she was his ex-wife and maybe she’d been his official side-chick.  The stories are kinda confusing on that point, but everyone agrees that the man put his first baby’s mama out with his teenage son because of the drama he had another baby by his first wife and then there was just too much drama.  It was like even God knew they couldn’t make it work under one roof.

Now, this guy wasn’t all bad.  He was deeply and sincerely religious, and he absolutely loved his first wife, and, though he made some parenting decisions that under other circumstances would have warranted a visit from child protective services, he sincerely loved both of his sons.   He was fiercely loyal.  I mean, this guy LITERALLY went to war when his nephew got in trouble. 
Our guy, like the Rockefellers, Carnegies, and Kennedys, eventually earned the respect of the ruling men around him. 

Over time this man amassed money, jewels, vehicles, and weapons for his private army; but when his wife died he realized that he was technically HOMELESS.

He’d moved around:  eastside, westside, northside, southside.  He’d stay for a while, make some money, maybe get into some trouble, and then move and set up somewhere else.  He had baller status, but no real estate.  For all his power and property, he didn’t own so much as a plot of Earth big enough to bury his wife in.

Was he stupid?  Was he a ghetto fool?  Was he just another thug who should’ve bought life insurance instead of necklaces? Maybe you shouldn’t have any sympathy for this guy.  Maybe he deserved the extra pain of having to negotiate and grieve at the same time.  Maybe this was God’s way of paying him back for being a b-ad baby’s daddy and a convicted felon.

Maybe.   

Abraham went to the men who ran things and asked, “Give me property for a burial place among you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight” (Genesis 23:4).




They offered to donate space in their family mausoleum’s but our guy Abraham insisted on paying full price for a burial plot so that the land would belong to his family forever.   After the usual haggling, Abraham bought a tomb and the land surrounding it from Ephron the Hittite for 400 shekels (Genesis 23:5-16).

God had promised that Abraham’s descendants would own all the land where Abraham was renting and squatting. 

On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates— the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites” (Genesis15:18-20).

Sarah’s death made Abraham realize how far he was from walking in that promise.  When Abraham purchased Sarah’s tomb he didn’t just arrange for a funeral, he made arrangement for the future of his family.

Abraham acquired a piece of real estate that anchored his family’s claim to residence in the Promised Land through a legal deed witnessed, notarized, and recognized by  the Canaanite tribes that would rule the land until Abraham’s descendants through Isaac and Jacob came to claim it 500-plus years later.  In Genesis 25:9-10 both Abraham’s sons buried him in that tomb.  Through Ishmael and Isaac, the legal anchor of the  Abrahamic claim to the Promised Land was preserved through the Ishmaelites (Arabs), the Edomites (descendants of Isaac’s son Ishmael), and the Jews (descendants of Isaac’s other son Jacob).   Today, a mosque that used to be a church sits atop the spot 3 historically contentious religions s believe is the cave Abraham bought in which to bury Sarah. 
 
The Ibrahim Mosque
The financial funeral arrangement Abraham made resonate 4,000 years later. 


A long, long time ago, an imperfect man said, “Lord, I don’t know how I’m going to bury her.” realized the need to provide a place for those who had gone on and simultaneously to leave something for those who hadn’t come along yet.

In other words, MAKE A WILL, FILL OUT A LIVING WILL, GET SOME LIFE INSURANCE, AND WRITE OUT YOUR FUNERAL PROGRAM so your family doesn’t have to go to the Hittites begging after you die!

---Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama;  executive director of the Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization (SAYNO);  and director of rural leadership development for the National Institute for Human Development (NIHD).

Subscribe to my personal blog  www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com .

Email atgravestwo2@aol.com
Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 

Click here to support this ministry with a donation.  Or go to andersontgraves.blogspot.com and click on the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar.

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Miles Chapel CME Church
P O Box 132
Fairfield, Al 35064


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

BLIND FAITH, NOT DEAF FAITH (Genesis 22)

 Blogging Genesis 22


Genesis 22: 1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!”
And he said, “Here I am.”
Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

We know.  But he didn’t.

We know the stories of God bringing the dead back to life (1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:35; Luke 7:13-15; John 11:43-44; Matthew 28:5-7;etc.).  We know that God provides a substitutionary sacrifice for those who trust in Him.  We know that it was all a test of how deep Abraham’s faith was.  We know that God wasn’t really going to let Abraham kill his son. 

But Abraham didn’t know any of this.

Abraham only knew the stories from the first 21 chapters of Genesis.  He didn’t have pslams singing of God’s grace, mercy, and love, or apostles explaining the sacrifice of Jesus the lamb of God. All Abraham knew was that he was over 100 years old and he had exactly 2 children.  He was estranged from Ishmael, his firstborn and now God wanted him to kill the only son he had left. 

But Abraham also knew that God had promised him descendants through Isaac, and Isaac had to be alive for that to happen. So despite what he didn’t know, Abraham knew enough about God to BELIEVE something new.

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. (Hebrews 11:17-18)

Abraham had believed God would give him the land of Canaan, but 30-plus years later and he was a still glorified squatter who didn’t even own a place to bury his dead (Genesis 23).    Abraham had believed God would give him children.  But Ishmael took 11 years and an unauthorized polygamous marriage, and Isaac came 14 more years, a full two-and-a-half decades after God’s original promise.

Abraham believed God but he didn’t know how long he would have to go on believing God over his son’s charred, dead body.    Abraham BELIEVED that no matter how horrible things went on the mountain, the lad and I will . . .  come back to you (Genesis 22:5).

So you could argue that Abraham walked Isaac up Mount Moriah as an act of blind faith, but you have to recognize that it wasn't an act of DEAF faith.  

Abraham LISTENED to God’s promises. He LISTENED to God’s command to take Isaac up on Mount Moriah.  And in the midst of the emotional turmoil of that horrible moment with the knife upraised, Abraham was still LISTENING.  He heard the voice of the angel and then he knew.

Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham. . . Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” (Genesis 22: 10-12)

Like Abraham, you and I spend a lot of time not knowing, and not knowing that we don’t know.  


Sometimes the task God sets before you right now seems to disagree with the promise God made back when you started this path.  You don’t know how in the world THIS can lead to THAT.  Sometimes you can’t understand how, but you can be sure of WHO. 

Focus on God.  Pray the way you prayed when you first believed, when you first KNEW that God was speaking to you.  Serve, worship, fast, study, meditate, LISTEN like you did when you KNEW that God was calling you a new path.  Cut out all the distractions.  Be still and KNOW that He is God and you will know if this new pursuit if of God.  When you know that it’s God WHO is telling you to climb the mountain, BELIEVE, but keep LISTENING. 




Before you SEE what else God has waiting, you have to HEAR what God has to say about what you’re doing now.


---Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama;  executive director of the Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization (SAYNO);  and director of rural leadership development for the National Institute for Human Development (NIHD).

Subscribe to my personal blog  www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com .

Email atgravestwo2@aol.com
Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 

Click here to support this ministry with a donation.  Or go to andersontgraves.blogspot.com and click on the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar.

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Miles Chapel CME Church
P O Box 132
Fairfield, Al 35064

Monday, July 31, 2017

NO TAKEBACKS

One step forward, two steps back.  Why?

Why is that every time you start making progress something happens to try to take you back down?  More importantly, how do you overcome the cycle.

The story of Moses and the children of Israel crossing the Red Sea is a case study in this phenomenon.  The interaction between Moses, Pharaoh, the Israelites, and God at the Red Sea shows why we get taken those 2 steps back, and how we can overcome and keep moving forward.

The message is titled: NO TAKEBACKS.

Please comment.


Listen well.

If you can’t get the audio on your device, visit the main podcast page at http://revandersongraves.podomatic.com/

---Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama;  executive director of the Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization (SAYNO);  and director of rural leadership development for the National Institute for Human Development (NIHD).

Subscribe to my personal blog  www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com .

Email atgravestwo2@aol.com
Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 

Click here to support this ministry with a donation.  Or go to andersontgraves.blogspot.com and click on the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar.

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Miles Chapel CME Church
P O Box 132
Fairfield, Al 35064

Sunday, July 23, 2017

IF YOU AIN'T READY, GET READY (audio of sermon)

Between the first Passover and the parting of the Red Sea is a short passage in which God’s opinion of Israel and Israel’s opinion of themselves are quite pretty much exactly opposite.   They think they’re ready.  God thinks they’re not.

The outcome is a long and winding road, a God-sized fake-out,  and a 5-step process for transforming an overconfident and unprepared community into a competent and powerful one.

The message is titled: IF YOU AIN’T READY, GET READY.

Please comment.


Listen well.

If you can’t get the audio on your device, visit the main podcast page at http://revandersongraves.podomatic.com/

---Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama;  executive director of the Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization (SAYNO);  and director of rural leadership development for the National Institute for Human Development (NIHD).

Subscribe to my personal blog  www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com .

Email atgravestwo2@aol.com
Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 

Click here to support this ministry with a donation.  Or go to andersontgraves.blogspot.com and click on the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar.

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Miles Chapel CME Church
P O Box 132
Fairfield, Al 35064