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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

REAL OVER FAKE (blogging Genesis 29-31)



Blogging Genesis chapters 29-31.

13 Then it came to pass, when Laban heard the report about Jacob his sister’s son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house. So Jacob told Laban all these things.
14 And Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh.” And he stayed with him for a month.
15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what should your wages be
. . .   18 Now Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, “I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter.”
19 And Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to another man. Stay with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in to her.” 22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place and made a feast.
. . . 25 So it came to pass in the morning, that behold, it was Leah. And he said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served you? Why then have you deceived me?”
26 And Laban said, “It must not be done so in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. 27 Fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for the service which you will serve with me still another seven years.”
28 Then Jacob did so and fulfilled her week. So he gave him his daughter Rachel as wife also. . .  And he served with Laban still another seven years. --- Genesis 29:13-29


For the last couple of weeks I’ve been reading and re-reading Jacob’s time with Laban in Genesis chapter 29-31.  I felt something missing in the typical summaries of the passage, but I couldn’t find the right framework to explain it.  The usual synopsis is about how Jacob the trickster is paid back for his life of deception and so he realizes the error of his ways and runs back into the redemptive arms of God.

But that’s not what actually happens in the Bible.

Jacob is called usurper and trickster so we think of him as a usurper and a con man, but those were the names that other people gave Jacob.  Yes, he moved into the place of the firstborn, but God had promised that to him before he was born.  Jacob didn’t decide unilaterally to launch a family coup.  Jacob was known as a trickster, but lying to his dad was his mom’s idea.  Rachel came up with the plan and pressured Jacob into acting out his part.  Who was the real trickster?

Think about it.  Rachel was Laban’s sister. 

When Isaac and Rebekah met she was already a highly socialized young adult raised in the same ethical system as her brother Laban (Genesis 24).   Isaac (Laban’s cousin) lied about Rebekah being his wife (Genesis 26).  Rebekah devised the scheme to defraud her blind old husband.   Jacob’s wives were raised by Laban.  Jacob’s favorite, his beloved Rachel robbed her dad and pretended to be on her period to hide the idol statues she’d stolen from him (Genesis 31:19, 34-35). 

When Laban and Jacob first met, Jacob told Laban all these things (Genesis 29:13) about buying his brother’s birthright for a bowl of stew; his mom plotting to deceive his old, blind father; the lies; the death threat from his brother; and the vision we call Jacob’s ladder. 

Laban heard all these things and replied, “Yep.  That sounds just like stuff my relatives would do.”

And Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh. . . --- Genesis 29:14

Laban’s household was  a lying family of liars who lied.   

Jacob, was raised by a Laban-ite, but he wasn’t fully immersed into that world.  In fact, Jacob was actually a geek, a nerd, a bookish mama’s boy who stayed home, cooked porridge, and didn’t have the survival skills to pack properly for a journey to Syria. (Read the previous Genesis blogs for those references.)

Now, who remembers Tupac?

Tupac Shakur parents were politically woke before “woke” was a thing.  They named him after an 18th-century Peruvian revolutionary .  Tupac was an intellectually gifted child who studied acting, poetry, jazz, and ballet at the Baltimore School for the Arts.  When his family first moved to California, the settled in the suburbs.  His extended family’s many Black Panther Party connections turned into connections to convicted felons.  Poverty and crack caught up to his mother, and his young adult associations were bonafide street hustlers.  But Tupac was just like Jacob, the real bookish, intellectual, Dear Mama singing Jacob.

Where there’s a Jacob, there’s almost always also ----- a Laban.  In Genesis 31:22-32, Laban would have killed Jacob if the Lord hadn’t intervened.  Laban was a hustler for real, an O.G.


Jacob was the confirmed heir to the fortunes of Isaac and Abraham, the ancient Canaanite equivalent of a Rockefeller.  He was the chosen one, confirmed by God at the pillar of Beth-el to be the father of a nation as numerous as the stars of heaven.   

When Jacob first met Rachel he could have gone home to his rich daddy and sent for his betrothed.  Instead he spent a month working for Laban for free. 

And he stayed with him for a month. Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing (Genesis 29:14,15)?

O.K., a month.  After that though, Jacob could have sent word and received a fortune sufficient to cover any bride-price Laban could’ve named. 

But he didn’t.  He contracted himself out for 7 years of indentured servitude as a dowry (Genesis 29:18).

At the end of the 7 years, Laban got Jacob drunk and married him to the wrong daughter under the lame pretense of some obscure Syrian marriage tradition that he’d neglected to mention FOR SEVEN YEARS (Genesis 29:21-26).

THEN, instead of demanding reparations for Laban’s fraud and breach of contract, somehow Jacob gets tied into a 7 year extension of his contract to his lying uncle-father-in-law. Because family.

 

Laban recognized God’s anointing on Jacob’s life made himself rich off the younger man’s talents while repeatedly muscling him out of the rights and compensation he’d earned. 

So Jacob said to him, “You know how I have served you and how your livestock has been with me.  For what you had before I came was little, and it has increased to a great amount; the Lord has blessed you since my coming. And now, when shall I also provide for my own house?” (Genesis 30:29,30)

But why did Jacob let Laban run his life and run over his life for 20 year?  How was Laban able to dominate the more talented and anointed Jacob?

Consistency.
Laban was consistent in his character.  He was a lying liar from a family of liars.  Laban was consistent in his conduct and in his methods.  He tricked Jacob ----- every time.  He extended Jacob’s stay and stiffed him on his pay ---- every time.bLaban was fully committed to the life of a lying pagan hustler.  He didn’t deny his gods; he pursued them.  When Jacob tried to get out of the life, Laban was going to kill him.

Laban was wrong, but Laban was REAL.

Jacob, on the other hand, let his mother talk him into lying to his blind father when he really didn’t want to.  He received God’s promise at Beth-el, but he really didn’t fully believe it.
  
The Lord said, “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”
. . . Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God.” (Genesis 28:15, 20-21).

Jacob wanted Rachel and only Rachel, but he accepted Leah, even though the marriage was fraudulent, and he despised Leah, but he got her pregnant 7 times.  Jacob was the anointed one, but he was inconsistent.  He was more right but less REAL.

The guy who kept it real dominated the guy who didn’t know who he really was.

John had a vision of Jesus writing to the church, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” (Revelations 3:15, 16)

Real hot? 
I can use you.

Real cold even? 
I can use you.

Kinda, sorta, not sure, maybe?
You make me sick.

When God has called you to Himself, the old sinful ways aren’t REALly yours anymore.  Dipping back in a little doesn’t “scratch an itch” or “take the edge off.”  Backsliding just makes you inconsistent and susceptible to the attacks of the devil and his fully committed servants.

What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death (Romans 6:21).

Tupac was an intellectual social justice warrior who vacillated between thug and activist.  He wasn’t  (I know Tupac fans are gonna lose their minds here).  Pac wasn’t real.

Not to the calling her really knew in himself.


Dr. King died young. But he was real.  Not perfect.  But consistently committed to a path.  He died but he wasn’t dominated by a Laban.

Malcolm X, one could argue, was dominated by Elijah (Laban) Muhammad, but he got real in the closing years of his life.

When Jacob got real, he took his wives and left Laban because that was his calling all along.

So Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him (Genesis 32:1).


If you’re being bullied into someone else’s image of you but you know deep down that God has called you to be someone different, you need to get real.  Don’t wait for your oppressor to change; they probably won’t.    You have to change. Or, more accurately, you have to stop changing.  Stop modifying the truth of who you are to appease the Laban, the Shug Knight, or the Elijah Muhammad who is living off your anointing.

---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, October 15, 2017

WINNING WORSHIP

After speaking the 10 Commandment, God gave very specific and restrictive directions on what type of altar the Israelites were allowed to make.  A few chapters later, God gave a very specific and entirely different set of directions for building an altar.  And a little while after that He delivered a third, different-from-the-first-two-times design for an altar.

What? Why?

This is not a case of contradictory information.  It’s a powerful lesson on how the power of worship.

We continue our sermoninc journey through Exodus with a message about THE WAY TO WIN WITH WORSHIP.

Listen well.


Please leave a comment.


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, October 1, 2017

SERVICE OR CELEBRITY?

If you're really good at something, whatever it is: art, sports, ministry, organizing, . . . whatever; if you're really good at it, a moment comes when you have to choose between CELEBRITY & SERVICE.

If you’re an artist or entertainer, you’ll face a moment when you have a platform from which you can speak truth.  From there you can direct people to community-changing action.


Or, you can use the aftermath to promote your album. 


SERVICE or CELEBRITY?

If you’re a servant-leader who leads and serves well, you’ll get noticed and you’ll get access to resources, opportunities, and people you’d never imagined.  You can use your new access to resolve the most stubborn problems in the community you serve and empower masses of people to help their neighbors.   Or, you can become a brand and build your brand while ignoring the people and places you supposedly serve.

CELEBRITY or SERVICE?

Acts 8 tells the story of a celebrity magician named Simon.  Simon got saved and served faithfully as a member in good standing of the 1st Church of Samaria.  But then, as recorded in Acts 8:14-19, Simon realized that if he could make folks catch the Holy Ghost, it would be worth a lot of money. 


And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” --- Acts 8:18 - 19

The moment came and Simon chose CELEBRITY over service.

That was the wrong choice.

Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!  You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. ---- Acts 8:20 - 21

Simon, the celebrity, issued a public apology.  He said he’d learned the error of his ways.

Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.” --- Acts 8:24

I don’t know.  That’s the end of Simon’s story in the Bible.

Jesus served 5,000 hungry men with accompanying women and children by miraculously multiplying 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread.  It made him famous.

Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” --- John 6: 14

Jesus didn’t just have disciples.  Now He also had fans. 

His public demanded that he take a bigger contract, launch a national platform, become the face of the people. 

. . . Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king. . .  --- John 6:15a

But Jesus understood history and human nature.  Jesus understood that when the adoring public didn’t want a king like Jesus; they wanted Jesus to be a king like the kings they saw online and on tv (or the 1st century equivalent of online an on tv).   Remember 1 Samuel 8: 4-20.

Jesus declined to be made their celebrity.

Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.  ---- John 6:15, emphasis added.

Jesus didn’t stop working miracles.  He walked on water that very night (John 6:15 – 21).

He didn’t stop helping people.  The next day, Jesus healed a bunch of people (Matthew 14:34 – 36).

Jesus chose SERVICE over celebrity.

Now think about this:  Jesus is the most famous person in history, BECAUSE he chose to be a servant instead of a celebrity.

Take a second and process that.   It’s a paradox.  Take a sec.

By doing what He had to do to serve the people, Jesus built a platform, amplified His voice, and expanded His audience.  But He still spent the bulk of his time on the ground, in the trenches, getting dirty, being genuinely vulnerable and present with the least of these, His brothers.  

In conclusion,
Simon saw the purpose of God for his life but left his purpose to follow the cameras.   Jesus followed his purpose and the cameras followed Him.

You and I get to decide:  service or celebrity.  You may get both, but you can’t pursue both.  Yeah, they say you can.    You can’t. 

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. ---- Jesus, Matthew 6:24

Oh, wait!  There’s one more thing.

The Bible doesn’t say what happened to Simon, but we know what happened to Jesus. 

When the Servant who was not seeking celebrity got famous and his fame started shining real bright, the reigning political celebrities killed Him.

But, as the song goes, that’s not where the story ends.  The Servant rose and reigns.   Choosing service over celebrity will bring pain.  There’ll be seasons where you’ll feel broken and utterly destroyed.  But, that’s not where your story will end. 

Don’t grow weary of doing well.  You will eventually reap your reward.

So?  


What’ll it be?


---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

LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR. HOW DO YOU DO THAT?

Conclusion of the 2-part message on the 10 Commandments. 

The title of the sermon is: LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR. HOW DO YOU DO THAT?

Listen well.


Please leave a comment.

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

Thursday, September 28, 2017

A CUSSING KING



Inspired by former NFL quarterback Colin Kapernick, several NFL players elected to protest police brutality and systemic racism by kneeling during the national anthem.  President Donald J. Trump said:

In fairness to the president, this is not the first time a national leader went all potty-mouth in public.

Read 1 Samuel chapter 20.

Saul, the first king of Israel, had been chosen by God (1 Samuel 9:15-17), anointed by the prophet-priest Samuel (1 Samuel 10:1), and publicly selected in a national election in which the outcome was predetermined (1 Samuel 10:20-22).

In the first year of his administration, the new king solidified a fiercely loyal and enthusiastic base. 

So all the people shouted and said, “Long live the king!” (1 Samuel 10:24)

He inspired an opposition movement that questioned his qualifications for the office. 

But some rebels said, “How can this man save us?” So they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace. (1 Samuel 10:27)

And his supporters took violent action against their leader’s critics, which Saul actually, definitively condemned.

Then the people said to Samuel, “Who is he who said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring the men, that we may put them to death.”
But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has accomplished salvation in Israel” (1 Samuel 11: 12,13).

They had high hopes for King Saul until he started saying stupid stuff and issuing cool-sounding orders that made no sense.  Like, in 1 Samuel 14, when Saul cancelled all meals for the army and threatened to execute anyone who  ate or even drank water.  And this was while the army was in the middle of major combat (1 Samuel 24).  The king appointed David to his staff, but then he got mad because David was doing his job right, so he turned on David and tried to destroy him (1 Samuel 18; 19).


Around this time Saul contracted potty mouth.  Suspecting that his son and 2nd in command, Jonathan, was not sufficiently enthusiastic about having his best friend and colleague David murdered, 1 Samuel 20:3-33, explains: Then Saul’s anger was aroused against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness?

“You son of a perverse, rebellious woman!” Translation, You, son of a b****!
The “shame of your mother’s nakedness” is either a reference to Jonathan’s birth, or a callback to the euphemism “uncover the nakedness of”  in Leviticus 18.  It's a euphemism for "have sex with."  The former interpretation means Saul said Jonathan had been a disappointment since the day he was born.  

The second interpretation, which I think is correct, means Saul said: “Jonathan, you son of a b****! I knew you’d chose that mother-f****  David over me!”

Now, where was I going with this?

Oh, yeah.    Three points: 

1) There’s going to be a lot more yelling, and cursing, and twitter-spear throwing before this term is over.

After all that cussing, Saul continued to be  king.

People asked David to remove Saul from office, but nope.    

Look, this day your eyes have seen that the LORD delivered you today into my hand in the cave, and someone urged me to kill you. But my eye spared you, and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’s anointed’ (1 Samuel 24:10).

The cussin’ king had a long, full term as leader of the nation. For 4 decades, he decided military action, tax policy, immigration law.  During that time the political climate was characterized by infighting, betrayal, military resources wasted on strategically pointless personal vendettas and a steep degree of moral and psychological decline so bad that Samuel literally came back as a ghost to tell Saul that he was an idiot (1 Samuel 28:13-19).

But he was in office for a long, long, long time.   

2)  A verbally filthy leader indicates a spiritually unprotected nation. 

Unrestrained speech shows that the spirit of the leader is  unrepentant and un-redeemeed. Oh, the king/ president can go up to the temple and make the sacrifices/ take the communion and say all the right churchy words, but if he can't control his mouth,the Bible says that his faith is powerless at best, and insincere at worst. 

Read 1 Samuel 15. 

Saul’s unraveled, public profanity came after God had withdrawn His favor on the anointed, elected leader. 

Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel” (1 Samuel 15:26).

3)  A nation following a leader who is leading outside of God’s favor, is a nation on the verge of getting its butt kicked by somebody and/ or something.

The next major military action led by Saul ended in humiliating defeat for his nation and a series of murder suicides that decimated the royal family (1 Samuel  31:1-13).

When a proclaimed Christian acts without restraint, it means that God had stopped restraining him/her.  If God has withdrawn His restraint, then God has also withdrawn His FAVOR (Acts 7:42-43; Romans 1:24-25). 

A nation outside of God's favor that thinks it's still God's chosen people, a spiritually unprotected people whose think they're still the America that God shed his grace on ----- that's a nation about to have a very unpleasant surprise. 


---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, September 25, 2017

SPIRITUAL CALLER I. D.

God did not originally deliver the Ten Commandments on stone tablets through His spokesman Moses.  The first transmission of the Ten Commandments was more spectacular, more public, and more ---- personal.   So personal that the Commandments were more than a list of behaviors, more than the foundation for morality, ethics, and law. 

Understand the Ten Commandments in a new way.  See that the 10 most repeated rules in history were first a means of Divine communication, the way that the God of the Bible distinguished Himself from every other spiritual and religious entity. 

The title of this message, from Exodus chapter 20, is: SPIRITUAL CALLER I. D.

Listen well.


Please leave a comment.

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

SLEEPING ON YOUR VISION



Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep.  . . . And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously (Genesis 28:10,11, 19).

Jacob was the primary heir of a wealthy family, but instead of buying food and lodging in the city of Luz, he slept alone in the woods.  Esau was the hunter; Jacob didn’t ENJOY sleeping outside.  He liked tents and red lentil stew, and beds.

At his campsite, Jacob didn’t lay his head on his extra blanket, or use the bundle of clothes he’d packed as a pillow.  Instead he pushed over a rock formation tall enough to be used as a pillar (Genesis 28:2), and slept with his head propped on the thin end of a weird looking boulder.

Why?

Avoiding town indicates that Jacob was afraid the townspeople would murder him and take his money.  Sleeping on a rock implies that Jacob didn’t pack an extra blanket or a change of clothes.  Jacob was afraid, alone, and absolutely unprepared for his situation.

He couldn’t go home because his brother was waiting to kill him.  He couldn’t stay where he was because he thought the people there would kill him.  And given his lack of wilderness survival skills he’d probably die before he got anywhere near Uncle Laban’s house in Syria.  Good night.

God had a great plan for Jacob since before he was born, but sometimes we can’t see the vision or hear the plan until we’re sitting in the empty silence of desperation.   Away from Mama’s tents and beyond the influence of Daddy’s money, Jacob was able to hear and see clearly.

In a dream, God showed Jacob that he was not and had never been alone.  Angels were busy doing God’s will on the earth (Genesis 28: 12).  Heaven knew what he was going through, and God cared.
All his parents’ talk of greatness and promises was real, but Jacob wasn’t an extension of other people’s dreams.  He was the one God had chosen. 

Many of you have been told who you are supposed to be by loving, well-intentioned parents and mentors, and they may (or may nor) have been right,  but if you don’t have a clear vision of yourself for yourself, you will be insecure in your self and ill prepared for your future.

Many times when I was a child, elders in the church declared, “That boy’s gonna be a preacher someday.”  That boy (me) didn’t see it.  The prophetic accuracy of the elders’ assessment didn’t get me into the pulpit.  God had to show me my calling for myself. 


The vision has to become YOUR vision.  Only then can you live it out.

Jacob woke and began working the kinks out of his neck.  He lifted his stone pillow into a stone pillar and anointed it with oil.  When you take ownership of the vision, the things you slept on become landmarks you raise up (verse 18).


When the vision becomes YOUR vision,  your present ceases to be the city of fear.  You realize your authority to transform the present city of fear into the place where God is (verse 19).    

Jacob’s path followed the direction his parents had prescribed, but he left Bethel different from how he’d arrived.  He’d arrived fleeing Esau and trying to please Mother Rebekah.  He left pursuing his calling.  He’d arrived responding to others.  He left responsible for himself. 

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God.  And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You”  (Genesis 28:20-22).

Jacob realized that to walk in the vision, he had to walk in the faith. 

God has a vision for you personally.  To fully realize it, you need to know the Lord, personally.

See it.  Wake to it.  Walk in it.  Walk in it by faith.


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