- Health issues
- Birth issues
- Sibling rivalry
- Extended family
…have to experience deep waters themselves in order to write like this, so they have written children’s stories that bring to life what Romans 5 and 2 Peter 1 teaches. Romans 5 is simply; suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character. Think of that right there.
In homeschool circles all across our land I am finding homeschoolers who are graduated and who are now into their 20s, and a vast majority of them are not living for Christ and are getting married and divorced. I believe the reason for this is that we have prepared them well on the outside. We have prepared them with knowledge skills and with good morals and with good manners, but we have not prepared them to persevere and endure adversity.
Unless we do that in our marriages, in our lives, they have no model to follow. I believe that is what we must do. It is imperative that we endure adversity because that is what Romans teaches: Suffering produces endurance. It is the opportunity that God gives us for the very first stages of our character development.
We live in a day and age when character, Christ-like Biblical character, is foreign. We can’t give what we do not possess.
Suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces hope. There is nothing greater in this world than hope; a hope that’s real.
This is what it says next, “Hope does not disappoint. It does not bring me to shame. It does not make me ashamed.” The reason it says that is that as you go through trials in life and you look back and you see God delivered you here, he delivered me here, and he delivered me here, then you build up a reservoir, a track record, that if he has delivered me all of those times and when I go through the next severe trial in my life no matter how bad it is, all of a sudden your character tells you, “I have these mile markers back here and God did it then, and even though I don’t think there is a tomorrow I’m going to trust that He will do it again.”
That is what real hope does. Hope allows me to endure one more time. I know that God is going to continue to test me and I don’t like being tested. All I can say is this, up till this day God has delivered me every single time.
For those of you that are walking in late, this seminar was supposed to start at quarter to eleven, you’re late! [Laughter] Not really. You missed all of the good stuff in the beginning.
That’s what we’ve done. Mr. Walters brought in some books for me and we have been overwhelmed downstairs. Those that have already been downstairs and gotten a slew of these books, we’re very, very thankful. We had no idea.
It’s been kind of funny. You don’t know what is going on behind the scenes in the Lamplighter booth, but yesterday we had to fly someone in here with boxes of books to replenish the table. That was Friday morning.
We ran out again and then we had to bring boxes in this morning with overnight UPS. We didn’t know if they were going to get here in time. We were praying, “Lord, please may this truck get here in time.”
We walked outside to come in here at a quarter to nine and the UPS truck was going by. He stopped right next to the convention center, pulled out, and I looked at him and he said, “Are you Hamby?” [Laughter] There our books were. It’s been really exciting.
4:35-9:19 Books highlighted and movie excerpt played.
Listen to what was said in that. In this film we did our best to depict our culture right now. The grandfather depicts the death of a culture. Now, we have about 30 of those videos up here and after it’s over with you can take one home. We have some catalogues in the box over there. If you didn’t get one yesterday you can take one. They’ll be up here. We have more downstairs.
What he said in the very beginning of that film was this. “He that endures, endures to the end.” He also said, “I will not give unto the Lord that which costs me nothing.” He also said, “Not only to believe, but also to suffer.” What an amazing statement!
We live in a day when what you just saw is no longer occurring. This grandfather was willing to give up his life in order to pass down the Word of God to his grandson. He was willing for it to cost him his life. He understood in his own life that his life was not only to believe, but also to suffer.
I don’t know where God has you right now, in your marriage, in your home, dealing with a difficult child or a difficult health problem, or a job. Whatever it is, God, by design, has you exactly where you are at this moment so that you might be able to endure, to then be able to cultivate that hope that will help you write the next chapter in your family’s history so that when your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren read your story they will be inspired to say, “I can do this, too.”
As we go into this very unique seminar, this one is probably the most important one to me in my own heart. It took me two years to develop. Let’s see what God has in store for us. Let’s pray.
“Father, I’m just humbled Lord to be able to share these words and these thoughts of yours. Lord, I know that in a crowd of this size there are hurting hearts. There are voids that are so deep and so wide that they don’t even know if there will be tomorrow. Lord, I pray that you will fill those voids with yourself and with your Son, with hope.
“I pray that as we go through this together that we will have no doubt that during this hour we met with God. Lord, help us to roll up our sleeves and be willing to get dirty; to receive your word that can change our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
There it is. Two years of research. [Laughter] It’s amazing that you can take two years of research and condense it down into just one sheet of paper, but this really is it. Now, of course, the first 15 minutes of this some of you are going to want to walk out. Do not leave, okay?
I promise you there is something for you here. The first 15 minutes we are going to have some lessons in Hebrew. In order for you to understand the rest of it you have to understand this. This is Genesis 25-36. What this is, is on both sides of Genesis 25-36 you have these identical statements.
On this side you have this statement, “length of days” and “satisfied with life.”
(All of this is on my Web site www.LamplighterPublishing.com and you can just download it all there.)
That’s what Abraham says, he had length of days and satisfied with life. Over at the end, it says again, “length of days and satisfied with life.” This is for Isaac. Both father and son had “length of days and satisfied with life.”
In the center you have Jacob. It says, “few and evil are all the days of my life.” What a contrast.
Over here you have “conflicts and child birth.” Over there you have “conflicts and child birth.”
Over here you have “family conflict.” Over there you have “family conflict.”
Over here you have “foreign conflict,” with your neighbors. Over there you have “foreign conflict.”
Over here you have “extended family conflict,” with Jacob and Laban. Over there you have “extended family conflict.” Then you have a marital conflict in the very center, which is no doubt God’s way of letting us know that the most severe difficulties in life are going to be marital conflicts – the ones that hurt the most – and he places it right in the center.
But the pinnacle of each one of these conflicts God appears, says, hears, and acts, just when you think that you’re not going to be able to handle it anymore. Jacob gets exasperated and says to his wife, “Am I God that I can give you children?” Then God appears and does something.
In the very center God remembers and the deliverer is born.
What this tells me is that on this side of the equation over here they are left unresolved. On the other side they’re resolved. This is a perfect mirror image of a man’s life, Jacob, where he experiences six events in his life that are a microcosm of anything a person will ever experience in their entire lifetime:
Everything that you could possibly experience in life is found in this microcosm here. In the first half of his life it’s unresolved, and in the second half, after God remembers and so does Jacob, everything starts to be resolved.
What this tells me is simply this; that we’re all going to probably repeat the experiences of life if we don’t get it the first time.
There are some words I want you to understand: birthright and blessing. Birthright is all the stuff, all the accumulation of wealth. The blessing, it appears 42 times from chapters 25 through 36. In chapters 25, 26, 27, & 28 it appears 37 times. There is no other word in the Bible that appears this many times. This is like Jesus saying, “Verily, verily, verily,” 42 times.
That says to me that this word is probably the most important word in the entire Bible, but there is one more word.
Blessing means an unconditional commitment to protect and prepare one to live skillfully and successfully. When Abraham sent his servant out, do you know what the servant said? They would be asked, “Who are you?” and they would answer, “I am the servant of Abraham.”
When he sent his son out, the son would say to foreign people, “I am the son of Abraham” or “I am the son of Isaac” or “I am the son of Jacob.” Why would they say the father’s name instead of their own? They always talk about the father. Do you know why? Because the father held clout. People knew the father. He had many possessions. He had many soldiers. When the son went out he would always say who his father was because his father held protection for him.
When we give the blessing to our children, number one, it’s a protection, “you go in my name.” And secondly, it is to prepare them to be successful in life. Whatever it is, the goals of my life are to help my children be successful in life, and all that I have is for their benefit. We hold nothing back. We’ll sacrifice it all.
My son, David, he has a gift of film and communication and design. He’s amazing. I’ll never forget the first time. As he was growing up he kept talking about cars. As a designer he was always drawing cars all of the time. I can’t stand cars. I don’t care. I like beauty. I like sunsets and landscapes.
We’d be going down a road and I’d say, “Boy, look at that red bud tree over there.”
He’d say, “Did you see that Mitsubishi over there?” By age eight, David was able to tell us a car that was coming from a quarter mile down the road at night with just lights, he would identify that car.
I wouldn’t believe him. I would say, “There is no way you would know what that car is. You’re just an exaggerator.” I remember one time we were driving and he said, “That’s a Porsche—,” whatever it is and he named the Porsche.
I said, “David, all you can see is the lights. There is no way that you know that.”
He said, “That is a Porsche—,” whatever it was.
I said, “You’re lying.”
He said, “Well, turn around and go catch it if you can.” I turned that car around and I started chasing that car just to prove to him once and for all that he has to stop his exaggeration. That car pulled up to a light and there is was, exactly what he said. I’ve never doubted him since that time. [Laughter]
By the time he got to be ten, I’m thinking “This is getting a little old. All this kid does is draw cars. This is getting sick. He has to get a life. He’s going to have to be productive in life. He can’t be drawing cars the rest of his life.”
By the time he was 11 years old my wife finally started to help me understand we have to take our children where God has placed them. The things that naturally occur to them we need to build them up.
Do you want to know what I did when he was 11? I took him to the New York City car show. Boy, it was the best time of his life. Then do you know where we went? We went to California when he was working with me and we rented a Jaguar convertible and we drove up the coast. Boy, he was loving it.
After a conference just like this, this guy comes up to me and he says, “Here’s my card. On Monday morning you’re going to want to call me.”
“Yeah? For what?”
He said, “Just call me. It’ll change your son’s life.”
I’m thinking, “This is a weirdo.” Some of you people come up to me and do that, I don’t keep your cards. [Laughter]
Here we are, it’s Monday and we’re going to leave on Tuesday and there’s that card. I thought, “What does it hurt just to call?” I called and a secretary answers.
She said, “Mr. Hamby, we’ve been waiting for your call. Can you be here at one o’clock today?”
I said, “Can you tell me who this is and where we’re going?”
She said, “I’m sorry. We’re unable to give that information out.” [Laughter] What is this?
I thought, “Let’s just go check out the address.” We had to drive all the way up to this place called Miracle Mountain, or something like that. It’s up in north central California. We drive up there and find the address and there is this black glass building with no name on it, no nothing just black glass. You can’t see inside. It has brand new cars in the parking lot.
I look at David and I said, “Do you want to go in?”
“I don’t think so. They’re going to kill us.”
We finally get up enough nerve and I decide to go in and check it out first. The glass doors open up and I walk in and here is this marble floor, marble walls, with this glass panel where the secretary is. You can see right through it.
She’s sitting there and she said, “Mr. Hamby, we’ve been waiting for you. Please go to the second floor.”
I said, “Can you just tell us?” There are no papers around, no nothing; sterile, just totally sterile. I ask, “Who are we going to go see on the second floor?”
“Sir, that is privileged information. Just go to the second floor.”
I’m thinking, “What is this?” David is looking at me. He has his baseball hat on backwards and I say, “Let’s go for it.” We get into the elevator, press the button, and go up to the second floor. The elevator opens up behind us! [Laughter]
It opens up into a room this size, with one desk back there and a guy sitting in the middle of the room. I felt like I was in the Wizard of Oz. The guy is just working at his desk and not even looking up at us.
There we are. We walk up to him and behind his desk there is a 20’ photograph of the Ford Mustang that had not yet been invented. David looks and gasps and says, “Where did you get that?” Right out loud!
This guy looks up and said, “I designed it.”
David said, “That’s not even out yet. I’ve heard about that. You designed that?”
“I design all of Ford’s vehicles. Come inside and let me show you what I do.” For the next three hours he talked to my son David about what makes a great car designer. This is what he said. “Have a great family. Work with persevering attitude. Have strong character so that you are an honest person.”
I’m sitting there thinking, “Wow! I’ve been trying to teach him this stuff for 15 years.” All of that to say this. We have to follow the bent of our children and bless them where they are and not where we want them to be.
Who would have ever thought that my son would follow this life of design? And today he’s one of the best.
Another word that we have to understand is grace and favor. The word blessing occurs 42 times. I have not counted all the times that grace appears in this passage of scripture. L’hain, means unconditional forgiveness, acceptance, approval.
In Genesis 31-33, if you could see this, Jacob sacrifices a sacrifice, but at the end here Jacob sets up an altar. This word altar is mitzevach. It’s the same word as sacrifice. You have these paralleled framing devices; sacrifice/sacrifice, return/return, camp/camp, seer/seer, favor. They wrote from both ends inward; a beautiful design. Only God can write this way.
In the center you have his word favor. What Jacob is looking for in his life is unconditional acceptance. It’s what we’re all looking for. It’s what our children are looking for, but seldom find.
“The children struggled inside Rebecca’s womb, so she went in and inquired of the Lord.”
The most important things we can do in the initial stages of conflict, and the one thing that we rarely do, is pray. Do not pray in your mind, pray with your lips. Speak to God and let him know what you need and how you feel.
I have spent many times out in the woods screaming out to God and saying, “I can’t deal with this anymore. You have to help me. I don’t think I can do this another day.” He has never answered that prayer. [Laughter]
“The first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over so they called his name Esau.” That’s kind of weird. Why would God give us this information? If ”All scripture is given by the inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works,” then why in the world does God include that he’s red and hairy? [Laughter]
The word red in Hebrew is the word for Adam. You see, when Esau was born he represented an earthly person: A person that is given to earthliness, materialistic things, wanting it here and now, today. He’s unwilling to defer gratification. He’s unwilling to endure difficulty. He wants it now.
The reason I can say that of this Adam is because, remember what happens a little bit later in his life? Remember, he’s willing to sacrifice the birthright in order to just get some stew.
Afterwards his brother comes out.
You have to picture this. I don’t know why they let us men in the birthing rooms but when my son was born the doctor went to hand him to me and I looked at him – he had this big snow cone growing out of his head and he was grizzly and purple and hairy – I said, “I’m not touching him.” Then I looked at my wife and I said, “He looks just like your father.”
Anyway, this is a weird one. Can you imagine? Here these boys are and they’re in the womb and she has twins and Esau comes out and Jacob is holding on to his heel. Can you imagine what this must have looked like to the midwife?
She’s looking at him thinking, “Let go of him.” And Jacob is trying to pull his brother back in. Again, all scripture is profitable. What on earth can we get out of this?
They called his name Yakov, Jacob. The word Jacob means palm of hand. What’s happening in action God is also teaching us theology and information. It’s holding onto the heel which is a curved part of his heel. Jacob is holding on with the palm of his hand, grasping. Literally the word Yakov, Jacob, means grasper, holding on.
Esau is willing to give up anything for the future in order to gain it now. He’s a materialistic earthly person; he’s an Adam. But Jacob is the person that is always holding onto things that are not rightfully his. He’s the grasper.
Jacob and Esau represent all of humanity. In this room you are either a Jacob or an Esau. Some of you are schizophrenic and have a little bit of both in you.
I am 100% a Jacob. I have no Esau blood in me whatsoever. I am a grasper. I am always holding on three steps ahead of God, always trying to figure things out, scheming, planning, trying to control and dominate and manipulate. I’m a Jacob through and through.
The Esaus of life are like, “Hey, I don’t want to fight. I don’t want to have conflict.”
I love conflict. I love being in my wife’s face and letting her know why she’s wrong so that we can go on and have a redeemed relationship. [Laughter] I won’t stop until it’s resolved. That’s what a Jacob does. A Jacob will not let it go.
The Esaus want to escape. They want to close the door and stay in the bathtub another hour longer. They don’t want to be around people. “Just leave me alone. Give me these things and I’ll be satisfied.”
I’ve done this for probably over 250,000 people and it has been 50/50 every single time, so let’s see if it does that here. How many of you identify with Jacob, raise your hand. How many of you would identify with Esau? 50/50.
Why did God do it this way? Why couldn’t he have allowed me to marry someone that’s like me?
We would have hated each other. We would have killed each other by now.
God knows exactly what we need: A perfect complement. It’s amazing how God has designed everything.
Jacob is holding on to that which is not rightfully his. So Esau said to Jacob – and now they’re teenagers – “Feed me with that same” notice what the scripture says, “red stew.” Do you remember what it said about him when he was born? He was red and hairy. Here it is, red stew. Why? Because God is helping us to see his heart, that he wants the earthly stuff. He wants it now. He’s content.
The Esaus, they are the ones that want it now and they don’t want to fight, but they get into a situation where there is no way to get out and they’re going to explode and they’re going to kill somebody. That’s the way the Esaus are. They explode. They’re a bombshell.
When they finally let it go, they’re gone. “Therefore his name was called…” They did not name him properly to begin with. They named him Esau. They realized they made a mistake and changed his name to Edom, which is the same word for Adam. Now he’s truly the red one, the earth, the ground. That was the color of the ground, red.
As they’re growing up, Mother is having some problems. She doesn’t like her son Esau. And Father doesn’t like his son Jacob. This is where sibling rivalries originate. They originate because of favoritism between mom and dad.
Sibling rivalry does not take place between brother and sister. It takes place between mother and father. Our children know it.
She says to her son, “Go deceive your father that he may bless you before his death.”
Jacob said to Rebecca, his mother, “Look, Esau, my brother, is a hairy man and I’m smooth skinned. Perhaps my father is going to feel me and I’m going to seem a deceiver to him and I shall bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.”
The most important task, responsibility, in life, I believe, is the responsibility of a woman, a mother, especially when her husband is making serious, detrimental decisions that will affect her children.
What does a mom and a wife do when her husband is making decisions that are going to affect her children’s spiritual growth? Does she step in and do things behind his back because she knows that’s what is best for her children? No.
We serve a God that is bigger than any husband. We serve a God that can change hearts, and we must do it God’s way. We must do it by faith.
I’m not talking about a husband that is going to do something that is illegal or immoral. We have laws for that, but if it’s not illegal or immoral and it’s not hurting someone physically, then we need to, by faith, let God do the work. At the last moment we will see God always redeem. It may not happen today or tomorrow or even while they’re teenagers. It may happen in their adult lives, but something will happen where they will remember, “You know what? Mom was right. Mom, would you help me out here? This is what is going on in my life. I’m married now.”
They’ll come to you, “Mom, I’m having this problem, help me out here. I don’t know how you did it.” Then you’ll be able to help your kids.
Don’t throw that away by thinking that you have to do something and rescue someone now. You may be throwing away the rescue down the road.
His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son. Obey my voice and go.” Do not obey your voice. Obey God’s voice.” She doesn’t say it once, she says it three times. “Obey my voice. Obey my voice. Obey my voice.”
I know it’s difficult. I’ve had moms come up to me already and say, “But my husband has my kids watching all this junk on TV. What do I do?” Let them watch it. You just live your life so it is a greater example and more attractive than what is happening with them. You provide an attractiveness that is so great in the things that you do in your life that your children want what you have. That stuff fades. It doesn’t keep people. That’s an addiction that robs them. Do something better that draws and attracts and you’ll see God bless.
I’m a mother of three children: A ten-year-old son, a four-year-old daughter, and an almost three-year-old son. They are wonderful children, around everyone else. They are respectful and obedient, for everyone else. They are loving and kind, to everyone else. I’m not saying they are horrible towards me, but their loving moments are few and far between when compared to the times when we are frequently at odds and I’m yelling and screaming and scolding them.
I’m a screamer and in my 10 years of parenting my temper has gotten hotter and my patience shorter. My mother was a screamer and I believe I was verbally and emotionally abused as a child and I swore that I would never do that to my children, but here I am as an adult doing to my children what my mother did to me, jokingly talking to my friends about the therapy they’re going to need as adults while my heart was breaking inside for the way I treated them.
Until now I haven’t been able to break the cycle. I hadn’t tried the one thing that I should have tried from the beginning, prayer. I’d grown very distant from God and my relationship with Him had become very strained. I had felt Him tugging against my heart but I have been rebelling against Him like my children have rebelled against me.
I haven’t had devotional time or prayer time or gone to church regularly for years. My husband takes our three children to church by himself every Sunday. I’ve used the excuse that I needed to sleep…but I haven’t been able to stay up and attend church once every three to four months.
I believe that God placed me in that auditorium Friday to reach me. I cried throughout the hour wiping tear after tear from my face first hoping that no one noticed me, after all, it’s all about what other people think. That’s what my mom always said, then later not caring.
My relationship with God was broken, and my relationship with my children was being destroyed by my hands and words. All of the letters that you shared sounded like I could have written them. They sounded like me.
At the end of the lecture I walked across the hall to the bathroom to compose myself. Usually when something affects me to tears I can wipe them away and go on. I ended up in a stall in the bathroom sobbing and crying out to God.
Can you just picture that? That’s just beautiful.
The Holy Spirit worked a change in me that day. That was the first time I had prayed to God in years, really prayed. I’ve sent up little prayers when I needed or wanted something but I haven’t really prayed.
When I went back to the hotel later that day, my husband noticed the change. He kept asking me if I was okay. I told him about the lecture and how great the conference was, but I haven’t explained the whole experience to him.
I was calm with my children the rest of the day. I didn’t lose my patience even once. I asked less of them, did more for them. I got up from the floor or bed to get something for myself instead of asking my four or ten-year-old to retrieve it. I didn’t yell or scream when my daughter was having a stubborn or demanding moment that before would have sent me off the deep end in three seconds.
I didn’t scream or yell, not that I could have had I wanted to. Oh, I neglected to tell you that God had taken my voice from me on this particular day. [Laughter] I had been sick during the week and my voice was getting hoarse on Thursday, but on Friday it was gone. This was either a sick joke on God’s part or a divine intervention. I believe the latter, that He was giving me the little extra bit of help that I needed to get started.
My husband told me later that night it got through. I asked, “What got through?” He replied, “Whatever you heard, it got through.” [Laughter]
It is now Monday morning and I haven’t raised my voice which came back on Saturday. It’s been almost three full days. My son, who is not an openly affectionate child in public, came up beside me several times in Universal Studios yesterday and held my hand as we walked through the park. He is talking to me again.
My three-year-old picked me a flower, and then as he was walking away he turned around and told me, “You need to put it in water, mommy.” They are beginning to warm up to me again. I can see their fear melting but there is still an air of caution there. My daughter isn’t quite as forgiving and I’m searching for subtle changes. I know that they will come, but she will be my biggest test.
At my parents home last night my oldest was playing with my brother-in-law’s air rocket in the front yard. When my brother-in-law went outside to put the rockets away there was one missing. My son swore that they were there when he came inside. Normally, he would go to his grave swearing that he had or hadn’t done something even when all of the evidence pointed to the contrary.
We were all wandering around aimlessly with flashlights looking for the rockets. I took my son aside and told him that I needed him to tell me the truth. I told him that I wouldn’t be mad, not a promise I had kept in the past, but that we needed to know what had happened to it.
He took his flashlight and shined it high into the tree where it reflected off the white tip of the rocket. He had known exactly where the rocket had landed and finally trusted me with the truth. My heart was so full in that moment, that my son wasn’t afraid of me.
I know that this change won’t happen overnight. It’s going to take a lot of prayer, but I’m talking to God again and rebuilding that relationship while I build my relationship with my children.
I have sent small prayers to God continuously since that day. I pray for strength to get through a single moment. I praise Him for all the small accomplishments. I pray for wisdom and I pray prayers of thanks that he put me in Orlando on Friday and the lecture where he worked to change my life.
So, prayer, that’s where it starts. That’s where Rebecca started but she didn’t stay there and now she is taking things into her own hands.
Jacob has now been gone for 20 years. He’s learned the lessons of deceit from his uncle. He has been tricked and deceived. He now had his own family and he wants to go back home. He doesn’t want this anymore.
I love this. Even after those revivals of heart, those times with God, we still have to face what is going on at home. He says, “And he commanded them saying, Go speak to my lord, Esau.” Notice Jacob’s words. He reverses them. He is the lord over Esau. He has the birthright and the blessing, but now he changes the words to say, “Go tell my lord, Esau, that his servant, Jacob” what a conniver, “I have dwelt with Laban and stayed there till now. Tell them I have oxen and donkeys, flocks, male and female servants, and I’ve sent to tell my lord that I might favor in his sight.”
Do you see what he is looking for? He’s looking for grace; unconditional acceptance. “Then the messengers returned to Jacob saying, ‘We came to your brother Esau and he is coming to meet you too, and 400 men are with him.’” Don’t you just love this? God has a sense of humor, for sure.
Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. This is what happens to us Jacobs. Us Jacobs, we get to a point where we can’t get out and the very first thing that happens in relationships is fear. If you’re like me it’s not just fear but distress. Not just stress but distress, which is another word for depression.
I had fibromyalgia, severe chronic fatigue, ulcerated bleeding colitis, and severe depression for 13 years. Thirteen years, it was a horrible time. All that time that we lived on the farm with the horses and the sheep I was sick as a dog.
When you’re sick it is even more difficult to respond properly, which is all of God’s design to bring us to the end of ourselves. Boy, God knew that he had to give me a Nebuchadnezzar experience in order to break me fully.
Do you know what happened once I stopped controlling my family and stopped realizing that I was no longer God? I got better. I haven’t had those symptoms for 15 years.
When we’re trying to control other people, when we’re trying to manipulate the situation, when fear dominates our lives it can control our bodies and it wreak havoc inside of us, and that’s what it did for me.
So he divides the people, still scheming and planning, into herds of camels of two camps. The words “two camps” is the word for machanichim, which happens to have the word chan in the center of it which is the word for grace.
This word kind of appears inside words, outside words. It’s all over the place. Even the word for gift and present, which we are about to see, is the word for grace, in reverse. God is trying to tell us that they’re looking for unconditional acceptance but they’re finding it in all the wrong ways.
You can’t find unconditional acceptance by trying to control and manipulate and dominate other people.
He says, “Go find my brother again and tell him that ‘your servant Jacob is behind us’ and I’m going to appease him with the present before me, and afterwards I’m going to see his face and perhaps he’ll accept me.”
Are you ready for this? I want you to see this verse, right here. I’m going to show it to you in literal Hebrew. Are you ready? Watch what it says now. “Your servant Jacob is behind us. I’m going to cover his face with a gift. The one going before my face and I will see my face, perhaps he’ll lift up my face and the gift passed over before his face; and he lodged there that night in the camp.”
What word is different in literal Hebrew? If you don’t get it I have put it in red and it’s bold. [Laughter] Face. Five times; face, face, face, face, face. There is no other verse in the Bible that has one word five times in the same verse.
Why has God given us this repeated word face? Because you’re going to come face-to-face with your most frightening enemy in about ten minutes. I want you to roll up your sleeves and get ready for this because this is going to get bloody. Are you ready? This is going to be a great fight.
“When the present went over before him, he rose up that night, took his two wives and his eleven sons and passed over the ford, Jabek.” Jacob is at the Jabek and is about to wrestle with a man at night. The word wrestle in Hebrew is the word jebek. Jacob is going to the Jabek to jebek with a man. [Laughter]
There it is. They not only sound alike, they look alike. The reason for this is that God is not only communicating on a word/sentence grammar level, he is communicating on an audio level and on a visual level in the way that the letters are formed.
If God goes to this extent to bring truth to us in this kind of detail, don’t you think that he has designed your life to every possible detail? The person you’re married to, the children you have, where you live. Everything that happens in your life is designed by an all-wise God. It’s amazing!
Jacob at the Jabek is about to jebek with a man. I’m not pronouncing it in Hebrew. It would sound better. The Jabek river is 75 miles long, not very long, but it is extremely wind-y. Jacob, the crooked man – the word crooked in Hebrew means unrighteous – always holding on to things that are not rightfully his, is at the crooked river about to twist with this man at night. Talk about design.
God does this for all of us but unfortunately we don’t get it the first time and we have to repeat it. We repeat it with a second marriage, a third marriage. We repeat it with another child. If you don’t learn your lesson the first time you’ll learn it again, hopefully.
Jacob was left alone, and we Jacob’s of this world hate to be alone. I don’t like being alone. I want to be with other people…that I can control. [Laughter] “And there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of day.” That’s a long time to wrestle, isn’t it? How many wrestled in high school or college?
I wrestled in college. It was intramural. I played basketball in high school but I wanted to wrestle. I was undefeated in college. I was fast and I was strong. It was the final, and we got into this one match, and all my friends and all of the colleges there, this was a cool time. This kid comes out and he’s 6’4”. I could count his ribs he was so skinny.
I thought, “I’m going to break his ribs. I’m going to kill him.” He comes out and in the first two periods I’m up 22-0. I’m slamming him down and I’m having a blast with this kid. Then we get to the third period. I have him down and I’m trying to pin him. One shoulder goes down and the other one pops up. It’s like he’s double-jointed.
I could not get him down. I used every ounce of strength that I had until my muscles finally turned to rubber, more like jell-o, and I lost my strength. The next thing I know, this kid reverses me, flips me over, and my right foot is stuck behind my head. In teeter-totter form he pins me. The ref said, “Pinned!”
I could not get my foot out from behind my head. There I was stuck on the mat. All my friends are shocked. They couldn’t believe it.
I’ve never wrestled since. The referee had to take my foot out from behind my head. I’ve tried to get it back there and I can’t get it back. [Laughter]
He’s wrestling all night long. That’s a long time. Jacob was a mama’s boy but he was a hulk. Remember, he is the one that moved the stone off the well. This guy was a hulk, and he’s wrestling with this man.
By the way, a lot of people think Jacob wrestled with an angel. There is nowhere in the Bible that says he wrestled with an angel. Now, in the book of Malachi it does mention a messenger there which can be translated angel, but it’s not. We have to take at face value what it says here. We’re not in Malachi, we’re here. It’s talking about, what kind of person? He wrestled with a man. This is a man. This is not an angel, so let’s just take the scripture at face value.
“And when he saw that he prevailed not against him he touched the hollow of his thigh and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint as he wrestled with him.”
Mark: Okay, let’s go through a pronoun lesson here, are you ready? “He wrestled a man with,” who?
Mark: “Until the breaking of day, and when”?
Mark: “Saw that”?
Mark: “Prevailed not against”?
Mark: “Touched the hollow of”?
Mark: “And the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint as”?
Mark: “Wrestled with”?
Mark: How many are there? How many hims and hes? And who are these hims and hes? Let’s identify who they are. Again, I have never had more than 50% of the people agree on this. Let’s do the first he and him.
“And there wrestled a man with”?
Mark: Who is him?
Mark: Okay, we agree, good.
“Until the breaking of day and when”? How many think the man, raise your hand. Fifty percent of you. How many think Jacob? Another fifty percent. Which is it? Let’s do the next one.
“When he saw that he” who is the other he?
Audience: The man/Jacob. [Laughter]
Mark: “Prevailed not against him” Who is him?
Audience: Jacob/the man. [Laughter]
Mark: Can’t have it both ways.
Now why would God purposefully try to confuse us? Because that’s what God likes to do. God will put us in situations in which we must trust Him, by faith. There are no easy answers. There are no easy solutions to some of the conflicts that we face in life.
God, by His incredible design in the way He has written His word – “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” – this book is supernatural. It really is. The farther you get into it the more it explodes in beauty and majesty.
Look at this. We don’t know who “he” is, and God purposefully, by design, has made it that way so that you would have to endure and persevere in order to find the truth. It takes a lot. It took me two years to figure this out.
Jacob was left alone and there wrestled a man with him – Jacob – until the breaking of day, and when he – the man – saw that he – the man – prevailed not against Jacob, he – the man – touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint as he – the man – wrestled with Jacob.
The reason I know this is because it really makes sense because the man is the one doing the touching.
So Jacob’s hip is out of socket. Has anyone had a dislocated hip in here. Wow! Am I the only person that has these things? I had a dislocated hip when I was 26 years old.
We were at the Thousand Islands on vacation. My son was two months old and someone gave us this vacation spot. We walked inside this cabin and the cobwebs were hanging down from the ceiling like eight feet. It was horrible.
The shag carpet rug was filled with dirt and critters and those gross things like cockroaches were going through there and my wife looked and she said, “I’m not staying here,” and she just walked out.
The door had one of those swing things, the tension, and it swung closed and it kind of pushed me in there and *snap* my hip just popped out, just like that. The next thing I knew I fell face forward, dust flying. When you have a dislocated hip you’re paralyzed. You can’t move from left or right because it’s like someone sticking a knife in you.
I’m thinking, “Debbie, come get me out of here.” Twenty minutes later. I’m yelling, (muffled voice) “Debbie, I can’t breathe.” I’m literally thinking I’m going to suffocate in this dirty shag carpet rug. I wanted to be burned at the stake for Christ. “Pastor Dies in Dirty, Shag Carpet Rug.”
She opens the door and says, “What on earth are you doing down there?”
(muffled voice) “I can’t breathe. Turn me over.” She pops me over and *snap* my hip pops back into the socket and I’ve never had a problem with it since. The only reason I think it did happen was for me to give you this illustration right now. [Laughter]
When you have a dislocated hip, you are in no position to wrestle with anybody. The man says, “Let me go.” If you have a dislocated hip, what do you say? “Okay. I don’t ever want to see you again.”
Let’s talk about this for a second. What type of finger does this man possess? He touched his thigh and dislocated it. What type of finger does he have? A supernatural finger. A very powerful finger.
If this man possesses this kind of power, why does he allow the wrestling to take place all night long? When he could have touched his head and dislocated his brain if he wanted to? [Laughter] Why allow the wrestling to occur all night long?
For the same reason that God allows us to go through things for years. He wants us to endure and to receive the blessing of the hope that He can give us by changing our character as we endure suffering. It’s all about being changed into the likeness of His Son.
Not only to believe but also to suffer. If we’re going to give our kids anything, we must give them that.
If you’re in a situation where you have a dislocated hip and this very strong supernatural force can kill you with a touch, and he says, “Let me go,” it’s obvious what you should say. “I will not let you go.”
Don’t you love it! What was Jacob doing when he was born? Holding on. What is he doing now? For the first time in his life he is holding on to that which is eternal. He has been holding on to all the wrong things in life. He held on to the wrong woman. He thought he needed more kids. He held on to a flock of sheep. He held on to the finances. He held on to everything in life that he thought was going to give him total, unconditional acceptance and value in this world, and he lost it all because he was not holding on to the one thing that he needed to, and that was God himself.
No matter what trial God has brought into your life, you must, when you face it, say to God, “Bring it on. I’m not letting you go because I want your blessing.”
Jacob says to him, “I will not let you go except you bless me. No matter if you have to take my life, no matter what you have to do, I’m not letting you go. I’m not letting this marriage go. I’m not letting this child go. I’m not letting you go, God. Whatever you have to do to change my life to reach my family you do it because I’m not letting you go.”
You see, if we’re willing to embrace the pain for God’s greatest blessing, we’ll receive it. The question is how willing are you to endure the difficulty that you’re facing, and go to Him? What I love about the Psalms is that they’re so amazingly transparent about what they speak about.
David says, “God, I hate them!” The Psalms are to help us vent to God so that we don’t go and kill somebody and that we leave it with God and he’ll take it from there.
The man says to him, “What’s your name, fella?” This is weird. He’s been fighting all night long, you know. He has him in a half-nelson, he’s dislocated his hip, and he says he’s not letting him go, what’s your name, by the way?
In a dark tent with a blind father the words were spoken, “Who are you? What is your name?” twenty years earlier. He has brought him back full circle and he asks him again, “Who are you?” unless we are willing to come face-to-face with who we really are, with the problems we really possess – I’m a controller, a manipulator. I don’t seek for their best interest. I seek for mine at their expense.
Unless we’re really willing to admit who we are before God and others, God cannot bless us. Jacob says, “I’m Yakov.” Twenty years earlier he said he was Esau, but now he admits who he is. He says, “I am the crooked one. I am the one that holds on to things that are not rightfully mine, but this time I’m holding on and I’m not letting go.”
He said, “You’re name is no longer going to be Yakov, it will be Israel,” which means ‘God straightens’ – which means righteous – and ‘God rules.’ Don’t you love it?
Jacob said, “What’s your name?”
He says, “You don’t need to know my name. You know who I am.” He is none other than Jesus, the Son of God, and He blessed him there. “And Jacob called the name of the place Peneal, which means ‘face of God’ for I have seen God face-to-face and my life is preserved. Then he passed over Peneul, which means ‘face of God’ and the sun rose upon him and he limped upon his thigh.”
Picture this. This crooked man on the inside is now crooked on the outside and straight on the inside. God has reversed his nature.
He is limping in humility in front of his family. He had sent his family ahead and risked their lives, now he goes ahead of his family and risks his life and he is in the position he ought to have been in, in the first place, so that his family can follow him where he is supposed to be.
As he is limping in humility, Dads, if we’re going to have our kids and our wives follow us it has to be with a limp, because God resists the proud and He gives grace to the humble and He will lift us up.
”Therefore, the children of Israel don’t eat the sinew which shrank which is upon the hollow of the thigh unto this day because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh which the sinew that shrank.”
That’s the ugliest verse in the Bible. All this wonderful application ends right here with this ugly verse.“…the sinew that shrank.” What on earth could that mean? It’s a poem. You have ”sinew of thigh” on the top, “sinew of thigh” on the bottom forming a framing device, with “hip socket” next, and “hip socket” on the bottom side. In the center you have “because he touched” which is saying this, “Is God touching your life through some painful events?” If He is, don’t let go. Say to Him, “I’m not letting go of this until you bless me, no matter how long it takes, I’m not letting go.”
Jonathan came to me and said, “Dad, I want your blessing.” He had never before asked me for my blessing. He was just getting ready to turn 18 years of age. We had gone through a lot in our lives and many trials and broken relationships, but things were getting better.
He came to me and said, “Dad, I need your blessing.” I almost cried.
I said, “How can I bless you, Jon.”
He said, “I’d like to buy a 944 Turbo Porsche.” [Laughter]
I said, “Are you serious?”
He goes, “Yeah, but I don’t want to get it unless I have your blessing.”
I said, “Well, that’s pretty easy. ‘Lord Jesus, help Jonathan to realize how stupid this is.’ Jonathan, of course I’m not going to give you my blessing for something like that. You don’t need that. You’re getting a job this summer. You don’t want to be out there with this hot car and people thinking you’re a punk. You don’t need that.”
He goes, “Dad, you know, you may be right, but this is something that I want to do. It may be the wrong decision but would you at least allow me to make the wrong decision? I don’t want to make it without your blessing.”
I said, “I can’t let you do that. It’s stupid.”
He said, “Okay, but would you just do me a favor? Would you just pray about it and get back to me?”
I said, “Sure.” I didn’t pray about it.
Two weeks later he came to me and said, “What do you think, Dad? I gave you two weeks to pray and think about it.”
I said, “Absolutely not, Jon. You don’t need it.”
Six months go by and he comes to me and he comes to me and says, “Dad, remember that car you didn’t want me to get?”
“Yeah, the one you didn’t get my blessing for?”
He said, “Yeah. Well, I’m getting it.”
I said, “Really?”
He said, “Yeah, in fact, I’m getting it next Saturday.”
I said, “Not while you live in this house.”
He said, “You know, you’re so predictable. I knew you were going to say something like that. I’ve already made arrangements. I’m moving out and I’m living with our youth pastor and two other guys this summer. Dad, you know what? You never are willing to let me make my own decisions.”
I said, “Jonathan, you asked me to give you a blessing which you didn’t get and therefore you’re going to go behind my back and do it anyway. Jon, you’re never willing to take a no. That’s what this is about.”
He said, “No, dad. What it’s about is you want to continue to control my life even when I’m 18 years of age.”
I said, “You can think that, but you asked me for something you didn’t get and you’re getting it anyway.” Now there is this disharmony, this tension, this conflict. Of course, my wife is going to turn against me because that’s just the way it works in my home, you know? [Laughter]
Now there is this dark cloud hanging over our home, and I’m going to go speak in Pittsburgh as the keynote speaker on the family on Saturday, the day he gets his car.
I’m sitting there for breakfast and Debbie looks at him and says, “You’re getting your car today, aren’t you honey?”
“What’s wrong with you?” I ask her. They’re talking about it and having a good time about it.
She asks him, “Did you get your insurance?”
He said, “Well, I could only get liability.”
She said, “You didn’t get collision?” He’s spending all of his hard-earned money to get this car and not have it insured.
He said, “Mom, I couldn’t afford it.”
She said, “Well, you get it and I’ll pay for it.”
I pipe in, “No you won’t. He got himself into this, he can get himself out of this or else he’ll never learn to be responsible.” Now I’ve cowered my wife.
My son looks at me and he says, “Dad, you know, I don’t need your help and I don’t want your help. You know what, you go speak to your homeschool little families today and you tell them when you come home your son doesn’t live here anymore.”
I said, “You know what, you’re not going to manipulate me. I didn’t do anything wrong. You didn’t get what you wanted, and that’s the way it really is, Jonathan.” I get up and I get in my car and I’m going to go speak on the family now. [Laughter]
I get halfway to the airport and God, for the second time in my life, speaks to me clearly and this is what I hear – not a verbal voice but when you know God’s speaking – He said, “So, you’re going on an airplane today.” [Laughter]
“Lord, I’ve done nothing wrong.”
Basically God said, “You need to go back home and heal your broken family. Don’t you dare go speak on the family.”
“I’m the keynote speaker. I can’t not show up.”
But God was saying, “Don’t you dare show up.” I turned the car around, got home, and I’m going to miss my plane. I’ve never done that in all these years.
Jonathan is walking out the door as I’m coming in the driveway. I said, “Jon, wait a second, would you?”
He said, “I don’t want to hear from you, Dad. I’m sick and tired of the way you treat me.”
I said, “Hey, listen. You’re right. I’m very wrong. I’m so sorry. I don’t know why I do what I do. I thought I was over this but I’m still controlling you, even now. I’m very sorry. I want you to have that insurance, too, and I already have a check written out here. Take it and use it.”
I said, “I love you. Would you please forgive me?”
He goes, “I forgive you, but you’re always messing up though, Dad.” [Laughter]
I said, “Thanks, Jon. I love you.” I got to the airport and they had a mechanical failure so the flight was late. I got on and had the most incredible time. Sunday night comes and I call home and said, “Debbie, have Jonathan pick me up with his new 944 Turbo Porsche.”
It was a used car. She said, “He never wants to speak or hear from you for the rest of his life.”
I said, “Why? What happened?”
She said, “He got the car home today and just before he pulled in the driveway the engine blew.”
I said, “Oh, that poor kid. All that money.” Two days earlier I would have said, “Good! That’ll teach him.” But when God softens our heart and when we become the servant He changes the perspective and we get to see our children through God’s eyes and not our own.
I said, “You have him pick me up with the 1988 Dodge Caravan.” It has 280,000 miles. The door is bolted on so it won’t fall off.
I get to the airport and I’m coming down the escalator and there is Jonathan, basically sitting with his head between his legs. He’s quite a bit taller than me with blonde hair, blue eyes. He sees me, walks over sheepishly and I pick up his chin and look up at him and say, “Hey, sorry about the car. Tomorrow, whatever it takes we’re going to get that baby fixed and I’m going to pay for it.”
He goes, “You mean that?”
I said, “Absolutely. This wasn’t because of you. This was a design by God so that I could give you the blessing that you haven’t received all your life.”
He said, “You mean that?”
I said, “Absolutely.” He started crying like a baby for the very first time in his life. We hugged each other in that airport as father and son because for the first time in my son’s life he received his father’s blessing, and it cost me something.
It cost God the life of His Son to bless us. Let’s bless our children as well. God Bless You, thank you so much.
The music that you’re listening to was written, performed, and played by Jonathan.