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About Greg & Jenn Wright: Greg and Jenn Wright are Managing Editors of Hollywood Jesus and Past the Popcorn. They both hold degrees in Literature and Theology, and have written and published a number of books. Greg is an internationally-known lecturer on film, Tolkien, and Narnia.
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Study Notes, Feb. 7, 2008

Greg's Study: Genesis 19:18-38

Lot begs off from the big trek to the hills and convinces the messengers that neighboring Zoar would be good enough. So the messengers make the concession, and end up sparing the whole town of Zoar just because of Lot’s laziness (editorial asides mine). Along the way, Lot’s wife looks back toward Sodom as it’s getting pummeled by sulfur and gets turned into the proverbial pillar of salt. Oddly, Lot doesn’t feel “safe” in Zoar, and ends up moving to the hills anyway. There, in the safety of complete isolation and free of the corrupting influences of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot gets both of his daughters pregnant. The excuse? The girls were worried about their biological clocks ticking, and in absence of readily available non-familial seed got Dad drunk so they could father children. No surprisingly, the incestuously bastard children they bore became the bitterest of Israel’s enemies.

  • On the one hand, Lot manages to save an entire town by begging with the messengers for his own safety. On the other hand, he just left behind two entire city-states that were laid waste. I can see why Lot wouldn’t be Public Friend Number One in Zoar. But given that he’s felt safe enough in Sodom, it does strike me as odd that he felt the need to vacate Zoar and opt instead for a mountain cave.
  • The girls’ excuse for sleeping with Lot seems pretty weak. Zoar obviously wasn’t that far away; and what with the decrease of available women in the region due to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (which had apparently had very little call for their services), it seems reasonable that men enough were within a couple days’ walk of the cave. I mean, nothing is too far from anywhere in Palestine – all of which is a much smaller area than Western Washington. So what the girls did is really far nastier than it sounds. (Frankly, it also sounds like the kind of story any sexually abusive father would make up: “It wasn’t my fault! They got me drunk!”)
  • The story also sounds like the kind of thing a gradeschooler would make up about his enemies: “You’re nothing but bastards. Your mothers slept with their fathers. Nyah!”
  • What’s REALLY odd, though, is that the girls apparently didn’t learn anything from watching their home town get nuked. If it were me, I’d have thought, “Let’s see… What happened the last time I witnessed something sexually depraved? Oh, that’s right! God wiped ‘em all out. Guess I’ll pass on sleeping with Dad.” In this regard, the story does ring true about actual human failure to learn from others’ mistakes.

Jenn's Study: Take a Closer Look (for Women), “Stir in a Little Thanks”
Foundation Scripture: Philippians 4:6-8

Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. (The Message)

Lydia lived in Philippi—leading home church

Philippi also place of earthquake that could have resulted in prison break, but Paul and Silas and the others stayed.

Paul grateful for Philippian church while imprisoned I Rome—“easy” to write joyful and encouraging letter, despite his predicament.

Paul instructs us to stop worrying and leave our worries with God. But he also adds that such prayers be couched in thankfulness, regardless of circumstances. His letter exemplifies such thankfulness, despite the circumstances which normally lead to great anxiety.

His message to the Philippians is to replace the time spent worrying with time spent in prayer and earnest worship—and to pour them out with eucharista—expressions of gratitude toward God for all His mercies.

“God delights in being your burden-bearer.”

Peace comes when I stop worrying and pray with worship and thanksgiving over what God has done and is doing in my life. What is worthy of worship in my life? What are the pure, lovely, beautiful, noble things I can think of to replace my basely human thoughts and worries?

We can always find something to be thankful for, no matter what may be the burden of our wants, or the special subject of our petitions… The greatest sufferer that lives in this world of redeeming love, and who has the offer of heaven before him, has cause of gratitude.

Albert Barnes, Notes from the Bible

In general, I think it is fairly easy for me to be thankful for the easy and obvious things, like my marriage, Greg, my family (including in-laws), Grynne and Bearrett. In some ways I am thankful for my illness, because it has led to so many things—connections with people, tempering our lives to a less frenetic pace, not taking so many things for granted. But I think that my expressions of gratitude toward God are emotionally stifled much like my other emotions that I’ve recently acknowledged as being kept in check and not expressed.

I think I generally began intentionally suppressing my emotions when Deet died. While I did express the immediate grief for a few weeks, I stopped when I thought it appropriate. However, since then I have been generally less emotional (Greg’s observation) and perhaps emotionally stunted. Greg has made the comparison of the three-legged stool—spiritual, physical, and emotional—and hinted that it can’t stand the way things are now. I guess in some ways I resent that when he talks about it, I feel like he’s blaming me for the missing and/or broken legs of the stool. I will tell him that.

I think for me, though, I need to focus more on letting my emotions surface. And perhaps watching the Deet movie would kick things off. I don’t know that I’ll ever be emotionally “ready” to see it, but it may spark some other emotions that I think may be lurking inside, much like an emotional abscess that needs to be lanced and drained.

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