Anyone who has had a family celebration go bad, will relate to this podcast. What should have been a celebration turned into a nightmare. In fact it was so bad, we’re still talking about it, 4000 years later! Now that’s what I call a bad party! Family dysfunction does that. Unless dealt with, it lies dormant beneath the surface ready to erupt without a moment’s notice. Class, culture, and sadly often even faith doesn’t mitigate the pain and damage done; though of course in the case of faith it could and it should. It’s worth reflecting as you listen what could have been done to prevent the blow up, and then ask what do you need to do to prevent your potential blow up! 

 

 

One story, three players. It is fascinating to reflect upon what was going through the minds of each, as the scene unfolds in this part of the story. We’re all on  journey of faith. All of us, from the apparently secular or pagan, to the evidently Godly. It is true we can remain unmoved by God by what we experience in life, and sadly often do. Worse still it is possible to regress, and slip and slide backwards. But then even the greatest challenges can provoke, inspire and move us, regardless of who we are and where we’re at. In deed the greater the challenge, the greater the opportunity to move ahead in our understanding of God. In my reflection of this part of the story: Abraham struggles, Sarah blossoms and Abimelech, the pagan king, surprises us all. Each day, every experience is an opportunity for you and me to move on. Let’s take this opportunity.

 

 

Well done for sticking with this story! it doesn’t make easy listening! But then we don’t live in the small small world of Disney. We live in a hugely complex world in which we need to make decisions with significant consequences not only for ourselves but those we love. And to make matters worse we only get one shot at life. Blow this one and there is no rewind button. What we do have though is a Father in heaven to whom we can turn for guidance through those decisions and help to navigate the messes when we get them wrong. The Bible and stories like that of Abraham reveal something of His heart and mind and teach us how best to respond in our culture and context

 

On the face of it this isn’t the most uplifting of episodes. Desperation and doubt, failure and fear: all lead to a series of poor and at times quite hideous decisions. We’ve just seen how absolute God’s judgment is. And yet here, as everyone tries to get on with life in the aftermath of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, we see how low life can get without Him. Ordinarily both God’s presence and His absence is a fearful thing, albeit for very different reasons. But in Christ, we can know Him in all holiness and beauty, both intimately and safely. And then life has a purity and purpose again. There is one character in this episode who foretells something of the promises of life in all its fulness that we find in Jesus; it’s joys and hopes despite our circumstances. For Sarah her dreams are about to come true, albeit in the context of being badly let down by her husband again!

 
 

 
 
The aftermath of God’s judgment on Sodom was desperate. Lot was broken by it. And Abraham sets out on the road again, with more tragic consequences. Was he running away? Well you couldn’t blame him. All he could see was what lay in front of him and it was awful. I’m reminded once more, as so often with Abraham’s story, of the cross of Christ. How terrible was the darkness the morning after Christ’s crucifixion. Again the scene of God’s judgment, this time focused on His Son. The horror, confusion, and utter abject loss. Never was a darkness quite so dark. And yet it was not the end. Light would shine in darkness, hope would spring again and eternally. In fact it is in walking through the valley of death that we know and learn to appreciate His presence. As the hymn writer says t is as we trace the rainbow through the rain, we know the promise is not vain: that morn shall tearless be. You can find free daily bible reading notes on the story of Abraham at biblenovels.com
 
 

 
 
If you’re listening from a western context at least, you’re likely to find this podcast pretty counter-cultural. It deals with God’s judgment on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and we’re simply not used to judgment these days. To judge is to imply you and your opinions are superior to others and you have the right to impose them upon others. This we see as arrogant and presumptuous. We judge those who judge severely! And yet, the Christian gospel is one of judgment. It tells of a holy God who demands perfection. Our failure to live up to expectations is punished most severely. And yet our God of perfect holiness is also the God of perfect love, and He takes that punishment on Himself so we can go free, forgiven, absolved absolutely.  To miss or underplay this truth is to cut the very heart out of the gospel and it’s glorious impact upon our lives. To understand it fully, we need to read and reflect upon passages like this. It is though our privilege to do so through the lens of the cross of Christ, and in so doing the we grasp that bit more of the wonder of the cross of Christ. biblenovels.com
 

 
 
This is one of a handful of really tough episodes in the story of Abraham and his family. I simply can’t empathise with a man who offers his daughters up to be gang raped. And yet the story is here in the Bible, and that I suppose is one of the reasons I love scripture. It is real. It doesn’t read like a fairy tale. Awful things happen and it doesn’t always turn out well. The Bible often leaves us with more questions than answers, and as frustrating as that sometimes is, it reminds me this isn’t a book made up to tell a quaint myth, but rather it is inspired to tell of life in the raw, and how to find a real God in the midst of it all. I feel I should apologise for the content of this podcast, but that would be to apologise for the Bible story, and I can’t do that. As the dark underbelly of our humanity is exposed, the glory of our holy God shines brightest. Around the world children are exposed to trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse. It is a vile fact. And yet through some heroes of faith, the power of God reaches out, rescues, brings healing and restoration. One reason I’m offering these podcasts for free is to make known these modern day stories of redemption. There are many Sodoms around the world but the church is wonderfully at work in these hellholes. Visit www.biblenovels.com to find out more and do tell others of this podcast.
 
 

 
 
It’s time to catch up with how Lot is doing. And sadly it’s not well. I find Lot’s story probably the saddest of them all. Of course I don’t know if I’m being fair to him by casting him as a somewhat superficial man of the moment. Although his choice of Sodom as a home would suggest this was the case. But his story lurches from one crisis to another, be that capture by a foreign king, attack by threatening neighbours, flight from the city and loss of his wife, or fear finally forcing him to live alone in the mountains. And sadly it even manages to get worse from there. He ends up a pitiful wretch of a man. But still at this moment in time, remarkably he is still considered righteous by God. And that gives us all hope. The downward spiral is never inevitable, never irremediable. Not with God in the equation. This isn’t obviously the most inspirational of episodes and the next one is even worse. But in the darkness there is hope. www.biblenovels.com 
 

 
This is a glorious episode in the story of Abraham. It explores the mystery of prayer, reveals the red hot passion, wrath and mercy of God’s nature, and then suggests the unthinkable. I loved reflecting upon it, writing it and recording it. It filled me with a sense of awe for God, and energy for life. I pray it does the same for you. Do check out biblenovels.com or the Facebook group: Biblenovels.
 

 
 

Although called Patriarch, this is as much Sarah’s story as Abraham’s. And in this short episode we meet a woman battered by life, it’s expectations and apparently broken promises. A woman whose laugh is no longer carefree but cynical, who hides away in tents, awkward in social engagement and lost in faith. But a woman who the Lord knows, seeks out and believes in. A woman who was beginning a new journey of hope and fulfilled dreams. It may be a short podcast but it’s not a bad one!!