It’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it. It’s even more amazing what you can do when you put God’s mind to it. I’m glad I became a Christian when young. I’ve had a lifetime to discover what it means to have Christ in me, the hope of glory. I look back humbled, thankful and in awe at what God has done in and through a very flawed human being. it’s all too easy to lose the magnitude of a few verses of scripture like this little episode. Abram, a shepherd, who’d never been to war, saw off four  previously unconquerable Kings. In sporting terms this is like San Marino beating Brazil at football, or the Cook Islands beating the All Blacks at rugby. But… what if supernaturally a world beating gifting comes upon the players of the San Marino or Cook Island teams, then the odds change somewhat. Enjoy this episode and reflect upon how it’s amazing what God can do, when you put His mind to it. (By the way the  website tells some stories of what God is doing through some wonderful young leaders across the globe: www.biblenovels.com)

 

 
 

Honestly, I had meant to cut this episode from the revision of Patriarch. But then as i came to it, I realised again that it is intrinsic and vital to the understanding of the story. And isn’t that the deal about life! We get bored with the mundane. We don’t see the point. Yet it is in the mundane that foundations are laid, and imperceptibly attitudes forged, passions lost, and directions set. When Abram and Lot separated they set out on  paths which took them to very different places not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually too. The Bible tells us not to despise the day of small things. In fact one of the wonders of the Christian faith is that there is no such thing as the mundane… at least as long as Christ is in it. Every moment, every day, has purpose and potential. We can redeem it and take it with us into eternity. Or waste it, miss it, and worse still let it distract us. In Christ every moment is a holy one. 

 

 
 
I’ve heard first hand of people’s experience of hearing or even seeing God in miraculous ways. Refugees who’ve had visions of Jesus, and just this morning at a celebration of a young girl’s life, a father telling how Jesus had appeared to his terminally ill daughter. There seems to be a rule that you know it’s really Him because the revelation is life changing! 
 
Abraham’s life seemed to be one revelation after another, although of course they were actually spread out over a lifetime. Each equipped him for what was about to come, and left him richer and with a fuller appreciation and fairer perspective on life. Melissa and I have a simple prayer: Father give us your Spirit of wisdom and revelation that we might know you better. That is the secret to life in all its fulness. It is a road well travelled for thousands of years, a path struck through the undergrowth by Abraham. This podcast tells of one such revelation.
 

 
 

Splits happen and are normally very painful. Most of us carry the scars of broken families, friendships and churches. Some of them we caused, whilst in others we might justifiably claim to have been the innocent victim. Mostly though it is rather more complicated than that. I’m beginning to sound like a broken down record but just because Abraham lived 4000 years ago doesn’t make his split from Lot any less painful or problematic. What I love from this part of the story is how Abraham handles the conflict and split so openhandedly. We’re now truly beginning to see the fruit of faith in his life. It doesn’t shield us from conflict, pain or hurt, but does something even more glorious- it carries us through with dignity, grace and love. Somehow it even manages to use the conflict, pain and hurt to enrich us, so we can eventually say: I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, but wouldn’t have missed it for the world. It builds faith so we can go on, and love again where ordinarily breach of trust should leave us stuck in bitterness and regret and unwilling ever to be vulnerable again. Listen in to Abraham’s story.

 

 
 
I’m of an age where I’m beginning to look back as much as I look forward, and I’m surprised just how much I enjoy these reflections. Of course there are the regrets, mainly caused by my stupidity. But even here, I see God’s grace and redemptive work, which humbles me and fills me with awe, wonder and praise. He truly is the God of History. He knows all things and works all things for the good, even my mistakes, failings, downright sin. He never gives up on us. 
 
We don’t really know why Abraham ended up in Egypt. We can guess why he let Sarah end up in harem, but it is only a guess. What we do know for certain is that whatever the why’s and wherefores of those decisions, God didn’t abandon them to suffer the consequences alone. He was there with them both throughout, and supernaturally intervened to lead them out. My reflections on the past strengthen my resolve for what’s left of my future on earth. Going forward, I want Him to work with me not in spite of me for the good. And I can only imagine Abraham felt the same as he headed home from Egypt, humbled and wiser.
 

 
 
The reason I wrote Patriarch was because it is a story of God revealing Himself to ordinary people just like you and me. It is hard sometimes to appreciate Abraham and Sarah were ordinary, frail, fickle human beings. We read Hebrews 11 and can’t imagine the writers of the Bible talking about us in these terms. We look at the stained glass windows or Biblical art, and don’t see anyone at all resembling us pictured there. And yet they really were human, with all our fears, insecurities and selfishness. It seems almost sacrilegious to suggest as much. But actually, to suggest less is sacrilegious. The glory of Abraham and Sarah’s story belongs to God. What He shaped in their lives over the course of their lives is  a testimony to His grace and love. Just as what He shapes in your life and mine is the same. Enjoy this podcast telling the stories of real people coping with very extraordinary circumstances. For the first time, in this little section of the story, we see God intervening supernaturally in Abraham and Sarah’s life. 
 
Do join the Facebook group: www.facebook.com/biblenovels or follow this podcast on www.colindpiper.podbean.com
 
 

 
 
I love nature. Always have. As a kid I had an aviary and bred canaries. These days I live in my Father’s aviary. The Scottish croft from where I record Patriarch is set up as a nature reserve and is so full of crazy creatures, that at times I feel as though I’m in a muppet movie! So imagining Abraham climbing over the hills to look down upon the Nile hinterland was one of my most fun times writing Patriarch. I drew on my privileged experiences across the globe, (including watching Bee-eaters on the Nile), to describe the exotic vibrancy of the scene. But even this wasn’t enough- David Attenborough and others had prepared me for some of what I saw, but not so with Abraham and the Hippo! Nature has a habit of soothing anxiety, and distracting us from grievance, but sadly these things don’t so easily go away. Somewhere, somehow Abraham and Sarah encountered Pharaoh’s harem. That too would have been a remarkable sight, though as with the cultic Canaanite worship, not particularly easy to describe in a Christian novel! I’ve tried to walk sensitively, as we lay the foundation for the first of a number of crises to befall Abraham and Sarah. Do check out the bible reading notes at biblenovels.com and if you’ve time some of the ministries this podcast supports. Thanks Colin.
 

 
 
My personal pilgrimage story is that I so often seem to have to go round and round in circles until finally I’m ready for what God has for me. It’s so frustrating but always necessary. Abraham had made it to the land where he would ultimately settle but that time was not yet! We don’t know why Abraham headed off to the Negev and from there to Egypt where he faced huge personal challenges. It was probably a whole mix of things, including fear and uncertainty, as well as the need to deepen his walk with the God he was still getting to know. My hunch is the hostility and downright evil he experienced in Canaan probably exposed these frailties. Abraham was moving from agnosticism to a personal faith through God’s revelation of Himself. He was on a journey, and the cultic worship he would have encountered in Canaan would have been a shock. It’s hard for us, particularly westerners like me, to comprehend this. Our exposure to spiritual things is limited at the best times, and few in my culture talk about powers of evil and a spiritual battle. But it is real, and the battle in Canaan was hotting up. Abraham began to worship far more publicly and this must have elicited a response from the cultic priests of the day. Once again I’ve sought to downplay the details of what this confrontation could have involved. But we are in a battle between good and evil, far more hideous than any of us could ever imagine, and we need to be wise to the fact. Our walk with God isn’t through meadows with pastel skies. It’s trench warfare. I’d love to hear your reflections at biblenovels.com or the Biblenovels facebook group.
 

 

Abraham had made it to the land where he would ultimately settle but that time was not yet! My personal pilgrimage story is that I so often seem to have to go round and round in circles until finally I’m ready for what God has for me. It’s so frustrating but always necessary. We don’t know just why Abraham headed off to the Negev and from there to Egypt to face huge personal challenges. It was probably a whole mix of things, including fear and uncertainty, as well as the need to deepen his walk with the God he was still getting to know. My hunch is the hostility and downright evil he experienced in Canaan probably exposed these frailties. Abraham was moving from agnosticism to a personal faith through revelation. He was on a journey, and the cultic worship he would have encountered in Canaan would have been a shock. It’s hard for us, particularly westerners like me, to comprehend this. Our exposure to spiritual things is limited at the best of times, and few in my culture talk about powers of evil and a spiritual battle. But it is real, and the battle in Canaan was hotting up. Abraham began to worship far more publicly and this must have illicited a response from the cultic priests of the day. Once again I’ve sought to downplay the details of what this confrontation could have involved. But we are in a battle between good and evil, far more hideous than any of us could ever imagine, and we need to be wise to the fact. Our walk with God isn’t through meadows with pastel skies. It’s trench warfare. I’d love to hear your reflections at biblenovels.com or the Biblenovels facebook group.

 

 
 
 
I wanted to rewrite this episode for the second edition. I don’t like it! But at the end of the day, I couldn’t, because bluntly it is intrinsic to the rest of the story. It begins so wonderfully on the shores of Galilee. I often sit on our shoreline wondering about the Celtic missionaries who sailed past our croft those centuries ago. The stones are the same stones they would have scrambled up: true rocks of ages! Did Jesus reflect upon Abraham’s journey through his backyard in the same way? I imagine so. He was, after all, to fulfil the promise made to Abraham to bless all peoples on earth through him. But that was 2000 years hence! Right here right now, Abraham faced a barbarous land full of barbarous people, the extent of which is barely fathomable to us. And yet we need to understand something of it, if we’re to appreciate just why the God of the Old Testament seems so uncompromising towards the occupants of the land He was giving to Abraham. Otherwise the paradox of wiping out a people before Abraham so He can be a blessing to all peoples makes no sense. Even so, I’ve tried my best not to overstate the evil of the cultic worship. Ultimately Abraham was a fallible human being, just like you and me, but as he walked by faith, stumbling and falling along, God watched over him, picked him up, and shaped him into the patriarch of faith. That’s my story too, and perhaps yours. I’d love to hear your reflections at biblenovels.com or the Biblenovels facebook group.