Friday, December 6, 2013

A Basic Bible Study of The Two Genealogies of Jesus

A few people asked me to post my lesson on the two genealogies that are found in the Synoptic Gospels. This lesson is not intended to be exhaustive. I only have twenty minutes to teach. There are books written on this subject. There are three reasons I am teaching this lesson.

  1. I want to give the students a good foundation for the birth narratives.
  2. I want the students to be able to approach the Bible with confidence when they come across different accounts of the same events in the Bible.
  3. I want the challenge of making a text that we normally skip accessible and interesting to teenagers. This reason is secondary to the two above. I mention it for transparency. 
There are two documents from which I am copying and pasting. The first is my teaching outline. I tend to teach in a discussion format. Thus, my outline is primary stories and questions. The second document includes some of the key points that I want to address while facilitating the discussion. I have a final PDF document that I am not attaching. That document is Matthew 1 and Luke 3 set side-by-side with a few discussion questions. 

Lesson Outline

Topic: The Genealogy of Jesus
Passages: Matthew 1, Luke 3
Main Ideas: Help the students understand why Matthew and Luke approach the Jesus story from different camera angles. Help set the stage for a better understanding of the birth narratives.
Bonus: The week before the lesson, email this video to the parents. Watch as a family.
  • Why are genealogies important?
  • Do we do a good job remembering the past in our culture? Why/why not?
  • How can a limited view of the past impact us as individuals and as a society?
  • Why does the author want to make sure the readers know Jesus’ genealogy?
Tell Two Stories:
  • This is a true story. When we first got married, Tammie and I lived in a rough part of town. One day, as Tammie was leaving the apartment, a guy in a minivan swerved towards her while she was sitting at the exit of the complex. He hit her car, knocking off the bumper. The driver of the minivan told her that he didn’t have insurance but still asked to trade numbers so that they could work things out. A few hours later he called and said he had a quote from a local auto body shop for how much it would cost to fix his van.
  • This is also a true story. When we first got married, Tammie and I lived in an apartment that was right in between where I was going to seminary and where I was working. One day, Tammie called me and was very upset. She said, she pulled a little too far into the street and got clipped by a guy who was driving a minivan. Her bumper got knocked off. The guy did not have insurance. She felt bad so she agreed to pay for the minivan to get fixed.

Ask: How are these stories similar? How are they different? Which one is true?

Say: Both stories are true. They simply focus on different aspects of what occurred. One focused on the driver of the minivan having shady intentions. The other focuses on the tenderheartedness of my wife. As we’ve discussed over and over, the authors of the Bible always had a theological motive behind what they wrote. There are a few times when the Bible tells the same story in different ways. Skeptics have risen up to say, “Ah ha! This is proof that the Bible is full of errors.” The reality is, the stories that differently describe the same situations simply have different lessons or theological truths they want to teach. They simply approach the subject from different angles. Today we are going to compare and contrast the genealogies of Jesus.

Ask: Look at the two genealogies on this worksheet.
  • How are they similar? How are they different?
  • Why did the authors approach them the way that they did?
  • Why do you think they included a genealogy in their respective accounts of the life of Jesus?
  • Did you notice any surprising names on the list?

The next two weeks we are going to look at the birth narratives found in Matthew and Luke. Matthew’s is from the perspective of Joseph. Luke’s is of the perspective of Mary. Both stories are true, they are simply shot from different camera angles.

Study Notes

Why Two Genealogies of Jesus?
Here is a simplified version of the three main theories:
  • Matthew gives the genealogy of Joseph. Luke gives the genealogy through Mary. It would be unusual to trace the linage through a woman but then again, Jesus was born of a virgin. There is nothing usual about this story.
  • Some attribute the differences to the "Levirate marriage" tradition. This means that if a man died childless, his widowed wife would marry his brother. The child birthed from the brother  and the wife would be considered “begat” by the man who died. In this theory, Luke is the legal linage of Jesus and Matthew would be the actual/biological blood line.
  • Matthew is the royal line and Luke is the biological line.
Does it matter which is correct? While the authors were meticulous about record keeping, their records were driven by a theological motive. A better question to ask is, “What was the theological motive behind each genealogy?”

What is the theological motive behind the genealogy of Matthew?
  • Matthew was written primarily to a Jews who had come to believe that Jesus was the Messiah.   Indeed, the book uses at least 40 formal quotations from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.
  • A key theme to Matthew is proving that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah.  
  • Matthew is sure to include people and events that would resonate with the Jewish audience (Exile, Abraham, Rahab, etc.).
  •  It’s important for Matthew to reinforce the fact that Jesus was in the line of Abraham, the father of the Jewish people.
What is the theological motive behind the genealogy of Luke?
  • The book was written to a diverse population. 
  • A key theme in Luke is one of compassion for the marginalized (Gentiles, Samaritans, women, children, tax collectors, etc.). Another key theme is that Jesus is the savior of all of humanity.
  • Jeconiah was not included in this genealogy. The group who thinks that Luke is the biological line use this as proof to prove their point. They argue that Jeconiah was cursed by God for being evil and could not biologically be connected to Jesus. 
  •  It was important for Luke to reinforce the fact that Jesus was in the line of Adam, the father of all of humanity.
Why does it matter that Jesus was connected to David?
One key reason the authors would want to connect Jesus with David is because of the prophesies that proclaim that the Messiah will come from David’s line (Jer. 23:5-6, 2 Samuel 7:12-13, Isaiah 9:7)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Eucharist, the Great Commission, and Destructive Leadership

As I am preparing to facilitate the Eucharist this week I am keenly aware of how partaking in Communion is relinquishing power. This flies in the face of how many of us "do ministry." Indeed, I  am realizing that many of us who consider ourselves evangelical Christians confuse the call to share the Gospel (aka good news) with our own desire for power and influence. Power and influence in themselves are not bad. But when we desire power and influence we can easily be seduced into an egocentric form of leadership that is destructive for us and all whom we encounter. 

Five Ways to Avoid This Destructive Approach:
1. Listen first and listen well.
2. Love because a person is an image bearer of God and not simply as a means to an end.
3. Give freely with no strings attached.
4. Be willing to give up your position of power in your ministry. Let's be clear that God doesn't need you (or me). We are called to share the good news because, when we do it well, God is glorified and we are transformed in the process. 
5. While listening, loving, giving, and surrendering, prayerfully think about a wholistic approach to the Gospel. What is the good news in that moment for that particular person spiritually, emotionally, and relationally?

Bonus: Remember that Jesus saves, not you.

Here is a portion of my script for facilitating the Eucharist this week:

As I was preparing for Communion this week four words came to my mind: Let go and come.

Mark 10:45
"For even the son of man did not come to be served but to serve and give his life for many."

When we come to this table we are identifying with Jesus' choice to give up his life. When we come to this table we are relinquishing the destructive desire for control and power and we are embraced, enveloped, and transformed by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. 

We need only to let go and come.

This passage also inspired this post:

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded,having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with Godsomething to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death
        even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:1-11

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Facebook Status Update

Recently I "liked" a person's Facebook status. The status included 9 fun facts about the person. I enjoyed learning more about this person so I "liked" the status. Game over right? WRONG! Without knowing it, I had gotten sucked into this weird Facebook chain thingy. I don't even know what to call it. I usually hate these sorts of things. The guy whose status I "liked" sent me a message that said, "You have the number 9. Go!"

At first I ignored my assignment. I'm too cool for these stupid games. But, every time a friend of mine played the game, I loved learning about them. I thought, "What if I'm just perpetuating false humility? What if people actually would enjoy learning about me?" I gave in. Here's my post.

I was given the number 9.

1. I met my wife in the 9th grade at my locker. She's the only person I've ever dated and the only person I've ever kissed.
2. I once was on ESPN 2 because the college I played football for had 3 punts blocked. Each blocked punt was returned for a touchdown. Apparently that's some sort of NCAA record. "Come on, man!"
3. My sister caught my hair on fire when I was a kid. We were playing Little House on the Prairie and I was "sick." She tried to warm a tissue for my head by using a candle. I'll let you figure out the rest of the story.
4. My last play of regulation basketball involved me accidentally stuffing my own teammate as he was trying to shoot the game winning shot from 5 ft away from the rim. Oops.
5. I once punched somebody's chest so hard during a football game that my finger popped out of place. In the two seconds that it took me to realize I had a dislocated finger I happened to intercept a pass thrown by the opposing quarterback.
6. By my senior year of college I cost the school $15 a day in tape because of my various injuries. Apparently people under 200 lbs shouldn't play defensive line for 14 years. Noted.
7. The two items on the top of my bucket list are to build a house with my own hands and to sing backup for a bluegrass band.
8. I feel the happiest when I am on an adventure somewhere outside with my wife and kids. I can walk for miles while carrying one to two small humans who look like me.
9. My favorite parts of being a pastor include helping a person find true worth/value in the triune God, walking people through the marriage process, and grieving with people when they experience a serious crisis like the death of a loved one. These moments are real, raw, and intimate. In these moments I see the face of God.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

10 Year Anniversary: Canaan Bound

10 years ago today all of my family and friends were assembling in Houston for my wedding. I asked my college mentor Brian Housman to coordinate and facilitate the service around the theme of faith and sacrifice. We chose the Abraham and Sarah story to be the channel for this theme. While a few people made fun of me for an Abrahamic wedding, Tammie and I thought it was perfect. I guess that's all that matters.

We chose Abraham and Sarah because their story is full of risk taking, doubt, mistakes, and supernatural intervention. I love the story because it is a raw look at humanity. It shows the beauty of humanity and the depravity. We talk about the story as though it was Abraham and Sarah who had great faith. And I guess they did. I mean, they left everything to follow Yahweh into the unknown. But it is God’s faithfulness that ultimately triumphs.

Towards the end of our ceremony we had my brother-in-law John play and sing Canaan Bound by Andrew Peterson (on a slide guitar). Since then, Tammie and I have made some huge leaps of faith. We have gone on many adventures together, the most recent being moving out to Seattle having only a part-time salary (here is a sermon where I share that story). I regularly listen to this song for hope and encouragement. I pray you find it to.

Come back in a couple of weeks to see some things I’ve learned about relationships and love since I’ve been married.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

10 Year Anniversary: Midnight in Tunica

Note: My bride and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage in September. I've known her 18 years. That's 3 years more than I have not known her. In the weeks that we approach our 10 year anniversary, I'll be posting mental photographs of the development of our relationship

Let's all agree upon one thing. Sometimes I'm a wimp. I mean, yeah, I had no problem eluding 315 pound offensive linemen or running down QB's who run 4.5 40's. But, when it came to asking my girlfriend to marry me, I was a wimp. My plan was to ask her during spring break 2003 while we were hiking at Petit Jean State Park. But as we already established, I'm a wimp.

One night we were talking at my house at 1433 Goodbar Ave, and it all made sense to me. Why on earth would I wait another moment to commit my life and my love to this woman? So I asked her to marry me. There were no waterfalls. There were no horse back rides. There were no family members creepily hiding in the bushes taking pictures. But I'll never forget staring deep into her eyes as she said yes and wept for joy. It was a beautiful moment. 

I wanted to do something spiritual to help us transition into engagement. I know, typical Coby. I suggested that we spend the evening in prayer. Even though I was certain I wanted to marry her I was still really nervous about the whole thing. As we already established, I'm a wimp.  I figured prayer would help. 

I took her home. Then I drove around Rhodes' campus with the intention of doing a solitary prayer walk for a couple of hours. About 5 minutes into my prayer walk I couldn't contain my excitement. I went back to her house, picked her up and we did what every 20 something couple does when they get engaged. We drove to Tunica, MS to check out the casinos.

While we drove we dreamed about our future together. When would we get married? Where? How many kids? Where should we live? Christ met us in the midst of our dreaming. I guess I had my spiritual night of reflection after all. 

We drove back in the early hours of the morning. She slept as we disappeared into the darkness of the Mississippi highway. My wimpy fear subsided. I knew I was home.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

10 Year Anniversary: Waiting

Note: My bride and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage in September. I've known her 18 years. That's 3 years more than I have not known her. In the weeks that we approach our 10 year anniversary, I'll be posting mental photographs of the development of our relationship

The first few months that Tammie and I dated were exhilarating and excruciating. On the one hand, it was exciting to slowly grow closer to another person with the shared intention of seeing if we would make good marriage partners (that's the point of dating right?). It was also very painful. She was in College Station, TX and I was in 550 miles away in Memphis, TN. We went weeks without seeing one another. Though, I remember feeling like the yearning was good for me. There is much to be learning while waiting for something you want but cannot have.

That summer Tammie graduated and stayed in College Station. I got a job in Houston. We were only about 1.5 hours from one another but we were both working. Thus, we could only see each other a couple of days a week. I began to get impatient and frustrated with our predicament. Many nights I would pray "God, how can we possibly learn if we are a good match if we don't live in the same city." I never got an audible response.

Let me digress for a moment. Dating from a distance is not impossible. We did it for 6 months. However, it does skew reality. Every time the couple is together they are both full of excitement and joy. Then they go back to their respective homes and are filled with a longing to be together. The couple only experiences highs together in person. They rarely get to experience the lows and the mundane. Love is refined in the low and mundane parts of life.

One night, after I got off the phone with Tammie, I realized that what had  initially started as a helpful unqueched yearning to be together eventually became an unhealthy obsession from my end. I didn't think it would be fair to request for Tammie to move to a new city 600 miles away from her family while I finished college. So I sat, hurting in silence. Through my tears, I finally let go. I prayed, "God, I want to be in the same city. But if it isn't your will, I know it will be harmful for our relationship. I surrender her and this situation to you. I let go."

I remember feeling like a weight lifted off of my shoulders. That obsession transformed into a manageable longing. I had no expectations that anything would change. Yet, the next day, Tammie called me and said, "I'm thinking about moving to Memphis."

Thursday, July 18, 2013

10 Year Anniversary: On a Bench in San Francisco

Note: My bride and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage in September. I've known her 18 years. That's 3 years more than I have not known her. In the weeks that we approach our 10 year anniversary, I'll be posting mental photographs of the development of our relationship. This post is part 2. Click here if you missed part 1.

It was Thanksgiving 2001. I was in San Francisco visiting my sister. I was at a park by the bay. I was recovering, having just tried to catch a frisbee in my mouth that was thrown by my brother-in-law John (dogs make it look so easy). And I couldn't get Tammie out of my mind. I hadn't seen her since the summer, but I had been talking to her weekly on the phone. Something beautiful was happening but I was not going to have a "DTR" talk over the phone. So there I sat on a park bench in San Francisco yearning, waiting, and dreaming.

There is something painfully wonderful about waiting for something you want. Denying oneself is a spiritual discipline. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was ready to date. I had been waiting for a long time. Yet, I sat on a bench in San Francisco, alone. But my heart was warmed. I knew that waiting was strengthening my soul.

Eventually Christmas came. I was able to see Tammie in person. As soon as I could, I wanted to find out if she was feeling what I was feeling. We talked in depth for a couple of hours. We decided to begin pursuing a relationship as best as we could 600 miles away from one another. Two days later we had another conversation where Tammie clarified that yes, we were indeed dating. Apparently guys tend to assume things without verbally confirming them. Whatever.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

10 Year Anniversary: Start With the Ending. It's the Best Place to Begin.

Note: My bride and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage in September. I've known her 18 years. That's 3 years more than I have not known her. In the weeks that we approach our 10 year anniversary, I'll be posting mental photographs of the development of our relationship.

There is a great song by David Wilcox titled "Start With the Ending." The concept is that relationships would be much better if you just started from the ended where you didn't care what the other person thought about you. That way, you could lay everything out in the open.

Tammie and I had an early ending towards the end of high school. The short version of the story is that I wasn't ready to be in a relationship. While I knew this all along, I ran from the reality for three years as we quasi dated. This made the ending very emotionally painful for us. 

We barely talked my freshman year of college. I was at Rhodes and she was 600 miles away at A&M. After a year of barely talking we bumped into one another at an event. I remember the conversation being fun and, in no way, awkward. I remember having a conversation later about how great it was that we could be friends again.

Fast forward to spring break of my sophomore year. I decided to drive over to A&M to see some friends. Tammie was one of the many friends I was planning on visiting. But something terrible/amazing happened. Everybody bailed on me. I came down during midterm week and everybody had to study. That is to say, everybody but Tammie had to study.

So there we sat, at a coffee shop, catching up. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. She had grown into a completely different person while we had been apart. We both had matured as people and as followers of Jesus. I fell in love. Again.

I didn't want to mess up our friendship. Besides, I thought she was dating a pro baseball player. I decided to start calling her again. I bought a phone card on this wonderful new invention called the internet. I started calling her once ever couple of months. Then we started talking every month. Then we started talking every two weeks. Then we started talking every week. Before long, we were having hour long conversations about life, Jesus, and the intersection of the two. Something wonderful was happening. 

To be continued... 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

10 Year Anniversary: Scattergories

Note: My bride and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage in September. I've known her 18 years. That's 3 years more than I have not known her. In the weeks that we approach our 10 year anniversary, I'll be posting mental photographs of the development of our relationship.

For some reason, Tammie and I never hung out alone when we were in high school. The only times we were alone were when i was driving her to a dance. Most of the time, we just hung out with her family and watched movies or played games. Looking back I'm thankful that we never were alone. High schoolers tend to make dumb decisions (no offense if you are currently in high school).

Sometimes we played Scattergories. The objective of the 2-to-6-player game is to score points by uniquely naming objects within a set of categories, given an initial letter, within a time limit. For example, say the category is food and you get "A" as the letter. Some examples of possible answers are avocado, artichoke, anchovies, etc. 

One night I was playing with all of Tammie's siblings and her parents. The game was getting intense. I was sitting next to Tammie and her sister, Emily. The category was body parts. The letter was "S". In mass confusion I blurted out a very embarrassing word that describes a male body part. I was, and continue to be, terribly embarrassed  Thankfully, most of Tammie's family are deaf. Only Tammie and her sister heard me.

CLICK HERE for "10 Year Anniversary: Mixtapes"
CLICK HERE for "10 Year Anniversary: The Meet-Cute"

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

10 Year Anniversary: Mixtapes

Note: My bride and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage in September. I've known her 18 years. That's 3 years more than I have not known her. In the weeks that we approach our 10 year anniversary, I'll be posting mental photographs of the development of our relationship.

The summer between my 8th and 9th grade years I decided to grow out my hair and wear baggy pants. I had just concluded my "gangta rap" phase and was transitioning into my "grunge" phase. Kurt Cobain had just died and grunge music had taken the world by storm. Although Tammie grew up only 5 minutes from where I grew up, she was a cowgirl. I have vivid memories of her wearing a pink Wranglers and boots to school.

I tell you that to give context to this next mental photograph. Tammie and I both made varsity choir in '96-'97. We were in the choir room and we traded mixtapes. I gave her a tape primarily consisting of punk/hard rock. She gave me a tape of country music. My favorite song on the tape she gave me was Go Rest High on That Mountain by Vince Gill. To this day, Vince is my favorite vocalist in the country genre.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

10 Year Anniversary: The Meet-Cute

My earliest memory of Tammie goes something like this. I was 15 years old and a freshman at J. Frank Dobie High School. As I was getting my books out of my locker this young lady walks up to me and says, "Hi. Are you Coby Cagle?" I respond, "Uh...Yes." "I'm Emily Moore's little sister. Nice to meet you." You see, my sister Mandi was best friends with Emily. The problem with that interaction was that Tammie didn't tell me her name. I remember going home that day and frantically searching my sister's yearbook from the year before to figure it out.

My bride and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage in September. I've known her 18 years. That's 3 years more than I have not known her. In the weeks that we approach our 10 year anniversary, I'll be posting mental photographs of the development of our relationship.

Choir Banquet 1996

Monday, May 27, 2013

Free Online Language Courses

I recently discovered free online language courses. Word on the street is that these courses were created by the U.S. Government to teach foreign diplomats different languages. These courses are free because they were written 50ish years ago. Thus, they are now in the public domain. While the examples used may be way out of date, the words themselves are still very accurate. Enjoy your free online language course! I'm about to dive into modern Hebrew! Yahoo!

Here are links to the courses:

If you want the updated versions I'm told you can buy them at the Foreign Service Institute's website.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

1 of the 5

Recently I've been reminded that I am not a self-made man. In fact, nobody is a self-made person. Women and men have come before us and made great sacrifices to help us have what we have. When I look at my life I can point to dozens of men and women who God has used to shape me. There is nothing I can do to adequately express how thankful I am for those who loved me, mentored me, sacrificed for me, listened to me, and took risks for me. The thing is, all of us are called to live this way towards others. This is particularly true for followers of Jesus. Every adult who has a church home is charged with the ministry of children and youth. Here is a video I recently made to help teach this principle. I got the concept from a book/movement called Sticky Faith.

Imagine what it would be like if every student who attends your church graduates high school knowing they have 5 adults from the church they can always rely on. How can you be 1 of the 5?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Myth of the Terrible Twos

After 10 years of going full tilt in a career, my wife and I decided that I needed to step back and create space for her career to launch. This has been a difficult season for me on many levels, but it is also very rich. I'll blog more about this season later. For now I want to talk about the myth of the terrible twos.

Hang around parents of a toddler for five minutes and I guarantee that you will hear about the terrible twos. I'm not going to lie, sometime around the time my daughter turned 18 months it became much more difficult to parent her. The problem is, most parents want to blame it on "the terrible twos." I just came to a startling realization.

What I'd like to blame on the terrible twos is really my inability to be selfless.

I'm not trying to guilt anybody. Most parents I talk to already feel like they are under pressure. They already feel inadequate. The last thing I want to do is make an overworked people group feel more pressure.

Let's face it, parenting is tough. Even though I love my kids more than I thought I could ever love another human, sometimes I hate this season. What I am pushing against is this idea that pain is bad. Our culture is all about minimizing pain. However, most of life's lessons are learned during painful seasons.

Don't run from pain. Lean into pain. You will become a better father, mother, sister, brother, daughter, son, friend, and worker.

Even as I type this, I feel myself getting tired. On the flip side of learning to be selfless while parenting is the necessity of self-care. Even self-care requires selflessness. You may need to wake up earlier to have a little alone time. You may need to hire a baby sitter so you can spend quality time with your spouse. On occasion, you may need to have a night or two of solitude to heal, recover, and recharge.

But when you come back, dive in. This season won't last forever. Something beautiful is happening. Don't run. You can do this.


More information on "The Terrible Twos":
I found a really good article that explains this season called The Terrible Twos: A Myth? Here is my favorite quote.
“It's an old-fashioned idea and not supported by research,” says Alan Kazdin, Ph.D., director of the Parenting Center at Yale University. The term was coined in the 1950s, perhaps because so much pressure was put on families to be detergent-commercial perfect that the moment a child grew out of compliant infancy, moms were freaked out.