Portraits of the Patriarchs: Noah


Genesis 6:9-13; 17-18; 22

The earliest Bible story I ever learned was Noah; the teacher? Bill Cosby comedy routine. Why it worked then: shared understanding of who Noah was. What made it funny: the unexpected nature of God’s challenge to Noah. That, and the “voopas”…

We Remember Noah Because of the

Reason he was Chosen ~ Genesis 6:9-10

  • 9 his mission based in his behavior: 1) blameless compared to world & 2) walked with God (call back to Adam & Enoch)
  • 10 context: family of faith (compared to the wickedness of the world)

Result of God’s Choice ~ Genesis 6:11-13; 17

  • 11/13 reason for flood: corrupt WAYS not genetics
  • 17 sin SPREADS- human corruption affected animal existence

Reaffirmation of God’s Covenant ~ Genesis 6:18,22

  • 18 “I will establish my covenant” NOAHIC Covenant: GOD Will NOT: curse the ground, kill all creatures; GOD WILL: while earth remains, seasons & cycles will keep going; WE WILL: replenish the earth
  • 22a God’s part: establishment of God’s protection; “I will”
  • 22b Noah’s part: obedience (even without understanding)

Two closing thoughts:
1) Noah walked with God in obedience – ARE WE?
2) Noah’s obedience didn’t require understanding – DO WE?

#PortraitsOfThePatriarchs, Noah, obedience, faith, lack of understanding, perspective, godly behavior, choice, pro-choice, results, getting results, reaffirmation, covenant, covenant theology

Preaching Schedule for 2022

For a few years now, I have been planning my sermon schedules about a year in advance. I take a few days of retreat in October, and read a lot of Scripture to see what patterns might emerge, which I then hammer out into a schedule that takes me through the liturgical year.

For 2022, the texts I’ll be preaching on are gleaned from the Revised Common Lectionary, a three year selection of texts. This next year, we’ll be in Year C. This is the second time I’ve gone through this particular cycle, and I’ve chosen the texts I DIDN’T use before.

Here are the themes and texts we’ll be using in 2022:

2021-22 Year C titles OT READINGS NT READINGS
11/28/21 Yahweh Tsidkenu: Promise of Righteousness Jeremiah 33:14-16 Luke 21:25-36
12/05/21 Yahweh Tzevaot: Promise of Defense Malachi 3:1-4 Luke 3:1-6
12/12/21 Yahweh Ma ́Ozi: Promise of Strength Isaiah 12:2-6 Luke 3:7-18
12/19/21 Yahweh El Ashiyb: Promise of Restoration Psalm 80:1-7 Micah 5:2-5a
12/26/21 The Light of Christmas Isaiah 9:2-7 Luke 2:22-32
01/02/22 The Favor of Christmas 1 Samuel 2:18-20,26 Luke 2:41-52
01/09/22 HOW Is God With Us? Isaiah 43:1-7 Acts 8:14-17
01/16/22 The Presents of the Spirit Isaiah 62:1-5 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
01/23/22 The Parts of the Body Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
01/30/22 The Qualities of Love Jeremiah 1:4-10 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
02/06/22 The Quintessentials of the Gospel Isaiah 6:1-8, (9-13) 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
02/13/22 The Prerequisite of the Resurrection Jeremiah 17:5-10 1 Corinthians 15:12-20
02/20/22 The Perishable Transformation Genesis 45:3-11, 15 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50
02/27/22 The Portrait of Reflection Exodus 34:29-35 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2
03/02/22 ASH WEDNESDAY Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 Psalm 51:1-17
03/06/22 LENT – A Season of Giving Deuteronomy 26:1-11 Romans 10:8b-13
03/13/22 LENT – Standing in Faith Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 Philippians 3:17-4:1
03/20/22 LENT – Seeking During Testing Isaiah 55:1-9 1 Corinthians 10:1-13
03/27/22 LENT – Step Into The New Joshua 5:9-12 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
04/03/22 LENT – Straining And Training Isaiah 43:16-21 Philippians 3:4b-14
04/10/22 LENT – Sent On Ahead Isaiah 50:4-9a Luke 19:28-40
04/14/22 MAUNDY THURSDAY Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
04/17/22 The Ticket To New Life Isaiah 65:17-25 Acts 10:34-43
04/24/22 Breathing Out Praise Psalm 150 Acts 5:27-32
05/01/22 Made For Praise Genesis 1:26-2:3 Revelation 5:11-14
05/08/22 Saved To Praise Genesis 8:13-18; 9:8-13 Revelation 7:9-17
05/15/22 Blessed To Abide For Life Genesis 22:1-18 Revelation 21:1-6
05/22/22 Rescued For A Life of Light Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21 Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5
05/29/22 Called For A Gift of Life Isaiah 55:1-11 Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21
06/05/22 The Language of Adoption Genesis 11:1-9 Romans 8:14-17
06/12/22 A Life Built By Wisdom Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 John 16:12-15
06/19/22 Learning From Luke: From Man To Ham 1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a Luke 8:26-39
06/26/22 Learning From Luke: Faltering Following 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14 Luke 9:51-62
07/03/22 Learning From Luke: Seventy Two Sent 2 Kings 5:1-14 Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
07/10/22 Learning From Luke: Love And The Loophole Deuteronomy 30:9-14 Luke 10:25-37
07/17/22 Learning From Luke: Serving While Distracted Genesis 18:1-10a Luke 10:38-42
07/24/22 Learning From Luke: The Lord’s Prayer Hosea 1:2-10 Luke 11:1-13
07/31/22 Learning From Luke: Storage Fees Hosea 11:1-11 Luke 12:13-21
08/07/22 Learning From Luke: Ready, Set, Serve! Isaiah 1:1, 10-20 Luke 12:32-40
08/14/22 Learning From Luke: Multiplication Of Division Isaiah 5:1-7 Luke 12:49-56
08/21/22 Learning From Luke: Set Free On Sabbath Jeremiah 1:4-10 Luke 13:10-17
08/28/22 Learning From Luke: A Place At The Table Jeremiah 2:4-13 Luke 14:1, 7-14
09/04/22 Learning From Luke: The Bottom Line Jeremiah 18:1-11 Luke 14:25-33
09/11/22 Learning From Luke: The Lay Of The Land Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28 Luke 15:1-10
09/18/22 Learning From Luke: Matters Of Money And Trust Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 Luke 16:1-13
09/25/22 Learning From Luke: The Great Divide Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15 Luke 16:19-31
10/02/22 Learning From Luke: Faith Enough Lamentations 1:1-6 Luke 17:5-10
10/09/22 Learning From Luke: Missed By Nine Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7 Luke 17:11-19
10/16/22 Learning From Luke: Bother The Father Jeremiah 31:27-34 Luke 18:1-8
10/23/22 Learning From Luke: Look Down To Be Lifted Joel 2:23-32 Luke 18:9-14
10/30/22 Learning From Luke: Real Repentance Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4 Luke 19:1-10
11/06/22 Learning From Luke: Married For Life Haggai 1:15b-2:9 Luke 20:27-38
11/13/22 Learning From Luke: Before The End Credits Isaiah 65:17-25 Luke 21:5-19
11/20/22 Learning From Luke: How Much Faith Works? Jeremiah 23:1-6 Luke 23:33-43

I hope that’s helpful to you as you prepare to study God’s word!
KFJ – Ed

Portraits of the Patriarchs: Enoch


Genesis 5:21-24; Hebrews 11:5-6

Running a marathon is hard enough, but doing it while struggling with numerous injuries made John Akhwari an Olympic Games legend in 1968. He said, “My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race; they sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race.”

Following To The Finish

* Beginning A Godly Life ~ Genesis 5:21-24

  • 21 his life had a normal start: like the others in the genealogy lists
  • 22 “walked with God” also used in 1 Sam 25:15 to describe a cordial and cooperative relationship; working/living side by side; HOW DO YOU WALK WITH GOD? Like Adam, innocent son with loving father? Or Like Enoch, side by side, working & living?
  • 23 cf Jude 14 – prophet who said “the Lord is coming with His host, bringing judgment” He lived speaking God’s truth
  • 24 “was no more” – bypassed death altogether (unique)

* With The End In Mind ~ Hebrews 11:5-6

  • 5 “taken away” – transposed – like Elijah, brought from life PAST death to eternal life; WE CAN BRING GOD PLEASURE – think about that one!
  • 6 but we can’t do it without faith, and THAT is given TO us (cf Eph. 2:8-9); God the Father gives us His children a gift of crayons; our lives are living works of art, done to please God is the goal

Rewards: it’s not about the OBJECTS of reward we’ll receive; it’s about the expression of the loving relationship that is manifested in the gift (the Giver, GIVING, is the greater gift)

#Portraits of the Patriarchs, Enoch, finishing well, race, racing, finish, following, walk, walk with God, godly life, end of the race, walking

Maximize your potential… in XFCE

Hello readers. This is another one of those rare posts that is about personal computing, and Linux, and making myself a reminder on how to do a thing so that now that I’ve figured it out once, I won’t have to figure it out again.

Today’s challenge – how to make XFCE, a lightweight desktop environment, work more like other heavier environments.

Specifically, how to set up a global menu, so that every application shows a menu at the top like OSX. There are lots of fancy ways that people have attempted to do this, and I even figured out a simple hack for JWM (my preferred window manager) to do something very similar.

But XFCE doesn’t have the fine-grain control that JWM has, so I started looking for tools to accomplish the same thing. There *used* to be a pretty great program called “maximus” which would automatically do this, but it has a LOT of older GNOME2 dependencies (and if you don’t know what that means, don’t worry about it – I’m putting this in here to remind myself why I didn’t use maximus this time around) that I didn’t want to use.

Functionally, I just want every program to open itself in a maximized state… which causes the decorative bar at the top to go away, and leaves just a menu at the top of the screen. This makes the environment FUNCTION like OSX… and if I can accomplish this with a minimum of programming, all the better. So… here’s the answer:


As of this writing in 2021, devilspie2 is a scripting program that reads simple text files, and carries out their instructions on programs. It’s currently supported, doesn’t require a bunch of old libraries, and is simple to install using the Debian/Ubuntu/Mint varieties of Linux that I tend to use. A simple

sudo apt install devilspie2

lets me install it, and to make all my programs start maximized, I need to create a simple config file. When I run devilspie2 for the first time, it creates its own config directory (in /home/username/.config/devilspie2). Then I just created a simple instruction file with only one line in it, and named it “maxall.lua”, with this line in it:

maximize ();

and THAT .lua file is automatically read by devilspie2 when it’s started. And POOF – all windows which start, start maximized.

The only downside is that all *dialog* boxes start maximized as well – that’s not a deal breaker, and I suppose I could script something much more elegant to deal with that, but this simple fix gets me 95% of where I want to be with very little work.

The only thing left is to ensure that XFCE starts devilspie2 every time it starts – and you do THAT by running the “Session and Startup” program, and adding devilspie2 to the list of programs that autostart.


Portraits of the Patriarchs: Adam

How Does Adam Shape Us? The Patriarch Paradigm (Genesis 2:7;15-17;3:6-7)
How Does Adam Shape Us? The Reign of Redemption (Romans 5:12-17)


Genesis 2:7;15-17;3:6-7; Romans 5:12-17

We’re starting a new series for the next 7 weeks; we’ll be looking at some of the Patriarchs, the prototypes of human relationship. We can know so much about who we are as people when we pay attention to our parents of the past…

How Does Adam Shape Us?

* The Patriarch Paradigm ~ Genesis 2:7;15-17;3:6-7

  • 7 his creation/nature=crafted (not an accident); our takeaway- God brings us to life
  • 15/17 his job/role=caretaker; takeaway- our freedom doesn’t invalidate God’s Rule
  • 6/7 his fall=why is Adam responsible? Because he was FIRST & he was THERE & he was SILENT; takeaway- passive participation on the world’s sin is still participation

* The Reign of Redemption ~ Romans 5:12-17

  • 12/14 our nature: sin → death; sin SNOWBALLS out of control
  • 15/16 our role: gift → grace; only those who receive it are justified
  • 17 our result: downfall vs deliverance; not just living but REIGNING – we sit on Papa’s throne WITH HIM

God loved us enough to MAKE us, to SHAPE us, to BREATHE into us; He STILL is doing that – and the whole point is so that we’d respond in relationship with Him.

Meantime: The ‘Draft’

The ‘Draft’

Exodus 6:6-8; John 15:16-17

NWSL/MLS-Jan; PLL-Feb-April; NFL/WNBA-April; MLR/NHL/NBA-June; MLB-June&Dec – professional sports organizations work year round to attract talented individuals for their team. Athletes are scrutinized by past performance and their college/minor league records to determine when they’re available for the draft.
God has a draft, too. A couple of major differences, however: 1) why you’re chosen, and 2) what for…

To Make Your Draft Definite, Ask

Why You’ve Been Drafted ~ Exodus 6:6-8

  • 6 The Covenant of God’s Will: what He determines, He does
  • 7a what does it mean to be “chosen people”? Israel specifically – Deuteronomy 7:6: For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.;
  • 7b we’re part, too: Romans 11.11,17 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root…
  • 8 “I am the LORD” – the Owner of the original Team (Israel) and the expansion franchise (Church)

Drafted For What? ~ John 15:16-17

  • 16a “selected/placed to keep on abiding and bearing fruit” Ephesians 1:4-5: For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will…
  • 17 want to fulfill your draft? Abide/LIVE IN love I Peter 1:2: who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Draft Drills to help you answer “Why Me” & “What For”

  • Drill #1: select someone this week who challenges you, and pray for them 5 minutes a day; ask God to help you love them like He does
  • Drill #2: do some inner work: what’s preventing you from “abiding” in God like you want to? What are you valuing?

II Peter 1:10: Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure… Make your Draft Definite!

Meantime: The “What If’s”

The ‘What Ifs’

Hebrews 6:18-19

There is a game many of us like to play: “what if”? We ask ourselves how we would respond if things had gone differently. It’s a popular idea: there’s even a new television series based on exploring that question. We tend to ask it when we’re uncertain in how we’ve chosen to act. It’s not a new question, either…

In Uncertain Times, We Hope To Hold

Our Refuge in the Times of Strife ~ Hebrews 6:18

Our Anchor In The Storms of Life ~ Hebrews 6:19

Strife happens; LIFE happens! We look for hand holds to help us cope… and hope.

Meantime: The ‘Gonna Dos’

The ‘Gonna Dos’

Isaiah 25:6-9; 1Thes.5:23

Artist Andrew Wyeth did a picture of Lafayette’s quarters near Chadds Ford, Pa., with a sycamore tree behind the building. As he prepared to paint it, he made a lot of drawings of the trunk and the sycamore’s gnarled roots, none of which were in the picture. He said. “For me to get what I want in the part of the tree that’s showing, I’ve got to know thoroughly how it is anchored in back of the house.” I find that remarkable. He could draw the tree above the house with such authenticity because he knew exactly how the thing was in the ground.

To Respond To God, Ask

What is God Gonna Do? ~ Isaiah 25:6-9

What are WE Gonna Do? ~ Be Passive AND Active:

God has a part that He’s gonna do – prepare a place for us, and prepare us for His place. WE have a part we’re gonna do, too: let Him do His work in us, and join Him in it.

Meantime: The ‘Fear Nots’

The ‘Fear Nots’

Matt. 10:24-31

Nathan Zohner, an enterprising 14-year-old student at Eagle Rock Junior High School in Idaho Falls, Idaho, conducted an experiment in 1997 warning of the dangers of “dihydrogen monoxide”, stating symptoms of ingestion include “excessive sweating and urination,” and “for those who have developed a dependency on DHMO, complete withdrawal means certain death.”
86% of people who read his study voted to ban dihydrogen monoxide, or as it is more commonly known: WATER.

As We Face Fears, Ask Ourselves:

* Who Is In Control? ~ Matt. 10:24-27

  • 24 First reminder: Jesus is our Master
  • 25 if they didn’t treat HIM well, they’re not going to treat us better!
  • 26/27 and yet – do not fear THEM; people who oppose God have no REAL lasting power (it’s only temporary)

* Who Values Me? ~ Matt. 10:28-31

  • 28/31 Second reminder: our worth comes from God; don’t fear others attempts to devalue you

* Who Has My Back? ~ OT References

  • Third reminder: We are not alone (regardless of how we might feel)
  • Gen.26:24-25: I AM with you ~That night the LORD appeared to him and said, ‘I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.’ Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.” [on life’s journey]
  • I Kings 17:13: as you do His work ~Elijah said to her, ‘Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.'” [God supplies His work]
  • Isaiah 43:1-3: as you face His challenges ~But now, this is what the LORD says– he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead.'” [companionship in trials]
  • Isaiah 41:10: as you need His strength ~So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” [strength in weakness]

Now and Forever ~ “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” [Revelation 1:17-18: life beyond death]

#Meantime, The ‘Fear Nots’, facing our fears, fear, control, value

2 Peter: Calling On The Lord

Calling On The Lord


Have you seen the police shows where the crime scene investigators shine special lights to look for evidence? They help investigators see differently to pick up details they might have missed. As followers of Jesus, we also are to look for clues as we search for His will in our lives.

We Can See Kingdom Clues When We Ask:

* What Time Is It? ~ 2 Peter 3:8-11

  • 8 We NEED to be reminded: God’s timetable is not ours
  • 9 God’s desire: for all to be saved; why aren’t they? LOVE CAN’T BE FORCED
  • 10 we have GOT to remember that this world is TEMPORARY
  • 11 note the “so what”: WHO WILL YOU BE?

* What Do We Think About? ~ 2 Peter 3:12-15

  • 12 how can WE speed the Day? Cf: Matt 24:14; Luke 10:2
  • 13 key phrase: we are looking forward; WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT TODAY?
  • 14 make every effort; this is intentional living – at peace with God
  • 15 God IS DOING His work in us; lean on HIS patience!

Our Old Testament reading reminds us of what we often miss: The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.

Pastor Ed Backell

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