Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Every Mile a Memory"

"Every Mile a Memory" -- what a true statement... with every mile we travel in life memories are created and then commemorated with milestones.

Milestones... erected along the path of life as we accomplish one more goal or overcome one more obstacle.

Each milestone is unique... unique to the situation that formed it. Some milestones you erect with a smile as what you have accomplished has brought you and others joy. Other milestones are placed with tears in your eyes because of all the pain and struggle they represent yet there is a seed of hope knowing that you are ready to move on and prepare the next memorial that will commemorate the scaling of new heights.

There are even those milestones that come with tears, not of sorrow , but of Joy and Pride. Like when you look up and there on that stage is your brother giving his graduation speech, and he is looking into your eyes and thanking you for helping him become the man he is today.

Then there are those milestones that you watch others accomplish. These are unique, yet special moments that cause you to look at there life and thank God that he has blessed them and brought them to that wonderful point in their life where they can pause and look to Him with gratitude for all that He has blessed them with.

But one of the most special types of milestones are those that as a family you look forward to and cherish together. One of these type of milestones is coming up for us Barretts. This will be the 4th and final milestone of its genre. From March 6, 2011 until March 11, 2012 there will be 4 teenagers in the Barrett house. This milestone has been set with 3 different groups of siblings in the previous 8 years and each of these special times were anticipated with joy and lived out with much fun.

These milestones are symbols of growing up and moving forward in life but they also hold the promise of so much fun and memories to be made on the next mile down the road. This is what makes them so special...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekly Bible Devotional: Feb 21-27

Biblical Worldview Families and Friends:

We are excited this week to be introducing our monthly Featured Products. Each month these featured materials will be new or relevant products that we find helpful, offered at discounted prices. We hope you will enjoy these selective offerings!

Below are the Daily Bible Readings for this week. The readings for this week have much practical life application for each of us.

David Barrett, Director

Biblical Worldview Learning Center




February 21st

Reading: Genesis 48:1-22

Jacob is getting older and weaker. In this state, should he become ill, it could be a sickness that takes his life. So, when Joseph hears that his father is sick he rushes to be with him. But, for Joseph, it is not just that he wants to personally be with his father at this time, though that is important to him. What Joseph also desires is for his father to bless his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim.

Joseph had a special closeness to his father and seeking his father's blessing for his two sons demonstrates that his closeness was tied into the understanding of the relationship Jacob had with the living God. Joseph knew of the special calling God had placed upon the family of Jacob. It was a calling that had begun with Abraham and was passed down through Isaac to Jacob (Israel) and would now rest upon the children of Israel as they grew in number in the land of Egypt.

Joseph had seen how God had orchestrated events and divinely protected his life to provide for his father and his brothers. Joseph had grown in his faith in God and desired to be in the center of God's will for his life and the life of his sons. Bringing his boys to Jacob for his blessing was a way of demonstrating that desire.

We, too, should remain sensitive to being in the center of God's will for our lives. Certainly prayer and the study of God's Word are essential for this. However, if you have Godly parents and grandparents, a close relationship with them is also very important. The wisdom and understanding they have gained over the years can be passed on to you much like the blessing Jacob gave to Joseph's sons.

February 22nd

Reading: Genesis 49:1-33

Jacob knows the time of his death is near and he feels an urgency to speak to his sons one last time. He calls them together to tell them "that which shall befall you in the last days." This is a way of saying that he is going to prophecy what will happen among their descendents as they each become a great number of people. The use of the words "last days" by Jacob here does not mean the last days of the world that will occur sometime in our future. He is referring to the future days of his sons descendents as the children of Israel become a nation and each son’s descendents become a tribe of people.

It would be impossible to analyze each prophecy of each tribe in our short visits here. That would also miss the point of our little devotionals. Being the first time through the Bible I want to direct your attention to one particular prophecy, the prophecy over Judah. In the future, as you read through the Scriptures again, we can look at the prophecies over the other sons. At some point, you may wish to investigate several of these prophecies and try to find their fulfillment. Bible commentaries and other study books can be of help to you in doing this.

But, for now, let's not get overwhelmed with all of that. Let's simply look at the prophecy of Judah and notice a few things. The prophecy over Judah is the first one that is filled with praise and it seems that only he and Joseph receive abundant blessings from Jacob. In fact, of Judah, it is said that his brothers would praise him and their children would bow down to him. Judah, it appears will become a ruling people. In fact, Jacob strongly refers to this when he associates a scepter and a lawgiver among Judah's descendants.

Keep this in mind as you continue to read through the Bible and watch the story unfold. You will find that Judah not only becomes one of the greatest of people among the tribes of Israel, but the kings that rule over Israel will come from Judah. But there is something more fascinating about this prophecy over Judah than what I have just shared.

Take a close look at verse 10 again where it speaks of the rulers and lawgivers that will come from Judah. It says, that this will happen "until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be." This last statement that I have quoted for you is a prophecy of the coming of Jesus Christ, God's Son, the Promised child. Remember way back to the 3rd chapter of Genesis, when Adam and Eve sinned? At that time, God promised a Savior from sin who would defeat the Devil. You might want to re-read that part of Genesis 3 and especially look again at the 15th verse where God speaks about the seed of the woman. I told you at that time that this was the first prophecy of the coming of Jesus Christ.

Through the reading of the Book of Genesis we have seen several references to Jesus. Let me review a few of them with you now. In Genesis 3:15 we saw, as I just told you, that Jesus is the Seed of the Woman who will defeat the Devil. In the story of the birth of Isaac we saw that Isaac was the miraculous child of promise given to Abraham and Sarah, but Jesus would be the Promised Child given to the world. In the story of the testing of Abraham as he took Isaac up to the mountain to obey God and sacrifice his only son, we saw the substitution of the ram for Isaac. In this we learned that Jesus would be our substitute for the penalty of sin and would offer himself as a lamb. Jesus is the Lamb of God. Now, we read of the prophecy over Judah and the coming of Shiloh, which refers once again to Jesus Christ. Later, we will find that Jesus is called the "Lion of the tribe of Judah".

The "Seed of the Woman", the "Promised Child", the "Lamb of God", the "Lion of the tribe of Judah", all of these point to Jesus Christ. He is ultimately the One the whole of Scripture is about.

February 23rd

Reading: Genesis 50:1-26

Congratulations! You have just finished reading the first book of the Bible, the Book of Genesis. You have just accomplished something that few people have done. You have read the Bible on a consistent basis and read from the beginning to the end the first book. And, you have done it at a very young age. Many children your age would not even attempt, let alone complete, such a task. Again, I say, congratulations on your diligence.

As you have read, the story of Genesis ends with the death of Joseph. Joseph's death represents the passing of the generation of Jacob's immediate children. Jacob's descendents will no longer be thought of as his 12 sons, but they will be referred to as the "children of Israel." They are increasing in number and becoming a very distinct group.

Today, I want you to consider Joseph's response to his brothers as they asked for his forgiveness after they returned to Egypt following the burial of their father Jacob. They were fearful that Joseph would now treat them badly. Their consciences were still bothering them, as it should. Joseph does forgive them and makes the amazing statement, "ye thought evil against me: but God meant it unto good" (vs. 20).

Joseph has learned something that we need to work on developing in our own lives. Joseph has learned that God controls the events of people. People can plan even evil things, but God in His Sovereignty can use those evil actions to work His plan for good. Joseph's view and understanding of God is the view and understanding we all need to have.

February 24th

Reading: Exodus 1:1-22

Today we begin a new book of the Bible, but it is really a continuation of the same story. Moses, a man I have mentioned to you before, and the main character who will be introduced to you in this book, is the author of the book of Exodus. He was also the author of the book you just finished, the book of Genesis. Moses helps us see the connection of Exodus to Genesis in the first few verses as he renames the sons of Jacob, states the number of 70 individuals that came with Jacob to Egypt and also that Joseph was already there. He even states the death of Joseph, which was the last major event in the book of Genesis.

God had said that He would bless the children of Israel and cause them to grow in number and that is exactly what is happening. Verse 7 uses a number of expressions to say that the number of the children of Israel is increasing greatly and they are becoming strong as a people. Everything seems to be going great for the children of Israel, but now, as we read in this first chapter something happened and their whole situation is changed.

Verse 8 is the key verse for this change. Read it again. It says a new king or Pharaoh ruled over Egypt that did not know Joseph. Remember how it was Joseph's relationship with the Pharaoh that helped his family find favor? Remember how the Pharaoh was happy to give them the best of his land and even considered having some of Joseph's brothers take care of his own cattle? Remember how Joseph had his brothers emphasize their occupation of being shepherds? Remember that I told you the ruler in Egypt at the time of Joseph was not a native Egyptian, but was one of the Hyksos, or "shepherd kings" that had taken control of Egypt at that time? Well things have changed.

Several generations after Joseph died the native Egyptians rose up against the Hyksos and drove them out of Egypt. A new king, a native Egyptian was made Pharaoh. This was a ruler who had no interest or care about Joseph and his relatives. In fact, he was concerned that the children of Israel might join up with the Hyksos if another war broke out. That is what is meant in verse 10 when the king of Egypt says that he is worried that the children of Israel might, "join also unto our enemies, and fight against us." So this was the change that brought the harsh treatment onto the children of Israel from the Egyptians.

February 25th

Reading: Exodus 2:1-25

This chapter is our introduction to Moses, the main character of the book of Exodus. The whole of chapter 2 covers his first 40 years of life. In this chapter we read of his birth, his rescue from certain death, his growing to manhood in the house of Pharaoh, his fleeing from the anger of Pharaoh to Midian, and the starting of his family with his wife Zipporah.

There is much more to read of Moses' life, but the amazing thing shared in this chapter is the miraculous way God kept Moses from being killed. Pharaoh was determined to kill every Hebrew baby boy that was born. The Hebrew midwives refused to obey his command as we learned in chapter 1. However, we read at the end of that chapter how Pharaoh issued a decree throughout his nation that all the baby boys should be thrown in the river.

During the time of this decree, Moses was born. His mother hid him for the first three months of his life. But, the time came when she could not hide him indoors any longer. So, she made a small basket and put her baby boy in the river among the weeds. As God would have it, the daughter of Pharaoh soon came by to bath in the river and found the baby. Her heart went out to the baby and she determined to keep it. So, the very household that was determined on killing all the baby Hebrew boys ended up being the same household that would raise Moses, the great deliverer of the children of Israel.

God certainly has a sense of humor to make matters work out in this way.

February 26th

Reading: Exodus 3:1-22

In this chapter God calls Moses for the special purpose of leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. God demonstrates His miraculous power by appearing to Moses in a fire that came out of the middle of a bush, but did not burn the bush. God can do anything.

Moses is concerned about being accepted by the children of Israel. So, he asks God for the name he should tell the children of Israel when they ask him for their God's name. This is one of the only places that God declares what His name is. God's name reveals His nature and the name God declares here is the most insightful name we have of who God is.

God tells Moses that His name is "I Am that I am." What does that mean? It means that God is the one who exists because He exists. That is, there is no other cause that has brought God about. Everything else, in the physical world and in the spiritual world, only exists because of a previous cause. Ultimately, that cause is the will of God. God, on the other hand, exists because He simply does exist. All of God's attributes that we have spoken of up to this point – His sovereignty, omnipotence, omniscience, providence – and all the attributes we ever will learn of God, are based in this most fundamental nature of God. The fact that He exists simply because He does.

February 27th

Text: Exodus 4:1-31

The conversation we read about in the last chapter between the Lord and Moses continues in this chapter. For more than half the chapter we read about what was said. Moses is very reluctant to go. First, Moses does not think the children of Israel will believe he is sent of God because he does not know what name to use for God. The Lord then gives him his name. Next, Moses says they won't listen to him because they will not believe that God has appeared to him. So, the Lord gives him some special signs to do to convince the people that God did appear to him. There were three signs: Moses’ rod would turn into a serpent and back into a rod; Moses would put his hand inside his cloak and when it came out it would be full of leprosy, then it would be restored; and, when Moses took a cup and poured out water, it would turn to blood.

You would think after all these demonstrations Moses would be excited to go back to Egypt and be God’s spokesman to the children of Israel. However, Moses has still another "excuse" for why he should not be the one God calls. He tells God he can’t speak well. And even after God tells Moses that He is the one who makes mouths, eyes, and ears to work and that He will be with Moses, Moses still complains about having to speak. God was pretty upset with Moses' attitude and tells Moses that Aaron would speak for him to the children of Israel.

If you know the story of Moses in this book very well, then you know that Moses becomes a strong leader of the whole nation of Israel. Yet, here is Moses, a timid and scared shepherd who can't imagine that he could ever talk in front of a group of people.


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Click on the titles to order.

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The Life of Luther

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Lessons from Illinois

It’s been about 4 months since I’ve lived alone. And, I’ve discovered there’s a big difference between living alone and living “on your own”. I’ve been responsible for my own decisions and schedule for all of my adult life, on my own so to speak. But, my living arrangement had been with my family, until I moved across the country - where I rented a room from friends. The fact of the matter is when you live alone, all responsibility falls on your shoulders. There’s no one else to fill up the gas tank or check the oil. No one else to make dinner or to run to the store. Either you do it, or it doesn’t get done. Not being someone who is thrilled about being alone, I was expecting this season of my life to be hard. In many ways, it is. But, surprisingly, I’ve actually come to appreciate being by myself. Sure, I am still a very social person. And, it is no fun to come home to a cold, dark house and have to make dinner, but our God is good and uses these circumstances to remind us of the vastness of His love and care.

Family and Friends are Irreplaceable
There’s nothing like 1,653 miles to teach you that lesson. We live in a society that almost makes taking others for granted a sign of nobility and bravery. I know I’ve said it before, and I will probably say it again and again, but the family and friends God gives you are irreplaceable. There’s no easy substitute, and there shouldn’t be. Yes, technology is helpful. We can email, instant message, and even video chat. But, you can’t sit down and have coffee with a good friend, or hug your Mom, or give your little brother a high five. You can’t bake cookies for your Dad or have a tea party with your sister. You can’t hop in the car and help a friend move or take them chicken noodle soup when they are sick. It’s not the same. Treat your friends and family as if they are irreplaceable.

Good Community is Irreplaceable

God made us to be in community - in relationship - family relationships, friendships, and Church relationships. The older I get the more I realize how important good community is - and how rare. When one is surrounded by good community it’s like having a wonderful feast spread out before you, and without the presence of good community you can feel like you’re wandering in the dessert, parched and alone. Whether it’s the constancy of being fed the Word of God on a Sunday morning, or the consistency of encouragement from an old friend, or the wise counsel of your parents, good community should be of the highest priority in our lives. And, when one has found it, we should nurture and treasure it. But, being a part of good community is not just a passive experience, it’s active as well. You must take responsibility to be a giver and encourager in this community. Share, edify and be edified, reach out, and be hospitable. Don’t forsake the gathering together with your community - however large or small.

Hospitality is still possible
Along those lines, I learned that hospitality is still possible in a little 700 sq foot home. It may not be glamorous and elegant, but I think my Great Grandma would be proud of my efforts nonetheless. Sure, I can’t invite a whole family over, but I can invite a few people at a time, or small families. But, I can also be hospitable in other ways - baking cookies and taking them to work, volunteering to help with Church outreaches, being neighborly. All of these are ministries of hospitality.

Being Alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely
This is a lie that I had come to believe, and I had started to get fearful of living on my own. I certainly don’t think God made most of us to live alone all our lives, but being alone and being lonely are two very different things. Being alone is a state of being. Being lonely is a perspective, an attitude. The Lord has promised to be with us and never forsake us. Do we take Him at His Word? Do we look for opportunities to be friendly rather than wallow in our alone-ness?

Discipline is Essential
I like having a schedule and sticking to it. Being by myself, though, I can set my own schedule and have much less incentive to keep a good, disciplined life structure. I know that for the future and even my current overall well-being this is not a good plan. I can so easily get distracted by “good projects”, “interesting articles online” or “just one more episode of this show”. I can so easily forget important things - study of God’s Word, sleep, and eating regularly. It’s all just a matter of discipline, and living alone - when no one is looking over your shoulder - is a great opportunity to work on my Character, and make the things that are truly essential my priorities.

It’s often easier to hear God in the stillness
In my quest to be more disciplined, I have worked to remove distractions in my life by minimizing extra “stuff”. I rarely go shopping unless I absolutely need something (such as groceries), and I almost never go shopping for clothes. If I do, I try to have an accountability partner with me who will remind me that I really don’t need everything I’m tempted to try on. I have found that without the distractions that we so endearingly pass off as the necessities of life, the statement, “Be Still and Know that I Am God” has taken on new meaning in my life. I am savoring the stillness, the opportunity to see at a distance God working in the lives of those I hold dear - and even my own life. Many times the best course of action we can take is to stop moving, to be still, and to know with all we have and all we are that He is God, and He is good - perfectly good.

Trust, Faith and Move Forward
Moving over 1,500 miles away from home doesn’t seem that smart. It doesn’t seem like the brightest thing to do. Some days I wonder if it was. I mean, chances are I will move home someday, so why do I sojourn here? But, then I remember something that I learned so very clearly when I went to Asia to carry Bibles into a restricted access nation: “Trust Me, Have Faith, Move Forward”. I often repeated that to myself over and over and over and over as I set about my clandestine mission. It seems like utter foolishness to me. Why does God allow these borders to remain closed to large shipments of Bibles, but allows foreigners to transport His Word in? There’s only one answer that He’s seen fit to give me: “Trust Me, Have Faith, Move Forward”. And, so I did. And, so I do. Every day. Wherever I’m at. To whatever task I’m called at the moment. I try to do as he says: “Trust Me, Have Faith, Move Forward”.

"I will do my work quickly and efficiently, but I will live my life slowly and intentionally."
This is one of those quotes that I feel like the Lord has given me for this season of my life. It is a season of learning, of change, of trust and faith. That doesn’t mean I feel any less passion for the work He’s put before me, but I am more aware of the purpose He’s created me for, and the ultimate calling He’s given me. When I am tempted to get caught up in busy-ness, or distracted by things that should be secondary then I remember this quote and focus on the being slow and intentional with my life and life decisions.

I praise God for this journey and hope that these lessons he’s taught me might be a bit of an encouragement to you as well.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Our Basketball Season

CA vs. Calvary Crusaders
JV boys 16-14 win
Justin: 2 points

Varsity girls 17-16 win
Mercy: DNP

Varsity boys 48-46 win
Joel: 4 points

Our Basketball Season

CA at Treasure Valley Baptist Saints
JV boys 26-24 loss
Justin: 4 points

Varsity girls 27-25 win
Mercy: 4 points

Varsity boys 42-38 loss
Joel: 3 points

CA at Hope House Heroes
JV boys 32-24 win
Justin: 4 points
2 steals

Varsity girls 39-29 loss
Mercy: 5 points

Varsity boys 51-21 win
Joel: 10 points
9 rebounds

Ca vs. Centennial Baptist Mustangs
JV boys 26-23 win
Justin:4 points

Varsity girls 36-18 win
Mercy: 9 points
7 rebounds
5 steals

Varsity boys 57-37 win
Joel: 6 points
10 rebounds

Monday, February 7, 2011

Weekly Bible Devotional​: Feb. 6-13

February 6th

Reading: Genesis 35:1-29

God speaks to Jacob and tells him to leave the area where the horrible events of the last chapter took place. Jacob is told by God to go to Bethel, the place where Jacob slept with a rock for a pillow when he left home to get away from Esau. It was there that Jacob first encountered God in a dream and heard the Lord declare the great promises to him. We read about those events back in chapter 28.

In preparation for the journey that God has called him to, which will include the building of an altar when he reaches Bethel, Jacob tells his family and everyone else to rid themselves of the "strange gods" that are among them. Possibly this is in reference to the "plunder" that has recently taken place when Simeon and Levi attacked Shechem. But, it is quite likely that the worship of the false religions of the region had begun to creep into Jacob's household. In either case, Jacob was awakened to his blessed position before God and insisted that his whole household clean-up their lives before they began the journey God had just called them to.

Jacob was wakened up to the slothfulness and negligence in his spiritual life and the spiritual life of his household after the tragic events of the previous chapter. He became more attuned to the corruption that had entered his life and home when God spoke to him to return to the very place where he had first dramatically met God. Jacob had realized the need to assess his life and the lives of those for whom he was responsible. Unfortunately, it took some dramatic events to bring him to this point.

Equally unfortunate is the fact that we also do not think seriously about our walk with God or about the ungodly things we allow in our lives until some tragic event takes place. Starting today, consider your life and what you have allowed into it. Are there things that need to be taken out of your life and buried so as to never be a part again? I do not mean for you to think that you need to literally bury things. But there may be literal physical things (like books, cd's, magazines, etc.) that you know are not pleasing to God that you need to throw away. There are also probably thoughts and feelings about others that need to be dealt with as well. God is ready to help you cleanse your life, even as Jacob and his household had to rid their lives of things that kept them from having a pure walk before God. Pray that God would give you the strength and wisdom to take out of your life anything that is displeasing to Him and that turns your eyes and mind away from only worshipping Him as the One True God.

February 7th

Reading: Genesis 36:1-22

Chapter 36 is one of those chapters that can be somewhat discouraging in our quest to read the Scripture because it seems like a senseless list of names. However, let's take a moment to step back and try to appreciate what we are reading. In dong so, let us remember that this is the inspired Word of God. So, what we are reading, even this long list of the descendants of Esau and the descendants of Seir, were chosen by God to be placed in His Holy Bible. All the reasons for this may not be known to us today, but we can possibly deduce a few.

The majority of what you read today was a listing of the descendants of Esau. Remember, Esau was the twin brother of Jacob. Though Jacob is clearly the chosen one of God through which He will work His unique Divine plan, Esau is still significant. He not only is the twin brother of Jacob and thus a descendant of Abraham, he is also, as the text emphasizes over and over, the father of Edom (see verses 1, 8, 43). Edom and the Edomites will play a significant role in the history of Jacob's descendants (the Israelites). We can keep our eyes on the lookout for when they show up in Biblical history again.

Secondly, we realize, the way things are going in our readings, that Jacob and his descendants will be the main focus. The writer of Genesis (Moses) under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is taking a section of his writing to dedicate it to the listing of Esau's descendants and some of the other significant people that will populate the land outside of Canaan. As an historical writing, such detail as this adds great credibility to the accuracy of this record.

Use this time to thank God for His Word, for providing such detail as the descendants of the Edomites, and for preserving it that you and I can read it even today.

February 8th

Reading: Genesis 36:23-43

The detail of the record of descendants continues as our reading today finishes the 36th chapter of Genesis. Today we began in verse 23 where we continued the record of the descendants of Seir and completed that portion with verses 29 and 30 where the different Dukes, or Princes, of the Horites are named. These would have been regional rulers of that area.

The next verse, verse 31, makes a very interesting statement that we will want to keep in mind when we begin reading some of the historical books of the Old Testament, especially the books called 1st and 2nd Samuel, 1st and 2nd Kings, and 1st and 2nd Chronicles. But, before I tell you what statement is so interesting, maybe I better explain something about the groupings of the books in the Old Testament. You are probably wondering why I said we need to remember something for when we read the historical books when it seems like we are reading a book about history right now! Well, it is true that Genesis is a book of history, but the books of the Bible are commonly grouped in certain categories and Genesis happens to be put into a category that is named something different than the historical books.

Here is the common way that theologians group the books of the Old Testament:

1) Books of Moses, or Books of the Law (also called the Pentateuch): Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
2) Historical Books: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I & II Samuel, I & II Kings, I & II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther
3) Poetical Books: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon
4) Major Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel
5) Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habbakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

The Books of Moses were written by a man named Moses, a man to whom you will be introduced when you begin reading the book of Exodus. Now, Moses, who wrote these first five books of the Bible, lived around 1450 BC. In verse 31 of this chapter, Moses tells us about the "kings that reigned in the land of Edom." And, then he says something very interesting. He writes that this was "before there reigned any king over the children of Israel." That last quote is the very interesting statement I was referring to.

Right now, all you have been introduced to, as far as the children of Israel, are the twelve sons of Jacob. Remember that Jacob has been given a new name by God, the name of Israel. Well, God has promised that Jacob's descendants will become a great nation and that promise is much of what we will be reading about in the rest of Genesis and the other four Books of Moses. That great nation will be called Israel. It will be named after the new name of the father of those twelve sons. The people that make up that nation will be called the children of Israel. When that nation first begins, they won't have a king ruling over them. But, one day they will decide that they want a king just like Edom. And, that day will be a day of great change in the nation of Israel.

Well, I am getting ahead in my story, but I want you to know that the event of Israel becoming a nation and then deciding it wants a king will happen more than 400 years after Moses writes these words. Moses could not have known this would happen in Israel unless God had told Him. God knows all things from the beginning of time to the very end. This is some of the evidence in the Bible that it is the very Word of God. Continue to thank God for His Word and its historical accuracy

February 9th

Reading: Genesis 37:1-36

What an event filled chapter to follow the listing of names in the chapter we read the past two days. Last chapter took a break from the focus that has been kept on the main family in this section of the book - the family of Jacob. One thing the last chapter did for us, is help us realize that other families are populating this region. Sometimes when your read stories in the Bible or listen to a minister or Sunday School teacher tell stories from the Bible, you get the feeling that the history in Scripture somehow happened separate from all the other history we read and study in school. A section like the last chapter helps us realize that other ancient history, like the ancient nations you study in school, is happening right along with what you are reading about here in the Book of Genesis.

Now, your writer has turned our attention back on Jacob's family and some very troubling and, yet, profound events take place. Joseph, the first born of Rachel, is now 17 years old. You might have thought that Joseph might have a special place in Jacob's heart because Rachel was the first, and only girl, Jacob ever wanted for a wife. Remember that Laban had tricked Jacob into marrying Leah, so Jacob had to work another 7 years to obtain Rachel. Then, you might recall, Rachel was unable to have children for a long time. Finally, after probably six years of marriage Rachel conceived and Joseph was born. Yes, Joseph was a special child in Jacob's eyes.

This chapter confirms that Jacob, now called Israel, held Joseph in a special place in his heart. It says in verse 3, "Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children." The others realized this close relationship and were very jealous of the favoritism shown to Joseph. The coat of many colors Jacob gave Joseph certainly did not help the situation any. Nor did Joseph's reports of the evil his brothers did or the dreams Joseph had, which seemed to indicate that he was even favored by God, help cultivate good family relationships. This was all too much for the brothers to take, so they devised a plan to get rid of Joseph.

By the providence of God, Joseph is spared from death, yet he is sold into slavery. At 17 years of age, he is taken from his family by force and sold to another family in a foreign country. It is hard to imagine that God purposed such events as this to happen. But, He did for His own reasons. In time we will see what they are. However, for Joseph, it must have been a tremendously terrifying thing. He had no control over what was happening and he lost all his support from family and friends. His only hope was a reliance upon God and God alone.

Though we make our daily plans, they do not always happen as we might have anticipated. Sometimes we come up against situations that we never would have dreamed could happen in our lives. Remember, there is a God Who reigns over all things. He knows all things, sees all things, and determines all things. How that works out with the evil thoughts and intentions of men is one of the great mysteries of life. Yet, in the life of Joseph we will see that it is so. Pray that God will give you the peace to rely upon Him in times of trouble.

February 10th

Reading: Genesis 38:1-30

How sad Jacob must be over the way his family has turned out. Here he has returned to the land of Caanan, the land that is promised to his descendants, and one troublesome event after another has struck his family. Think of all the terrible things that have occurred since his return. His daughter Dinah has been seduced, two of his sons have gone on a murderous rampage, his favorite son Joseph is missing and presumed dead, Judah has married a Canaanite woman which he and his father Isaac would never have done, his grandsons are so wicked that the Lord has killed them, and now Judah has had illegitimate children by his own daughter-in-law. Jacob must be beside himself.

We had seen evidence of Jacob's lack of leadership in his home early on. Remember back in chapter 35 when God told Jacob to leave the area he was in and return to Bethel? Jacob had the people put away the idols they had brought into their homes. The pagan culture had crept in on Jacob's family then, and it has done it again. Jacob has not passed on the high standards of righteousness that was in Abraham and to a lesser degree in Isaac.

Abraham was careful to not let Isaac simply pick a wife from the pagan families around him and sent his chief servant to find a worthy wife for Isaac. Isaac was less conscientious of his situation and allowed Esau to take Canaanite wives. This, along with Rebekah's complaint, "woke up" Isaac to that same danger for Jacob, and he sent Jacob away to Rebekah's family to find a wife. But, here, Judah falls into the same trap that Esau fell into. The attractions and influences of the corrupt culture around them is having a great impact on Jacob's family.

It's very easy to get taken in by our surroundings and start behaving like those in the world that do not love or know the One True God. We need to guard against such compromises in our lives. Ask God to keep you alert to the creeping in of ungodly things into your life.

February 11th

Reading: Genesis 39:1-23

Have you ever felt that life was treating you unfair? That, the things that were happening to you were things you didn't deserve? I mean, times when people treated you wrong, people lied about you, just all around bad things kept happening? Have you had times when it looked like the bad situation was getting turned around and things were really starting to go good, then WHAM, you get knocked down by some unexpected event? All of a sudden you are in worse shape than you started in?

Well, if you have had any situations like those I mentioned above, then you have experienced a little of what Joseph was going through. Yet, I really doubt that too many of us have experienced anything close to Joseph's life. Just think, he was a happy, loved 17 year old son who was all of a sudden sold as a slave and bought into an Egyptian household. But, even in this situation, things began to turn around for Joseph. He even, through his demonstration of good, Godly character, was promoted to the second most powerful position in the house of Potiphar. Even in a bad situation things were turning upward for Joseph.

But, then, Potiphar's wife lies about Joseph and his character. And, before he could blink twice, Joseph goes from being the most important person in the second most powerful household in Egypt to the prison for the king's prisoners. Joseph must have been completely confused as to why all this was happening to him. If anyone had the right to say, "life is treating me unfair!" it was Joseph. And, I am sure Joseph was greatly discouraged at times.

But, we don't read of Joseph's discouragement. What we read of is this. "But the Lord was with Joseph" (see vss. 2 & 21). God showed mercy to Joseph and Joseph demonstrated faithful, Godly character to all who were around him. We can learn from Joseph and how he responded to his unfair and difficult situations. When you face trials where you think God must have taken a vacation from your life and forgotten you, then think of Joseph. Remind yourself that God was with Joseph and He is with you. As you pray for His presence, comfort, and protection, also be diligent to behave in such a way that is pleasing to God and causes others to take notice of your godly character.

February 12th

Reading: Genesis 40:1-23

In this chapter we see God's continual care over Joseph's life, even in the midst of events that would seem as if God was not there. But, remember, in the previous chapter we were told that God was with Joseph when he went into prison. Read verse 21 of Chapter 39 again. It says, "But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison."

Joseph could have sat around pitying himself and pouting about his circumstances. But he didn't do that. We get the impression that he began doing good and demonstrating God's love and Godly wisdom in all he did in prison. Soon he was put in charge of taking care of all the prisoners, even while he was still a prisoner. God honored Joseph by being with him and causing the keeper of the prison to look on Joseph with favor. Joseph honored God by walking righteously in whatever situation He found himself.

Having been raised to the position of overseer of the prisoners, Joseph was readily available when these two servants of Pharaoh were cast into the prison and had their dreams. God used this to testify of Himself as the Sovereign over all things and Joseph used it to testify of God. We need to see all our situations, whether at home, school, or at play with our friends as times when we bring testimony of God to those around us. How is your testimony? Do people see God's love and wisdom in your life? Or, do they see selfishness or self-pity because things did not go the way you wanted? Ask God for the grace to demonstrate His love and wisdom to those around you.

February 13th

Reading: Genesis 41:1-27

Chapter 41 picks up two years after Joseph had interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh's chief butler and the chief baker. From the previous chapter, Joseph had placed hope in the chief butler remembering him and putting in a few good words to Pharaoh. But, as the last verse of chapter 40 so plainly states, the butler forgot about Joseph. For two more years, Joseph is left in prison.

God, however, has his plans and designs. He wants to bring Joseph before Pharaoh and God is not thrown off track by the forgetfulness and faults of men. In fact, God has orchestrated all these things, so that the butler will be there and will hear of the dreams that Pharaoh has and that no one is able to interpret. Upon hearing that Pharaoh's dreams were not being interpreted, the butler remembers Joseph and how he had interpreted the dreams in prison. Through this avenue Joseph is brought before Pharaoh.

Our reading today stops with Joseph just beginning the interpretation. Tomorrow, we will read the completion of what Joseph said and what occurred because of it. Today, let's reflect on the wait Joseph had and on the overruling sovereignty of God. We don't know what discouragement Joseph may have felt when time past by and no word came from Pharaoh or the butler. Yet, after two years, when in God's time Joseph was called before Pharaoh, he was ready to be used of God.

You might believe that you need God to work something out in your life. It is easy to get impatient as you wait for God's answer. Think of Joseph and the hope he was holding onto for God to help in his situation. Consider that God, in His sovereign timing of all things, knew when He wanted Joseph to come before Pharaoh. You and I do not know God's perfect timing of all things, but we, like Joseph can rest in that fact that God's timing is always perfect.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My Weekly NFL Ranking

Final Ranking

1.Green Bay 14-6 221
2.New England 14-3 217
3.Pittsburgh 14-5 147
4.Baltimore 12-6 124
5.NY Jets 13-6 121
6.Tampa Bay 10-6 101
7.Detroit 7-8 90
8.Chicago 12-6 89
9.San Diego 8-7 88
10.Oakland 7-8 87
11.Cincinnati 4-12 77
12.Indianapolis 10-7 76
13.Atlanta 13-4 72
14.Philadelphia 10-7 71
15.NY Giants 10-6 70
16.San Fransisco 7-9 66
17.Dallas 6-10 64
18.Minnesota 6-10 60
19.New Orleans 10-6 80
20.Houston 6-10 41
21.Seattle 8-10 38
22.Washington 6-10 31
23.St. Louis 7-9 25
24.Miami 8-8 24
25.Kansas City 9-8 19
26.Tennessee 7-9 13
27.Buffalo 4-12 14
28.Cleveland 6-10 12
29.Jacksonville 8-9 11
30.Denver 4-12 -14
31.Arizona 6-10 -47
31.Carolina 2-14 -47

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Super Bowl

GO PACKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Here s my prediction
Pit GB
20 27

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Jan 2011 Literary Endeavors (AKA - A Month of Books)

One of my 2011 New Year's Resolutions was to read at least 52 books (that's one per week, in case you were wondering...).

Apparently I got a jump start in January, reading 18 total (and starting several others). I figured one way to keep track of my progress is to post a list up at the end of each month. I did the math and at this rate, I'm over 1/3 of the way to my goal...

It's quite a diversity of books...and I'm kind of proud of that :) Also, several of them I listened to as Audio boooks - something I highly recommend doing if you have the opportunity!

How Could you Do that? - The Abdication of Character (by Dr. Laura Schlessinger) - while I don't agree with her methods all the time, I appreciate her strong stance for truth in many areas. I was curious to see how she was as a writer.

10 Stupid Things Women do to Mess up their Lives (by Dr. Laura Schlessinger) - mostly anecdotal. Nothing shocking here.

Rebecca (by Daphne Du Maurier) - I was proud to know that I read this novel before any of my other siblings :)

The Inheritance (by Tamara Alexander)

A Lantern in Her Hand (by Bess Streeter Aldrich) - This author was recommended as highschool or post-highschool literature by "The Book Tree" (which is a book I highly recommend using as a resource for quality literature)

A White Bird Flying (by Bess Streeter Aldrich)

Before you Meet Prince Charming (by Sarah Mally) - this book was sent to me by a friend who wanted my perspective on it. I found it refreshing, although targeted at a much younger audience.

The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe (by CS Lewis - Audio book) - I had never read much of CS Lewis, so figured I'd correct that. Can't say as he's become a favorite author by any stretch...but I can appreciate some of his work.

The Silver Chair (by CS Lewis - Audio book) - by far my favorite of the Chronicles of Narnia - at least so far.

The Last Battle (by CS Lewis - Audio book)

Prince Caspian (by CS Lewis - Audio book)

The Far Side of the Dollar (by Ross McDonald) - quite a study in human psychology and a picture of the rewards of deception.

Blink of an Eye
(by Ted Dekker) - Also, another author I've never read before. It was pretty good - somewhat similar, in my opinion, to Oliver North's novels that are based in the present day.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (by CS Lewis - Audio book)

Why isn't a Pretty Girl like you married? And Other Useful Comments (by Nancy Wilson) - Also another recommendation from a friend who wanted to know my opinion on this recently published book. There wasn't anything earth-shattering in it for me, but I am glad it's been written. She says things the conservative Christian movement needs to hear. It was very practical and encouraging.

Building her House: Commonsensical Wisdom for Christian Women (by Nancy Wilson) - Also very practical for any woman in any stage of life. Definitely worth a read.

Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce (by John Piper - Audio) - probably the single most impacting book I read this month. A survey of his life and work. Inspiring, equipping, challenging. I plan to listen to this over and over and over and over again.

(by Abby Johnson) - the story of the former Planned Parenthood director who God redeemed and has made a champion for life and truth. As one who is very familiar with the pro-life movement I laughed and cried...and praised God at the end!

Weekly Bible Reading: Jan 31 - Feb 5

January 31st

Reading: Genesis 30:22-43

Rachel, the one Jacob had originally desired for his wife, the one who has struggled with the success of her older sister in having children, finally gets pregnant. When she gives birth to a son, whom she names Joseph, Rachel acknowledges that it is God who has brought this about. She said at that time, "God hath taken away my reproach." And, in hope she declared, "The Lord shall add to me another son."

As we have read through the Scriptures, and especially as we have dealt with the marriages of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob with both Leah and Rachel, great emphasis has been made in Scripture to recognize that it is God who gives us children. In this section that we read today, it began with these words, "And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb." That means that God changed her situation from not being able to become pregnant to being able to become pregnant.

Children are a great blessing and they are given to us from the Lord. Many people today do not view them as a blessing as they should. And, many people today do not recognize the overruling hand of God in bringing children into this world as the Scriptures declare. From early in our lives, we need to cultivate and develop the proper Biblical view toward children.

February 1st

Reading: Genesis 31:1-27

God has continued to bless Jacob and increase his flock. We find out in this reading that Laban has continually tried to "out smart God" and changed the wages of Jacob ten times. That is, Laban has told Jacob at one time that he only gets to keep the spotted newborns. And God would make all the newborns spotted. So, Laban then said to Jacob, he only got to keep the colored newborns. So God caused all the newborns to be brown instead of white.

Laban should have recognized the hand of God on Jacob's life and in all that was happening. Instead, Laban listened to the murmurings of his sons who spoke of Jacob as taking all his wealth. Laban seems to be what we would call a "convenient believer." That is, he acknowledges God only when it is convenient and to his best advantage. Remember in yesterday's reading, Laban told Jacob that he had been blessed by God because Jacob was with him. This recognition of God was short lived. As soon as God's continued blessing of Jacob began to reduce Laban's herds and flocks through the payment agreement Laban made with Jacob, then Laban had no thought of God. Instead, he only thought of himself.

In the latter part of today's reading we read of Rachel stealing her father's images. Apparently, Laban was as unprincipled in his worship as he was in his living. He would change from one position to another in relation to Jacob and he, evidently, would change from god to god in his worship. Laban would be and do whatever seemed best for him at the time. Internally, he lacked conviction for what was right and Godly. So, externally, he was inconsistent in his dealing with Jacob and even his daughters. Unfortunately, this instability in his character was modeled in his children as we have seen in Leah, Rachel and his sons.

All of us need to continue growing and maturing in our personal character development. When we find ourselves behaving selfishly or unkindly, we need to realize that this is because of what is in our hearts. Ask God to help you worship Him and Him alone.

February 2nd

Reading: Genesis 31:28-55

The story of Jacob and Laban reaches a dramatic climax in this portion of Scripture. Laban has overtaken Jacob after seven days of pursuit and, although he does not show it at first, is extremely angry over the loss of his images or gods that Rachel has taken. This clash between Jacob and Laban has long been coming. They have had conflicts, big and small, from the first when Laban gave Jacob Leah for his wife instead of Rachel. Most of the conflicts, if not all of them, have been because of Laban's lack of character. Jacob has attempted to deal uprightly with Laban each time. Now that Jacob has left secretly and apparently stolen his father-in-laws idols, then Laban thinks he has Jacob in a position where he can embarrass Jacob or worse.

When accused of taking the idols, Jacob, who is ignorant of what Rachel has done, innocently tells Laban to freely search his camp. Jacob adds, that if the idols are found, then the one who has them will be put to death. Oh no! That must have put a scare into Rachel. What would have happened if Laban had found his images in Rachel's possession? Well, we will never know. By Rachel's deceitfulness and God's providence, she is not discovered with the idols. God had other plans for Laban's life. Laban wanted to embarrass and "expose" Jacob, God used this situation to embarrass and expose Laban.

We do learn some very helpful information when Jacob berates (scolds) Laban. While reading through chapters 29 and 30, it is hard to envision how much time has passed. Jacob, in telling Laban of what he has done for him, lets us know that he had served Laban for 20 years. Jacob worked seven years for Rachel and was given Leah. He, then, worked seven more years for Rachel, though he was given her as his wife after the first week. After 14 years he asked Laban if he could leave. That is when they negotiated the payment by way of the speckled, striped, and colored offspring. This apparently went on for six more years. Finally, after 20 years of service and several acts of deceptiveness on Laban's part, Jacob packed up and headed toward his homeland.

Do you remember when Rebekah sent Jacob away? She said she would send for him in a few days. Those few days have now turned into 20 years. We often make our plans for the future and it does not always work the way we plan. It is a good lesson to learn now that the events of our life are in the hands of God. Ask God to teach you to trust Him for what will come in your future.

February 3rd

Reading: Genesis 32:1-32

Jacob is finally returning to his homeland and his family. He has been away for 20 years and I am sure a lot has changed. Jacob is probably wondering what has changed as well. He may wonder if his father and mother are still alive. Typically, during his era, a messenger would have sought him out to inform him of the death of his father or mother. As far as we can tell, this has not occurred so Jacob probably figures that Isaac and Rebekah are still living. Future readings will probably answer that question for us.

What Jacob is most troubled with as he approaches home, is his brother Esau. I am sure that with each day that past as Jacob traveled toward Canaan, he would replay his boyhood and young adulthood at home. He would especially consider those last days before he left and how he deceived his father and stole the blessing from Esau. Jacob was replaying in his mind his deceit, Esau's anger and threats against his life, and his mother and father sending him away thinking it would only be a few days. Now, 20 years later, Jacob is returning. Has anything changed? Is Esau still burning with rage? Jacob wishes he knew.

As he approaches the land of Edom where Esau lives, Jacob sends messengers to Esau to not only announce that he is coming, but to discover if Esau will accept him as a brother. The message that comes back to Jacob is that Esau is coming with 400 men to meet him. That news puts tremendous fear in Jacob who immediately makes plans to protect what he can by splitting his company into two groups. He also puts together gifts of various animals to send ahead of him to Esau in hopes of appeasing Esau.

Jacob, however, does not rely on just his own devices and plans. Jacob realizes that God has promised to be with him, and to bless him and his children. Jacob knows that God is the ultimate one over all and the only one who can actually protect him from Esau's wrath. So, Jacob prays to God reminding Him of His promises, recognizing his own unworthiness to receive such blessings, and appealing to God to "Deliver me.from the hand of my brother.Esau" (vs. 11).

You probably have not faced a situation where someone was so angry with you that he wanted to kill you, but I am sure you have had situations where friends and relatives were mad at you for something you did. Maybe, even right now, you can think of someone who is angry with you and would not want you around. God is the One who can help you repair that relationship. Do as Jacob did. Seek God in prayer to soften your friend's or brother's heart. Pray that, with God's help, you and your friend, or you and your family member, can be reconciled to each other.

February 4th

Reading: Genesis 33:1-20

The climax of the meeting between Jacob and Esau finally comes. The question as to how Esau will act toward Jacob is answered as we read this chapter. By the grace of God, Esau seems to have matured and overcome his bitterness toward Jacob. As we have read in this passage, Esau is overwhelmed with joy at seeing Jacob. Jacob, who also has matured and grown in Godly character, purposely approached Esau in a most humble manner. He had no desire of trying to prove himself right and his brother wrong. Jacob had no desire of "saving face" and appearing self-righteous. In fact, Jacob willingly presented himself to Esau as a servant and one who was completely at his mercy. His hope was that Esau would accept him as he was.

We can learn a lot from Jacob's attitude toward Esau and Esau's attitude toward Jacob. Jacob may have received what was rightfully his when he was given the blessing from Isaac, but he had taken it in the wrong way, by deception. Jacob could have argued for his rights and for his position, but he didn't. He recognized the hurt he had caused Esau and how he had wronged Esau. Jacob willingly brought himself to Esau as one who deserved a punishment, but hoped for forgiveness.

Esau, on the other hand, had bitterness to deal with. He had become so angry at what Jacob had done that he had thought of murdering Jacob. It was his angry reaction that had caused the family to ultimately split up for the next twenty years. We are not given as much insight into Esau's heart and mind as we are into Jacob's. But, there definitely has been a change in his life. Maybe the years that have passed and the prosperity that Esau has enjoyed have helped to soften him toward Jacob. We don't know what the cause is for sure, but we do know that Esau welcomed Jacob as his brother.

Do you have bitterness toward someone who you think has treated you wrong? Ask God for the strength and grace to see past those hurtful actions and words and look to the importance of the relationship with that person. Simply praying to God will not always take the bitterness or hard feelings away. You may need to go and talk to that person directly. You might need another individual, maybe an adult or parent, to go with you to help you and your friend resolve your issues. No matter what the situation is, seek God first and use the guidance of other important Godly people in your life to help restore your relationship with your friend, brother, or sister.

February 5th

Reading: Genesis 34:1-31

The Bible does not hide the evil and sinful behaviors of mankind. One of the purposes of Scripture is to show us what we are as human beings. Because of Adam's sin in the Garden of Eden, all people have been affected with a sinful nature. That is, each one of us have a propensity, or natural desire, to do evil and sinful behavior. Only by relying on God can we ever begin to overcome our desire to sin. This chapter exposes a variety of very specific sinful activities: pre-marital sex, murder, and stealing.

Dinah goes out from her home and away from her father to see what "the daughters of the land" are like. In doing so, she separates herself from the guidance and protection God had naturally provided for her. That protection was with her father and family. As a result, she finds herself in a culture she is not prepared to face. Tragically, she ends up being seduced and made to lay with a man, Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite. When the Bible says Shechem "took her, and lay with her, and defiled her" (vs. 2), it is talking about the sin of pre-marital sex. Shechem treated Dinah and behaved with her in a way that God has said only a married man and woman can treat each other. Shechem sinned against Dinah and all of Dinah's family. That is why Jacob's sons, especially Dinah's brothers Simeon and Levi, were so angry with Shechem.

This anger was not controlled by Simeon and Levi and they end up murdering Shechem. As horrible as that was, they did not stop there. They murdered Shechem's father and all the men in the city. Then, they took the women and children as captives and all the animals and possessions from their houses.

What terrible things people are capable of doing. Let this reading be a lesson to you about how wicked each of our hearts can be. Ask God to help you guard your heart and your thoughts that you would not fall into such wicked, sinful behavior.