30 April 2013

BSF 2012-2013: Genesis 46-48

Jacob is a great example of growing toward spiritual maturity. He shows us how to finish our earthly lives well. He didn’t reach spiritual maturity without work, suffering, trials or prayer. But it’s clear that he saw many of God’s purposes fulfilled in his life.

Jacob’s sons return home and tell him that Joseph is alive and is the governor of Egypt. Imagine all of the confession and reconciliation that took place between Jacob and his sons! Jacob wants to go to Egypt to see Joseph, but Jacob is unsure if God wants him to do anything other than that. He doesn’t know if God wants Jacob to move his family and settle in Egypt. Afterall, Jacob’s grandpa Abraham had disastrous experiences in Egypt, and God specifically told Jacob’s father, Isaac, not to go to Egypt. We can understand Jacob’s hesitation in wanting to go to this land.

The only solution Jacob considers is going to God. Jacob returns to Beersheba, the place he first met God and wrestled with Him. Jacob seeks God’s guidance about whether or not Jacob’s family should settle in Egypt.

God confirms Jacob’s inclination and tells him to go to Egypt. God also promises to go with them and to make Israel a great nation there.

Jacob, all of his family and all of their possessions head to Egypt. Jacob and his family settle in Goshen, a lush, fertile land where they could benefit from Joseph’s famine relief policies while avoiding Egypt’s sinful influences

Jacob sought out God’s guidance and then acted on what God revealed to him. I can receive God’s guidance in the same way. When God calls me to do something, I must start with prayer. When I have peace with God, then I can move forward as He directs me. When I see red flags, I should stop and return to prayer, asking God for clear guidance. I’m so glad that God doesn’t leave us alone but offers clear direction and guidance for our lives!

Genesis 46:8-27 details the names of the people in Jacob’s family who enter Egypt. This record was used later to establish the tribes of Israel that will receive land when the Israelites return to Canaan (more than 400 years later). This list also helps trace the line of Christ back to Judah in Matthew 1.

We don’t have written histories like this today, but God has given us a much greater record - Christians’ names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Luke 10:20, Revelation 20:12-15). What an amazing feeling to know that my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, never to be forgotten!

After Jacob’s family has settled in Goshen, the famine continues. Joseph has a three-step plan to save the people from this disaster:
  1. He offers food in exchange for the people’s money.
  2. He offers food in exchange for the people’s animals.
  3. He offers food in exchange for the people’s servitude (working the land for Pharaoh). One-fifth of the harvest was given to Pharaoh as a tax, and the people kept the remaining four-fifths.
This final step of servitude may be difficult for us to understand in light of the economic and political freedom we enjoy as Americans. But this was what Joseph had to do to save the Israelites and the Egyptians during this severe famine. And since Joseph has already proven that he fully relies on God, I have to believe that through prayer he involved God in this planning process.

The people were grateful for Joseph and his actions on their behalf. For hundreds of years after the famine, Joseph was remembered in Egypt as a godly and honorable leader.

The Egyptians were so desperate and anxious during the famine that they turned to Joseph and depended on him. Remember from previous lessons that Joseph is an Old Testament picture of Jesus. When we are desperate and anxious, we can turn to Jesus and depend on Him. But we need to learn to depend on Him now instead of waiting until things turn desperate. Have I learned to depend on God for everything?

This section ends with Jacob approaching his last days on earth. We see two incidents between Joseph and Jacob. First, Jacob asks Joseph to swear that he will bury Jacob in Canaan not Egypt. Jacob is demonstrating his faith in God’s promise that He would give the land of Canaan to Jacob and his descendants.

In the second event, Joseph and his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, visit an ill Jacob. Jacob wants to bless them. Ephraim was not the firstborn, but Jacob gives him the blessing of the firstborn. As we’ve seen so many times before in Genesis, God surpasses the expected, natural birthright and blesses the younger son. Jacob takes these grandsons as his own, and later they become two of the 12 tribes of Israel.

Looking at Jacob’s example, how am I growing toward spiritual maturity? It’s not a destination but a process that is intended to last my entire lifetime, until I see Jesus face-to-face in heaven.
And here is Avery’s memory verse:

God sent me ahead of you...
to save your lives.
Genesis 45:7 NIV

25 April 2013

24 April 2013

2013 brackets: The trophy presentation

Since I'm hoping that the family has interest in our bracket challenge for years to come, I decided to buy a traveling trophy.

Grandpa was pleasantly surprised to receive it last night. It now is proudly and prominently displayed in their home...until next year! :o)

23 April 2013

BSF 2012-2013: Genesis 41-45

Last Tuesday, we left our lesson with Joseph in prison, waiting for the cupbearer to remember him to Pharaoh. This week, we see Joseph finally seeing God’s plans come to fruition.

Joseph had to wait 20 years (13 years in Potiphar’s house and prison then 7 years with Pharaoh during the years of plenty) to see God’s plan unfold. During those 20 years, Joseph must have questioned God’s timing. But he patiently waited for God to work.

Two years after the cupbearer was restored to his position, Pharaoh has two almost identical dreams in the same night. He is troubled by the dreams, and none of his “wise” advisers can interpret the dreams for him.

The cupbearer remembers Joseph and his gift of interpreting dreams. So Joseph is cleaned up and brought before Pharaoh. Joseph tells Pharaoh that God is foretelling the future in the two dreams. The dreams reveal there will be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine.

Joseph gives all credit to God (41:16, 25, 28, 32) and probably would have been happy with being freed from prison. I wonder if he thought he would turn around and head right back to his prison cell after he interpreted the dreams!

Pharaoh accepts Joseph’s interpretation as well as the famine recovery plan God provides in the interpretation. God causes Pharaoh to see Joseph’s wisdom and abilities. Joseph most likely didn’t expect Pharaoh to name him as the “wise and discerning man” to lead the famine relief efforts!

Immediately, Joseph starts to work. He travels the nation and oversees the collection of 20 percent of the crops during the seven years of plenty to be used during the seven years of famine.

Everything God predicted through Joseph comes true. The country experiences seven years of plenty. Then the seven years of famine begin. People from all over Egypt as well as the surrounding areas come to Pharaoh, looking for food and help. Joseph probably had an audience with many of the foreign people. So he may have anticipated that one, some or all of his brothers would come to Egypt, looking for food.

All of Joseph’ brothers (except Benjamin) come to Egypt. They request food and bow before Joseph, fulfilling God’s dreams earlier in Joseph’s life. Joseph puts the brothers through a series to tests to see if anything has changed in their hearts and actions. He was not being cruel but was testing them.

First he accuses them of being spies. He puts them all in prison for a few days. Then he keeps Simeon in prison and sends the rest back to Canaan, asking them to bring Benjamin back with them. Joseph secretly gives them silver and grain. When they see these items in their sacks, the brother recognize God’s hand of discipline and report everything to Jacob, who refuses to send Benjamin with them.

Later Jacob sends all of the brothers, including Benjamin, back to Egypt for more food. Judah tells Jacob that he will take personal responsibility for Benjamin’s safety. The brothers return to Egypt, and Joseph sees how they treat Benjamin. Simeon is released. Joseph serves them a meal and cares for the brothers and their animals. The brothers leave, and Joseph’s silver cup is put in Benjamin’s bag. When Joseph’s servant accuses the brothers of theft, they all go back to Egypt to face Joseph together.

Judah offers himself as a replacement for Benjamin, a foreshadowing of the Messiah who is born in Judah’s line. The brothers confess and repent of their sins against Joseph.

Joseph finally reveals himself to his brothers. The brothers must have feared for their future since their fate was in the hands of a brother they had mistreated and wronged. But Joseph was not vengeful. He only thought of forgiveness and reconciliation. Joseph knew that God did all of this (45:7-8). He didn’t blame the brothers at all for his suffering in the past.

Pharaoh instructs the brothers to go home and to return with their families and possessions. He will let them live in the best land (Goshen).

Joseph’s life teaches us to wait on God because His timing always is perfect, and His plan is much better than we could ever imagine. How do I react while I’m waiting on God? Am I peaceful? Patient? Do I experience despair? Am I confused? Do I accept God’s timetable?

God used Joseph’s first 30 years of life to prepare him for this amazing leadership position in Egypt. God also uses all of my life’s circumstances to prepare me for His plan and purpose in my life. What circumstances is God using right now to mold me and grow me? What test is He using to refine my character?

Here is Avery’s verse-o’-the week:

The Lord was with Joseph
and gave him success in whatever he did.
Genesis 39:23 NIV

22 April 2013

Celebrating Joel

Finally, here are the pictures from last weekend's last event, cousin Joel's third birthday party. Ever since Avery got her playset for her birthday, she desperately has wanted some of her friends to come over and play. Joel was her first guest, and he helped her inaugurate the new playset.

Even Lori Anne and Karen got in on the fun!

Avery and Joel had so much fun together!

After lunch and playtime, Joel was ready to open his gifts.

Unfortunately, Avery couldn't let him play with his new toys all by himself.

Then we all enjoyed this fabulous Shaun the Sheep cake that Lori Anne made.

Joel said he had to fix Avery's hair because it was messed up.

And here's Chris demonstrating how holding a sleeping Faith also makes him sleepy.

20 April 2013

4-year doctor's appointment

Yesterday, Avery had her four-year check-up. We were reminded how much we love her pediatrician and all of his staff. In fact, the nurse Avery had today will be her Sunday school teacher for the next school year!

Here are Avery's latest stats:

Weight – 31 pounds, 8 ounces (25th percentile)
Height – 38 inches (10th percentile)

Avery gained 3 pounds, 6 ounces and grew almost 3 inches in the past year. She has met all of the milestones for 4-year-olds. Over the next year, we'll continue working on her school skills. I was pleased that she already knows most of the things the doctor mentioned...we just need to focus on writing her letters and numbers.

We discussed only one topic: Avery's eating habits. She eats breakfast and lunch pretty well, but we struggle a lot with dinner. The doctor said everything we expected: she's healthy and we shouldn't stress out about dinner. Easier said than done!

Overall it was a great appointment. God has blessed us with a beautiful, healthy little girl!

19 April 2013

Some enchanted evening

Last Friday, Chris took Avery to their first father-daughter dance at church. I can't believe our baby girl is old enough for this kind of milestone!


Avery chose to wear this new spring dress she recently got from Mommaw Clark. We searched through Avery's jewelry collection and even managed to find a headband, a ring and a bracelet to match the dress.

Chris, being the sweet and thoughtful daddy that he is, bought Avery her first corsage. He specifically requested a small wrist corsage with yellow and purple flowers (to match their outfits).

Avery didn't quite know what this was all about.

She thought it was a very beautiful bracelet.

Before the dance, Daddy took Avery on a date to her select location...Applebee's. He was hoping she would choose someplace a little fancier. But it was better than Chick-fil-A, which is where one of our friends took his daughter! Avery got lots of comments on her dress and corsage. I guess they made quite an impression on the staff and customers at Applebee's!

Here is their "official" photo from the dance...

...as well as their silly photo booth pictures.
They both had a lot of fun, but Chris didn't get to dance with Avery as much as he expected. They only danced a few songs together, and that was at the end of the evening. She had more fun playing with her friends and running around making new friends. Chris hung out with the other dads a lot. Maybe next year she'll actually dance at the dance!
The night ended with a very sweet moment. The emcee asked the dads to spend some time in prayer with their daughters. Daddy wasn't prepared for that emotional moment with Avery. He said he would have appreciated some warning about what was coming!

18 April 2013

Throwback Thursday: Engagement photo

In honor of our ninth wedding anniversary yesterday, here is our engagement photo. When we took this professional photo, we just wanted to give a nice Christmas gift to our families. I don't think we ever imagined it would turn into our engagement photo more than a year later!

Chris and Teresa
December 2002

17 April 2013

Nine years

Happy ninth anniversary to the love of my life.
No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared for those who love him.
1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT

16 April 2013

BSF 2012-2013: Genesis 39-40

I'm always amazed at how God worked through so many trials in Joseph’s life. He really brings Romans 8:28 to life: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Nothing came easily for Joseph. People constantly disappointed him. He always did what was right, but he experienced unjust suffering and did not have immediate success. He trusted God not people. He chose to trust God and to forget about himself. He knew God was working even when it seemed He was silent.

Joseph endured 13 years of slavery before God finally revealed His purpose for those difficult times in Joseph’s life.

Joseph came to Egypt, a foreign land with foreign people. He lived here the rest of his life. But he never forgot God. Joseph was taken to the slave market and could have been purchased by anyone. But in God’s providence, Joseph was purchased by the rich Potiphar. Joseph prospered in Potiphar’s house. Joseph eventually became Potiphar’s personal assistant.

Joseph gave himself completely to his work as a slave for Potiphar. Joseph did his work for the Lord. He worked hard and remained faithful to God. He trusted God in the good times and the bad times. He never lost hope.

I love this paragraph in the notes for this week’s lesson: “He [Joseph] chose not to waste his emotional energy in feeling sorry for himself. With courage, he met the adverse circumstances over which he had no control. He submitted his present situation to his faith in God. He used all his strength to glorify God and to be successful in his immediate duties as a slave.” What would my employer say about my effect in the workplace?

But this wasn’t the end of Joseph’s suffering. He also was tempted. But he relied on God, who provided a way out...literally!

Potiphar’s wife seduced Joseph, but he strongly refused. He knew adultery was wrong and was a sin...not only a sin against his master, Potiphar, but also a sin against God.

Joseph did three things to resist the temptation from Potiphar’s wife:
  1. He clearly said no.
  2. He did everything he could to avoid her.
  3. He ran away.
We also can follow these steps when we are tempted: say no, avoid the temptation and when all else fails run away.

As punishment, Potiphar sent Joseph to the king’s prison. Joseph was unfairly put in prison. But God gave him success there. The king’s baker and cupbearer were put under Joseph’s care in the prison. One day Joseph noticed how sad they looked over their dreams. Am I alert to others’ suffering?

God helped Joseph interpret their dreams and reveal His plan for each of the men. It was bad news for the baker (death) and good news for the cupbearer (restored to his position in the palace). Everything came true, just as Joseph interpreted.

Joseph probably expected to be freed from prison almost immediately. Instead he was forgotten. It was God’s plan to keep Joseph in prison for two more years. He was waiting for the perfect time to release Joseph from prison. God let Joseph continually go through so much suffering because it was preparing him for his future leadership in Egypt.

It is obvious that Joseph spent a lot of time with God. I also must spend time with him in prayer and in His Word if I expect to glorify Him in my sufferings.

Isn’t Joseph an amazing example to us?! He did his work with excellence before God, regardless of his circumstances. He dedicated himself to moral purity. He respected and honored those in authority over him. He glorified God rather than himself. He worked with a joyful attitude in unfair conditions. He trusted in God in spite of his external situations. And God used him to save his family and an entire nation.

God didn’t change Joseph’s circumstances but blessed him through those circumstances. Whatever Joseph did, he did it well: “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)

And from last night’s lecture, I loved the reminder that Joseph is an Old Testament picture of Jesus. Look at the similarities between Jesus’ life and Joseph’s:
  • Joseph was greater than his brothers but was rejected by his family. So was Jesus.
  • Others conspired to kill Joseph. Same for Jesus.
  • Joseph was betrayed for silver coins. So was Jesus.
  • Joseph was falsely arrested though he had committed no crime. So was Jesus.
  • Joseph was sentenced with two prisoners (one of whom died and one of whom lived). So was Jesus.
  • Joseph was a “suffering servant.” So was Jesus.
  • Joseph eventually reconciled with his brothers and forgave them. So did Jesus.
In both men’s lives, what man meant for evil, God meant for good.

Avery’s verse for last week’s lesson continues to apply to what we learned about Joseph this week:

God works for the good of those who love him.
Romans 8:28 NIV

15 April 2013

First soccer game

We're coming off of a very busy weekend. I'll recap everything, but it will not be in chronological order!

Here are two videos from the Road Runners' first game on a cold Saturday morning. I'm so proud that Avery scored two goals!!!!! Unfortunately, I didn't capture either of them on camera.

Everyone played really well, considering they don't quite know what they're doing yet! And I think they all had fun, in spite of the cold and wind. At one point during the game, Addie told Chris, "This is way harder than practice."

Yes, Addie...yes it is!

12 April 2013

Introducing Coach Daddy and his six Road Runners

Since Avery enjoyed soccer so much last summer, we all decided she should try it again this year. But instead of a clinic, she'll play games...as much as little 4-year-olds can play "real" soccer games. She's playing in the soccer league at our church. Nothing too competitive and hopefully no crazy soccer parents!

Chris took the leap into coaching. Long before Avery was born, he always said that he wanted to coach our kids when they were ready to play sports. Let's see how this season goes before we talk about any more coaching adventures!

The first practice was this week. Before everyone else arrived, Avery already started making a new friend in Addie. This girl is much taller than Avery and very talented. Maybe some of that coordination will rub off on Avery!

The good news is there are only six kids on the team. The games will be 3v3 without goalies.

Chris ran through several drills to teach the kids the fundamentals of soccer. They were all very cooperative. And only a few times did they pick up the ball with their hands.

Then they ended the practice with a scrimmage.

Go Road Runners! Watch out, Super Friends...we're gonna beat you on Saturday!