30 March 2015

2015 brackets: Elite Eight update

Who's leading the bracket challenge right now? Me! Here are the latest rankings (in order of ESPN points standing):

3-1 in Elite Eight
42-18 overall

2-2 in Elite Eight
43-17 overall

Jon (Grandpa Hromada)
2-2 in Elite Eight
40-20 overall

2-2 in Elite Eight
37-23 overall

Shirley (Grandma Hromada)
1-3 in Elite Eight
35-25 overall

0-4 in Elite Eight
20-40 overall

28 March 2015

2015 brackets: Sweet Sixteen update

The Sweet Sixteen round didn't do too much damage to our brackets. I don't want to speak too soon, but it looks like Grandpa might be dethroned as the family champion! Here are the latest rankings (in order of ESPN points standing):

6-2 in Sweet Sixteen
41-15 overall

6-2 in Sweet Sixteen
39-17 overall

Jon (Grandpa Hromada)
6-2 in Sweet Sixteen
38-18 overall

Shirley (Grandma Hromada)
4-4 in Sweet Sixteen
34-22 overall

3-5 in Sweet Sixteen
35-21 overall

0-8 in Sweet Sixteen
20-36 overall

26 March 2015

24 March 2015

BSF 2014-2015: Numbers 26-36

There are a lot of things to cover in these 11 chapters. (Wait until the first week of April when we review 26 chapters in Deuteronomy!)

God calls for another census of the Israelite people to determine how many men can serve in the army and to determine how the land will be divided among the tribes.

Zelophehad’s five daughters approach Moses and ask for land because Zelophehad died without having any sons. God agrees to give the daughters their due property. Zelophehad’s daughters trust in God’s promises about inheritance. And God provides new inheritance laws regarding women.

Then God promises a new leader when Moses dies. God allows Moses to see the Promised Land but keeps His promise that Moses will not enter the land. Moses’ only concern is for the people. So he asks God to appoint a new leader. God chooses Joshua, Moses’ current assistant. Moses transfers his leadership to Joshua and commissions him to lead the people.

God outlines the sacrifices and festivals for the Israelites (chapters 28-29). The regulations have not changed, but He reminds this new generation about His expectations. God also instructs the people to keep the vows they make (chapter 30). God keeps His word, and He expects us to keep our word as well.

God commands the Israelites to destroy the Midianites because they led the Israelites into idolatry and sexual sins (chapter 31). This may seem harsh to us. But killing the Midianites preserves the Israelites as God’s holy people set apart for Him.

God explains how the Israelites should divide the Promised Land. The tribes of Reuben and Gad are happier in the land on the east side of the Jordan River. (The major part of the Promised Land was on the west side of the river.) These tribes prefer this land for their sheep and cattle. Moses sees this as an excuse not to fight as they take over the Promised Land from the Canaanites. Moses consults with God. Then the Reubenites and Gadites promise to fight with the other Israelites as long as they can come back to this land and settle there (chapter 32).

Moses details the Israelites’ travels as a reminder of how God brought them out of slavery in Egypt into their own land in Canaan (chapter 33). This is another way Moses hopes to keep the subsequent generations from repeating the first generation’s mistakes and sins.

God clarifies the boundaries in the land (chapter 34). God establishes cities of refuge to protect anyone who accidentally kills someone (chapter 35). This protects the person until the evidence is collected and the trial is conducted. God instructs the people about daughters receiving inheritance (chapter 36).

Things to Think About

  • What kind of legacy am I leaving for my descendants? Will I teach my descendants not to repeat my mistakes?
  • Am I known as a person who keeps her word?
  • Which sin do I allow to remain in my life? Either repent or face the consequences.
  • Wise people learn from the past as they look to the future.
  • God sanctifies His children. He will use past mistakes and victories to help us learn and serve Him today.

23 March 2015

2015 brackets: Third Round update

How does your bracket look today? Most of ours are still pretty well intact. Here are the latest rankings (in order of ESPN points standing):

10-6 in Third Round
35-13 overall

10-6 in Third Round
33-15 overall

9-7 in Third Round
32-16 overall

Jon (Grandpa Hromada)
9-7 in Third Round
32-16 overall

Shirley (Grandma Hromada)
9-7 in Third Round
30-18 overall

4-12 in Third Round
20-28 overall

21 March 2015

2015 brackets: Second Round update

Because I'm a slacker, I failed to scan our brackets before the tournament started. Instead, take a look at Avery's Elite Eight, Final Four and championship game selections:

At least you can say she's a faithful IU fan!

And here is our first update of the tournament (rankings are in order of ESPN points standing):

25-7 in Second Round

23-9 in Second Round

Jon (Grandpa Hromada)
23-9 in Second Round

23-9 in Second Round

Shirley (Grandma Hromada)
21-11 in Second Round

16-16 in Second Round

19 March 2015

17 March 2015

BSF 2014-2015: Numbers 22-25

This week’s lesson reveals how wrong motivations can lead us away from God. King Balak was motivated by fear. He feared the Israelites overtaking his land. This fear caused him to turn to sorcery. Balaam was motivated by money. His desire for money caused him to want to curse Israel and to tempt the Israelites with the Moabite women. Israel was motivated by lust. The people’s desire for personal pleasure outweighed their desire for God.

The Israelites are moving again and are on the edge of the Promised Land. Balak, king of the Moabites, sees more than 2 million Israelites encamped near his territory. He is fearful and summons Balaam. Balaam is a sorcerer and a prophet. He follows many gods, but he does not follow the one true God.

Balak sends messengers to ask Balaam to curse the Israelites. Balaam agrees but seeks God’s approval. God approaches Balaam and tells him not to curse the Israelites because He has blessed them. Balaam tells Balak’s messengers that he will not curse the Israelites. So Balak sends more officials to entice Balaam to curse the Israelites. Balak promises to give any riches that Balaam desires. God approaches Balaam again. This time He tells Balaam to go with Balak’s men, but Balaam must obey God.

The next day, Balaam leaves with Balak’s men. But God is angry with Balaam. Why? Because Balaam is motivated by greed. He is seeking riches and is not obeying God with a pure heart.

God sends an angel to Balaam on his journey. Balaam doesn’t see the angel, but his donkey does. Balaam’s donkey stops. Then God causes the donkey to speak to Balaam and rebuke him. God opens Balaam’s eyes to see the angel. Balaam claims he is a spiritually wise man, but he is more foolish and spiritually blind than even his donkey.

The angel sends Balaam with Balak’s men and instructs Balaam to speak what the Lord gives him. Balaam speaks seven oracles from God. Balaam does not speak anything that God does not allow him to speak.

Balaam tells Balak that Israel cannot be cursed because God’s blessings and promises rest on them. Balaam also speaks prophecies about Jesus, the coming Messiah, and the destruction that will come to Israel’s enemies.

Following this, Balaam entices the Israelites to sin by suggesting that the Moabites seduce them. The Israelites’ desire for pleasure causes them to abandon their beliefs, worship a false god and participate in sexual immorality. They worship the false god of the Moabites who live in the Promised Land. God cannot allow the Israelites to enter their new land while worshipping a false god. God sends a plague that kills 24,000 Israelites.

Things to Think About

  • Who do I go to when I feel fearful?
  • What do I desire more than God?
  • Balak was blinded by fear, and Balaam was blinded by greed. Which fear in my life is blinding me from the truth?
  • God used a donkey to get Balaam’s attention. God will use any means to get our attention.
  • When our morals are corrupted, our worship of God is corrupted.
  • Where have I relaxed my standards to justify my own desires?

16 March 2015

March Madness

Is it already mid-March? That means it's almost time for the NCAA men's basketball tournament to start -- Chris' favorite time of the year.

Once again, we're hosting a family bracket challenge. Grandpa Hromada has dominated our competition for the past two years, so the rest of us are anxious to knock him off of his throne.

Will you join us this year? Complete your bracket online and join our "C2 Family Group" in the ESPN Tournament Challenge. Avery will fill in her bracket tomorrow night. And even though Daddy wants Damon to join the fun this year, I think we'll need to wait a few years for him to participate in this family tradition. As always, we'll keep you updated on our results throughout the tournament!

12 March 2015

10 March 2015

BSF 2014-2015: Numbers 21

As the Israelites travel to the Promised Land, they are caught off guard and are captured by the Canaanites. In their distress, they cry out to God, asking Him to deliver the Canaanites to them. God agrees, and the Israelites destroy the Canaanites and their towns.

They make a special vow to God (like they have done in the past), but God does not bring up their past sins and failures. He meets them in their present faith.

After this victory, the Israelites have a failure. They grow impatient. They again complain about a lack of food and water. They speak against God and Moses. As a punishment, God sends venomous snakes. The Israelites ask Moses to pray to God and ask Him to remove the snakes.

God instructs Moses to craft a bronze snake and put it on a pole. Anyone who is bitten and looks at the bronze snake is healed. The people demonstrate their faith in God’s word by looking at the snake. There are several ways we can apply the bronze snake to our own lives:

  • No one could look at the snake to heal someone else. Each individual was responsible for taking this step of faith. We cannot take on someone else’s faith.
  • There was only one way for the people to be healed – by looking at the snake. Now there is only one way for people to be saved from their sins – through faith in Jesus.
  • God did not remove the snakes from the Israelites’ camp. God does not remove sin from our world today.
  • Not everyone chose to look on the snake and live. Not everyone today chooses to look to Jesus to save them.

Later Jesus used the bronze snake to describe Himself. Just as the bronze snake was lifted up on a pole to heal the Israelites, Jesus was lifted up on a cross to heal all people of their sins.

The Israelites continue to move. They send a messenger to King Sihon of the Amorites, requesting that they pass through his land. The king attacks the Israelites. God allows the Israelites to defeat the Amorites and take their land, one of the first pieces of the Promised Land that the Israelites own.

King Og provokes the Israelites to battle. God promises to deliver the king, his people and his land to the Israelites. The Israelites defeat the king and obtain his land.

Things to Think About

  • Where do I need God to fight for me?
  • Do I focus on my past failures instead of my present faith? In which circumstance do I need to walk in my current faith instead of my past failure?
  • How do I react when people provoke me to battle? Do I seek the Lord or fight in my own strength?
  • Seeking, trusting and obeying God is the sure pattern for victory. The sure pattern for sin is not seeking, not trusting and not obeying God.
  • Victory is possible even after frequent failure.

08 March 2015

05 March 2015

03 March 2015

BSF 2014-2015: Numbers 20, Psalm 90

This week, we jump ahead 38 years after the Israelites began their wandering in the desert.

Moses’ sister, Miriam, dies. After this, the Israelites again complain about a lack of water. This is the second generation, the children of the first people who complained to God earlier in our study this year. Thirty-eight years later, their descendants are guilty of the same sin.

The Lord appears to Moses and Aaron. He tells them to speak to a rock so it will pour out water. God does not rebuke or punish the people for their complaining but meets their need in a supernatural way.

Even though God gave clear instructions to Moses and Aaron, they disobey. Moses strikes the rock two times instead of speaking to it. Moses does not trust that God can provide water with only his words. And Moses and Aaron try to take glory from God (vs. 10). But God still blesses the people with water even though Moses sins.

God punishes Moses and Aaron for their sin – they will not enter the Promised Land.

The Israelites continue to travel toward the Promised Land. Moses sends messengers to the king of Edom, asking permission for the Israelites to travel through the king’s land. The king refuses. Moses humbly obeys and takes the Israelites around Edom.

The Edomites were descendants of Jacob’s brother, Esau. Jacob stole Esau’s birthright. Since then, their descendants were in conflict with each other.

In the year the Israelites will enter the Promised Land, Moses and Aaron, along with Aaron’s son Eleazar, go up Mount Hor. Moses puts Aaron’s priestly garments on Eleazar, making him the new high priest. Then Aaron dies. God graciously allows Aaron to see his son become the new high priest. The people mourn Aaron for 30 days.

Now, let’s look at Psalm 90. This psalm is a prayer of Moses and may have been written around the time of Aaron’s death. In this psalm, Moses tells us that life is brief, so we must make the most of it. He also tells us that life is difficult and sometimes seems futile. But he reminds us that God is eternal, our dwelling place, all-knowing, the author of time and unlimited by anything.

Things to Think About

  • God sees all sin as rebellion against Him. Our punishment and consequences are up to God; we have no authority to comment on them.
  • What is my first response in difficult decisions – complaining or praying?
  • Moses and Aaron did not speak back to God when He handed down the consequences for their sin. Am I willing to accept God’s discipline without fighting back?
  • When someone wrongs me, is my first response to fight or to yield?
  • When I experience bumps in the journey of life, I should reflect on God’s character and allow Him to strengthen me.

02 March 2015

The Tooth Fairy's first visit

Avery noticed her first loose tooth a few days before Thanksgiving. For the past three months, she has been wiggling that thing like crazy, very anxious for it to fall out. Last Monday, she came home from school without that tooth!

She informed me that she actually pulled it out herself! She and her classmates were walking to their room after lunch when she pulled the tooth. Her teacher noticed it, and the group stopped at the clinic on the way back to the classroom. Ms. Kidd informed the nurse that Avery lost her first tooth. The nurse gave Avery a pink treasure box for the tooth.

Avery was so excited to have reached this important milestone for a kindergartener. On Monday night, she put her tooth in the Tooth Fairy pillow that Grandma Hromada made for her. The next morning, Avery discovered that the Tooth Fairy took the tooth and left a $5 bill! The Tooth Fairy told us that Avery shouldn't expect that much money for each tooth; the first one was extra special!