ripple effect: vacaville


d23 The Baker, The Cupbearer…, the Candlestick Maker?
April 30, 2007, 9:34 pm
Filed under: genesis, god, joseph, pharaoh


Read Genesis 40:1-23.

No skippies!

So…Joseph’s succeeding in prison. Let’s check it out.

1. In case you’re wondering, a cupbearer was actually the guy who would drink from the king’s glass first in order to make sure that there wasn’t any poison in it. A baker could also poison a king if you think about it. So…these, althought they seem like unlikely conspiracy members, actually could be hired to wack the king!
2. One thing to notice, Joseph paid attention to the feelings of these two guys. Maybe some people wouldn’t have even noticed that they were “troubled,” but he did enough to ask. Do you notice people? When people look upset or like they are having a hard day, do you pass them by because it might be too much work, or do you care enough to ask what’s up?
3. Check out Joseph’s thought process. He says, “Don’t dream belong to God?” And then he says, “Tell them to me.” What does this mean? I think it means that Joseph is confident in the fact that God is still close with him, that God could use him to interpret these dreams. Are you confident in the gifts that God has given you, or you do you shy away from them?
4. OK…so the cupbearers dream was a good one. And Joseph is so confident in his interpretation that he says WHEN you are out of here, put in a good word for me! That’s confidence, too.
5. OK…is it me, or would you be able to put two and two together if you had a dream about birds stealing your bread? I dunno. Maybe I just think that would be a no-brainer. Anyway, the baker gets a bad dream. Can you say poisoned donuts? Anyway, he’s going to die.
6. Classic line, “and the cupbearer forgot Joseph.” Crap.

So…today would be a good day to reflect on Joseph’s confidence in God and his confidence in the abilities that God has given him. Like I said, who did God make you? Are you cool with that?

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d22 Subtle Egyptian Pick-Up Lines
April 29, 2007, 6:59 am
Filed under: genesis, god, joseph, judah, potiphar, tamar


Read Genesis 39:1-23.

[What we’re skipping:

*Tucked in the midst of the Joseph story is a story about Judah (boy #4). If we’re keeping score, boy #1 messed up (slept with one of daddy’s women, boys #2 & #3 also messed up (slaughtered the men of Shechem, bringing trouble to Jacob’s family). So…maybe 4th time’s the charm? Not quite.

*OK…Judah marries the daughter of a man named Shua (foreign girl!), who has three sons: Er, Onan, and Shelah.

*He hooked his first son, Er, up with a girl named Tamar. It says that God killed Er because he was wicked. Then Judah told Onan it was his duty to marry his older brother’s widow (back in the day, this was how they rolled. Also, any descendents would be considered Er’s descendents). So…Onan had sex with Tamar but would “pull out” before he could get her pregnant (because he didn’t want her to have a kid that wouldn’t benefit him). Yeah…I know, weird. So…God put Onan to death for being a punk, too. At this point, Tamar’s out of luck because boy #3 (Shelah) is too young to marry; so Judah just tells her to stick around untill he’s old enough to get with her. Weird, I know.

*OK…so Judah’s wife dies. And he goes to shepherd. Tamar hears about him going off and disguises herself as a prostitute (because Shelah was all grown up by now, and Judah wouldn’t let him marry her). So..she dresses up like a prostitute, and Judah takes the bait.

*Tamar asks what “payment” he’ll give, and he asks for credit. She says ok, but he has to let her keep his staff (which is like his social security card) until he brings her a goat.

*He goes back to find her with the goat, but she’s gone. Uh oh, and she’s got his staff…

*Three months later, Tamar is “showing” because she’s pregnant. Judah is about to BURN her (literally), and she says, “Whoever own this stuff is the guy who got me pregnant.” Of course, it’s his staff. Judah backs off because he knows he should have offered her the youngest son to marry, so he doesn’t burn her or have sex with her again. She ended up having twins.

Yeah…what a story!]

OK…so, back from the dead, here we go.

1. Joseph is successul because God is with him. Hey…I have to correlate this to the youth auction last night. We prospered, guys, because God is for us. He wants us to pursue Him, to take risks for Him. If you feel like Joseph today, remember that it was God who fueled all of this.
2. Being overseer of the house is a big deal for a slave. Do you think that the way Joseph acted had anything to do with his promotion?
3. Joseph was a looker. And Potiphar’s wife left no room for speculation about how she felt about him when she said, “Have sex with me!” Subtle, those Egyptians. Subtle. Most guys would dream of a situation like this, but he realizes this would be wrong to do to Potiphar and that it would be wicked in God’s eyes. Joseph had integrity.
4. It basically says that everyday, Potiphar’s wife was relentless: “Sleep with me!” “Look at how skimpy my robe is!” “Doesn’t my perfume smell nice?” To most guys, I know this culture is tough to live in…it almost feels like Potiphar’s wife…constant, day after day temptation. What things in our culture are like Potiphar’s wife, constantly begging to be noticed (even though we know we shouldn’t)?
5. So…she grabs his robe, and he runs off half naked to avoid sinning. Please note the Joseph approach to avoiding sin with the opposite sex: RUN!
6. And, you know what, it doesn’t even “pay off” for Joseph– he gets framed and thrown into prison! Youth pastors use this chapter all the time about how to avoid sin, but they usually fail to mention that Joseph is not immediately blessed. Quite the opposite…it seems like he’s being punished for following God! Does it sometimes seem like this is the case in our culture? I know, for me, for example, that I do sometimes get frustrated about all the nudity and sex scenes in movies. I would love to see movies like “300” or “The Wedding Crashers,” but I also know that I really don’t need to see those things. So…sometimes I feel like I’m not “normal” or that I’m being punished for caring about being pure. Does anyone else ever feel that way?
7. I like the last part, though, it said that God was with him still. “With him” must mean more than having the gangsta lifestyle because he still is in prison. But God is with him, and he gets promoted in there too! God helps him to succeed.

Some people, after reading this passage, might say, yeah, he’s doing well for a guy in PRISON! But, maybe they don’t get the fact that God (since he was WITH him) must have wanted him to be in prison. For what? Let’s see…



d21 Joseph, King of Dreams
April 28, 2007, 6:57 pm
Filed under: benjamin, bilhah, dinah, esau, genesis, god, isaac, jacob, joseph, levi, potiphar, rachel, reuben, simeon


Read Genesis 37:1-36

[Wow…we’re skipping like crazy…

*Jacob finally got settle back in Canaan (the land promised to his grandpa) in a place called Shechem.

*Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob, was raped by one of the local guys of Shechem. This guy, whose named happened to be Shechem (the prince of Shechem), told his day to arrange a marriage with Dinah for him. Jacob tried to keep this from Dinah’s brothers; but, while the king was there with Jacob, the boys came in from the fields and heard about the rape. Schechem wanted to make a deal for her to be his wife. The guys had a trick up their sleeves and told the men of Schechem that the only way they’d go through with it was if the men of Schechem were all cicumcized. They agreed; so, after they had cut their stuff, Simeon and Levi went into the city and killed all the men while they were “sore.” Jacob was mad that they took revenge like this; but, in a famous line in the Bible, they said, “Should he treat our sister like a prostitute?”

*God spoke to Jacob directly and told him to purify himself and his family (get rid of idols, etc.). God blessed Jacob and told him that his new name would be Israel. The cool thing about this is that HE gets the blessing directly.

*Rachel died shortly thereafter, giving birth to her second son (Jacob’s 12th son), Benjamin.

*Out of nowhere, we get a litle anecdote that Rueben (the oldest son) decides to sleep with Bilhah, his father’s concubine (a couple of his brothers’ mom…weird!).

*Jacob finally visited his father again, and Isaac died soon after that.

*Esau’s family got huge, so he went off to live farther away from Jacob in Edom. Have fun reading the list of all the people in his family. I’m sure this would have meant a lot to the people at the time…it’d kinda be like, “Oh, so that’s where Louisianna came from!” But, to us, we don’t really care.]

It just so happens, that I have an expert in the Joseph story with me today as I do this…so…I will infuse my thoughts with Logan’s (since he was in “Jospeh and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”):

1. Joseph was a bit of a tattle tale.
2. Preferential treatment…Jacob loved Joseph more. I don’t know how that coat became a “technicolor” dreamcoat in the musical. My favorite version of the Bible says it was a “varicolored tunic.” Have you ever had a sibling with something cooler than what your parents gave you?
3. So, yeah, the brothers are ticked at Joseph…
4. I wonder why the brothers hated these dreams? Yeah…so…they’ll all bow down to me! What’s the problem? No problem if you’re Joseph.
5. Interesting that dad chewed him out for telling the dream, but it says that he kept it all in his mind. Hmm…I’m sure he doesn’t like the idea of bowing to his son, but at least he respects God enough to know that it could be from him (he did have a wrestling match with God…B.W.E.)
6. Joseph gets sent to check on his brothers…where? In Schechem. Where were they? In Dothan. What were they doing there?
7. Nice brothers, they want to kill him. Reuben rises up and says not to kill him (he was planning on going back to get him later). But, they mugged him and tore up his varicolored tunic and threw him into the pit. Geez. I used to get in fights with my brothers…but not this bad!
8. They sat around and had a meal while their brother was sitting in the bottom of a pit! That’s cruel!
9. Ishmaelites (yeah…the descendants of Ishmael) rolled up, and they decided to sell him to them; and Joseph was on his way to Egypt.
10. Apparently, at some point, Reuben didn’t stick around for lunch, because he went back to rescue Joseph; and he was already gone. One, he was trying to rescue him. But, two, as the oldest brother, he is responsible. So…they hatch the plan to dip his robe in blood and say that it was a wild beast that got him.
11. When they get back, it’s CSI Shechem…Jacob looks at the robe and they ask if it is “[his] son’s robe.” Not our brothers…his sons. They didn’t even acknowledge him as their brother.
12. You don’t even want to visualize what an old man in sackcloth looks like. But…it means that he was mourning for his dead son. When he says that he will go down to Sheol mourning–Sheol is like Hades or Hell…he’s basically saying that his life is over now that Joseph’s life is over.
13. To be continued…Joseph is sold to an Egyptian nobleman, Potiphar.

That’s a lot.

What do you think about?

Jacob’s treament of Joseph
The way Joseph handles his dreams
The way Reuben handles the “plot”
The behavior of all the other brothers



d20 Reuniting with Esau
April 27, 2007, 5:44 pm
Filed under: asher, bilhah, dan, dinah, esau, gad, genesis, god, issachar, jacob, joseph, judah, laban, leah, levi, naphtali, rachel, reuben, simeon, zebulun, zilpah


Read Genesis 32:1 – 33:16.

[Stuff we’re skipping over…

*Leah was a baby-making machine. Rachel was barren. It says that God did this because of how badly Leah was treated by Jacob. Leah has boy #1, Reuben. Leah has boy #2, Simeon. Leah has boy #3, Levi. And, Leah has boy #4, Judah. Like I said, baby-making machine.

*Rachel blames Jacob for not being able to have kids. Jacob says that’s God’s deal, not his. She gives him her servant, Bilhah, to make babies. Bilhah had boy #5, Dan. Bilhah had boy #6, Naphtali.

*Leah got jealous, so she let Jacob get with her maidservant, Zilpah. Zilpah had boy #7, Gad. Zilpah had boy #8, Asher.

*There’s also an interesting story in which Rachel trades one night with Jacob for some stuff (mandrakes) that apparently makes it more possible to conceive. Great idea. Only problem, Leah gets pregnant on that “one night” and gives Jacob boy #9, Issachar. And she had boy #10, Zebulun. Oh…and she had a daughter, Dinah, for good measure.

*Finally, Rachel gets a kid of her own; boy #11 is Joseph.

*Jacob wants to leave, and he makes a deal to get some sheep for all his trouble. Jacob basically works it so that he breeds stronger sheep for himself and weaker sheep for Laban. The trickster got it done again.

*This ticked off Laban and his sons, so God told Jacob to leave ASAP. Jacob told his wives it was time to go, and he headed for the hills. But, for some reason, Rachel steals Laban’s household god statues (apparently they weren’t followers of the Lord). Anyway, Jacob snuck out (trickster!), but Laban came looking for him. When he caught up with Jacob, he asked what the deal was (he would have thrown a going away party? yeah right!), and he said that Jacob stole his statues. Jacob said he would kill whoever stole them. So…they searched each tent for the gods, and Rachel sat with the gods hidden under a saddle in a tent. When her dad told her to get up, she said that she was (lie of all lies) on her PERIOD?!? At this point, they chewed each other out, and made a deal not to interfere with each other ever again.]

Yowza…that was a lot…

1. What do you think of Jacob’s “gift basket” for Esau? How do you think he should have responded?
2. What would you be thinking if you knew that the brother who wanted to kill you was showing up with 400 men! Oh, yeah, well Jacob had…um…well…4 ladies, some servants, and 12 kids? Uh oh…
3. This situation brings Jacob to his knees. He prays. Why do you think that it takes people stressful situations to finally go to God?
4. So…Jacob sends a “bribe” to his brother (please don’t kill me…please don’t kill me). I like how he sent the gifts in waves.
5. At this point, he’s sent his family away; and he is alone. And what happens? A “man” wrestles with him all night, knocking his hip out of joint. The “man” tells Jacob to let him go, but Jacob says he won’t let go until he’s blessed. Any thoughts on this part?
6. The “man” changes Jacob’s name to Israel (yeah…like the country named after him). From now on his name will mean “struggles with God.” Ironic. Do you find your faith to be a struggle or a wrestling match somtimes?
7. Jacob deduces that this “man” must have been God. Wow.
8. He bowed seven times…total submission…and then…
9. Esau runs up to him and kisses him and embraces him. Wow. I didn’t see that coming. Maybe God had Jacob’s back?
10. What do you think Jacob meant when he said that seeing Esau was like seeing the face of God? Interesting statement since he literally just saw the face of God the night before. What do you think he meant?
11. They part ways happily.

Sorry about the lateness of this post. I hope everyone has a chance to look at it though, because I know there is a lot of good stuff in these chapters. Joseph, the 11th son, the son of Rachel is going to be the focus coming up.



d19 Wife Swap…Well, Sort Of…
April 26, 2007, 4:09 pm
Filed under: bilhah, genesis, jacob, laban, leah, rachel, rebekah, zilpah


Read Genesis 29:14-30.

[We’re skipping over…

* Jacob shows up near his extended family. He is at a well, talking to some shepherds when a beautiful girl rolls up. Rachel is a relative (which I know sounds incestuous, but was actually what he was looking for back then). Metro Jacob shows his muscle by moving a huge stone from the well, so Rachel can water her sheep (maybe he heard a story about how his mom met his dad?). Jacob kisses Rachel (not like “The Notebook,” probably more like a family kiss).

*Rachel runs to go get her dad, Laban (that’s Rebekah’s brother). He comes back and is excited about him being family.]

And now for today…

1. Sadly, I must inform you all that “weak eyes” means that Leah was not easy on the eyes. “Leah” means cow. I’m not trying to be mean, but when the Bible says you’re not a looker–you’re not. And when the Bible says a girl is fine–the girl is fine.
2. So…you know Jacob was jumping at the chance to marry Rachel, and he didn’t hesitate to ask. How do you think Leah felt about all of this?
3. Aww…isn’t that sweet that it only seemed like seven days to him? Aww…
4. Things not to say to your future father-in-law: “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to lie with her.” He he he…I mean, we all know that the honeymoon is coming, but Jacob is a little blunt here.
5. Um…so…how exactly did Jacob “accidentally” sleep with Leah. Some theories: a) wine, b) dark, c) Jacob did seem a little more excited about the “act” than making small talk, d) the bride is covered during those old-school weddings.
6. Um…ok…imagine waking up to this situation! He he he…Poor Jacob, huh, he was deceived. Does anyone consider this to be mildly ironic considering all the tricking he did in his past? I have a hard time feeling sorry for Jacob. I do feel sorry for Leah because she didn’t deserve to not be loved by her husband. But, Jacob got a taste of his own medicine.
7. So…a week later he gets Rachel. And, after that, it’s passion between them and frustration between him and Leah.
8. He also got two maidservants in the deal: Zilpah and Bilhah. Normally, this wouldn’t be newsworthy; but they actually play a big role in the story.

What do you think about the following people in this story?

Jacob?
Laban?
Rachel?
Leah?



d18 And They Call It a Stairway to Heaven
April 25, 2007, 4:22 pm
Filed under: abraham, esau, genesis, god, isaac, ishmael, jacob, laban, rebekah

Read Genesis 28:10-22.

[We’re skipping…

*Esau basically says that, as soon as his dad died of old age, he’ll kill Jacob. Rebekah tips off Jacob on the plan and tells him to go stay with her brother, Laban far away in Haran. She covers up Jacob leaving to her husband by telling him that he’s going to go find himself a woman.

*Isaac tells Jacob not to marry a foreign woman and to go to Laban’s, and he blesses him again.

*Esau found out what Isaac had told Jacob, and he realized how much him marrying foreign women would aggravate Isaac…so…he married another semi-foreign girl (a descendent of Ishmael…remember, he was half-Egyptian) to spite him. What a winner. He he he…]

And here we go…

1. OK…things must have been rough back in the day because I’m not using a stone as a pillow.
2. “Stairway to Heaven”– there you go. So…um…the angels are going up and down the stairs (or ladder, depending on your version of the Bible). And then God is up at the top, promising Jacob the blessing that he gave Grandpa (Abraham) and Dad (Isaac).
3. One of my favorite verses in the Bible, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” Could it be that God is closer than you think?
4. The dream also freaks him out a little bit. Up to this point, has there been anything about Jacob that would make you think that he is a holy, righteous guy? Is this turn of events unexpected to you? Do you think it was unexpected to him?
5. Some people get married with no pre-nup, no conditions attached to it…like, “if you cheat on me, I get $100,000. Some people consider that tacky. They think that if you loved each other you wouldn’t place conditions on the marriage– you’d just do it. Look at Jacob, he places conditions on God’s blessing! “If God will be…and give…then the Lord will be my God.” What do you think about that?
6. Oh…interesting that the tithe comes up again, though. Jacob says that if God is with him, he will give him 1/10 of all that he has. How about you guys? Are you in that habit of giving 10% of what you have to God?



d17 Isaac Blesses Jacob
April 24, 2007, 6:04 pm
Filed under: abimelech, abraham, esau, genesis, god, isaac, jacob, rebekah

Read Genesis 27:1-40.

[Skipping…

*There is a famine in the land, and God comes to Isaac and tells him that He will give Isaac everything that He promised Abraham. So, basically, He’s giving him permission to ride out the famine in Egypt–but He also personally receives God’s promise.

*I swear, I’m not kidding. Isaac goes down to Egypt and is afraid that his wife, Rebekah, is so hot that they’ll kill him for her; so he says that she is his…drum roll please…sister! Abimelech, the king (maybe the son of the other Abimelech), sees the two of them laughing with each other (flirting maybe); and he puts two and two together. So, Abimelech makes a law saying not to mess with Isaac or Rebekah. They get so prosperous that Abimelech gets envious and tells them they are too successful to stick around.

*Then Isaac goes off to a place his father used to live, and he re-digs some old wells. The locals say that the wells are theirs, so Isaac moved and made more wells somewhere else.

*In a place called Beersheba, God blessed Isaac again; and Isaac builds an altar for Him there.

*Anyway, Isaac gets so successful that Abimelech sends a servant to him to make a treaty basically because Isaac has gotten powerful. They do, and it’s all good.

*One last thing, Esau marries two foreign girls. Interesting quote, “they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.”]

And here we go…

1. Isaac wants to bless Esau. As the first-born, this is actually his “birthright.” Nothing strange here. Then again, do you think daddy knows that Esau sold off his birthright? Also…not to be too confusing here, but what would have happened if Jacob had the birthright but Esau got the blessing? Would that even be possible? Did things have to shake down the way that they are about to? Hmm…
2. Rebekah is a little sneaky here…mommy dearest tells Jacob everything to do. What do you think about that?
3. Jacob knows that this is like mission impossible, but Mom’s got it all figured out. And she comes to bat and says that if something happens, it’s on her. Hmm… (reminds me of the first season of “24”).
4. She goes through Esau’s drawers and steals his clothes for Jacob to wear, gets the goat skins for his arms and necks (that guy must have grown up to look like a red Chewbacca!), and she makes a meal.
5. This next part reminds me of little Red Riding Hood…

“Oh, what a quick meal you made!” “God (ooh…using God in a lie!) helped me.”
“Oh, what a squeaky voice you have!” “Rub my hairy arms.”
“Oh, how suspicious you seem!” “Smell me, I smell like body odor and grass.”

6. What a blessing…a) blessings in farming, b) ruling over people, c) ruling over brothers (ahem…Esau!), d) curses and blessings for the bad guys and good guys.
7. Imagine Esau rolling up in there with his deer parmesean, and Dad days “Who are you?” Uh oh…
8. Have you ever seen an old person get tricked. It’s sad. And it does show physically sometimes. What emotions do you think Isaac was experiencing at that moment in time?
9. Esau let out a loud, bitter cry. First use of profanity?
10. This blessing stuff is no joke. It can’t be undone. So…he gets a crazy “not cool” blessing: a) you’ll work hard, b) you’ll have to fight for survival, c) your brother will rule over you, d) eventually, you’ll get fed up and quit. A real dandy.

Wow…quick questions…what do you think about the following people right now?

Isaac?
Rebekah?
Esau?
Jacob?