Tag: genesis

Dream On

Some people dream of long hallways, being chased, showing up somewhere naked, or falling from great heights.  I have had some of those dreams, but recently I most consistently dream of *insert dramatic pause*… airports.  Strange, right?  Nearly all of my dreams take place either in, around, or trying to find an airport.  It’s not always the same airport and the storyline of the actual dream might not have anything to do with air travel, but an airport always seems to set the scene.  As if that weren’t weird enough, as much as I can remember I have never actually boarded a plane in any dream.

I’m not one to place a lot of stock in dreams.  In my mind dream interpretation lands somewhere among horoscopes and fortune telling as far as reliability goes.  However, the never-ending airport scenarios were just strange enough to keep my attention.  So I did what we all do when we need an answer, I Googled it.  Of course I found a slough of questionable sources, so I randomly picked a site that boasted having a dream symbol dictionary and this is what I found:  “To see a busy airport in your dream signifies the desire for freedom, high ideals, ambition, and hopes. It is an indication that you are approaching a new departure in your life. Some new idea is taking off or is ready to take off. You may be experiencing a new relationship, new career path or new adventure.”  It even reads like a horoscope!  Here’s the thing, it also eerily reads pretty true to what I’m experiencing in life right now.  Blogging has gone better than I could have imagined, I’ve been accepted into a community of like-minded women in the Redbud Writers Guild, an article I wrote is being “officially” published in my denomination’s magazine, and I’m thinking through a ministry idea that I think could be awesome.  If only this dream interpretation had some lucky numbers attached for the next Powerball drawing!

Be forewarned, I’m not opening the discussion on whether or not God still uses dreams to communicate with people like He did in biblical times.  I have the comprehensive Word of God at my disposal so, personally, that is where I’m going to seek my true answers.  Sorry dreammoods.com, but you’ve got nothing on divine wisdom.  When I think of dream fulfillment in relation to scripture, you’d be hard pressed to find a better example than the life of Joseph, found in Genesis 37 and 39-50.

Joseph was his father Jacob’s favorite son among twelve brothers.  This fact was well known by all the brothers, especially obvious by the extravagant multicolored coat their father gave Joseph.  There was no confusing who was the favorite son, and, contrary to the culture, it was not the firstborn.  It certainly didn’t help this brewing public relations nightmare that Joseph chose to share a couple dreams he had with his brothers where they appeared as stalks of grain and stars, respectively, bowing down before Joseph.  This caused a serious rift in the siblings’ relationship with him.  So much so that one day when Jacob sends Joseph on an errand to check on his brothers while tending the flocks, the brothers conspire to eliminate his annoying presence from their midst:

They saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.” But when Reuben heard it, he rescued him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father. So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the robe of many colors that he wore. And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.  Genesis 37:18-24

They end up half listening to Reuben, who is actually scheming to gain his father’s favor by rescuing the favorite son, and don’t kill Joseph, but instead sell him to slave traders headed to Egypt.  His own brothers sold him into a life sentence of slavery when he was probably still a teenager.  I’d say by any cultural terms that’s enough family drama to pretty effectively damage someone.  As if that weren’t baggage enough, after spending years as a slave Joseph is falsely accused of rape and, though innocent, is imprisoned.

Joseph becomes obsessed with revenge.  During his time in prison he hatches an elaborate scheme to reemerge from this captivity under a new persona and gain vengeance for the dreams his brothers killed when they committed this terrible evil.  He lives his days fueling the hate-fire in his belly by systematically plotting his route back to the top.

Not really, that’s loosely the story of Edmond Dantes in The Count of Monte Cristo.  We almost wouldn’t blame Joseph if that was his story though.  He had some big dreams in his heart, dreams he could legitimately credit the Lord with gifting him.  Certainly his brothers deserved punishment for wrecking the plans the Lord had shown Joseph.  How would we have felt in Joseph’s place?  Angry at the injustice?  Bitter with the family dysfunction?  Depressed and hopeless at the dismal outlook for the future?  Frustrated, full of doubt, wondering what was to come of the dreams and gifts of leadership the Lord had given?!  Slavery and leadership are kind of opposite ends of the career spectrum.

I’m  sure he must have felt some of these things.  We have to remember that the people we read in scripture were human, just like us.  No one goes through that kind of pain without at least shedding a few tears.  Surely if nothing else he desperately missed his dad.  Scripture doesn’t always tell us how someone was feeling in a situation, which can lead us to wrongly assume people to be only flat characters.  Don’t fall into that.  At this point in the story Joseph was a young man full of dreams, and, probably a bit of pride, rockin some designer label threads his dad had given him.  Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt as a human, and especially as an adolescent, that he may have been a bit emotional in the situation.  Bible characters are real people, too.  When we begin to see this and try to process the human side of the drama, the Old Testament, which includes 39 of the Bible’s 66 books, becomes more accessible to us.

More important than how he dealt with his emotional wounds, is how the Bible tells us Joseph lived his life.  As a slave we’re told in  Genesis 39:2-6:

The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had.  From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate.

Then, after being unjustly thrown in prison for a rape he did not commit, in Genesis 39:21-23:

But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.

Obviously, this was not the Edmond Dantes hell-bent on revenge version of the story.  Joseph didn’t fill his days of captivity devising elaborate schemes, nor did he conversely lethargically lie and wallow in a justifiable pity party.  He did work, son.  Yes, the Lord showed him favor, but he wasn’t just sitting around enjoying being favored while his brothers were in the fields with the flocks…  He utilized the Lord’s favor upon his hard work to bless those in his sphere of influence.  He sought the Lord in his present, though far from ideal, circumstance.  And the Lord blessed him and gave Joseph a glimpse of His steadfast love for him.  Then, through a pretty crazy set of circumstances, Joseph ends up pretty much being made the Prime Minister of Egypt.  I’m not joking, check it out for yourself in Genesis 40-41.

Are you currently living the ideal, dream-come-true version of your life?  If so, are you being sure to give credit where it’s due and see the Lord’s favor in it?  Also, would you be interested in switching lives?  Kidding.  Sort of…

Colossians 3:23-25: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.”

Joseph lived a beautiful example of this verse.  Whatever we find ourselves doing in life, we are called to work hard at it, focusing on our service to the Lord, and trusting He will reward our hard work as well as deal with “the brothers” in our lives.  The Lord gave us emotions, so be real with Him about how you’re feeling in your current circumstance, but don’t allow your feelings to keep you from the good work He has planned for you from before you were born (Ephesisans 2:10).  Trust that no matter how dismal our situation may appear it in no way limits the incredible outcome the Lord can accomplish through our hard work done in His strength.  He is sovereign over our circumstances, and Joseph credited his astronomic rise from slave to second in command of Egypt to the Lord.

The book of Genesis actually closes in chapter 50 with Joseph’s story coming full circle and his brothers bowed down before him seeking his forgiveness.  (Didn’t see that coming?  Check out Genesis 42-50 for the full story, it’s incredible).  Instead of taking this moment to punish his brothers for their many sins against him, to point the finger (and I’m not saying which finger), or bring up his past dreams and rub their noses in the fulfillment they were witnessing, Joseph instead says, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?  As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.  So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones (Genesis 50:19-21).”  He gives them the gift of grace– forgiveness and favor they definitely did not deserve.

Besides remembering the characters are real people, another way to deeply access the Old Testament  is to look for the ways it points us to Jesus.  Remember, God didn’t send Christ as Plan B when our obeying the ten commandments didn’t work out so well.  Jesus’ life was also purposed from before time.  In His story, we are the brothers that sold Him out.  Jesus lived a life marked by self-sacrificing service to others despite being supreme potentate of the universe.  We may not have been there to physically pound the spikes into His flesh, but do not doubt for one second that it was our sin that held Him there until it was accomplished.  When we bow before our brother, Jesus, and seek forgiveness for the atrocities we continually commit toward Him and the people around us made in His image, like Joseph He forgives us.  More than Joseph had the capacity to forgive because Christ is God.  Though He was faced with great evil, God meant it for good, and Jesus hung there in shame before His astronomical rise to life, that many people should be kept alive in Him.  That we don’t need to fear because He has told us He will provide us with everything we need.  He has given us hope for our eternal future as well as an abundant life to be lived in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in today.

My airport dreams have seemed to come to a close.  Recently, I dreamed I actually boarded a plane, though the dream moved on to something new before it landed.  I remember there was a man on the plane and he was standing up in front (my dream-plane had theater seating) and he asked a question.  I’m not sure what the question was, but in the dream I raised my hand, volunteering.  The dream niggled at the back of my mind for days until I prayed and asked God if He would tell me what these dreams were about, if anything at all.  I felt His answer, “For your encouragement.”  Be encouraged, friends!  He has such great plans to redeem our past, encourage us to endure the present, and promises us hope for the future.  Let’s pursue Him with everything we’ve got so our doubting selves can be blown away as we stand awestruck at His work, and give Him all the credit.

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.  …  Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!”  2 Corinthians 9:6-8, 15

Welcome to the abundant life, what’s your dream?






I have never shot a gun.  Nothing against them, we own several, I’ve just never gotten around to it or sought out the opportunity.  I’ve certainly never hunted and I haven’t fished since I was a little kid.  I like camping as long as there are flushing toilets, hot showers, not too many mosquitoes, and no wild animals bigger than a bunny.  You’re getting the picture I am not a country girl, right?  I told my husband one of my main requirements for wherever we live is that I cannot be more than ten minutes from the nearest Target.

We have some close friends however, that I would consider “country folk.”  They live out on a beautiful property with a pond, donkeys, llamas, chickens, and goats.  Literally one of the most exciting features for them when they first moved out there was that they would be able to shoot turkey and geese from their back porch.  Though still completely foreign to me, I’ve learned a bit about this lifestyle as we’ve been friends for nearly ten years now.  One thing that sticks out in particular is the negotiation of duck season.  It seems a complex hand of cards; I’ll raise you one purse/mani/pedi for next Saturday’s tags/ammo/possible-taxidermy-expenses.  Seriously, you might be a redneck if you have both a favorite and least favorite taxidermist.

When these friends told me about their favorite new show a couple years ago called “Duck Dynasty,” I just assumed it wouldn’t be something that I would be able to relate to.  Like much of the rest of America though, after finally catching an episode, I’m hooked.  I was even more pleasantly surprised to discover the family on the show loves the Lord and is using their popularity to showcase their faith.  I recently watched THIS short video testimony the family patriarch, Phil Robertson, gave telling of how he came to a life-changing, saving relationship with the Lord.  He said something in the last ten seconds that I thought was simply beautiful, and rather profound.  He closes his story by saying, “If you’re not a believer and you don’t believe God exists at all, about the only hope you have is He not be there.  What we’re saying is, we trust that He is.”

Those true words of faith have been rolling around my mind since I heard them.  They’ve been bumping into countless other quotes and phrases I tend to collect when I’m studying.  My mind is typically an unorganized grab-bag of information.  The women I do Bible study with Wednesday nights know how often I struggle to remember where I’ve learned something.  This is in part due to the way my brain seems to work, or not work.  (Scatterbrained would be a gentle way to put it).  It’s also because I am just a nerd for Bible study and tend to study in multiple places at once.  For the last month or so I’ve found myself involved in studying, either in a group setting or alone, Genesis, Nehemiah, Hebrews, and James.  I believe God has a perfect timing and purpose in revealing scripture to us, but it was still somewhat surprising when the words of a redneck, long-bearded believer began to attract other similar themes like a giant magnet reaching the dark corners of my mind.

Faith is most commonly defined in the Bible as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb 11:1).”  Faith is at the heart of every relationship with God and is so complexly entwined with how we live out what we profess to believe, it can be hard to see where it ends and another concept begins.  I’m hoping you’re game to join me on my journey this month in looking at how the larger theme of faith plays out in varied but related ways in the scriptures I’m pursuing.  We have quite a bit of ground to cover so I’m praying I strike the right balance of giving a faithful glimpse of the larger text, as well as not keeping you up all night reading.  Get comfortable, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start) as we look at three things a living faith requires as well as its results and fulfillment.

What does eating forbidden fruit, leaving your family and city life, and participating in a wrestling match with God have in common?  The opportunity to show faith through obedience.  Genesis is full of stories of ordinary people given the opportunity to either obey or disobey God’s commands.  Adam and Eve disobeyed the one rule given to them, bringing sin and its destructive effects into the world.  Abraham showed his faith in the promises the Lord had spoken to him by relocating from his comfortable ‘modern’ city life to tents in the desert.  Personally, I’m struck by the obedience of his wife, Sarah, who must have been slack-jawed to learn God had spoken to her husband and that they were now moving to the middle of nowhere with the promise that somehow in their struggle with infertility a great nation would be produced.  Can you even imagine how that conversation went down, husband to wife?!  Then there’s the mysterious wrestling match in Genesis 32 where Jacob’s hip ends up being put out of joint as a physical reminder of his need for obedience to God’s will.

These examples remind us that faithful obedience to God’s will does not mean just trying to be a “good person.”  God asked much of these heroes of faith and in return for their obedience they caught a glimpse of the faithfulness of God Himself.  True obedience can be costly.  It can cost us time, money, and/or relationships.  It forces us to evaluate our priorities and decide if the risk of what could be lost is worth the potential reward to be gained.  To me, one of the scariest risks is always relational.  What if obeying what the Lord has asked of me makes people look down on me?  If I’m the only mom in the group that is really conservative with TV and movie options for my kids, do I risk being labeled a prude if I know it’s something the Lord has shown me is important for my family?  Am I willing to give some of our limited funds to obey my responsibility of tithing to my church?  Will I give up a couple hours of my lazy Sunday to attend a church?  Where are you feeling especially called to be obedient to what God is teaching you?

Then there’s the other side of this evaluation: where are you missing out on God’s blessing due to disobedience?  We don’t always want to acknowledge our struggles with purity, honesty, drunkenness, envy, gluttony, or any other vice as actually being obedience issues, but Christians are called to holy lives submitted to God’s way of doing life.  Certainly we have great freedom in Christ, but if we’re claiming to know Him and living lives that have no regard for the Spirit’s conviction within us, then something is wrong.  I hope we can have the courage to ask Him to reveal our disobedience to us, and then to be granted the wisdom and strength to get right with Him.

Once our faith filled hearts will obediently submit to God’s way, it’s time to start living out that faith through our actions.  “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” James asks us (Jas 2:14).  I want to clarify that we are saved by God’s grace with us through our faith in Christ’s sacrifice, not by anything we can accomplish on our own.  That being said, James is adamant that, “faith apart from works is useless (Jas 2:20).”  He challenges us to, “Show me your faith apart from works, and I will show you my faith by my works (Jas 2:18).”  Maybe this is an obvious question, but what good is your faith?  Is your life wholly affected by what you believe?  Do the people around us benefit from the fruit of the Spirit we produce in our lives?

If we are really living the good, growing life of faith it should be spilling over into every facet of our daily lives.  If we are faithfully maturing and seeking to become more like Christ each day then we will not be able to compartmentalize a “Sunday Christian” self we bring out once a week.  Let’s not rob ourselves by waiting until Sunday to act on the faith we have access to every day of the week.  Bottom line, let’s do something about what we believe:

“One good deed is of more worth than a thousand brilliant theories.  Let us not wait for large opportunities, or for a different kind of work, but do just the things we find to do day by day.  We have no other time in which to live.  The past is gone; the future has not arrived; we never shall have any time but the present… No man ever served God by doing things tomorrow (Spurgeon, Morning and Evening Devotional).”

Our service cannot be the basis of true faith (look at all the good stuff I do, I must be saved!), but it will be the result of it (this freedom is such a gift, I want to show everyone how great it is!).  I am not earning my salvation, I am living it.  Earning implies there is something I’m lacking, but I’ve already got my reward in Christ.  If we say we believe, then we should act like it.

I pray you’ll take a minute for a self evaluation to make sure your “faith walk lines up with your faith talk.”  I don’t know about you, but James gets me fired up to sprint out the gate and do some good in the world!  Much of the time though, living our faith is more of a marathon than a sprint.  That’s the analogy I found in Hebrews for the importance of endurance in our faith.  The author of Hebrews is writing a sermon-of-a-letter encouraging believers to hold on to their faith through the trials they are facing; that this hope would anchor them so they will not be tempted to drift away.

The author, who is unknown, has a lot to say on the subject of faith, and there’s an entire section that outlines the lives of the great heroes of faith (see Hebrews 11).  He then points out that these superstars that have gone before us are now surrounding us; imagine a large stadium with all of them in the stands watching us and cheering us on, their stories inspiring us to keep going when we struggle to inch on.  I envision myself approaching the starting line, svelte and strong, ready to run the spiritual Olympic marathon of my life.  I’ve already thrown aside the training weights; the sin I so often choose to carry with me that the author warns of in chapter 12, verse 16.

Svelte and strong are not how we’re described in the text, though.  We’re described in verse 12 as having “drooping hands” and “weak knees.”  We are runners with injuries, scarred and broken from our run ins with the snares of the world.  And yet, no one is too injured for this race, there is no wound that cannot be miraculously healed in the running.  It’s the sitting on the sidelines or the running off-course where we get ourselves into trouble.  As long as we keep moving forward along the straight and narrow path, even if only at a snail’s pace at times, we will eventually share in the glorious culmination ceremony which awaits us on the other side of the finish line.

Through obedience, by our actions, with endurance, faith gets results.  In the book of the same name, Nehemiah’s life is set before us as part historical document, part memoir.  The book covers thirty years of his life, starting when he is a young man with the high position of cupbearer to the king, tells the amazing journey of uniting the people of Israel to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, his promotion to governor, his zeal for God’s word, and his many reforms to help bring the people of God back into a right relationship with Him.  By faith, Nehemiah spent his life not pursuing the promising political career he was already positioned for, but instead using his influence to further the visible manifestation of God in the world and to lead others to a reformed relationship with the God of their fathers.  A wall was built in 52 days and God’s people confessed their sins and turned back to Him in true worship.

If my faith rests in a power greater than myself, then there is no task that is too great for me to accomplish through this divine enabling.  It reminds me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 17:20 that, “if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”  I had always thought this meant my faith must be microscopic since I’ve never moved an ant-hill, let alone a mountain.  It struck me just recently though that maybe I should be focusing on the size of the mountain instead of the mustard.  Maybe the results of our faith are so hugely disproportionate to the amount of faith we bring that instead of feeling convicted for my lack, I can feel comforted in God’s ability to more than make up for it.  All Nehemiah, or you or I, have to offer is this one life, which in comparison to the extraordinary scope of the cosmos seems inconsequential, but that can be used by the infinite Almighty God to leave an enduring mark in this age and the age to come.  What results will God achieve with the amount of faith we place in Him?

In the end, it is where we place our faith that makes all the difference.  Faith can be placed in the spiritual, mystical, physical, scientific, relational, economical, cultural, or counter-cultural.  I’m not going to waste our time running down any of those rabbit trails except to say I know the One truly worthy of our trust.  Anything else we turn to is just a cheap, twisted imitation of the truth He brings.  Whether we accept it or not, all things are from Him and through Him and to Him (Romans 11:36).

Hebrews 12:2 calls him, “Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.”  This is the bedrock where we can safely anchor our faith.  In faith, Jesus was completely obedient to the will of the Father, from living a life without sin to His torturous execution.  In faith, Jesus acted upon His love for His Father by demonstrating His great love for us.  He fed the hungry, healed the sick, sought out the marginalized, taught the seeking, and forgave sinners.  In faith, Jesus, “endured  the cross, despising the shame (Heb. 12:2),” and running ahead to pave the straight and narrow course we continue in His pursuit.  Jesus’ faith results in His being seated at the right hand of the Father and offers us the opportunity for a deeply personal, intimate relationship with Father, Son, and indwelling Holy Spirit that will change your life for eternity.

He doesn’t care if you’re a redneck that owns a beer joint or an urban erudite, a DINK (dual income no kids) or a Duggar.  Who you think you are holds no weight against who He says you are in Him.  You are made perfect through His sacrifice, you are an heir to the Kingdom of Heaven, and by His wounds you can be healed.  Precious child, run into the strong arms of the Father who is already running to you.

Or you can place all the faith you have that He not be there.  All I’m saying, is that I have faith that He is.

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”  Hebrews 11:6

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