Check out this trailer for a new documentary called Lemonade. It highlights the lives of people in the advertising world who have lost their jobs in the current recession. (WARNING: There's a little bit of crude language in this, and some of the life-choices are not necessarily God-honoring.)

I just find it interesting from several different standpoints:
  • how often a personal crisis can result in drastic choices that bring greater fulfillment in life.
  • how often a personal crisis can result in drastic choices that take lives in an unhealthy direction.
Church leaders/members: I wonder how much we are helping people turn their lemons into lemonade? When we hear of someone getting handed a lemon, are we encouraging them to take God-honoring risks, or are we letting them flounder without any support/encouragement?


Social Networking Burnout

I'm experiencing something that I'll just call social networking burnout. I currently have my blog, a Facebook account, and a Twitter account. I love them all!

I've been blogging for about 4 years now and I find the writing fun and sometimes therapeutic.

I've been on Facebook for almost a year and I love how Facebook keeps me connected with people that I would otherwise lose touch with. It's been great reuniting with people from high school, college, the Army, and the different churches we've served in. Also, making those Facebook connections proved to be invaluable when it came to raising support for our upcoming mission trip to India. Probably the majority of our support came from Facebook friends. However, it has the potential to be a big time-waster.

I've been on Twitter for about 6 months or so and I really love it. If I'm honest, I probably enjoy Twittering more than Facebooking. I like giving and receiving the 140-character updates without all the hassle of the Facebook quizes, games, poking, pillow fights, food fights, and other such nonsense that I always ignore.

However, I've noticed that since I started Twittering, I haven't been updating my blog as much. Things I normally would have blogged a few paragraphs about, I can now reduce to 140 characters or less and keep it concise. But I start feeling guilty when I go several days without blogging (like now). I've thought about getting off of Facebook, but I'd feel guilty disconnecting from so many old friends. I've thought about getting off of Twitter, but I really like it and sometimes it proves to be useful and informative. I've thought about not blogging anymore, but that just makes me sad and I think the longer writing form is good for me.

So the last few days as I've been pondering all this, I hit burn-out and didn't post much to any of the 3 mediums. I think something, or a few somethings, needs to go. I can't make up my mind which, though. I'll probably come to a decision within the next several days.


Genesis 48-50

These last 3 chapters serve as a sort of epilogue to the book of Genesis. They deal primarily with the final blessings and death of Jacob and the death of Joseph. In Jacob's blessings of his sons there are some rich foreshadowing of the coming Messiah, Jesus. Especially in the blessings of Judah and of Joseph.

One thing that I want to point out is actually 8 verses after our study ends.
Exodus 1:8 (ESV)
Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.

Although Joseph is certainly remembered even today, there was a point after his death that his actions and position were forgotten and didn't do the Israelites much good. They were oppressed and enslaved despite his high position in Egypt.

There will come a day that all of us will be forgotten by the communities and kingdoms of this world. It doesn't matter how much good we do, one day we will die, and life will march on without us. Kind of depressing, huh?

Here's the lesson, though. When you live your life the way Joseph and Jacob and Isaac and Abraham lived their lives--knowing that it's not really about us, but about God. Then we will leave a legacy that will outlive any memory of our existence. A legacy of Jesus. I don't care one lick if people remember me when I'm dead, I just want to make sure the legacy of Jesus Christ carries on. What Kingdom investments can you make today or this week or this year that will leave a lasting legacy of Jesus Christ to the generations who come after you?


Genesis 47

As you read Genesis 47, you can tell a few things about Joseph.
--He loved his family and wanted to provide for their needs.
--He worked hard and shrewdly for Pharoah.
--He took pride in his work and in increasing Pharoah's influence/wealth.

I'm a firm believer that as an employee of a company, one of your primary roles is to work in a way that pleases your employer, that seeks the best interest of your employer, and that increases the influence/wealth of your employer. I believe this is God-honoring work.

Too many people go to work and are solely concerned with their own egos, wealth, and agenda. But I believe a Christian employee needs to ask themselves, "Is this company stronger because of my presence and the work that I do?" Too often Christian employees become sidetracked with "being a Christian witness" at work and don't do the work they were actually hired to do. Don't get me wrong--I'm not suggesting you check your Christianity at the door when you go to work. However, I am suggesting that the manner in which you perform your duties at work are just as much a part of your Christian witness as anything you might say. Christians should work for their employers in a way that glorifies God and betters the company.


Genesis 45-46

Genesis 45:4-8 (ESV)
So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph,
whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
I love that Joseph picks the worst circumstances of his life and does something completely opposite of what we expect. He doesn't have a pity party. He doesn't pout or get angry. He doesn't seek revenge against his brothers or hold it over their head. He sees God's hand at work in the worst of his life and gives God the glory! What circumstances of your life are you allowing to make you bitter or destroy your spirit? Maybe God is actually using these horrible circumstances to bring about a "greater good" in your life! Choose faith instead of fury or fear!!


Genesis 42-44

Joseph's story is such an epic story. Someone should turn it into a movie...seriously. In today's reading Joseph's brothers come to Egypt looking for help and Joseph puts them through a series of tests and, I think, has a little fun with them, too. The most interesting thing about this part of the story is that we find Joseph's brothers have developed into honorable/honest men.

I know I've harped on this whole thing of forgiveness and reconciliation with family (or whoever else). It's been a surprise to me. I honestly didn't intend on focusing so much on that aspect of the story. But this is just another reminder to us that who we become is sometimes far different than who we are in our youth. We should never write one another off as lost causes. God can and does transform lives and we should give people in our past second chances for that very reason. In fact, sometimes the transformation comes through the forgiveness of others.


Genesis 39-41

This is an amazing story of God's hand of providence in action. Joseph is the lowest he could possibly be. As if slavery wasn't bad enough, he's sent to prison on a trumped up charge and forgotten about. But God's got a plan and Joseph's faithfulness is rewarded. Joseph goes from youngest son to slave to prisoner to second-in-command in Egypt. There's no limit to what God can do when his people choose to place their faith in him despite tough circumstances. What circumstances in your life are keeping you from choosing faith? God is faithful to his promises. Are you?

I also love Joseph's example of handling temptation in Potiphar's house. Potiphar's wife seduces him and Joseph RUNS! We should never forget that God's Word calls us to flee temptation, not flirt with it.


Genesis 37-38

These two chapters serve as the set-up for the great things God will do through Joseph. I really think their primary purpose is to establish the wickedness of Joseph's brothers, especially Judah. It was Judah's idea to sell Joseph into slavery. Chapter 38 tell us more of Judah's wicked behavior towards his own family.

Later on we'll see the reconciliation of Joseph to his brothers. Another example of the importance of not hanging the past over the heads of your siblings. They often change over time and reconciliation/forgiveness should always be sought among family.


Genesis 31-36

Sorry my updates have been so sporadic. I should be able to update daily for the remainder of the study.

Lots of interesting stories in these two chapters, but my personal favorites are the reconciliation of Jacob and Esau and Jacob wrestling with God.

I love that Jacob wrestles with God and God lets him win. I'm not really sure what that means, but it sounds like something our God would do. I think it's possibly a demonstration of the fact that God allows us to wrestle with our faith as much as we need to. However, all faith eventually requires a leap of faith. Maybe the quicker you can make that leap of faith, the chances will be smaller that you'll walk away with a limp!

The thing I like about the Jacob/Esau story is that it ends in love and forgiveness. I wonder if there are any of you that could stand to humble yourselves and approach a sibling and seek reconciliation? I honestly think one of the saddest things in the world is when siblings part ways. My brothers are seriously my best friends in the world and we have intentionally made the decision to never allow things to come between us. Even if it means accepting some faults or allowing some things to not resolve the way we think they should. That relationship is just too valuable to allow ego to get in the way. I realize circumstances can strain these relationships, but is God possibly nudging you to forgive a sibling? Don't allow pride to keep you from one of life's greatest blessings--brothers and sisters!


2nd Annual Back-to-School Big Give!

Living Hope Church held our 2nd Annual Back-to-School Big Give yesterday afternoon. I can't express how much I love this event and how proud I am of our church for pulling it off! We give away new backpacks full of school supplies, free haircuts, fingerprinting, facepainting, Bibles, food, games and prizes. When you see these kids' faces light up when they get their new backpacks or young ladies in tears because they're getting their first professional haircut in years (this year we had several stylist from the Paul Mitchell Acadamy), it's almost too much to take. I don't know how many times I had to wipe a tear out of my eye yesterday. There were around 450 in attendance yesterday and everyone had a great time.

As usual Jamie did a FANTASTIC job of organizing the event. I was really proud of her. It was a much smoother event than last year. She's amazing and adds so much to our church!

There are always funny things that happen at these events. Last year we thought it would be good to have cartoons playing on the big screen for the kids. I got a DVD of Looney Tunes videos thinking it would be a safe choice. Boy was I wrong. Big-time racist images and I was more than a little embarrassed. This year's funny thing was great, though. Attendees had to register and get a ticket to pick up their backpack and a ticket to get their snacks. We were able to save about $15 by purchasing this roll of tickets that was a little different. CLASSIC LIVING HOPE MOMENT!!! (Picture of ticket below and more pics of the event.)