Genesis – Back to the Beginning

By Tammy Trail

Our family was never big on going to church. We did attend a local Lutheran church down the street  for an occasional Sunday School class, or Vacation Bible School during the summer breaks. I learned about Jesus through this sporadic exposure to the Bible.

In 1994, when I worked as a paraprofessional at a local grade school, I was invited by a small group of teachers to join their Bible study group. Just like all things that are meant to happen for a reason, it changed my life and set me on my path of true healing.

Our first study was a survey of the Old Testament. My love of history and genealogy made the book of Genesis my favorite Old Testament book. Granted there are parts of this narrative that have always made me scratch my head, but what great stories of  God’s promises to his  people.

Examples of incredible faith are found in the pages of this book. Of course, Creation is the main story everyone remembers from the book of Genesis, but you’ll also find plenty of heroes and heroines. This is the beginning history of God’s chosen people, the Hebrew nation.

The story of Abraham and Sarah is a great testament of faith, and obedience. What an adventure God sent them on, and all the while he blessed them with wealth, knowledge, protection, and wisdom. Noah is a favorite of my grandsons now. I asked my four-year-old grandson, Kayden why he thought it was good to remember Noah. He didn’t know, so I told him that Noah listened to God and did what God told him. That is why we remember Noah. Kayden told me he wants to listen to God too. Yep, I’m starting them young!

Who could forget the story of Jacob? His story reminds me of the soap operas on daytime television not so long ago, the exception being that God was involved with Jacob’s life. Jacob’s youngest son, Joseph, had an equally amazing story to tell. God’s fingerprints were all over this young man from the very beginning. He had set a plan in motion from the time Joseph was born. I especially like Josephs’ story.

Everyone usually associates Joseph with his coat of many colors gifted to him by his father, Jacob. Like Joseph, my life growing up was not all roses and sunshine, and having excuses to hold grudges or unforgiveness was understandable. God had other plans for me, just like he did for Joseph. Forgiveness can be a learned experience, and blessings may come out of following God’s plan for it.

 I have continued to learn from studying my Bible. I confess I don’t do it as much as I should these days, but I will always be grateful for the invitation to attend that first small group Bible study. It set me on a good path.

Click to tweet: A small group Bible study changed my life and set me on my path of true healing. #Bible #smallgroups

Writing Prompt: Fanny Mae wanted to stay home on this rainy, chilly day. Her only reason to go out was she didn’t want to get behind in the Bible study of …………

Has Anyone Seen God?

For what God is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? Deuteronomy 3:24

In Exodus, God begins an epic tale of deliverance. Most of us are familiar with the story told in the movie The Ten Commandments. How God freed the Hebrew nation from the clutches of Egypt. Then long after they were physically delivered, He continued to work through Moses to deliver them mentally and spiritually from Egypt.

They would leave aside their worship of other gods and learn to accept the guidance of the One True God, their Deliverer. It should be easy, after all He did to free them of the pharaoh’s control. But, they had been taught to bow their knee to visible likenesses of earthly gods. When Moses stayed away too long, they formed a likeness of what they knew––a bull––and worshiped it.

So why did God not reveal himself to them? Why did He warn them away from His Holy Mountain? Would this not solve everything? Prove Himself to them? No. He knew them, as He knows us, right where we are. Right now. Today.

God hid His form from the Israelites (man) so they would never be able to create an image of Him then worship the image instead of Him (our God is a jealous God). Even when He finally did respond to Moses’ request, He only allowed Moses to look upon His back as He passed by. No man sees God and lives.

Moses never told any more about what he saw. He never carved a statue to illustrate or commemorate the event. Many times throughout our history, man would again resort to statues and idols. But those who believe without seeing are more blessed than those who have seen (John 20:29).

In Pentateuch, the Hebrews struggled to gain the promised land in the name of “I Am,” the unseen God, the One True God. Many great battles ensued, and when they trusted and obeyed Him, they would win their battles. When they disobeyed, even in a small way, they would lose battles and lose lives.

Do you believe? Study the scripture. When you research your WIP, don’t forget the Bible. You never want to overpower your story with scripture, but you can weave precious nuggets of truth throughout. Why? To change hearts, to make deposits of hope in hurting lives. To inspire and heal the brokenhearted. Shine your light through your work.

There are many fine examples of this in contemporary literature. And don’t overlook the classics. God is present in many of our favorites, like Jane Eyre and Little Women––some of the most popular books of all time. With this in mind, I challenge you to finish today’s prompt, interjecting faith to overcome anxiety or physical trauma:

Prompt: Warmth flooded the room where Maxine sat. She glanced up to find the sun spilling through the open door. The long night had ended.
Betty

Everything Bible

We’re starting this year off with Everything Bible, an integral part of the craft equation for Christian Writers. I invite you to join us on our journey through the Word of God.

For some, the Bible seems an enigma. It is a collection of stories, parables, epics, adventures, poetry, and prose. Relating history in all of these forms, the Word of God was given for teaching. It’s a learning tool. A reminder of the goodness of God. It binds us together. I could go on and on, but I have to focus. This month, I will share a few of my favorite stories in the Bible.

Every history has a beginning. The Word is our beginning. The Word came first (John 1:1). As a writer begins a new story and creates a world with his or her words, God created the world by speaking words.

We read in Genesis 1:1-5,

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. (KJV)

Thus begins a story of epic proportions, a moral tale at times, when bad choices result in tragedy (i.e. Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel). Its purpose, not just to relate history, but to inspire us to live according to God’s word. It’s not a rulebook, though it contains rules. Its ultimate purpose is to inspire us to love enough to live a righteous life, outside of rules. In spite of rules. Even some of the best have come up short, but God’s love for us is ongoing.

It is difficult for me to choose a favorite among the Genesis stories, but if I must, I will choose Joseph. His imperfections are what drive him to the top. Long before he became a world leader, his father gave him a “coat of many colors.” That multicolored coat was a “type” or foreshadowing of things to come. Joseph would eventually lead Egypt (he was second only to Pharaoh). Many nations (people and/or races) came to buy grain. This, in my opinion, is the significance of the coat.

United States Public Domain

Joseph was a dreamer. His dreams were vivid and memorable. They paved the way for his future. I used to think it was not too smart for him to share those dreams with his brothers. Was it ego or immaturity that drove him? Of course his older brothers hated him for it. The kid was already their father’s favorite. But I realized this too was God’s plan. How else would Joseph end up in a faraway prison at the perfect moment in history? Right place, right time. You can read Joseph’s story in Genesis 37, 39-47.

Joseph’s integrity remained intact, no matter what obstacles were thrown in his way. A story like this can inspire a writer to create a story of their own.

This week’s prompt:  Some said Andrew was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Athletic and outgoing, he entered grad school with a 4.0 average. Then things went terribly wrong. A young woman with whom he was only slightly acquainted accused him of statutory rape. Within a matter of weeks, he’d lost his job, his scholarship, and most of his friends. He was acquitted of the crime, but his life was forever changed.

Can you come up with a Joseph-like ending to this story? If so, please post it as a comment or send it via our contact page to be eligible for our January prompt contest. If we have multiple posts, we’ll choose the best one and enter that one in the final drawing at the end of January for a $10 Amazon gift card. Watch for additional prompts each Friday and Tuesday for more chances to win!

Thanks for reading,
Betty

שָׁלוֹם-Shalom

 שָׁלוֹם-Shalom

On my personal blog I have a segment I call digging deeper. I had decided weeks ago to write on the word Shalom. It’s not an English word but most of us have heard it, know it. With all that has happened, in my local community where two police officers were shot and killed Sunday evening, Newton, Aurora, Oregon, and the Middle East (the list goes on and on), I thought it appropriate to revisit portions of a blog I wrote during the Easter season.

So here it is:

I’ve been thinking about the whole idea of prayer, repentance, taking care of the poor and fasting. I’ve also been thinking about the forty days Jesus spent in the desert and the forty days Moses spent on the mountain and how those forty days tie into Lent.

As I began to pray over what I should blog about today, God very clearly told me to urge His church to pray for Jerusalem.

But now I have chosen Jerusalem for my Name to be there, and I have chosen David to rule my people Israel. 2 Chronicles 6:6 (NIV

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.” Psalm 122:6-7

Many of you know that the Hebrew word for peace is shalom, but do you know that the word shalom means nothing missing, nothing broken?

I love Psalms 137:5-6 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy. (NIV) The Jewish Study Bible says, “let my right hand wither . . . if I do not keep Jerusalem in memory even at my happiest hour.”

On a side, according to the commentary in the Jewish Study Bible (JSB), the breaking of glass at the end of wedding ceremonies is to remember Jerusalem at their happiest moments.

The commentary also suggests that if the right hand is useless and the tongue sticks to the roof of the mouth, then it is near impossible to play music or sing praises.

Are the prayers for Jerusalem an Old Testament edict only? I don’t think so.

As he [Jesus] approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace-but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

There is that word peace again~nothing missing, nothing broken. But more importantly, this incident occurred right after the triumphal entry.

And Paul’s letter to the Romans says, “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”

During the preparation for this Easter season, please remember to pray for Jerusalem, especially with the escalation of violence in the Middle East.

It’s me again, today, December 18, 2012. What do you think of when you think of Jerusalem? Definitely not peace. It’s been the center of conflict for thousands of years. When David made this holy city his capital it was the capital over the tribes of Judah. After Solomon’s death, it was the Capital of Judah. There are so many things in the Bible that point to Jerusalem, this city of Zion, past, present and future. The Bible talks about the ‘new’ Jerusalem.

יְרוּשָׁלַם  Jerusalem

According to Strong’s Concordance, Jerusalem is the teaching of peace. The past days have been difficult, not only for our Nation, but for the entire world. Well, to be honest, many people have lived difficult lives since they took their first breaths, but in a nation where we are blessed with prosperity and liberty, even those of us find it hard to make ends meet, these days have been difficult. Our understanding lacks, our words are few, our tears many, especially since these horrific events happened as we prepare for our holiday seasons, but may our prayers be many. Prayers of comfort, prayers of peace.

Christmas is supposed to represent a time of joy, a reflection of the greatest gift given to mankind by our Creator, but too often it is filled with stress. Christmas should be a time for giving with cheerful hearts. No, not with expensive, breaking the bank kind of gifts, but ones that come from the heart.

I was just telling a friend of mine that my heart breaks at the thought of the children who won’t have anything under the tree this year, if they even have a tree. My heart cried at the little tags still hanging from the Angel Tree at one of your local Walmarts. My children have plenty. They have two praying parents, a roof over their heads and clothes on their backs. They know, without a doubt, their parents love them. They know they are cared for, not just in a monetary sense. Those children, represented by a piece of paper, may not know such things. Not that I believe a package of socks will give them that sense of well-being, but if the heart is in the right place, I believe God will bless the receiver and make them feel cared for.

So during this Christmas may we be ‘teachers of peace’ the kind of peace where ‘nothing is missing and nothing is broken. May we be used on God’s behalf to bless others.

שָׁלוֹם

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