Sunday, December 26, 2010

Are You Feeling Abandoned?


I guess I should have thought through the whole holiday thing before I planned this little project, eh?  I must say that my reading has not been the best and my blogging has been non-existent, but I'm not giving up! (and neither should you my dear silent reader...)

I am skipping Numbers and Deuteronomy... for now.  I plan to get back to them at some point - may listen to them on cd or something, but at this point I'm picking up at Joshua and reading along again.  No biggie.

I will day that since my last post I've been introduced to a study on the background and customs and details of the Bible, especially Old Testament stuff, called That the World May Know.  Our church has a few from the series among their small group study materials so I checked one out the other day - very interesting.  I heard Focus on the Family revisit an interview they did with the series founder Ray Vander Laan... you can click here to hear the interview.  Good stuff.

Anyway, I hope to get back into the swing of things now that I've put my house back together.  I'll also recap our Christmas here in a day or two.

If you wanna get back onto the reading wagon you need to read Joshua 20-Judges 7 for tomorrow (I'm going to try to read a majority of Joshua and gradually make my way back on track).  Good luck to you - no matter if you're on track or have a ways to go, just read something!  (We still have 83 days til spring... we can do this!)

See ya later... I promise.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Exodus and Leviticus

Some hard reads there.  They are still rather interesting, rather repetitive, and rather gross at times.  So much of this stuff is lost on us westerners.  But still the overall themes are read loud and clear.

You don't need a degree from a Bible college to realize that God is talking about holiness here.  But I'm getting ahead of myself a bit.

First lets look at Exodus.  If you're on schedule you should have finished reading it yesterday.  (If you're not on schedule it's no biggie!!  Remember I too got off schedule for a time, just catch up where ya can and if it starts to get overwhelming, SKIP IT and get back on track.  You are not being tested on this stuff.  I would rather you read 7/8 of the Bible than to give up now because you are a few chapters behind.)

Here are my observations from Exodus:

*Found it interesting that Moses' mother decided to hide Moses in the Nile River when that was the very place that Pharaoh ordered his people to throw the Hebrew baby boys (1:22).  You know in the epic Charlton Heston film they depict the babies being killed by the sword - so you don't think of the Nile being the focal point of the mass murder.  Wonder what the thinking was behind this - because in my limited thought processes I would have probably chosen somewhere far away from the Nile to hide him.  Obviously for some reason she was hoping for a good outcome by placing him there... maybe one of you out there has a take on this...

* I also found it interesting that they saw something special in Moses from the beginning (2:2) wonder what that was...

*The plagues are always interesting to read... first of all despite common depictions, Moses was not the only one that used the staff - Aaron's staff became the snake and he ushered in the frogs and gnats as well.  How disgusting these experiences would have been and for the first few plagues or at least the demonstrations of God's power, Pharaoh's magicians were able to reciprocate - but that didn't last long at all.  What a great way to show them that their power is useless.  And what a testimony to God's people for them to see the Egyptians suffer with these plagues but have God's protection from them at the same time (9:4,26; 10:23; 11:7)

*God knows us so well - it's not surprising, He created us and knows everything about us - but I loved when God lead the Israelites out of Egypt it says that He did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.  For He said, "If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt." (13:17)  We later read that the Israelites were swayed to go back by the smallest struggle (just read in the very next chapter! 14:10-12).  War would have sent them over the edge.

*Loved the lesson taken concerning grumbling and it is one that I will not only try to remember myself (cuz I need that lesson often unfortunately) but also will try to teach my children.  In chapter 16 when the Israelites got a bit hungry the grumbling started and Moses admonished them saying, (v. 8) that they were not in fact grumbling against them, but against the LORD.  Wow.  How many times have I grumbled against the LORD.  I'm sure I would be embarrassed to find out.  Along those lines when the Israelites became thirsty they began to quarrel with Moses and he responded, "Why do you quarrel with me?  Why do you put the LORD to the test?" (17:2)  When we demonstrate a lack of faith and a lack of trust in our God we are basically calling Him out - putting Him to the test... not a good scenario.

*The splendor and majesty of the Tabernacle - a temporary dwelling for the LORD - just a fraction of the reflection of the glory of God.  I was struck by how He demanded the best and had every detail in order.  He is a creative God for sure but also one that asks for our best.  The denomination I've grown up in is one of the more laid back denominations.  When I was younger shorts and jeans - casual clothes in general - worn to church was a faux pas.  But today you see folks come in their team jerseys before their late Sunday morning ball games... I wear jeans most every Sunday... there are ball caps and hoodies and sneakers.  I know that the new covenant has created a new "playing field" so to speak in regards to worship... but I also know that God is the same yesterday, today and forever... and I'm sure there are many instances that we should show Him more respect than we currently do.  Just my thoughts.

*I also heard Ravi Zacharias say at one time that Exodus recounts God detailing the building of the Tabernacle to Moses and then turns around a repeats the whole process to show that Moses carried out his duties faithfully and obeyed God to every detail.  A lesson to be learned indeed.  My only question is this:  how in the world did Moses remember all of those details!? :)  I'm sure God placed them in his heart and on his mind, but I can just picture Moses trying to frantically record each detail using whatever writing instrument was used at that point!  If you are a visual person go check out this site - it has a model of all components of the Tabernacle and if you want to see a model on a really terrible looking dummy of the priestly garments go here. (I must say the teacher/nerd in me is tempted to buy that Tabernacle model!)

Ok, so I'm not going to get to Leviticus today as I had thought.  No worries, we still have a day more of reading in that chapter (if you haven't been grossed out and scared away from it yet!) - I will try to get to my thoughts there soon.  In the mean time, keep persevering!  Tomorrow's reading is Leviticus 21-Numbers 5.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I'm Admitting To You Now

that I skipped the reading for yesterday.  I was under the weather and basically laid on the couch and barked orders to my children.  Yes the house is a wreck now.  But I feel much better.

So, yesterday's reading was to be Exodus 12-23

And today's is Exodus 24-35

And tomorrow's is to be Exodus 36-Leviticus 7!  You're up to book #3! :)

So be diligent - I'll get back into this too - and by the weeks end you'll be moving on to book #4.  I'll try to post my observations soon, but until then, happy reading!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Today's Reading

and other random tidbits...

The book of Genesis set the tee for the Exodus which is what we'll be beginning today.  Today's reading assignment is Genesis 49-Exodus 11.

I've forgotten to give you "my tips" on how to read through some of this stuff...

1. Don't try to pronounce the crazy names.  That's not the goal of the challenge - many times the meaning of the names are noted in the footnotes... and they're always easier to read and understand than the actual name.

2. For the most part, skip the genealogical listings.  Skim them for well-known names or important events and details... but for the most part they are names of unknowns that aid in giving us a time frame between events.

3. If it's bogging you down, read it out loud.  For me there is something about reading it aloud that makes it more tolerable and interesting.

Now - for some really random observations from the last few days:

*  It was amazing to me that Sarah was such a looker even in her "old age" - the second incident in which Abraham requested her to go through the brother/sister charade occurred after they were told they would have a child within a year's time.  So she was around 90 years old!  and still lovely enough to tempt the king.  Amazing.

*  All of these Patriarch wives struggling with birthing children... Sarah, Rebekah (25:21), and Rachel... and after their husbands were promised many generations and descendants.  I'm thinking God really wanted them to be aware that He was the one in control.

*  I also thought it was kinda funny (strange too) that Isaac asked Esau to go fix him a meal so he could give his blessing because, "I am now an old man and don't know the day of my death." (27:2)  And then Jacob tricked Esau, stole the blessing, ran away from home, married two women, worked for over 20 years for his uncle, reunited with Esau and finally came home to his father - who was still alive!  I'm sure it's a cultural thing... either that or Isaac was a hypochondriac. :)

*  It was also interesting to me that Judah was the one that suggested they sell Joseph into Egypt.  The bad turned into good and the event saved their family from famine - and Christ came from the line of Judah... the plan for a Savior to come was always in place!  Such a detailed God we serve.

Anyway - hope you all are continuing with the readings (that is if anyone is reading) and I'll check in with ya again soon.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

And Three And Four...

The snow has hit around here - perfect weather to stay inside to read!

Today you should have tackled Genesis 25-36.

Tomorrow hit chapters 37-48... and then you know what??  You're almost through with the first of 66 books! 

And you'll also only be 96 days away for spring (and hopefully some major spiritual renewal!).

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Day #2

If you are joining the challenge you are supposed to be reading Genesis 13-24 today :)

If you don't know what I'm talking about, read yesterday's post.

If you read the first 12 chapters of Genesis yesterday with me, wasn't it full of action!?  The creation of the world, the fall of man, Cain and Abel, the flood, the splintering of the people groups, the Tower of Babel and the very beginnings of the story of Abram (Abraham).  Wow - all packed into 12 chapters.  Many theologians say that the first 11-12 chapters of Genesis are the foundations of society today. 

Some of the principles found in these chapters:
1.  Our God is powerful and creative - He spoke the world into existence and everything has been made with thought and purpose.
2.  All life has value - people are made in the image of God and He views us as His creation as very good.
3.  Marriage is important and ordained by God.
4.  People will mess up - God gave us free will so that we may choose to love and follow Him, but we can also choose to gratify our own desires.  Many wonder why all of mankind was cursed just because of the mistake of two people - it's because we all would make the same mistakes eventually.
5.  The curses cause us to look for a Savior - because we are all in need of one.
6.  The flood explains many of the questions concerning the earth's current form and fossil records.
7.  God had a plan from the beginning - Abram becomes the family line in which all people will be blessed.

And that's only the tip of the iceberg!

A couple of random observations I had concerning the story of Cain and Abel:

First, so many children's Bibles and Sunday School lessons show the first family as a family of four - Adam, Eve with their two sons, Cain and Abel.  This is where I need to remind myself and caution others to always go back to Scriptures when teaching our young people.  It does not say that Cain was the first born it just basically recounts a dispute between two brothers.  They could not have been the only children at the time... some clues are found in Genesis 4:14 and also in verse 17.  After God cursed Cain for his wicked deed against his brother, Cain responded with fear for his life.  In verse 14 he says, "I will be a restless wanderer on the earth and whoever finds me will kill me."  Who would be around to find him?  Obviously the earth was quite inhabited by this time.  Also in verse 17 it speaks of Cain's wife.  Cain had to have married a sister.  So let's be careful as to what we depict and teach our children, because false details of stories can become stumbling blocks in later years.

Second, in regards to the sacrifices presented by Cain and Abel.  We need to trust that God is faithful and consistent.  I am sure Cain knew what was expected of him when he made his sacrifice, for a reason not fully explained, God refused his offering.  When reading these chapters last night a new thought entered my head... and I'm not sure if it has any significance in regards to Cain and Abel or not.  In Genesis chapter 9, when Noah and his family were able to exit the ark, God made a covenant with Noah.  At this time God also now broadens the food supply for humans.  If you remember God had only given Adam and Eve the permission to eat plants (Genesis 2:8-9, and 16-17), but in 9:3 God said to Noah, "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you.  Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything."  He then goes on in the following verses to establish the importance of the "lifeblood" - maybe Abel's offering had that much more significance because he offered portions from the firstborn of his flock at a time when the killing of animals was rare since they were not used for food consumption?  Abel's offering at least shows he either felt the severe weight of his sin or he realized the holiness and glory of God.  Once again, just an observation I had.... which does not make it a correct one.

So I hope you're reading and making connections and seeing things in a new light.  And I hope you continue on for today (only 99 days left until spring! yay!!).

Friday, December 10, 2010

I'm Not Promising Anything...

but I think I'm up to a Winter Challenge, and that's exactly what I'm gonna call it - The Winter Challenge. (so very creative, I know.)

Here's what I'm thinking.  What good is winter if you can't basically sit at home, curl up in a blanket and read a book?  Yep, from my perspective that's pretty much all winter is good for - the occasional snow is fine, but I would rather just hibernate til spring.  Speaking of... did you know today marks 100 days until the first official day of spring?

So in hopes that I will be able to fulfill my plan of curling up to read while I endure the next 100 days known as winter, I have decided that I will read the Bible in 100 days.

Back at the beginning of the year I was able to read the Bible in 90 days - there's a whole program with support materials and everything.  It was the first time I was successful in a "read through the whole Bible" program - that read the Bible in a year stuff never worked for me - I always got distracted or procrastinated to the point that I just gave it up.  The shorter time frame is easier for me to stick to and the larger chunks of reading help me to get into the "story" of it all a bit better.... plus knowing that if I procrastinate even one day I'll be behind 12 chapters helps me to stay on track. 

So I'm wondering if anyone will join me?  I know it's short notice... but all you need to do is read 12 chapters a day.  I'm going to try to post things that pop to mind while I'm reading - questions I might have, things I find interesting, any nuggets of truth that strike me through the journey...  not everyday, just from time to time. This is going to become my electronic journal... just because I really don't know what to do on this blog anymore.  (But that subject is for a different post). 

Anyway, if you'd like to join me, I'd love to have the company (and the accountability)... or if you ever want to leave a comment about something that I babble on about, I would welcome the conversation too.

Regardless, I challenge you to do something big this winter.  Make it worthwhile - even if these days make you go blah... and if you are gonna do The Winter Challenge with me, then you need to go read Genesis 1-12. :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Need Some Truth?

Sitting in my inbox this morning was this devotional from Chuck Swindoll.  It's awesome.  Had to share it, because it deals with pits we can all fall into so easily.  I'm not usually one to just cut and paste... but will make an exception today :)

How to Waste Time

James 4:13-17

"Have you noticed how many day-planners are available these days? And then there are the time-management self-help books: how to increase your efficiency, how to make every moment count, how to invest your time wisely and productively.

While all those voices and handy products scream for your attention, I'd like to play devil's advocate and tell you how to waste your time. Five proven ideas come immediately to mind:

First, worry a lot. Start worrying early in the morning and intensify your anxiety as the day passes. Worry about your own failures and mistakes---about what you should or could have done but didn't. To add variety, worry about things you should not have done but did. Hanging around negative people is another secret you won't want to forget. Remember: Potential ulcers need fresh acid.

Second, make hard-and-fast predictions. Of course, you'll need to ignore that little throwaway line in the fourth chapter of James: "you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow." But forget that comment and set your expectations in motion. Be as specific as you can. For example, one month before his July 1975 disappearance, Jimmy Hoffa announced: "I don't need bodyguards."

Third, fix your attention on getting rich. You'll get a lot of innovative ideas from the secular bookshelves (I counted fourteen books on the subject last time I was in a bookstore), plus you'll fit right in with most of the hype that's pouring out of entrepreneurial seminars and high-pressure sales meetings.

Fourth, compare yourself with others. Not only will you ricochet between the extremes of arrogance and discouragement, you will also spend the time not knowing who you are.

Fifth, lengthen your list of enemies. If there's one thing above all others that will keep your wheels spinning, it's perfecting your skill at the Blame Game. With a full arsenal of suspicion, paranoia, and resentment, you can waste endless evenings stewing over those folks who have made your life miserable.

Put these five surefire suggestions in motion, and you can forget about all the hassles connected with being happy, efficient, productive, and contented. Within a couple of months, those things won't even be on your agenda.

All this sounds like foolish exaggeration, doesn't it? But just stop and think: How much time are you already wasting on some of these things?"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Stay Tuned...

Do you need something to help you through the winter blahs?  Me too.  I'm plotting, I'm thinking... and I may have come up with something.  We'll see... and I'll keep ya posted.  The announcement may come on Thursday.  Maybe.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The 2:00 Wake-Up

I'm not a morning person.  I love my sleep.  It makes me happy.  In fact I can't think of any feeling I love more than finally being able to lay my weary body down on my soft bed and know that good deep sleep will soon follow.  I usually am asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.

Here lately I've been waking up in the middle of the night... for seemingly no particular reason.  I used to hate it.  I mean when I was dealing with an infant, the middle of the night feeding got old really fast, so waking up for no reason got old even faster.  I couldn't just drift back to sleep either - it would be at least an hour of doing nothing waiting to get drowsy again.

But now I look on this time quite differently and I almost look forward to it as much as I do my bedtime.  This has become my devotional time.  Any moment that I wake up in the middle of the night I view it as God tapping me on the shoulder asking me to spend time with Him.  I love it.  The house is so quiet, no chance of any interruptions... I spend the time with Him and then I fall asleep so easily afterward.  I'm also so very ready for the next day ahead.

I have struggled for nearly 9 years now in finding a good time to have uninterrupted God time.  Seems that He has solved the problem for me... too bad I was too dense (or selfish) to think of it sooner!