Thursday, January 31, 2013

Takeaways From Exodus 4-6

So much stuff in these three chapters!  The big takeaways I had were:

1. Moses blatantly doubted God. Just put his concerns and incredulity out there!  I just recently began bringing doubts and questions to God. Most my life I thought it seemed disrespectful, but really?  Who did I think I was kidding??  God knows our hearts, which I'm eternally grateful for since half the time my prayers go something like this, "Augh!  God!  I don't even know what to say!  I mean, you know what I'm trying to say here, right?!"  So why bother "hiding" doubts from him?  Pointless. But still scary to do it, so I have to give Moses props for laying it all out there.

2.  Ohmygoodness.  Moses does not want this gig!  Could he try any harder to squirm out of this?  Besides the concerns he mentions about the Israelites not believing him, there are the three, count 'em, three! times he explains his "faltering lips."  Maybe God just can't take a hint. So Moses flat-out asks that he send someone else. God doesn't budge. When he has a person in mind for a particular job there is no talking him out of it and I love that. I love that God pushes (shoves?) us out of our comfort zones.  That he gives us free will, but if we try to ignore his plan he'll bug us until its easier to just do it.

3.  Do we need to talk about how God was going to kill Moses all of a sudden there in chapter 4 for not circumcising his son?  Were you just as taken aback as I?  Surprises around ever corner in this Bible of ours!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Moses Knows This (Exodus 1-3)

Another book down!  It's into Exodus now, and I'm excited to be hearing Moses' story as told by Moses.  He was there for this stuff.  He knows and experienced how things went down.  Already the Israelites are being forced into hard labor and then.  Forced to kill their baby boys.  Sickening.  Even so, God is showing himself in the details.  It cannot just be coincidence that Moses' real mom is asked to nurse the mystery baby.  It was a happy ending for her, but I can't imagine the anguish her friends and relatives had to endure in their losses.

Happily, Moses was this chosen guy who is arguably the biggest deal in the Old Testament (and co-author of the world's #1 book year after year!).  I've said it before and I'll say it again- I love that God picks average guys, sinners (um, did YOU know Moses killed a guy and buried him in the sand?  Because I feel like my Sunday school glossed over that) to be history-altering leaders.  Moses wasn't a Harvard grad with an internship at a prestigious law firm thanks to his mad debating skillz.  He was a nervous (at best) speaker from the wrong side of the tracks who God plucked from the Nile and plopped down into greatness. 

I've read the Bible every day for 30 days now!  Do something for 30 days and it's a habit, right?  Unlike my caffeine addiction, this is one habit I'm glad I picked up.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Brothers Are Blessed? (Genesis 48-50)

I'm reading this book right now. 

I can't begin to guess the baggage Leman would have to sort through with Joseph and company, but whatever issues they had were likely magnified after Jacob's deathbed blessings. (Blessings! Bible's word, not mine!)  Joseph was given the biggest blessings, obviously of all his brothers. Most of the brothers made out okay, but how would you like some of the last words your father tells you to be, " will no longer excel" (that's Reuben- 49:4) or "Issachar is a rawboned donkey..." (poor Issachar wants to interrupt here, "um Dad? Are you suuuuure that's the word you're looking for? A donkey?!  Maybe you mean 'darn king!'"). Gad is going to be making himself crazy from now on waiting to be "attacked by a band of raiders." And poor Benjamin has to follow Joseph! Not a coveted position, I'm sure.

I don't feel I can neglect to mention Joseph's death.  The man with the fancy robe and jealous brother remains such a godly man, right up to the end when he reassures his brothers (attackers!), while hinting it isn't him they should be making amends to, but God: "But Joseph said to them, 'Don't be afraid.  Am I in place of God?'"

Monday, January 28, 2013

Jacob Has 10,000 Reasons (Genesis 46-47)

The big news in Genesis today is that Egyptians are reduced to servitude.  This is so sad and a huge deal later on, but it’s not what stuck with me in today’s reading.  All day I’ve been remembering dear Jacob.  He’s finally reunited with his precious Joseph, makes a big move with his whole (enormous!) family, and is nearing the end of his very full life.  The last words of the last verse of this day’s reading are a powerful image for me; I absolutely love it:  “…and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.” (47:31)  Is that precious or what?  Even as Jacob is close to death, even as he can’t stand without assistance, he is worshiping his God.
Over the weekend three gray hairs were spotted on my head.  I handled it fine (and by “fine” I mean I screamed and hit my brother who was laughing while I screamed (hysterically?), “Yank it out! Yank it OUT!”  Sometimes my husband says I overreact).  It was painful for me, but in all seriousness, I pray that when I am old and gray(er), or even when I’m just too worn and tired to stand up straight, I will be worshiping God with the loyalty and love of our man Israel. 
This song has been in my head since church yesterday (as my kids can attest.  I may or may not have been singing it into the baby’s bottle all day.)  It’s fantastic and fitting today, I think.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Family Brounion (Genesis 41-45)

I spent the day with my family today at my cousin’s daughter’s first birthday party.  There is no doubt that these are some of my favorite people in the world.  Happily, we do not have the family drama that say- Jacob’s family does.  I don’t need to tell you that the more you love a person, the deeper they can hurt you.  So it’s no surprise Joseph weeps five times in as many chapters over his brothers.  Several years have passed, Joseph is Bill Gates successful, and seemingly moved beyond his painful past and then his brothers show up.
“He turned away from them and began to weep…”  (42:24)
“…Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep…” (43:30)
“…And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him…” (45:2)
“Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept…” (45:14)
“And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them…” (45:15)

Between this story and Jacob’s reunion with Esau, I’m getting the message loud and clear: forgive.  When I was a rotten little tween, somebody pointed out that so often we’re most unkind to the people that love us most in the world and it really resonated.  Someone should have mentioned this to the Israel brothers ten plus years ago, right?

Here’s the other thing I can’t not mention.  How funny is Joseph to send his brothers on their way and jokingly (???) remind them, “’Don’t quarrel on the way!’” (45:24).  In other words, “Don’t throw Ben down a well just because he’s obviously my favorite and I gave him a donkeyload more stuff than you!”  I mean if you can’t rib your sibs, who can you rib?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sweet Dreams (Genesis 38-40)

The thing about the Old Testament is that it's so hard.  It's difficult for me to know what to take literally, what rules still apply (I'm thinking sacrificing animals- no; ten commandments- yes); most of all it's scary to see my tender, merciful God as such a (seemingly) harsh disciplinarian.  On the other hand, there were some really wicked characters in Genesis!  However, when God gives us a hero, he really gives us a hero.

The things we know about our big figures in the Bible are things like this: God uses them for huge things (to be ancestors of Jesus, for instance); they are flawed (this is my favorite!  I love a good guy who screws up); they are blessed like crazy (wives, kids, camels, you name it, they've got it!); and have mercy, do they persevere.  Job gets the blue ribbon for perseverance of course, but Joseph should at least get an honorable mention.  Let's recap:

1. He is born into well-to-do (get it? well?) family and is dad's favorite.  Blessed!
1. Jealous brothers throws him in well and sell him into slavery.  Where God blesses him!
2. His master's wife repeatedly comes on to him.  He perseveres and is thrown in jail.  Where God blesses him!
3. He is able to interpret a dream that may be his ticket to freedom.  He is forgotten.  But God is going to bless him!

Perseverance.  Joseph had to master it in a big way.  A big, heroic way.  Let's celebrate him with a little diddy from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Joseph the Broseph (Genesis 35-37)

Well, I knew it was coming, but today was my first solid chapter of a Biblical name-filled family tree.  And while it wasn’t the most riveting read, I was able to glean a bit of useful information.  For one thing, it turns out the Eliphaz we met in Job is one of Esau’s boys!  I also looked back to reference the ancestry to see where Joseph and Reuben fell in the birth order (and double check that Jacob’s favorite was indeed born to Rachel- of course).  Since Reuben was the only one who gave two shekels about what happened to Joseph, I wasn’t surprised he was the oldest and most caring.  (Why yes, I am the oldest in my family, why do you ask?)
It’s such a heartbreaking story and a very familiar one, but there were little details revealed to me this time around that made it an even sadder story.  Like how the brothers threw Joseph in the well and then sat down to eat their meal (37:25).  That means they ate an entire meal while their brother was probably calling out to them for help; scared, helpless, possibly hungry, cold without his coat, maybe even crying. 
Awful.  He was living with ten (I’m not counting Reuben) awful guys.  Certainly Joseph would get on a guy's nerves with his fancy coat and seemingly narcissitic dreams, but did he deserve this abuse?  I think getting out of that house in a way?  Must have been a dream come true.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Jacob: A Hip Guy (Genesis 32-34)

There is so much packed into these two chapters!  And so much I did not know!  It always rather surprises me when I hear a Bible story I didn’t know or remember.  It started out familiar with Jacob and Esau reuniting (hooray!), but then it was all new territory!
Jacob wrestling God seems like a pretty big story- how could I not know this one?!  It’s a great, albeit confusing, story!  (Is confusion becoming a theme on my blog?  Maybe I should re-title it, “Totally Confused Face in the Bible.”)  I need to know- did Jacob really wrestle God?  Is this a literal part of the Bible or was he battling God in prayer, nervous about coming home, especially because Esau was reportedly coming to meet him with 400 guys who may or may not be ready to attack Jacob’s camp.  It seems to have really happened because we have Jacob's injured hip as evidence.  But whether or not it’s literal doesn’t matter to me; I like that Jacob struggled with God.  Sometimes I shy away from the big questions or squash my nervousness about God’s plan, but this story implies I can confront God with these issues.  And overcome them.  Not without some scarring, but it would be so worth it for the bigger, better faith.  So worth it.
Now Dinah I remember.  Although not as a rape victim.  Or the bit about the entire city being circumcised.  Or the murder and pillage.  Have mercy.  You cannot make this stuff up.  I feel like we see Dinah again in Judges (I’m scared to even type that, so uncertain am I) and I can’t wait to read up on her some more.  She turns out okay if I remember correctly, and I am interested in her future now that I know a bit more about her past.  We're zipping along!  I'm sure Judges (???) will be here in no time!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Remember This! (Genesis 30-31)

My sister came to visit me last weekend and it was delightful.  We are really close and I just love hanging out with her.  The key to our successful sisterly bond is that we do not share a husband.  Thankfully!  Because I would so be the Leah in that triangle; Jamie is waaaaay cuter and more fun than I.  Not to mention several years younger.  I wouldn’t stand a chance!  Poor Leah.  Poor Rachel.
In these two chapters, the word that most sticks out to me is in chapter 30, verse 22:  “Then God remembered Rachel….”  I don’t much care for it, to tell you the truth.  Doesn’t that imply that for a while God forgot about Rachel?  And isn’t being cast aside and forgotten one of our biggest fears as Christians?  It is for me.  I’m really banking on God’s promise to hear my every prayer and never leave my pitiful side.  Plus, God is God; He can’t forget!

When I checked other versions, almost all use that scratchy word. (NET uses, “took note” but that isn’t much better.)  So, I Googled it up.  An article at  was supremely helpful in breaking down the Hebrew word nasha (to forget).  My favorite blurb from the article was this: “The antonym of forgetting is remembering, and since God can not forget the way we do, He also doesn't remember the way we do. When God remembers someone, He pulls that someone close (Genesis 30:22).” 
The other websites I checked concur.  God remembers us!  He pulls us close and answers our prayers and I knew it all along.  Sometimes I just like scholars to tell me a word means something more in a language I don’t know.  But now that I know?  I definitely will not forget it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Esau His Birthright Slip Away (Genesis 27-29)

Happy MLK day!  I saw this great quote of King's all over the place today: "If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward."  I was happy to move forward from the confusion of Abraham and Isaac and on to… the confusion of Esau and Jacob!
It’s a serious story, and had a huge effect on history, but there are parts of it that just make me giggle.  For one thing, I can totally identify with Esau because 1) He’s a redhead and 2) He does not think clearly when he’s hungry.  We all know not to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, but let’s also remember not to hand over our birthright because we are famished!  (26:30-33) 

Fast forward to Isaac's deathbed, where Jacob and Rebekah are in cahoots.  I hope Isaac really let his wife and second-born have it when he figured things out.  These days of course, parents bless all their kids, and birthrights are virtually non-existent (in our culture at least).  When I hear, "But isn't there anything left for me?!" it's because someone ate the last cookie.  But this blessing was a big deal to Esau (and Isaac!) and frankly, I'm angry for him!  Of course, he let his temper get the best of him!  I can't get on board with the whole threatening his brother's life thing, but we know when Jacob returns, Esau welcomes him with open arms.  So I want to take this opportunity to give Esau his accolades.  It's no father's blessing, but props from a fellow redhead is all I have to give!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Worst Story in the Bible? (Genesis 22-26)

I've been dreading this part of Genesis.  Does anyone like the story of God commanding Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?  It's heartbreaking and horrible and raises uncomfortable questions for me.  Like, "Why would God do this cruel thing?" and "Was Abraham actually just insane?" and "Would I be so obedient?"  (The answer to that last one is a resounding "No!")  I read the story over and over and tried to come to terms with things.

Why did God ask Abraham to prove his loyalty like this?  Maybe because God knew the huge legacy he had in store for Abraham, but He couldn't leave it to him unless he was darn near perfect?  Perhaps God saw Abraham's heart was starting to turn less faithful or less obedient and this is what would bring him back?  Did it have less to do with Abraham and more to do with teaching Isaac some kind of life lesson?

And why did Abraham obey when life would be a lot easier if he just plugged his ears and sang, "Lalalala! I can't hear you!"  For one thing, he knew God and trusted him; maybe he had tried ignoring God before, and knew firsthand he's not a guy to be ignored.  Abraham could have reasoned that he was doing Isaac a favor because he would get an extra special place in heaven?  Or (and I like this best) maybe Abraham knew in his heart of hearts God would never really have him carry this devastating sacrifice out.

This post is peppered with question marks I see; no surprise, it's arguably the most confusing part of the Bible for me.  I did find an interesting article (that I did not check for credibility, fyi) that claims there may be some parallels between Isaac and Jesus, and that the Abraham/Isaac ordeal served as a sort of prophecy.  Here is the link if you'd like to check it out:

In any event, there is a happy ending for Abraham, Isaac, God, and thankfully, there will be for us too.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Wait. What?! (Genesis 19-21)

Do you ever hear or see something and you're just like, "Wait.  What?!"  For instance, utilikilts, the news that side ponytails are out of style, invisible girlfriend scandals, and Honey Boo Boo are just a few of the things that have stopped me in my tracks.  Today I had to stop in surprise (shock?) not once but twice.  The first was at the New York Gym Raver.  If you have not yet seen this YouTube video, allow me:

I mean, what?!  This kills me.  I love it so much.  I can't stop watching the part where he starts lifting the 5lb weight.

Then, I had to do a double-take (different kind of "wait, what?" this time) when I got to Genesis 19:4-5.  I'll let you investigate if you have your druthers.  And let me tell you something, the rest of today's reading does not get less shocking.  I just don't get so much of this!  It does make for intriguing reading- Danielle Steele has nothing on Moses' recorded scandals.  Among other happenings, Issac is born!  Which may be the most normal thing that happened in my Bible today.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

As A Matter of Fact... Genesis 16-18

The Bible can be so matter of fact.  It must have been really difficult putting this thing together. (Understatement!)  Case in point, "... Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her." (16:6) Is it because I'm a girl that I'm dying for more details?  I mean, how did she mistreat her?  What exactly went down?  God, no doubt knew it would definitely not advance his kingdom for me to know Sarai's less than fine moments.  Shame on me.

But don't you think Moses, David, Matthew, Paul, all these gentlemen recorders must have been dying to put in more details and clarifications every now and then?  They must have constantly been praying about what parts of each story (of history!) must be included and what we'll have to wait and find out from God himself.  I love that they allowed for some sarcasm (as we saw in Job) and some honest laughter: "Abraham fell facedown; he laughed..." (17:17) and later, "So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, 'After I am worn out an my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?'" (18:12)  There is little I love more than laughter in the Bible.

I also have to laugh when Sarah (God love her) tries lying to God, "I did not laugh" (can't you just picture her giant doe-y eyes?) and God matter of factly responds, "Yes, you did laugh."  Boom.  That's that Sarah!  I long for (gory? intimate? juicy?) details, but I do love the blunt conciseness that limited space necessitated. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Genesis 12-15

It’s back to Genesis today!  I noted three things in these chapters:
1.      The Pharaoh that married Sarai because he thought she was Abram’s sister and not his wife?  Is he the same awful Pharaoh that enslaves the Israelites later?  Because here he actually comes across as fairly kind.  I don’t think anybody would have batted an eye if he had Abram (and company) killed, but he let them all go and even keep all the stuff they had acquired.  Which leads me to my next point:

2.      God can love rich people.  I’m not exactly rolling in the dough, but relatively speaking?  I guess I sort of am.  And if you’re reading this blog?  On a computer?  Using internet access?  You are rolling in it too.  There are so many passages in the Bible that remind us how dangerous money can be (think camels and needles) that it’s a relief for me to read about gentlemen like Job and Abram who use their wealth responsibly and hooray!  Wind up in heaven.

3.      I love how God just keeps reassuring Abram about having descendants.  For one thing it makes super-godly Abram seem much more human.  He’s so nervous about the offspring thing- it’s cute.  Also, God just patiently continues to tell him these descendants are coming. (See 12:2, 13:16, and 15:5 for starters.)  What a comfort knowing that God will just keep assuring us for as long as it takes. 
Note: There's a lot of stuff about well... Lot in these chapters too.  Don't worry, he'll be back later and then I'm sure I'll used up all my alloted puns.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Job 40-42

I wrapped up my first book of the Bible today!  And learned what a Leviathan is! (A crocodile.)  At the end of the book of Job there is an epilogue and good news- it's a happy ending!  There are some unanswered questions, (what happened to Elihu?!) but something tells me I am going to have buckets full of unanswered questions by the end of this year! 

Job is given twice the blessings he had before.  But.  I can't help but think of how this experience must have scarred him.  Maybe physically; definitely emotionally.  He lost his kids.  Sure, he had more kids after this fiasco, but I think any parent who has lost a child would tell you that no amount of good-looking, wonderful kids could replace the one(s) lost.  He was ostracized by people he thought he could count on, his wife was certainly no support ("Curse God and die!"), his servants, whom he, as a godly man probably loved, were murdered.  His life has gone down in history as one of the most miserable ever recorded.


He found a way to be happy.  Without his faith there is a good chance he never would have bounced back.  The kicker is, we are never really told he is happy again.  But I think it's fair to assume he is. God would never give us this entire story, just for the end to be, "The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the former part, but he was miserable for the rest of his life anyway."  Job bounced back.  He was the world's first comeback kid.  That's how this book ends.  Our guy learns once again how to be jovial.  Or Jobial, as it were.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Job 38-39

Listen up!  In today's reading God spoke to Job!  I know the Bible is God-breathed and every word of it is full of Him, but when there are moments that God speaks and we get precious words from his holy mouth?  I feel like those are the real listen up parts of the Bible. 

Our Lord is so many things.  Enormous Things.  On any day at any minute I could give you an adjective that is true for me in that minute, and a hundred other people could too and all the words would probably be different.  But here's one that came to mind reading today's segment: sarcastic???  I feel a little blasphemous typing it!  But he just hands it to Job.  Regarding creation for instance: "Surely you know, for you were already born!  You have lived so many years!" (38:21)  Little aloe for that burn Job? 

Even in his "I mean business buddy" speech to Job, God gives us a glimmer of his tender side.  I love chapter 39, verses 1-2: "... Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?  Do you count the months till they bear?  Do you know the time they give birth?"  I love that God knows when they give birth because he's been anxiously awaiting, and if he's that excited about a new fawn, can you imagine his anticipation of a human baby?  His delight when it arrives?

Wouldn't you take a surprising (if sometimes sarcastic) God over a predictable, one-dimensional, boring God any day? 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Job 32-37

Sunday mornings I can be a bit... cranky.  Getting out the door to go to church just takes its toll on me and I'm ashamed to say I drive down that crabby toll road almost every Sunday.  Does anyone identify?  It's the stress of having to look decent, turn three little ragamuffins into adorable cupcakes, make sure I've got everything for Sunday school, and panic as my husband hops in the shower three minutes before our scheduled departure. (He's always in the car in time, but how does he do that?!  It's miraculous.)

I bounce back in a hurry though because nothing rejuvenates me like my Sunday school class.  Those four year olds are so darling, so pumped to be there, and so excited about Jesus.  They're so little and so full of God's love.  Thankfully none of them have seen anything like the heartache Job experienced.  Still, I thought of my little students during this reading because I love that Elihu finally speaks up.  He's a nervous wreck, but he just goes for it: "It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right." (32:9)

Is that a great message for our smallest Christ followers, or what?  The Bible gives all kinds of examples of different walks of life and everyone gets a turn to shine- God can work through anyone who is willing: Samaritans, tax collectors, fishermen, carpenters, shepherds, pariahs, queens, prostitutes, rich, poor, short, tall, and here?  Youthful, inexperienced Elihu.  I love these supporting characters we don't hear about much, but that God brings into the act to show us he will use every type of person under the sun to advance his kingdom.

God is going to use my tiny pupils in hundreds of different ways... he already does!  Like refreshing a crabby mom turned teacher on Sunday mornings.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Job 29-31

Today I was dying to continue reading past chapter 31.  I'm just gagging for the part where Job gets God's biggest blessings (oh, um... spoiler alert) and is happy again!  I can only imagine what the Father must have been going through during Job's suffering.  To know Job's heart and his innocence and love him like, well, a son; and to hear him cry out for help, to know he feels as though his Lord has thrown him "into the mud" (v. 19)... I mean the only one suffering more than Job here is God. 

I had no idea how draining it would be to punish my kids.  A person just doesn't really think about that when cuddling a tiny little bundle.  But holy moly.  When I have to punish them and listen to the crying and breaking hearts and the "I thought you loved me!" stuff?  No.  In those moments I'd happily trade Job his feverish body*.  And I'm just me with a shallow kiddie pool of emotional capability compared to God.  No doubt the Lord was outside Job's bedroom (although probably not pink and purple like my girls') listening to him wail, so desiring to just make his sadness disappear, but knowing they aren't there just quiiiiiiiite yet.

Again, I'm dying to continue reading.  I can't wait for our hero to get some relief.  Of course, with the blessings God has in store for him he's got much more than relief coming his way. 

*But just the fever.  He can keep is peeling skin and sores and destitution.  Let's be honest here.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Job 24-28

I had my first Bible study of the year today!  After a few weeks off for the holidays we were back at it to wrap up our final weeks of Beth Moore's study on James.  If you have never done a Beth Moore Bible study?  You must.  I don't want to be bossy, but do one.  Do it, do it, do it!  She changed the way I read the Bible.  B.B. (Before Beth) I'd read along, following the story lines, picking up on Jesus' parables and the occasional allegory, etc.  In a Beth Moore study she Breaks. It. Down.  Until verses you thought you've understood for years are brand spanking new and suddenly you're bawling your eyes out.  In a good way!

Until today, I forgot James references our guy, Job!  This makes me laugh because just a couple chapters ago Job was all, "Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever!" (19:23-24)  If only he knew!  Most likely his story was passed down orally until Moses got his hot little hands on it and gave Job his own book of the Bible.  Then generations later Jesus' own brother remembers Job's suffering: "... You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about.  The Lord is full of compassion and mercy." (James 5:11)  You know somewhere in heaven Job is ribbing God, "Yeah, the key word here being 'finally!'" 

Persevere friends!  As cheerfully as possible, remembering someone may be detailing your misery for prosperity!

A note: If you are interested in doing a Beth Moore study, or another great study, Priscilla Shirer has a fantastic compilation on her blog.  I retweeted the link today so you can check it out!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Job 21-23

Today my girlfriend asked where I found the reading plan I'm using to guide me through the Bible chronologically.  The answer is  I downloaded their app on my iPad and it's fantastic.  And free!  There are several plans to pick from, like the cover to cover plan (Genesis to Revelation), the 90 day plan (for the ambitious speed reader), and of course, the chronological plan that I'm using.  Once you pick a plan, there are a bajillion (if not more!) versions of the Bible to choose from (I'm reading from the NIV, mostly.)

I also love that the app allows for highlighting, taking notes, and offers various commentaries and definitions for virtually every chapter of the Bible (or the chapters I've read so far at least).  No doubt, I'll be mentioning some of those commentaries in future posts.

It's just about the handiest, dandiest app I've ever used (Stachematic* notwithstanding).  But is there anything lovelier than holding your Bible in your hands and underlining favorite verses with actual ink, turning the pages lovingly and gently because they're so fragile (but their words so tough!)  It doesn't matter, of course, whether you read on an iPad or from the family Bible; it doesn't even matter if you don't follow a reading plan or set out to read the whole Word.  The idea is just to get your face in the Bible!

My favorite verse from today's reading: "Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.  Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart." (22:21-22)

*You can put moustaches on any picture!!  Hilarity!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Job 17-20

In my house, at dinner, we take turns saying what our favorite and least favorite parts of the day were.  Today my daughters couldn't come up with a least favorite, and I explained the worst part of my day was forgetting to take my darks out of the dryer so they were wrinklier than I like.  Let's be clear here: the worst part of my day was a couple of wrinkled shirts and socks.

Obviously, I cannot identify with Job's level of despair.

But it really has me thinking about the root of this story.  Satan mentions to God that it's easy for a human whose life is a cakewalk to be godly.  Job is confused by the torment raining down on him, but never waivers in his love for his Creator.  Impressive.  Scary.  I know the day may come when I'm tested and I want to be prepared.  I want to stock up on faith the way a doomsday prepper stocks up on Spam.  I want to prepare by hoarding Scripture in my memory banks and ensuring communication lines with Jesus are open and ready.  I want the church to be my comrade and my ammo to be hope.  I want to remember Job and his loyalty to God even as his heart was broken: "I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth." (19:25)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Job 14-16

It was back to school at our house today.  I loved having a couple weeks off from packing my kindergartner's lunch, waking up early, laying out clothes, etc., but I have to say I was a little anxious to resume some sense of normalcy.  The holidays were lovely and joyful and chaotic and I'm ready for a routine again.

Job?  Also desiring some normalcy.  He continues to get into it with his friends (who I still determine are rock solid pals, especially given other "men open their mouths to jeer at me; they strike my cheek in scorn and unite together against me." 16:10) and just when I'm wondering how many more ways he can communicate his anguish, his "eyes pour out tears to God." (16:17) and my heart breaks for him all over again.  Because here's the thing.  When things seem crummy for me (my life would still appear bright and shiny to Job) I turn to God.  To Jesus.  To the Bible. 

Job did not have Jesus.  Job did not have the Bible.  Job had an Old Testament God who was scary as all get-out (let's not forget He had just flooded the entire world.  Mightily scary, no?)  So, my prayer today is one of thanksgiving.  Because when our Father seems too intimidating to approach, we have the gentleness of Jesus and the hope of the Word to remind of us of his love, even in our pitch black, Job-like, most hopeless moments.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Job 6-13

I started reorganizing my guest room today.  It was just fine before I started, but I want it to be better, and today was the day I felt moved to get going on it.  When my husband came home I explained what I had been doing; I began, “I started cleaning out the guest room” (he barely heard me).  “You know how sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better?”  (He looked up, “No.”)  “Yes!”  I said, “Yes, that’s how it works and that’s where we are with the guest room.”  (Here I’m giving my biggest, most charming smile to no avail.)
Job, Job, Job.  Life is just going to get worse before it gets better, isn’t it?  His other friends have chimed in now and I’ve got to say, I really feel for them.  These boys are doing the best they can, but Job just discredits their every point because their lives are so cushy in comparison.  I can’t blame the guy, of course he’s miserable, but if I didn’t know how this story ends I’d be worrying that Job is about to ostracize every friend he has.  Have we learned nothing from SNL?  Nobody wants to hang with a Debbie Downer.
There are some awesome verses in these chapters.  My favorites are:
8:21 “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy”
11:14-15 “… if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, then, free of fault, you will lift up your face; you will stand firm and without fear…”

Friday, January 4, 2013

Job 1-5

I'm in a new book today!  I'm doing a chronological reading plan, so I'll be jumping around the Bible a bit, but I thought it would be interesting to read things in the order they actually happened.

Poor Job.  Poor poor Job.  In addition to a lifetime and legacy of bad puns thanks to an unusually spelled name, he gets tossed right into Satan's ugliest bag of tricks.  In our world all Job's friends would be sending him copies of "When Bad Things Happen to Good People," but that wasn't on the Old Testament bestseller list, so we get some original material from one of the best friends I believe the world has ever seen.

Eliphaz the Temanite is such a dear.  He approaches Job gently and lovingly and with all the wisdom of a man consumed with the Holy Spirit.  I particularly love this:
"Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope?" (4:6)
and this:
"Resentment kills a fool and envy slays the simple" (Because come on! Job must be on the verge of resentment and envy aplenty!) (that was 5:2 by the way)
and this:
"He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted" (5:8)

What a great buddy.  What a Job well done.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Genesis 8-11

Today wrapped up the story of Noah and we came to the famous rainbow promise!  This is a fun story to teach in Sunday school; we have a little model ark and animals and the kids love imagining the chaos of being on a floating zoo.  Of course, they're four years old, so we leave out the part afterward when Noah gets drunk and naked!

My little girls received God's Little Princess Devotional Bible for Christmas and It. Is. Adorable.  I highly reccomend it to anyone with a little princess of their own.  We just started reading it and so far it's covering the same things I am in my Bible.  Yesterday's devotion included a skit to perform with the little princess(es), complete with a tempting apple. 

Both the Bible and God's Little Princess Devotional have some tricky names to sound out, but my favorite so far has been in Genesis 10:8 where we meet Nimrod.  One would think he was well, a nimrod, but in fact he was a mighty warrior!  Have you seen this meme yet?  Fits right in with today's reading!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Genesis 4-7

Over the weekend my husband and I drove to Toronto with some friends.  We were nearly to the Canadian border when we heard an alarming pop and in two seconds our tire was completely flat.  Things can go bad in a hurry.  Case in point: six chapters into the existence of man and morals were deflated.  Before God sent the floods we get a glimpse of the evil lurking when Cain* kills his own brother, and in no time the floodgates were open.  It makes me think I need to be on my toes- sin is a slippery and steep slope.

Another point that keeps jumping out at me is how much emphasis is on... well, creation!  In yesterday's reading it says three times in one verse alone (1:27) that God created people in his image.  Today's reading gives us more: "...When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God."  I love that.  No wonder God knows our every intricate detail- we are like Him!  Did this guy know what he was doing or what?!

*Some people think the "mark" God gave Cain was red hair.  As a redhead, should I be offended?  Or feel awesome?  I mean, the mark was really a safety net for Cain.  A safety hairnet, if you will.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Genesis 1-3

The beginning truly is a very good place to start.  Already I'm kicking myself.  Here is a story I thought I knew inside-out: God creates Earth and says "don't eat that", Adam and Eve eat it anyway (because of that sneaky snake!), then put clothes on and hit the bricks, never to return to Eden again (the angelic guard and flaming sword would see to that!).

But.  Already God is showing me that the stories I thought I knew are going to be shiny and new this time around.  And the next time around too, no doubt.  That's why it's called the "living water" right?  One verse I loved in this first, little section of Genesis is in chapter 1, verse 14: " And God said, 'Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years..." Is that a hint toward the star the Wise Men would someday follow to Jesus?  Is there a hint this early on?  I don't know, but I love that God had a plan for those heavenly bodies and for every one of His children that would walk his creation. 

A toast!  To one day down, 364 to go!  So far, so good.  I'm praying for you tonight.  That wherever you dip your toes in the living water, something will surprise you, delight you, or even raise a few questions in the complex, inquisitive, brilliant mind God gave you.


I am a Jesus girl.  I totally love that guy.  I read all kinds of fantastic books on being a good Christian, I teach Sunday school to the so-cute-I-could-gobble-them-up kids at church, I do Bible studies, I pray, I try (and fail, and try again) to be Christ-like.  I love it all.  But reading the entire Bible?  Has always intimated me.  Here are a few reasons why:

~ Parts seem a bit boring. (I'm talking to you Deuteronomy!)
~ I already felt like I was getting my "God reading" in via other books and studies.
~ There were some (wholly wrong) assumptions that I knew the most important parts of the Bible already. (i.e. Creation, Christmas story, Easter story, etc.)
~ I thought I could grow my faith and have a rock-solid relationship with Christ without taking the time to read God's word.

But I think you and I know the truth.  To really grow, to really know our Lord, it's going to mean getting my face in the Bible.

So, this year I'm doing just that.  Cover to cover, in chronological order.  I'd love for you to dive in with me.  No hard-core theology here, no right or wrong interpretations, just soaking up some faith, Bible-style.