Just Finished Exodus

As I explain in a previous post about Genesis– as I read through the Bible I am going to stop and reflect at the end of each book, and write about what that book tells me about God. A couple of days ago I (finally!) finished Exodus and here are my thoughts:

In Genesis the main character, God made a promise that he would make a “great nation” out of this small group of Hebrew nobodies. Unfortunately, this next story opens up with those people (the Israelites) being in slavery for 400 years to the greatest super power of the world at that time-Egypt. 

Yikes!

They need a HERO! They need a fearless and strong rescuer to swoop in and save the oppressed people. GOD is the HERO of this story! There is also a trusty sidekick-Moses! He was definitely a very unlikely sidekick, but ended up becoming a good friend of our Hero:) 

At the perfect time, the Superhero and His sidekick, with wit and agility, even when it seems absolutely IMPOSSIBLE-set the people free! And it’s amazing! And you, as the reader, are SO PUMPED for what just happened. But just like in many other superhero movies (spider-man/batman) the people rescued don’t always trust or even like the hero-but are instead hostile/opposed to Him! 

During the second half of Exodus, it’s kind of crazy, God “reveals” more that he is not merely a superhero and a rescuer…he is actually so much more than that…he is a HOLY GOD.And that holiness is MINDBOGGLING. Holy means “set apart” and He is sooooo incredibly different and perfect and awesome. He is JUST and punishes sin, but He also is LOVING and forgiving and delights in restoration. God makes it clear in this book that he REMEMBERS and FULFILLS all of His promises. And get this, despite his HOLINESS and their MISTRUST AND STUPIDITY, he want to reside with them. 

(insert jaw drop)

He is the incredible creator of the universe! He is the rescuer, sustainer, provider, epitome of perfection, goodness, grace, justice, mercy, and knowledge! And he wants to LIVE with the Israelites? The people who so quickly turned their backs on him? The ones who doubted his faithfulness? Who doubted his power? Who denied his uniqueness? Who ignored his rules? Who forgot his grace? THAT’s who he chooses to reside with? 

Yep.

A sinful, evil people will live with a perfect, holy God. And the book ends with this cliff hanger of a question: How on earth is THAT going to work out?

Just Finished Genesis

I’m reading through the Bible (not in a year, that stresses me out!) and I just finished the book of Genesis. Before moving on to Exodus, I wanted to take a little bit of time and reflect on what I had just read. Sometimes I forget that the Bible is a book, one big story, and not just a collage of randomness. So I took a little time one evening and imagined someone asking me, over a cup of delicious coffee, about the book I was reading. I just finished the first “chapter” and they ask-What is it about? Who is/are the main characters? What do you think is going to happen next?

I journaled a (messy) response to that question.

Well, the main character is God. He made everything, and has a special place in his heart for humanity (and if we are honest-the humanity we see in this first chapter is pretty unpleasant at times). I’ve learned that he is benevolent and caring and incredibly brilliant. He provides and protects, and somehow even uses evil things that happen miraculously for good. He is merciful and righteous and promises HUGE gifts to some ordinary people. Buuuuut…he is also very serious about right behavior. It’s confusing…sometimes I expect him to respond to evil in a drastic way and he doesn’t. They lie or kill and he doesn’t punish them.  Yet other times I expect he’ll let that evil slide (it was just one bite!), and he does not. I haven’t quite got him figured out yet-but hey, it’s only the first chapter, and I’m guessing he is going to be complicated.

When they blatantly disrespect God, and ungratefully ignore his rules by listening to and obeying the Serpent, he responds with punishments for each party involved. Part of the serpents punishment is that one day, one of the woman’s descendants is going to fatally wound him by “striking his head”. So I think that might be a huge plot line in this book-figuring out which descendant is going to defeat the serpent. How is He going to do that? What will it look like? At this point-it could be anything! 

Also, God is all-powerful and in control of absolutely everything that happens. But it often times doesn’t feel like it. But then you keep seeing how he is always up to something!

So the other big thing so far is that God makes a deal with this (seemingly nobody) guy named Abraham. Oh that’s another thing-I know God is the main character, but normally you have a few other main characters as well! I often think while reading that some of these different people that are introduced into the story could be a major player-but then they die. And it’s no big deal! Ha! Even Adam-the very first character introduced after God…it’s just like “then he died” and moves on! It’s very different than the other stories I’ve read. Don’t know quite what that means. Anyway, sorry about the tangent. God promises Abraham 4 things:

  1. A land to live in
  2. A whole lot of descendants
  3. Success/blessings
  4. That the whole world would be blessed because of someone in his family.

He repeats these promises to him over and over again, and also to his descendants. It’s Abraham, Isaac, and then Jacob (aka: Israel). They, as a whole, end up being known as the “sons of Israel”. At the end of the first chapter (Genesis) it seems to me that all the promises have been fulfilled. Abraham had land, descendants, blessing, and I think the whole world was blessed by his descendant, Joseph-who, after a pretty crummy life, ended up saving all the nations of the world from a famine due to a dream interpretation given to him by God. But it didn’t say that that was the fulfillment of the promise. I feel like it was such a big deal-like they should have/would have said something about it…so maybe that’ wasn’t the fulfillment? Maybe there’s something more? I’m not sure-after all, I’m only at the beginning of the story. We’ll see what the next part of the story holds!  

Feeling Lost?

 

Imagine you are hiking through the woods trying to get to the nearest town. But you are lost and confused and you feel like you are walking in circles. It’s been weeks, and you are just as deep in the woods today as you were when you thought of your first brilliant game plan to get out of there asap!

Fortunately for you, you meet a guide in the woods. He explains that if you take this trail, it’ll lead you to a crossroads in a clearing where there will be a sign explaining which direction to go next to get to town. He hands you a backpack full of things you need to survive and thrive during this journey. A compass, a canteen with fresh water, a flashlight, bug spray, matches, and even a walkie talkie! He assures you that he knows these woods well, and he’ll always have his walkie talkie on him if you ever have any questions. You are overjoyed at his help!  You are feeling awesome about this journey and confident that you will get to the next clearing soon. Off you go.

The first few days you do pretty well. The trail is as clear as the sky and you barely break a sweat. You gleefully use your compass, and even walkie talkie your guide to see if the berries you’ve stumbled across are safe to eat (you’ve seen Hunger Games-you aren’t taking any chances). A short time passes and you stop using the contents in your backpack-you think you know the drill pretty well by now! But shortly after, the way starts to get more difficult. You are constantly swarmed by six legged pests, trapped in prickly thickets, covered in mud and blood, and oh so weary. Day after day you continue on, wondering if you are lost, confused why the way is so treacherous, and losing hope that you’ll ever get to that clearing. The nearest town feels farther away now than it ever has.

And then, one moment while lapping up muddy stream water for a drink, scratching a bug bite the size of a melon on your leg, and trying to find the best rock flint to start a fire with later tonight, you remember the backpack you’ve been given. You feel like an idiot. You have all these resources to help the journey, and you have been ignoring them! The trail would still have been difficult, but if you would have used what was given to you, much pain, discomfort, and discouragement could have been avoided.

I feel like I am on a pretty difficult journey right now. I look forward with hopeful expectation to one day getting out of the woods, but for now I am just looking for the next clearing-a crossroads that will show me the next step. I have a Guide who is brilliant, and loving, and perfect, and always accessible. He has given me tools while journeying to best survive-His Word-a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path, the precious gift of communication with God through prayer, the joy and comfort of worshipping  the giver of the stream of living water that will never run dry, godly counsel– who through knowing and loving the Guide well for years can impart wisdom and comfort that will help protect me from all kinds of harm, and so much more.

Yet I far too often journey with a backpack full of items not being used. I keep the fresh canteen in my bag and drink the dirty water the world offers.

As believers we must use the tools the Lord has given us. They are for our own good, and yet we ignore them? The ramifications of doing so are personal and foolish yes, but also what does it say to our fellow travelers who don’t have a “backpack”? It says that they are pointless and they are worthless, and no wonder they don’t ask where it came from-they don’t see us value what’s inside!

So friend, passionately use the tools God has given you to get through this life. It may still be very difficult, but He has graciously given us exactly what we need to navigate every step, every day. And maybe, as you obediently depend on the graces that God has given you, He will bring other travelers in your life who need the see the blessings that knowing the Guide brings-what a joy that is!

Don’t Always Believe Your Big Sister

So I asked my sister, (Glenda) if she read my blog and she gently reminded me that she is very busy raising 3 children and doesn’t always find time…

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..then she added at the end…”plus they are always so serious. “

Now I enjoy a good serious blog just as much as the next person-but I realized that she was right in the sense that I don’t often incorporate my humor too much into Bit o’ Betty (BOB for short)…(no that is weird)  which is a big part of who I am! So here is my attempt at not always being so serious.

So this is for you Glenda 🙂

I’ve entitled this short story: Don’t Always Believe Your Big Sister 😉

When I first moved in with the family who ended up adopting my brother and I, Glenda was almost 16 years old. She went from being an only child, to being the on-call babysitter, entertainer, chauffer, and blame-receiver to a wild 5 and 7 year old.  We turned her world upside down, and wreaked havoc on her once peaceful living situation. Despite us ruining her things, and seemingly stealing her parents, she tried hard to love us (though often unlovable!) and was a quite champ! She would bring us to her room, escape out her window, dress up like a clown, climb back into her room from her balcony no longer as Glenda, but as “George the Clown” and entertain us for hours!

Though don’t put this super sister on a pedestal quite yet. She had a dark side. A very dark side. And that dark side was knowing-that-I-was-and-still-am-super-gullible-and-would-convice-me-of-all-sorts-of-things.

The most memorable of things being this: The first summer I moved in, Glenda convinced me that children were not born with a butt crack. That’s right. They were butt crack-less, smooth bottomed, and had to be shipped to China where they have a special butt cracking machine. They would slide the babies on, and then like a giant paper cutter, *shhhfiinnggg*, (that is the best sound effect I can think of), and then the babies were shipped back home to their families.

Well, trusting my new big sister got me in trouble that next fall in Mrs. Nani’s second grade class. We were having a sort of cultural emphasis week, where we were to bring in foods and artifacts and facts from different places around the world. A time came when my dear, sweet, teacher asked the class if anyone had been outside of the country. This was my chance to inform my fellow peers of the wisdom my older, smarter, big sister had bestowed upon me.  Hand raised as high as I could, and wiggling it to show my excitement, I was finally called on, “We’ve all been to China!” I proudly proclaimed!

Mrs. Nani didn’t miss a beat, “You visited China? How lovely! Did you see the Great Wall?”

“No, no, no. We have ALL been to China!” I waited, a second, excited to share the news, “When we were born, we were all shipped there to get a butt cracks!”

Mrs. Nani’s eyes enlarged, and the 2nd grade giggles around me urged me to explain further. “When you are born you don’t have a butt crack so you are shipped to China because they have a very special butt cracking machine where the baby…”

“ENOUGH MISS HAMPTON!” (name prior to adoption)

I pursed my lips, and furrowed my brow as I watched her walk to the front of the class to write another note for me to take home to my parents.

Needless to say, I got in trouble-I’m pretty sure it was a spanking. Supposedly “I knew better”. Doubtful. But do you know who did know better?

My big sister.

And you know who didn’t get a spanking?

My big sister. (okay so she was 16 at the time, I still thought it was deserved!)

You know who you can’t always trust with facts concerning medical procedures with newborns?

My big sister.

Love you always and forever Glenda!! Hope this isn’t too serious for you 😉

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(Aunt B and the 3)

From an Angel’s Eye View

I’ll try and make this quick, because I know you all have a lot to do. A lot of shopping. A lot of wrapping. A lot of eating. But I want to tell you my version of the story-the Christmas story. But before I go to that beginning, let me start at another one.

I remember when the Trinity first made mankind. Guys it was amazing. Now God had always been perfectly whole, perfectly joyful, and perfect content-but oh my goodness, when he made man…what delight we saw in his eyes. He loved humans the way he loved himself-perfectly, and we as angels had never seen anything so beautiful before. We watched your relationship unfold. We were angry along with God when you betrayed him in the garden. We thought for sure He would give you what you justly deserved-banishment just like he gave to Lucifer. But instead, He showed you guys mercy. We didn’t really understand it. We didn’t get WHY He loved and forgave you guys time and time again but, He did…and well, you know He still does. Anyway, we watched history happen up close. We heard of His plan for redemption and rejoiced at His feet over His immense love for you all. For hundreds of years we both ministered and observed the human population. We saw kings and kingdoms rise and fall, we watched prophet’s hearts break right along with God’s as mankind rejected the abundant life that He offered them.

I’ll never forget the day that Michael called us all together for an announcement. He told us how he just spoken with Our Righteous Lord and soon He was going to send the Messiah and start the ball rolling on the salvific plan for his people. We cheered; all of heaven erupted in joy! Finally, after all this time, and at the perfect time, God was going to reconcile the people whom He loves so dearly to Himself. No longer will their sin get in the way. The Messiah would be a sacrifice for all their sins!

We read the Scriptures. We know them. We knew that the government would  be on his shoulders! We knew what the Chosen One would be called-Emmanuel, Prince of Peace, Mighty Counselor!  We knew he would be born in Bethlehem, and would spend a season of his life in Egypt, but, of course, we didn’t know HOW God was going bring all of this to fruition, or WHO would fulfill all of the prophesies. We had been watching David’s descendants, always wondering, “Is this who God will choose?” “Maybe this son will finally be the one!” We had been wondering how it will happen. A couple of us shouted out some of our thoughts.  “Can we all ride as an army announcing his arrival?” Some shouted words of praise “Glory to God in the Highest!” I asked if we could ride down in chariots of fire, because that would be awesome!  An angel beside me reminded us of some of the prophesies saying, “I’ll bet he’ll be just like David-that’s why they’ll call him King! Isaiah 53 says he’ll be buried with the rich-that probably means he’ll come from a rich family!” and on and on we went. We were giddy, to say the least.

Then Michael silenced us all.

He took a deep breath, and smiled at us. He reminded us how creative and loving and good our God is. We all knowingly agreed. We would never argue that fact; why was he reminding us of that?

“Our God’s plan, since the dawn of time is now being revealed. And that plan is…that the Messiah…is going to be…”

We were all on the edge of our celestial seats; just say it Michael!

“God the Son.”

Dead silence.

What?

God the Son?

Had we misheard Michael?

That can’t be! We all began shouting. “But Psalms says the Messiah will be forsaken by God! God cannot forsake himself!” “And Isaiah says that he’ll be crucified with criminals-that CANNOT HAPPEN TO OUR GOD. We can’t allow that!”  “ They will hate him! They will kill him! This can’t be! Why?”

Michael nodded in understanding. After all, not 24 hours earlier we were all worshiping that very God that now supposedly is going to be sent to earth. Ug. Earth. It’s a horrible place! I mean, I know it is incredible and God loves its inhabitants, and I do too…it’s just…here in Heaven-He is in all his glory. He is worshiped perfectly, He is adored rightfully, and He is honored ever single moment of eternity. How could He give this up to go to those people? Knowing what would happen? Choose someone else. Why him?!

Michael told us, “You shouldn’t be so surprised. Think about it. Think about how deep the Father’s love for mankind is. He is willing to give himself over to them. Think about what it will mean to them, for the Messiah to be God. To be perfect. To be willing to lay down his life so that they may live. There is no more beautiful, perfect plan of salvation. My friends, this way, God’s way, is the most brilliant pinnacle part of his story to redeem his beloved humans to himself. Rejoice in its beauty.”

We thought about it in silence for a few minutes, and quickly and clearly began to see the depth of beauty in God’s plan. We just couldn’t believe it. It’s almost too incredible for us to comprehend. But then again, that is our God.  He is unfathomably loving, and incomprehensibly perfect in his planning.

We asked if we could give him a proper entrance into earth when the time came for him to go. We knew that mankind, no offense, would not recognize the magnitude of this humility and beauty of this decision-but we would and we can.  Can we tell every king and ruler and philosopher to prepare their hearts for the Messiah is finally coming? Can we fill the sky telling every living creature that God has displayed His power and majesty and glory this night and command them to praise and worship Him? Michael told us that God was a few steps ahead of us (as always!) and that the Holy Spirit was already working on and in the hearts of a handful of kings in the east, but other than that, the only people we were to announce glory to as the multitude, were…wait for it…shepherds.

I almost, almost, laughed out loud-because, that is so wonderfully typical of God.  He has a legion of angels that specialize in worshipping him flawlessly and could spread the news of his plan in perfect glory, but he would rather the world of man be told of his entrance by…shepherds. Shepherds! Michael told us a few other quick snippets of God’s plan in using PEOPLE, ordinary HUMANS to worship and proclaim Him-old and young, rich and poor. His incredible love for people never ceases to amaze me.

So that night we left heaven and appeared in the sky to the shepherds and proclaimed God’s good news and glory. The Savior had been born. The long awaited Messiah had come. But he was far more than any of us could have ever thought or imagined. He was God himself. I had never experienced such full joy and love for my God. I didn’t know it was possible to think MORE highly of Him, or be MORE floored at his creative love, humility, and perfection. I think sometimes because you guys didn’t get to live the story like I did, you humans, forget the magnitude of WHO the Messiah is. When you look at that baby in the manger, please don’t forget that that baby, is the second part of the Godhead. Don’t forget that he who was once clothed in righteousness and splendor chose to shackle himself to the most limiting of earthly flesh-that of an infant. The God who formed the first tongue and created it to speak, now babbles and coos to demonstrate his great love for mankind. Please, I beg you, out of respect and adoration for your Savior and my creator, please do not minimize what he did for you. That night in the feeding trough was a long way from his throne in heaven and his first step to the cross. Never forget that. Worship him during Christmas because the beauty of the incarnation was a stepping stone to pay for your salvation. And He did it in the most beautiful, most humble, most glorious, glory-less, way.  Because for some reason or another, He loves mankind more deeply than any mind, including angelic ones, can comprehend. It is certainly an understatement to say he deserves your gratitude and your worship, but give Him all you’ve got this season. Merry Christmas.