Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday Check In- #2

11 days down, 79 to go! (Well, really 77+2 grace days, but anyway...)
I am up to date on reading- even a little ahead! I did fall 5 chapters behind earlier this week when I fell asleep reading! But, I was able to get right back on track the next day, and have held steady the rest of the week. I did struggle with some drowsiness while reading on Saturday night, but a little chips and salsa helped combat that! I've been finding Leviticus and Numbers really interesting and awe-inspiring... although I did have to force myself to thoroughly read Numbers 7 (and all the repetitious offerings to the LORD) rather than just skimming over it! Reflection posts are forthcoming- I've just been focusing on reading and getting to bed at a relatively decent hour!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Monday Check In- #1

4 days in, and I'm still on track! I've read all the way through Genesis, and will be starting on Exodus tomorrow. I do have reflections for days 2-4, but haven't finished typing/proofing them yet. My goal is to do my reading on schedule, with reflection posting happening within 5 days... I still do a lot of baby holding, and find it difficult to type one-handed, so I think those are reasonable goals!

Friday, January 1, 2010

B90X- day 1

The reading for today was Genesis 1-16.

My focus scripture for today is Genesis 4:2b-7

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
6 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

I'd like to look at this scripture in a broad context today, not just giving or tithing, where it usually is referenced. In my childhood, I would read this scripture and not understand God's preference for Abel's offering. I mean, both men brought Him an offering, so what was the difference? Was it because Abel brought animals but Cain brought produce??? Obviously not! (Oh, that someone would have explained this to me in my youth!)

The difference between the two offerings is the HEART of the offerer! Abel brought the best of the firstborn of his flock, while Cain just brought some. Abel brought his offering with an understanding that ALL that he had was given to him by God, while Cain dutifully fulfilled his obligation, offering God some of what he had, probably deceiving himself into thinking that he had done the work, he had planted and grown and harvested the produce, perhaps he was doing God a favor!

In parenting my children, I often find the lessons I teach them about God speak to me just as much, if not more, as to them. I see these same heart conditions played out in my children regularly- the loving obedience of Abel, and the disdaining, despising, disobedience of Cain. It is the difference between the child who joyfully and expectantly comes when called, and the child who rudely retorts, "What, Mom?" without even pausing a second from the engrossing activity that occupies her. It is the difference between the kind, helpful child who assists others without prompting, and the self-centered, selfish child who petulantly pouts while begrudgingly producing the toy they have been asked, and then commanded, to share. It is the difference between the sweet, tender moments that warm the parents' hearts- like earlier today when Grace and Ella snuggled together while watching a movie, with Ella actually in Grace's lap- and the wretched, aggravating, annoying, heart-wrenching moments that bring parents to their knees, asking for God's help and wisdom in parenting their beloved, albeit disobedient, blessings.

And don't we all have Cain's heart at times???

Don't we do just enough, barely meeting the "requirements"*, thinking that will be good enough? Don't we all deceive ourselves into thinking that perhaps we had everything to do with our wealth, prosperity, health, happiness, etc? Don't we think we deserve everything we have, without considering that everything we have is a blessing and provision from God? Don't we serve God, our loving Creator and Provider, with an attitude of self-righteousness, defiance, or even indignation, rather than with gratitude, humility, and reverence?

*there are no "requirements" that will save us from our sin, except our faith and acceptance of Christ's gift of salvation. (Eph. 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. 9Not by works, lest any man should boast.")

Personally, I find myself forgetting to honor God with my attitude and neglecting to glorify Him with my deeds, especially in the sameness of our day-to-day schedule. I do my work unto myself, rather than seeking first the kingdom of God. And, I struggle to solve problems and battles myself instead of prayerfully considering God's plan in those trials, as if I might have a better plan than God!

Thankfully, we have a God who knows our humanity, our sinful nature and tendencies, and addresses this from the beginning! Just as He confronted Cain, He calls us to serve Him joyfully, with an attitude of love and appreciation, rather than just walking through the motions. God requires us to honor Him with our best- in actions, deeds, and heart attitude!

My prayer for today is to seek God's will for my life with a joyful attitude, honoring Him with my actions and thoughts, rejecting the sin "crouching at [my] door".

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Have you heard of P90X? The revolutionary exercise program that rapidly changes your body due to its rigorous regimen. And it all happens in just 90 days!

Well, I'm challenging myself- and you, too, if you accept- to a spiritual exercise program that I'm calling B90X. I heard about this idea through Raising Olives, and decided I would indeed read through the Bible this year- in 90 days! That's right, the entire Bible in 90 days!

Just as P90X (purportedly, because I haven't actually tried it myself...) rapidly changes your physical body, I'm excited about making concrete changes in my spiritual life- my walk with Jesus- that are dramatic, long-lasting, and disciplined.

So are you with me? Ready to get serious about your relationship with Jesus in 2010?

I'll be tracking and reflecting on my reading here. I won't be purchasing the 90 day Bible. Instead, I plan on printing off the reading plan and reading on my computer while I'm nursing, during the girls' quiet time, or after they go to bed... whenever I can read without distraction but with clarity of mind!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Daniel chapters 1-4

I love that the theological theme of Daniel is God's sovereignty! Especially in our nation's current time of trial, we need to be reminded that God is in control, He has a plan, and it is GOOD! I, too, need to be reminded of His sovereignty in my life... my plans are small, sometimes scattered, and often fruitless. His plans, however, bring joy, happiness, and PEACE. God cares for me, loves me, and has awesome plans for me... far beyond the limits of my imagination! For that, I am truly thankful! Now, if I could just always remember that God's plans are better than my own, stop meddling, and let Him use me as His plan requires... this is part of my daily walk!
Today I started reading the book of Daniel. It starts with the kingdom of Judah being captured by Nebuchadnezzar, who takes several young Israelite men to serve at the palace- including Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (I'm using the names I know them best by... and the easier ones to write- Daniel is his Israeli name, while the others were the names given to them by Nebuchadnezzar). While beginning their training at the palace, the men were to be given royal food. Daniel (and the others) resolve to stand by their convictions and request to not eat the royal food- as the first portion was given as an offering to the idols. Rather than simply rebelling, Daniel offers a test to their guard- for 10 days, the Israeli men would only eat vegetables and water. God blessed the 4 for standing true to their faith in Him- at the end of those 10 days they looked healthier than the other young men who ate the royal food. God blessed these men because of their faithfulness to Him. Even in the drastic change of their environment, losing their freedom, and becoming servants of a king who did not know their God, these 4 men trusted in God's sovereignty...
CH 2- Nebuchadnezzar has a dream- and challenges the wise men in his kingdom to tell him what his dream was, then interpret it for him. When the wise men say "how can we??? Who knows another man's dreams???" Nebuchadnezzar decides to kill all the wise men in his kingdom- which would include Daniel and the 3 others. The Israeli men gather and pray fervently to God, pleading for mercy... and God reveals the king's dream and the interpretation to Daniel. Daniel goes to Nebuchadnezzar and tells him he knows the king's dream and the interpretation- but prefaces the revelation with a humble admission that no man can know the king's mind- Daniel only knows it because the LORD gave him the knowledge. I love that in this time of uncertainty- even for his life!- Daniel gives the glory to God FIRST. Nebuchadnezzar is amazed when Daniel is able to tell him his dream and the interpretation (who wouldn't be!), and praises Daniel and places him and the 3 others in higher positions of authority in his kingdom.
CH 3- Even though Nebuchadnezzar was amazed by God, proclaiming in ch 2, v 47, "Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery [the dream]," he is not a convert, and creates a golden image for everyone to bow down to and worship. When some of the astrologers tell Nebuchadnezzar that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego aren't worshiping the idol, the king demands that they worship the idol or be thrown into a furnace. I LOVE their answer- so strong, so defiant, and so sure of God's sovereignty! "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this manner. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Ch. 3, v. 16-18) Again, even in the face of certain death, these men stand firm to their beliefs, their trust in God, and surrender their very lives to his will, whether it means they live another day or not. One of my fervent prayers is that, as we draw closer to trials and tribulations in our own land and time, I too would stand firmly in my faith in Christ, his sovereignty, and not bow to the pressures and pitfalls of this world. Nebuchadnezzar is infuriated, orders the furnace 7x hotter than usual- so hot that the soldiers who threw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in are burned to death... but he is yet again amazed by God's power and sovereignty, as he sees not only the three men, who had entered the fire tied and bound, up walking around unharmed in the flames, but also a fourth, who "looks like a son of the gods" (Ch. 3, v. 25). When he calls them out of the furnace, the 3 men had not been harmed at all, not a single hair had been singed, and they didn't even smell of fire! He marvels again at the power of their God, saying "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God" (Ch. 3, v. 28). God is amazing! He has the power to do incredible things, far beyond our concept of reality! May I be open to His call upon my life, willing to be used in his awesome works, even if that simply involves being a devoted wife to my wonderful husband and a stay at home mother to the children He has blessed me with!
I read through chapter 4, but I think I'll save my thoughts on that for another post- where I can expound upon and fully develop them. My duties as a mom and wife are my priority now... naptime was short and dinner needs to be early.