Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ready For Anything

So as I'm reading through Exodus, I came across something that made me think twice. After God put the total beat down on Pharaoh and the Israelites were on their way to freedom, we read of an inside glimpse of God's thinking. We're told that God did not lead the Israelites through Philistine country because God thought if they faced war, they might cry and go back to Egypt. (Of course, if God was looking to avoid crying, He probably should have chosen another group.)

God leads the people down toward the Red Sea specifically so they will not face war. This makes the next line confusing. "The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle" (Exodus 13:18). Why are they armed for battle? Couldn't God have seen them getting their armor on and told them there would be no need?


If you have the Type-A mom, surely you've experienced getting ready for a trip. The packing list comes out and everybody has a checklist. Clothing, toiletry, books to read, games to occupy, medicines, etc. And this is just for a day-trip. If you're going for a week, it'll probably take another week to have all that you need packed. In my house, at least for the last 8 years, you can add to the above list the following; diapers, wipes, movies, movie player, snacks, drinks, extra clothes, moist towelettes, strollers, hats, gloves, coats, boots, skis, sleds and more. It didn't matter if the trip was in December or June, we had to be prepared.

Because as the Type-A mom knows, there's nothing worse than getting everybody to the beach and then not having enough shovels for everyone. Maybe this is what God was doing with the Israelites. I'm not saying God is Type-A, but perhaps He wanted them to be prepared for anything.

Are you prepared for anything God may have for you this week? Being prepared won't necessarily mean packing stuff for all seasons, but it could mean arming yourself to be ready for spiritual attacks. I don't know. You don't know. That's why it helps to be ready for anything.

Friday, January 22, 2010

It's Time For Another Tower of Babel

In the most recent Relevant Magazine's articles titled 2020 In Focus, Brendan Case writes the following in the science section.
"New developments in genetic sequencing, nanotechnology and synthetic biology point to a future in which it may be possible for people to mold the very fabric of their being."

I'm no bio-nano-geneticist, though my viewing of Spiderman and the X-Men franchises does make me a bit of an expert, doesn't it? But I know this is going to lead into a whole host of questions about cloning, organ harvesting, and more. The author cites several movies which have already tried to answer these questions or, rather, bring the questions to the forefront. Movies like AI, Minority Report, and My Sister's Keeper are all great examples, though we shouldn't neglect the possibilities of astronauts becoming The Fantastic Four.

It seems to me that we as Christians should know what we believe before the question comes up. Because someone who is in 'need' will not stop to question if their desires match up with what is morally correct. We need to be prepared now for the future in which a doctor asks us if we want to 'harvest' a kidney from some person that never really was.

Science is steaming ahead in the name of progress. But that doesn't seem to be the Name for which we are supposed to care about. I recall a story of people working together, all for the purpose of making a name for themselves. You can read about it Genesis 11. Perhaps if we continue blindly down this road, it may just be time for another Tower of Babel experience.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Builder Rick

"You're the best builder in the world." That's what my daughter said. To me. Before you start laughing, allow me to acknowledge my deficiency in the area of building. But in this case, I actually felt like I knew what I was doing.

Never mind that that I was only building a bunk bed...with pre-drilled holes...and easy-to-follow instructions...and that it took me 4 hours. Never minding all that, my accomplishment looked fairly impressive. After all, I only had to re-do a couple of steps, and that was due to the instructions being faulty...seriously.

As my wife watched, she reminded me several times that our oldest daughter would be on the top bunk and that our baby would be underneath her. I guess she's seen some of the other things I've built. But my confidence would not be shaken. After all, I was using my drill. What could possibly go wrong? (The answer is nothing as my daughters have slept safely and soundly for 3 nights at the time of this writing.)

My daughter said I was the best builder in the world. She suggested that I challenge a well-known builder to a bunk-bed building contest because, as she assured me, I would win. Never mind that the guy she suggested I challenge could whittle a better bed out of one piece of wood in the same time it took me to arrange all the pre-drilled pieces.

My daughter believes in me. I know someday she'll know better than to praise my mastery of carpentry, but for now it feels good. It seems to me that if I had the same amount of faith in God that my children do in me, I would see a lot more amazing things. My girls never doubted my ability to make them something safe to sleep in. I say I trust God, yet my nights are all too often interrupted by to-do lists, worries, and fears.

How about you? Who are you placing your trust in? David, in Psalm 20:7, wrote that “some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

The fact is that I'm not even a fraction of the carpenter that Jesus is. He actually is the best Builder in the world.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Trusting God Could Work Too

So I'm reading through the Bible in chronological order this year (with 150 of my best friends) and I came across Genesis 27 this morning. It's the story of Jacob and Esau. If you're familiar with the story at all, you might recall that Jacob is a lying cheat and Esau is a bit slow on the uptake. At least, that's my perspective.

For anyone less familiar, you got Jacob dressing up like his brother in order to deceive their blind and aging father to give him the good blessing. I guess it's a good thing Jacob didn't have a sister whose blessing he was trying to steal. But I digress.

Jacob is successful in deceiving his father and getting the blessing. Esau comes later and cries a lot, but it doesn't do any good. As Isaac says, "I blessed [Jacob]-and indeed he will be blessed" (Genesis 27:33). Here's my question. Do we really think that God couldn't have changed this? After all, tell this story to children and they might get the idea that lying is ok as long as it works. Couldn't God have blessed whomever He wished to, no matter what the brothers did and no matter whom Isaac blessed?

It's my understanding from reading the whole of Jacob's story that God wanted him to get the blessing. But certainly God does not endorse lying in order to achieve His goals. Do we really believe that God is not able to work around things like birth order?

I think a lot of us are like Jacob. We know that God promises good stuff to us, but then we mistakenly assume it's up to us and our own devices in order to see the good stuff happens. It's not. We should stop living like it depends on us. It doesn't. We should depend on God to do in us what He wants to. It's always worked better that way. It always will.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Toothpaste For Men

I have an idea for toothpaste companies. Actually, I got the idea from my 6-year old son. We were at the store looking for a toothpaste that he would use and not throw a fit about. Unlike many other children, my son does not like any fruity flavors. (This also makes taking medicine a wonderful experience with him.) We were checking out all the toothpaste flavors; bubble-gum, strawberry, double-fruity. None of these made my little dirtball excited about brushing his teeth.

Then I saw some kid's mint-flavored paste. I told my son that mint was not fruity. I also told him, a few times, that mint might not taste great, but the purpose of toothpaste isn't to taste great. He's lucky, I continued, that he's not using my toothpaste, which is a combination of toilet cleaner and that taste at the back of your throat after a night when you've slept with your mouth open. By comparison, I explained, he could survive mint flavored toothpaste.

That night I brought out the new mint-flavored toothpaste and started to help him brush his teeth, only to see the fit that I had feared. I reminded him that he had helped me pick this flavor out. When I reminded him it was mint and not fruity, he threw himself to the ground and wailed, 'I thought you said meat.'

That's right. Meat. MEAT! Brand new; toothpaste for men, flavored like your favorite cut of meat. Think about it. After a breakfast of eggs and toast, you can brush your teeth with bacon-flavored toothpaste. What could be better? Ending your day with some steak-flavored mouthwash.

I guess I can chalk this up to yet another experience when I only thought I was being understood. And my son will have to survive mint toothpaste, wondering why his concerns aren't being felt by others. Isn't this what a lot of our lives come down to? We want to be understood by others. They want us to understand them. I imagine God feels the same way, as we throw our fits, asking where He is and if He is listening. I wonder if God wonders when we'll understand Him.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy You, Nier!

I was never great at making New Year's resolutions. I used to feel bad about this. I can remember I would get back to school, usually on January 5 or 6, like this year. One of my friends would list off the 50 ways they were going to better themselves and the world that year. Then they would ask me about my resolutions. (Gulp...) Well, I plan to make some resolutions next year. But each year I'd forget.
As I got older I would make some lame resolution about exercising and then feel bad as I heard others who had given much more thought to their resolutions. This is also true when it comes to giving things up for Lent. We'll be a week into that season before I realize I haven't even thought about what I could give up.
Like I said, I used to feel bad about this. I no longer do. It's not because I've gotten very good at making or keeping resolutions. I haven't. Here's what I've learned.

1. Most of the people who made resolutions only made it halfway through February. A resolution is only as good as the person who makes it.
2. If January 1 is the only time we're thinking about resolutions and making positive changes in our life, then it's not often enough.
3. For me, resolutions are something that can and do start on any day and last for as long as it takes.

With all of that in mind, I'll tell you my resolution. It's been my resolution for several years now and I remind myself daily of this charge I have. And it's not original with me. You'll find these words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:2. "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."

I don't know what you think of resolutions. Maybe you make several every year. Maybe you've never made one. Whatever side you fall on, be sure to keep your focus on God and what he wants for your life. That's a resolution that will result in each of us having a happy year.