January 31, 2011

The Exodus

Today I spent some time in Exodus 14.  Its where I am at in my journey through the Bible this year.  (You could still get in on this.  Seriously, go to YouVersion and start right now!)  Exodus 14 is the account of Israel crossing the Red Sea and Egypt chasing after them.  The things that stood out to me today are total opposites.  

On one hand you have the Israelites, willing to beat down Moses for dragging them out in the wilderness to die.  It says they cried out to God and then yelled at Moses in verses 10-12.  Though they have seen so much with all the plagues and so on, they are still faithless.

The opposite of this is God.  In this chapter God is at the front of the line for these people.  He's leading them out by himself!  When the going gets tough and the Egyptians begin pressing in from behind, the cloud - God Himself - moves in between Israel and the Egyptians.  He fights for them by confusing Pharoah's army and making their chariots not work.  
On the heels of Exodus 14 came Matthew 21, where Jesus goes in, clears the temple of those using it for exploit, and then healing the blind and the sick.

The challenge for me is wondering why we don't see God move in this way anymore?  Why doesn't he come to our defense as a cloud and beat down those who persecute us?  Why doesn't he hear our cries sometimes and come to our rescue?  Why don't we see the blind being healed now?  Because of this, one might say he's not as engaged as he was back then.  Some also might say that he's still engaged, but choosing not to do those "miraculous" things.

My personal thought is that the problem is us.  Do we really trust that God is there and willing to step in the middle for us?  Do we act like he is there?  Are we crying out for rescue?  Do we even think we need rescued?  Are we looking to rescue others or are we too focused on ourselves and being safe?  How are we being the Kingdom of God?  How are we advancing that Kingdom?  Are we doing it in ways where God HAS to show up because our faith is so big?  

If I am real and honest with myself, my answers to these questions are embarrassing.  I am no better than the Israelites who cry out against Moses in faithlessness.

Lord, help us to be real with ourselves.  Help us to ask the hard questions, to make changes, and to surrender our lives to you and your Kingdom.  Allow us to see and feel you move around us as we live out our faith. 

January 18, 2011

Another Birthday

When I was young, I always felt like time took forever to pass.  Days seemed like weeks, and weeks seemed like years.  Maybe its because there was so much anticipation for what was coming next - the new experience that was right around the corner.  One specific that I remember was the Friday/Saturday routine I had.  I would watch The Dukes of Hazzard and then go to bed, hoping I would fall asleep as quickly as I could and that the time I spent sleeping would seem like nothing so I could get up and watch cartoons the next morning.

Time moves too quickly now.  I want to slow it down and savor every day and every moment longer.  Not because I am afraid of what is to come, but because I want to enjoy those who God has put around me and revel in the friendships and love that I share with them.  But, for some reason, time continues to pass, day by day, moment by moment. 

As I type those words, I come face to face with the realization that I need to do better at spending time with people since I cannot slow down time.  

My daughter turns seven today.  A few short moments ago I was cradling her in my lap listening to her coo and squeak, mesmerized by everything about her and unable to focus on anything else. While I am still totally mesmerized today, there are times when I'll catch myself too focused on other things to pay attention to the never ending singing, playing, dancing, and so on that continually pours out of her being.  Those are the things I can't get back. . . the things I need to seek out more and savor as much as I can now, especially since she'll only be seven for one year.  And the way the years are flying by, the next thing I know, she'll all grown up.

Happy Birthday, Hannah Grace!  You are crazy and beautiful!  You are my treasure and my joy, just like your momma.  I love you with everything I am!

January 13, 2011

Checking Off the List

As I stated in my last post, I am planning to make this a year of change for me. One of those changes was to blog more, which I really have not done well at. I have thoughts and ideas of what I want to blog about. I actually have a list of things I want to write about. The challenge for me is making time. I guess the fact that I am blogging for a second time and it's only the 13th of the month is an improvement from last year. We'll see how it continues.

Blogging is not the only thing I am planning to change this year. There is a long list of changes that I'm hoping to implement in the coming weeks and months. Actually, I've accomplished quite a bit so far. For example, one change that I was looking to make was rearranging my office. I moved into my current office about four years ago. I've only rearranged once. Now, for some of you, that might be normal. Some of you might be saying, why rearrange at all? If it works, it works. Leave it alone. That doesn't work for me. I need to make changes every so often to shake things up. The challenge for me is this: I have a lot of stuff in my office. Plus, I really struggled to find a new layout for the stuff in my office. The bookshelves, couch, and workstations created a Rubic's Cube rearranging challenge. But, I prevailed...AND had room for a new coffee cart! Now, there are still a few boxes of stuff to deal with, but I've checked it off the list.

Another thing I have been attempting with the new year is read and learn more. Last year I really felt like my work and study stagnated. I wasn't doing horrible work, I simply wasn't pushing forward with anything I was doing. Shaking that off has been a focus of mine since October. I plan to read through the Bible this year in addition to studying specific sections more (maybe Isaiah?). I also plan to dig more into other literature and books. So far I'm doing well on reading my Bible. I'm a day ahead in my year plan (which I am doing on I'm also about half way through Tribes by Seth Godin. While its not a full check because we are only 13 days into the new year, its a check of being on target this far in because I'm normally off track already.

I am also trying to lose part of myself. My family history is riddled with heart attacks, high blood pressure, and other not so good things. Part of the reason there are so many issues is that we, as a family, like to eat. And we do. If you were to ever come to a family reunion or any gathering for that matter, you would see endless amounts of good, hearty food. Seriously, you haven't lived until you sit down to a full plate of cabbage rolls, Mom Lowman potato salad, and Aunt Jeanie's baked beans, followed by a slice of Aunt Garnet's velvet red cake or Aunt Ina's warm rice pudding. Now you know why I weigh over 300 pounds. My familiy taught me how to appreciate food. While I plan to continue to appreciate it, I am planning to appreciate it in smaller quantities so I can live long enough to not have the routine bypass surgery or heart attack that many in my family have had. More importantly, I want to see Hannah grow up. If I continue on the pace I am on, I'd be lucky to see her graduate. So, I've been cutting back. I'm making progress and somewhat enjoying it.

Now, I don't say all these things to be prideful. I say them to show that I'm at least 13 days into some good changes and getting them out there so you all, all five of you that read this, can maybe ask once in awhile about them to make sure I haven't digressed.

I also write about them to maybe challenge you. Where are you at in your life right now? Are there things you want to do, yet never really accomplish it? Maybe there's a habit you need to change or a new, better habit you need to start. I challenge you to do some self reflection, some prayer, and dive in. Join me in making 2011 a year of change for the good.

January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

It is a new year.  Hope you all enjoyed your celebrations tonight.  We had a quiet evening at home with friends.  Hannah Grace made it till the new year, ate a cheese curl, and then went to bed.  What a funny kid.

My soul longs for this new year ahead.  I'm looking forward to the changes that I look to make in my life.  I look forward to the ministry that God has in store for me.  I look forward to reveling in God's grace and love for yet another year.  

Goodbye 2010.  Bring on 2011.