Sunday, February 28, 2016

Abraham doesn't quite look like a hero

Abraham was considered a hero of the faith, named as such in the book of Hebrews in the New Testament.

But that doesn't mean he was perfect.

Abraham had previously acted like his wife was his sister and let his wife be taken by the Egyptian king. God luckily protected her, and she was released back to her husband.

Wonderful things happened in life, and still Abraham struggled to trust God. He got scared again that someone would kill him to get his wife, who was now 90, and he again acted like she was his sister. Again, she was taken into the king's harem.

God went to the king in a dream and warned him what he had done. He was guilty of taking another man's wife, when though he didn't mean to do it. Sometimes we are guilty of sin when when we don't consciously choose to sin or feel bad about something. Unintentional sin is still sin. Honestly that's the most common kind; they are accidents but we still have to pay for those choices.

Sometimes though, God graciously protects us from sin and disaster. God had not let Abimilech sleep with Sarah yet. He protected the king from unintentional adultery. I often think when I encounter delays and setbacks, like getting stuck in traffic, that maybe it is because God is protecting me from something. It might be from danger. It might be from a situation that would get me involved in sin. Who knows? But if God is in charge, we have to believe he is in charge of every little thing.

Abraham actually admitted that he had claimed Sarah as his sister wherever they went. He was a coward over and over again, and he made his wife suffer because of his sin. Sin doesn't just affect us, it affects those around us, especially those we love.

I often struggle with laziness, wanting to watch TV and relax instead of doing chores at home. That in turn affects my husband, who either has to take on what I didn't do or has to live in a dirty home. It means we don't invite people over when we should because the house isn't ready to receive guests. My sin affects others.

Another point from Abraham's story --- truths intended to deceive are still a lie. Yes, Sarah was his sister, but saying she was his sister instead of his wife was a deception. It was a sin. We are supposed to let our yes be yes and no be no. Christians are supposed to be honest.

The story ends with Abimilech apologizing and giving Abraham 1,000 pieces of silver. He prayed for the king, and God answered by healing Abimilech and the curse that was on his household because of Sarah. God didn't give up on Abraham. God doesn't give up on us.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Lessons learned from Lot

After Sodom and Gomorrah were burned, we would hope that Lot and his family were inspired to turn from sin and radically change their lives.

But that's not what happened. Lot lived in the hills with his daughters. The girls were scared they couldn't find a man, so they got their dad drunk and basically raped him. And they both got pregnant.


Just ewww.

But how did these girls get to this horrific point in their lives that they thought this incest was OK.

The pastor said Lot had probably married a Sodomite girl, a nonbeliever, and he probably didn't marry her for her mothering skills.

"Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting but a woman who loves the Lord is to be praised."

Most daughters will become just like their mother. Even those who don't want to, eventually they will still look in the mirror and realize they are tempted to act just like their mom. If the mother is wonderful though, they most likely will imitate that too.

It's important for men to think about the future when choosing a wife. How will their wives influence their children?

Lot also decided where to live by how well off he could be. He moved to Sodom so he could make a lot of money, and it was not a good place to raise a family. That is very important today as well. Even a wonderful family can have issues if you live in a terrible area and your children are being influenced by bad people. Lot's daughters probably heard all kinds of sexual perversion from their friends in Sodom. They probably didn't even realize incest was wrong.

Lot needed to step up in a myriad of ways as a dad. He should have helped these girls find godly husbands. He should have taught them that they were worth it, that purity is important. Instead, he offered them up to the men of Sodom, and then they showed how much they thought of sexuality when they raped their dad.

Lot is a great example of a dad, a great example of what not to do. Dads need to teach their daughters about sexuality, about their importance and worth; it's not just the moms that need to address this. Open conversations, daddy-daughter dates, compliments and love --- dads need to be involved and lead their daughters.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Run from sin, run from Sodom

I was a little concerned about taking notes during this sermon, because it's not politically correct, but that is not the attitude I should have about the Bible. I believe the Bible and I'm not afraid of it.

This week's sermon is on Sodom and Gomorrah --- Genesis 19.

It started when angels came to visit Lot in Sodom, but no one could tell these were angels because they looked just like men.

Lot was at the city gate, which was where city leaders took turns sitting. There they decided who could and could not enter the city. These leaders also settled disputes that were brought to the city gate. So Lot had become a great leader in this wicked city.

Lot invited these angels/men to his house to stay the night because he knew what would happen to them if they stayed in the city square...

All the men of Sodom came to Lot's house and told him to bring his guests out so they could homosexually gang rape these men --- "to know them." And a lot of people have trouble with this, because they don't want to judge homosexuality. Some theologians are saying this passage is literal and means "know them." But passages like Jude 7 refer back to the sexual immorality of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Greek talks about pursuing wrong flesh desire --- men pursuing men and women pursuing women.

God had said he would spare the city if 10 righteous people were found. But every single man in the city showed up to gang rape these angels/men. That is crazy. Every single one.

If the population was 1,000-2,000, then approximately 500-1,000 men were there. Not all them wanted to participate in the gang rape but many probably came to watch. Sexual sin is sin, even if you're just watching and not participating. Strip clubs, pornography --- even if you're not participating, watching is still sin.

Lot offered his daughters to these men instead of his guests. He spent so much time in this city that his morals are slipping. He knew homosexual gang rape is wrong, but he made an exception for heterosexual rape. We all become desensitized from sin when we are around it so often.

The angels protected Lot's family but striking the men of Sodom with blindness --- which in Hebrew means "dazzled by light." They rescued the family even though Lot has not been following God well.

Some people question how God could destroy a city full of people. But God was patient. He waited for the people there to repent. But they didn't, and his patience was worn out. Think of it like cockroaches, if you don't kill them all they will just come back and restart the problem. If anyone from Sodom was left, they would have infected others with their perverseness. So God destroyed the entire place.

So the angels tried to tell Lot to leave the city, but he didn't listen right away. He lingered.

It was then morning.

The angels took Lot and his family literally by the hand, in God's mercy. Lot then complained that he couldn't make it to the hills --- he must not have been athletic --- but he asked to stay in a nearby city. That city, Zoar, was also known for sexual perverseness. He didn't want to completely run away. He just wanted to downsize his sin. We do that too. I shouldn't watch that movie or TV series, so I won't do it as often. That sounds ridiculous --- we should run from sin, but we do this all the time.

So Lot's family ran away, as Sodom and Gomorrah and the entire valley was being destroyed but his wife looked back and she turned into a pillar of salt. The Hebrew says her look was "a look with an intent to aquire." Luke 17 talks about this. It says to leave everything of our former lives behind and not to be like Lot's wife. Maybe it means she wanted to go back to get more things.

There is actually a pillar of salt in that area still that is called Lot's wife.

The entire valley was destroyed. It used to be lush, but even today that area is a desert. It's a lasting reminder.

Abraham saw from a distance the smoke and destruction. God had remembered Abraham and had saved his nephew. It was Abraham's prayer that saved him. Prayer is powerful.

There are so many lessons in the story of Sodom. Don't love the comforts of culture and tolerate sin. It leads to so many problems. Run, run from sin. Run to God.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Two days...

It's been two and a half days without sugar.

It really hasn't been too bad so far, although it has taken quite a bit of thought and effort. It probably would have helped if I had known I was going to do this when I got groceries for the month. Then I could have given myself more options.

So far, the list of items that have sugar that I wouldn't have expected includes Cheerios and bran flakes, sandwich bread, French onion soup mix, Triscuits, Ramen and Chex Mix. However, I have found a few items that I would have figured had sugar but don't: Pasta, Taco-flavored Doritos (Cool Ranch and Nacho Cheese both do), dill pickles, raisins.

The biggest issue so far has been breakfast. I don't like mornings all that much, so I tend to stay in bed until I have to get up. That usually leaves me running out the door, and I usually just grab whatever I can for breakfast. Through the past few months that has included cookies from the cookie jar, Doritos, a jar of peanut butter and loaf of bread, dry cereal and more items that are handy in the cupboard or fridge.

One morning I luckily got up early enough to microwave some egg whites I had leftover from using the eggs for spaghetti carbonara the night before. Today, I didn't grab anything and ended up eating leftover summer sausage and cheese from last night's art exhibit opening at work.

Since I'm doing this for Lent, it does relate back to my faith. It hasn't been easy and it has taken work. That's often how it goes back to my faith life. I have to really prioritize time for God or it doesn't happen, just like breakfast without sugar.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

No more added sugar...

I got home from work and just stuffed my face with peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and Doritos. I binged. I admit it.

I didn't grow up giving up anything for Lent. I've always been non-denominational, so although Easter is obviously celebrated (we called it Resurrection Sunday) the Lenten season was not. That meant meat was fine on Fridays; no abstinence from a chosen item; nothing like that.

Our church now doesn't celebrate the season by giving up anything either, but I kind of like the tradition. I like the discipline and the fact that it is giving something up in remembrance of what Christ gave up for us.

I have tried to give up things that really do help me and something that is difficult, not just "I give up candy." Last year, I gave up TV --- except for the NCAA tournament --- and it was a great process. It weaned me off of my obsession with TV and gave me enough time to get quite a bit done.

I considered doing that again this year, but I have been trying to be healthier and have been working out so I thought maybe I would focus on my eating. Junk food is quite a downfall for me, usually homemade cookies and Doritos.

But giving up such small things doesn't seem like it would be that difficult and that much of a sacrifice. So, instead I decided to give up added sugar.

I've gone back and forth, because it's going to be really hard. Am I really prepared for something like that? But I guess that's kind of the point of giving something up for Lent. It's supposed to be difficult.

So, I figure I will allow myself to finish my yogurt and almond milk so that it doesn't go to waste, because Nate won't eat it, and then I'm off sugar.

Forgive me if I go through withdrawal. I wasn't sure that I wanted to admit it on here in case I failed, but I guess this next month will be a document of my struggle. I know it's going to be hard.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Joyful, everyday moments

My blog is called "Everyday Moments," and it's those moments that I truly treasure in life. Today, I had some fantastic everyday moments that seem completely insignificant but really made me smile.

First, I got to go snowshoeing for the first time today. We got quite a bit of snow this week --- which meant an adult snow day from work on Tuesday, a first for me --- and then it started to flurry again today. I thought I would grab some outdoor photos for work while the snow was falling, but it was much too deep to trudge through. So I put on my snow pants, snow boots and strapped on a pair of snowshoes.

They were really quite neat to use. Where the wind had blown the snow away, the snowshoes were difficult to use. However, in the deep spots, they allowed me to walk through with relative ease.

I clicked away merrily as the snow fell, and then I walked over to the nearby wetland to try to get some pictures of the trumpeter swans that live there. The swans, and their goose friend, were not overly happy with my presence. I laughed as they got up from their contented resting places and honked at me for disturbing them. They walked on the icy wetland, looking like they were playing follow the leader. And then the moment I turned a different direction they laid down, knowing I was not going to bother them anymore.

Inside, I finished up working on a new exhibit --- one an underground ant tunnel and another an underground worm tunnel. From carving foamboard to painting to adding dirt to figuring out how to get silicone worms to stick, it's a joy to go back to childhood and be crafty all while creating something completely useful and educational for work.

Finally, when I got home today, there was a note on the counter, "At work, <3 nate.="" p="">
I know this sounds ridiculous, but I don't think Nate has ever left me a note before about where he would be. Coming home to something that showed love was actually quite a joy for me and filled my heart.

See, it's the little things. It's the everyday moments. If we just appreciate those things, it makes life so much more enjoyable and makes you smile so much more.