Thursday, January 20, 2011

From Generation to Generation

I have always struggled with Genesis 19. The two biggest questions I have are 1) How could Lot offer his two daughters to a huge group of sex hungry men? and 2) What is UP with the incest?!

The Bible doesn't judge people for their actions. The Bible reports the events. So there is no way to fully understand why Lot would offer his daughters to a group of sex-crazed men. Because we seem to only get the bare facts of the story, there are a number of reasons Lot could have done this.
First of all, it was custom during that time to protect guests at any cost. By offering his daughters in their place, maybe Lot had an escape plan. Maybe he hoped his daughter's fiancees would come to their rescue. Maybe he thought the men wouldn't be interested in the women because they were homosexuals. However none of these excuses sit well with me as a daughter and as a woman.
Lot and his family were living in a town that was overpowered by sin which is why God sent two angels to destroy the city. Soddom was so despicable it wasn't worth saving. Lot had allowed himself to succumb to the pressures of his culture instead of abiding by the laws of the Lord. So then the question is raised, "How am I allowing the pressures of the world around me depict the decisions I make on a daily basis?" I saw "how" because I am doing it. Many of us are.

Now for the question of incest. Part of me thinks, *Why does this story need to be here? I don't really want to read about two sisters having sex with their father.* But there is a reason. And incest is an issue in today's culture so of course it needed to addressed.
This part of the story is yet another example of how we can let sin in and it changes who we are and what we do. It's sad, but Lot passed on his lack of moral control to his daughters. The daughter's wanted to preserve their father's blood line and they thought sleeping with him was their only option. They weren't driven by lust, they were driven be desperation. Lot should have found his daughter's husbands a long time before this and heck, Abraham's family wasn't that far away.
Once again, this story gives us the facts so understanding why the sisters did this is hard. It also appears as if they went unpunished for their sin. However the two sons that are born are Moab, father of the Moabites of today and Ben-Ammi, father of the Ammonites of today. The Moabites and Ammonites are Israel's greatest enemies. Perhaps this is how God dealt with the sins of the sisters.

There is a cliche, the sins of our fathers are passed down for generations. This is true with abuse, racism etc. It's also true here in the context of this story.

-Abraham found favor in God's eyes and pleaded for Lot's life to be spared when God sent two angels to destroy the city.
-Lot was a weak man who cared more about his power and wealth than following God, yet God spared his life and his daughter's lives.
-Lot's daughters, following in their father's footsteps, acted out in desperation and fear and bore two sons that became the fathers of two enemies of Israel.
-Due to a family connection, Moses was forbidden to attack either of these nations.
-Ruth was a great grandmother of David and an ancestor of Jesus; yet she was a Moabite.

Of course you are free to draw your own conclusions. But I see a pattern which shows God's mercy to us as sinners and how He can make anything into something that will glorify His Kingdom.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Too Busy Not To Pray

by Bill Hybles

This was a very good book and I'm extremely glad Jon suggested I read it. I've struggled with prayer, um, my whole life. Sometimes I'm "good" at it. Sometimes I'm "bad" at it. But what does it mean to be "good" at prayer anyways? Does it mean we should get on a schedule? Same time same place every day? Does it mean we should have a step by step itinerary? Does it mean we should be praying "all the time" because life is so busy we don't have the luxury of being able to sit down for 10 or 15 minutes? This book goes into all these little details and more. But in pieces. Chapters. Bite size pieces.

My goal was to read one chapter a day which meant it should have taken me 15 days to read this. But of course, some days I missed my quiet time and then a few weeks went by when I had just a few chapters left to finish the book. Normally, I would have felt guilty for putting my quiet times on the back burner which then would have caused me to stay even farther away from my quiet times so I wouldn't disappoint myself anymore. Instead, this time I made the decision to sit down and write a prayer. It felt different writing it rather than thinking it, whispering it or saying it out loud. It was short and I felt guilty because I didn't know what to say. I wasn't feeling emotional or extremely passionate about talking to God or writing in general. So I kept it simple and blunt, confessing that I had been a bad friend. I asked for forgiveness not out of guilt but because the only way my heart could begin to open back up was to confess the most obvious wall standing between me and God.

I have learned so much these past few months about the "wrong" and "right" ways to do prayer. I learned there is a right way. And there is a wrong way. If you are struggling in any way with prayer, if you can relate to anything I have just said or you simply have questions in regards to prayer, I highly recommend this book. There are also study questions after each chapter to help you meditate on what you read or to be used in a small group. I hope you get as much out of this book as I did, if not more.

Too Busy Not to Pray is sprinkled heavily with Bible verses that are easily related to the situations presented in the text. Bill Hybels is currently the founder and senior past of Willow Creek Church in South Beach, Illinois. This church has an average attendance of over 17,000 people every week. Their mission statement has much to do with the phrase, "people matter to God." Their mission statement says,

"Willow is committed to carrying on Christ’s mission by reaching out to those who are far from God, coaching those who follow Christ by equipping them for their spiritual journey, and unleashing unprecedented levels of compassion and justice into our broken world."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

God, You Must Do Your Part

I didn't expect the tears. I watched a few tv shows, did some cross stitch, had dessert and a beer or two. The usual routine before bed. On my way upstairs to the bathroom I sometimes like to check on Evan and see how he's doing. Like any other mom, I adore watching him when he sleeps. Tonight, I noticed he had moved a head down from his pillow and his pajama pant legs were rolled up to his knees. I picked up the blanket to cover him fully as he scrunched himself into a tight ball while holding a closed seal around his thumb. I have been finding subtle similarities between Evan and I lately. Tonight, it was in the way he sleeps. That same ball is the one I curl up in over and over again in the night.

I did my bathroom thing and was immediately in bed ready for a night of bliss so I could wake up and see what the weekend would hold. However my heart wasn't quite ready to let go of what was in the room a few feet from mine. It's as if the older he gets, the more I want to hold on. It seems like it was just a few months ago he was a tiny baby in my arms who didn't do much other than poop, sleep and eat (probably in that order). But now he is just about to turn three. His head is so big it seems he can't always control it yet his legs and torso remain closer to the ground and he gets mistaken for a new two year old more often than not. But God has made him sweet. Evan's heart is tender and he can be quite bashful when meeting new people. At other times he's a clown, the life of the party and sometimes downright bossy.

As I was going over all this surrounded by the quiet darkness of my room, my chest began to swell and my eyes burned. I don't want to give him up tomorrow. I hate having to share him. Not to say his dad is a bad guy. He's a very good guy and he loves Evan tremendously. But I wish different things for my firstborn son. I don't know what it's like to have to jump between two families and neither does his dad. Doubling up on everything is all Evan will ever know.

I told Evan tonight, before bed, that I thank God every day for him because God gave him to me. I truly believe that. However Evan is still going to have to live with my past sins for the rest of his life. By this time the tears were flowing freely and I knew I needed to let God in on this. I'm so sad. Selfishly I'm sad for me. But more, I'm sad for him. In that moment I knew God was sharing my pain. He feels it too because Evan is close to his heart as we all are in individual ways. You love him, Lord. And you must take care of him. You have to do your part. I will do the best I can to raise him right. But you have to do your part too.

I know God doesn't need me telling Him what to do. But I had to let it out. I want Evan to be happy and healthy. I don't want him to resent anyone for his upbringing. I vowed when Evan was a baby to raise him with values that follow God. And I will. I do. But the small fear remains. What if he doesn't say yes?