Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 31

Today marks the final day of the first month in the Bible in 90 Days Reading Challenge. This has been a great experience thus far. I've had to push myself some days to read the Bible and other days I've flown right through the reading. I think I've learned a lot but I've also come up with a few questions that will need answered later.

Today's reading covered 1 Chronicles 24 through 2 Chronicles 7.

One of my most pressing questions is the Biblical definition of "perfect." Most Adventist churches I've visited have preached or taught that perfection means that we have to learn not to sin while still living on earth. When Christ comes, we must be perfect. This attitude has always scared me because I'm far from perfect. I sin on a daily basis, even though I try to act like Christ. The idea of me obtaining perfection before I die or before Christ returns (whichever happens first) is very discouraging.

I've only met several people who have tried to show that Biblical perfection is more about having a heart for God rather than a life without sin. This teaching makes more sense to me, but I want to know what the Bible teaches.

Several of the verses in today's reading talk about a "perfect heart."

And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee: but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off forever
1 Chronicles 28:9

Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the Lord: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy
1 Chronicles 29:9

I like the idea of a perfect heart. David prayed for a perfect heart when he asked that God "create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10). I want a clean heart, a perfect heart, and a right spirit.

Lord, help me to be like You!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 30

I read all of today's reading (1 Chronicles 10-23) after church. I'm not sure why both 1st & 2nd Kings and 1st & 2nd Chronicles are in the Bible. They have a bit of unique information but most of 1st & 2nd Chronicles are a repeat of Kings. I guess we'll have a really good grasp of Israelite history when we finish reading these four books!

There wasn't much in the stories that stuck out to me but I really liked the beginning of David's psalm of thanksgiving in 1 Chronicles 16.

Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.

Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works.

Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.

Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.

Remember his marvelous works that he hath done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth

1 Chronicles 16:8-12.

Amen and amen!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 29

At least it didn't use the word "begat." Today's reading covered 1 Chronicles 1 through 9 and was roughly 97% genealogy.

The most notable section of today's chapters was two verses devoted to Jabez.

And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.

And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested

1 Chronicles 4:9-10.

Jabez called on God and asked for an increase in land and protection from evil. Because Jabez asked, God granted his request. Sometimes we don't receive because we don't ask.

Ask, and it shall be given you;
seek, and ye shall find;
knock, and it shall be opened unto you

Matthew 7:7.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kitty Post

I need a fluffy post!

This is Susano. He is the first kitten we adopted after we married. For the first few months after we brought him home, he was a cuddler. He wanted to be on someone's lap, anyone!, all the time. Then he started terrorizing the house and picking on us. That cat has sharp claws. He has a twitch on one side of his face and the vet couldn't diagnose what was wrong. I think it makes him a bit mean sometimes.

We adopted another cat, older and bigger, who could possibly put Susano in his place. Fiona seemed like a good candidate for that but she's really laid back and didn't help Susano's behavior. Finally, Susano grew out of his terror stage and then he was just hands off.

Recently, Susano started being clingy again. When we sit at our computers, he walks over, stretches toward us, and digs his claws into our leg. That's how he lets us know that he wants picked up and put on our laps. Yesterday, I was kneeling on my office chair talking to my hubby. Susano decided he wanted to curl up on me. I didn't move, curious about what he would do. He curled up on the back of my legs! Silly kitten...

Bible in 90 Days - Day 28

I finished reading 2 Kings today, covering chapters 16 through 25. Sometime I want to go back and make a list of all the kings to see if there is a pattern for which ones are evil and which ones follow the Lord. I did notice that some of the kings who were most on fire for the Lord had children who turned out very evil. I guess there are no guarantees in parenting.

I loved reading the story of Josiah. He became king at eight years of age. Even though he was so young when he ascended the throne, he did that which was right in the sight of God and followed the example of David.

I'm guessing the law had been lost for awhile, or else the priests and king wouldn't have made such a big deal over a copy being found. Little wonder kings weren't able to follow God when they didn't have a copy of His law and never bothered asking for His guidance! When Josiah reads a copy of the law, he tore his clothes in a realization of what the people had been doing against God. He petitions God in an attempt to spare them from the results of their disobedience. God told Josiah that the people had to be punished, but He tells Josiah:

Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the LORD.

Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again

2 Kings 22:19-20.

It's too bad that the children of Israel didn't repent with Josiah, as they might have received a reprieve from their sentence. Unfortunately, the text says that Josiah was the one who repented because of what the people had done. As a result, God waited to punish the people until after Josiah's death, so that Josiah could reign in peace.

This is such a great eulogy for a righteous king:

And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him
2 Kings 23:25.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 27

Today's reading (2 Kings 5 through 15) was mostly a list of kings who ruled over Israel and Judah. Recorded was each king's rise to power, length of rule, age at time of death, and whether or not that king followed the Lord. There wasn't much information about the king other than if he failed to tear down the high places or if there was a war during his reign. The Bible covers so much history but very few of the stories are detailed. We'll have the opportunity to learn a lot when we're in heaven.

One of my favorite Bible stories when I was a child was Elisha making an axe head float. I don't why, but that story always delighted me. We had some Bible Story books and I loved looking at the pictures. Elisha standing by the river Jordan. The axe head sinking to the bottom of the water. Elisha throwing a stick into the river. A man wading into the water to collect the floating axe head!

That story is a miracle, but it doesn't fit with the normal records of miracles. God used Elisha to raise two boys from the dead, help Jehoram defeat Moab in battle, purify a stream, make poisoned food edible, cure Naaman from leoprosy... And then Elisha and God cause an axe head to float on the water! It was a borrowed axe and the user was worried he wouldn't be able to return it.

God cares about even the little things. He takes care of our food, gives us life, gives us health, and keeps us safe. But God also cares when we lose a belonging! That amazes me.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On My Nightstand - February

January has been a slow reading month. I'm dedicated to finishing the Bible in 90 Days plan and that takes precedence over everything else. I'm not reading much else, maybe half an hour each day of other books.

Here's what I have queued up for the rest of this month and for February.

In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez - In progress. Based on a true story, unfortunately. I'm sure I'll be crying by the end.
Shanghai Girls, by Lisa See
How Do I Love Thee?, by Nancy Moser - This is another book that is based on a true story but novelized.

Things I've Been Silent About, by Azar Nafisi - Or at least I am going to try. I've read Reading Lolita in Tehran and this is the same author. Reading Lolita in Tehran was a difficult read for me so we'll see how I do with this book.

The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook, by Cybele Pascal - Our diet is changing for the better. As we're eliminating unhealthy foods, my recipe stash keeps getting smaller and smaller. We need to find some healthy recipes to replace those that I'm not making anymore.
The Wisdom of Eleanor Roosevelt, edited by Donald Wigal

I finished most of January's list. Those that are crossed off are the ones I finished reading.

  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole - A long book and I just couldn't get to it before it was due back at the library.

  • The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss - I LOVED this book. The adventures were fun, lessons were learned, and things turned out how I wanted. Great book and now I want to see the movie.

  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - Wonderful book. It was long but I read it in only several days. I really enjoyed each section, though I think her trip to Italy was my favorite part of the story. And I heard they are making a movie of this book! I hope they don't butcher it like they did The Time Travelers Wife.

  • A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle - Okay book... was interesting but not great. Took me awhile to finish.

  • The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fondues & Hot Dips - We were supposed to have fondue for New Years but hubby was sick and we decided it was bad idea. Then we started eating vegan. Oops. There are still a couple recipes in this book that I plan on making, just not the cheese fondue.

  • Rotary Magic - Haven't read it, but I still have it for another week. Might get to it.

  • The Jane Austen Handbook by Margaret C. Sullivan - Cute, filled in details about Jane Austen's time period that will be useful when reading the books this year.

  • Miss Manners' Guide to Domestic Tranquility by Judith Martin - Same as above.

Bible in 90 Days - Day 26

I read the entire story of Elijah (plus some) in today's reading (1 Kings 16 through 2 Kings 4). I really enjoy the story of Elijah as God worked through him in some amazing ways: warning Ahab of the drought, saving the widow and her son from famine, raising the widow's son, confronting Ahab again, Mount Carmel, ending the drought, God in a still small voice at Mount Horeb, and, finally, Elijah being taken to heaven in a fiery chariot. Elijah's life and death were jam packed with God's presence.

The story that touched me the most was how Elijah saved the widow and her son.

And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou has said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.

For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.

And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days

1 Kings 17:13-15.

The widow showed great faith in this event. She didn't have to follow Elijah's command to fix the last of the bread for him, but she did. Because of her faith in what Elijah said God would do for her, she was blessed and ate until the rain came again to Israel. I want that kind of faith!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 25

I still can't believe how fast this is going. Today I read 1 Kings 8 through 16.

After Solomon finishes building the temple, he admonishes the people.

The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us: That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers
1 Kings 8:57.

Soon after, God appeared to Solomon for the second and final time.

But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them:

Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people:

And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and to this house?

And they shall answer, Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the LORD brought upon them all this evil

1 Kings 9:6-9.

Before these verses, God made promises of what He would do for Israel if they continue to obey Him. Then He tells Solomon what will happen if Israel starts disobeying God's commandments.

I think the response of anyone who wonders what happened to Israel is particularly telling. "They shall answer, 'Because they forsook the Lord their God... therefore hath the Lord brought upon them all this evil'" (verse 9).

God doesn't arbitrarily choose to punish someone, just as He won't take someone to heaven who doesn't choose to go. We have to make that choice. We accept the gift of salvation or earn punishment. I can accept Jesus' sacrifice or I can choose to disobey His commands and thus reject His offer of eternal life. Ultimately, the choice is mine.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 24

This morning's reading (2 Samuel 23 through 1 Kings 7) went pretty quickly. By this time, David has died and Solomon has taken over the throne. There was a bit of intrigue over who had the right to become king after David, but David settled that issue right before he died.

I think that God asking Solomon what he wishes for is an interesting story. Nowhere else in the Bible, that I know of, has God telling someone "ask what I shall give thee" (1 Kings 3:5). Solomon could have asked for power, riches, or a long life. But instead he asks for wisdom!

Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
1 Kings 3:9.

I don't know about anyone else, but I would have been tempted to request something for myself. I am a selfish person, if I want to be honest. I just hope that if God ever gives me the opportunity to ask Him for something, I will be able to ask for love or wisdom or patience. I already ask for those things but I struggle every day to be like God.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 23

I actually read today's reading (2 Samuel 13 through 2 Samuel 22) in two sessions. I rarely do that. But I read the first three chapters while waiting for church to begin and read the rest this afternoon. In a way, reading in two sessions was easier but I'm afraid if I make a habit of it, I won't sit down to read the second half. I usually try to read soon after waking and read the entire assignment.

When I read the Bible, I love when I recognize worship songs that I've heard.

The Lord liveth, and blessed be my rock;
and exalted be the rock of my salvation

2 Samuel 22:47.

I love this praise song. I wish we could sing more songs like this in church with just the piano for accompaniment. But hubby and I are attending a church with an average membership age of around 60. I'm afraid that I would be rocking the boat unnecessarily as music can be so controversial. I don't really understand why, but I can respect it. Tonight I asked the pastor about sometimes singing more contemporary worship songs at vespers and he told me to go ask the person in charge of the vespers schedule. I might just do that.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tornado watch!

We had a huge storm yesterday evening. The weather service issued a tornado watch for our area. This is highly unusual. Even during our normal two week rainy season we don't get tornado watches. I didn't have to venture outside during the storm, though my hubby had to drive home from work through the heavy rains.

We heard a big boom and ran to the window. Our poor tree!

This tree provided our shade. It blocked a portion of the view of the street. It made me feel like I wasn't living in the middle of a giant city. And now it's gone.

I'm guessing the ground became so waterlogged that the roots just gave way when the wind picked up. The grounds crew came and cut up the tree this morning. The only evidence that we once had a beautiful tree outside our patio is the giant hole in the dirt.

Bible in 90 Days - Day 22

Unfortunately, I have nothing interesting to say about today's reading (1 Samuel 29 through 2 Samuel 12).

Saul dies. David mourns Saul. David becomes king. War and intrigue. David sins by taking Bathsheba and then killing her husband.

I've had some interesting discussions on Bathsheba and whether or not she sinned. I don't think it's something I want to delve into on my blog. I'm just glad that we have no king today who can order me to "know" him.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 21

21 days! Three weeks! We're really moving through the Bible quickly.

I read 1 Samuel 16 through 28 today. It basically covered the story of Saul chasing David around the countryside, trying to kill him. Twice David had the opportunity to kill Saul. Twice David declared that he could not lay a hand on God's anointed. David had no problems taking people's lives if he felt it was justified (see 1 Samuel 25 for the story of Nabal). So he must have felt very strongly that God's anointing was still applicable to Saul, even though Saul was trying to take David's life.

I found another question to add to my list of things to study later. 1 Samuel 16:14 says that "the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him." What is the evil spirit in this verse? An evil spirit from the Lord? I didn't realize there was such a thing... I have to study this in depth later.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bell pepper

Last night I made stir fry again, this time using peanut butter in place of the almond butter. We liked the almond butter sauce better.

Chopping the veggies, I noticed this cute center to one of the bell peppers. I've never seen anything like it! The colors were really pretty.

Bible in 90 Days - Day 20

I didn't have too many thoughts on today's reading (1 Samuel 3 through 15). I did mark a couple texts as interesting, though.

And it was so, that when he [Saul] had turned his back to go from Samuel,
God gave him another heart:
and all those signs came to pass that day

1 Samuel 10:9.

This verse jumped out at me because of the phrase "God gave him another heart." That sounds kind of like God causing Pharaoh's heart to harden. I'm definitely going to have to study this topic more after I'm done with the 90 days.

The other text that stuck out to me was 1 Samuel 11:6.

And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly.

This addresses a question that has come up in our Bible study several times, if anger is considered a sin. In this text, the Spirit of God came upon Saul and his anger was kindled. Obviously, that means that some types of anger or reasons for anger are not sinful, or else the Spirit of God would not have caused those feelings in Saul. Just a thought I had today.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 19

I completed another two books of the Bible today. The reading covered Judges 15 through 1 Samuel 2.

The author of Judges (believed to be Samuel) is forced to admit that:

In those days there was no king in Israel,
but every man did that which was right in his own eyes

Judges 17:6.

The problem with doing what is right in one's own eyes is that there is no standard. Even though God did not want Israel to have a king, setting up an earthly government gave Israel a set of enforced rules and laws. It wasn't enough for the Israelites to have God's rules and commandments; they wanted an earthly king. But until the king was designated by God, each man determined on his own what qualified as "right."

I hope that I will always be open to learning the truth about falsehood, sin, and error. I don't want to be found doing what is right "in my own eyes." Instead, I want to do what's right according to God for there is "none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God" (1 Samuel 2:2).

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 18

Today's reading (Judges 4 through 15) went much easier than yesterday. I read about some of the first judges and how Israel responded when each judge died. For most of the judges, there is very little information listed. Then we get to Samson...

I had a very negative view of Samson until my hubby and I started reading through the Old Testament together last year. When I was younger, the stories I heard about Samson made him seem to be an evil man who is used by God to help Israel during their bondage. I was under the impression that Samson had poor choice in wives, that he was reckless, and that he was extremely violent.

When I actually read the stories for myself, I was shocked. The Bible says that Samson's first marriage was "of the Lord" (Judges 14:4). Samson didn't disregard God's council and marry a Philistine; God wanted him to marry a Philistine woman. And yes, the stories about Samson are kind of violent. But Samson wasn't being violent just for the sake of violence; God was using Samson as an instrument to punish the Philistines for acts they committed against the Israelites! "The Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him" in several instances (Judges 14:6, 15:14). No wonder Samson was listed in the faith chapter. I finally understand why.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 17

I have to admit that I really struggled to finish today's reading (Joshua 15 through Judges 3). Most of the chapters covered the dividing of Canaan and how it was distributed to each of the tribes. There were a LOT of cities listed.

Judges records the beginnings of Israel's wavering.

1 - The Israelites are following God.
2 - The last judge/leader dies.
3 - The Israelites start worshiping other gods.
4 - The Lord is angry with Israel and allows other peoples to start ruling over them.
5 - Israel cries because of their bondage.
6 - God hears and sends a judge to save them.
7 - The Israelites are following God.
8 - The last judge/leader dies.
9 - The Israelites start worshiping other gods.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

After reading about the first of many rebellions, an earlier promise begins to feel very relevant.

But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; (For the Lord thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them
Deuteronomy 4:29-31.

I am very grateful that God is a merciful God and that He continued to love the Israelites. Because of these stories, I am reassured that God continues to love me even when I fall over and over again.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 16

I invited hubby to read with me this afternoon. I don't think he fully realized just how much I read every day. We covered Joshua 1 through 14.

These chapters raised more questions than answers. One of the biggest objections to religion, to belief in God, concerns the stories of the Israelites conquering Canaan. People argue that God could not be so cruel and mean as to order the killing of thousands of people.

It's a valid question. I've been studying it off and on for the past year and I still don't have an answer.

As the Lord commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses
Joshua 11:15.

For it was of the Lord to harden their [the Canaanites] hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favor, but that he might destroy them, as the Lord commanded Moses
Joshua 11:20.

So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war
Joshua 11:23.

I think these texts are very clear. The Lord ordered that the people of Canaan be killed when the Israelites entered the land. Joshua 11:20 says that the people of Canaan attacked Israel and that is why they were destroyed. I noticed this in each battle before even reading this chapter. The Canaanites had heard of Israel. They knew that God had taken them out of Egypt and were bringing them to Canaan. They knew that the Israelites were powerful because God was with them and was giving them power. So the Canaanites were forewarned but decided to attack Israel regardless.

So far I understand the stories. But then I see the pesky little phrase "it was of the Lord to harden their hearts." God also "hardened Pharaoh's heart." Almost every single person I've discussed this with says that God allowed their hearts to be hardened but didn't actually cause their hearts to be hardened. Unfortunately, that's not exactly what the Bible says. What does it mean that "God hardened Pharaoh's heart?" I don't know. I'm still looking for answers.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 15

Today's reading (Deuteronomy 24 through 34) had a continuation of one of yesterday's themes. Several times I read how Moses instructed the Israelites to choose obedience, to choose God. His pleas culminated in the following verses:

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you,
that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing:
therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
That thou mayest love the LORD thy God,
and that thou mayest obey his voice,
and that thou mayest cleave unto him:
for he is thy life, and the length of thy days:
that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers,
to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them
Deuteronomy 30:19-20.

I want blessings, obedience, love, and length of days. I choose life.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Recipes - Almond Butter Stir Fry and Ramen

I perfected my ramen recipe! It's quite simple.

Noodles (we use something similar to soba noodles, as they aren't deep fried like ramen noodles and thus way lower in fat)
1/2 tomato, diced
1 green onion, sliced
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. lemon juice
1/2 T. Sriracha chili sauce (or something similar)

1. Boil water. Add noodles, tomato, and green onion. Cook for three minutes.
2. While the noodles are cooking, mix soy sauce, lemon juice, and hot sauce in your bowl.
3. Add noodles and boiling water to bowl. Mix. Eat.

We also wanted to try a new stir-fry recipe. We visited Sprouts and picked out all of our fresh veggies. Then I looked around the internet and put together a list of ingredients for a sauce.

1 pint mushrooms
Big handful of fresh green beans
3 bell peppers (we used red and yellow)
Soba noodles

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 T. almond butter
Dash crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced

1. Add 1/2 cup of water to the bottom of the wok. When boiling, add vegetables and cover.
2. Cook soba noodles on the stove according to package directions.
3. In a small pot, mix water, soy sauce, almond butter, crushed red pepper, and garlic. Heat on low until almond butter is melted.
4. When vegetables are cooked, add noodles and sauce to the wok. Stir until heated.
5. Serve and eat. Yum!

Bible in 90 Days - Day 14

Two weeks into this reading challenge and I am already very close to finishing the Pentateuch. Today's reading was Deuteronomy 8 through 23. One more day of reading and I will be finished with the first five books of the Old Testament.

There was a directive from God that was repeated often in these chapters. The wording varied a bit from verse to verse but the principle was the same.

Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God
Deuteronomy 12:28.

Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;
A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God,
which I command you this day:
And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God,
but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day,
to go after other gods, which ye have not known
Deuteronomy 11:26-28.

The children of Israel were given a choice. Obey the Lord and enjoy His blessings or disobey and face the punishment. I believe we are given the same choice today. I can choose to follow God's commands and enjoy His blessings (though they may not be immediate, but eternal) or I can disobey and face the consequences. It's up to me if I want to obey.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 13

Today's reading covered Numbers 33 through Deuteronomy 7.

Moses wrote:

Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them. The Lord your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes: And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place. Yet in this thing ye did not believe the Lord your God
Deuteronomy 1:29-32.

God had directed the Israelites to proceed into Canaan. God promised to do all the work for them. He was going to slowly chase the Canaanites out of Canaan and give the land over to the Israelites as they were able to inhabit it. But the people took one look at the walled cities and the tall men and fled for their lives. They forgot how God had led them in the past and thus lost faith that God would lead them in the future. I pray that I will never forget.

There was also a great promise in today's chapters.

But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; (For the Lord thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them
Deuteronomy 4:29-31.

This promise comes immediately after Moses tells the people that they will go a-whoring after other gods. They will leave their God and worship idols. But God promised them that if they returned to Him, if they obeyed His commands, He would have mercy on them.

I can claim this promise today. Even though I've made mistakes in the past, if I return to God and obey His commands, He will have mercy on me. My God is a merciful God.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 12

Today I read Numbers 22 through 32. I think the coolest story in this section is the story of Balaam. When the king of Moab sends messengers to Balaam and asks him to curse Israel, Balaam does the right thing. He prays to God and listens to God's advice, sending the messengers away.

Then the messengers return with an offer of more money, more prestige. Balaam prays to God and asks His guidance again. Because Balaam is obviously wanting to go, God allows him to leave with the messengers, though not without a confrontation on the journey.

In spite of Balaam going against God's ideal plan, God has the last word. When Balaam opens his mouth before the Israelites, he blesses them. Not only does Balaam bless the Israelites twice, he utters one of the earliest prophecies about the Messiah!

I shall see him, but not now:
I shall behold him, but not nigh:
there shall come a Star out of Jacob,
and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel...
Numbers 24:17.

2010 Resolution - Read More Books!

Well, that's not really my resolution. I read many, many books and I don't think I need to increase the quantity. I just need to increase the quality of books that I read.

With that in mind, I'm joining the following challenges for 2010.

Christian Historical Fiction Challenge - The goal is to read 24 books that qualify as both Christian and historical. Almost half of this challenge will be fulfilled by the A.D. Chronicles series. I love reading the Thoene's books and this series is great. I've read through book seven but I plan on rereading the first seven books this year and then hoping I can find the newer books at my library. I think between the two nearest libraries, I can borrow at least through book 10.

Biblical Fiction Challenge - I only need to read six books to complete this challenge, and the A.D. Chronicles will qualify. One book I really want to get hold of is Havah: The Story of Eve, by Tosca Lee. Unfortunately, my library does not yet carry it.

Christian Non-Fiction Challenge - I have to read at least 10 books that are Christian and non-fiction. This would be anything in Christian living, inspiration, or Christian biography/autobiography. I usually read a lot of fiction (mostly Christian but some secular), a tiny bit of nonfiction, and a smattering of memoirs. Christian non-fiction is my weakest area and I want to increase my reading in this category.

Jane Austen Challenge - I am VERY excited about reading more Jane Austen books. I've seen all the movies except Northanger Abbey but I've only read Pride and Prejudice. I must remedy that! I'm aiming for the Lover level - 4 books by Jane Austen, plus 4 re-writes, prequels, sequels, or spoofs (by other authors).

Colorful Reading Challenge - The goal is to read nine books, each with a different color in the title. This will be interesting. Off the top of my head, I can only think of one book whose title contains a color: The Color Purple.

Memorable Memoir Challenge - The requirement for meeting this challenge is four memoirs. I've already read one this year and can't wait to read more.

South Asian Author Challenge - I have never read a book by a South Asian author. I'm planning on reading at least three this year (hopefully memoirs so they overlap with other challenges).

Chunkster Challenge - A Chunkster is any book with at least 450 pages. I want to be a "Chubby Chunkster" and read three of these monster books. Looking back, the only book I remember reading that is long enough to qualify is The Count of Monte Cristo. This challenge will definitely stretch my normal reading habits. I wish that my Bible in 90 days reading plan would qualify for this challenge, but the challenge starts on February 1. Oh, well. I will find other long books.

Support Your Local Library Challenge - This one should be easy for me. The vast majority of my reading material comes from the library. I'm aiming for the Stepping It Up level, at 75 books.

100+ Reading Challenge - The ultimate goal is to end up with 100+ books read in 2010. All the books from my other reading challenges can be included in this list and I should easily reach 100.

Now I'd better get to reading!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 11

I didn't read this morning. Usually, I try to read my Bible first thing in the morning or right after I get back from exercising. Today I had to be ready to leave the house at 8:30 and spent the whole morning scrambling. I didn't read today's assignment until 4:00 this afternoon.

I missed my morning reading. I felt like I was getting the day off on the wrong foot by not reading the Bible first thing. It's amazing how quickly I've come to rely on that prayer time and devotional time spent in God's word.

Today's reading was Numbers 9 through 21. What impressed me the most was how often I read "and the Israelites became angry and complained about God's care." Over and over and over again. God took care of His people. He still takes care of His people. And yet the Israelites complained because they weren't happy with the food. They were afraid God wasn't going to provide water. They were jealous of Moses being the leader even though Moses had the job they would probably run screaming from if they really understood what was involved!

Lord, please help me to be content and to trust You. Help me to avoid complaining but to remember that You ALWAYS provide. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My First Quilt Top!

I am so excited! I finally finished my first quilt top.

I kinda sorta like it. I don't like the vertical blue border we had to add to bring the quilt to the correct finished size. This quilt was not planned out from the beginning. I made the blocks 12" each. Then we (seemingly randomly) picked a sashing size. Then we worked with what little fabric we had left to make the brown border. After that, we measured the quilt and determined that we had to add a second border to bring it to the needed size. Blech. My perfectionism was screaming the entire time.

That said, I learned A LOT making this quilt top. I now know to plan the entire top in advance, how to press the blocks (as opposed to ironing. Oops!), and how to keep my seams straight. The back of this quilt top is not pretty but I consider it a successful lesson.

Tomorrow, I will be attending the monthly women's ministry meeting. My quilting teacher will be showing me how to assemble the three layers and how to tie it all together. I'm not sure how long tying takes, but maybe I'll have a finished quilt soon.

Next on my project list is my grandparents' quilt. I have the fabric picked out and washed. I just need to iron it all and then I can start cutting the squares out. Maybe since I made a bunch of mistakes on my first quilt top, I'll be able to avoid those mistakes on my second! Once I finish this quilt, I'll be starting Hazel's mystery quilt. I'm already 10 days behind on the instructions, but I'm hoping to finish my grandparents' quilt in a month. Then I will start on Hazel's quilt and catch up on the instructions.

Bible in 90 Days - Day 10

I started Numbers today. The overwhelming majority of the reading was about the first Israelite census and the sacrifices given when the sanctuary was completed.

God gave the priests an awesome blessing that they were to bestow on the people.

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace
Numbers 6:24-27.

What an amazing blessing!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 9

I finished reading Leviticus today, covering chapters 15 through 27. These chapters covered laws about adultery, lying, Sabbath breaking, etc. It also talked about how to diagnose illness and if someone is considered unclean, as well as the steps for them to become clean.

The reading was a bit dry but I had to wonder how many of these guidelines should still be followed today. The laws for cleanliness would probably still be considered good guidelines for avoiding contagions.

I've realized that spending so much time in the Bible, between half an hour and an hour a day, has left me more picky about my leisure time. Hubby and I wanted to rent a movie tonight. Most of the time we rent from Redbox as we generally have codes for free movies. Unfortunately, Redbox didn't have any movies that we wanted to see. Prior to starting this challenge, I might have wanted to see some of the newer dramas. But I looked at the R rating and realized that I didn't want to watch something that would push me out of the comforting feeling that Christ is nearby.

I can't guarantee that my pickiness concerning books and movies will continue. I hope I will continue to be more aware and choosy of what I'm watching. But for tonight, we chose to visit Blockbuster and picked up Toy Story and Toy Story 2. Good clean fun and they are movies that I would feel comfortable watching with Christ.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 8

Wow. My takeaway from the day's reading is that sin is serious. I read Leviticus 1 through 14 and most of it was about different types of offerings. The lists are detailed. Specific sins require specific offerings. The age, type, and gender of an animal is detailed. Each animal had to be in perfect condition, not a spot or blemish on it.

Sin is very serious if it requires such attention to detail when the sinner sacrifices to receive atonement.

I am so glad that I was born in this time period. It would be really hard to stomach picking out an animal, taking it to the sanctuary, and then slitting it's throat. All because I lied. But that's how serious sin really is. My sins killed Jesus Christ. And the Jewish sacrifices illustrated the gravity of sin. I am thankful that I don't have to sacrifice an animal every time I sin. But I also pray that I will be ever mindful of how serious my sins are, how much they cost both the Father and the Son.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 7

First week is complete! I've read all of Genesis and Exodus.

This morning, I found my thoughts drifting during the reading. Parts of it were really interesting (golden calf) but most of it was a list of lists about the tabernacle. I know the details are important and the sanctuary is a great study. But it's hard to just read it all, especially 11 chapters of it.

I love how Exodus concludes.

Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all of their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys
Exodus 40:34-38.

God was physically with the children of Israel throughout their journey to Canaan. Even after the Israelites rejected God's leading them into Canaan, He didn't abandon them. The text says that God was there throughout all their journeys.

Even when I am not perfect, when I speak crossly to my husband or don't study my Bible as I should, God is still with me. He loves me. And for that, my natural response is to love Him in return.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Pillowcases complete!

I am so excited. Finally, after much delay and a bit of procrastination, I have finished my first set of pillowcases (used this pattern). The first one was completed several weeks ago, but I procrastinated on finishing the second pillowcase and then took an emergency trip to Texas.

The picture is the pillowcase I finished this afternoon. They're matching, so I saw no need to set up the other and take a picture. ;)

I bought this fabric years ago, I think while I was still in high school. My plan was to sew two pillowcases for my brother, as he was obsessed with using chili peppers to decorate his bedroom. I don't know why I waited so long to start these, but hopefully he still likes them. If not, he will at least appreciate the humor in his old decorating taste.

If I have the time tomorrow, I'm going to hand wash the fabric for my grandpa's quilt. Then I can start cutting out all the squares I will be sewing together.

Bible in 90 Days - Day 6

I've already read more than half of Exodus, today completing chapters 16 through 28. One more day in Exodus and then I'm into the challenging material - laws, numbers, and genealogies.

Several observations about today's reading...

Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink
Exodus 24:9-11.

I would have loved to see this in person. Can you imagine? Seeing God. Seeing the pavement under His feet. Being at peace enough with God to eat and drink there. Amazing.

The only trace of sadness in the above text is that Nadab and Abihu were present at this event and they still disobeyed God. They later committed a sin so grievous that they were killed on the spot. Seeing God once is no guarantee that you will continue to live a righteous life. I believe that's where daily prayer, daily study, and daily communion with God are necessary.

My second thought is one I've heard preached on a number of times. Israel was blessed by God. They were cared for by God. First they were taken out of Egypt. Then they were protected from the Egyptians as they crossed the sea. They found bitter water and God made it sweet. They were lacking food and God provided quail and manna. They ran out of water and God provided it from a rock. They were attacked by the Amalekites and God made them victorious. And yet. The big YET. They forgot it all. They continued to complain. They wanted to return to Egypt. They wanted to die.

How often am I like this? God provides for me every day, even though it's not always as visible a provision as the Israelites were given. And yet I continue to worry, to fret about the future. I complain when things go wrong. I need to cultivate a spirit of gratefulness and trust. God always provides for His children. I am His child. He will provide for me.

Hopefully I can remember this lesson tomorrow when I'm faced with a petty frustration.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 5

Today I read through the entire story of the plagues and the Israelites' exodus from Egypt. I am very familiar with this story as I used it as the basis for my novel in November. However, when I read the story for Nano, I read it one plague at a time and picked it apart. I was very focused on if I could tell how long the plague lasted, where Moses and Aaron were when they confronted Pharaoh, who that plague affected, what Pharaoh's response was, etc. Today, I read it like a storybook. Very different experience.

I still have questions about God "hardening Pharaoh's heart." I've heard a couple explanations, but none that rang true. Most explanations say that God allowed Pharaoh's heart to be hardened, but that He didn't actually cause it. The text specifically says in a number of places that "God hardened Pharaoh's heart."

Oh, how I wish I understood Hebrew so that I could read the original text. I know I miss so much because I don't understand the culture and because the language was so different than English. The best example I can think of regarding language differences is Job 1:9.

Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?

The word "fear" in English typically means to be afraid, a very negative connotation. In Hebrew, the word actually means "to revere," "to worship," or "to be in awe of."

When I read the above verse, I know that Job worships God, reveres Him, and is in awe of Him. That meaning is very different from Satan asking the Lord if Job is afraid of Him.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ramen fail

I still need to write up a post regarding our New Years resolution about health. Part of that goal includes trying new recipes, as our menu is pretty limited. We usually find a new favorite dish and then eat it frequently.

This morning, hubby and I tried to make a ramen dish we discovered several years ago but had forgotten about. Hubby had posted the recipe on an old blog but we couldn't find it and had to improvise. The ingredient list is fairly simple - ramen noodles, green onions, tomatoes, lemon juice, soy sauce, and hot sauce. We use Sriracha Chili Sauce which I absolutely love. We'll have to experiment a bit to figure out the ratio of lemon juice to soy sauce to hot sauce. Don't use two tablespoons of any type of hot sauce with only one serving of ramen. Ouch. My lips and tongue were burning. Oh, it sure tasted good though!

Bible in 90 Days - Day 4

I can't believe I read all of Genesis in four days. I think the only other time I've read it that quickly was participating in the Pathfinder Bible Bowl and doing some last minute cramming.

I made an observation this morning to my hubby. If you read the story of Joseph saving Egypt from famine, you'll notice that Joseph stored up food during the years of plenty. Then, the Egyptians paid Pharaoh for the food during the famine years. I'm curious about how that food was grown. Did Pharaoh own the land and the crops initially? Did Pharaoh pay the Egyptians for food that the people had grown? Or was the food donated to Joseph's storehouses? If the people grew the food themselves, they were paying Pharaoh to buy back their own food. Just a thought, a question about the lifestyle during that time period.

As I was reading Genesis 45, I wondered if Jacob's sons confessed that they had sold Joseph into slavery. I don't think the text makes that clear.

And they went up out of Egypt,
and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father,
And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive,
and he is governor over all the land of Egypt...
And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them...
Genesis 45:25-27

It is possible that Jacob determined what happened as the brothers were repeating Joseph's words. Joseph was very clear that his brothers had sold him into slavery, though God intended their evil for good.

That brings up another question I have. I've been taught that God does not cause anything negative, that He only allows bad things to happen. Anything evil that happens is caused by Satan. Joseph told his brothers:

So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God:
and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh,
and lord of all his house,
and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt
Genesis 45:8.

Joseph is very clear in this text and a couple previous verses that he believes God sent him to Egypt. This doesn't fit in with what I've been taught. My childhood teaching would be that God knew that the famine was going to happen. God knew that Joseph's brothers were cruel and were going to sell him into slavery. Therefore, God allowed it to happen that He might use Joseph to save Egypt and all of Jacob's family (and others, I am sure). But that is not exactly what the text says. Am I reading the text properly, that God purposefully sent Joseph to Egypt (as opposed to using Joseph because he's already there)? If that's the case, God needed the brothers to sin so that Joseph ended up in Egypt. Or maybe I'm just confused over semantics...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 3

This morning I read Genesis 29 through 40. I can't believe how many mistakes people make and yet God still loves us.

Abraham - made mistakes and God talked to him face to face.
Isaac - don't know much about his life but God led him, especially in the choosing of a wife.
Jacob - a liar, a deceiver. God still talked to him face to face and through dreams.

The story of Joseph is amazing. Joseph didn't do anything wrong, at least nothing included in the Bible. And yet he was oppressed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused by an adulterous woman, thrown into jail. But God is with him every step of the way. Joseph remained positive and faithful through all of his life experiences. I have much to learn from his example.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 2

This morning I read Genesis 17 through 28. Today's reading felt so short compared to yesterday's 16 chapters.

One passage spoke to me:

Abraham had sent his servant to Nahor to find Isaac a wife. When the servant arrived, he prayed to God that he would be able to pick out the right woman to be Isaac's wife.

And it came to pass, before he had done speaking,
that, behold, Rebekah came out...

Genesis 24:15.

Not only did God answer the servant's prayer, it was answered before he was finished praying. I know this idea is repeated several times in Scripture but this is the first example Scripture covers. Before I finish praying, God has already heard my prayer.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 1

I can't believe it's 2010 already. That doesn't seem possible. 2009 flew.

I started the Bible in 90 Days schedule, covering Genesis 1 through 16 this morning. It took me about 40 minutes to read. It would have been faster but I kept telling my hubby things I was reading about and questions that I will have to study later. I also struggle with reading the Bible so quickly as it feels "wrong" to not take my time.

One verse in particular stood out:

And he (Abraham) believed in the Lord;
and He counted it to him for righteousness

Genesis 15:6.

Abraham believed. He trusted God's promises. He didn't have to act a certain way or live his life perfectly. He believed and God counted it to him for righteousness. This is encouraging to me as I struggle every day with various sins of the heart. But I also believe in God and that He will guide me. If Abraham was counted as righteous even though he took multiple wives, tried to bring about God's will through his own means, and lied, there is hope for me.