Easter Eggs

I love Easter Eggs.  Easter eggs are little bits and pieces hidden inside of a piece of media such as a song or video. Symbolism is a bit like it, something that goes deeper, has a meaning other than the obvious.

The tv show Lost.was like that. It had hidden meanings and stories, references to literature, songs, and all kinds of things. I watched the shows more than once,, visited talk forums, was very interested in finding the ‘secret.’

I have found things like this in scripture. Sometimes there is something really cool to put together, although it really doesn’t really mean anything extraordinary. Perhaps I just haven’t looked closely enough.

So, this old familiar passage in Genesis kind of hit me between the eyes even if everybody else in the world already knew it.

Genesis 42: Jacob’s sons go to Egypt to buy food because there is a famine. Joseph is one of Jacob’s sons who was sold into slavery by his brothers years before. Joseph has prospered in Egypt and is a rule, and in charge of selling food. Joseph recognizes his brothers although they don’t recognize him. Joseph has a younger brother, Benjamin who was still in Canaan with his father was the youngest and protected by his father.

Joseph arranges for a test of the brothers designed so they would agree to bring Benjamin to Joseph. Joseph asked for a brother to be imprisoned until they returned.

Well, I think the brothers didn’t think their dad would release Benjamin to go to Egypt. They left Simeon in prison, returned home and just did nothing for a while.

In my version of the story, the brothers went home, got Benjamin and went on their way. I wasn’t looking carefully enough.

The truth is that they had no intention of going back. Simeon was on his own. They only went back because they were out of food. They had no other choice. That really sucks for Simeon.

So there is Benjamin, an adored, protected child, and Simeon whose life, apparently was worth nothing. I mean, as a brother, I would think that they might feel empathy that it could have been any of them, but they were just like ‘glad it’s not me.’ Sorry, we can’t take Benjamin to Joseph in order to save your life.

What was the difference? Different mom, different birth order.

I’m not sure what that means. The passage speaks to me of redemption. The brothers received food  from Joseph. Redeemed from starvation. Simeon stayed in prison so the others could go home. That’s redemption. Ultimately the father sending Benjamin to Egypt. So Benjamin redeemed Simeon and his brothers so they could get food. And God restored Joseph to his family. More redemption.

Relationship and redemption. That’s what God is interested in.

Easter Eggs

Relativity

I think a lot about people who have real suffering and suffer real hate. It takes me out of myself. It lets me see that while I have suffering, I don’t really have that much. It’s surface suffering.

Suffering is legitimate. we are promised suffering. I want my suffering to have meaning. I don’t want it to go to waste.

So, in Hebrews I was given a take on suffering that helps to ground me.

Before I paste the verses, I have to say that I once asked a fellow Christian if they would renounce Christ in order to stay alive. That person said they would pray and ask what God’s will was. I have to say, I think when facing death, we might hear God say that it’s ok to renounce him. I don’t know.

But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. 36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half,* and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.

Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Heb 11:35–38). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

We suffer and we believe.

Relativity

Interesting Thought on Works

I’ve been critical of a suggestion that works are necessary for salvation. That’s because I’m afraid they might be. It feels as if God would require we do something for salvation. My lifestyle hasn’t leant itself to obedience.

Bipolar illness is frequently acted out with poor impulse control and poor decision making. Spending, changing jobs, difficult relationships, self-medicating, sexual promiscuity and so on.

I realize being bipolar is not an excuse to sin, but I do think it’s a difficulty people might underestimate. Obviously consequences occur as a result of bad decisions and that isn’t a punishment from God, it’s just a natural consequence.

I believe the Lord can save us from consequences of our sins, but it might not be in our best interests for Him to do so. The truth is, we all walk a path and have difficulties. Suffering through difficulties creates a multitude of blessings in our lives. That’s a fact. All Christians walk through difficulties.

Like I said, I eschew the works philosophy of Christianity. Since I do a lot wrong, I don’t want the onus on me to be to do something. I like the fact that God accepts us on the basis of faith. I realize there are things God has asked me to do.

Here is the way I look at it and I’m really happy to have come upon this explanation regarding obedience. I’m going to post the entire text because it’s so well written.

But the external works have to take place; we have to get into the situation of being able to believe. We have to take the step. What does that mean? It means that we take this step in the right way only when we do not look to the necessity of our works, but solely with a view to the word of Jesus Christ, which calls us to take the step. Peter knows that he cannot climb out of the boat by his own power. His first step would already be his downfall, so he calls, “Command me to come to you on the water.” Christ answers, “Come.”[23] Christ has to have called; the step can be taken only at his word. This call is his grace, which calls us out of death into the new life of obedience. But now that Christ has called, Peter has to get out of the boat to come to Christ. So it is, indeed, the case that the first step of obedience is itself an act of faith in Christ’s word. But it would completely misrepresent the essence of faith to conclude that that step is no longer necessary, because in that step there had already been faith. To the contrary, we must venture to state that the step of obedience must be done first, before there can be faith. The disobedient cannot have faith.

Bonhoeffer, D. (2003). Discipleship. (B. Green & R. Krauss, Trans., M. Kuske, I. Tödt, G. B. Kelly, & J. D. Godsey, Eds.) (Vol. 4, p. 66). Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.

Interesting Thought on Works

Understandings

There are many things in scripture that have never made sense to me. I read them time and again, but there is something that sticks with me, and apart from a commentary, I don’t get it.

That said, when I keep and open mind and heart, sometimes these things are cleared up for me. That is what happened today.

The verse is Luke 9:59-60. Jesus calls a man. The man says ‘let me bury my father first.’ Jesus tells him that he can’t bury his father and follow him. Now to me, I didn’t care for that because I thought it would be appropriate for him to bury his father.

This is what i missed. It isn’t about burying the father. It’s about Jesus standing there saying ‘come with me,’ and the person saying ‘I can’t.’ We follow the law until it stands in the way of Christ and when we become obedient to Christ, He fulfills the law. He never said to do away with it. He said that he has sufficiently fulfilled the law.

It really is just about not letting things get in the way. Even if they seem like good things to do. It’s what takes our focus off Christ and that’s when our works start to become idols.

I am as guilty as anybody.

Understandings

Leah and Rachel

This post is unrelated to anything it’s just some thoughts I had while reading this. Actually it might be related.

The story of Rachel and Leah in Genesis 29, relates to the marriage of Laban’s daughters to Jacob.

Jacob arranged to marry Laban’s daughter Rachel. Verse 17 says: There was no sparkle in Leah’s eyes. So, Leah was older, but it appears Rachel is more desirable. Laban agreed to marry Rachel before Leah.

Further, Jacob agreed to work for Laban for 7 years before they married. I have never dated a man for 7 years. It would have driven me crazy.  I think even now, I wouldn’t want to date someone for that long. As a 20-something, I couldn’t bear the thought.

On the wedding day, Laban switched Rachel for Leah. So, Jacob discovers on his wedding night that he has married Leah. The one with no sparkle. Imagine how that would feel. I couldn’t bear to think I wasn’t first choice.

Truthfully; however, I wonder if most people aren’t second choice to something else. Nobody looks, thinks and acts like the ideal person.  When someone looks at you every day and asks if you are worthy, and of course you are never worthy when someone looks at you that way.

Look for ways you are worthy rather than ways that you aren’t. Don’t let other people define you by the things they wish you were.

I don’t know what happened interpersonally with Leah, Rachel and Jacob, but I do know that Jacob had a lot of children by Leah. I’d like to think that he loved her. Not like Rachel clearly, but real love nonetheless.

Leah and Rachel

Miracles of God

As you can tell, if you have read anything I have written, I’m no theologian. So, anything I write, I pray it might be useful.

When I was practicing my clarinet today, I was working on some etudes by Rose. Etudes are, by definition is ‘an instrumental musical composition, usually short, of considerable difficulty, and designed to provide practice material for perfecting a particular musical skill.’ They are challenging, interesting and enjoyable to me. When I studied clarinet, I was taught that if you can master a series of etudes, you can play anything.

One thought leading to another. I was driving to a class and listening to music. I love all kinds of music: classical, rock, pop, country, folk, blah blah blah…..all kinds. The thing about it all that fascinates me is that people come up with new music all the time, every day all day, every minute. Music is in our cars, our schools, churches, elevators, phone calls, ringing phones, doorbells.

You would think it’s infinite, but it’s NOT!  Everything in this world is finite. Which means there is a time when every note possible is played by every instrument possible in every different form.

I wouldn’t have that belief if I hadn’t read RC Sproul’s book ‘Not a Chance.’ In it there is a lot of substance that shows that nothing in our world happens by chance.

In this world, we get a sampling of God’s beauty and majesty in every area I can think of.

And then there are miracles. Miracles are sparing, and usually pretty intense and incredible and what they show us is ‘Look at all I created in this world, only a sampling of it you will know, and further, here is a sampling of great and mighty things you can never create or recreate in this worlds so that you will know the depth of my greatness.’

Imagine the music we will hear.

Miracles of God

Admitting It

When I started working after college, I didn’t have many skills. Just getting a business degree doesn’t really give you very intuitive tools to perform in the workplace. That is, I did not have the tools, or a direction. I got the job I could get, which was a decent job that enabled me to live on my own and own a car.

As time went on, my interests changed, and I ended up in computer programming. I learned a lot in a small amount of time, and I like it. It didn’t come easy, but I worked at it.

Having kids threw me off a bit, but I continued on. Getting pregnant with Joshie wasn’t quite in the plans, and it did overwhelm me, but I think a lot of what overwhelmed me was the mood disorder flaring up with each of my pregnancies.

I started having trouble. I wasn’t being treated for bipolar illness. The job became more demanding. It wasn’t unreasonably demanding.

Scott went into kidney failure. My sister’s husband committed suicide. I wasn’t performing well at work.

When I look back, the best thing I could have done is to just throw out the white flag. “Supervisor,” I could have said, “I need help. I need training, I know I’m not performing well.”

I didn’t know how to ask or explain. I didn’t understand what was going on with me emotionally, and I had a lot of stress, but I think I became stoic and stubborn and defiant when speaking with her. Prideful I suppose. Scared.

Things at home were bad. Just from my point of view, I think if I could have lowered my defenses and been more open and vulnerable, it might have been easier for the people around me to help me.

If I went back to that situation today, perhaps it wasn’t the way I think it was today. But I have found that vulnerability, openness and honesty can disarm a person.

Admitting It

Hating Your Family

I had a new idea last night.

It relates to the following verse:

“If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.”

I puzzled over this forever. Jesus is saying to hate your family? That makes no sense when he says to love even your enemies.

People say, well, he is saying you must love him so much that your love for others would seem like hate.

That didn’t do it for me.

Throughout Christmas and January, there have been a thousand ads for the ASPCA. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

I can’t help it, but every time I see these ads, I automatically think of children. Children who suffer violence, slavery, poverty, all forms of suffering. Do we value children as much as animals? Isn’t that a ridiculous question? But where does our heart lie?

I have a dog, I love animals. But compare the two. Who would you save? For me, there is no question, the child comes first. I love animals on a completely different scale.

Thinking of that made me realize we are talking about completely different planes. We love our family and friends, but a comparison to our love for Christ is laughable. So Christ made it black and white. Doesn’t mean we care about our loved ones less, it’s that we love Christ to such an extent that they can’t be compared.

So, yes, love animals. Yes, love humans. Doing so shows our love and honor of God.

Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Lk 14:26). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

Hating Your Family

Mattering

I’m caught up in reading about WWII. You see, I saw the movie ‘Unbroken’ last week, and it struck a chord with me. I’m gathering more information because I’m dumbfounded at how other people have suffered in this world, and I ask ‘why not me?’

Of course, if I suffer, I’m going to ask ‘why me?’ It’s just the nature of it.

So, I have read a bit about the holocaust, and certainly I have read about it before, seen movies and visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.

The question I ask today is who looked away? Who could have helped and didn’t? I don’t judge these people because I understand cowardice, but ultimately, I’m looking at piles of bodies and I should think one of the hardest things for these victims is that nobody came to save them.

We want to matter. People work in life to matter. We build libraries, monuments, charities…all of which are a way of trying to establish a legacy in this life. Something that will exist beyond our own lives.

We want to matter.

So, I think there was a profound sense of sadness and anger on the parts of the persecuted, that nobody saved them, nobody helped. It’s a lonely thing to think that you don’t matter.

When we act in the world, we change the universe simply by our very existence. We would like to think we would have done more. Honoring life requires that by only loving others, we acknowledge that they matter.

Honoring life, honoring others. There isn’t enough of that. I’m no hypocrite, I suffer from what we all suffer from. Selfishness, fear….but I think one of the lessons of the holocaust is that people matter. One life at a time…they matter. Therefore, we matter.

Mattering

A Fresh Look

This morning I was reading Genesis, as are millions of people who start reading the bible cover to cover in one year.

Genesis is one people know well. Kids are taught all of the marvelous stories, pastors preach.

So I figure I’ve heard every teaching possible on the subject. But today I actually think I saw something different.

I’m reading the New Living Translation, which isn’t always precise, but it’s easier to understand.

So, you have God creating man and woman. He places them in a garden and says that they might eat of any tree in the garden except the one that is the ‘Knowledge of Good and Evil.’ Being the curious sort, I wouldn’t have lasted 12 hours myself, but they appear to be getting on with it until The Deceiver approaches the woman and asks her ‘Did God really say you are not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?’

Right away it’s a lie. God didn’t say they couldn’t eat of any of them, and the Serpent knows this full well.

Eve says that God has said that they are not to eat of the tree in the middle of the yard or even touch it or they will die.

First, God didn’t give the directive straight to Eve, he gave it to Adam. Second, he didn’t say they would die if they touched it.

So Eve is tempted and it says that she wanted the wisdom it would give her.

hello, who said you would gain wisdom? You can have wisdom whether or not you know good and evil. She was deceived. Who wouldn’t want wisdom?

The wisdom was a lie. But now she can see good and evil. It leads to death. She can’t unsee what she has seen. And nobody in the history of man can unsee the horrors of death.

I can’t unsee the evil in my life and the evil all around me. I can only put myself in God’s hands and strive hard after Him. In Him is healing from all of the horrible things we see and do.

That perspective is new to me, after all these years.

A Fresh Look