Sumpteretc's Blog

What's on my mind at the moment

Month: January, 2005

Aaron’s "leadership"

I think there is a part of all of us that dreams of being Moses. Maybe it’s not even an inherent dream; it may be foisted upon us by those around us. We are expected to lead; we are expected to go forth and do great exploits. But I wonder if I don’t prefer the role of an Aaron or Hur instead. Is it a character flaw to desire the ministry of holding up someone else’s arms?

Maybe it’s fear that keeps me from pursuing Mosaic leadership. I look at the flat-out fights Moses had with God, and I don’t want any part of it. Moses seemed to have to bear an incredible amount of responsibility; half of the time God refers to Israel as Moses’ people. I feel like I can barely shoulder responsibility for my own life, let alone for 2 million other people. But Moses seems to hardly stumble under the weight. It never dawns on him to share leadership; he just struggles manfully onward. His father-in-law has to give him a wakeup call to even bring it to his attention.

But Aaron and Hur seem to be content with relatively little responsibility. Were they leaders? I suppose, in their way, they were. They weren’t political like Moses or military like Joshua, but Aaron was about to become the high priest. But right now, they seem to be content with helping their leader out, with supporting him, with making him look good.

Usually, when I push myself to the front, it doesn’t look that good anyhow. I think I’ve been so hammered with the importance of leadership that I feel like I have to always be in control, always be inspiring all the followers around me. And then, when leadership faces its battles, as it always does, I am disappointed and my self-image is damaged. I think I need to come to terms with the fact that a desire for control is not the same as the gift of leadership. It is okay to have a gift for helping others fulfill their God-given vision.

I cannot let this deteriorate into a rationale for indolence, but I can rest easier knowing that I do not have to be the front man. I can support someone with a bigger dream.

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The Plague of Frogs

My favorite part of the story of the plague of frogs used to be the part where Moses asks Pharaoh when he wants the plague of frogs to end. Pharaoh foolishly answers, “Tomorrow.” Why on earth would someone want to spend any more time with God’s judgment than they had to? Why not say, “Now! Yesterday!”?

But today, I think I have picked a new favorite aspect. Moses and Aaron have just brought the plague of frogs on Egypt, and Pharaoh summons his magicians. Do they cast some magic spell that makes the frogs go away? No, they do the same “magic” that Moses and Aaron do–they create more frogs.

I don’t have any evidence on hand for this, but I think I’ve heard that there was some kind of frog deity in Egyptian mythology. God kind of stood that thinking on its ear by sending the frogs to execute His justice. The magicians were not able to stand up against God; they were only able to imitate Him.

The same holds true today. Satan isn’t really able to reverse God’s plans; he can only come up with poor substitutes. What God decrees is unalterable. It’s interesting; maybe the Egyptian magicians were trying to cast a “frog removal” spell, but it had unintentional results. Satan has been given quite a bit of power and he can put on quite a show. But when we really sit back and study it, we see that it’s really just his attempt to impersonate God.

Weak Faith

We’re getting ready to leave for a couple of services out in central Kansas, and I have to admit my faith is pretty weak. Am I just going through the motions?

The Dysfunctional Patriarchy

Can Jacob have been too surprised at the way his family turned out? Here is a man who has been brought up in the most dysfunctional of circumstances. He and his mother had connived to rob his brother of his father’s blessing. He had run away to live with an uncle, who both cheated him and was cheated by him. He returned home to a tenuous peace with his brother. And now . . . it’s time for the chickens to come to roost.

Rachel nearly gets him killed by her father. His daughter is raped. Two of his sons massacre the local populace. His oldest son sleeps with one of his concubines. His favorite wife dies in childbirth. Intense sibling rivalry emerges in his family. His son dreams of the day his brothers and Jacob will bow down to him.

Certainly, Jacob had a rough start. But it was a series of bad decisions that would lead him down the road. What an awesome responsibility a father has. God, help me to make good decisions, decisions that will protect me from such awful consequences.

Jacob the Deceiver

Sometimes I wonder why Jacob is still such a popular name for boys. Probably most people don’t know its meaning and are ignorant of the earliest famous Jacob. Jacob bin Isaac was almost vicious in his deceit. Sure, he was put in a rough situation when he lived with his Uncle Laban, but is that any excuse? It seems that he felt he had gotten a rough shake in life (for which he had only himself and his mother to blame), and he was bound and determined that he was going to get the upper hand, no matter who got hurt in the process. Revenge, greed, deceit–can you find a worse role model, a worse namesake?

Yet God saw something in Jacob. Before Jacob was even born, God chose him to be the father of a nation. Sure, he gave him a better name (well, maybe), but God chose him and kept him even while Jacob was doing some pretty nasty things. Maybe I’m no Jacob, but I’ve done my share of deceiving, even self-deceit. Maybe God can still use me too.

Genesis 1 & 2

Last night, at Duct Tape Bible Fellowship, we looked at the first couple of chapters of Genesis. Granted, those chapters are foundational, and our worldview would suffer mightily if we did not have them. However, it’s a little difficult to draw meaningful real world application from these chapters. A couple of things stood out, though.

We were challenged to think about the significance of creation to us and to recognize what it is about creation that causes us to give thanks to God. The simple answer, of course, would be to quote the lyrics of “How Great Thou Art.” But as I reflected on it, I thought about how some of my upbringing caused me to doubt that the creation was really something to be enjoyed. There was almost a Gnostic bent to some of the teaching I received, where I began to perceive all matter as evil or sensual. But somewhere along the line, my dad pointed out that God went to all the trouble to create this wonderful world for our enjoyment. The material may not hold a candle to the spiritual, but it is here for us to enjoy.

Finding God’s Willl

We think that we have figured out all the key ways of discerning God’s will, and we put out our little lists of how God works. But the Bible seems to show God revealing Himself in an infinite number of ways. How many of us would trust God to reveal Himself the way that Abraham’s servant trusted? I would feel like I was putting God in a box, making Him perform according to my plans.

Bargaining with God

Well, the past few days have been interesting. A couple of snow days and a little sickness have conspired to, more or less, knock me off of my well-laid plans. In fact, I have gotten back into the habit of watching movies and doing life during the commercials. I should have known that a schedule allowing so little recreational time was not going to work. Ah, well! Perhaps I will still get more done than I was doing last year, since I have my “commercial” activity planned a little better.

I was reading this morning the story of Abraham bargaining with God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. An interesting story, that! But what am I to draw from it? I wonder about Abraham’s relationship with God. Granted, we don’t have a lot of details, but I suppose I have always assumed that Abraham’s understanding of God was very primitive, strongly influenced by the Chaldean worship with which he grew up. And yet, his faith in God was strong enough to inspire him to pack up and move across the world; it was strong enough to convince him to sacrifice his son.

Of mice and men

I guess the Lord’s Day really can’t go wrong, although it does have a nice try at it at times. I knew that yesterday would be a little out of the ordinary, but I didn’t realize how variant it would be from my schedule.

The morning rolled along pretty well as expected. We attended the parenting Sunday school class taught by Bill Rose, although there wasn’t a lot of teaching. It was more or less a brainstorming session as the teacher tried to determine what direction to take the class in coming weeks. I missed about half of the class, changing Elijah’s diaper and trying to get him to take his bottle, to no avail.

In church, Pastor Paul preached on starting the new year off right, mostly goal-setting and the like. I don’t have a real clear picture of all of his points, because again I was in the lobby trying to get Elijah to eat. This time he finally wore out and took it. It was good to chat with members of our small group, Dwight, Jonathan and Darla, etc.

We had Mom and Dad down for lunch. It was an enjoyable time of visiting, and we played a game of Oink! and by time they left, it was nearly 3:00. I lay down in front of the TV and watched the Chiefs’ poor imitation of a football game. Fortunately, I got a little nap in there because I was really dragging.

Shortly after halftime, it was time for Tiff and I to go on our date, postponed because of the New Year’s Eve party we had attended on Friday. After leaving Elijah with Mom and Dad, we went to Cascone’s Italian Restaurant and then to the Kansas City 18 Cinema to see Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Tiff’s parents called us on our way home. We arrived home a little after 10:00, so I recorded our finances, had family devotions and went to bed.

So, once again, I had no time for reading, for focused time with Elijah or for exercise. I didn’t even get my shower. I pushed that off until this morning because I didn’t have to go to work.

I don’t see any pressing reason why today shouldn’t go reasonably on schedule. I do wonder when I’m going to run some of my errands, but I have a 2-hour block this afternoon when I would normally be at work. Maybe I’ll make a cake.

I’m having a little trouble drawing devotional thoughts from the stories in the early parts of Genesis. My mind tends to pick out the problematic verses, rather than seeing God’s overarching scheme. I think I do recognize those themes that are always brought about in discussions of these passages, but I would like to glean some new gem, specifically something that could be directly applied to my life.

This morning I read the story of the flood. I’m not sure if it’s more a story of God’s provision or His judgment. Maybe it doesn’t have to be either/or. Something in me rebels against the idea that Noah was saved based on his righteousness and against the idea that his sons were saved on the basis of their father’s righteousness.

One day in

So, I’ve had a chance to start my new year off right. And, while it didn’t go exactly according to plan, I can’t say that I was too disappointed with the day’s progress. It was a Saturday, so that threw a monkey wrench in the plan right off. Then, of course, because it was New Year’s Day, we didn’t get up until after 10:00, so that makes it pretty hard to keep to a schedule.

I got to have a good devotional time, and I feel like I really touched heaven (or vice-versa) during my prayer time. It was good to sit down and do some Scripture memory as well. I am trying to read through the Bible this year. I had some software issues yesterday that took quite a while to correct, but I think I finally have the big issues resolved.

I told Tiff I wanted to have my parents over for dinner today, so we had a little housecleaning to do. It’s still probably not up to their standards, but it’s really about hospitality not impressing anyone. I helped do up the dishes, mop the kitchen and clean up some of the clutter.

I did get to spend some time with Elijah, reading poetry and doing tummy time. But he got so fussy, that I had to just pick him up and walk around. I don’t think he was feeling well. He’s sitting in my lap now, and I’m not sure he’s crazy about it.

I knew we had some shopping to do yesterday, so I figured my schedule would be a little off anyhow. I didn’t really anticipate the scope of the trip, though. I thought we were making a few returns, getting different sizes, etc. It turned out that the bulk of the trip was Tiffany trying on shoes. I probably should have anticipated that and brought something to read, but I didn’t. Both Elijah and I got pretty worn out.

I spent a good chunk of the evening, sorting out our financial situation. I have abandoned the envelope system and am going to track things electronically again. This means we probably won’t have a budget for a while, but I think/hope we can keep spending under control.

I don’t think I let my frustration get the best of me. For the most part, I didn’t let my eyes or mind wander where they shouldn’t. I spent time with God and my family. And I didn’t spend time with the TV or video games. All in all, not a bad record for the first day. Let’s go for two in a row!