Exodus (Moses)

The second book of the Bible is overflowing with dramatic action and adventure. This is where we see the first example of prejudice (fear) as the Egyptian Pharaoh decides the Israelites can be a threat and therefore has them enslaved. This is where we see the story of Moses being chosen by God to lead the people out of Egypt. This is where we see them radically set free, only to step willingly into the trap of sin and greed.

I really love Moses, and have a long list of questions to ask him one day. Dude was not at all seeking a position of leadership of power. As a matter of fact, he was pretty much doing all he could to run far away from any chance of ever being in charge...even when the Lord God Almighty set a bush on fire right in front of his face, he tried to talk the God of creation out of using him to free the people! Serious self-image issues...probably owing to a prominent speech impediment he had. And yet he was the one God wanted to use. You know, that whole "qualifying the called, not calling the qualified" thing. 

So, once Moses realized he was not getting out of this gig, and that his little brother Aaron was also going to be a major player, he gathered up the elders and talked to them about God's mission to set His people free. 

I have never seen the old Ten Commandments movie with Charlton Heston, but it's enough a part of the 1950's pop culture that I can hear the "Let My people go" in that deep, sing-song voice. Even in other recreations of the exodus, the message to Pharaoh was always the line "let My people go." The actual statement from the Lord, repeated many times, was "Let my people go that they may serve Me." Hmmm. How many times do we celebrate and cherish the freedom we have, but we forget that the purpose for setting us free was that we would choose to serve Him? 

The plagues come to Egypt with ample warning from God through Moses. Pharaoh is a big fat liar, and he pretends to set the people free several times. Thus, the plagues. They were:
1. Nile turned to blood 
2. Frogs
3. Gnats
4. Flies
5. Death of livestock
6. Boils
7. Hail
8. Locusts
9. Darkness
10. Death of firstborn

Immediately before the last plague, in which the firstborn son of each household was struck dead, God gave Moses the instructions for the Passover. This was the event which every household still keeping Jewish traditions celebrates to this day. 

The most exciting chapters are as the people are truly, finally set free, and begin to pass through the Red Sea (conveniently parted by the Creator of the universe, thankYouverymuch), and the Lord begins to give them statutes and laws for their new government. In chapter 22 we see the Bible's first mention of the importance of caring for orphans. "You shall not afflict any orphan or widow" (22:22) There is a note in my Bible about this chapter that indicates that the Hebrew law is noted for its fairness and social responsibility to the poor. The heart of God is that we care for those who cannot help themselves! 

Once God gives instructions for the governing of the people, then He lays out in specific detail how the tabernacle is to be built. There are hundreds of verses about specifics that range from the loops on the curtains to the cups on the lampstand, and I had to ask the question: if God wanted it to be such an exact thing, why didn't He just give it to the people? He could have created it in a half a millisecond. BOOM, there's your tabernacle. The people would have cherished it even more if it had come straight from His hand. In talking with my husband about this, he clarified that this was mostly about an exercise in obedience. It took discipline and fortitude and courage and strength and faith to believe these instructions and to carry them out to the finest detail. And many of the callings God places on our own individual lives are very much the same: acts in obedience. 

There are even detailed instructions on the clothing that Aaron and his sons (the first high priests) were to wear. Jewels and breastplates and fancy cording with tinkling gold bells...beautiful! And then they have to go sacrifice and sprinkle blood all over everything. Ick! I know the significance of the sacrifices, atonement for sin and all that jazz, but somewhere there had to be some Hebrew chicks who were sad to see those robes get stinky animal blood all over them. 

Another notable moment in this book was that when God gave all these instructions to Moses, He had him up in the mountaintops with Him for like 40 days. Part of those instructions were about the importance of Aaron's involvement as a high priest. During that time, sweet little Joshua was waiting faithfully on the ground for Moses to come back. Aaron, though, was catching it from the people. They were doubting that Moses was coming back or that God cared about them, so they wanted an idol. Aaron, bless his heart, caved and made them one. Guess he was good at the public speaking thing but bad at the actual leadership thing. Anyway, so what I thought was amazing here was that even while Aaron was betraying the Lord by building an idol for the people to worship, God was planning Aaron's role as a high priest of the Israelites, one of the most reverent and trusted positions in the society. Wow, that is some serious grace!  

Exodus ends as the tabernacle is completed and all the priests are doing their thing. I loved the warm fuzzies given off by the last verse, which describe how the cloud (which was the glory of the Lord) covered the tabernacle tent, and remained with them throughout all of their journeys. Aaahhh....good stuff. The Lord might call us out to a wilderness and test our obedience but He will remain with us every single step of the way, even when we run from Him and try to convince Him of our unworthiness. Serious grace, I tell ya. 


5 Love Languages of Children (Gary Chapman and Dr. Ross Campbell)

Many moons ago, my husband and I read Gary Chapman's 5 Love Languages as part of our pre-marital counseling. What a terrific resource for couples, by the way! We have shared it with so many friends and family members. As a matter of fact, where is my copy??? Hmm....

The theory of the 5 love languages is that every person receives love in a unique way. When you take the time to discover and to speak a person's love language, you can begin to understand them and love them in a more effective and meaningful way. With children, the point is that your kids may know you love them and not truly feel your love. Speaking their love language helps with that. Speaking their love language helps you better manage their behavior, understand who they are as a person, and parent in a more positive manner. Chapman's constant reference to the phrase "filling up their love tank" is so cheesy it makes me laugh out loud. But, it's true. When we make sure that our children have all that they need, from the clothes on their body to the security they feel in our love for them, the whole family is happier and more stable.

The 5 love languages are:
1. Service
2. Gifts
3. Words of affirmation
4. Quality time
5. Touch

Chapman and Campbell provide several practical tips for determining your child's love language, and then a thorough description of each language and how to speak that to your children. The week that it would take you to fly through this book will be time very well spent. My only criticism would be that the narrative examples of other parents' "love stories" can get rather hokey and seemingly exaggerative.

Our oldest child is still rather young and could develop a whole different persona in the next few years, but at this point, her love language is definitely Quality Time. When we pour quality time activities into her, like puzzles and art and games, her behavior is much more positive than when we have asked her to play independently. One specific example: bedtime is a nightmare around here. Yet, when we realized that if we target those hours before bedtime as opportunities for quality time, she feels secure and loved and has an easier time going to bed.

Every parent should read this book. Every teacher should read this book, to better understand and relate to the children in his or her class! Want to borrow mine? You are welcome to it...as long as I get it back. ;-)

5 Love Languages Website

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll)

One word: ABSURD.

This book, a childhood classic and available for free download via Google books, Kindle book store, etc. is just. plain. weird.

Alice is a little girl who is minding her own business one day, when out of the blue she follows a talking rabbit into his hole. Thus begins the first of numerous wacky experiences for Alice, as she enters the mysterious Wonderland.

There is a preface that explains that Alice's story was created as an entertaining bedtime story for children. It definitely has that mindless, pointless but entertaining aspect.

What I found most troublesome was the common thread that every single person Alice met was so incredibly contrary and argumentative. Everyone was rather rude, and both insulting and easily offended. I have no idea if there is some worthy symbolism below that surface, but I found Alice, her talking rabbit and turtle and cheshire cat and pig-baby simply....weird.

At least I got it for free on my Kindle! :)