Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Each year, I follow our church's Read through the Bible in a year schedule, but this year, I am going "high-tech" and following the reading on-line. The advantage to this is that I can leave and read comments regarding the passage. I am spurred on by all the insight people leave regarding a chapter of the Bible I have read before. It is opening my eyes to new application and new ways God is teaching me His truths. If this sounds interesting to you, you can go to and just click on Daily Bible Reading.

A few days ago, I was doing the daily Bible reading in Genesis 19. This is the story of Lot and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Poor Lot is definitely not a Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith character. In fact, upon reading I was struck anew with the amount of compromised obedience he displayed to God.

It all begins back in Genesis 13, when Lot selfishly picks the choice Valley of the Jordan as his dwelling when he and Abram separate. Though the land is lush, before the sulfur and fire from heaven fall on it, it is filled with wicked, sinful cities and people--mainly Sodom and Gomorrah. "Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the LORD." (vv. 12-13)

The first compromise of Lot is that he knowingly settles in the most sinful and corrupt area of Sodom. He could have set himself apart in the valley, away from the cities, but, by the time chapter 19 happens, he is out of his tents and living in the midst of the city in a house with his family. This initial decision, that might seem a small compromise, changes the whole course of his and his family's future.

In chapter 19, God mercifully sends two angels, in the form of men, to warn Lot and his family of God's impending destruction of Sodom. We find that Lot still has a moral compass and a sense of right, for, before he knows their mission, he begs the "strangers" to lodge overnight in his home to ensure their safety. Even at this effort, the evil men of the city come to Lot's home to have homosexual relations with the strangers. Though the angels inflict the mob with blindness, they grope for the door of Lot's house to commit their atrocity.

Another example of Lot's compromise is offering his daughters to the mob in the place of the angels, or "strangers". (Genesis 19: 7-8) Though his intentions were noble, his offer was not. Luckily, the angels save Lot and his daughters from this horrible offer and bring Lot to safety in the house before they strike the men outside with blindness.

Because of Lot's earlier compromises, we find his daughters engaged to faithless men who do not believe that God is going to destroy Sodom. Lot has reared his family in the middle of a sinful and corrupt city. His wife has also been affected by the influences around her, and she does not obey the command to flee without looking back--a sign that her heart was bound in the trappings of the sinful city around her and that she did not have a proper fear and understanding of God. As a result, she is made into a pillar of salt, and Lot loses his wife. (v. 26)

Also, we see Lot compromise as he flees Sodom. First, he drags his feet in obedience. The angels urge him and his family to hurry as morning dawns. We are told in verse 16, "But he hesitated." God mercifully forgives his lack of obedience and the angels take them forcibly by the hands and drag them away. Finally, the angels clearly tell him to not settle anywhere in the valley but to flee to the mountains. Lot obeys with conditions. He offers up a little city of Zoar as a possible safe stop. God allows this, again being merciful. However, the chapter goes on to say that after the fire and brimstone wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot was afraid and stayed in the mountains God had commanded at the beginning. It appears that Lot did not have a proper fear and understanding of God's holiness, judgment and power until he witnessed the furious wipeout of his resident cities.

Lot's compromises and choices continue to plague him, as his daughters, not trained in the righteousness of God, fail to trust God's plan and provision and sleep with their own father to further their family line. (vv. 30-38) The resulting progeny, the Moabites and Ammonites, become longstanding enemies of Israel, God's chosen people.

Reading chapter 19 of Genesis gave me pause to think of all the times I obey God with conditions or compromise. Perhaps I submit to my husband only after I throw some "attitude" his way. Maybe I do my quiet time that day, but it comes after I relax, blog, e-mail and place it way down on my priority list. I might tithe or offer a financial gift, but it is given pridefully or, oppositely, with anxiety and withholding. This all brings to mind a quote often given by my pastor, which I use often with Carter. "Delayed obedience is disobedience." This leads me to realize, compromise is really a subtle way of not obeying at all. May I learn from the sad example of Lot and realize that compromise has repurcussions and will affect myself and others when I stray from the will of my Heavenly Father.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

An Anniversary and Goal Setting Get Away

Ryan and I just celebrated our 6 year anniversary at the end of December. We went away for a night to a resort in Temecula. It was a little humorous because it was a little spa resort on a winery campus, but Ryan and I are not drinkers and I'm 7 and 1/2 months pregnant. My parents, who also don't really drink, visited this place and recommended it for the cheap prices and cute, romantic rooms. It is called the South Coast Winery and Resort, and it always has nice deals on TravelZoo. We went for the romantic little villas and a night away somewhere close to home. We had a great, relaxing time--we even saw a movie! The picture to the left is a photo of a little villa (room) at the resort, next to a garden. Each room is a seperate building with a patio overlooking the vineyard or garden.

Most importantly, though, we do our marriage goal-setting every year on our anniversary "trip". Seven years ago, we did a training session on making Biblical goals as a couple and using annual goals to protect and grow your marriage. We've done it every year since.

We start with prayer, some scripture reading, and by reviewing last year's goals. Then we actually take time to encourage one another with a list of things we have seen the other do well or improve upon over the last year. After we build each other up, we do--believe it or not--take time to mention a few major areas on which the other person has an opportunity to focus and grow. This has always gone well, and, though I often am defensive with any criticism aimed at me, even I find this a safe, non-threatening way to bring up any issues that have crept into one another's spiritual, married, parental or personal habits.

We then each take turns creating marriage goals as a couple and listing our own personal goals. Finally, Ryan takes the time to share our budget, our financial hits and misses and to help me better understand the boundaries of spending in the year ahead. Being a finance guy at work, this is always done very well--spread sheets, graphics, and everything!

I thought I would share some of our goals for 2009! They include everything from spiritual growth goals, personal goals, marriage goals, to parenting goals. Oh, and they MUST be measurable goals--to see if we meet them or not.

Chiara's 2009 goals:

--Potty train Carter by September

--Have DAILY, concentrated quiet time of AT LEAST 10 minutes immediately after the baby is born and resume normal quiet time length (30ish minutes) by the time the baby is 4 months old.

--Start working out at the YMCA in June (2-3 times a week) and walk 2-3 times a week before that time.

--Memorize one umbrella verse (witnessing tool from our church) per month

--Take someone at church through Partners next year.

--Step up service at church by adding activities committee at Thrive to my service.

Some of Ryan and Chiara's joint goals for 2009:

--Use each nightly dinner time to share what we are learning in quiet time that day and talk about this as a family.

--Reach out to neighbors next door and have them over for dinner to provide open doors to witness.

--Finish our "Growing Kids" parenting videos by March--8 more to go!

--Ban TV one night a week and make it a work night, reading night, etc.

--During/after Ryan and my nightly devotion time together, ask each other if we are having any discipline/heart issues with Carter (or baby as he grows) and seek a solution/game plan together. Sometimes Ryan has no idea of what I am working on with Carter and vice versa!

--Date nights every other week--even if we have to pay a sitter!


You get the gist. They are practical, measurable goals that we review four times throughout the year and try to keep each other accountable to follow. I highly recommend you try this sometime with your spouse. It fosters communication like no other tool we have used, and it helps us both mature in various areas of our lives. Plus, if nothing else, you get a night or day away--just the two of you!