Wednesday, April 21, 2010

James Jordan's book, Primeval Saints is a fairly quick but interesting tour of the lives, characters, and symbolisms surrounding the saints of the book of Genesis. He highlights the major events, gives explanations, and makes application for us today.

We first read this book as a family for devotions a few years ago. I remember being pretty happy with it for that use. Of course it is aimed at an older audience and the older kids were able to pull more out of it, but the tone of the book is brief and conversational enough that the little kids didn't raise the chorus of "booooring" that they do sometimes. James Jordan seems to have a knack for explaining big theological concepts in everyday language so that they seem even a little obvious once he points them out, had a person thought of it. But of course, we hadn't. So it is well for us that we have someone to do it for us from time to time.

I had to reread it for the purpose of this review because it had been so long since we last read it. At first I felt a little stressed because I didn't know when I would find the time. But I did take a day and sat down and read it through and when I was done I was glad I did. The Old Testament saints may seem far removed from us, but they were real people who dealt with all the same things we deal-jealousy, understanding violence, perplexity in the face of considering how to behave in times of tyranny or errant authority, faithfulness in times when it doesn't seem to matter, how to earn proper authority (and what happens when it is grasped for out of time.), basically how live godly when the answers aren't easy to see.

We can draw courage and comfort from the lives of men such as Noah, Abraham and Joseph. Patiently building the church (symbolized by the ark) in times of violent men and ungodly rulers. Taking a long term view of God's promises as Abraham had to while waiting for Isaac. Avoiding conflict with envious men such as the Philistines when they stopped up Isaac's wells. Being faithful in prayer for our sons and daughters, as was Rebekah. Seeing that sometimes our difficulties and struggles in life are not a result of our own wrong doing, but they are God Himself wrestling with us to make us better and stronger, yet at the same time teaching us to lean on Him as Jacob had to learn. How Joseph earned a mantle of authority not through grasping but through patient, honest, godly labor.

But there are negative examples as well. Forsaking God's community, grasping at authority, fault finding, rallying around ungodly causes are pictured for us in the lives of Lot, Ham and the builders of the tower of Babel.

I also appreciated insights into some of the perplexing symbolism in the book of Genesis. Why did the Bible make so much of Esau being a hairy man? Why was Abel's sacrifice accepted and not Cain's? How is the symbolism tied to the two trees in the Garden of Eden carried through the other stories in Genesis? Seeing some of these details make reading Genesis more interesting and rich.

Obviously there is something of value for anyone to take from this book. Even if a person already knows the symbolism and theology the applications are ones that are always good to remind oneself with. I know as a mom it helps me to remember why I do what I am doing in the slog of everyday life with laundry, bills, phonics and diapers. We often need to be reminded that God has a plan, we are part of it, and He can use the smallest things, even when we feel small, powerless or just plain tired. I also think it would be really good for young men, as they look to find their place in society and hope to find their own mantles of authority to remind themselves not to be tempted by things that look like maybe a way to get things faster or to manipulate situations. But may we all remember to rest in God and allow Him to have His own ways with us, so that we may receive the best from Him.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I always said I did my best blogging during insomnia fits. How funny how it is. I go through times when I can't even look at the blog, I don't even take time to check it. Then there are times where I just have so much to say and I have to find time to say it! Maybe it's the SAM-E that Mrs. Darling recommended.

Anyway, I actually sat and read the whole James Jordan book Primeval Saints yesterday. It was hard for the first couple of chapters to just sit and make myself pay attention. I have so many other things on my mind and it didn't seem like it had anything to do with any of them. But as I went on I realized it was just what I needed. Thanks Alice. (I know she doesn't read this, but I guess I'll thank her anyway.) Anyway, now I'll have to write the review tomorrow. Hope I can be coherent.

I am amazed at how differently Jordan teaches about the old testament saints from the larger evangelical mainstream type preaching. Jacob and especially Rebekah are vindicated, Isaac is the one at fault (for the deception of Isaac).. Many of his explanations are much more satisfying to me.

Here is a quote from the end of the chapter about Noah that I found especially encouraging:

The story of Noah is especially comforting for Christians today. Faced with ungodliness on every side , we do not have rule or dominion. We live in a time of prophecy and Ark building, warning the wicked and building the Church. In time, however God will destroy the wicked, either through plague or conversion, and give rule to His people. The wine we drink in Holy Communion and the robes our church officers wear are our pledge that this is so. Like Noah we must never shrink from our duty.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Gal 1:6 ¶ I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

Gal 1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

Gal 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

Gal 1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

from the Blue Letter Bible

These verses make me fear for the Christian homeschooling movement. I wonder... Is this what we do when we take lifestyle systems and promise good success from the system rather than the gospel of Christ? When we read parenting books that promise wonderful, well behaved kids, when we promise homeschooling will produce a godly generation, the certain courtship models will insure a godly marriage, with no (or a least minimal) bumps and bruises, when we promise classical education will create clear, deliberate thinkers....

Are we judging each other according to another gospel when we feel a little smug toward someone else who is doing things differently? When we besmirch character over things that aren't sinful, but simply don't conform to our idea of what is prudent? Or we think because they aren't doing things our way their children will surely grow up... well, at least not as well as they could have...

Or are these things wisdom and counsel that are good warnings to receive and I'm just over thinking things at 4 in the morning and with insomnia.

Maybe both.

Lord have mercy on us though, if we are preaching another gospel.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Argh, I'm supposed to be doing a book review of a James Jordan book, but I just can't get to it. The whole thing of teen culture, music, clothes, etc are whats on my mind and I have this hyper focusing tendancy.

I wish I could get one of the kids to do it for me... the book review I mean. *sigh*


I think when approaching anything like music, books, dress, culture in general, some presuppisitions have to be considered. Do you believe that any certain beats or sounds are less godly, or in themselves even sinful? What is the purpose of music to you? What are your views of man created culture? Does it have to be created by Christians in order to be worth while?

I do not believe that any certain beats are sinful. But I do think that there are certain times and places where they may be not appropriate. It depends on the message being conveyed and the setting that the music is being played in. For example, I think in the main it is appropriate for music to be orderly in it's arrangement because God is not a chaotic God. But if in the context of a song the concept of chaos is being addressed than it would be right to include a little chaos. But in general there are veins of abstract jazz and classical that I don't think are right and seem to me to be a representation of man exalting his mind above the creaturely limitations that God has set in creation and I don't believe they are a godly form of music.  I'd rather listen to an orderly arranged U2 song. :)

I do not think it would be right for a teenager to blast David Crowder in a setting of largely ederly people  if they are unused to it and can't enjoy it too. (Even if it's his version of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing") But I also don't think it'd right for older people to just catagorize music or look down on kids for their music if they haven't tried listening to it or understanding what the kids are trying to say through the music. If a family is in the car a lot and the mom won't EVER let her kids pick the music because it isn't her favorite than I think that can be sinful selfishness just as much as th kids demanding to control the radio all the time.

I do not agree that all rock beats or strong chords are fleshly or sinful. I think they are powerful, and God is a God with power. I think they are passionate and God wants His people to be passionate. The question is what is the passion about? Drugging and groupies and self exaltation? Frustration over social injustices? Love? God?

One song that is very passionate (one of my favorite songs right now) is done by a secular kindapunkalternative type band is Blue October's "Quiet Mind". It is one of their slower song, but it is incredibly sad and haunting, a young man's struggle to be a good man, to find the things that are good and right in the world.

I'ver heard that he is bipolar. Maybe living with a schizophrenic mom especially connects me to this song. It always makes me want to cry. I know she loved me and my sister and my dad terribly but sometimes her brain just wouldn't let her be...

Anyway, another perfectly appropriately passionate song is U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday", referring to the Bloody Sunday Massacre that took place in Northern Ireland.. Well, if an army of a foriegn country shot a bunch of your fellowmen who were protesting, some of them in the back as they were fleeing to safty, would you feel a flute or harp quite adequate? Or would you want to pound a drum and scream "No More! No More!"

Another passionate song: Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Carol Of the Bells"..
Christmas music, but I love it so I wanted to put it in there.

Well, these are a few thoughts. Now the babies have completely destroyed the house all I've done is bawl over Blue October songs. Argh. More later.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

This week my third child, Elisa turns 14. She said that turning 14 seemed so much better than being 13. That now she is really, really a teen. Being 13 people often say "Oh, just starting your teens, aye?" when you tell them how old you are. But if you are 14 you can claim you've been a teenager for a while. So it's different. Huh. OK. I guess I can see the logic of that.

Shayleen and Forrest were so much different at that age. Elisa seems to want to be able to live out this whole phase of life. She wants to wear nail polish and name brand jeans. She likes to listen to more current music and watch Julian Smith videos and just feel like she has truly experienced this whole teen thing. I guess some people would kind of think that was a bad thing, but I'm not sure I really do. She isn't doing anything sinful. I think she just wants to feel like she got out of this phase of life what there is to get out of it. I know the music she listens to, the videos she likes to watch, the jeans she wants to wear. I don't object to them. I'm a lot different of a mom to older kids than I thought I would be. We defintely have our boundries, according to the general standards of the world at large, I guess we would be considered pretty strict. But I don't want to be strict simply for strict's sake. When I tell my kids no about something, I want to have reasons for it. Especially with the older kids. They may not agree with me but I think they generally feel like I've at least thought about it and am giving an answer I believe to be the right thing and not just a knee jerk "no" or trying to be conservative for conservatives sake, etc.
I want my kids to start making choices when they are at home and allow them to use their own reasoning skills while they are still under my roof and I can ask them questions about how they made this choice or that. Sometimes I think we parents get so used to sheltering and controling that we forget to allow them to exercise those skills. But then what happens when they are turned out on their own (and they will be!). Will they have their own tools for making desicions they haven't faced when they are in our home?

Sometimes it can be lonely trying to make desicions based on reasons. Sometimes I think it's much easier to make disicions based on where we feel we belong in society as a group. There is security in being easily labeled. If you are a conservative homeschooler type it's very easy just to make desicions based on whatever you perceive your group as approving.  Sometimes people are uncomfortable with people they can't easily "peg" as to what group they belong to. Sometimes you may think you belong in one "group" based on certain things but then when you are around them more you realize you don't really fit with them as much as you thought. Human nature is interesting. I think it would be interesting to be a sociologist.

Another thing is that as parents I think we get comfortable with whatever the styles or habits were of a certain time period and get kind of stuck there.  The things the kids are doing just look odd to us. Or certain colors or style represent different things to us. Shayleen and I were discussing the mix of red and black in clothing. I told her that when I was a kid girls just didn't wear red and black together. It was considered racey. At least in my smallish to medium sized suburban town that's what we thought. And red in general was used sparingly. She said today red is sophisticated and red and black together are "rich".  Hmm.. Interesting. Another time I was talkign to some moms about a certain clothing style that the teens are wearing. They said it just looked plain weird to them. I had to think "Oh well, they aren't wearing it for us anyway. They are dressing more for each other than their old moms!"

Being a parent is interesting. And I'm finding the teen years to be the most interesting yet.

Happy Birthday Elisa.