Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Today I went from this...

To this:

And then the girls each had about 10cm chopped off as well.

We are all very happy with our haircuts and looking forward to the girls taking responsibility for the care of their own hair now it is not too long for them to brush on their own. Anna was very excited to find out that with her hair shorter and thus lighter, she has a wave or even a slight curl in it, which we never knew before.

And for anyone who remembers the last time I went from long to short like this, no, I am not pregnant and hormonal this time!

Monday, 28 May 2012

Best Mothers' Day Gift Ever!!

See that bull's eye? I got it with a 9mm Sig Sauer at 15m. Not bad for the first time I'd ever shot a gun!

Jeff and the kids bought me 50 rounds with a .22 revolver and 60 rounds with the 9mm semi-automatic for my Mother's Day gift a few weeks ago. I generously shared my ammunition with Jeff. The kids were not invited to join us, for obvious reasons; we went while they were at school. It was a whole lot of fun, once I worked out how to aim the things!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Reflections on Old Testament Law and History #5

A final contrast is found in the centre of 1 Samuel, where three relationships with David are described. Jonathan ‘made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself’ (1 Sam. 18:3). Michal ‘was in love with David’ (1 Sam. 18:20) and was given to him in the covenant of marriage (1 Sam. 18:27), but later despised David and bore him no children (2 Sam. 6:16,23). Sandwiched between is Saul, who is so angry at and jealous of David that he tries to kill him twice (1 Sam. 18:9-11).

Though these three relationships were all historical, metaphorically they illustrate three ways of relating to God’s ultimate king, Jesus. Saul may be interpreted as a metaphor for the new atheists and others who seem angry and afraid of Jesus while claiming to be the ones with knowledge (in Saul’s case, power). Michal may be understood as a metaphor for people who have a formal connection to the church but no long lasting love for Jesus.

I considered: how am I like Jonathan in my relationship with King Jesus? Just as Jonathan surrendered to David his robe and tunic, sword and bow (1 Sam. 18:4), I have recently had to mentally hand over to God my human means of providing for myself, trusting him to provide my husband with a new job in another pastorate. These months of unemployment have been a period of considerable uncertainty for our family, but I made a commitment to trust Jesus in this situation. By God’s grace and with the encouragement of Jonathan’s example, my faith has not wavered.

My brain appreciates patterns, so God caught my attention with these and other incidents, allowing me the opportunity to reflect upon their application for my life. It has been a worthwhile exercise.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Reflections on Old Testament Law and History #4

As I read 1 Samuel I noticed several antithetical stories juxtaposed in the text: the book begins with the birth of the last judge and ends with the death of the first king, for example. The first chapters of 1 Samuel consider the story of two families, that of Elkanah and Eli. As a mother, I had previously overlooked Elkanah's story and focussed on Hannah's prayer and its results. But when compared with the sons of Eli, Elkanah’s positive attributes are magnified. Elkanah went up to worship and sacrifice ‘year after year’ (1 Sam. 1:3), generously granting portions of the sacrifice to his family with extra for his beloved, yet barren wife (1 Sam. 1:4-5). He was even willing to give up his own son to the LORD (1 Sam. 1:21-23). This diligence in worship and generosity with sacrifice is a stark contrast to Hophni and Phinehas, who regard the LORD and his offerings with contempt (1 Sam. 2:12-17).

I reflected upon these contrasts, asking myself: am I selfish in my worship of God? Sometimes I am unwilling to share what I see as “my worship time” (early morning Bible study, or a church service) with my often noisy or restless kids, so I need to learn from Elkanah’s example. I can be impatient with other people’s worship, wishing the church would do things the way I like; seeking only my benefit, not that of the church. So I must heed the warning of Eli’s sons’ fate. And although I was not willing to give up my children to the service of the LORD at the tender age of three as Elkanah gave up his son, it is my abiding hope that they will all serve him in their adult careers and indeed with their whole lives.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Reflections on Old Testament Law and History #3

Another pattern relates to the location where people interact with God. Once instituted at Mount Sinai, the tabernacle is the official place of worship (Lev. 9:22-24) until Solomon builds the temple (1 Kgs 8). Yet significant religious events occur not in the tabernacle or temple, but on mountaintops. This pattern begins when Abraham attempts to sacrifice his son on Mount Moriah (Gen. 22:2). Moses hears God’s call on Mount Sinai (Exod. 3:1-4) and receives the Law on the same mountain (Exod. 3:12, 19–20). Aaron dies on Mount Hor, where his priestly robes are passed on to his son (Num. 20:27-28), then Moses dies after seeing the Promised Land from Mount Nebo (Deut. 34:1-5). When Israel enters the land, they offer sacrifices and Joshua reads the Law at Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim (Deut. 27:12-13; Josh. 8:30-35). Elijah contends with Baal’s prophets on Mount Carmel (1 Kgs 18:16-40) before being recommissioned by God on Mount Horeb (1 Kgs 19:15-17). The altitude at which these events take place is not solely a reflection of the mountainous terrain of the Promised Land. Indeed, God instigated most of these events and selected their locations, suggesting mountains are generally good places to meet with him.

In contrast, the ‘high places’ of pagan worship were to be torn down by Israel (Num. 33:51-52; Deut. 12:1-2). They were used by Israel before the temple was built (1 Kgs 3:2) and later kings were criticised by the historical author for building them, using them and not tearing them down (1 Kgs 3:3; 12:30-32; 14:22-24; 22:43; 2 Kgs 12:3; 16:2-4; 21:3 etc). The key feature distinguishing the mountaintop events from high place paganism seems to be God’s word, either spoken directly or read from the Law.

So should I, as a Christian, seek God upon mountains? They are sadly lacking in Perth! When I travelled to the USA several years ago and visited the Rockies, the Olympic Mountains, and the Sierra Nevadas at Yosemite, I certainly felt awe for their creator:I felt the same fear and awe for the LORD in Death Valley, USA's lowest point, though:From this reading, I now understand that it wasn’t until I shared my responses with my husband, praising God aloud, that my awe changed from a pagan high place experience to true Christian worship involving God’s word.

One privilege of being Christian today is my ability to access Scripture any time, anywhere, in the pages of my Bible, on a screen via the internet or an app on my phone, or simply from my mental store of memory verses. I don’t need to climb a mountain to hear God’s voice, but I do need to be ready to listen to his word.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Reflections on Old Testament Law and History #2

In another pattern, the Genesis text lists twelve sons not only of Jacob but also of Abraham's brother Nahor (Gen. 22:20-24) and Isaac's half-brother Ishmael (Gen. 25:13-16), yet only six through Keturah, Abraham's third wife (Gen. 25:1-2). The significance of these numbers may indicate their identity as people chosen to be blessed by God; for Nahor's family through intermarrying with Abraham's descendants, and for Ishmaels's family as recipients of the blessing God promised to Hagar (Gen. 21:17-18). By contrast, Keturah's sons are sent away from the Promised Land (Gen. 25:6).

Other people of interest in the Genesis narrative also fail to have so many sons: Lot has two, who become the fathers of the Moabites and Ammonites (Gen. 19:36-38), and Esau has five, from whom descend the Edomites (Gen. 36:2-5, 8-9). The contrast these families provide is evident in the role their descendants play later as bane to the LORD's people. Together with the Philistines, the Moabites, Ammonites and Edomites contend with Israel as the means of God's punishment of his people.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Reflections on Old Testament Law and History #1

In my reading of the Law and History this semester, I observed the plan of God to choose, save, bless and judge his people announced and demonstrated. Yet the process of reading entire books over several days focussed my attention on smaller patterns. This week I'm posting a series on my observations and thoughts on how these apply to the way I understand the Bible and apply it to my life, most of which made it to my final "reflective essay" for my Old Testament Foundations lecturer.

I observed similarities in the events leading up to the marriages of Isaac to Rebekah (Gen. 24:10-51), Jacob to Rachel (Gen. 29:1-20) and Moses to Zipporah (Exod. 2:15-21): each bride was met at a well while watering her family’s flock. While the community well may have been merely a convenient place to meet people, Genesis 24 emphasises God’s sovereignty in providing a suitable wife. This clarifies the nature of Abraham’s descendants as God’s chosen people. Furthermore, perhaps the author of Exodus included this event to demonstrate continuity between the patriarchs and Moses. Moses also replicates Joseph’s marriage, marrying the daughter of a foreign priest (Gen. 41:45; Exod. 3:1; 18:1), again strengthening his connection to the forefathers. These similarities suggest that the author of Exodus was at least aware of Genesis, if not its author.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Wacky Hat Day

Sam, the Box Man:

Abi, the "Coloured Hat Girl":
Anna, the "Star Witch":
Joshua, the Samurai Warrior with Orc Teeth:
Anna won her year level prize for the best hat, and gained a $5 voucher to spend at the school Book Fair:
A thousand thanks to Jeff, who helped the kids with their hat-making while I escorted Sam to a birthday party and then went to karate with Josh yesterday.

Reading Aloud: Ranger's Apprentice

Having read Horrendo's Curse by Anna Fienberg, the author of the Tashi novels, in five nights, I decided to tackle another slightly longer term Read Aloud project. After checking out the entire Top 500 children's book list on Dymocks Bookstore's website, I chose the popular Ranger's Apprentice series, by John Flanagan, beginning tonight. I read aloud the prologue and five chapters - no, make that six - before finally closing the book for the night. Admittedly, both the five and six year olds were asleep by this time; it was after 8pm. But Joshua and Anna had begged me for more each time I suggested the previous chapter might have been the last. And from the end of chapter three, Jeff, who was listening from the kitchen where he was busy making fresh fruit juice and washing the dishes, added his voice to the pleas for more reading. An auspicious start, I believe.