Thursday, October 30, 2003

Cognitive Dissident?: Gideon, Terry, and Judges

“As a ‘youth’ Gideon had been presented to us as one who provided the food of kings, bread and wine, to God’s people. He was a true servant, a man of real humility, oriented toward serving others and ruling them in that fashion. Now, however, he has forgotten this to an extent, and has begun to lord it over other men to some degree, however slight. Such is the tendency of the human heart.” --James Jordan (Judges, pg 156)

“He does not know himself well enough yet. He cannot fathom that he has violated Scripture, broken faith with the wife of his youth, broken faith with those he led into battle,...and broken faith with God Himself. He has robbed Almighty God of the glory He could have recieved as a result of the multitudinous gifts God deposited in Randall’s very person.” --Flip Benham (

How? Why? They started out saying, and being, and doing all the right things. I don’t understand. I want to understand. Where do they go wrong?

Their families--I know, and love, and respect. If it can happen to them it could happen to any Christian, right? I know, I know--the grace of God can intervein and show us our errors. But why didn’t God intervien in their lives? They knew Him, loved Him, sacrificed and invested in His Kingdom--just like the rest of us. How did they get from there to here? What was the turning point? I don’t understand, and I want something more.

It’s more than just saying, “we’re all human” or “we shouldn’t put people on pedistals”. We can’t be suspect of everyone yet at the same time it’s great to have examples. But what happens when one day our examples are saying and doing things so very right and then their actions belie their words?

Have I always learned by example or have I been burnt enought times to where my skeptical reaction is to watch a person’s actions before I even think about listening to what he has to say.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Family Circus

I’m sitting here in my room thinking about how I’m so excited to be able to live with the Graysons. Wes King is playing in the background as I contemplate all the family lessons I’ll be able to glean for future application. Then I think about the Kings. There are really only three local families--and some day soon, four--whom I’d consider my most advantageous of familial mentors. As I thought about the Grants, the Graysons, the Kings--and soon the Wilburs--I realized that I’ve already gleaned so much from them. And the “apprensiceship approach” only seems brighter and more substantive in the future with each family.

As I was thinking I had to ask myself why I’m thinking about family so much as of late. I honestly have as much intrest in marriage and family as I did several years ago. So why am I allowing the notions to occupy so much of my mind? I came up with several things.

First of all--precisely because I have no intrest in marriage or family. I could say “nuff said” but I’ll elaborate. In I Peter 4, the apostle tells his people that the end is near and then he gives them exhortations to live godly lives, be sober-minded, and to continue practicing hospitality--basically, prepare yourselves but keep doing the ordinary every day things you’ve been doing. This paralleled his admonition in chapter three, “be ready to give an account”, as well as Peter’s theme through out his letter to not be caught off guard and be prepared. So, basically, precisely because I can’t see what lies ahead, because I don’t want to be caught off guard, and because God has placed the examples in my life now--while I’m not interested. The learning begins where the teachers are.

Secondly, because of the excuse I’ve had all along--conscious or subconscious--for why I’ve never wanted to get married. I never thought marriage worked. I’d revel in the fact that my parents marriage used to be so rocky. I’d wallow in thoughts of the divorce of my dad’s brother and pity his second sweet wife and two small kids for the self-centered childishness they have to endure. I’d remember with horror the nasty divorce of mom’s sister but then to happier thoughts of the wonderful man she’s married to now who was himself married three times before becoming a believer. My own mother is the product of a second marriage. All these “examples” swirl around inside my head but I’m lead to remember that one of these marriages didn’t end in divorce. Some how--by the grace of God--my parents (or rather my mother--those Shore boys!) stuck it out, and I was able to see and grow with them through that time.

Still, I’ve always been afraid that that would happen to me so I wanted to protect myself and my future children by having no future children and thus never getting married. Since I’ve gotten older, the stories of divorce have gotten more and more numerous in the lives of pastors, close friends, and prominant aquaintances. But I’m beginning to see that marriage can work, and that if it didn’t, God would not have sanctioned and sanctified it within the context of His covenant. It’s taken me a long time to acknowledge that point, now I just need to see how it works.

Thirdly, the reason I’ve had so many thoughts of marriage and family are because I long so desperately to know God more and to better understand His covenant with man. There is no better way than to watch covenant parents deliberately raise their covenant children in the ways of covenant faithfulness and covenant remembrance. The reason the children of Israel didn’t claim all of God’s best for them--the reason they fell into alliance with the very peoples and idols they were told to drive out--was because they neglected to pass the laws of God onto their children. With every passing generation the forgetfullness grew.
Now is the season for me to look for covenant succession in action. I’ve noticed two ways of teaching/learning the ways of God to children/men. One seems to be the way the Kings and Graysons take--which I could parallel to what Jordan calls “theology proper”. They begin with God, who He is, and what He has done and everything else points back to Him--daily life, application, worldview, playing with siblings, ect. The other is the schooling which I recieved some what through necessity and by default. That is, by beginning with example, beginning with the “everything else” and showing how that points back to the Creator and Giver of all things.

I suppose it depends on maturity and background as to which method of teaching a parent will take, but I’m still learning more by example than by principle. Because I had so much baggage that’s how I came to learn from Der. Because I have so much baggage that’s how I’m going to learn from those families God has placed in my life--Show me, because I’ve never seen it done before.

Lastly, at least I’m making this my last point. The reason I’m thinking so much about marriage and family is because everyone in the world is getting married this coming summer, I’m in a wedding, and I’m trying to get all my engaged friends through school with some level of concentration and focus.

“Nuff said.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Practical Application 101

Yeah, so. Jordan's been rocking my world with all this "don't ignore the specific details" stuff and this "it's all about covenant" stuff. The things we--I--overlook and the reasons we--I--overlook them are completely, well, sad, shallow, and inconsistant. True it has made me want to slap myself and say "duh", but more than that I'm finding that my small burning ember of enlightenment is being stoked into this firely passion to connect more of the dots. And as I'm reaching that point, I'm also finding that--while I am taking such effort for my own hungering benefit--I'm wanting others to make these connections along with me. I'm wanting to go up to some one and say, "Walk with me. Let's see where this goes".

In light of that, practical application is needed--and consistant--in bringing these revelations both to further light and into use. Getting "back to the basics" and paying heed to the "specific details" are the things I'd like to work through and with my Bible Study girls on. What does this look like out of the class room where we talk "about" it, and how can I apply those two ideas by translating them into conviction and action? That will be the subject of thought over the next few days as I help wrap up our study in I Peter.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Giant Cities

(Judges by James Jordan: chpt 1, pg 13)

Caleb's inheritance is with that of Judah's. He has been graphed into the covenant and because of his faithfulness, along with that of Joshua's, during the spy mission to Canaan he was given his choice of land. He headed strait for the land of the giants whose imposing stature caused his people to loose faith in God's promises. We are told that Judah is to be at the head of the "mopping up" campeigns in the Promised Land. Since Judah was chosen to be the kingly head, it was Judah's job to lead the rest of Israel in waring against the enemies of God. But we're told in Judges 1:18 that Judah didn't complete its job.

Judah had taken the city of Arba (Kiriath-Arba) whose name had been changed to Hebron, and that city had been named after "the man who spawned the race of giants known as Anikim" (pg 6). It was from this race of giants that the five Philistine tribal cities emerged. The book of Judges says that Judah took Hebron (Kiriath-Arba), and they took Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ekron--three of the Philistine cities. "That's wonderful," Jordan says, "but there were five Philistine cities. How about Gath and Ashdod? (pg 13)" All five of the cities were part of Judah's inheritance but they never claimed all five when they were told they could.

It's here that the story of David and Goliath comes to mind. In the book of I Samuel the story is told of the Philistine capture of Israel's Ark of the Covenant. It's interesting that the Philistines took the Ark to the temple of Dagon--in Asdod, one of the two cities Judah neglected to claim. The other city they neglected came back to haunt Israel in the form of Goliath of Gath.

Israel had an illigitimate king at the time. Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin, not of the divinely appointed kingly tribe of Judah. The way in which the Ark was returned seems to be a flaunt from the enemies of God or at least a reminder that Judah had a chance to rule over the Anikim during the time of Joshua and Caleb. With the ark, the Philistines sent gold tumors (stones) as guilt offerings to the Lord--one for each of their five cities. This imagery is again brought up in David's confrontation with Goliath. Thus, we see the legitimate heir of Judah sets right the mistake of his tribe by using the first of his five stones to take out Gath.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Bearing Witness in Covenant Keeping

(Jordan, Deceit, and the Apocrypha)

I didn’t quite get it in Jordan at first, and right about the time I thought I had it the issue weaseled it’s way into our Apocrypha reading to force me a go at Moral Philosophy’s practical application requirements. Deceit. Is it right or wrong? Why?

Jordan said on page 86 of Primeval Saints, “our practice of deception, where necessary, must be in order to further good and peace and never be a means of destroying our neighbor, for the ninth commandment forbids bearing false witness against our neighbor.”

I understand that 1) man’s mind is limited in making sense of the divine, 2) there is no inherent evil so therefore 3) the devil has no stories and thus 4) deception can in fact be used for the glory of God, the protection of His sovereignty and His people, and for the advancement of the Kingdom. I think maybe the part I’m hung up on is the bearing false witness against your neighbor part. I think if I can think through that it will clear up all the other peripheral ponderings.

In the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus used an example of a member from a despised people group over and above a wealthy and talented politician and a pious clergyman to show the Israelites who their true neighbor was. My question is, was the point of the story that your neighbor is someone who embodies the truth and faith Christians say they believe in? Was the point to show the prominent leaders as shallow and hypocritical? Was is a combination of the above to show that the least likely is more often than not your neighbor?

Who was it that said something along the lines of “the Bible tells us to love our enemies and to love our neighbors because often they are one and the same”? That’s a true point, isn’t it. But if it is a true point then isn’t everyone our neighbor? And if that is true then, according to the ninth commandment, we can never bear false witness against anyone. And if we can never bear false witness against anyone, where does deceit play a role in the Christian’s defense of God and covenant?

Monday, October 13, 2003

How Is It?

(Jordan and the Simplest of Things)

How is it that man is so extremist? How is it that he can either glory in that which he does not know or revel in that which he thinks himself most sure. How is it that he can skim over the details of life and think himself well-rounded? How is it he comes to think that what he believes about the world, the universe, and God has no bearing or manifestations in the way he butters his bread, tips a waitress, or phrases a question?

Jordan says that, “The progressive revelation and glorification of God in history does not take place by revealing what is hidden, but by transforming what is already revealed.” It is man’s special gift to either make light of weightier matters or to allow the lighter to weigh heavy upon their souls. We stress ourselves over the simplest of things and cast aside with a witty remark the issues of substance that should be taking captive our minds. How is it that we skew importance and revert priority?

Jordan goes on to say about God’s work of transforming that which has already been revealed, “This is the mystery of time, of growth, of history. It means something remarkable: that even in the simplest of human actions, God’s glory can be enhanced and His Person revealed more fully” (Primeval Saints, pg. 24). How is it that we’re able to get so caught up in finding out who God is and what makes Him tick that we overlook the fact that He has given us a means by which to know Him: First of all He has made us in His image, secondly He has given us His Word through which we can , thirdly, discern the pattern of His grace and interaction with us here on earth just as it will one day be in heaven.

How is it we can not grasp the fact that in the simple things of life—the ordinary—God chooses to make His glory known through out all of history? How is it?

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Worship and the Exclamation Mark!

(Primeval Saints by Jordan)
In Genesis, alters were not just places to offer personal worship, they were “worship centers for all the faithful in the area” (Jordan, pg. 64). In Jordan’s chapter on Abraham, he says that because Abraham understood the meaning of alter-building he was thus on an evangelist every time he paid homage and gave glory to God. “Jordan goes on to say that Abraham knew that “all cultural benefits flow from worship”. This idea is reiterated in the New Testament when believers are told to live honorably so that unbelievers may see (I Peter 2:12), when our conduct is compared to a city on a hill (Matthew 5:16), and again when we are instructed to live openly a life of worship through service and thankfulness (II Corinthians 9).

I got to wondering what role the exclamation mark plays in Scripture. I know that in neither Hebrew nor Greek there is any such literary symbol, so what were the guidelines, if any, for the translators use. I looked through Genesis, dabbled in Exodus, skimmed Leviticus, skipped to Ruth, and immersed myself in Psalm. I flipped through Matthew, dipped into Mark, scanned Luke, skipped to I Peter, and submerged myself in Revelation......

*Melchizedec’s blessing—Genesis 14:19-20
*Sarai to Abram—Genesis 16:5
*Abraham to God—Genesis 17:18 “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!”
*Abraham to Sarah—Genesis 18:6 “Quick…!” meal for angels

Friday, October 10, 2003

Noah’s Witness: I Peter

(Primeval Saints by Jordan)

I find it ironic and short-sited that Noah is mentioned in a book that covers patience and endurance, honor and family, and speaking versus acting in love if for no other reason than as a good bridge to do a blurp on baptism. It seems pretty random to have covered all those topics and have verse 20 of I Peter 3 on Noah and verse 21 on baptism. But the one thing that brings it all back together is the suffering, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ in verse 22.

Chapter 1 talks about Christians living holy lives even as Christ has lived a holy life. Chapter 2 fleshes out the life of holiness by showing that its fruit is love in action—even if it means loving a harsh master—we are to remember that Christ has gone before in living for us the life of love through suffering. Chapter 3 begins as a reminder to husbands and wives to live through love—a quiet and gentle spirit and honor shown are among the virtues of a bride and bridegroom. Brotherly or neighborly love is brought up and once again suffering for righteousness sake is addressed. “Prepare to give a defense for the hope that is in you,” verse 15 says, but once again it is reiterated that no one is argued into the kingdom. And this is where Noah makes his appearance.

It took Noah some 120 years to build the ark, in Jordan’s mind, during which he proclaimed the truth in love both in words but primarily through the consistency of his faith in actions. To say something as absurd as “there will be a flood that wipes out the whole world brought about by the One True God as a judgment for the idolatry and pride of mankind” is blatant enough, but to live out that belief for 120 years is all the more radical a witness bearing. I Peter 2:12 says that honorable conduct is to be kept around the Gentiles, “so that when they speak…they may see your good deeds….” The idea here is that the City of man talks and the City of Man acts. The gentle and quiet spirit spoken of in chapter 3, though, doesn’t mean that the children of God are supposed to go through life silently, rather we are to exercise discernment in how and when we are to “speak the truth in love”. The fruits of our love are to be evident at all times, but we are to be ready when divinely called upon to bear testimony to that love from which our fruit is derivative.

But that love is derived as well, and Peter makes sure that we are constantly reminded that in all things, Christ is the first fruits. He is the example of all things from holiness to hope, submission to suffering, from living testimonially to loving evidentially.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Skimming the Details

(Primeval Saints by James Jordan)

The “big picture” has always been the easiest concept for me to grasp. I’ve noticed that I either don’t get the little stuff or I’m too lazy to see how it fits into the bigger picture of life. It’s not that the details have been over looked because of the overwhelming ornamentation or the assumed absurdity of seemingly abstract connections, it’s simply because I’ve never had the details laid before me in a manner that promotes the least import to the understanding of the whole.

Similarly—and yet in contrast—the church today has more of a self-vested call to promote the larger seemingly more important issues of gospel life. And yet, because this generation is more a product than the last of the shift away from liturgical orthodoxy, the details which have been lost or skimmed over are pieces of the puzzle that leave our big picture desperately lacking.

In either the personal or Church examples, the case bears evidence to our rejection of the ordinary means of grace, the oversight of inspired repetition, and the misinterpretation of divine sovereignty. All of which leave the gospel we proclaim shallow and superficial……

Monday, October 06, 2003

Thorns and Trees

(Primeval Saints by James Jordan)

I’ve been wondering since reading Through New Eyes where the symbolism of the thistle comes in the scheme of thorns versus trees. It’s always been portrayed as a redeemed thorn it seems, with respect to the combination of its majestic beauty and cursed spikes. Jordan, in Primeval Saints, says that “in the Bible good trees are symbols for righteous men, while thorns and brambles are symbols for violent and ungodly men” (pg. 45). I’m not sure if he’s going to develop that more, but the thing that just struck me is that the redemption of mankind Christ on the tree wearing a crown of thorns……

Saturday, October 04, 2003


(Primeval Saints by James Jordan)

Some years ago there was somewhat of a crisis that brought me to a crossroad. I wrestled with my emotions in trying to decide how to respond and what to do. I asked myself, “Do I despair, or do I look for some hope in this head knowledge I have that God is taking care of things”. That year for my birthday I got my answer in the form of a little wooden box given to me by a dear friend. Feeling a little ignorant I had to ask what it was.

“It’s a ‘Thankfulness Box’,” she said, “Whenever God does something big or little that you want to remember, just write it down and put it in the box. Every so often you can take them all out and thanks God for all the things He’s given.”

The weeks and months following were both the worst and best of my life. When I got my box I wondered what in the world I would do with it, but in the lowest and even brightest times that came after I found myself going back to the box, dumping out all the little pieces of paper and thanking God for reminding me of all the times He had proven faithful in the people and events brought my way.

A year or so later, another good friend of mine was having some major spiritual struggles. Every time I talked with her the conversations would be about how she felt and what was happening or not happening to make her think that God had forsaken her. It was then that I remembered how the simple—or sometimes not so simple—act of offering up thanks had changed my heart and outlook from focusing on me and my needs to the bigger picture of how God had worked in the past. I shared with her that such a reminder to have a heart of thankfulness completely changed how I viewed not only God, but myself within the realm of His sovereign grace. She and I covenanted together to start an exercise of radical thankfulness by praying for one situation or person every day that we may or may not necessarily be thankful for, but just as an exercise to shift our minds from ourselves to someone else. Along with choosing a verse each day we both began to see the bigger picture of God’s working—in history, in the lives of those we were praying for and ultimately have a clearer understanding of how we fit into His plan.

There is a plan that God has for the individual, but He works covenantaly with peoples to fulfill His Kingdom purposes. It’s easy to lose sight of that and live life subjectively with no other life in view but our own. Thankfulness is anti-pride. It’s a recognition that we are not capable of living life without the aid of divine intervention—often manifesting itself in covenantal community. More often than not the scratch paper in my little box has the name of a person on it. It’s helpful to be reminded that I’m dependant on the means of grace and the mercies of a sovereign God.

“The giving of thanks is a rendering of praise and an affirmation of dependence upon someone else.” --James Jordan, Primeval Saints, pg. 22

Friday, October 03, 2003


(I Peter 2:11-25)
There has to be more to life than endurance as we understand it. The dictionary definitions lend to the idea of "bearing up", "sustaining under pressure", or "holding your own". Quite honestly, that's what I think of when I think of enduring all things for Christ's sake. That has been the idea I grew up with. The idea that Christ lovingly took all the suffering and pain we would ever have on Himself at the cross, and although we will go through some rough times here on earth, He doesn't want us to suffer the evils and ills found on earth any longer than is necessary. Therefore we must stick it out until He chooses to take us home to be with Him in Heaven.

I thought through this idea a year or so ago when I came across the "Free Grace Broadcaster" booklets. My conclusion was that if our idea of endurance is correct--simply to bear one's own weight for a time--then that would either be a season or the idea of perseverance would have to accompany. Endurance as I've known it seems to go against every earth-shattering idea of grace I've ever come in contact with for the two-fold reason that it lends to self pity and contradicts the call to bear one another's burdens.

As I wrestled with the idea, I made the decision to bring it up over lunch with Der and Joanna. I asked if the idea of endurance has changed in meaning since the time Peter wrote and said that everywhere I looked the idea was to stick it out and hold on until the ride is over. "There's got to be more to endurance than that. Is perseverance built into Peter's call to endure?" He responded by saying that both Peter and Paul use similar imagery in words like "standfast" or "longsuffering". "Longsuffering doesn't mean that you suffer for a long time," he said.

Thus, endurance as I've known it is very un-Biblical. Once again I am shown how easy it is to go on believing fragmentary truths and still be as hopeless as the soul who has no guarantee of sustaining grace. There is more to life because life is about more than our trials and hardships--though how we react to such seasons of testing speak volumes in regards to the belief we hold on what the meaning of life is. If we believe in steadfast perseverance and genuine longsuffering then the nature of our faith--the purpose of our life--is the Biblical call to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Indeed, that is man's chief end.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Object Lesson: Jordan in General

Wendy had me play a game with her a while back that she called “Object Lesson”. The idea is that you take a random item and make a spiritual lesson out of it. It was pretty difficult at first—and I felt like I was pulling stuff out of the air—but after a while you get in a groove. It becomes easier to make Biblical connections from looking at an avocado or a teddy bear. And when you get to something like a carved bunny, you’re able to wax eloquence about how Christ was a carpenter who brought ordinary stuff to life through the natural means of shaped wood, and thus with His death upon a wooded cross He redeemed the ordinary through extraordinary grace.

“Object Lesson” came to mind as I read Jordan’s descriptions of discernment and Biblical worldviewishness. A good many of his connections seem far fetched—like pulling non-existent parallels out of the air—but, in thinking about them, begin to make sense. Other connections are just plain obvious and I wonder why I never saw it or how I could have believed otherwise. Jolting recognition must be the first step towards discernment. Making time to make connections is the hardest part. But I suppose, just as in the spiritual lessons game, after a while it becomes easier to observe all the red flags and connect all the dots. And when you get to something like the first chapter of Judges, you can see that the story of Caleb, Othniel, and Achsah is small reflection of the larger redemption story of extraordinary grace given through the waters of life.