Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review of "Noah Primeval" by Brian Godawa

I am a big believer in approaching the Biblical narrative as one complete story.  If you think about it, story is the most effective way to communicate deep truths over generations of changing cultures and civilizations. No matter how things change as time marches on, the story still portrays it's original message.

Raising our kids with a healthy fascination and appreciation of a good story is something I hope to write about more in the future. It is also good for us adults to reacquaint ourselves with a good story from time to time. I don't do this often enough. I usually head for the theological or historical books, but ever so often I force myself to read fiction. I never regret it.

Recently I had the pleasure of reading Brian Godawa's Noah Primeval.  Brian is a very talented writer and has hit it out of the park more than once. He wrote the screen play for the movie To End All Wars and co-wrote the more recent movie, Alleged. (I highly recommend both of these movies if you enjoy movie nights.) He also wrote Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom and Discernment.

Noah Primeval: Chronicles of the Nephilim is not your typical Sunday School presentation of the Noahic story. Brian delves into the ancient Near Eastern context of the story and brings you a fast pace, informative, suspenseful, and exhilarating re-telling of the familiar story without veering from the deep theological truths that undergird the Biblical narrative. In fact, I was surprised at how many allusions there were to many principles that come to us in the Scriptures. The more familiar you are with the Biblical narrative, the more you will see it in Noah Primeval. To me, that is great writing.

I also enjoyed how Brian presents Noah as a warrior-leader. His faith in God drives him to be a man of courage, yet he still has a complicated relationship with God. Doubt, anger, and stubbornness are not left out of the character. And why should they? They are as much a part of our relationship with God as anything else. Yet through these ups and downs, Noah learns lessons that every Christian should learn on their walk with God. Like I said, this is not your typical Sunday School lesson on Noah and his animals.

I also really enjoyed the appendices where Brian gives a synopsis of the ancient Near Eastern context that he is working from. Everything from angelic "sons of God" and their hyprid offspring, the Nephilim, to ancient Near Eastern cosmology that saw the world as sitting on literal pillars are explained and documented. Whether or not you agree with the conclusions, the book doubles as a great resource with plenty of footnotes pointing the reader in the right direction for further study.

Noah Primeval is a fantastic novel as well as a great way to expose yourself to great story telling. Enjoy it, learn from it, and pass on that love of story to your kids through your own version of the Noahic story, or any other Biblical story for that matter.

When kids become fascinated with the Biblical story, they become fascinated with their history as God's people! That is always a good thing.

Here is my review posted on

Friday, March 16, 2012

On Building Houses

Raising kids is like...

There are numerous conclusions to that sentence. Popular parenting books attack it in so many ways. One author said (and I'm paraphrasing) "raising kids is like working with wet cement. You only get so much time and then it is dry and hard." Before I had kids I bought into that type of an idea. I was going to "mold" my kids and shape them. I understood Deuteronomy 6:7-9 as something I had to do to my kids.

However, as I read, study, and interact with my own kids I am realizing that the Biblical paradigm is always based in relationship.

Now this presents a choice. What are we going to base our relationship with our kids on? Law or Grace?

Unfortunately, many "experts" advise that the parent-child relationship should be based on law.  Interestingly enough, I have found this to be true in my Reformed heritage because of the insistence that before the fall, Adam was in a Covenant of Works (something I have not come to reject).

If you are perceptive you can spot these "experts" by listening to their rhetoric.

Much, if not all of the emphasis is put on the parents so called duty to make their children learn obedience. Phrases like "first time obedience" and "bringing honor to the family" (through some arbitrary outward obedience standard) are very popular with this crowd. They hammer the "children obey your parents" proof texts and present them as a God ordained license to the parent to take whatever measures necessary to bring the child's will inline with the parents' convenience.

In short, the relationship is based on law. Obey and you're in. Disobey and you're out.

But there is an alternative: grace based parent-child relationships.

Following the Biblical example that is always grace first, then law, parents can build amazingly strong relationships with their children where true heart obedience can develop and mature as our children grow up in the Kingdom.  Deuteronomy 6:7-9 can be something that we actually do with our kids!

Imagine your relationship with your child as a house.

The cement foundation, the immovable rock that all else sits on, is grace. This is especially important as our kids are very young. They must always understand that parents love them like Pinocchio, no strings attached. This follows the example of God. He always extended copious amounts of grace before even speaking law.

If our kids see the foundation as law, that immovable slab will crush them.

Now law does come into play, don't get me wrong. However, if our relationship is not based on grace, they will never be able to respond to law in a proper and healthy way.

Law makes up the walls in our imaginary house. They sit upon the foundation, not the other way around. They define boundaries. They distinguish different rooms in the house. They have holes in them, called windows. Sometimes if the weather outside is beautiful those windows are open, letting in a fresh breeze. When there is a blizzard, those windows are shut keeping it warm and cozy inside. There are also doors in the law. They open and close. It takes wisdom to know when to leave a door open or when to lock it. Sometimes it is appropriate to knock, but sometimes it is ok to barge in. Sometimes you destroy a wall to make one room bigger or expand the house!

The point is, the law is not the immovable foundation, but a helpful tool to be used with wisdom.  We should understand that even if our kids are banging their head against a wall they are still standing on the foundation. Even more importantly, we should make sure they know that.

Finally, I would say that the roof is Love. Love covers everything. No matter when and where our kids are in the house they are under the shelter and protection of our Love.

If we think about it this is exactly the example that God gave to us in the Biblical narrative.

Law was a tutor to point God's people to Christ and bring them to full maturity as the Body of Christ. It was never the basis for God's relationship with His people.

Grace was the foundation, and God's love prompted Him to cover His people with the spotless robes of Christ.

We would do well to imitate this example as we raise our children in the Kingdom.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sweet Slumber: Co-Sleeping from a Dad's Perspective

It's been a long day. My eyes are tired as I crawl into bed. I situate my pillows carefully and gently pull the covers to my chest.  As I roll onto my stomach I feel the tiny hand of Hannah come to rest on my back.

I know she is asleep.  The motion caused by me climbing into bed signals her to unconsciously connect with me. After I read to her a few hours earlier, we cuddled while she drifted off to sleep. I had reassured her that I would join her when it was my bed time. Feeling my back is her way registering that I kept my promise.

I pause one or two minutes to make sure she doesn't wake up. Her quiet, consistent breathing tells me that I made it in without disturbing her enough to fully awaken her, but just enough for her to know she has daddy next to her.

I lift my arm and slowly feel around for Abram.

He is a heavier sleeper. He sleeps in the twin bed pushed up against the queen bed.  That is, he starts there. Sometimes he migrates over to my empty spot after falling asleep. However, most of the time he doesn't get past "the crack" that the two beds create when pushed together. It is stuffed with blankets and a special connector to make a smoother transition, but his little body naturally deposits itself there, and fits quite nicely, I might add. (Better than mine. I know, I have spent many nights in "the crack.")

I hear his heavier, slightly louder breathing so I know it is safe to put my hand on him and connect the chain.

As I cuddle him I whisper softly, "I love you Abram."  He takes a deep breath, smacks his lips, grabs up his blanky, and repositions himself as he answers during the unconscious exhale, "I wuv you to daddy."

He doesn't seem to need to know that I am there like Hannah does. But, nonetheless, I need to let him know that I am there.

With the chain connected, I fall deeply asleep.

There is no telling how I will awake. Sometimes it is to Hannah or Abram informing me that they need to potty. Other times it is when they decide to tell me about a dream they had or they are excited about doing something in particular during the coming day.  Often it is just because I am uncomfortable because there are legs or arms draped over my neck, face, or stomach with a pair of feet under my back. (Of course this is their most comfortable position because they are always sound asleep when I wake up like this.)

However, the best is waking up exactly at the same time. To catch the slowly opening eyes of my child only to be followed by the very first smile of a new day! To be greeted with a good morning twinkle of the eyes that are fully rested and ready for adventure. Those are the moments that I especially treasure. There is no better way to be reminded that, "This is the day the Lord hath made. I will be glad and rejoice in it."

Co-sleeping can be a very enjoyable tool to help build a strong relationship with your kids. Nursing mothers can give a better testimony than I regarding the many advantages of this very natural sleeping arrangement. From a fathers perspective though, I have been amazed at what has happened since we decided to go this route. I wouldn't trade it for all the chocolate chip cookies in the world.

Now, I understand that co-sleeping is just not possible for everyone. Every family is unique and will adapt differently during their own parenting journey.  For us, co-sleeping was a necessity that turned into a luxury, and I would highly encourage everyone to give it a shot or at least look at some alternatives.

Nursing mothers can "side car" the crib.

If schedules don't allow co-sleeping, take advantage of family naps on the weekends.

Read to your kids at night and cuddle them while they fall asleep. This only adds 15 minutes or so to your bedtime routine, and I find that it's a great time to catch up on reading with a Kindle or I-pod.

Cuddle them in a Lazy-boy when they are tired. Even if they don't fall asleep the rest and bonding will do you both good.

You can always rock them to sleep after reading, and then transfer them to the bed.

My favorite is just to gather all the beds in the house, and push them together to make a giant family bed. Jump in together, give everyone their own covers, and see how it goes for a month or two. But then, that wouldn't be an alternative. That would be the real thing!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The "Ya'll" of being Born Again.

This is an article that I wrote for my Fresh Brewed Theology column in The Choteau Acantha. It was published in January of this year.  I am posting it here because it pertains to a comment by Tabatha in a recent post, Biblically Defining Eternal Life.  

There is a great debate within Christianity about how an individual "get's saved."  (Calvinism vs. Arminianism) I have come to the conclusion that both were working from faulty a pre-supossition. They both ignored the Covenantal context of the Bible, and rather imposed their westernized framework upon the text. Hopefully, this article will stimulate fresh thinking in these areas. 

Fresh Brewed Theology, January 2012.

"Alter calls," "the sinners prayer," and "inviting Jesus into my heart" are all phrases that dominate modern Christianity.  It is not uncommon for Christianity to be summed up as a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  In other words, it’s He and I. This is amplified by the influence of the westernized rugged individualism of our culture. 
However, Biblically speaking this may be putting the cart before the horse.  Throughout the Bible, God always deals first and foremost with corporate bodies of individuals, and then with the individuals within that corporate body.  
Imagine the Hebrews of the Old Testament as a student body.  God brought them into His University when He brought them out of Egypt.  Over time though, that student body failed to graduate because they could not collectively pass the test of the law.  There were some individuals who followed God, but they could not bring the whole student body to graduation, because all sinned.   In fact, there are many places in the Old Testament that refer to this corporate body as “dead” even though it was made up of living and breathing human beings. 
Now let’s take a closer look at one of the more well known phrases found in the New Testament.  
John chapter 3 records Nicodemus as a ruler of this Old Testament student body when Jesus comes on the scene.  During this now famous interview, conducted under the cover of darkness, Jesus says to Nicodemus, “You must be born again.”  
The original King James version gets the “you” of this passage correct when it renders it “ye.” This very small, yet foundational variance should be recognized.  The “you” is plural and is speaking about a collection of individuals.  The greek language makes this variance clear, but modern english does not differentiate unless you grew up in the south where “you all” is squished together to make “ya’ll.”
Jesus is telling Nicodemus that ya’ll, the failing Hebrew student body, must be born again.  In order to graduate from God’s University there needed to be a new student body. 
Jesus was the first to perfectly pass the final exam.  Yet, the law, still put him to death unjustly.  Through that sacrifice, and vindicated by his resurrection, He became a new spiritually reborn student body that the law could no longer condemn.  Those who were trapped in the fleshly body of Adam that only brought death could now be released to join the reborn spiritual body of Christ wherein eternal life was found.  
Abandoning our own test score and putting our faith in Jesus’ test score is all that’s required to become a member of the class of Jesus.  However, it is not a one person class.  When one joins the body of Christ one is joining a corporate body that transcends time, race, tradition, denomination, culture and creed.  Together, the ya’ll is a New Creation. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Biblically Defining Eternal Life

What is Eternal Life according to the Bible? Have you ever really contemplated that question?

Growing up, I was always under the impression that "eternal life" didn't start until after I died.  I don't recall actually having been taught that specifically, but it was generally implied by the worldview and culture that I lived in.

Of all the shifts that I have experienced over the past few years, understanding what the Bible means by eternal life has been one of the most profound.

Do you realize that there is only one place in the entire Bible that specifically defines eternal life?  Yep, just one!  It is actually Jesus that defines it for us.

In John 17 Jesus is praying for his disciples as He prepares to embark on what is traditionally called "The Passion."  (On a quick side note, this is actually what should be called "the Lord's prayer". The traditional "Lord's prayer" that is recited on Sundays was actually what the disciples were supposed to pray, but I digress.)

Now read John 17 verses 1-3 again.  Maybe again for the very first time!

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.  And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

Did you catch that?  Eternal Life, as defined by Jesus, is "knowing God the Father and Jesus Christ whom he sent."

In the Bible the language of "knowing" is often set within the context of sexual union between a husband and wife. It is presented as a deep intimate relationship.

To know God the Father and Jesus Christ is eternal life.

Is it really that simple?  Yes.

Unfortunately, that simple answer brings into question many of our deeply held traditions. Here are just a few.

If eternal life is relationship, then what is the "death" that the Bible talks about?

Is it possible that eternal life starts on this side of the grave, here in this world?

Is the message of Jesus actually about how to get into Heaven before you die?

Take some time to ponder how John 17:1-3 will affect the way you answer these questions.  And if you're not already, start living the eternal life that you already have!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Radio Interview

Sunday, March 4th, at 8pm (EST) I will be appearing as a guest on the New Covenant Eyes Radio Show.

Alan Bondar and Bob Lucas of New Covenant Eyes Church host the show, and you can tune in live at or Preterist Radio.  The show will also be archived on the podcast page.

This show will serve as a follow up from my previous appearance on their program back in August of 2011.  The topic will be parenting, specifically from a graced based and fulfilled perspective, and it will build upon a previous series I did on The Journey with Michael Loomis.

On top of tying up some loose ends from the last show, I also hope to present some further insights gleaned from my ongoing study.  I have read a number of very encouraging books related to parenting over the past 6 months and am hoping to present the audience with further resources to enhance and encourage a joyful parenting journey.

Alan and Bob do a great job of hosting the show. It is always a blast to sit down and talk with them, and the audience is welcome to call in and contribute to the conversation!

The weekly radio show along with Alan's weekly sermons are two among my favorite resources to put on my i-pod as I work throughout the week.

I hope you will join us.

Postscript 3/5/2012:  Here is the link to the archived podcast of the show.  It was a fun show, and I hope you enjoyed it. Stay tuned because I will be on again in the future, and hopefully we will get more into the finer details regarding Family Life In The Garden!