Monday, July 30, 2007

Keeper of the Verses

I recently read Sharon Hinck's book The Restorer. It is a fantasy about a depressed mom searching for purpose who is pulled through a portal into another world where is called to help a struggling nation. Its a good book and I'm looking forward to reading the next volume.

One thing in particular caught my imagine while reading this book. The scriptures in the alternative world are sung and are referred to as verses. Since the verses are sung, musicians are given the role of the "keeper of the verses." They keep the verses alive in the people's memory by singing them in various situations.

If I lived in Sharon Hinck's alternative world, I would want to be a keeper of the verses. I am intrigued by the idea of scripture that is musical in its original form. I also captured by the beauty and wonder of using music to help the people remember and remain faithful to the verses and to the One who gave them. I love God's Word and I love music. What better job could there be than to use music as a tool in service to God's Word, to be daily surrounded by the beauty of both music and scripture. And what would music ministry today look like if more music ministers considered their roles to be that of preserving the truth and beauty of God's word through music?

When God's kingdom breaks through in all of its fullness, I think it would be cool if I could be something similar to the "keeper of the verses," somehow using music to help keep God's word alive in the minds and memories of God's followers. And who knows, maybe God will let me do something similar before then.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Myth of the Perfect Mother

I recently read Carla Barnhill's book The Myth of the Perfect Mother. In the beginning of the book Barnhill argues that evangelicals have uncritically adopted a secular view of women that is unbiblical and creates an unnecessary burden on moms. Here is a part of the book that caught my attention:

It's also a mistake to assume that the "traditional" family model we associate with the '50s had anything to do with conservative Christian values or a generation of people who finally got family "right." In truth, our modern understanding of family owes more to Richard Nixon than to the church.

In an effort to make the American way of life appear superior to Communism, mid-century American political leaders promoted the idea that in America, every family could own its own home, that jobs were so plentiful and lucrative women had the luxury of staying home, that capitalism allowed every family to own a car and a washing machine. The middle-class suburban family was created to make America look good... The same trappings--the house, the yard, the family itself--have been incorporated in the evangelical assumptions about women (and to some degree men...). We have translated the '50s model of the perfect American family to the model of the perfect Christian family. In doing so, we have taken away a women's ability to follow God's leading in her life and replaced it with a kind of bondage to an ideal that isn't consistent with the call of Scripture.
This makes me wonder which ideals of motherhood I hold that may be unbiblical. What assumptions do I make about being a "good" mom that I should examine more closely? How can I honor God in my mothering without allowing the role of motherhood to supersede every other area of my walk with God?

On a related subject: I was thinking more about the tension between taking care of our children and serving God more this week. It occurred to me that in the Old Testament God was known as a god who did not require child sacrifice. While other nations routinely sacrificed their children to their gods, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob despised the idea. God tested Abraham's faith by asking for Isaac, but in the end God stopped Abraham from actually sacrificing Isaac and provided an animal for the sacrifice.

Our children should not be more important to us than obeying God, but I don't think God asks us to sacrifice the lives of our children. This isn't always an easy balance to maintain though, especially in a culture where we work so hard to give our kids every opportunity and advantage. I know I am still working through what this means in our family. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Serving God with Children

I have been bumping up against a common thought recently. It is a subtle theme in some of the books I am reading and was mentioned at an Emergent Gathering I attended last weekend. It is something that I agree with, but find very difficult to practice. Stated very simply, God is more important than my children. Well, duh. Right? But how often do I use the well-being of my kids as an excuse not to serve God?

I'd like to think that I don't use my children as an excuse to avoid doing God's work, but I'm not even sure I can evaluate this area with much objectivity. For example, Josiah has asked us not to lead worship anymore. We have gently, yet firmly explained that we will continue to lead worship. As much as we love Josiah, it is more important to honor God by serving the church with the gifts God has given us than it is to make Josiah feel comfortable every Saturday evening. But we compromise, we don't lead worship all the time. Just sometimes. And our kids are at least part of the reason we limit how often we lead worship.

And that is fairly small thing. What if God asks us to move? The first questions that come to mind concern our kids well-being. What about their education? Will they be safe? What about services for kids with special needs?

At the same time, I don't want to neglect my children for the sake of ministry (note that I said "ministry" not "God"). We can't do everything and it would be unhealthy to try. So how do we decide how best to serve God? How do we balance ministering to people both inside and outside our family? How do we live the tension between verses that emphasize caring for your own family (1 Tim 5:8) and verses that emphasize the cost of following Jesus, including leaving family (Lk 9:57ff)?

I don't know. For now, I am simply noticing the issue. I'm not planning to increase how often we lead worship or make any drastic changes. But when God brings opportunities to serve to my attention, I will try not to immediately dismiss them simply because I have kids.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Lost in Translation

I'll be out of town for awhile, but wanted to post a quick tidbit before leaving.

A friend watched our kids for us while we went on a date last night. Elijah uses a lot of sign language and Josiah had to interpret so that our friend would understand what Elijah was saying or asking. At one point in the evening Elijah made a sign and our friend asked Josiah, "What is he saying?" Josiah looked at Elijah and said, "That's the sign for 'time'." Confused our friend wondered why a two-year old would ask for the time and said, "Oh, I'm not wearing a watch."

When she told us about the exchange I explained that Elijah uses the sign for "time" when he wants to watch a Signing Time DVD. I think it's funny that Josiah translated the sign without explaining the meaning.